Update Report

Update Report No. 2: Peacebuilding Commission


Expected Council Action
On 23 March the Council will hold a debate to consider the fourth annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC).

The outgoing Chair of the PBC, German Ambassador Peter Wittig, will present the report. The newly elected Chair, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana of Rwanda, is also likely to address the Council. It is possible that chairs of PBC country-specific configurations will also inscribe to speak.

No outcome is expected.

Wittig will present the annual report to an open debate of the General Assembly on 21 March.

Key Recent Developments
Security Council resolution 1646 and General Assembly resolution 60/180 mandates the PBC to report annually to both bodies and for each to hold a debate on the report. It is practice that both bodies hold their debates at around the same time to ensure focus and interest is maintained—the General Assembly usually considers it first, followed a few days later by the Council. The Assembly debate is scheduled for 21 March.

On 26 January the PBC Organisational Committee—the elected body which coordinates the overall work programme of the PBC—adopted the PBC annual report covering its fourth session. The PBC Organisational Committee decided on 17 June 2010 to align the annual reporting cycle with the calendar year to follow the same cycle as the terms of membership and chairmanship of its various structures and bodies. This change resulted in the fourth annual report of the PBC covering the period of 1 July 2009 to 31 December 2010.

The five-year review of the PBC—as mandated in resolution 60/180 and Council resolution 1645—was conducted during the reporting period. On 19 July 2010 the co-facilitators (the permanent representatives of Ireland, Mexico and South Africa) released their report. There were two key recommendations relevant to the Security Council:

On 29 October 2010 the General Assembly and Security Council adopted identical resolutions—resolutions A/65/7 and 1947, respectively—that requested the PBC to reflect in its annual reports progress made in taking forward the relevant recommendations presented in the report of the co-facilitators.

The PBC Organisational Committee met on 23 November 2010 to discuss the process of taking forward the recommendations of the review. Committee members discussed a “roadmap for actions in 2011” drafted by the Chair with suggested actions to take forward the recommendations at the field and headquarters-level for the three principal components of the PBC—the Organisational Committee, the country-specific configurations and the working group on lessons learned—plus the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO). This roadmap is intended to act as an unofficial “living document” that PBC members can add to and change over time.

The fourth annual report highlighted several areas where the PBC is already taking forward recommendations of the review, including ways to lighten the administrative burden on configuration countries, better mobilise resources toward configuration countries and better focus developmental priorities across configuration countries (for example, alleviating youth unemployment).

The fourth annual report also covers key developments in the countries on the PBC’s agenda. In addition to the countries already on the PBC agenda—Burundi, the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone—on 16 September 2010 the PBC decided, after a request from the Security Council, to add Liberia to its agenda and created a country-specific configuration under the chairmanship of Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, the Permanent Representative of Jordan. The Security Council is seized of all five situations. Since the end of the reporting period, on 23 February 2011 the PBC added Guinea to its agenda—the first country added without a referral from the Security Council.

During the past year the Council has more consistently invited the chairs of country-specific configurations to brief the Council when it considers the mandate or holds formal meetings on the countries on the PBC agenda. In its July 2010 Note from the President on Council working methods, the Council signalled its intention “to maintain regular communication with the Peacebuilding Commission” and “to invite the Chairs of country-specific configurations of the Peacebuilding Commission to participate in formal Security Council meetings at which the situation concerning the country in question is considered, or on a case-by-case basis, for an exchange of views in an informal dialogue.”

The reporting period has seen the rise of the “informal interactive dialogue” as a format to allow Council members to discuss issues informally with the Chairs of country-specific configurations outside the confines of formal briefings in the Council chamber. This format was first used in this context in December 2010 to allow Prince Zeid to discuss with Council members his first official visit to Liberia. This format was used on 2 February 2011 to facilitate discussions between Council members, the Chair of the Burundi configuration, Swiss Permanent Representative Paul Seger, and the incoming head of the UN mission in Burundi, Karin Landgren.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is how to continue developing its relationship with the PBC to ensure it is able to make best use of advice from the PBC when considering peacebuilding aspects of the situations on its agenda.

A related issue is how to continue innovating Council working methods to draw upon advice, formally and informally, from Chairs of country-specific configurations.

Another issue for the Council is ensuring the innovations being developed by the PBC and other parts of the UN peacebuilding architecture, when relevant, are reflected in the Council’s consideration of peacebuilding as a thematic issue.

Council Dynamics
Eleven out of the fifteen members of the Council are currently on the PBC Organisational Committee. Plus, South Africa remains a member of all country-specific configurations, and as one of three facilitators of the PBC five-year review is highly familiar with the PBC’s work.

Despite the large overlap between the Security Council and the PBC Organisational Committee, and the fact that the PBC is effectively a subsidiary body of the Council, some Council members are hesitant to strengthen the institutional links. This tendency is reinforced in some delegations that use different experts to cover the PBC and the Council even though the same countries are on the agenda of both bodies. There also seems to be a hesitancy to be seen to be carrying forward the Council’s perspective into the PBC and the PBC’s perspective back into the Council, reinforced by the fact that the rotating members of the Organisational Committee are selected to represent specific constituencies—troop contributors, budgetary contributors, the Economic and Social Council or the General Assembly—with only two rotating members explicitly on the Organisational Committee to represent the Council’s perspective. The five permanent members of the Council are permanently on the Organisational Committee (as decided in resolution 1646).

Some on the Council also seem ambivalent toward the advisory role of the PBC. There is an overall willingness amongst most members to engage with the Chairs of the country-specific configurations when considering situations on the agendas of both bodies, but some resistance to systematically involving the configuration chairs in the informal work of the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1947 (29 October 2010) requested all relevant UN actors to take forward the recommendations of the PBC five-year review within their relevant mandates with the aim of further improving the effectiveness of the PBC.
  • S/RES/1646 (20 December 2005) decided that the five permanent members and two elected members of the Council will have seats on the PBC’s Organisational Committee.
  • S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005) created the PBC and the Peacebuilding Fund.

Selected Security Council Presidential Statements Referring to the PBC

  • S/PRST/2011/4 (11 February 2011) was on the interdependence between security and development wherein the Council reiterated its support for the work of the PBC and its readiness to make greater use of the PBC’s advisory role.
  • S/PRST/2011/2 (21 January 2011) was on post-conflict recovery: institution building, wherein the Council stressed its willingness to make greater use of the advisory role of the PBC.
  • S/PRST/2010/26 (14 December 2010) was on the situation in the Central African Republic.
  • S/PRST/2010/20 (13 October 2010) was on post-conflict peacebuilding, wherein the Council welcomed the important role of the PBC in promoting and supporting an integrated and coherent approach to peacebuilding, including women’s participation.
  • S/PRST/2010/18 (23 September 2010) was on the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • S/PRST/2010/15 (22 July 2010) was on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.
  • S/PRST/2010/7 (16 April 2010) followed an open debate on peacebuilding.
  • S/PRST/2010/2 (12 February 2010) was on UN Peacekeeping operations’ transition and exit strategies.

Selected Security Council Documents Related to the PBC

  • S/2010/690 (30 December 2010) was a letter from the President of the Security Council informing Secretary-General that Gabon and Colombia had been selected as the two elected members of the Council on the PBC Organisational Committee.
  • S/2010/466 (7 September 2010) was the Secretary-General’s report on women’s participation in peacebuilding.
  • S/2010/389 (19 July 2010) was a letter from the President of the Council to the chair of the PBC requesting that Liberia be placed on the agenda of the PBC.
  • S/2010/507 (26 July 2010) was a Note by the President of the Council on working methods.
  • S/2010/393 (21 July 2010) was the report of the co-facilitators of the “review of the UN peacebuilding architecture”.
  • S/2010/386 (16 July 2010) was the progress report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict.
  • S/2009/304 (11 June 2009) was the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict.

PBC Annual Reports

  • S/2011/41 (28 January 2011) was on its fourth session.
  • S/2009/444 (8 September 2009) was on its third session.
  • S/2008/417 (24 June 2008) was on its second session.
  • S/2007/458 (25 July 2007) was the PBC’s first annual report.

Other Relevant Facts

PBC Organisational Committee Members in 2011

  • Security Council: the P5 (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US), Colombia and Gabon
  • ECOSOC: Egypt, Rwanda, Zambia, Guatemala, Spain, Ukraine, Republic of Korea
  • General Assembly: Peru, Czech Republic, Benin, Brazil, Indonesia, Tunisia, Uruguay
  • From the top ten financial contributors: Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway and Norway
  • From the top ten military and police contributors: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Pakistan

Chairman of the PBC Organisational Committee

Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda)

Chairs of the PBC Country-Specific Configurations

  • Burundi: Paul Seger (Switzerland)
  • CAR: Jan Grauls (Belgium)
  • Guinea-Bissau: Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)
  • Sierra Leone: John McNee (Canada)
  • Liberia: Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein (Jordan)
  • Guinea: Sylvie Lucas (Luxembourg)


Judy Cheng Hopkins (Malaysia)