UN Peacebuilding Architecture
|Inaugural Session of Peacebuilding Commission, New York, June 2006 / Credit: UN Photo
The UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is the main body engaged in peacebuilding at the United Nations (UN). The PBC is an intergovernmental advisory body which was established by resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Its main tasks include bringing together key stakeholders such as donors, governments, and international financial institutions; marshalling resources; and giving advice on peacebuilding strategies and priorities. The countries currently on the agenda of the PBC are Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Liberia, and Guinea.
The PBC has three main components:
- The Organizational Committee (OC) oversees the work agenda of the PBC and is comprised of 31 member states.
- The Country Specific Configurations (CSC) are the day to day way in which the commission deals with countries on its agenda. Each CSC is chaired by an Ambassador who takes a lead role in supporting the governments of countries on the PBC’s agenda in setting their peacebuilding priorities and mobilizing resources.
- The Working Group on Lessons Learned (WGLL) organizes thematic discussions to reflect on past experiences and best practices in order to develop recommendations for future peacebuilding activities.
The PBC marked its fifth anniversary in 2010 by undertaking an extensive review. Some of the key recommendations of the review included strengthening the connections between the field and headquarters, increasing national ownership and national capacity, and improving the collaboration between the Security Council and the PBC.
Another important part of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture is the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). The PBF is a global fund that responds quickly to pressing needs in countries emerging from conflict and in cases where critical peacebuilding interventions are underfunded. PBF resources are intended to be catalytic and encourage long-term engagement. Funds are allocated to initiatives in countries on the agenda of the PBC and in other countries that have been declared eligible by the Secretary General. The PBF currently supports more than 100 projects in 15 countries, ranging from disarmament, demobilization and re-integration, to institutional capacity building and supporting national dialogues. While the PBF and the PBC are separate entities, they complement each other in their response to the need for more support to peacebuilding activities on the ground.
Various parts of the UN Secretariat are active in peacebuilding. The Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) provides the main technical support to the PBC. It also manages the PBF, helps to marshal resources, sustain international attention, and supports the Secretary-General in coordinating the peacebuilding efforts of the wider UN. The PBSO serves as an information center for good practices and lessons learned on peacebuilding.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) plays a key role in looking at the nexus between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, particularly when UN peacekeeping missions are present in PBC countries. The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) also has an important part to play in PBC countries where there is a UN political mission on the ground.
UN agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also engage in peacebuilding activities, including addressing the challenge of transitioning from humanitarian to early recovery and eventually development programmes in post-conflict countries.
The World Bank is also involved in peacebuilding at the UN by assisting governments to prepare Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). PRSPs outline government policies and programmes for reducing poverty and promoting growth and their associated costs. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development, signaled increasing interest in addressing the impacts of conflict, which has often been seen as a niche issue among development actors. The report suggests that building legitimate national institutions and governance, both formal and informal, is essential to breaking cycles of violence.
QUNO works to support the UN’s role in peacebuilding by facilitating discussions and engaging in quiet diplomacy. QUNO engages with member states who are part of the OC and the CSCs on a range of issues.
QUNO has convened informal, off the record discussions for member states and UN staff around topics such as the 2010 review of the PBC, the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, and national ownership by African member states of the PBC.
- In February 2011, QUNO co-organized a workshop for newly elected and existing members of the OC, along with the International Peace Institute and in collaboration with the PBSO. Through various panel discussions on relevant topics such as instruments of engagement and mobilization of resources, the workshop offered a space for reflection and critical thinking about how to maintain the political momentum created by the 2010 review of the PBC and how to implement key recommendations.