New York, 27 April 2016 – In a rare bicameral event, the General Assembly and the Security Council today adopted substantively identical resolutions on the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, providing renewed momentum for the focus on ‘sustaining peace’ within the UN system.
UN peacebuilding activities directly affect millions of people in dozens of conflict-affected countries, including in the 27 countries where the Peacebuilding Fund sponsors initiatives to strengthen a fragile peace or prevent conflict from breaking out, such as the salary payments of police and gendarmerie in the Central African Republic, the release of more than 700 child soldiers in Myanmar, the construction of cantonment camps for thousands of combatants in northern Mali or the network of women groups mediating in more than 5,000 local conflicts in Burundi.
These are the most comprehensive resolutions on peacebuilding ever adopted by the UN. They define the central concept of ‘sustaining peace’ as both a goal and a process, one which is owned by national stakeholders but which needs sustained international attention and assistance. “Sustaining peace” means that activities are aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, and that they would address the root causes of conflicts.
It also means the UN will look to access all its peace and security, development and human rights engagements more coherently, both at Headquarters and around the world, to reduce the high human cost and suffering brought about by so many simultaneous security and humanitarian crises. Peacekeeping operations and UN country teams will make peacebuilding a more integral part of their work.
The new resolutions are part of a wide-ranging refocusing of how the UN system should deal with conflict situations. They adopt a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace, encompassing conflict prevention, development, human rights and peacebuilding. Activities addressing all stages of the conflict cycle will involve the whole UN system, such that traditional siloes will be further broken down. The principal organs and the overall UN system must accordingly work more in this manner.
The resolutions reaffirm the role of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in bringing a strategic approach and coherence to peacebuilding efforts. The PBC, a subsidiary body to the General Assembly and the Security Council, provides a platform for a coordinated approach to sustaining peace, involving all actors, including the countries under discussion, regional member states and organizations, international financial institutions and civil society.
The resolutions emphasize that the PBC should work more flexibly and serve a bridging role among the General Assembly, Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. The broad Membership also encourages the PBC, whose members represent a smaller subset of the overall Membership, to focus more on regional developments and consider more cross-cutting issues than it has done to date. This will make its services both more accessible to countries that are not necessarily on a regular “agenda” and more valuable to the principal organs.
The resolutions call for closer coordination and cooperation between the PBC and the Security Council on peacebuilding issues. They further call for stronger roles for the ECOSOC, the Human Rights Council and the UN development system to sustain peace.
The resolutions offer a range of options to the Secretary-General and the PBC for cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders. The resolutions particularly request the Secretary-General to explore options for strengthening UN-World Bank collaboration. It stresses the need for cooperation with regional organizations, specifically mentioning the African Union.
The resolutions emphasize the role of women, youth, and the civil society in sustaining peace.
The resolutions underline the importance of predictable and sustained resources to peacebuilding efforts, and the valuable role of the Peacebuilding Fund as a rapid, flexible and catalytic fund.
The next Secretary-General is invited to report back to the 72nd General Assembly session on efforts to implement the stipulations. The resolutions also call on the General Assembly and the Security Council to create new agenda items on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace” and organize a high-level follow-up meeting at the 72nd session of the General Assembly.