Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
Expected Council Action
In July, the Security Council will hold a briefing on the annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). Ambassador Osama Abdelkhalek (Egypt), who served as PBC chair last year, is expected to present the PBC’s annual report on its fifteenth session from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. The incoming ambassador of Bangladesh, who is replacing Ambassador Rabab Fatima (Bangladesh) as the current PBC chair, will also brief, focusing on the Commission’s work programme for 2022. (Ambassador Fatima is expected to end her tenure as PBC chair soon, following her appointment in June as UN High Representative for Least Developed, Landlocked Countries, and Small Island Developing States.)
Key Recent Developments
On 27 and 29 April, the General Assembly convened a high-level meeting on financing for peacebuilding, organised pursuant to the twin resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council, A/RES/75/201 and S/RES/2558, respectively, at the conclusion of the 2020 UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review. These resolutions noted that peacebuilding financing remained a “critical challenge”, and they called for the high-level meeting during the General Assembly’s seventy-sixth session to advance, explore and consider options for ensuring adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding. The resolutions affirmed a commitment to pursuing “action-oriented” outcomes.
Ahead of the meeting, the Secretary-General submitted a report to the General Assembly and Security Council, dated 28 January, on financing for peacebuilding. According to the report, “there has been too little progress on adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding”. The report underscored that current financing for prevention and peacebuilding remains inadequate despite the ability of such investments to reduce what have become unsustainable costs of responding to crises.
In a separate 1 March report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General requested the General Assembly to appropriate a total of $100 million to the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) for the 12-month period from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023. Providing the PBF with access to assessed contributions, which was originally proposed by an independent Advisory Group of Experts for the 2015 Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture, “has emerged as the only viable means for providing the [PBF] with a consistent baseline level of funding to complement the voluntary contributions provided by donors”, according to the Secretary-General’s 1 March report. Donor contributions to the PBF in 2020 and 2021 totalled around $180 million and $178 million, respectively, far short of the Secretary-General’s call since 2017 to increase the capacity of the PBF—recognised as a useful ‘catalytic’ source of peacebuilding financing—to $500 million annually.
UN member states, however, are still not in agreement on using assessed contributions. The high-level meeting on peacebuilding financing concluded with a decision to set up a process of intergovernmental negotiations, which Kenya and Sweden will co-facilitate.
Regarding the PBC, its annual report to the General Assembly and the Security Council, released in February, outlines its activities and trends. In 2021, the PBC held 29 meetings, reflecting the body’s increased activity in recent years (though this was a decline from the PBC’s 2020 peak of 40 meetings amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic). Meetings last year included discussion of 13 different countries and regional issues. These ranged from situations that the PBC has traditionally considered, such as Liberia and Burundi, to new issues, such as the political transition in Chad and Gulf of Guinea piracy. Cross-cutting and thematic discussions made up 40 percent of its meetings, compared to about 15 percent of its meetings in 2018.
Reflecting the PBC’s comparative advantage as a convening body that can bring together diverse stakeholders, non-UN representatives comprised 67% of all PBC briefers, including national and local governments, regional and subregional organisations, international financial institutions, civil society, and the private sector. The Secretary-General envisions an expanded role for the PBC, which is mandated to address the multidimensional threats to development, peace and security, as he said when briefing the Commission last year on his vision for future global cooperation and multilateralism in his September 2021 report “Our Common Agenda”.
During 2021, the PBC advised the Council a total of nine times, according to the annual report. It did so through PBC chair briefings at Council meetings on the Great Lakes region and the Group of Five for the Sahel Joint Force, and as a participant at Council open debates on UN transitions and post-COVID-19 recovery in Africa. In the lead-up to this last meeting, the PBC convened an “informal-informal interactive dialogue” with the president of the Security Council on promoting post-COVID recovery in Africa. The PBC chair participated in an Arria-formula meeting on Haiti, sharing perspectives on the role and contributions of the PBC in other countries that benefitted from inclusive approaches to national reconciliation and sustaining peace. The chair also briefed at a meeting of the Security Council Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa. Following the open debate on UN transitions, the Council adopted resolution 2594, which strongly encouraged the PBC to facilitate the development of joint objectives and priorities prior to transitions and, in that connection, requested the Secretary-General to liaise with the PBC in advance of relevant reporting to the Council, with a view to facilitating the provision of complementary and timely advice from the Commission to the Council. It also sent two letters of advice to the Council, on the Central African Republic (CAR) and on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
A notable trend so far in 2022 has been an intensification of the PBC practice of submitting letters or notes of advice ahead of Security Council meetings. This practice began in 2018 when the chair of the PBC’s CAR configuration wrote to the Council with recommendations ahead of the mandate renewal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). This year the PBC has submitted advice to inform a press statement on Burkina Faso, and ahead of Council meetings on WPS, COVID-19, the Great Lakes region, and Central Africa.
Key Issues and Options
The practice of briefing on the PBC annual report had stopped in recent years, after taking place annually from 2012 to 2018. A key issue is to update the Council on the PBC’s activities.
Another issue is assessing the impact of the PBC’s work, both for the countries it engages with and its advice to the Council. The PBC must negotiate and achieve consensus among its 31 members on its letters of advice before sending them to the Council. Preparing and agreeing earlier on these letters of advice could be helpful, as they are often approved only on the same day as the relevant Council meeting. Council members could highlight that to be more impactful, the PBC should submit the advice several days ahead of the relevant Council meeting, so that they have more time to consider the advice as they prepare their statements and positions. A new practice agreed in March to improve the PBC’s advisory role has been to provide PBC members with advance copies of relevant Secretary-General’s reports.
The underfunding of peacebuilding remains a key issue. Since the 2015 review of the peacebuilding architecture, which ushered in various reforms of UN peacebuilding, this has been the most difficult issue for the UN and member states to make progress on.
Brazil is organising this session as part of its Council presidency during July. It has long been a proponent of the PBC, and since 2008, Brazil has chaired the PBC’s country configuration for Guinea-Bissau—which is one of four remaining country configurations, as the PBC has sought to have its primary, 31-member state body, called the Organizational Committee, be the main forum to discuss its new country, regional and thematic issues.
Kenya is the Council’s informal coordinator with the PBC, convening meetings of Council members that serve on the PBC every six months to review the PBC’s advisory role. In this capacity, Kenya also identifies upcoming opportunities for PBC engagement with the Council and has shepherded new initiatives such as sharing advanced copies of relevant Secretary-General’s reports with the PBC.
Currently, nine Council members serve on the PBC. Seven PBC seats are allocated to the Security Council, which always include the P5 (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US). Kenya and Mexico hold the other two Council-allocated seats. Brazil serves on the PBC as one of the seven member states that the General Assembly elects. India is one of five PBC members selected for being a major troop and police contributor to UN peace operations. The issue of authorising assessed contributions for the PBF is being considered in the General Assembly. Two of the UN’s large financial contributors continue to oppose considering the use of assessed contributions for the PBF.
UN DOCUMENTS ON PEACEBUILDING
|Security Council Resolution|
|21 December 2020S/RES/2558||This resolution was on the 15-year review of UN peacebuilding, welcoming progress and encouraging continued actions to implement the 2016 resolutions on the ten-year review of UN peacebuilding.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|18 December 2018S/PRST/2018/20||This was a presidential statement on the Peacebuilding Commission’s advisory role to the Council, initiated by Sweden.|
|21 December 2017S/PRST/2017/27||This was a presidential statement that outlined elements related to peacebuilding and sustaining peace to be considered when reviewing the mandates and configuration of peacekeeping missions.|
|1 March 2022A/76/732||This was a Secretary-General’s report requesting the General Assembly to appropriate assessed contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund.|
|28 January 2022A/76/668–S/2022/66||This was a Secretary-General’s report on financing for peacebuilding.|
|Security Council Letters|
|25 April 2022S/2022/353||This was a PBC letter of advice to the Security Council for a 27 April meeting on the Great Lakes region.|
|11 April 2022S/2022/307||This was a PBC letter of advice to the Council for its 11 April meeting briefing on the implementation of resolution 2532 for a global ceasefire and resolution 2565 on COVID-19 vaccines.|