posted on Tue 21 Jun 2016 3:48 PM
Peacebuilding: Council Briefing on PBC Annual Report and Informal Interactive Dialogue

Tomorrow (22 June), the Security Council will receive briefings from Ambassadors Macharia Kamau (Kenya) and Olof Skoog (Sweden), the current and former chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), on the annual report of the PBC (A/70/714; S/2016/115). The Council will then hold an informal interactive dialogue involving the PBC country-configuration chairs and ambassadors of PBC-agenda countries (Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone). These meetings will be the Council’s first sessions on peacebuilding since it and the General Assembly concurrently adopted resolutions last April on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture (S/RES/2282; A/RES/70/262).

Skoog, is expected to present the PBC annual report for 2015. During this period, the PBC began testing some of the recommendations of the Advisory Group of Experts (AGE), which prepared an initial report for the peacebuilding review, entitled the “Challenges of Sustaining Peace” (S/2015/490). This included holding sessions on non-agenda countries -Burkina Faso, Papua New Guinea and Somalia. Skoog may draw attention to the initiatives, which followed the AGE’s recommendation that the PBC consider a broader array of country and regional issues beyond its current agenda while developing more flexible and transparent working methods. Skoog is likely to highlight the PBC’s continued efforts to improve partnerships with regional and subregional organisations. Other areas of the PBC Organizational Committee’s work in 2015 included supporting the Ebola recovery needs of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and activities to advance thematic policy issues on financing peacebuilding, and gender and youth issues.

Kamau was in West Africa from 8 to 17 June, where he participated in a mission to promote Ebola recovery and PBC cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States. He may refer to this visit, which builds on some of these key areas of the PBC’s work in 2015. As current PBC chair, he is likely to refer to the General Assembly and Council resolutions on the peacebuilding review, and plans to further their implementation. The resolutions have been considered ground-breaking, in part because they expanded the concept of peacebuilding from being perceived as a post-conflict activity to a process occurring before, during and after conflict. A definition of “sustaining peace” in the resolutions elaborates on this broader understanding. The resolutions call for a more holistic approach to peacebuilding, which is a responsibility of the entire UN system, and highlight the importance of conflict prevention. In this regard, the Council agenda item was also changed this week from “post-conflict peacebuilding” to “peacebuilding and sustaining peace”. The resolutions also set the stage to potentially address the inadequate financing for peacebuilding activities. They call for a Secretary-General’s follow-up report for the General Assembly’s 72nd session, which should provide options for financing peacebuilding through assessed and voluntary contributions.

The informal interactive dialogue will follow the presentation of the annual report, a practice that began in 2012. One notable change from past years is that Council members will intervene only during the informal interactive dialogue, rather than delivering statements at the briefing.

France, as this month’s Council president, has suggested a number of areas to guide the discussion. These include the issue of transitions; in particular, how to ensure continuity of support to the resident coordinator and UN country team once a mission is terminated. A widely acknowledged challenge is the sudden reduction in financial resources available to the country team upon the departure of a peacekeeping operation. Another challenge, covered in the AGE report, is the importance of resident coordinators possessing the skills to manage the inherently political issues related to peacebuilding.

Participants will also consider the link between the PBC’s work in New York and the field. They are expected to discuss how the PBC’s work translates to the country level, and how to strengthen the relationship between New York-based and field-based actors. As suggested by France, members may further discuss how the PBC can better interact with resident coordinators and the country teams.

A third issue to be considered is the relationship between the Council and the PBC. This has often been fraught, in part, due to P5 concerns about the PBC intervening in the peace and security prerogatives of the Security Council, and skepticism about the added-value it has provided so far to the Council’s work. In proposing the topics for the meeting, France noted that resolution 2282 expresses the Council’s “intention to regularly request, deliberate and draw upon the specific, strategic and targeted advice of the Peacebuilding Commission, including to assist with the longer-term perspective required for sustaining peace being reflected in the formation, review and drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions mandates.” Participants are expected to discuss how the PBC can support the Council’s efforts to address specific situations as well as its conflict prevention efforts. They are further expected to consider how to avoid duplication of efforts. Some participants may identify the type of “specific, strategic and targeted advice” that can benefit the Council, while drawing on lessons learned and best practices to date.

Tomorrow’s informal interactive dialogue is expected to feed into the PBC’s third annual session being held the following day. This year’s annual session will focus on transitions and how the PBC can enhance the advice it provides to the Council and General Assembly during transitions from country teams to peacekeeping or special political missions; between types of peace operations; and from peace operations to country teams.