Why does the UN need a peacebuilding commission? It is a sad fact that roughly half of all the countries emerging from violent conflict relapse into violence within five years. In the report In Larger Freedom from the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan it was stated that no part of the United Nations system effectively addresses the challenge of helping countries with the transition from war to peace. There was a hole in the system – the countries were often left alone a relatively short time after the peace agreements were signed and the first elections held. The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) was established to fill this gap within the UN system. The commission held its inauguration meeting in June 2006. Norway plays a major part in PBC as Vice-Chair of the Organizational Committee as well as being the Chair of the Burundi configuration.
Peacemaking (peace negotiations) and peacekeeping have been addressed within the UN system for a long time, mainly referring to diplomatic and military efforts. However, the term peacebuilding was introduced in 1992 in the report An Agenda for Peace which made it clear that peacebuilding also encompasses social-economic dimensions.
The Peacebuilding Commission was established in order to provide a coordinated, coherent and integrated approach to post-conflict peacebuilding, bringing together key actors such as governments in post-conflict countries, donor-countries, civil society, international financial institutions as well as neighbouring countries to marshal resources and facilitate governmental efforts to build a sustainable peace. PBC will contribute to an extended period of attention from the international community to post-conflict recovery, assisting them in the transition period, focusing on critical areas which needs to be addressed to secure sustainable peace and security, paying special attention to reconstruction and institution-building efforts.
Organization and Membership
PBC organizes its work through two configurations: The Organisational Committee (OC), and the country-specific meetings. The OC is chaired by Angola, with El Salvador and Norway as vice-chairs. It consists of 31 members, selected from the Security Council (7 members), ECOSOC (7 members) from the top financial and military personnel and civilian policy contributors to UN missions, selected by and among the ten top providers and finally from the General Assembly (7 members). Norway was selected from the top financial providers, being the 7th largest financial contributor to the UN.
The memberships in the country-specific configurations includes the OC and representatives from the country under consideration; countries within the region engaged in post-conflict work; relevant regional and sub-regional organizations; major financial-, troop- and civilian police contributors to the recovery effort; the senior UN representatives in the field; and other relevant regional and international financial institutions. Currently, there are two country-specific configurations: Sierra Leone and Burundi. Norwegian Ambassador Løvald is the Chair of the Burundi configuration, which aims to have a strategic framework in place by June 2007. The Netherlands is the Chair of the Sierra Leone configuration.
In addition to the OC and the country-specific configurations, peacebuilding architecture in the United Nations system consist of a Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) within the Secretariat, and the Secretary General’s multi-year standing Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).