Realizing the potential of the UN peacebuilding architecture – The 2015 review and beyond

Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Peacebuilding Support Office, organised a retreat at Greentree estate on 30-31 October to discuss and explore ways to identify and implement change resulting from the ongoing review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA).

Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), who have partnered since 2013 to work on preparations for the 2015 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, hosted a retreat to discuss and to identify concrete changes resulting from the ongoing review of the UN PBA and what is needed to ensure implementation of reforms. The participants were Permanent Representatives/Ambassadors from the PBC membership and agenda countries, the two Co-Facilitators for the inter-governmental phase of the PBA Review, and heads of the lead UN entities engaged in peacebuilding (Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Political Affairs and UN Development Programme).

The retreat offered a unique and informal platform to discuss the recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Group of Experts from the perspectives of member states, institutional donors and lead entities of the UN, ahead of their formal consideration through the inter-governmental process. The retreat was structured in three working sessions and focused on three core issues: the changing global context and the imperative of renewed approach to sustaining peace; building coherence at the intergovernmental level towards sustaining peace; and partnerships and financing for sustaining peace.

Some of the key messages from the discussions include: 

  • There is an extraordinary opportunity with the three reports that have been presented over the past few months to improve the UN’s work in the area of peace and security (AGE, HIPPO and Global Study on SCR 1325), at the same time as the SDGs have been agreed.
  • Since the creation of the PBA there is growing awareness that peacebuilding encompasses efforts to prevent relapse into conflict but also to prevent countries from lapsing into conflict in the first place.
  • The uniqueness and comparative advantage of the PBC stems from its ability to operate at a horizontal level, across the peace and security, development and human rights dimensions.
  • The PBC’s advisory role is important but has to demonstrate it has added value: In transition settings the PBC could relieve some of the work of the SC, for example, but the political will of the SC is critical for the PBC to be able to work in this way, as is ownership from PBC members who are on the SC.
  • The working methods of the PBC must be reformed: The PBC should embrace the AGE report’s call for it to act with creativity, innovation and boldness, while at the same time improving the predictability and transparency of its work program.
  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can act as an important platform for the UN’s efforts in sustaining peace.
  • The potential of peacebuilding compacts should be explored further: Peacebuilding compacts can be a useful mechanism for creating clarity and coherence between a national government and the United Nations, particularly around transitions.
  • Regional cooperation is key: the Chapter VIII provision of the UN Charter is underutilized and should be given more consideration.
  • Given that peacebuilding is a critical function of the UN, the financial resources allocated to peacebuilding need to be increased and made more predictable.