The Peacebuilding Commission will promote global solidarity to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on development and peacebuilding, while continuing to focus on empowering women and youth as critical partners in paving a path to sustainable peace, its newly elected Chair said today at the opening of its sixteenth session.
“The pandemic has placed critical limitations on existing peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries and fragile situations, exacerbating the underlying root causes of violence and conflicts,” said Rabab Fatima (Bangladesh), the first woman to serve as the Commission’s Chair. This has fuelled an alarming rise in poverty, inequality and the digital divide, making the twin 2020 General Assembly and Security Council resolutions emphasizing the need to integrate peacebuilding and sustaining peace into all efforts to “build back better” even more relevant.
This year, the Commission will focus on ensuring a more coherent and effective delivery of these and other peacebuilding goals — through United Nations country teams and the Organization’s funds and programmes that are supporting national priorities, she said. Stressing that the pandemic’s devastating impact on women and youth requires greater attention, she highlighted the ambitious goals for empowering women and youth in the Commission’s relevant strategy and action plan, and called for a well-prepared programme of work with necessary flexibility. Moreover, the Commission will provide substantive input during the General Assembly’s first-ever high-level meeting on peacebuilding financing this year, to address the perennial problem of underfunding.
Underscoring the importance of responding to growing requests from countries for the Commission’s support, she pledged to ensure meaningful follow up to its engagement in regional peacebuilding while also calling for further increasing collaboration with civil society and the private sector, as well as with other non-United Nations entities working on peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
In 2021, the Commission produced a record number of outcome documents, responded to the invitations of as many as 11 non-United Nations bodies and its advisory role in relation to the General Assembly and the Security Council expanded significantly. “I can assure you that we will build upon this good work,” she said, also noting its intention to strengthen collaboration with the Economic and Social Council, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Awa Dabo, Director and Officer-in-Charge of the Peacebuilding Support Office in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, called attention to the impact of Commission’s work against the current challenging global landscape — from rising extremist militant attacks and political instability in the Sahel region to COVID-19’s dire consequences. A continuous focus on results on the ground is key to expanding its work in more settings. Calling for continuing emphasis on inclusivity, she noted the significant increases in civil society and private sector participation, including women and young peacebuilders.
Highlighting the need for sustained attention on coherence, she called for more effective partnerships among the United Nations, regional organizations and international financial institutions. The Commission will also seek more effective advocacy initiatives related to peacebuilding financing, and work on enhancing its bridging and advisory role, she said, noting that the year 2021 registered the highest number — 39 — of submissions to other intergovernmental bodies and peacebuilding fora. Also urging for more emphasis on accountability, she said her office is committed to supporting the Commission in keeping track of its achievements and good practices.
Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud (Egypt), outgoing Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the Commission achieved considerable progress in 2021, with a focus on operationalizing the twin 2020 General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture. It also strengthened its advisory, convening and bridging roles while prioritizing impact in its support of nationally determined peacebuilding objectives. Over the course of the year, the Commission held 29 ambassadorial‑level meetings and several expert‑level meetings, supported 13 county-specific configurations and held its first meetings on the situations in the Gulf of Guinea and Chad. The Commission’s thematic engagement also drew on past experiences and lessons learned and focused on mobilizing further support for the consolidation of peacebuilding gains.
In addition to playing its advisory and bridging roles, he said, the Commission also expanded its cooperation with General Assembly, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. For the first time, it designated an informal coordinator for the Assembly, and is considering creating a similar role to liaise with the Economic and Social Council in the coming sessions. In 2021, the Commission provided advice and support to both the Assembly and the Security Council and made three submissions to the Economic and Social Council. As part of efforts to foster partnerships, the Commission also engaged with many Government, non-governmental, civil society and other officials, as well as outside experts. It adopted action plans on women, peace and security, and on the role of youth in building and sustaining peace. He also outlined the Commission’s work on financing for peacebuilding, adding that it held a final session on that topic during which members noted the need for additional and more predictable funds, including through United Nations-assessed contributions.
Michal Mlynár (Slovakia), outgoing Vice-Chair of the Commission, said the 66 outcome documents produced by the Commission in 2021 — an increase over the previous year — demonstrates the body’s continued and growing engagement. Highlighting the Commission’s important advisory role, he said almost all its work over the course of 2021 was done in virtual platforms, which helped increase civil society participation, as well as that of Government officials and others who would not have otherwise been able to join. Spotlighting the Commission’s focus on people, participation and partnerships, in addition to its thematic focus on advancing security sector reform, he pointed to an ongoing need to further bolster the Commission’s engagement with young people and to put youth at the centre of its work.
The Commission also elected the representatives of Egypt and the Dominican Republic as Vice-Chairs and re-elected delegates to chair its country-specific configurations in 2022. The newly elected will serve for a term of one year, expiring 31 December.
Incoming Vice-Chair José Alfonso Blanco Conde (Dominican Republic) highlighted priorities for his delegation, pointing to the need to continue strengthening the role young people play in peacebuilding and in fostering sustainable societies. Other issues also deserve attention, including climate‑related aspects and the issue of financing. More broadly, the Commission must work more closely with the Security Council to advance progress related to States on their path towards development and peace.
Pascale Christine Baeriswyl (Switzerland), Chair of the Burundi configuration, recalled recent developments, including efforts aimed at mobilizing international support for peacekeeping and development. The Government of Burundi presented a progress report and a range of new programmes, including one targeting youth, she said, underscoring the importance of including young people and women as part of peacebuilding efforts. She expressed hope that, this year, a road map could be developed to ensure the achievement of sustainable peace in Burundi. The future does not build itself, she said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s reform efforts and commending his recommendation to fund peacebuilding in a predictable manner.
Anna Karin Eneström (Sweden), Chair of the Liberia configuration, said prevention is key, given the current security climate, with comprehensive approaches that focus on the root causes of conflict and with the Commission playing its central role in this regard, including its engagement with human rights issues. Turning to developments in Liberia, she said the configuration will work to support the upcoming elections, advance the agenda on women’s rights and empowerment and address climate-related issues. Sweden will continue to engage with civil society, World Bank, African Development Bank and other actors, and stands ready to support the Commission, building on its previous gains and with regard to its advisory body functions.
Ronaldo Costa Filho (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration, recalling recent progress and priorities, said the country has taken steps towards maintaining peace and stability. Pointing to areas of focus going forward, he underlined the importance of institutional reform and fostering development, underpinned by national ownership. He anticipated fruitful dialogue with relevant actors and stakeholders with a view to ensuring that Guinea-Bissau can achieve sustained peace.
Omar Hilale (Morocco), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration, congratulating the newly elected Chair and Vice-Chairs, reiterated his country’s support for the body’s 2022 priorities. Outlining developments in the Central African Republic in 2021, he said legislative elections were held, allowing the Government to preserve institutional stability and providing an opportunity to establish lasting security across the country. The declaration of a ceasefire by President Faustin Archange Touadera in October 2021 was a brave step that demonstrated goodwill. Recalling that the launch of an inclusive national dialogue — first planned for 2021 — was regrettably delayed, he nevertheless drew attention to strides made throughout the year in the fight against impunity, as well as the important launch of the Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. Against that backdrop, he called for stepped‑up efforts by all Member States to support the Government as it seeks to consolidate gains and reap the benefits of peace.
Commission members then discussed the peacebuilding landscape, pointing to a range of areas to focus on in the coming year. Some said the forthcoming General Assembly peacebuilding finance meeting in April was an opportunity to engage and raise such salient issues as funding predictability and its impact on peace. Many observed the impact of the pandemic on a range of Commission-related focus areas.
The representative of Japan said one priority area is ensuring that the lingering pandemic and its socioeconomic impacts and the consequences of climate change will not impair the Commission’s efforts. Attention is needed on challenges on the ground — from vaccines to climate-related issues, with a focus on the development-peace-humanitarian nexus, as the Commission is best suited for such work. The Commission also has the duty to provide inputs on the ways to ensure adequate, predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding. There is a need to further leverage the function of the Commission as a platform to share best practices and lessons learned across the regions, and to make full use of its advisory function, which has been underexploited.
The representative of Latvia, noting that 2021 marks the first time his country will serve on the Peacebuilding Commission, pledged its commitment and stated its intention to focus on strengthening the resilience of institutions in post-conflict situations. That includes promoting good governance, media literacy, digital skills and the inclusive participation of youth and women. Noting that peacebuilding efforts must be rooted in such values as the international rules-based order, democratic governance and human rights, he stressed that “there are no shortcuts to building sustainable peace”. Instead, it requires persistent efforts by affected communities, as well as international partners. In 2022, the Commission must continue developing links with other institutions and should not shy away from any engagement which corresponds to its mandate, including under the United Nations human rights pillar, he added.
The representative of Thailand, welcoming the Commission’s new bureau and praising the body’s closer coordination with the Economic and Social Council, pledged to help “sustain sustainability” across the three pillars of the United Nations. That includes the promotion of the Organization’s sustaining peace agenda, South-South and triangular cooperation in peacebuilding and sustainable development and the roles of peacekeepers as early peacebuilders. He also vowed to share Thailand’s homegrown approaches to sustainable development, including its Bio-Circular-Green Economy model in support of peacebuilding efforts.
The representative of Colombia, congratulating the outgoing Chair and Vice‑Chairs, stressed the Commission remains the fundamental driver of peacebuilding in the United Nations. On the annual report, he said he can attest to the importance of the Commission as he had the honour of serving as its Chair in 2019. Noting that Colombian women are increasingly integrated into his country’s peace process, he stressed the need to consolidate the outcomes of the Commission’s work.
The representative Kenya, citing 60 outcome documents of the Commission, said it is now “implementation time”. It is particularly critical to invest in national resilience during the post-conflict phase. Echoing the call by the African Union Peace and Security Commissioner that a certain percentage of United Nations assessed contributions should be used to finance peace, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s call for assessed contributions of Member States to the Peacebuilding Fund. He is disappointed that some contentious deliberations during the session were not captured in the annual report.
The representative of Pakistan noted with appreciation that the Commission has enhanced both its engagement and the geographic scope of its commitments. Urging the Security Council to improve its cooperation with the Commission, he underlined the latter’s important advisory role and asked the 15-member organ to make better use of it. On resources, he said the Commission should leverage its bridging role with United Nations organs, the private sector and the Peacebuilding Fund, translating existing support into longer-term commitments. In addition, he said, the Commission could play a larger role in addressing the root causes of conflict — including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and other causes of strife — which are not always addressed in the Security Council for a variety of reasons. Noting that the very nature of conflict has changed, he cited growing foreign intervention in local conflicts and added that even internal conflicts now have cross-border impacts.
The representative of India stressed that the Commission has a critical role to play in ensuring that the developing world is not forgotten in vaccination drives and COVAX global outreach programmes. Terrorists are taking advantage of the growing gap between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, particularly in Africa, where conflict-ridden States are unable to combat growing terror due to lack of capacity, particularly in the Sahel and other parts of the continent, he said. Calling for adequate attention to institution-building, he stressed that it is crucial to create enduring governance structures which will protect human rights and establish the rule of law. He further emphasized that people-centric and citizen-friendly digital technologies need to be promoted and factored into the United Nations peacebuilding efforts, with a special focus on women and youth.
Also speaking were the representatives of Costa Rica, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Netherlands, France, Germany, China, Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea.
At the outset of the meeting, the Commission adopted its provisional agenda (document PBC/16/OC/1) and the report of its fifteenth session.
The Peacebuilding Commission will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.