Update Report

Posted 17 July 2009
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Update Report No. 1: Post-conflict Peacebuilding

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Expected Council Action
On 22 July the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s report on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict which was circulated on 11 June. The meeting will be chaired by the foreign minister of Uganda (president of the Council for July), Sam Kutesa. South Africa (in its capacity as the facilitator of the Burundi peace process) and Burundi (to showcase a specific experience in post-conflict peacebuilding) will be invited to speak, as will a representative of the World Bank. A draft presidential statement is currently being discussed by Council members and is expected to be adopted at the end of the meeting.

Key Recent Developments
On 20 May 2008 the Council held an open debate at the initiative of the United Kingdom (S/PV.5895). The focus was securing peace in post-conflict situations, which had been identified by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the Security Council on 16 April 2008 as a key priority (S/PV.5868, for further information please see our 9 May 2008 Update Report on Building Sustainable Peace: Post-Conflict Stabilisation). The British prepared a concept paper for the meeting putting forward a number of ideas, including:

  • enhancing international coordination of post-conflict peacebuilding efforts;
  • ensuring flexibility in funding; and
  • establishing a rapidly deployable and skilled civilian capacity.

The May 2008 Council meeting was chaired at the ministerial level by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and also addressed by the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), a senior vice president of the World Bank, UN Special Adviser Lakdar Brahimi and several member states.

The prevailing view at that time was that there was the need for greater support for peacebuilding and a more coordinated and coherent international approach to post-conflict peacebuilding. However, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries had reservations about the British proposal to create a standby rapidly deployable civilian expertise pool to assist in peace consolidation efforts. The concerns were mainly triggered by the wording and timing of the proposal for “rapidly deployable and skilled civilian capacity” (S/2008/291). Among the questions raised were:

  • what such civilian capacities would encompass;
  • how such capacities differed from already existing international capacity, especially the relationship between such capacities and national capacities;
  • whether utilisation of such capacities would come at the expense of other elements of the development agenda; and
  • how such civilian capacities would be organised, financed and deployed and the nature and extent of the role of the UN in that regard?

Further, NAM members argued that the British concept paper seemed to be related to a similar document under discussion in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, on enhanced rapidly deployable capacity. They requested clarification of the relationship between the two documents.

There were also sensitivities about the inter-relationship between the UK initiative and the work of the PBC (which in 2008 was still at a very early stage of its existence.) These seemed to be based on concerns that the initiative might undermine the PBC.

The Council adopted a presidential statement at the close of the meeting which invited the Secretary-General to provide advice within a year to relevant UN organs on how proceed with the issues of how best to support national efforts in affected countries to secure a sustainable peace more rapidly and effectively within the UN system and, taking into consideration the views of the PBC, how to coordinate peacebuilding activities and encourage the mobilisation and most effective use of resources for urgent peacebuilding needs.

On 11 June 2009 the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Council and the General Assembly. It focused on the challenges that post-conflict countries and the international community face in the immediate aftermath of conflict (defined as the first two years after the main conflict in a country has ended). The report reflected on past peacebuilding experiences, emphasised the imperative of national ownership, highlighted the recurring challenges arising at the end of conflict situations (e.g. basic security and safety and support to political processes, the provision of basic services, restoring core government functions and economic revitalisation) and the need to ensure that international actors were capable of responding coherently, rapidly and effectively to address these priorities.

The Secretary-General set out an agenda (i.e. recommendations) to strengthen UN response in the immediate aftermath of conflict as well as to facilitate an earlier, more coherent response from the wider international community, including:

  • stronger, more effective and better supported UN country teams on the ground, as well as early agreement on priorities and alignment of resources behind the teams;
  • strengthening national ownership of the peacebuilding process and capacity development from the outset;
  • rationalising and enhancing the UN system’s capacity to provide knowledge, expertise and deployable personnel to meet the most urgent peacebuilding needs, together with partners who have a comparative advantage in particular areas, as well as assisting countries to identify and draw on the most relevant capacities globally; and
  • working with member states, particularly donors, to enhance the speed, alignment, flexibility and risk tolerance of funding mechanisms.

The Secretary-General further highlighted the critical role of the PBC in achieving those goals and made suggestions as to how it could strengthen its advisory role in relation to the early post-conflict period.

On 13 July the Organizational Committee of the PBC met to consider the Secretary-General’s report. The Commission’s members generally welcomed its contents, including the emphasis on national ownership in peacebuilding processes, enhancing the role of the PBC and the need for faster and more flexible funding. There were also reported calls for the PBC to consider adding countries that were just emerging from conflict to its agenda.

At the time of writing the Council was discussing a draft presidential statement, generated by the Ugandan delegation, which reportedly:

  • welcomes the report of the Secretary General as an important contribution towards a more effective and coherent international response to post-conflict peacebuilding;
  • recognises the important advisory, coordination and resource-mobilisation functions of the PBC and encourages it to consider how its role can be enhanced, in the context of the 2010 review of the PBC mandate (as envisaged by its founding resolutions S/RES/1645 and A/RES/60/180);
  • emphasises the primary responsibility of national authorities for post-conflict peacebuilding and calls upon international partners to align their financial, technical and political support around a common national strategy;
  • recognises the need to develop national capacity and, in the context of fielding civilian expertise, notes the importance of finding experts from the region and supports the Secretary-General’s proposal for a review to be undertaken to enhance the pool of civilian experts;
  • requests the UN to develop its capability to develop, identify and deploy experienced and skilled leadership on the ground rapidly with effective support teams;
  • recognises the importance of predictable, speedy, flexible and reliable funding for post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding activities, including prepositioned pooled funding for post-conflict in the Peacebuilding Fund, in-country specific multi-donor trust funds and improved donor practices, together with the need for close strategic collaboration between the UN and international financial institutions;
  • reaffirms the role of regional and subregional organisations in peace initiatives and the need to enhance their capacity in post-conflict peacebuilding;
  • stresses the need for all post-conflict strategies and interventions to address the needs of women and the youth; and
  • requests the Secretary-General to report to the relevant organs of the UN in consultation with the PBC, on the implementation of recommendations contained in his report within a year.

Key Issues
An immediate issue for the Council is whether member countries are comfortable with the draft statement and believe that it adequately addresses the issues and recommendations raised by the Secretary-General.

A second issue is whether the draft adequately deals with the critical gaps in international efforts to stabilise and build sustainable international responses in the immediate aftermath of conflict. A related question is whether the Council is ready to signal more clearly its support for an enhanced role for the PBC (the language envisaged seems somewhat oblique and equivocal).

A third key issue is the extent to which the Council is ready to decide on how much it should remain actively engaged on the issue, bearing in mind the various views expressed on 13 July in the PBC on the Secretary-General’s report. This issue is likely be considered against the wider backdrop of the upcoming 2010 review of the PBC and the growing sense that as the peacebuilding agenda becomes more operationally focused on economic and social issues, and less on security issues, the added value that the Council can bring is less clear.

A related issue is the absence of consideration of peacebuilding activities in countries which are still in a conflict situation. This is a question which is directly within the Council’s ambit and the case for more effective coordination and coherent resource mobilisation during this stage is at least as strong—yet it is not being addressed.

Options available to the Council include:

  • adopting a relatively bland statement supporting the findings and recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report and requesting and waiting for a follow-up report on implementation of the Secretary-General’s proposals; and
  • taking up the wider issues of peacebuilding during conflict with a view to a situations more comprehensive Council statement later in the year; and
  • deciding on follow-up Council activity with a view to providing input to the 2010 review and, in particular, seeking to reach agreement on whether the time has come, in post-conflict situations, for the Council to signal that the PBC should begin to fully utilise its potential and the Council take more of a back seat.

Council Dynamics
Council members generally agree on the value of the report and see its utility in setting the tone for further deliberations, including how this feeds into the 2010 review of the PBC, bearing in mind the responsibilities of relevant bodies of the UN (e.g. General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council).

The report seems to have succeeded in calming some of the concerns expressed in 2008 and some closure seems to have been found to the issue of creating a standby pool of civilian expertise for rapid deployment. Resistance of the kind experienced last year from NAM countries, as well Russia and China, seems unlikely. The Secretary-General’s nuanced emphasis in his report on national ownership and the need to give appropriate regard to regional expertise in any selection process has also been positive.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1645A/RES/60/180 (20 December 2005) created the PBC and the Peacebuilding Fund.
  • S/RES/1327 (13 November 2000) and S/RES/1318 (7 September 2000) contained annexes discussing measures to strengthen peacekeeping operations.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/16 (20 May 2008) invited the Secretary-General to provide advice on how to support sustainable peace in post-conflict situations.
  • S/PRST/2007/3 (21 February 2007) requested the PBC to include consideration of security sector reform programmes in integrated peacebuilding strategies.
  • S/PRST/2007/1 (8 January 2007) underlined the importance of close interaction between the Council and the PBC.
  • S/PRST/2006/42 (8 November 2006) welcomed the role the PBC can play in mainstreaming gender perspectives into the peace consolidation process.
  • S/PRST/2006/39 (20 September 2006) welcomed the intent of regional organisations to be closely associated with the work of the PBC and expressed the Council’s commitment to facilitate their participation in the PBC’s country-specific activities.
  • S/PRST/2006/38 (9 August 2006) on peace consolidation in West Africa underscored the importance and role of the PBC in assisting countries emerging from conflict to achieve sustainable peace and security.
  • S/PRST/2006/28 (22 June 2006) emphasised the role of the PBC with respect to the promotion of justice and the rule of law.
  • S/PRST/2004/33 (22 September 2004) recognised the important civilian role in conflict management and peacebuilding.
  • S/PRST/2004/16 (17 May 2004) emphasised the need for enhanced resources, personnel and planning to strengthen peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/2001/31 (31 October 2001) emphasised the importance of gender perspectives in policies and programmes addressing armed conflict, especially peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/2001/5 (20 February 2001) reiterated the value of including peacebuilding elements in mandates of peacekeeping operations.
  • S/PRST/2001/3 (31 January 2001) established a Working Group of the Whole on UN Peacekeeping Operations.
  • S/PRST/2000/10 (23 March 2000) was on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.

Selected Security Council Debates

  • S/PV.5895 and resumption 1 (20 May 2008) was on post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • S/PV.5868 (16 April 2008) was on peace and security in Africa.
  • S/PV.5627 and resumption 1 (31 January 2007) was on peacebuilding, including a statement by Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.
  • S/PV.5041 (22 September 2004) was a Council debate on civilian aspects of conflict management and peacebuilding.
  • S/PV.5007 and resumption 1 (20 July 2004) was on cooperation between the UN and regional organisations in stabilisation processes.
  • S/PV.4993 and resumption 1 (22 June 2004) was on the role of civil society in post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • S/PV.4943 (15 April 2004) was on the role of business in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • S/PV.4903 and resumption 1 (26 January 2004) was on the UN role in post-conflict national reconciliation.
  • S/PV.4852 and resumption 1 (29 October 2003) recognised that gender inequalities are heightened in conflict zones.
  • S/PV.4835 (30 September 2003) was on the UN’s role in promoting justice and the rule of law in post-conflict situations.
  • S/PV.4326 (13 June 2001) was a Council debate on strengthening cooperation with troop-contributing countries.
  • S/PV.4272 and resumption 1 (5 February 2001) was on comprehensive approaches to peacebuilding.
  • S/PV.4223 and resumption 1 (15 November 2000) was a Council debate on transitioning from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in post-conflict situations.
  • S/PV.4208 (24 October 2000), resumption 1 (24 October 2000) and resumption 2 (25 October 2000) was on women, peace and security.

Selected Letters

  • S/2008/291 (2 May 2008) contained the British concept paper on securing peace in post-conflict situations.

Selected PBC Documents

  • PBC/2/INF/1 (13 February 2008) indicated the membership of the PBC Organizational Committee and membership of the country-specific configurations.

Selected General Assembly Resolutions

  • A/RES/60/287 (21 September 2006) was the resolution on the Peacebuilding Fund.
  • A/RES/60/180 (20 December 2005) established the PBC, concurrent with Council resolution 1645.
  • A/RES/60/1 (16 September 2005) was the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

Selected Reports

  • S/2009/304 (11 June 2009) was the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict.
  • S/2009/189 (8 April 2009) was the Secretary-General’s report on enhancing mediation and support activities.
  • A/60/696 (24 February 2006) was a report on the Secretariat’s reform project “Peace Operations 2010.”
  • A/59/2005 (21 March 2005) was the report of the Secretary-General, In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights.
  • A/59/565 (2 December 2004) was the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility.
  • S/2004/616 (23 August 2004) was the Secretary-General’s report on the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict societies.
  • E/2004/86 (25 June 2004) was an assessment of the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups of ECOSOC on African countries emerging from conflict.
  • S/2000/809 (21 August 2000) was the report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations (Brahimi Report).
  • S/2000/101 (11 February 2000) was the report of the Secretary-General on the role of UN peacekeeping in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration.
  • S/24111 (17 June 1992) was the report of the Secretary-General, An Agenda for Peace, Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping.