Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
In April, the Council is expected to hold a high-level briefing to consider the Secretary-General’s implementation report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. This is planned to coincide with the 24-25 April General Assembly high-level event on the issue. Secretary-General António Guterres and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Ion Jinga (Romania), are expected to brief.
Key Recent Developments
In January, the Secretary-General submitted his report on the implementation of the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture. These substantively identical resolutions defined the notion of sustaining peace when they were adopted in April 2016, broadening the concept of peacebuilding as occurring not only in post-conflict situations but also to prevent conflict in the first place and across the conflict cycle. The resolutions emphasised that sustaining peace was a responsibility of all three pillars of the UN’s work: security, human rights and development. For follow-up, the General Assembly resolution included a decision, which the Council version took note of, to invite the Secretary-General to provide a report at least 60 days before a high-level event on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace” during its 72nd session.
The Secretary-General’s implementation report provides an overview of the relevant aspects of his ongoing peace and security, development system, and management reforms. This includes, as stressed in the two resolutions, efforts for greater coherence across the UN system and between other international actors such as regional organisations and international financial institutions, enhancing the capacities of the UN resident coordinators, and revitalising the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), which is to join a new Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) to serve as a “hinge” between the UN’s three pillars.
The report also sets out options to increase, restructure and better prioritise financing for peacebuilding, which the review of the peacebuilding architecture said was significantly underfunded. Guterres proposed a “quantum leap” in the capacity of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to enable investments totalling $500 million annually. In recent years, the UN has aspired to annual PBF investments of $100 million, though in 2017 the PBF approved an all-time high of $157.1 million for 31 countries.
To increase the PBF’s capacity, the Secretary-General proposed, inter alia, that member states commit unspent peacekeeping budget funds to the PBF. He also proposed that they be assessed the equivalent of 15 percent of the cost savings of a peacekeeping operation’s budget when it is reduced from the previous year. Guterres reiterated a previous proposal from the review for $100 million or one percent of the value of total UN budgets for peace operations be provided annually to the PBF from assessed contributions. Other options to increase overall financing of peacebuilding include principal contributors of UN peacekeeping budgets voluntarily committing the equivalent of 15 percent of the final full-year budget of a closing peacekeeping mission towards peacebuilding activities in a country, or placing this money into a pooled fund managed by the resident coordinator’s office for a two-year period. The report noted possibilities for innovative financing, including through, inter alia, individuals, foundations and corporate partnerships. It highlighted an upcoming joint UN-World Bank Group study (released in March) which found that increased spending on prevention could save between $5 billion and $70 billion per year, depending on different forecast scenarios, for the affected country and the international community combined.
On 5 March, Guterres informally briefed member states on his report. He said that he hoped they would give his proposals serious consideration at the high-level meeting in April and urged members to focus not only on the event but also on meaningful ways to follow up on decisions that are taken. A majority of delegations expressed support for the proposals and for having a concise resolution of the General Assembly that would acknowledge the report and set up future reporting.
General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák subsequently appointed Ambassadors Audra Plepytė (Lithuania) and Masud Bin Momen (Bangladesh) as co-facilitators to lead intergovernmental consultations on a draft resolution to be adopted by the General Assembly during the 24–25 April high-level meeting. The envisioned resolution is meant to be similar to the resolution that the General Assembly adopted on 20 December 2017 on the Secretary-General’s proposed peace and security reforms. That resolution took note of the Secretary-General’s report on reforming the peace and security pillar and supported his vision. It further requested that the Secretary-General submit, as soon as possible, a comprehensive report elaborating on the establishment of the DPPA and Department of Peace Operations. On 1 March, the Secretary-General submitted this report, which included a proposal to increase PBSO regular budget positions by 50 percent.
In the Security Council, a presidential statement was adopted on 21 December 2017 that laid out elements related to peacebuilding and sustaining peace to be considered when reviewing the mandates and configuration of peacekeeping missions.
Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
The Secretary-General’s report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace highlighted progress in the PBC to diversify its working methods and the country and regional situations it considers. The PBC has continued its engagement on The Gambia, holding a 4 December 2017 meeting on ongoing institutional reforms and plans for a roundtable conference of development partners that was held in Dakar from 20 to 22 February. On the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, for which in 2017 the Council requested PBC support in implementing, PBC Chair Ambassador Jinga attended a meeting on 15 March of the Ministerial Coordination Platform on the Sahel in N’Djamena. Follow-up PBC meetings on both situations were expected in April.
The PBC has further expanded this regional approach to peacebuilding. On 27 November 2017, it organised a meeting on the Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework, which aims to align political and programmatic interventions. That same month, the PBC continued initiatives to widen the country situations before it, holding sessions on Colombia and Sri Lanka on 13 and 20 November, respectively. Also during 2017, the PBSO began regularly informing PBC members on the activities of the PBF as part of efforts to carry forward the call in the peacebuilding/sustaining peace resolutions to increase synergies between the two entities.
Within the work of the PBC’s country configurations, Ambassador Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), chair of its Burundi configuration, visited Burundi from 27 to 30 March. The Liberian configuration has remained focused on supporting that country’s transition after the departure of the UN Mission in Liberia, committing itself to filling resource and capacity gaps of around $130 million over the next two years in implementing a peacebuilding plan that the Security Council requested. The Sierra Leone configuration met on 23 March to discuss developments, amidst several violent incidents, ahead of the country’s presidential run-off election. The chairs of the PBC’s Guinea-Bissau configuration, Ambassador Mauro Vieira (Brazil), and the Central African Republic configuration, Ambassador Omar Hilale (Morocco), participated in Security Council briefings on 14 and 22 February respectively.
Key Issues and Options
The Council session is expected to be held on 25 April, to complement the General Assembly’s high-level event. The Council’s discussion is expected to focus on those aspects of the Secretary-General’s report most closely related to the Council’s responsibility to maintain international peace and security. This includes, for example, the PBC’s advisory role to the Council, adopting longer-term strategic approaches to prevent or resolve conflict, and improving transitions during the withdrawal of peace operations.
One option for the Council, having previously adopted concurrent resolutions with the General Assembly in establishing and conducting reviews of the UN peacebuilding architecture, is to adopt a resolution or presidential statement mirroring the resolution being negotiated in the General Assembly. Another option is having such a product additionally outline elements that should be considered when preparing for transitions from peace operations to a UN country team setting.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Peru’s interest in organising this session stems from its own history in successfully emerging from conflict in the 1980s and 1990s, which reflected many of the processes envisioned by a sustaining peace approach.
Despite what seems like fairly broad support for the Secretary-General’s proposals in his report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, major UN financial contributors are likely to resist new assessed contributions. Also, some countries continue to be concerned about the implications of the concept of sustaining peace. Russia and some countries of the Non-Aligned Movement have expressed reservations, believing it could lead to interference in issues pertaining to state sovereignty. Russia also frequently affirms that there should remain a clear division in the responsibilities of the UN’s different pillars, while some countries have worried about a diversion from development funding.
Mexico heads an approximately 40-member Group of Friends for Sustaining Peace, which includes Council members France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US. Kazakhstan has also promoted ways to address peace and security challenges that combine development, regional dimensions and greater integration of the UN system.
Sweden is the current coordinator of the Council-PBC stock-taking sessions, organised periodically to review relations between the two bodies.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEBUILDING AND SUSTAINING PEACE
|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 Statement|
|21 December 2017 S/PRST/2017/27||This was a presidential statement that laid out the elements related to peacebuilding and sustaining peace to be considered when reviewing the mandates and configuration of peacekeeping missions.|
|1 March 2018 A/72/772||This was the Secretary-General’s report with proposals to establish the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Department of Peace Operations.|
|18 January 2018 A/72/707-S/2018/43||This was the Secretary-General’s implementation report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|13 October 2017 A/72/525||This was the Secretary-General’s report on restructuring the UN’s peace and security pillar.|
|General Assembly Documents|
|20 December 2017 A/RES/72/199||This was a resolution taking note of the Secretary-General’s report on the peace and security pillar and supporting his vision for reforms.|
|27 April 2016 A/RES/70/262||This was the General Assembly resolution on the review of the 2015 UN Peacebuilding architecture.|
Useful Additional Resource
Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. United Nations–World Bank Group. 1 March 2018