posted on Wed 17 Jul 2019 3:01 PM
Briefing on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace: Strengthening Partnerships for Nationally-Owned Transitions

Tomorrow afternoon (18 July), the Security Council will have a briefing on “Strengthening partnerships for successful nationally-owned transitions”, under the agenda item Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace. Peru’s Foreign Minister Néstor Popolizio is expected to chair the session. Briefings are expected from Secretary-General António Guterres; Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo of Colombia, on behalf of the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC); Franck Bousquet, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group; and Yero Baldeh, Director of the Transition States Coordination Office of the African Development Bank.

Recent years have seen the Council, and the UN system more broadly, seek to place higher priority on the management of transitions during the drawdown and subsequent closure of UN peace operations. The report of the independent Advisory Group of Experts, prepared for the ten-year review of the UN peacebuilding architecture in 2015, said that the UN system needed to pay more attention to transitions, describing them as “frequently poorly timed and poorly managed”. It flagged that the drawdown of a peace operation usually comes with visibly diminished political attention and a rapid drop-off in financing to continue UN engagement through a country team.

In Security Council resolution 2282 on the review, the Council expressed its intention regularly to request and consider the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), including during the drawdown of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Both the Council and substantively identical General Assembly resolutions, which set out the concept of sustaining peace, recognised the importance of adequately resourcing the peacebuilding components of relevant peace operations, including during mission transition and drawdown.

Since then, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have closed, testing the UN’s renewed focus on improving its management of transitions. Ahead of UNMIL’s withdrawal, the UN developed, at the Council’s request, a peacebuilding plan for Liberia that helped to identify capacity and financial gaps that the UN country team would face in continuing peacebuilding tasks after the mission’s departure. More recently, transitions for mission drawdowns have gotten underway in Darfur, Haiti, and Guinea-Bissau.

UN system reforms to enhance the coherence of international peacebuilding efforts have included measures to improve transition planning. These have also sought to strengthen resident coordinators offices’ ability to conduct conflict analysis and prevention, recognising the shortcomings of political capacities in non-mission settings. The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative, and last year’s endorsement by 151 member states and four organisations of a Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations, highlighted the importance of partnerships, including between the Council and the PBC, of integrated analysis and planning, and sufficient support to UN country teams during transitions.

On financing, the Peacebuilding Fund established a transitions window in 2018 to alleviate the impact of what is often a sharp decline in available funding to continue peacebuilding activities after the closure of a UN mission by providing funding for transition processes covering two years before and five years after a mission’s departure. The Secretary-General’s 30 May report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace encouraged member states voluntarily to commit an amount equal to 15 percent of the final full-year budget of a closing peacekeeping operation for each of the first two years following the end of a mission. This money would be used for existing peacebuilding projects or to create a country-level pooled fund.

According to Peru’s concept note, peacebuilding relies, above all, on partnerships with host governments. Preparing for eventual mission withdrawal and changes to a UN configuration requires especially close cooperation with host governments. The concept note further highlights the importance of “mutually reinforcing approaches” with other actors that work closely with host governments, such as international and regional financial institutions, regional and subregional organisations and intergovernmental bodies such as the PBC.

The concept note suggests the following questions as possible areas for reflection during tomorrow’s briefing:

  • How can the Council, together with the PBC, better promote nationally-owned transitions?
  • What key lessons learned from previous transition processes could be taken into consideration to sustain peace during forthcoming transition processes?
  • How do financial institutions contribute to ensuring that host countries have the capacities and resources necessary to sustain peace and prevent relapse into conflict following the withdrawal of UN peace operations?
  • What practical options for resource pooling or complementary financing can be explored with other stakeholders, including private sector institutions, development agencies, and regional and subregional organisations?
  • What additional information and data would be relevant for the Council to consider in support of the planning and managing of transition processes, and what kind of frameworks could be used for that purpose?

Participants have also been encouraged to consider concrete measures that the Council can adopt to take advantage of the advisory role of the PBC regarding nationally-owned transitions and peace consolidation processes and to better implement the provisions of its 21 December 2017 and 18 December 2018 presidential statements. These presidential statements covered, respectively, peacebuilding elements to be considered in peacekeeping mandates and the PBC’s advisory role.

There is consensus among Council members about the importance of improving the management of transitions, as well as increased interest, including by the P5, to see how the PBC can develop the support it provides in such settings, due to its ability to bring together host governments, representatives of the UN system, regional organisations, international financial organisations, and civil society. During a Council visiting mission to West Africa in February, members held a round-table discussion in Abidjan with the resident coordinators of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia on best practices and current challenges in those countries’ ongoing transitions. A 24 May Arria-formula meeting on the “impact of peacekeeping on peacebuilding and sustaining peace,” organised by Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia, also placed a focus on transitions.