What's In Blue

Posted Wed 24 Jun 2015

Council Briefing and Informal Interactive Dialogue on Peacebuilding

Tomorrow (25 June), the Security Council will receive briefings from Olof Skoog (Sweden) and Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), the current and former chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), on the eighth annual report of the PBC (S/2015/174). In the afternoon, the Council will hold an informal interactive dialogue involving the six PBC country-configuration chairs and ambassadors of PBC-agenda countries.

Council Briefing
Patriota will present the annual report, which reflects the period of his chairmanship in 2014. Last year saw the PBC organise its first Annual Session to consider global peacebuilding policy issues by bringing together a range of actors involved in peacebuilding. The PBC also focused on strengthening its cooperation with regional organisations and more fully considering regional dimensions of peacebuilding. The outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone dominated much of the PBC’s work. The PBC country-configurations of these countries were among some of the first UN actors raising the alarm about the epidemic when their chairs issued a 6 August joint letter highlighting the need for international support to respond to the Ebola epidemic. In the following weeks and months, several rare joint sessions of the three configurations were organised on this issue.

While the purpose of the meeting is to present the PBC’s annual report, speakers are likely to also mention the 2015 review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA), which is occurring alongside reviews of UN peace operations and the implementation of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The seven-person Advisory Group of Experts on the PBA is expected to submit its report next week to the Security Council and General Assembly. This will then prompt an intergovernmental process that will produce recommendations based on the report’s findings, which will be transmitted to the Council and General Assembly for their consideration in the fall.

In this regard, a number of members are likely to stress the continued need to improve the relationship between the PBC and the Council. Even without the Advisory Group’s findings, this relationship is considered by members as falling short of the expectations for the PBC when it was created in 2005 as an advisory body to the Council for preventing post-war countries from relapsing into conflict. Additionally, some members may reflect on the growing areas of PBC involvement, including with regional organisations, as well as the PBC’s potential to consider a larger array of post-conflict situations, subjects that the expert group is expected to cover in its report.

Tomorrow’s briefing follows the PBC’s second Annual Session held yesterday (23 June) that focused this year on predictable financing for peacebuilding. Earlier today the annual stakeholder’s meeting of the Peacebuilding Fund was held. Members may raise issues discussed during these meetings in their interventions.

Informal Interactive Dialogue
Since 2012, the presentation of the PBC’s annual report has been followed by the Council holding an interactive dialogue with the chairs of the PBC country-configurations and representatives of the PBC agenda countries: Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Last year’s session was considered disappointing since there was very poor attendance at the permanent representative level, with none of the P5 permanent representatives attending.

For this year’s interactive dialogue, Malaysia, as Council president, has tried to generate more interest and higher-level participation. It has invited Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliason to brief. Also expected to participate are Assistant Secretary-General of Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Tarranco, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and representatives of the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UN Development Programme and the World Bank. Additionally, Gert Rosenthal, the head of the Advisory Group of Experts of the PBA, several other members of the Advisory Group and Ameerah Haq from the High-Level Panel of UN Peace Operations will participate.

Malaysia has posed in an invitation letter for the session a number of questions to guide participants’ interventions:
&#8226 What specific role can the PBC play in supporting newly mandated peace operations;
&#8226 How can the PBC support the Council in the draw-down and transition of peace operations; and
&#8226 During which stage in conflict and post-conflict cycles would the Council view the role of the PBC to be most effective.

In considering these issues, members and other speakers may discuss in more depth existing Council practices to obtain the advice of configuration chairs, as well as the usefulness of this advice. Beyond the more formal statements that the configuration chairs deliver at Council public sessions, such practices sometimes include informal meetings between chairs and Council experts ahead of mandate renewals of missions in PBC agenda countries or after chairs have returned from visiting missions. The recent crisis in Burundi may lead some members to reflect on how the Council can take better advantage of the advice of the configuration chairs during crisis situations. Despite the Council holding several consultations to consider how to deal with the crisis, Ambassador Paul Seger (Switzerland), who is chair of the configuration, did not participate in these meetings although he had been in the country as recently as early April to meet with actors regarding the controversy.

Speakers may also highlight continued shortcomings of UN peacebuilding with Burundi possibly being used as an example. The Council ended the UN political mission in Burundi at the end of 2014 after a decade-long UN presence. Now political tensions and ongoing demonstrations over the issue of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s eligibility for a third term, have led to grave concerns over Burundi’s stability. Burundi was the first country placed on the PBC agenda in 2006, in part because it was viewed as an easy test case for the new body. Some members may want a more in-depth discussion on why despite longstanding PBC and UN engagement, the country appears to possibly be on the brink of relapsing into conflict.

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