29 January 2020
Organizational Committee, 1st Meeting (AM)

New Peacebuilding Commission Chair Outlines Priorities for 2020 Session, as Delegates Discuss Work Plan, Importance of Expanding Partnerships

Seek $500 Million a Year for Peacebuilding Fund, Urges Assistant Secretary-General

The Peacebuilding Commission elected Marc-André Blanchard (Canada) as Chair of its 2020 session today, while hearing an exchange of views on its work plan, covering the need for a “quantum leap” of support to the Peacebuilding Fund and the importance of expanding partnerships.

Laying out priorities for 2020, the new Chair said the Commission “is the only United Nations body mandated to bring all parts of the UN system together to address risks of conflict”.  He added that the priorities include providing support to interested Member States at risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict and strengthening the Commission’s role in advising the Security Council on mandates, reconfigurations, drawdowns and transitions.

Other priorities, he continued, include deepening the Commission’s links with the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund and regional development banks to ensure that macroeconomic risks, fiscal and economic priorities, and the livelihood needs of populations affected by conflict are better integrated into United Nations decision-making.

He went on to stress his intention to strengthen the Commission’s bridging role across the United Nations, and with regional and subregional organizations, to better align support for national peacebuilding priorities while also convening inclusive consultations during the informal phase of the 2020 review of the Organization’s peacebuilding work.

Under Canada’s chairmanship, he said, the Commission will also shine a light on economic drivers and risks to peace, since planning for economic recovery and inclusive growth must happen in parallel with security engagements.  Hopefully, the Commission’s discussions will also incorporate such issues as debt sustainability, macroeconomic policy reforms and adjustments, corruption and illicit financial flows, as well as the development of peace-promoting private sector and conflict-sensitive business practices.  However, “we cannot keep asking the United Nations system to do more without meeting the Secretary-General’s call for a ‘quantum leap’ in financing the Peacebuilding Fund”, said Mr. Blanchard, who will also chair the Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone configuration.

Also addressing today’s meeting was Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, who reported that the Peacebuilding Fund could not respond to some requests for investment in critical situations during the course of 2019.  He urged Member States to seek $500 million in annual contributions, an amount equal to only 0.029 per cent of global military spending every year.

Highlighting several of the Commission’s important achievements in 2019 under Colombia’s chairmanship, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said they included visits to West Africa and the Sahel, as well as placing greater emphasis on cross-cutting issues, such as engaging women and young people in the peace and security agenda.  And for the first time in history, he added, the Commission convened a meeting outside New York, holding an ambassadorial meeting on financing for peacebuilding in Cartagena, Colombia.  Member States will be called again to assess the Organization’s reform in this area, four years after the last review in 2016, he said, adding “2020 will be a very important year for United Nations peacebuilding”.

The Commission also elected the representatives of Colombia and Japan as Vice-Chairs and re-elected delegates to chair its country-specific configurations during meetings in the course of 2020.

Takeshi Osuga (Japan) said country ownership is the key to consolidating peace in any country, stressing:  “Nothing can replace or substitute country ownership.”  The best the Commission can do is to share good practices and lessons learned, he said, adding that it should also vitalize and deepen discussions on thematic issues, particularly institution-building.  The nexus between peace and humanitarian actions, as well as efforts to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, guided by the concept of human security, are the key to achieving the ultimate objective of peaceful lives and individual self-fulfilment, he emphasized.

Mauro Vieira (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration, noted that the West African country is at a critical juncture on its path towards greater stability.  The people elected the President and members of the new Parliament in 2019, he said, adding that once the new Government is in place, the configuration intends to help it make a national peacebuilding and development plan while seeking greater synergies of support for Guinea-Bissau.

Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), Chair of the Burundi configuration, said he will be travelling to that country tonight to meet interlocutors on the ground.  With elections scheduled in 2020, the configuration intends to contribute to successful polls with a view to building a resilient, inclusive and peaceful society.  He noted the positive impact of the reformed United Nations resident coordinator system on peacebuilding efforts.  He added that his delegation expects the new Chair to strengthen the Commission’s engagement with the World Bank Group.

Yasser Halfaoui (Morocco), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration, stressed the Commission’s increased interactions with the Security Council, while stating the configuration’s intention to support the successful holding of elections and to build the rule of law because impunity remains a major challenge.

Joakim Vaverka (Sweden), Chair of the Liberia configuration, emphasized the critical need to increase partnerships, including with the World Bank and other international financial institutions, as well as the African Union and European Union.  Noting that the situation in Liberia remains fragile, he urged all partners to continue their active support.

Delegates shared their views on enhancing the Commission’s work, with the Dominican Republic’s delegate stressing the important role of youth in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  Ireland’s representative highlighted the need for the Commission to continue valuing the role of women in peace and security.

Several delegations welcomed the Commission’s increased interactions with other United Nations entities, including the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  Germany’s representative said his delegation was the coordinator between the Commission and the Security Council, highlighting the Commission’s increased advisory role in defining mandates, such as that the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).  The Republic of Korea’s representative said it is equally important that the Commission increase its interactions with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, adding that his country’s Government intends to lead a regional discussion on how the Commission and the wider United Nations system can better work with resident coordinators.

Nepal’s representative said his delegation wishes to see the Commission increase consultations with youth, women and civil society on the ground because they would provide ideas for pragmatic solutions.

The United Kingdom’s representative said her country contributed $20 million to the Peacebuilding Fund, making it the second largest donor after Germany.  She expressed hope that the Commission will refine its engagement with the Security Council and increase its advocacy capacity.

Ethiopia’s representative welcomed the strengthened coordination between the Commission and other organizations, including the African Union, European Union and the World Bank, while underlining the need to address drivers of conflict and strengthen its focus on prevention.

In other business, the Commission approved, without a vote, the report on its thirteenth session (document PBC/13/OC/L.1), presented by the outgoing Chair, who highlighted the body’s work during 2019.

Also speaking today were representatives of Norway, Peru, India, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Kenya, Gambia, France and Romania.

An observer for the European Union delegation also delivered a statement.

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

For information media. Not an official record.