posted on Tue 18 Dec 2018 2:02 PM
Presidential Statement on the Advisory Role of the Peacebuilding Commission

This afternoon (18 December), the Security Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)’s advisory role to the Security Council on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Sweden, which has served for the past two years as coordinator of Council-PBC stock-taking sessions, initiated the draft statement earlier this month. Council members held one round of negotiations on 7 December. A revised draft was circulated on 14 December and placed under silence procedure until 12 noon yesterday (17 December). Russia broke silence, and following further revisions, the draft passed a silence procedure this morning.

The draft presidential statement encourages the PBC to present concise, targeted, context-specific and applicable recommendations to the Council, upon its request, in particular ahead of relevant mandate discussions. Elaborating on this advisory role, the PBC should complement, and not duplicate, the reports of the Secretary-General, and transmit information on the implementation of national peacebuilding priorities, including peacebuilding aspects of peacekeeping operations, which could contribute to mandate formation and review, as well as drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. During negotiations, it seems that Russia had concerns about going beyond previously agreed language that could appear to expand the PBC’s mandate. Following Russia’s breaking of silence yesterday, which was supported by China, changes were made to the draft that included removing language indicating that PBC advice should assist with the longer-term perspective required of peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

It seems that the draft statement seeks to recognise changes that have been made in the PBC to improve its impact, acknowledging its progress and underscoring the important role it has, as a dedicated advisory body, in bringing coherence to international peacebuilding efforts, representing a unique platform to convene actors such as member states, including host states, relevant UN actors, international financial institutions, regional organisations and civil society.

The draft highlights good practices. This includes taking note of the observations presented by the PBC on the renewal of the MINUSCA in the Central African Republic mandate. This past October was the first time that the PBC, through its CAR configuration, shared “observations” in a written letter to the Council (S/2018/934), conveying advice for the Council’s consideration ahead of a mandate renewal. The draft statement notes the importance of the Informal Interactive Dialogues (IID) between the Council and the PBC, which have been organised on an annual basis on different issues since 2012. This year’s IID focused on identifying practical ways for the PBC to support the Council: a summary of this meeting apparently served as a source for some language and ideas in the statement. In referring to the importance of the IIDs for exercising the PBC’s advisory role, the draft statement also notes the usefulness of the PBC’s dialogues with the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict and Resolution in Africa.

The draft statement further acknowledges the role of the PBC in advising the Council, upon its request, during transitions related to the withdrawal of peacekeeping operations and special political missions, as appropriate, with a focus on implementing exit strategies. In this regard, the draft statement recalls the usefulness of the PBC’s advice during the drawdowns of UNMIL in Liberia and UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone. In addition, the draft statement encourages the PBC to continue to align its work with the Council’s calendar, and engage with stakeholders well in advance of relevant Council meetings. It welcomes the PBC’s collaboration with regional and sub-regional organisations, including the AU.

During negotiations, Russia, it seems often supported by China, raised a number of issues consistent with its previous concerns for the “sustaining peace” agenda. It insisted on the use of “peacebuilding and sustaining peace” rather than stand-alone references to “sustaining peace”, which was accommodated. Language encouraging member states to engage with the PBC to prevent conflict and sustain peace was removed. China and Russia also did not want country specific references, initially objecting to the inclusion of the reference to MINUSCA, as well as UNMIL and UNAMSIL. Some members responded that the statement was more of a working methods product (as opposed to a thematic product), and it was not possible to refer to lessons learned without mentioning country situations, which seemed to assuage China and Russia’s concerns. Other issues include, Russia not wanting to have a paragraph on the definition of “sustaining peace” taken from resolution 2282, but this paragraph remains in the final draft text. It also had comments on gender and youth, which required further streamlining of such references to reach agreement on the final draft.

The US and UK had concerns about a paragraph on funding and resources for peacebuilding. This led to the removal of language on “predictable and sustained financing”, with the draft now emphasising the importance for “support” from a range of sources to UN peacebuilding activities. Elsewhere in the text, the draft resolution recalls resolution 2413 (adopted on 26 April 2018) which welcomes the presentation of the Secretary-General’s 18 January 2018 report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace and takes note of the General Assembly decision to invite the relevant UN bodies and organs, including the PBC, to further explore and consider implementing, as appropriate, the recommendations and options in the report.