Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
Expected Council Action
In December, the Council will hold a high-level briefing, chaired by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, on post-conflict economic recovery. Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to brief.
The briefing is one of the signature events during Côte d’Ivoire’s December presidency of the Council. The session seeks to consider the importance of economic recovery for successful post-conflict transitions, having been central to Côte d’Ivoire’s recent experience. On 30 June 2017, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) concluded its mandate, 13 years after it was established and six years after resurgent post-electoral violence in 2011 led to the deaths of approximately 3,000 people. UNOCI made a significant contribution to the country’s stabilisation, and its ability to withdraw within six years of the post-electoral crisis, Côte d’Ivoire often notes, was also tied to the country’s successful economic recovery.
Since 2012, Côte d’Ivoire has experienced strong economic performance, marked by a rapid increase in gross domestic product (GDP). In the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, the economy grew by more than 8 percent every year. Last year, GDP growth was a still-strong 7.8 percent, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. The Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council on Côte d’Ivoire in January 2017 ahead of UNOCI’s closure noted that the government had placed “specific emphasis on improving the business environment.” It flagged that in November 2012, the government enacted an investment code that four years later resulted in businesses being given a total exemption from the value-added tax, “a 40 percent reduction in customs duties and tax exemption on profits,” and that it “continues to create a window for investment and foreign trade.” The report further highlighted that Côte d’Ivoire continues to assist private-sector development by promoting business opportunities in agriculture, industry, mining and services. Despite this progress, the Secretary-General noted that economic growth “still needs to become more inclusive, with continued efforts to combat inequality.”
Post-conflict economic recovery is often described as being overlooked by the UN. However, it is recognised as an important element among the range of interventions required for building and sustaining peace. The Advisory Group of Experts, which drafted the 2015 report for the ten-year review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture, said that “the failure to develop economically poses a risk of relapse in the first place”, and that relapse into conflict can be “significantly mitigated when economies are reactivated”. It further affirmed that “overcoming economic and social grievances, offering populations the means to earn livelihoods and creating the foundations for inclusive, broad-based economic growth are integral to any transition from conflict to normalcy”. Accordingly, the experts wrote, citing the research of Paul Collier, “economic development may be the true ‘exit strategy’ for international peacekeeping”. The Advisory Group of Experts noted, however, that when it comes to post-conflict economic recovery, there is not yet a clear consensus on how to proceed.
The issue was touched on subsequently in resolution 2282, which the Council adopted in April 2016 for the peacebuilding architecture review. Resolution 2282 and the twin General Assembly version (A/RES/70/262) recognised that sustaining peace includes “moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development”, and that “advancing economic development in conflict-affected countries” should be part of an integrated and coherent approach for sustaining peace. The resolution highlighted the importance of UN-World Bank collaboration in conflict-affected countries, requesting, among other things, that the Secretary-General explore options for strengthening this partnership, including by assisting such countries, upon their request, in creating an enabling environment for economic growth, foreign investment and job creation, and in mobilising domestic resources and using them effectively, in line with national priorities and underscored by the principle of national ownership.
Among current situations facing the Council where it has considered the importance of economic recovery has been the Lake Chad basin. During its 2017 visiting mission, members discussed with interlocutors—including national and local government authorities, UN country teams and civil society—the need to promote economic development and create jobs to address root causes of the Boko Haram crisis. Resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad Basin and some of the Council’s subsequent presidential statements have recognised the importance of promoting economic growth and supporting livelihood opportunities to contribute to the region’s stabilisation and recovery. While Yemen is not a post-conflict situation, here too the Council has needed to consider measures to address the collapse of the economy, including to offset famine and provide more favourable conditions for implementing any future peace agreement.
Key Issues and Options
Considering the experience of Côte d’Ivoire’s economic recovery during its transition and lessons that it may offer for other situations on the Council’s agenda, or what could have been done differently, is a key issue. Related to this is identifying economic policies or measures that may be crucial for consolidating peace.
Ways that the Council can support or encourage the economic recovery of countries on its agenda and how the UN, regional and sub-regional organisations and international financial institutions can better cooperate on this objective are other important issues. The experiences of other countries that have concluded transitions and the factors that have facilitated or limited their economic recovery are likely to be considered for drawing lessons.
As the organiser of this debate, Côte d’Ivoire may prepare a summary of the main ideas raised or lessons identified to be circulated in a Council letter, which could provide a basis for further Council discussion of this issue over the coming year.
Côte d’Ivoire frequently highlights its strong economic recovery following the crisis of 2011, and the issue has been a priority of President Ouattara, a former IMF official. Economic recovery is widely recognised as important to consolidating peace in post-conflict countries, but it seems that the Council has not previously held a dedicated meeting on the subject. Instead, the subject has come up under the umbrella of general discussions about peacebuilding or in the context of different country situations. Some members could view the topic as encroaching on the responsibilities of other UN organs, though the relevance of the issue to Côte d’Ivoire’s own post-conflict transition is likely to dispel such concerns.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEBUILDING AND SUSTAINING PEACE
|Security Council Resolution|
|31 March 2017S/RES/2349||This was on the Lake Chad Basin.|
|27 April 2016S/RES/2282||This was a concurrent resolution with the General Assembly on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|24 July 2017S/PRST/2017/10||This was a presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel, which underscored the importance of a holistic approach to degrade and defeat Boko Haram, including by promoting economic growth.|
|29 October 2018S/2018/958||This was the special report of the Secretary-General per S/PRST/2017/8 on lessons learned about the role of UNOCI in Côte d’Ivoire.|
|31 January 2017S/2017/89||This was a Secretary-General’s report on UNOCI.|
|Security Council Letters|
|29 June 2015S/2015/490||This was the report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Peacebuilding Architecture.|