July 2019 Monthly Forecast


Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Expected Council Action

During its July presidency, Peru is planning a briefing on strengthening partnerships for nationally owned transitions. Peru’s Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio is expected to chair the session, which is expected to include briefings by the Secretary-General and the chair of Peacebuilding Commission, Ambassador Guillermo Fernández de Soto Valderrama (Colombia). Representatives of the World Bank and African Development Bank may also brief.

Background and Recent Developments

The Security Council and the UN system overall have increased the priority they place on the management of transitions during the drawdown and subsequent closure of UN peace operations and their evolution toward non-mission settings.

The report of the independent Advisory Group of Experts, prepared for the ten-year review of the UN peacebuilding architecture in 2015, said that the UN system needed to pay more attention to transitions, which are “frequently poorly timed and poorly managed”. It flagged that the drawdown of a peace operation usually comes with visibly diminished political attention and a rapid drop-off in financing to continue UN engagement through a country team.

The General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the review reflected these concerns. The Council expressed its intention regularly to request and consider the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) during the drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions, and both resolutions recognised the importance of adequately resourcing the peacebuilding components of relevant peace operations, including during mission transitions and drawdowns.

When the Council renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for a final 15-month period in December 2016, it requested, for the first time, the Secretary-General to prepare a “peacebuilding plan” for Liberia. The UN sought to consult with the government and other relevant partners in developing the plan, which divided responsibility for supporting Liberia after UNMIL’s departure among the UN country team, the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, the Economic Community of West African States, and the World Bank. The plan then proved useful in identifying capacity and financial gaps once the mission left and has guided the PBC’s continued support.

Transitions for mission drawdowns have more recently gotten underway in Sudan, Haiti and Guinea-Bissau. The AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has been preparing to exit by June 2020, although it is possible that the deadline will be extended. According to the Secretary-General’s 30 May report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, UNAMID and the country team have been working with the government on transition priorities, and, in a novel approach, $15 million from the mission’s assessed budget has been made available for the transfer of activities to the UN country team. In Haiti, transition planning has been ongoing since the preparation of the benchmarked exit strategy for the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti in early 2018, which is expected to be followed by the establishment of a special political mission and a strengthened country team, according to the report. In February, the Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the “prospective” completion of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Operation in Guinea-Bissau by the end of 2020.

At a broader policy level, the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative and the endorsement by 151-member states and four organisations of a Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations last year highlighted the importance of the PBC, partnerships and coherent and forward-looking support for UN mission transitions.

The Secretary-General’s 30 May report further describes UN system activities and reforms linked to improving transitions and enhancing the coherence of international peacebuilding efforts. These include a joint project between the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Department of Peace Operations to provide transition-related support to the following six priority countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Mali and Sudan. UN development system reforms have sought to strengthen the UN resident coordinator offices, which are responsible for coordinating country teams, including their conflict analysis and management capacities. In February, the Secretary-General issued a new planning directive on transition processes to support early joint planning and to ensure financing, operational assistance and adequate staffing.

On financing, the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) established a transitions window in 2018 to alleviate the impact of the often sharp decline in available funding to continue peacebuilding activities after the closure of a UN mission by covering two years before and five years after a mission drawdown. The aim is for the PBF to invest at least 40 percent of its funding (which totalled over $183 million in approved projects in 2018) in transition settings.

The Secretary-General’s report encouraged member states to consider voluntarily committing the equivalent of 15 percent of the final full-year budget of the closing peacekeeping mission for each of the first two years following the end of the mission’s mandate. The money would be used for existing peacebuilding projects or to create a country-level pooled fund. The proposal was one of the options for increasing financing for peacebuilding that the Secretary-General provided in a January 2018 report.

Further examples of the Council’s increased focus on transitions include a 14 February round-table discussion in Abidjan, during which Council members discussed with the resident coordinators of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia best practices and current challenges in those countries’ ongoing transitions following the withdrawal of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in 2017 and UNMIL in 2018. The subject also featured prominently at a 24 May Arria-formula meeting on “the impact of peacekeeping on peacebuilding and sustaining peace”.

Key Issues

A key issue for the session is how to strengthen partnerships with host governments and regional and international financial organisations during transitions, especially considering the new wave of anticipated mission departures in Darfur, Guinea-Bissau and Haiti. Related to this is the challenge of resource mobilisation for transitions and peacebuilding. Another important issue is to identify actions that the Council should consider when planning transitions from peace operations to a non-mission setting. No Council product is planned.

Council and Wider Dynamics

The concept of sustaining peace, which emerged from the 2015 peacebuilding architecture review, has generated scepticism among some member states that are wary of it leading to interference in matters of state sovereignty. However, there is consensus about the need for the Council and the UN to improve its management of transitions as well as increased interest among Council members, including the P5, to see how the PBC can provide support in such settings. The PBC is often spotlighted for its convening role and its mandate to improve the coherence of peacebuilding activities by bringing together representatives of the UN system, host governments, regional organisations, international financial organisations, and civil society.

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Security Council Resolution
27 April 2016S/RES/2282 This was on the ten-year review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.
Secretary-General’s Reports
30 May 2019S/2019/448 This was a Secretary-General’s report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 72/276 and Security Council resolution 2413.
Security Council Letter
29 June 2015S/2015/490 This was the report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Peacebuilding Architecture.

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