Sustaining peace requires more coherence and coordination among the United Nations system, the head of the intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict told the Security Council today.
“We have a unique opportunity to move forward the peacebuilding agenda,” said Macharia Kamau, chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, at an open debate in the Security Council this morning, during which the Commission’s report on its ninth session was presented.
Noting the reaffirmed support for the Peacebuilding Commission by the Council and the General Assembly, Mr. Kamau outlined the Commission’s key initiatives that the Commission has undertaken and its plans for the remainder of the current session.
In that regard, he said the Commission had convened two important meetings, in January and April, to discuss trends and challenges to peacebuilding at the regional and sub-regional level.
He said he intends to expand that approach to other regions, starting with Central Africa and East Africa in the second half of the year. As such, he had informal conversations with members of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, and had agreed that deeper conversations should be pursued regarding a possible visit to Addis Ababa and a retreat.
Role of peacebuilding in post-Ebola recovery
Turning to the role of peacebuilding in post-Ebola recovery, Mr. Kamau said that humanitarian crises around the world had shown themselves to be great disruptors of peace and security.
“They disrupt and destroy communities, sometimes causing great loss of life and at other times uprooting entire communities resulting in displacement of people with the consequence of triggering migration and refugees outflows,” he said.
As a follow-up to the important work done by the Commission during the Ebola crisis, he said he had just returned from a visit to West Africa, where he witnessed first-hand the road to recovery from the Ebola emergency in the three most affected countries.
“Besides the tragic loss of life of thousands of people and the horrible suffering of many more, what Ebola has done is that it has exposed the fragility of the affected countries and compounded and setback what were already difficulty economic and peacebuilding challenges,” Mr. Kamau stressed.
Importance of partnerships
Underscoring the importance of partnerships, the chair highlighted that a key value of the Commission rests in its ability to engage not only with such key partners as regional and sub-regional organizations, but also with international financial institutions and civil society organizations.
“We have witnessed the important value to transitions that partnerships can give to all our peacebuilding efforts,” he said, adding that he intends to further strengthen relations between the Commission and the AU, including by visiting their headquarters during the second part of the year.
Annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission
Presenting the Peacebuilding Commission’s annual report, Olof Skoog, former Chair of the body, said that over the past year, important steps had been taken to improve the efficiency and flexibility of the Commission, thereby striving to further enhance the relevance of its work, broaden the scope and reach of its efforts, and improve its accountability.
“This includes adopting more transparent and strategic working methods, a more flexible agenda and increasing inclusivity; improving partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations; and highlighting peacebuilding needs in the Ebola recovery,” he said.
Specifically, Mr. Skoog highlighted that during its ninth session, the Commission had convened regional and country-specific discussions concerning situations beyond its established agenda. The Organizational Committee had opportunities to discuss peacebuilding needs and lessons learned in several contexts, such as the peace process in Papua New Guinea, elections in Burkina Faso, and financing for peacebuilding in Somalia.
“Going forward, this work can, and should be, further expanded. In my view, there is great scope for the commission to keep evolving in this regard,” he said, adding that the resolutions adopted in April give the Commission a “clear mandate” to continue diversifying its working methods in support of sustaining peace.
Mr. Skoog also noted that the Commission had, over the past year, moved to highlight thematic and regional issues of relevance to its work. For example, to draw attention to the peacebuilding needs within the Ebola recovery, both the previous and current Commission chairs had travelled to West Africa.
In that regard, he stressed that the Commission should further use such momentum to deepen and institutionalize cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, both in the Commission as a whole and in country-specific work.
During its ninth session, the Commission also worked to advance interaction with a more diverse group of actors, Mr. Skoog said.
The drafting of a gender strategy for the Commission was initiated, and a special session was organized to discuss how to advance the youth, peace and security agenda and champion youth participation for sustainable peace.
“The convening role of the PBC should be utilized even further, as it is one of the most important tools we have to foster greater coherence in international action, and to help break some of the silos and address fragmentation,” Mr. Skoog said.
“This, in turn, is a prerequisite for our ability to support genuine national leadership and ownership in peacebuilding processes,” he added.