On 29 June, the Security Council will hold a briefing for the presentation of the PBC’s annual report. Ambassadors Ion Jinga (Romania) and Cho Tae-yul (Republic of Korea), the current and former chairs, respectively, of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) are expected to brief. Immediately following the briefing, the Council will convene an informal interactive dialogue on the PBC’s advisory role to the Council.
The PBC’s annual report covers its activities during its 11th session from 1 January to 31 December 2017. The session saw the PBC make significant changes as part of efforts to follow up on the twin Council and General Assembly resolutions from 2016 on the review of the UN peacebuilding architecture. It engaged with new country and regional situations, notably The Gambia and the Sahel, after years of a more narrow focus on five or six countries. The PBC further diversified the countries under consideration, which have been Africa-centric, by holding meetings on the Solomon Islands, Colombia and Sri Lanka. It also met for the first time on the Great Lakes region as part of its strategy to promote integrated regional peacebuilding approaches.
Other developments in 2017 were tied to its working methods. Efforts continued to invigorate the primacy of the PBC’s Organizational Committee, on which all 31 members of the PBC are represented, and to move away from a reliance on country configurations, where, historically, most of the PBC’s work had been conducted. The Peacebuilding Support Office also began to brief the PBC regularly during meetings about projects of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). The PBC continued working to enhance its partnerships with regional and subregional organisations and international financial institutions, notably the AU and the World Bank. At tomorrow’s briefing, Ambassador Cho is likely to highlight these developments.
Ambassador Jinga may provide an update about the PBC’s priorities for 2018, which build on last year’s progress, and on the PBC’s work so far this year. On 25 June, the PBC received a quarterly briefing from its country configuration chairs on their activities, a practiced that began last year. Jinga could refer to some of these activities such as supporting Sierra Leone’s general and presidential elections held in March, and the PBC’s engagement with the new Liberian government and its continued support to Liberia since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) at the end of March.
Among other notable developments since last year has been the PBF’s expansion. During the 25 June meeting, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Taranco highlighted that in 2017 the PBF approved $157 million for 82 projects in 31 countries, the highest amount since the PBF’s establishment. This year, the PBF is aiming to approve $180 million for projects in 30 countries, according to Fernandez-Taranco.
The Informal Interactive Dialogue (IID)
This year’s IID, which since 2012 has been held following the presentation of the annual report, is focused around practical ways for the PBC to advise the Council, particularly during the formation, review and drawdown of peace operations. Jinga will participate, as will Cho and Ambassador Christoph Heusgen (Germany) as the PBC’s current vice-chairs. The permanent representatives of Colombia, Liberia and Sudan are expected to provide perspectives from countries that currently have or have had UN missions and are undergoing peacebuilding processes. From the UN, in addition to Fernandez-Taranco, representatives from the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the UN Development Programme are expected to participate.
Russia circulated a letter earlier this month, proposing this year’s topic and suggesting a number of points for participants to consider during their interventions. These are:
- What specific information from the PBC the Council should consider while establishing, reviewing and drawing down a mission;
- How the PBC’s advice can complement the information contained in the Secretary-General’s country-specific reports;
- How and at what stage the PBC’s advice should be presented;
- How the Council could better prepare the ground for post-mission peacebuilding activities; and
- How a country hosting a UN mission could benefit from the PBC conveying its national peacebuilding priorities to the Council.
Participants may draw on ideas that member states and the Secretariat have been developing to improve PBC advice. In considering the type of information that the PBC can offer the Council and ways it can complement the Secretary-General’s reporting, participants may note that the PBC can provide inputs on socio-economic and regional dimensions that may affect security, which the Council and UN missions tend to overlook as they often focus on more day to-day operational and political challenges. These are insights that the PBC should be well-positioned to provide through its interactions with the countries concerned, international financial institutions, regional organisations, the UN resident coordinators and country teams, civil society, and potentially the private sector.
Participants may reiterate the importance of the PBC aligning its work programme with the Council’s calendar and relevant mandate renewals and meetings, and conducting the necessary preparatory work to develop the advice it provides the Council. This was a recommendation from the PBC’s 2016 working methods review, which is contained in the annex of its annual report. It involves, as participants may note, convening meetings with different stakeholders such as IFIs, the UN country team, regional organisations and civil society—whether jointly or in separate sessions—and timing country visits by PBC representatives during the months preceding a planned Council adoption.
The Council’s request that the UN develop a peacebuilding plan for Liberia when it renewed UNMIL’s mandate for a final time in December 2016 is likely to be flagged as a best practice for how the Council can better prepare the ground for post-mission peacebuilding activities. In developing the plan, UNDP was able to identify the funding and capacity gaps, allowing the PBC’s Liberia configuration to raise awareness that could help fill these needs.
Other practical considerations, and among issues where there have been differences among member states, include the consensus required in the PBC to present advice to the Council and the form that it should take. This includes options ranging from formal letters, reports or meetings to more informal exchanges between PBC representatives and the Council.
For more on the PBC’s advisory role to the Council, see Security Council Report November 2017 research report on the Peacebuilding Commission and the Security Council: From Cynicism to Synergy.