New chair of Peacebuilding Commission outlines priorities for 2020

The first Peacebuilding Commission session of 2020 was held on 29 January 2020 where delegates exchanged views on the organisation’s work plan. PHOTO: Image Collab

Marc-André Blanchard, of Canada, chairperson of the Sierra Leone configuration of the United Nation's (UN) Peacebuilding Commission, was elected as chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission 2020 session, where he laid out priorities for 2020, on 29 January. Delegates exchanged views on the Peacebuilding Commission’s work plan covering the need for a ‘quantum leap’ of support to the Peacebuilding Fund and the importance of expanding partnerships in 2020.

“The commission is the only UN body mandated to bring all parts of the UN system together to address risks of conflict. Priorities include providing support to interested member states, at the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict, and strengthening the commission’s role in advising the Security Council on mandates, reconfigurations, drawdowns and transitions,” said the chairperson.

Blanchard said other priorities include deepening the commission’s links with the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund and regional development banks. He said this is to ensure macroeconomic risks, fiscal and economic priorities, and the livelihood needs of populations affected by conflict, are better integrated into the UN’s decision-making.

“Under Canada’s chairmanship, the commission will shine a light on economic drivers and risks to peace, since planning for economic recovery and inclusive growth must happen in parallel with security engagements. Hopefully, the commission’s discussions will incorporate issues such as debt sustainability, macroeconomic policy reforms and adjustments, corruption and illicit financial flows, as well as development of peace-promoting private sector and conflict-sensitive business practices,” said the chairperson.

However, according to Blanchard, they cannot keep asking the UN’s system to do more without meeting the Secretary-General’s call for a ‘quantum leap’ in financing the Peacebuilding Fund. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant secretary-general for Peacebuilding Support, said the Peacebuilding Fund could not respond to some requests for investment in critical situations during the course of 2019.

He urged member states to seek $500 million in annual contributions, an amount equal to only 0.029 per cent of global military spending every year. Fernandez-Taranco also highlighted several of the commission’s important achievements in 2019 under Colombia’s chairmanship, including visits to West Africa and the Sahel, and placing greater emphasis on cross-cutting issues such as engaging women and young people in the peace and security agenda.

Takeshi Osuga, of Japan, said country ownership is the key to consolidating peace in any country and the best the commission can do is to share good practices and lessons learned that vitalise and deepen discussions on thematic issues, particularly institution-building. He emphasised that the nexus between peace and humanitarian actions, as well as efforts to realise the Sustainable Development Goals, guided by the concept of human security, are key to achieving the objective of peaceful lives and individual self-fulfilment. Mauro Vieira, of Brazil, chairperson of the Guinea-Bissau configuration, noted that the West African country is at a critical juncture on its path towards greater stability. He said the people elected the President and members of the new Parliament in 2019, adding that once the new government is in place, they intend to help it make a national peacebuilding and development plan while seeking greater synergies of support for Guinea-Bissau.

Jürg Lauber, of Switzerland, chairperson of the Burundi configuration, said he would be travelling to Burundi that evening to meet interlocutors on the ground. He said with elections scheduled in 2020, the configuration intends to contribute to successful polls with a view to building a resilient, inclusive and peaceful society and noted the positive impact of the reformed UN’s resident coordinator system on peacebuilding efforts.

The Dominican Republic’s delegate stressed the important role of youth in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, while Ireland’s representative highlighted the need for the commission to continue valuing the role of women in peace and security. Ethiopia’s representative welcomed the strengthened coordination between the Commission and other organizations including the African Union, European Union and the World Bank and highlighted the need to address drivers of conflict and strengthen its’ focus on prevention.

The United Kingdom’s representative said her country contributed $20 million to the Peacebuilding Fund, making it the second largest donor after Germany. She expressed hope that the commission will refine its engagement with the Security Council and increase its advocacy capacity.

The commission also elected the representatives of Colombia and Japan as vice-chairs and re-elected delegates to chair country-specific configurations during meetings in the course of 2020. Representatives of Central African Republic, Liberia, Nepal, Germany, Norway, Peru, India, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Kenya, Gambia, France, Korea and Romania also spoke today.

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