Peacebuilding Commission

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The Peacebuilding Commission was established in December 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council acting concurrently.[1][2] It is an inter-governmental advisory body, in order to provide recommendations in post-conflict peace building, recovery, reconstruction and development, as well as serve as a coordination and exchange of experiences forum on issues regarding peacebuilding.

Current members of the PBC[edit]

The Commission is composed of 31 member states, which gather in two main fora: an Organizational Committee, and specific Configurations, one for each country that currently is part of the PBC’s agenda. The current composition of the Peacebuilding Commission's Organizational Committee is as follows :

  • 7 members of the Security Council, including all permanent members:
    1. China
    2. France
    3. The Russian Federation
    4. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
    5. United States of America
    6. Uruguay
    7. Senegal
  • 7 members elected by the General Assembly:[3]
    1. Colombia
    2. Egypt
    3. El Salvador
    4. Kenya
    5. Malaysia
    6. Montenegro
    7. Morocco
  • 5 members chosen as top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions:
    1. Bangladesh
    2. Ethiopia
    3. India
    4. Nigeria
    5. Pakistan
  • 7 members elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council:[4]
    1. Brazil
    2. Georgia
    3. Italy
    4. Republic of Korea
    5. South Africa
    6. Trinidad and Tobago
    7. Tunisia
  • 5 members chosen as top providers of contributions to United Nations budgets, funds programmes and agencies:
    1. Canada
    2. Germany
    3. Japan
    4. The Netherlands
    5. Sweden

Moreover, in accordance with operative paragraph 9 of the UN General Assembly resolution 60/180 and Security Council resolution 1965(2005), the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Bank are invited to take part in all meetings of the Commission.


The Peace Building Commission (PBC) is one of the new entities created by the reform process initiated during the 60th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, as part of the 2005 World Summit Outcome. The debate over the reform of the United Nations systems is not a recent one. Since the creation of the organization (June 1945), most of delegates and commentators believed that the structure they had given birth to was a merely temporary one as a first step towards the establishment of the new multilateral system. Indeed, the third paragraph of article 109 is a clear clue of this initial orientation, as it states that a General Conference aimed at reviewing the UN Charter should be called from the tenth annual session of the General Assembly onward. But, the first attempt to reform the UN structure failed at the very 10th session, when the General Assembly, even though aware of the need of a reform, decided to postpone any decision. Various attempts to reform the UN took place during the decades but the core issues (Security Council reform, veto power, UN enforcement) failed to be properly addressed. The PBC was inaugurated on June 2006, with the inclusion of Burundi and Sierra Leona as first cases of the Commission, as previously requested by the Security Council, in order to develop a country-specific model aiming to contribute to the implementation of the post-conflict tasks in each of both countries.

The High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change[edit]

The new environment and challenges brought by the post–September 11 system of international relations spurred the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to seek for new proposals and solutions in order to reform certain sensitive area of the UN system. This approximately was the mandate of the High Level Threat Panel.

Annan announced the membership of the 16-member Panel in a letter, dated November 3, 2003, addressed to the President of the General Assembly, Julian Robert Hunte (Saint Lucia). Mr Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand, was appointed to chair the high-level panel on global security threats and reform of the international system.

The Panel was asked to analyse and assess future threats to peace and security and to evaluate existing approaches, instruments and mechanisms, including the organs of the UN system. In this view, the Panel was specifically asked to:

  • Examine today's global threats and provide an analysis of future challenges to international peace and security;
  • Identify clearly the contribution that collective action can make in addressing these challenges;
  • Recommend the changes necessary to ensure effective collective action, including but not limited to a review of the principal organs of the United Nations.

The list above makes clear that the panel was not asked to formulate policies on specific issues. Rather it was asked to make an assessment of current challenges and to recommend proper changes in order to meet them effectively. The final report of the High-level Panel, named "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility," set out a number of recommendations to address problems and issues in six main areas of concern on which the multilateral system should concentrate its action now and in the decades ahead:

  1. war between States;
  2. violence within States (civil wars, gross violations of human rights and genocide);
  3. poverty, infectious diseases and environmental degradation;
  4. nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons;
  5. terrorism; and
  6. transnational organized crime.[5]

Considering the second point, the analysis of the panel identified "a key institutional gap: there is no place in the United Nations system explicitly designed to avoid State collapse and the slide to war or to assist countries in their transition from war to peace" (reference: report, paragraph 261). Since the United Nations should be able to act coherently and effectively from preventive action through post-conflict peace-building, the panel recommended to establish a Peacebuilding Commission as a subsidiary body of the Security Council itself. As it is stated in the report, "the core functions of the Peacebuilding Commission should be to identify countries which are under stress and risk sliding towards State collapse; to organize, in partnership with the national Government, proactive assistance in preventing that process from developing further; to assist in the planning for transitions between conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding; and in particular to marshal and sustain the efforts of the international community in post-conflict peacebuilding over whatever period may be necessary".[6] For what concern more practical and in-depth aspects of this new body, the panel just recommends that the Commission should be reasonably small, meet in different configurations in order to consider both general policy issues and country-by-country situations and strategies, involve the main relevant actors in different fields (UN organs such as ECOSOC and representative from UN agencies, International Financial and Economic Institutions, representatives of regional and subregional organizations) and it should be assisted by Peacebuilding Support Office established in the Secretariat.

High-Level Threat Panel members[edit]

The High-Level Panel was integrated by 16 prominent politicians, diplomats and development experts:

Structure and mandate of the Peace Building Commission[edit]

Institutional Framework[edit]

The Peacebuilding Commission is a subsidiary organ of both the General Assembly and the Security Council, thus the legal basis for its institution is to be found in artt. 22 and 29 of the UN Charter, devoted respectively to GA and SC subsidiary bodies.

In this regard, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1645 on December 20, 2005, in concurrence with an analogue act approved by the General Assembly, the 60/180 resolution of December 30, 2005. In both texts the Peacebuilding Commission is described as an intergovernmental advisory body, and among its tasks there is the duty to submit an annual report to the General Assembly which is supposed to hold an annual session to discuss it.

The main task of the new Peacebuilding Commission is that of taking care of post-conflict actions to be adopted and enforced in countries emerging from conflicts, whose Governments choose to ask for relief from the International Community. It is up to the PBC to collect all available resources and funds directed to support recovery projects in those countries, and to draft long-term strategies in order to guarantee reconstruction, institution-building and sustainable development.

As said, this new body represents an innovation to the UN traditional approach to conflicts situations: for the first time there is a single organ charged with a mission that relies on a complex of capacities and expertise which used to be of many UN subjects' concern, without any substantial coordination set out. For this reason the Commission can benefit by all the UN experience on such matters as conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, respect for human rights, the rule of law, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and long-term development.

Obviously, as it is an advisory body, its natural role is that of proposing action patterns to be followed from the countries involved in the peace-building operations, and it is not entitled to take effective action. Another important task the PBC is supposed to fulfill is the one of ensuring actual funding both for early reconstruction activities and for longer-term strategies. This last mission is aimed at fixing the previous general praxis, according to which Countries were often more disposable to engage themselves to offer resources for short-term interventions (mainly devoted to peace-keeping operations) than to keep their promises of supporting peace-building operations once the conflict had been soothed and the hype on it had ceased to affect international public opinion.

The Peacebuilding Support Office[edit]

This Office was envisaged as part of the founding resolutions from the Security Council and General Assembly that established the Peacebuilding Commission in order “to establish, within the Secretariat and from within existing resources, a small peacebuilding support office staffed by qualified experts to assist and support the Peacebuilding Commission and drawing from the best expertise available.”

The PBSO also administers the Peacebuilding Found and provides support to the Secretary General’s efforts regarding the coordination of peacebuilding activities. On September 2014, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, from Argentina, as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support.

PBSO comprises three sections: Strategic Planning Section, Policy Analyses Section and External Relations Section.

The PBC takes its first steps[edit]

In its first year of operations, the Commission focused its attention on Burundi and Sierra Leone.[7]

In Burundi, the PBC and the Government of Burundi agreed on four critical peacebuilding areas to form the basis of a strategic framework: promoting good governance, strengthening the rule of law, reform of the security sector, and ensuring community recovery with a special focus on youth.

In Sierra Leone, the PBC and national partners identified reform of the justice and security sectors, youth employment and empowerment, and capacity-building in governance institutions as key priorities. Effective partnership between national and international actors helped ensure that recent elections in Sierra Leone were conducted in a peaceful, orderly and genuinely contested manner.

The 2010 elections in Burundi were more problematic. Allegations of fraud in an earlier local poll marred the June 2010 presidential election, in which incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza was the only candidate, after the country's opposition parties pulled out of the campaign.[8]

According to the constituting resolutions of the PBC, the further inclusion of a situation in the PBC agenda, that is as well part of the Security Council’s agenda, would need formal action of the members of the Council. In this regard, the Council has adopted the practice of issuing a letter to the president of the PBSO to request the consideration of other countries as part of the PBC agenda. Once a country-situation has been put under the consideration of the PBC, it should remain as part of the agenda for several years, or until the peacebuilding phase is considered to be completed. Currently the agenda of the PBC includes the situation in Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and the Central African Republic. The six cases in the agenda of the PBC and the overall progress achieved since the establishment of the Commission reveal the complexity in relying on peacebuilding efforts, as well as the coexistence of several factors within this process, including the ability of the PBC and its different Configurations to engage with the host government, as well as civil society and important stakeholders on the ground, in the conduction and implementation of coordinated actions. Besides, there are several factors largely dependent on the Security Council’s substantive engagement on each situation, including the need of regular interactions with the PBC and its Configurations.

An Independent Look at the PBC[edit]

In 2010, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Stanley Foundation sent an independent journalist to visit the PBC's four agenda countries. The journalistic investigation suggested that the PBC's greatest strength was in its creation and execution of a political mandate for its work.[9] Among its weaknesses were in its open-ended funding mechanism.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United Nations General Assembly Session 60 Resolution 180. A/RES/60/180 30 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  2. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 1645. S/RES/1645(2005) 20 December 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  3. ^ General Assembly Press Release GA/10460
  4. ^ ECOSOC Press Release ECOSOC/6200
  5. ^ High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, A more secure world: Our shared responsibility - Executive summary,
  6. ^ Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2004), A more secure world: Our shared responsibility, paragraph 264.
  7. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 458. Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its first session S/2007/458 25 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
  8. ^ "Burundi election lacks critical ingredient: presidential candidates". 
  9. ^ "The peacebuilders: Making conflict resolution permanent". 
  10. ^ "The Peacebuilders: Making Conflict Resolution Permanent". 

External links[edit]