Global Policy Forum

Update on Activities of Peacebuilding Commission

November 20, 2008

The Peacebuilding Commission's country-specific configuration on the Central African Republic (CAR) conducted a mission to the country – the newest addition to its agenda – this month. Other recent developments in the PBC include the adoption of a strategic framework for peacebuilding in Guinea-Bissau and measurable progress in Sierra Leone and Burundi. The changes and challenges of the PBC over the period of 23 June 2007 – 22 June 2008, as well as its recent developments in the four countries currently under its consideration, were discussed in the Security Council on 21 October in response to the Commission's second annual report. Finally, the terms of reference (TOR) of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), a separate but related body, are currently undergoing negotiation.

PBC Background

Established on 20 December 2005 in the wake of the 2005 World Summit, PBC is currently in its third year of operation. As an intergovernmental advisory body it was established by the Security Council and the General Assembly and reports to both bodies. The Commission includes 31 member countries. Since 27 June 2007 the Commission has been chaired by Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan. The UN peacebuilding architecture also includes the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) and Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO).

Presentation of Annual Report

On 9 and 13 October the GA held its joint annual debate (with the Security Council) on the second annual report of the PBC as well as on the Secretary-General's August report on the PBF. On 21 October the Security Council held its own annual debate on the report of the PBC. Presenting the report (A/63/92 and S/2008/417), Ambassador Takasu highlighted the work of the Commission in the four country-specific configurations. Takasu stressed the need to enhance the PBC's support of national efforts, and he highlighted the important leadership role of the chairs of country-specific configurations in the development of the Commission. Ambassador Takasu also noted that the Commission envisaged providing support to more countries. For that purpose and also to implement earlier identified goals and objectives, the PBC was making efforts to enhance collaboration with a number of stakeholders, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, as well as the African Union and the European Union. Following the Chair's presentation, Member States expressed approval of the PBC's progress and acknowledged the necessity of tracking and monitoring mechanisms on the ground. Delegations also emphasized the importance of national ownership in the peacebuilding process and the need to demonstrate clear impact on peacebuilding in the countries on the PBC's agenda. Delegates also stressed that an urgent solution is needed to the ongoing issue of distribution of seats for the PBC membership from the GA and ECOSOC categories.

Country-Specific Work

The PBC is currently engaged in the countries of Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and CAR. Burundi and Sierra Leone were the first countries on its agenda, and the PBC has created strategic frameworks for its engagement in both countries. Currently the focus is on monitoring implementation of the respective frameworks. Guinea-Bissau and CAR were brought onto the agenda of PBC during the second cycle of the Commission's work (2007-2008). The Commission has finalized Guinea-Bissau's strategic framework and is developing and finalizing the framework for CAR. Countries that are currently being considered for the future agenda are Liberia, Nepal, and Timor-Leste. Requests for advice from the PBC typically originate with the country seeking advice. In the current cases, these requests have been submitted to the Secretary-General and forwarded to the Security Council for referral to the PBC.


In coordination with the government of Burundi, the country-specific configuration for Burundi, chaired by Sweden, agreed on four priority peacebuilding areas:

  • Promotion of good governance,
  • Strengthening of the rule of law,
  • Security reform, and
  • Socio-economic recovery

    The monitoring and tracking mechanism for the strategic framework was adopted on 5 December 2007. Setting out the benchmarks and indicators enables the government and other relevant actors to assess progress towards peacebuilding consolidation in the country. In June 2008, the first review of the work of Burundi's strategic framework revealed progress in fostering dialogue among the national actors, including the adoption of a revised national criminal code. Reform of the security and justice sectors remained challenging areas.

    Sierra Leone

    Earlier this year, prompted by the government of Sierra Leone, the PBC added energy issues to the previously identified priorities for peacebuilding, which were:

  • Capacity building,
  • Good governance,
  • Justice,
  • Security sector reform, and
  • Youth empowerment.

    The Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework (PBC/2/SLE1), which set up focus areas for post-conflict development, was adopted by the PBC together with the government of the country on 3 December 2007.

    A biannual review held by the PBC on 19 June 2008 found that the Framework had made progress in the areas of justice and security sector reform, anti-corruption efforts, energy sector development and preparations for local elections. However, the Commission noted that additional efforts were required in the area of national reconciliation. The review meeting also recommended addressing peacebuilding issues related to the economic situation, including youth empowerment and capacity building.

    Most recently, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL) was launched in Sierra Leone on 1 October 2008. The Security Council took note of the PBC's priorities in establishing the mandate for the new office. Together with PBC, UNIPSIL will monitor and promote human rights, democratic institutions and rule of the law in the country. Since October 2007, the Sierra Leone configuration has been chaired by the Netherlands.


    Since Guinea-Bissau was added to the PBC's agenda on 19 December 2007, members of the configuration, chaired by Brazil, have undertaken several missions to the country to finalize the peacebuilding strategic framework. The framework was adopted by the Commission on 1 October 2008 after consultation with the new government. It highlighted the following peacebuilding focus areas:

  • Security sector reform,
  • Law enforcement,
  • Wealth generation, and
  • Modernization of the public and administration systems.

    In a diversion from the usual sequencing of the roles of the PBC and PBF (based on Sierra Leone and Burundi experiences) the Secretary-General approved an initial allotment of 6 million USD for Guinea-Bissau on 11 March 2008 (see Priority Plan for GB). The approval is based on an interim priority plan for the country. It must be followed up by a more comprehensive PBF plan, based on the priorities identified in the PBC's strategic framework. The allotment is to be used for strengthening of the rule of law, security sector reform, youth empowerment and elections.


    CAR was added to the PBC's agenda on 12 June 2008 due to political, security and development challenges in the country, "including an urgent need for revitalization of conflict affected communities, security sector reform, the promotion of governance and rule of law" (Security Council Report, 17 October 2008). The country-specific configuration for the CAR is chaired by Belgium. In July 2008, Belgium‘s permanent representative undertook his first visit to the CAR to acquaint himself with the national authorities there, as well as to explain the work and mission of the PBC.

    On 8 October the members of the Commission identified Security Sector Reform, Good Governance and the Rule of Law as priority areas. On 22 October, the country-specific configuration on CAR held a meeting to discuss these issues, and it articulated the objectives and key messages for its mission earlier this month (30 October to 6 November), as follows.

    The objectives of the visit were for the PBC delegation to:

  • Engage with the Government of the Central African Republic and other key stakeholders;
  • Discuss with the Government and other stakeholders the Government's main peacebuilding priorities and challenges faced by the country, the actions being undertaken by the Government to address the challenges and the nature and scope of international support that the country needs;
  • Visit sites of ongoing projects in and outside of Bangui that are relevant to peacebuilding priorities; and
  • Exchange views on the activities of the PBF with the National Steering Committee.

    Its key messages are:

  • The PBC's engagement is aimed at maintaining sustainable international attention and support for the country's efforts to strengthen peace, by bringing all relevant actors together;
  • The PBC works to ensure and support national ownership of the peacebuilding process and the further development of the strategic framework document, based on inclusive consultations with stakeholders;
  • The creation of a PBC strategic framework for the country is not directly linked to the PBF disbursement
  • The importance of continuity and stability in the country; and
  • The PBC's commitment to a serious, sustained engagement with the CAR, and the benefits of a "matching commitment, political will and strength" on the part of the government.

    During the discussion of the CAR field trip, the Member States particularly acknowledged the importance of dialogue with the local authorities. They also requested the CAR configuration to issue a chart of ongoing work of PBC in the country for Member States before the next CAR country-specific meeting.

    Reviewing PBF's Role and Functioning

    In his August 2008 report on the PBF, Secretary-General Ban noted the widespread misunderstandings of the peacebuilding architecture. To avoid further confusion, he recommended reconsideration of the current Terms of Reference to clearly define the scope of PBF's work. According to the August 2006 document, the TOR must be reviewed within two years of their adoption. Following consultations with the PBF Advisory Group and an independent evaluation, a review of the TOR may be initiated by the PBSO, which it has done.

    According to the Issues Paper circulated yesterday at the PBC's Organizational Committee meeting, the review of the TOR will address the following goals:

    1. Increase speed, agility and accountability of the PBF, by the clarification of roles and responsibilities of key actors in the management, administration and implementation of the Fund.

    2. Strengthen PBSO's fund management capacity and its "backstopping" function by conducting a strategic internal resource assessment.

    3. Enhance PBF procedures and guidelines to facilitate faster, transparent, and more strategic decision-making on the selection of countries (eligibility criteria), deployment of resources, identification of priorities including early recovery, tracking of performance and reporting, and mobilization of resources.

    4. Deploy peacebuilding and planning capacity to new countries eligible for PBF funding to speed up the formulation of priority plans and disbursement of funds. This capacity would assist with in-country critical data collection, capacity needs assessments, and project planning, training, and identification of potential national implementing partners.

    5. Adopt measures to enhance PBF accountability mechanisms and assure proper financial and operational risk management.

    6. Facilitate systematic good practice documentation and knowledge sharing across PBF countries, in partnership with the in-country PBF Secretariats.

    7. Formalize a more systematic interaction and increase the synergy between the work of the PBC and the operations of the PBF.

    The review process will be informed by the following four sources:

    1. The findings and recommendations of an independent evaluation from the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS);

    2. Lessons learned from the past two years;

    3. Recommendations of the PBF Advisory Group meeting on 15-16 October 2008; and

    4. Suggestions of Member States articulated during the GA debate on the PBF Report of the Secretary-General on 9 and 13 October. 5.

    Upcoming Meetings

  • A high-level briefing for the country-specific configurations for Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, regarding drug trafficking as a security threat, will take place tomorrow, 21 November.
  • The PBC's Working Group on Lessons Learned will meet on 24 November.
  • The next CSM on CAR – to cover the mission to the country – is scheduled for 26 November.
  • A meeting on reconsidering the mandate of PBC and terms of reference for PBF will be conducted in November.
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    More Information on Peacebuilding Commission


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