Update Report

Posted 12 April 2010
Download Publication: PDF

Update Report No. 1: Peacebuilding

Update Report in WordPDF

Expected Council Action
On 16 April the Council will hold an open debate on Post Conflict Peace Building: Comprehensive Peacebuilding Strategy to Prevent the Recurrence of Conflict under the presidency of the Council for April, Japan. The meeting is expected to be chaired by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Managing Director of the World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister for Justice of Timor-Leste Lucia Maria Lobato and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, Zainab Hawa Bangura, and Afghanistan, , are also likely to participate. Japan has proposed that a presidential statement be adopted as an outcome of the meeting.

Key Recent Developments
Japan circulated a concept paper for the debate on 1 April suggesting that such a debate would provide a forum to “consider a comprehensive peacebuilding strategy to prevent the recurrence of conflict” (S/2010/167). The paper argues that peacebuilding constitutes one of the major remedies for contemporary threats to international peace and security. It notes that there are far more demands for effective peacebuilding in the world than are being addressed by the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) which only has on its agenda four countries: Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.

The paper identifies critical gaps in three areas of peacebuilding which Japan believes are currently hampering international efforts to help countries emerging from conflict to stabilise and build sustainable peace:

  • political stability and security;
  • promotion of social stability; and
  • strengthening of international cooperation.

Two key questions will be discussed during the debate:

1) how to improve coherence and linkage among individual policy areas such as peace, security, human rights and the rule of law; and

2) how to better coordinate activities at the international, regional, national and local levels.

The debate takes place against the backdrop of a major review of the UN peacebuilding architecture (i.e., the PBC, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office) being conducted by the General Assembly. However, it is noteworthy that the scope of the upcoming Security Council debate may extend beyond the existing UN peacebuilding architecture in that it proposes dealing with the whole concept of peacebuilding. The concept paper suggests “a comprehensive policy review on an effective peacebuilding strategy…taking advantage of the current momentum and drawing from the experiences of relevant countries, with special reference to Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone.”

On 31 March Japan circulated a draft presidential statement to Council members, which at press time was still being considered at the expert level. The text reportedly highlights:

  • the importance of national ownership in peacebuilding, particularly considerations in a country specific context;
  • the need to strengthen the coherence between political, security, development, human rights and rule of law activities;
  • the importance of promoting reintegration of former combatants, refugees and internally displaced people, as well as consideration of youth employment as a key factor for social stability;
  • drug trafficking, organised crime, terrorism and the proliferation of small arms as constituting transnational threats, and the involvement of neighbouring countries as crucial in curbing them; and
  • in recognition of the vital role of the PBC and in anticipation of the 2010 review, the need to broaden and deepen the pool of civilian expertise for post-conflict situations and the need for the UN system to strengthen strategic partnerships with other international regional and subregional organs as well as financial institutions.

General Background
In 2005 the UN membership accepted that a significant conceptual, institutional and operational gap existed in international approaches to dealing with peacebuilding in post-conflict situations. The 2005 World Summit, in its final document (A/RES/60/1) decided to establish a peacebuilding commission as an advisory body. The PBC was established on 20 December 2005 by concurrent resolutions of the Security Council (S/RES/1645) and General Assembly (A/RES/60/180)—also referred to as the founding resolutions—as an intergovernmental advisory body with an Organisational Committee of 31 member countries.

Reaching agreement on the resolutions was a process with stark polarisation between the permanent five members of the Security Council (P5) and many others. The outcome left many in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Group of 77 (G77) rather bruised.

The objective of setting up the PBC was to put in place capacity to provide a more coherent and strategic approach by international actors in post-conflict countries.

The founding resolutions established three main functions for the PBC, as follows:

  • resource mobilisation: bringing together all relevant actors to each special case so as to marshal resources and to advise on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery;
  • coherent strategy: focus attention on the reconstruction and institution building needs by developing integrated strategies in order to lay the foundation for sustainable development; and
  • coordination of actors: to provide recommendations and information to improve the coordination of all relevant actors within and outside the UN, to develop best practices, to help to ensure predictable financing for early recovery activities and to extend the period of attention given by the international community to post-conflict recovery.

A country can be included on the PBC’s agenda by a request from the Security Council or the Secretary-General or—in “exceptional cases where the country is on the verge of lapsing or relapsing into conflict”—by a request from ECOSOC, the General Assembly or the country itself. (Under article 12 of the UN Charter, the General Assembly and ECOSOC cannot initiate action on any issue being considered by the Security Council and this has played a role in the way in which countries have come onto the PBC agenda.) On 13 July 2006, Burundi and Sierra Leone were placed on the agenda of the Commission at request of the Security Council (PBC/1/OC/SR.2). On 19 December 2007 the PBC placed Guinea-Bissau on its agenda (S/2008/87) followed by the Central African Republic on 12 June 2008 (S/2008/419) after referrals by the Security Council.

The PBC developed innovative informal working methods for each of the countries on its agenda. A unique country-specific configuration has been established for handling each of the countries. Each configuration comprises the 31 PBC Organisational Committee members plus the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (often referred to as the International Financial Institutions, or IFIs), the UN country team, relevant neighbouring countries, significant donor countries and regional and international organisations with an interest in PBC agenda countries. These country-specific configurations are led for twelve months by a member state which is willing to take on a leading role and make a strong commitment to the respective countries. A practical hands-on approach has developed with the chairs of each configuration typically organising informal meetings on and numerous visits to the countries within their respective purview.

An innovation of the PBC, as part of its quest to bridge security, political and economic issues that require simultaneous addressing in post-conflict societies, has been the development of integrated peacebuilding strategies for each of the four countries currently on its agenda. The processes of these integrated strategies are designed to provide a platform for joint decision-making (between national authorities, bilateral donors, key financial institutions like the IFIs, the UN development system, etc.) and to achieve more coherent international support in peacebuilding contexts.

Another innovation of the PBC has been the development of assessment tools for the monitoring of progress achieved in the implementation of the integrated respective peacebuilding strategies, or frameworks.

There has been some steady progress in developing an interface between the work of the Security Council and the work of the PBC. The complementary roles of the two bodies regarding the countries on the Commission’s agenda seem obvious. At the practical level the Council has been active in transforming some former peacekeeping missions into integrated peacebuilding missions tasked with coordinating the peace consolidation activities of UN agencies, funds, and programmes. The mandates of the UN’s missions in Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Burundi therefore make provision for assisting the PBC with the implementation of the respective integrated strategic frameworks, projects supported through the Peacebuilding Fund and peace consolidation generally. Chairs of the country-specific configurations have been invited to participate in Council meetings for the renewal of mandates. But substantive involvement has been slow to emerge. The advisory role of the PBC could also be of practical use to the Council. However, progress in capitalising on this potential has been slim.

There is also a growing recognition that the practice to date has focused heavily on the post-conflict dimension. This has been reflected in recent Security Council decisions where there has been some acceptance that peacebuilding cannot be sequenced and relegated to only post-peacekeeping phases. While this development is still at an early stage there seems to be a greater openness than there was in 2005 to early consideration of peacebuilding, even while peacekeeping is underway (see S/PRST/2009/23 on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict; S/RES/1889 on women, peace and security; and S/PRST/2010/2 on UN peacekeeping operations’ transition and exit strategies).

Review Process to Date
In line with the founding resolutions of the PBC and as the fifth anniversary of the 2005 World Summit approaches a review process of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture has been set in motion.

On 11 December 2009 the president of the General Assembly announced three co-facilitators had been appointed to steer the 2010 review and were tasked with examining and clarifying the purpose, role and operation of the peacebuilding architecture. The three co-facilitators are Ambassador Anne Anderson of Ireland, Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico and Ambassador Baso Sangqu of South Africa. (Heller was designated by the Council as its co-facilitator in a letter to the president of the General Assembly).

On 17 February the co-facilitators held their first (informal) consultations with the wider UN membership during which preliminary deliberations took place on what may be expected from the review process. The co-facilitators have since held a number of meetings with member states, representatives of the Secretary-General as well as with some civil society actors to solicit related views.

Considerations have centred on the peacebuilding architecture’s function and achievements, including:

  • whether it has measured up to expectations;
  • what impact the PBC has had on the countries on its agenda; and
  • how the architecture might be improved going forward.

On 1 April the co-facilitators circulated a paper on emerging issues regarding the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture. The paper identified six key propositions for discussion by the wider UN membership on 10 May, as follows:

  • the place of the PBC within the UN architecture;
  • timing/linkage of peacekeeping and peacebuilding in post-conflict situations;
  • resource mobilisation, developmental issues and mutual accountability;
  • peacebuilding in the field;
  • regional approaches to peacebuilding; and
  • scaling-up the level of ambition of the PBC.

Regional group and/or political bloc positions, as well as individual country positions, relating to issues, have not been formally emerged. The 10 May meeting is expected to provide a possible forum for airing such additional matters.

At press time the co-facilitators were scheduled to undertake several trips in April to Geneva, Brussels, Addis Ababa, the Central African Republic and South Africa as part of their broad consultative work with relevant international stakeholders in peacebuilding.

An understanding has been reached that the co-facilitators will produce a report (or notes) containing their findings and recommendations by June. Issues regarding substantive action on possible mandate changes have thus been relegated to future consideration after the work of the facilitation has been completed.

Underlying Issues
Major underlying issues for the upcoming open debate in the Security Council revolve around the following basic questions:

  • what is peacebuilding?
  • why is peacebuilding important?
  • where should it happen?
  • who should do it?
  • how should it be done?

Key Issues
Key issues for the Council include:

  • not appearing to preempt the General Assembly review process and reopening the wounds of 2005 and 2006 (e.g., concerns about a considerable increase in the power of the Council and, in particular the P5);
  • whether to focus in April on a modest goal of defining the questions or, instead, beginning to formulate some answers;
  • whether the Council is ready to concretely address and improve its own performance in the overall task of peacebuilding in peace consolidation processes;
  • whether Council member countries are comfortable with the draft statement and believe that it adequately addresses the issues raised by the debate; and
  • how to address in practice the need for 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 not yet being addressed.

The most likely option is a modest presidential statement highlighting issues but without pronouncing solutions.

Another option for the Council is a commitment to routinely focus on peacebuilding dimensions when reviewing existing mandates and requesting that they are always covered in the Secretary-General’s reports.

A third option for the Council, in terms of its working methods, will be to invite the chair of a country-specific configuration to an informal interactive dialogue well before work begins on draft resolutions renewing mandates.

Council Dynamics
Council members appear to generally agree on the value of the open debate and welcome it as an important systemic issue that should get a high-level airing. At this stage, members expect the debate to be useful in feeding into the ongoing consultations on the 2010 PBC review. Most members seem to want to be clear that the debate is not seeking to pre-empt or parallel the review exercise.

Japan has stressed that the open debate should be primarily seen as a separate exercise by the Council to take a comprehensive look at the whole concept of peacebuilding.

The consultative work being carried out by the three co-facilitators on the ongoing review exercise seem likely to help avoid criticism of the Council taking up the issue at this time. Also, the draft presidential statement seems designed to ensure that the competences of other relevant bodies are properly recognised.

Early indications are that most Council members generally agree with the gist of the draft presidential statement, which has modest aspirations beyond reaffirming previous understandings of the Council regarding peacebuilding and the transnational threats to peace and security. However, Russia and China have reportedly expressed concern about the specific reference to economic development and youth employment as a key factor for social stability and argued that introduction of a socioeconomic issue into Council discussions is novel and should remain outside the purview of the Council. The UK, Brazil and Turkey have reportedly supported compromise language that will reflect the essence of the idea of socioeconomic issues as vital for sustainable peace.

This division has also played a role in the Council in recent years limiting possibility for the Council to identify synergies between peacekeeping and peacebuilding with countries on the Council’s agenda—like Haiti—sometimes unable to benefit from accelerated peacebuilding. Nevertheless, overall, there seems to be an increasingly amenable disposition in the Council towards discussing peacebuilding issues. However, this recognition remains yet to be translated in a tangible way into country-specific contexts.

The presence of major PBC actors like Japan (Ambassador Yukio Takasu is a former chairman of the PBC’s Organisational Committee and Japan is a major financial contributor to UN peace efforts), Brazil (chair of the PBC country-specific configuration for Guinea-Bissau) and Mexico (currently the Council’s co-facilitator of the 2010 review) appears to be adding more traction to consideration of peacebuilding in the Council.

Most members seem to prefer that the Council take a wait-and-see approach to the UN peacebuilding architecture review exercise, due an apparent preference to take a cue from the work of the co-facilitators.

On 25 March Mexico, in its capacity as Council’s designated co-facilitator of the review, convened Council members’ first informal meeting on issues of substance regarding member states’ expectations on the scope and content of the review exercise. (Mexico had prior to this been updating Council members on procedural issues.) This may signal the beginning of more such meetings since subsequently, on 9 April, Mexico met with other Council members to deliberate on specific aspects of the emerging issues regarding the PBC that were deemed more directly relevant to the Council’s work. A clearer picture of the dynamics of the Council on this issue is likely to emerge from such deliberations.

Looking Ahead
The Council is expected to take up the issue of peacebuilding at least once again this year. In late June the Council is expected revisit the issue in the context of its annual retreat with the Secretary-General, to be hosted by Turkey in Istanbul, which will focus on the linkage between peacekeeping, peacebuilding and peacemaking. The issue remains a viable option for further deliberation during the year, including possibly during the Turkish presidency of the Council in September.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1889 (5 October 2009) women and peace and security.
  • S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005) created the PBC and the Peacebuilding Fund—concurrent with General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/180.
  • 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/2010/2 (12 February 2010) was on UN Peacekeeping operations’ transition and exit strategies.
  • S/PRST/2009/23 (22 July 2009) was on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict.
  • 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/2004/34 (6 October 2004) and S/PRST/2003/15 (24 September 2003) were on 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 and resumption 1 (16 April 2008) was on peace and security in Africa.
  • S/PV.5627 and resumption 1 (31 January 2007) was on peacebuilding.
  • 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/2010/167 (1 April 2010) was the Japanese concept paper for its open debate entitled Post Conflict Peace Building: Comprehensive Peacebuilding Strategy to Prevent the Recurrence of Conflict.
  • S/2008/419 (17 June 2008) confirmed that the Central African Republic had been placed on the PBC agenda.
  • S/2008/291 (2 May 2008) was the British concept paper on securing peace in post-conflict situations.
  • S/2008/87 (28 December 2007) confirmed that Guinea-Bissau had been placed on the PBC agenda.

Selected PBC Documents

  • PBC/2/INF/1 (13 February 2008) indicated the membership of the Organisational Committee and membership of the country-specific configurations.
  • PBC/1/OC/SR.2 (13 July 2006) was the second meeting of the Organisational Committee placing Burundi and Sierra Leone on the PBC agenda.

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 Security 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 for all.
  • 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.