3 February 2016
Organizational Committee 1st Meeting (AM)

Peacebuilding Commission Elects Kenya as New Chair, Picks Delegations to Head Working Group on Lessons Learned, Country-Specific Configurations

The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission must take forward the outcomes of the latest reviews on peace operations, and link its work to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that body’s new Chair said today, at the opening of its 2016 session.

Outlining priorities for the Commission, Macharia Kamau (Kenya), elected Chair by acclamation, said the conclusion this year of the 2015 review of the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture would create an opportunity to consolidate the Commission’s purpose.  He stressed the urgent need to study and implement the review’s outcomes, particularly concerning the Commission’s working methods and rules of procedure, and to develop links between the body and the 2030 Agenda, especially in relation to creating peaceful societies, ensuring access to justice and forming accountable institutions.

He said he would organize three discussions on suitable policy responses to the subregional dimension of peacebuilding, economic recovery from the Ebola outbreak and the relationship linking youth, peace and security.  To improve its ability to mobilize resources, the Peacebuilding Commission would seek funding from and prioritize relations with international financial institutions, particularly the World Bank and the African Development Bank.  More predictable and sustainable funding was needed, he said, urging Member States to bolster contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund.

The Commission would also reach out to the Secretary-General and key organizations and agencies of the United Nations system involved in conflict prevention and governance, he said, in order to obtain resources and create partnerships for peacebuilding.  Furthermore, it would seek to identify opportunities for the integration and enhancement of peacebuilding and related governance and human rights initiatives in the mandates of existing peacekeeping and special political missions so as to lower the threat of conflict.

The Commission must strengthen its role as a bridge among the General Assembly, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council to enhance the global impact of peacebuilding, he continued.  And to be more effective, it must bolster its country-specific efforts and work closely with regional organizations such as the African Union and the League of Arab States to identify and prioritize areas of work.  “There are clearly at least another dozen or two situations that are crying out for our engagement,” he pointed out.  “We need to find the political and financial will to respond.”

Olof Skoog (Sweden), the outgoing Chair, said that securitized and militarized responses to conflict would never be able to build peace in the long run.  Only by addressing root causes of conflict, investing in socioeconomic development and building national capacities would there be lasting peace.  The Commission had a fundamentally important role in championing those long-term and comprehensive approaches, he emphasized.

He recalled that during Sweden’s chairmanship, which had coincided with the first phase of the review of the peacebuilding architecture, he had pushed for some improvements, including more transparent and strategic working methods, and enhanced partnerships with regional and subregional organizations.  He added that he had also highlighted peacebuilding needs in the Ebola recovery, and taken forward the recommendations of the peacebuilding review.  He had been invited to brief the Security Council on several occasions, and had argued for enhanced efforts to build and sustain peace, improve capacity to prevent lapses and relapses in conflict, and the need to address root causes.

Encouraging the Commission to continue evolving and adopting new approaches under the new Chair, he concluded his remarks by stressing the importance of strengthening regional approaches, the need to beef up the ability of the United Nations to prevent conflicts from occurring and the imperative to include a wide range of actors, women and young people among them, in peacebuilding work.

Oscar Ferdandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said the Commission had adopted more flexible working approach in 2015, including the convening of discussions on situations outside its regular agenda.  It had held discussions on the peace process in Papua New Guinea, the elections in Burkina Faso and financing for peacebuilding in Somalia.  For 2016, it needed more predictable funding, he stressed, adding that it was also important to reach out to actors outside the United Nations system, including civil society.  Topics for 2016 included how best the Commission could take forward the recommendations of the peacebuilding architecture review and strengthen its capacity to advise the Security Council, while stressing the importance of its own convening role.

At the outset of today’s meeting of its Organizational Committee, the Peacebuilding Commission elected Sweden and the Republic of Korea as Vice-Chairs, with responsibility to preside over its Liberia configuration, and its Working Group on Lessons Learned, respectively, for terms ending on 31 December 2016.  Re-elected to chair the Commission’s other country-specific configurations, for the same duration, were Switzerland for Burundi; Morocco for the Central African Republic; Luxembourg for Guinea; Canada for Sierra Leone; and Brazil for Guinea-Bissau.

Mr. Skoog expressed support for the work plan presented by his successor.  Regarding the Liberia configuration, he said a successful technical mission to that country had just returned and would submit a new statement of mutual commitments.  The configuration would step up its work because it had to prepare for the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and for elections to be held in 2017.

Oh Joon (Republic of Korea) said that, as Chair of the Working Group on Lessons Learned, his delegation intended to build upon the solid foundation laid under the successful chairmanship of Japan over the past four years, and would institutionalize the functions of the Working Group in order to strengthen the overall peacebuilding efforts of the United Nations.

Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil) said that despite the prevailing political impasse, Guinea-Bissau had not relapsed into violence and conflict, and the outlook was not as precarious as it used to be.  However, the configuration would remain vigilant and continue to work closely with subregional and regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.  It was also important for the Peacebuilding Commission to enhance dialogue with the Security Council, he added.

Ahmed Nouri Salimi (Morocco) said the Central African Republic configuration would continue to engage with regional actors while stepping up support for the efforts by State authorities to sustain peace, and by the Special Court to strengthen the rule of law.  The configuration would also promote sustainable and predictable funding.

Michael Bonser (Canada) said that his country’s incoming Permanent Representative would travel to Sierra Leone with a mission of technical experts, and underlined the importance of empowering youth and women in that country.

Jacques Flies (Luxembourg) expressed support for the new Chair.

Jürg Lauber (Switzerland) said the Burundi configuration would focus on three “pillars” of work — political dialogue, economic development, and security and human rights — while maintaining close cooperation with all countries concerned.

The Commission also adopted the draft report of its 2015 ninth session (document PBC/9/OC/L.1) which reviews the past year’s work, as well as the provisional work plan for 2016.

Also speaking today were representatives of Malaysia, South Africa, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Japan, Italy, Colombia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Liberia, United States, India, Burundi, Sierra Leone and China, as well as the European Union.

The Peacebuilding Commission will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

For information media. Not an official record.