What's In Blue

Arria-formula Meeting on Cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission  

This afternoon (20 December), Brazil will convene a Security Council Arria-formula meeting titled “Mind the gap: enhancing the dialogue and cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission”. Briefings are expected from Ambassador Ivan Šimonović (Croatia), the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC); Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Elizabeth Spehar; Executive Director of Security Council Report Karin Landgren; and Professor Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Special Advisor of the Presidency of Brazil.

The meeting, which will begin at 3 pm EST and take place in Conference Room 11, will be broadcast on UNTV.

Brazil, which serves as the informal coordinator between the PBC and the Security Council, is organising the meeting to further the debate on ways to improve the relationship between the two bodies and to consider new or more institutionalised forms of interaction to increase synergies. A concept note that Brazil has prepared for the meeting observes that the Council and the PBC have overlapping competencies, noting that peacebuilding tasks are often part of the mandates of peacekeeping operations. It suggests that the two bodies can complement each other, and that the PBC can also help guide the implementation of Council decisions. In practice, however, dialogue and cooperation between the Council and the PBC falls short of its full potential and occurs in most instances on a case-by-case basis, according to the concept note.

Improving this cooperation is made more important by the growing interest in strengthening conflict prevention efforts and in better addressing the root causes of conflict, as well as the evolution of the UN peacekeeping model, all elements highlighted in the Secretary-General’s July policy brief A New Agenda for Peace (NAfP). The concept note argues that the PBC is well positioned to lead this discussion and bring a focus on such issues to the Security Council. Among other points, the concept note says that increasing the cooperation between the bodies will require a deepened commitment by the Council to more regularly request and draw upon the PBC’s advice on the peacebuilding dimensions of peace operations’ mandates. The Commission should also be adequately supported by the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and coordinate with relevant UN entities, international financial institutions, regional organisations, and civil society to play this advisory role effectively.

Despite shortcomings, the concept note observes some progress in increasing cooperation in recent years. It cites examples such as the number of briefings by the PBC chair to the Council in the past year (five) and the PBC’s submission of written advice to the Council, which with eight and nine written advisories submitted in 2022 and 2023, respectively, marked all-time highs. Another useful practice for promoting PBC-Council engagement, which member states sometimes cite, has been the role of the informal coordinator, which in the last several years, regularly scans the upcoming Council programme of work to identify opportunities for the PBC to support the Council’s work.

At today’s meeting, Šimonović is likely to concur that more can be done to strengthen the Council-PBC relationship. He may mention the PBC’s efforts over the past year to improve the timeliness and focus of its advice, including to make it more concise and action-oriented. Šimonović may observe that the Council is already committed to regularly requesting the PBC’s advice when it renews the mandates of peace operations and may encourage Council members to do so regularly. The PBC chair may also highlight that the Commission plans to convey to the Council relevant information given to the PBC by regional and subregional organisations. This decision follows last month’s discussions held between the PBC and the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the annual consultative meeting between the two bodies.

Spehar might recall messages from the NAfP, which calls for “elevating the work” of the PBC. Among its recommendations to strengthen the PBC, the NAfP says that the Council should more “systematically” seek the PBC’s advice on the peacebuilding dimensions of peace operations’ mandates, and that the participation of regional and other organisations in the work of the PBC should be formalised. The NAfP also calls on member states to prioritise and invest more in prevention and suggests that the PBC could play a role in supporting the NAfP’s proposed national and regional prevention strategies.

As part of her remarks, Landgren is expected to speak about PBC-Council cooperation during UN transitions (that is, when peace operations reconfigure or close), reflecting on findings of Security Council Report’s recently released research report on UN transitions. According to the report, the PBC is well-placed to support such processes, as the Commission was created to help prevent post-conflict countries from falling back into conflict, including by extending the period of the international community’s attention to post-conflict recovery. Landgren may observe that the PBC has been most active in transition situations where it already had a country-specific configuration, a modality that the PBC no longer creates. In other situations—Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Sudan—the PBC has not been involved in the transitions. So far, it has also not been involved significantly in the transition of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). This is despite several Council resolutions and presidential statements since 2016 that highlight the opportunity for the PBC to advise the Council during transitions.

The main impediment to PBC involvement in such instances is that the countries concerned have not agreed to engage with the Commission, a requirement for the PBC to discuss country situations. Landgren may suggest that the Council could proactively encourage host countries to engage with the PBC to review, identify, and raise awareness of resource gaps and requirements of transition plans when the Council decides to end a mission.

During her briefing, Abdenur might recall Brazil’s strong support over the years for the work of the PBC. Ambassador Sérgio França Danese (Brazil) chairs the PBC’s country configuration for Guinea-Bissau, which Brazilian ambassadors have chaired since the configuration’s creation in December 2007. In January 2024, França Danese is also expected to become the next PBC chair. Brazil last chaired the PBC in 2014, ahead of the ten-year UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review (PBAR), which prompted reforms to improve UN peacebuilding. Similarly, Brazil’s chairmanship in 2024 comes ahead of the 20-year PBAR. As observed in the concept note, preparations for the PBAR will begin next year and the upcoming process is an opportunity to improve the PBC’s work and its relationship with the Security Council. The NAfP also suggests that the 2025 PBAR will be an opportunity to operationalise the policy brief’s recommendations on the PBC, as well as to consider necessary adjustments to the PBC’s methods of work, composition, and support capacities.

The concept note prepared by Brazil poses several questions to help guide the discussion at tomorrow’s meeting, including:

Tags: ,
Sign up for What's In Blue emails

Subscribe to receive SCR publications