Update: The UN’s Peacebuilding Commission

Update: The UN’s Peacebuilding Commission

The creation of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) was one of the few tangible outcomes of the 2005 World Summit UN Reform process. The PBC was formed to “advise and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict recovery, focusing attention on reconstruction, institution-building and sustainable development, in countries emerging from conflict.” To date, the Peacebuilding Commission has taken on two cases: Sierra Leone and Burundi. An overview of the PBC’s work in these countries is available in the UN reports posted here. An independent assessment by the NGO Action Aid entitled “Consolidating the Peace?” is available here.

A separate Peacebuilding Fund was created to support the PBC’s work. As of today, the fund has deposits worth $143.8 million from donor countries, with a target of $250 million. Interestingly, states do not need to be under consideration by the PBC to receive Fund assistance.

Like the Human Rights Council, the PBC adopted a new system of representation, and hence decision making power. Its Organizational Committee is made up of 31 members, with seven representatives from the Security Council (including permanent members); seven from the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), giving particular consideration to those that have experienced post-conflict recovery; five out of the top 10 financial contributors to the UN budgets; five out of the top 10 providers of military personnel and civilian police to UN missions; and seven additional members, to redress remaining geographical imbalances and include countries with post-conflict experience, to be elected by the General Assembly. Because efforts at reform in other key institutions have been unsuccessful to date, this new method of allocating seats marks a substantive development. New parties are being brought to the table, and observers report that has resulted in a genuine desire for cooperation.

Upcoming issues for the PBC will include: (i) selection of the next countries for consideration, (Guinea Bissau and Timor-Leste are considered to be high on the list); (ii) whether and how the PBC will distinguish its strategies from other international actors in the development / post-conflict field, (iii) whether international financial institutions will take advantage of their relationship with the PBC and become actively involved in developing strategies on economic matters, and (iv) a determination as to how long the PBC should stay engaged with countries under its purview.

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