Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
Expected Council Action
In June, the Council expects briefings by Ambassadors Ion Jinga (Romania) and Cho Tae-yul (Republic of Korea), the current and former chair, respectively, of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), presenting the PBC’s annual report.
On the same day, Council members are expected to convene an informal interactive dialogue with representatives of the PBC.
Key Recent Developments
On 24 and 25 April, the General Assembly held a high-level event on peacebuilding and sustaining peace as envisioned by the April 2016 resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture. To coincide with the General Assembly event, the Council organised a high-level briefing on 25 April to consider the implications for the Security Council of the Secretary-General’s 18 January implementation report on the 2016 resolutions, which laid out options to increase peacebuilding financing, among other points.
The following day, the Council adopted resolution 2413, taking note of the General Assembly’s decision to invite relevant UN bodies and organs, including the PBC, to further advance, explore and consider the recommendations and options in the Secretary-General’s January report.
The PBC has made significant strides as part of efforts to follow up on the April 2016 resolutions on the review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture. During 2017, it became engaged with new country and regional situations, notably The Gambia and the Sahel, after years of having a narrow focus on five or six countries. Its involvement in the volatile Sahel region followed a 20 January 2017 presidential statement that emphasised the “importance of the convening role” of the PBC and asked it to assist the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in implementing the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS). Meanwhile, the PBC sought to maintain international attention and support for The Gambia following the crisis in December 2016-January 2017 that led to President Yahya Jammeh’s ceding power to a newly elected government. The PBC further diversified the countries under consideration, which have been Africa-focused, by holding meetings on the Solomon Islands, Colombia and Sri Lanka. It also met for the first time on the Great Lakes region as part of its efforts to promote integrated regional peacebuilding approaches.
Historically, there has been an overlap between the Council and the PBC in terms of their engagement with several African countries. The PBC was active during 2017 in supporting Liberia’s transition in advance of the closure of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in March of this year. The PBC’s Liberia country configuration, in particular, committed itself to addressing funding and expertise gaps facing the UN Country Team for carrying forward a peacebuilding plan for Liberia, which the Council had endorsed. Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden), the chair of the configuration, participated in a series of events in Liberia from 21 to 25 March for the closure of UNMIL and met with the new government and others to consider future PBC support.
The Burundi configuration has continued to draw attention to socio-economic challenges; Ambassador Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), chair of the configuration, visited the country from 27 to 30 March. The PBC held a high-level meeting on the Central African Republic, another of its country configurations, on 24 April. Its Sierra Leone configuration actively supported and monitored Sierra Leone’s presidential, legislative and local elections held in March, while the Guinea-Bissau configuration has similarly focused on supporting upcoming legislative elections in November amidst that country’s political crisis.
During 2017, the PBC also made changes to its working methods. Efforts continued to invigorate the primacy of the PBC’s Organizational Committee, on which all 31 members of the PBC are represented, and to move away from a reliance on country configurations, where, historically, most of the PBC’s work had been focused. The Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) also began to brief the PBC regularly during meetings about projects of the Peacebuilding Fund. Among other developments, the PBC continued working to enhance its partnerships with regional and subregional organisations and international financial institutions, notably the AU and the World Bank.
The PBC has sought to build on this work in 2018. Jinga attended the sixth meeting of the Ministerial Coordination Platform for Sahel Strategies in N’Djamena on 15 March. A high-level meeting on The Gambia on 23 April, which Gambian President Adama Barrow attended, considered the government’s peacebuilding and sustainable development priorities and sought to raise awareness for a 22 May donor conference on The Gambia.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue in the Council-PBC relationship continues to be improving the “specific, strategic and targeted advice” that the PBC provides the Council, as stipulated in the resolutions on the UN’s peacebuilding architecture. The PBC’s convening role—its ability to bring together diverse actors, including the UN system, regional organisations, international financial institutions and civil society—gives it a widely recognised advantage compared to the Council. More broadly, the need for the PBC to deliver tangible benefits for countries, such as helping fill resource and capacity gaps of countries, remains important in improving its perceived relevance. In this regard, Liberia has been seen as an important test for the PBC.
One option is for the Council to summarise in a note or letter the main ideas raised during the informal interactive dialogue, the focus of which at press time had not yet been proposed. Last year’s informal interactive dialogue on the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin was the first time a specific country or regional situation was considered, unlike previous thematic discussions focused on the Council-PBC relationship.
Following years of scepticism, including from the P5, about its added value, the past 18 months have seen greater Council openness towards working with the PBC, especially in transitions and the drawdown of peace operations. Some doubts remain about the concrete benefits that the PBC can deliver to the Council or countries that it seeks to support, a view strongly held by Russia. Elected members also continue to take the lead in referencing the PBC in Council resolutions and presidential statements, with Sweden and Peru playing this role among current members. Overall there has been satisfaction among Council and PBC members with many of the changes in the PBC, which are seen as having made its activities more relevant and promising.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEBUILDING
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 April 2018 S/RES/2413||This resolution took note of the General Assembly’s decision in its procedural resolution, adopted that same day, to invite relevant UN bodies and organs to further consider the recommendations and options in the Secretary-General’s implementation report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|27 April 2016 S/RES/2282||This was a resolution on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.|
|18 January 2018 S/2018/43||This was the Secretary-General’s implementation report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|25 April 2018 S/PV.8243||This was a high-level briefing on peacebuilding and sustaining peace to coincide with the two day high-level General Assembly event. Secretary-General António Guterres; Secretary of State of Romania Dan Neculăescu, as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission; and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaïl Chergui briefed.|
|General Assembly Documents|
|26 April 2018 A/RES/72/276||This was a General Assembly resolution on the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.|
|27 April 2016 A/RES/70/262||This was the General Assembly resolution on the ten-year review of the UN Peacebuilding architecture.|
|Peacebuilding Commission Document|
|31 January 2018 A/72/721-S/2018/83||This was the PBC’s annual report on its 11th session.|