Expected Council Action
In June, the Council expects briefings by Ambassadors Macharia Kamau (Kenya) and Cho Tae-yul (Republic of Korea), the former and current chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), for the presentation of the PBC’s tenth annual report.
On the same day, an informal interactive dialogue is planned, involving Council members, the chairs of PBC country configurations, and ambassadors of countries on the PBC agenda.
Key Recent Developments
Over the past year, the PBC has focused much of its work on implementing and carrying forward the relevant recommendations of the 27 April 2016 substantively identical Council and General Assembly resolutions on the peacebuilding review. There has also been a broader effort among the Secretariat and member states to advance the “sustaining peace” agenda, described in the two resolutions as activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflicts. Sustaining peace places an emphasis on conflict prevention and addressing the root causes of conflict and is seen as a responsibility of the entire UN system.
As a result of the review, the PBC has sought to revitalise the role of its Organizational Committee (OC). This has involved further developing the initiatives of the past two years to have the OC consider country situations that are not formally on the PBC agenda, as well as focusing more on the regional dimensions of peacebuilding and enhancing cooperation with regional organisations and international financial institutions. From 17 to 19 October 2016, Kamau, together with the vice-chairs of the PBC and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, visited the African Union’s (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa to further enhance cooperation with the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. A PSC communiqué following a meeting with the PBC delegation called for greater collaboration and coordination between the two bodies, deciding, inter alia, to hold an annual meeting with the PBC and undertake joint visits to conflict and post-conflict areas in Africa.
From 20 to 21 March, Cho visited The Gambia, travelling with Ambassador Mamadou Tangara (The Gambia) and Fernandez-Taranco to explore opportunities for the PBC to support The Gambia’s peacebuilding needs following the country’s recent political crisis. The OC was briefed on the visit and the priorities of The Gambia’s new government during a 19 April meeting. As another example of the PBC’s focus on a more diverse array of country and regional issues, it is considering ways to support the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), holding an initial meeting of the OC on the Sahel on 6 March. The meeting and PBC engagement was prompted by the Council’s 20 January presidential statement on the situation in West Africa and the Sahel, which emphasised the important convening role of the PBC and charged it with supporting the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in mobilising relevant actors to advance the implementation of the UNISS.
In early April, PBC members agreed on the creation of focal points on thematic aspects of peacebuilding. Belgium was designated the focal point on youth; Bangladesh and Canada, gender; Russia, national ownership; Indonesia and Norway, financing for peacebuilding; and Japan, institution-building with a focus on judicial reform, border control, and financial structures. The focal points are expected to ensure attention to these dimensions of peacebuilding in the PBC’s consideration of different situations.
As part of UN efforts to advance a “sustaining peace” approach in the field, the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, the UN Development Programme, and the Peacebuilding Support Office collaborated last year to develop a “sustaining peace” pilot strategy for Burkina Faso, still emerging from its 2014 and 2015 crises and political transition. The strategy seeks to address the main risks to Burkina Faso’s stability, with UNOWAS providing political support and capacities to the UN country team’s engagement. A sustaining peace pilot has also been developed for Sri Lanka.
In another new development, the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide within 90 days a peacebuilding plan for Liberia in its 23 December 2016 resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission for Liberia (UNMIL), which will be withdrawn in March 2018. This was the first time the Council had sought such a plan ahead of the departure of a peacekeeping operation and for an upcoming transition. In a 4 April letter, the Secretary-General transmitted the Liberia national peacebuilding plan to the Council. The plan is divided into two phases. The first phase runs until the exit of UNMIL, while the second covers longer-term peacebuilding activities until approximately 2020. Notably, the plan seeks to address remaining structural fragilities and economic development needs, and envisions improved coherence and integration of UN agencies, funds and programmes and good offices capacities of the UN country team. It also highlights future roles for UNOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the World Bank, with the PBC participating in joint monitoring of the plan’s implementation.
On 21 April, a stock-taking session of Council members on the PBC, PBC agenda countries, and the PBC chairs group was convened. The sessions, which are currently coordinated by Egypt, are held periodically to review the PBC’s advisory function and consider areas where the PBC and its country configurations can best support the Council. The April meeting focused on the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and the UN Sahel strategy.
Developments in PBC Country Configurations
The chair of the Burundi country configuration, Ambassador Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), visited Tanzania and Burundi from 27 to 31 March. The mission focused on the socio-economic situation and the political process facilitated by Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania, on behalf of the East African Community.
The CAR configuration, chaired by Ambassador Omar Hilale (Morocco), is focusing its support around three areas of the CAR’s National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan 2017-2021: security and reconciliation, the social contract between the state and its citizens, and economic recovery. Addressing the configuration on 16 March, CAR’s president Faustin Archange Touadera flagged a funding shortage for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, and security sector reform.
The Guinea-Bissau configuration, chaired by Ambassador Mauro Vieira (Brazil), has sought to align the messaging from the PBC and the Council to demonstrate the international community’s unity in support of ECOWAS mediation efforts to end Guinea-Bissau’s ongoing political crisis.
In recent months, the Liberia configuration, chaired by Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden), has focused on supporting the roll-out of Liberia’s peacebuilding plan and preparations for the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
The country configuration for Sierra Leone, chaired by Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard (Canada), received a briefing from UNOWAS head Mohammed Ibn Chambas on 3 March. The configuration has focused on considering how it can marshal resources for the March 2018 general elections.
Last autumn, a review of the Guinea configuration, which has been chaired by Luxembourg, was initiated to consider the country’s future engagement with the PBC. The review recommended ending the configuration, while noting Guinea’s interest in continuing to engage in a more flexible manner with the OC.
A key issue in the Council-PBC relationship continues to be identifying the type of “specific, strategic and targeted advice”, as stipulated in last year’s resolutions that can add value to the Council’s consideration of issues on its agenda, particularly during the formation, review and drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions.
More generally, despite recent initiatives to strengthen the PBC, how the PBC can concretely help conflict-affected or fragile countries remains a challenge for the body.
The Council could issue a statement following the briefing and interactive dialogue that welcomes recent initiatives within the PBC to increase the effectiveness of its advisory role; reiterates the Council’s intention to draw upon the PBC’s advice; and encourages continuing efforts to explore ways that the PBC can specifically support the Council, while summarising the main messages expressed during the two sessions.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The adoption of the Council and General Assembly resolutions on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture created new momentum to strengthen the PBC and the focus given to peacebuilding and sustaining peace. In the Council, Egypt, Japan and Sweden in particular have taken initiatives in trying to include language on the PBC within Council resolutions and presidential statements. The P5 have long been sceptical of the value the PBC adds to the Council, though recently they have seemed more open to improving Council cooperation with the PBC, such as during transitions and the drawdown of operations. Notwithstanding this momentum since last year and recent initiatives, it remains to be seen how the UN system and member states will apply the intentions of the resolutions, and whether this will allow for a more constructive relationship between the Council and the PBC.
In addition to the informal Council-PBC stock-taking sessions, the Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa has also become a forum where the PBC chair has engaged with Council members, as the chairs of the working group (Angola in 2016 and Ethiopia in 2017) have sought to exchange views on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEBUILDING
|Security Council Resolution|
|27 April 2016 S/RES/2282||This was a concurrent resolution with the General Assembly on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|20 January 2017 S/PRST/2017/2||This was a statement on West Africa and the Sahel, which recognised the important convening role of the PBC to support UNOWAS in implementing the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.|
|28 July 2016 S/PRST/2016/12||This was a presidential statement on peacebuilding in Africa with a focus on institution-building.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|10 January 2017 S/PV.7857||The Council held a ministerial-level open debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.|
|28 July 2016 S/PV.7750||This was an open debate on peacebuilding in Africa.|
|Security Council Letter|
|4 April 2017 S/2017/282||This was a letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan.|
|Peacebuilding Commission Document|
|27 January 2017 S/2017/76||This was the PBC’s tenth annual report.|