The UN General Assembly (UNGA) and UN Security Council concurrently adopted two substantively identical resolutions on the UN's peacebuilding architecture, which emphasize that the focus within the UN system should be on “sustaining peace.” The texts call for greater cooperation between UNGA, the Security Council and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The agreements also mark a shift from peacebuilding as preventing the recurrence of violence after wars, to peacebuilding as conflict prevention.
27 April 2016: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) and UN Security Council concurrently adopted two substantively identical resolutions on the UN’s peacebuilding architecture, which emphasize that the focus within the UN system should be on “sustaining peace.” The texts call for greater cooperation between UNGA, the Security Council and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The agreements also mark a shift from peacebuilding as preventing the recurrence of violence after wars, to peacebuilding as conflict prevention. The two resolutions were adopted on 27 April 2016, in New York, US.
The resolutions highlight the expanded notion of peacebuilding to include a definition of “sustaining peace,” which they say should be broadly understood as a goal and a process to building a common vision of a society, ensuring that the needs of all segments of the population are taken into account. This encompasses activities for: preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict; addressing root causes; assisting parties to conflict to end hostilities; ensuring national reconciliation; and moving towards recovery, reconstruction and development.
The texts emphasize that sustained peace is a shared task and responsibility that needs to be fulfilled by governments and all other national stakeholders, including women and youth, and should “flow through all three pillars of the UN’s engagement at all stages of conflict.” The documents suggest that the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) should be “revitalized,” with the support of the UN Secretary-General, and that cooperation and coordination in the field through UN Country Teams and at UN Headquarters should be strengthened.
The resolutions reaffirm the role of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in bringing a strategic approach and coherence to peacebuilding efforts, including by serving a bridging role among the UNGA, the Security Council and ECOSOC. They explicitly call for closer coordination and cooperation between the PBC and ECOSOC on peacebuilding issues.
The two documents also request the Secretary-General to explore options for strengthening the UN-World Bank collaboration, while supporting the creation of enlarged funding platforms to pool resources and share risk with multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as regional actors. The resolutions stress the need for cooperation with regional organizations, specifically mentioning the African Union (AU). They also emphasize the need for predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding activities, urging all Member States, including non-traditional donors and other partners, to consider making voluntary contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).
Congratulating Member States on the adoption of the two resolutions, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said they are “a statement of intent pointing to a change in strategy and mindset.” He said the UN system will work more strategically with governments and on the ground, in stronger partnership with others, not only to prevent the recurrence of conflict, but to prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place.
UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft noted that the current global humanitarian and refugee crises are caused in large part by political instability and protracted conflicts, and stressed that improving the UN’s capacity to build peace is fundamental to mitigating them and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Detailing priorities for 2016, PBC Chair Macharia Kamau (Kenya) said he intends to: visit Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three countries affected by Ebola, to assess the outbreak’s impact on peacebuilding; finalize implementation of the gender perspective in the PBC’s country-specific engagement; continue efforts to highlight the role of young people in peaceful societies; and prepare for the 2016 annual session. Former PBC Chair Olof Skoog described the newly adopted text as “the most comprehensive to date on peacebuilding and conflict-resolution.” He noted that the PBC has instituted, in the past year: more transparent and strategic working methods; a more flexible agenda; greater inclusivity; and better partnerships with regional and subregional organizations.
In the ensuing discussion, Brazil, China, Jordan, Sierra Leone, Uruguay and others emphasized the important connections between peace, security and development, and said partnerships with regional organizations and other relevant actors must be considered as the world enters the SDGs’ implementation phase. Pointing out the absence of references to human rights in the resolution, Guatemala said the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) should be involved at every level of peacebuilding activities.
The UK announced it will co-host a pledging event for the PBF in September, adding that the UK has committed an extra $20 million aimed at strengthening the PBC’s work in 2016 alone. Kenya, Sri Lanka and Sweden are to co-host the pledging event. Germany announced it will contribute €10 million to the PBF. Spain said it has promoted the creation of an informal UN Security Council working group on women, peace and security. Spain also noted its intent to increase its contribution to the PBF to become one of its top ten donors.
The UN peacebuilding architecture was created in 2005, when the PBC, PBSO and PBF were established. The PBC, a subsidiary body to the UNGA and the Security Council, provides a platform for a coordinated approach to sustaining peace and involving all actors, including the countries under discussion, regional Member States and organizations, international financial institutions and civil society.
The peacebuilding review is one of three major reviews taking place during UNGA 70 in the area of peace and security, together with the review of peace operations and the global study on the implementation on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the participation of women. [Review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture (A/70/L.43)] [UN Press Release] [UNGA Meeting Summary] [UN Security Council Meeting Summary] [UN Secretary-General Remarks] [UNGA President Remarks] [IISD RS Story on Outcome of Consultations on Resolution]