posted on Tue 24 Apr 2018 5:53 PM
Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Security Council High-Level Briefing*

Tomorrow (25 April), the Security Council will hold a briefing on peacebuilding and sustaining peace to coincide with the two day high-level General Assembly event (24-25 April) on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Ion Jirga (Romania) are expected to brief. The Council will adopt a resolution that mirrors the procedural resolution that the General Assembly negotiated for its high-level session on continuing inter-governmental consideration and implementation of the recommendations and options in the Secretary-General’s 18 January report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace (A/72/707-S/2018/43).

The General Assembly high-level event, which began today, was envisioned in the General Assembly and Council resolutions adopted in April 2016 on the review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture. The Secretary-General’s report provides an overview of progress towards implementing these resolutions and the relevant aspects of his ongoing peace and security, development, and management reforms. This includes efforts for increasing coherence across the UN system and with other international actors such as regional organisations and international financial institutions, as well as revitalising the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), which the Secretary-General envisions joining a new Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) to serve as a “hinge” among the UN’s peace and security, development and human rights pillars.

The report also sets out options to increase, restructure and better prioritise financing for peacebuilding, providing proposals based on both assessed and voluntary contributions, as well as “innovative financing”. The financing question was perhaps the most anticipated area of the report, as the last review of the UN’s peacebuilding architecture made clear the woeful underfunding of peacebuilding and related efforts for conflict prevention. Among Guterres’ proposals were for a “quantum leap” in the capacity of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) to enable investments totalling $500 million annually. In recent years the UN has aspired to annual PBF investments of $100 million, though in 2017 an all-time high of $157.1 million was approved for 31 countries.

Peru, this month’s Council president, circulated a concept note (S/2018/325) explaining that tomorrow’s briefing is meant to provide an opportunity to discuss the implications of the Secretary-General’s report for the Security Council. A list of guiding questions for consideration at the meeting include:

• how the Council and its peace operations can contribute to strengthening coherence and coordination among UN entities engaged in peacebuilding;

• how the Council can help ensure adequate transitions, including by adopting exit strategies for peacekeeping missions;

• how the Council, cooperating with the PBC, can further support building institutional capacities at the national level, as well as preventive diplomacy efforts by the UN, and regional and sub-regional organisations;

• and how the Council can promote inclusive national peacebuilding processes.

For the session, Peru proposed that the Council adopt a resolution mirroring the resolution that the General Assembly was preparing for its high-level event, considering the history of the two bodies adopting concurrent or substantively identical resolutions on peacebuilding: on the creation of the UN peacebuilding architecture in 2005, and then on the 2010 and 2015 reviews. In March, the General Assembly had already taken the decision that it should seek to adopt a “procedural resolution” for its April meeting, an idea that received expressions of support from a large number of member states when the Secretary-General briefed the UN membership about his implementation report on 5 March. Ambassadors Audra Plepytė (Lithuania) and Masud Bin Momen (Bangladesh) were subsequently appointed as co-facilitators to lead intergovernmental consultations on the draft resolution, which is similar to the one-page resolution of the General Assembly in December on the Secretary-General’s peace and security pillar reforms, and would be a way to ensure continued engagement from the UN membership.

The General Assembly negotiations on the draft reveal some of the key dynamics around the issue of peacebuilding and sustaining peace, and the Secretary-General’s closely related reforms. Russia, which remains concerned that the concept of sustaining peace interferes in issues pertaining to state sovereignty, did not want to welcome the Secretary-General’s report. This position was shared by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), as some of its members maintain similar reservations and are also worried about a reduction in more traditional development funding amidst the attention on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. So instead, the resolutions welcome the Secretary-General’s presentation of his report on 5 March, takes note of its options and recommendations, and decides to discuss them further.

Another issue, predictably, was over reference to the financing proposals. Since the 2015 review, the UN’s large financial contributors have objected to the idea of assessed contributions for peacebuilding activities. In discussions on the draft resolution, it seems that mostly European countries such as France, Germany and the UK preferred to reduce the focus on financing. This included initial pushback against a paragraph that requests the Secretary-General to present during the General Assembly’s 73rd session an interim report elaborating further on his recommendations and options on financing for peacebuilding activities. For the NAM, it was important to clearly refer to the financing recommendations and ensure continued discussion on these. The compromise asks for the interim report to elaborate further on the Secretary-General’s recommendations and options, “including those on financing”. Thus it no longer limits the report’s scope to the financing proposals, something that also seemed to address some member states’ concerns that a report only on funding options would go directly to the 5th Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the UN’s budget. A detailed report from the Secretary-General is also requested by the General Assembly during its 74th session in connection with the next review of the UN peacebuilding architecture.

After the General Assembly agreed to the text on 16 April, Peru organised a meeting of Council members on 18 April to discuss having the Council adopt the resolution at its upcoming 25 April briefing. Peru also suggested the possibility of adding to the draft resolution by reaffirming elements from the Council’s 21 December 2017 presidential statement that outlined the elements of peacebuilding and sustaining peace that the Council should consider when reviewing the mandates and configuration of peacekeeping missions. While members were comfortable with adopting a resolution to mirror that of the General Assembly, some expressed concerns about adding to the draft. They noted that the Council and General Assembly should avoid divergent processes on this issue, and that a focus on elements related to peacekeeping could be perceived as narrowing the scope of peacebuilding, which is much broader.

There are still a few small differences in the Council draft resolution that was put in blue last Friday (20 April). These include, in recalling past relevant decisions, mentioning the Council’s 21 December 2017 presidential statement, and its 18 January 2018 presidential statement on comprehensive conflict prevention strategies.. The Council version also takes note of the high-level briefing that the Council is to receive tomorrow, in addition to the General Assembly’s high-level event.

* Post-Script: At the meeting, Romania’s Secretary of State Dan Neculăescu briefed on behalf of Romania, the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaїl Chergui also briefed, in addition to Guterres (S/PV.8243). The Council waited to adopt its resolution (S/RES/2413) until the following day (26 April), due to the need to adopt it after the General Assembly adopted its version of the resolution, since the Council version “takes note” of the General Assembly decisions in the operative section of the resolution.