May 2023 Monthly Forecast


Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Expected Council Action

In May, the Security Council will hold an open debate on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace”, one of the signature events of Switzerland’s presidency. Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis will chair the debate. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk; Cynthia Chigwenya, Youth Ambassador for Peace for Southern Africa; and ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Vice-President and Professor of Security, Leadership & Development, King’s College London, are expected to brief.

Key Recent Developments

On 21 September 2020, the General Assembly adopted a declaration marking the UN’s seventy-fifth anniversary and requested the Secretary-General to report back with recommendations on how to respond to current and future challenges facing the world. Accordingly, the Secretary-General released his report “Our Common Agenda” on 10 September 2021, presenting his vision for the future of multilateral cooperation to effectively address global challenges and threats. In his report, the Secretary-General outlined six potential areas for a new agenda for peace, including, but not limited to, the following: (1) reducing strategic risks; (2) strengthening international foresight and capacities to identify and adapt to new risks; (3) reshaping responses to all forms of violence; (4) investing in prevention and peacebuilding; (5) supporting regional prevention and; (6) putting women and girls at the centre.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/76/6, adopted on 15 November 2021, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report as a basis for further consideration by member states. In informal thematic consultations organised by the President of the General Assembly on “Our Common Agenda” in February and March 2022, the UN system was invited to develop a “New Agenda for Peace” in close consultation with member states and in collaboration with all relevant partners, as part of the preparations for the Summit of the Future. (The Summit of the Future, proposed in “Our Common Agenda”, will be held on 22-23 September 2024.)

The UN Secretariat has been consulting with member states, regional groups and other actors for their views, priorities, and recommendations, based on which the UN is expected to produce a policy paper in June on the New Agenda for Peace. On 18 April, the High-Level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Effective Multilateralism, which the Secretary-General established in March 2022 as part of the Our Common Agenda initiative, published its report that contains recommendations on strengthening the UN and multilateral system’s ability to address pressing global challenges, from climate change and future pandemics, to preventing conflict, attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, and supporting a just digital transformation.

On 26 January, the Council held an open debate convened by Japan on “Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges” under the Council’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace agenda item. The debate considered how to adapt and strengthen UN peacebuilding to respond to new challenges such as food security, pandemic diseases, and climate change through investment in people, including by promoting socioeconomic development and protecting human rights and human security. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, who briefed at the session, highlighted the central role of “inclusion” in the New Agenda for Peace, which involves the meaningful participation of “all constituencies and communities, particularly those traditionally underrepresented” in peace and security processes, as well as in a country’s social, economic and political life.

Peacebuilding Commission-Related Developments

On 30 January, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) convened a meeting on the New Agenda for Peace with Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo. Noting the deteriorating global peace and security environment and deepening divisions among states, DiCarlo said that the New Agenda for Peace seeks to articulate a unifying vision to help reforge member states’ commitment to the collective security system and the values of the UN Charter. She reiterated that conflict prevention and peacebuilding were at the heart of the New Agenda. Commission members expressed support for expanding the PBC’s role to more geographical and substantive settings, and addressing cross-cutting issues of security, climate change, health, gender equality, development, and human rights, which the Secretary-General proposed in Our Common Agenda.

On 2 February, the PBC elected Ambassador Ivan Šimonović (Croatia) as commission chair. The outgoing chair, Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Bangladesh), and Ambassador Antje Leendertse (Germany) were elected as the new vice-chairs.

On 3 March, the PBC sent a letter of advice to the Council on South Sudan, the first time that the PBC has advised the Council on the country. It followed the commission’s first meeting on South Sudan in October 2022 and a PBC mission led by Mutih to South Sudan from 6 to 9 December 2022. On 29 March, the PBC also held its first meeting on Mozambique.

So far in 2023, the PBC has advised the Council eight times. It submitted written advice for Council meetings on West Africa and the Sahel, Colombia, sea-level rise, and South Sudan, while commission representatives have briefed the Council at meetings on the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes region, Colombia and at the 26 January open debate on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

Key Issues and Options

Switzerland has circulated a concept note, which states that the aim of the open debate is to take stock, review and strengthen the approaches of the Security Council towards building trust to foster sustainable peace in light of current and emerging threats. Key issues are how to promote inclusion, international normative frameworks, and “facts” (or data), which the concept note suggests are important for building trust in conflict prevention and resolution efforts and in national peacebuilding processes.

Resolutions 2282 of the Security Council and the General Assembly (A/RES/70/262) in April 2016 on the ten-year review of the UN peacebuilding architecture established the importance of “inclusivity” for effective peacebuilding. According to the concept note, inclusion of all stakeholders, including women and youth, is key for building trust, while at the multilateral level, it is important for the Council to consider how to better involve the wider peacebuilding architecture and regional and subregional organisations. The international normative frameworks, including international human rights law, enable accountability and predictability, which are also conducive to building trust. Data from scientifically driven and evidence-based insights are key to informing Council decision-making to prevent and resolve conflict and build peace. Additionally, using data and facts can foster trust among Council members.

In addition to the opportunity for the “Council to reflect on its responsibility, potential and tools to shore up trust”, as the concept note states, the open debate aims to contribute to the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace, including possible elements of confidence- and trust-building measures that can be included in the New Agenda. Our Common Agenda posits “trust” as one of the foundations for a renewed social contract, and highlights the importance of delivering basic services, promoting justice, and countering disinformation to respond to the overall breakdown in trust in major institutions worldwide. Following the release of the policy paper on the New Agenda for Peace, the Council could consider holding a formal or informal meeting to discuss the paper.

Council Dynamics

Switzerland chaired the PBC’s Burundi configuration from 2009 until the configuration was discontinued at the end of last year. Elected Council member Brazil serves as the PBC and Council informal coordinator, which plays an important role in identifying opportunities for cooperation between the two bodies. Japan is another elected member that has long been an active proponent of peacebuilding and the PBC.

Nine Council members currently serve on the PBC’s 31-member Organizational Committee. Seven PBC seats are allocated to the Security Council, which always include the P5 (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US). Ecuador and Mozambique hold the other two Council-allocated seats. Brazil serves as one of the seven member states that the General Assembly elects to the PBC. Japan is one of five PBC members selected for being a top UN financial contributor. Traditionally the P5 were seen as more cautious about having the PBC advise the Council, which they viewed as potentially interfering in the Council’s responsibility to maintain international peace and security. But this dynamic has evolved significantly in recent years as interest has grown in improving UN peacebuilding and the impact of the PBC, including its advisory role. This is evidenced by the rise in PBC advisories and the Council’s agreement last year to allow the PBC to receive advance copies of relevant Secretary-General’s reports to the Council.

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Secretary-General’s Report
5 August 2021A/75/982 This was the Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda.
Security Council Letters
18 April 2023S/2023/283 This was the concept note for the open debate at the ministerial level on “Future proofing trust for sustaining peace” under the agenda item “Peacebuilding and sustaining peace”, organized by Switzerland during its Council presidency.
11 April 2023S/2023/277 This was a letter from the PBC chair Ambassador Ivan Šimonović (Croatia) on the countries and issues that the PBC seeks advanced copies of Secretary-General’s reports during 2023, and on the PBC’s Provisional programme of work for 2023.
Security Council Meeting Records
26 January 2023S/PV.9250 (Resumption 1) This was the second half of the meeting record of the Council open debate on “Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges”.
26 January 2023S/PV.9250 This was a Council open debate on “Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges” under the peacebuilding and sustaining peace agenda.
General Assembly Documents
8 September 2022A/RES/76/305 This was a General Assembly resolution on financing for peacebuilding.
8 September 2022A/RES/76/307 This was a General Assembly resolution on Modalities for the Summit of the Future.
15 November 2021A/RES/76/6 This was a General Assembly resolution welcoming the Secretary-General’s report “Our Common Agenda”.
21 September 2020A/RES/75/1 This General Assembly resolution contained its Declaration on the commemoration of the UN’s seventy-fifth anniversary.
Peacebuilding Commission Document
17 February 2023A/77/720-S/2023/86 This was the annual report of the PBC on its sixteenth session.