posted on Wed 11 Jul 2012 5:16 PM
Peacebuilding Commission Open Debate and Interactive Dialogue

Tomorrow morning (12 July) the Security Council will be holding an open debate to discuss the fifth annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) of 30 January (S/2012/70). On Friday (13 July), Council members are also likely to have an informal interactive dialogue with the chairs of the PBC country-specific configurations. The open debate is to be chaired by María Angela Holguín, the Foreign Minister of Colombia (which holds the Council presidency in July) and no Council outcome is anticipated.

Among those expected to brief during the open debate are the Secretary-General and the PBC Chair, Ambassador Abdulkalam Abdul Momen (Bangladesh). Former PBC Chair Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda) is expected to introduce the annual report, which covers the period during which he presided over the PBC (1 January to 31 December 2011). Representatives of the World Bank and the African Development Bank have also been invited to brief.

The annual report of the PBC has been submitted to the Council for debate, in line with resolution 1646 of 20 December 2005. (This resolution was adopted immediately after the simultaneous adoption of General Assembly resolution 60/180 and Council resolution 1645 [2005], which created the PBC and mandated it to report annually to the General Assembly.) Given that the report was submitted some five months ago — and some of its content had already been overtaken by events on the ground in the various countries — Council members are likely to be interested in updates on developments since its publication.

Representatives of the six countries on the PBC agenda are set to address the debate tomorrow, as will the chairs of the country-specific PBC configurations. Those countries, with their respective chair in parentheses, are: Burundi (Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland), Guinea (Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg), Guinea-Bissau (Ambassador Maria Luiza Viotti of Brazil), Liberia (Ambassador Staffan Tillander of Sweden), and Sierra Leone (Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski of Canada). The Central African Republic (CAR) is also on the PBC agenda, although Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium resigned as chair of the CAR configuration in April and a successor has not yet been chosen. At press time, it was unclear whether he would brief.

Among the key areas of focus tomorrow which speakers are likely to raise, is what needs to be done for the PBC to fully realise its potential and whether the Council, for its part, has been able to take advantage of the PBC’s expertise, in particular by drawing on it for information and advice regarding specific countries of concern to the Council.

Of the countries currently on the PBC agenda, all but Guinea are also on the Security Council agenda. In recent years, the chairs of the PBC country-specific configurations have been invited to brief the Council during public meetings concerning the respective situations, usually on the occasion of a mandate renewal. This practice was reflected in the 26 July 2010 Note by the President of the Council regarding its working methods, which states that the Council intends, as appropriate, to invite the PBC chairs of country configurations to “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” (para 61, S/2010/507).

However, despite repeated suggestions from some Council members who have argued that the Council would benefit from a more focused and candid interaction with the country configurations chairs, members have not reached a consensus on this issue. In late 2010 Council members held an “interactive dialogue” to allow the then chair of the Liberia configuration, Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein (Jordan), to brief on his 7-15 November visit to Liberia. Since then this format has been used occasionally to discuss country-specific issues with the different PBC country configuration chairs.

The idea to meet jointly with the chairs seems to have emerged from the May Council trip to West Africa. During the trip some Council members seem to have realised that even though four PBC agenda countries were located in West Africa, the advice of the PBC had not figured into the preparation for the trip, nor was the role of the PBC raised by interlocutors on the ground during the visit to the region.

The informal dialogue on Friday will be at Permanent Representative level, with the hope of facilitating a more frank and substantive discussion on the relationship between the two bodies.

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