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Updated on 17 July 2016


Section 2:   Peacebuilding Commission


Updating the Council’s peacebuilding agenda item


As detailed in the book, one area of controversy concerning the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in 2005 was whether the Commission would address issues of prevention, or only of post-conflict peacebuilding.  The 2004 report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (A/59/565) and the Secretary-General’s 2005 report entitled In Larger Freedom (A/59/2005) had foreseen a preventive role for the PBC, whereas the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document provided that the focus of the Peacebuilding Commission would be post-conflict situations (A/RES/60/1, paras. 97, 98).  


This issue was not explicitly resolved in the parallel resolutions adopted by the General Assembly (A/RES/60/180) and the Security Council (S/RES/1645) establishing the PBC.  In fact, paragraphs 12 (b) and (c) of both resolutions provided for matters to be placed before the Commission with respect to a Member State “in exceptional circumstances on the verge of lapsing or relapsing into conflict” (italics added).  However, owing to the fact that some States continued to object to mandating the Peacebuilding Commission to address issues of prevention, both the Assembly and the Council resolutions were interpreted as conforming to the World Summit Outcome Document on this point.  In the Security Council, this interpretation was reflected by the fact that the Council adopted its resolution establishing the PBC under the agenda item, “Post-conflict peacebuilding”.  At the adoption meeting, the representative of Benin took issue with limiting the mandate of the PBC in this way, stating that his delegation


“deem[s] it inappropriate for the resolution to have been submitted under the current agenda

item title.  My delegation believes that the peacebuilding commission is designed both to prevent conflicts and to address post-conflict issues.” (S/PV.5335)


The question concerning the scope of the PBC’s mandate was reopened with the publication in 2015 of the report of the Advisory Group of Experts (AGE) on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture entitled Challenge of sustaining peace (A/69/968 - S/2015/490).  The report unequivocally addressed this issue when it stated that


“A broader, comprehensive approach of sustaining peace is called for, all along the arc leading

from conflict prevention (on which, in particular, the United Nations system needs to place

much greater emphasis), through peacemaking and peacekeeping, and on to post-conflict

recovery and reconstruction.”


In response to the report, on 27 April 2016 the Council adopted resolution 2282 (2016).  Demonstrating that the Council members had accepted a more comprehensive concept of “peacebuilding”, albeit after protracted negotiations, the resolution included these four preambular statements:


  • “Recognizing that ‘sustaining peace’, as drawn from the Advisory Group of Experts report, should be broadly understood as a goal and a process to build a common vision of a society, ensuring that the needs of all segments of the population are taken into account, which encompasses activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict . . .”


  • “Emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to sustaining peace, particularly through the prevention of conflict and addressing its root causes . . .”


  • “Recognizing that peacebuilding is an inherently political process aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, recurrence or continuation of conflict . . .”


  • “Recognizing the need for United Nations peacebuilding efforts to have adequate, predictable and sustained financing in order to effectively assist countries to sustain peace and prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict . . .” (italics added)


Resolution 2282 (2016) was adopted by the Council at a meeting convened under the Council’s established agenda item, “Post-conflict peacebuilding”.  But in light of the preventive language contained in the resolution, and equally in the General Assembly’s parallel resolution 70/262, certain Council members began to press for the Council’s agenda item to be revised so as to reflect the more comprehensive concept set out in the AGE report and resolution 2282 (2016).  Subsequently, on 21 June 2016, the Council issued a Note by the President (S/2016/560) which stated:


“Following consultations among the members of the Security Council, it has been agreed that

issues pertaining to peacebuilding and post-conflict peacebuilding will, as from 22 June 2016, be considered under the agenda item entitled ‘Peacebuilding and sustaining peace’, under which

will be subsumed the earlier consideration by the Council of those issues under the agenda item

entitled ‘Post-conflict peacebuilding’.”


As detailed in the book (pages 216-217), the Council has created a practice of issuing Notes by the President to inform of changes to existing agenda items.  It did so in 2005, in connection with agenda items relating to Iraq and the situation between Iraq and Kuwait (S/2005/251).  A second such instance occurred in 2011 when the Council issued a Note by the President stating that issues pertaining to Libya would thereafter be considered under a new agenda item entitled “The situation in Libya”, under which would be subsumed the Council’s earlier consideration of those issues under the more general agenda item entitled “Peace and security in Africa’’ (S/2011/141).  A third such instance occurred in 2012, when a Note by the President was issued stating that the members had agreed to consider issues pertaining to Mali under a new agenda item entitled, “The situation in Mali”, whereas previously those issues had been taken up under “Peace and security in Africa” (S/2012/961).


On 22 June – the date established by the Note by the President for the new agenda item to come into effect – the President (France) convened the Council’s first meeting under the revised item, at which the Report of the Peacebuilding Commission on its ninth session was considered (S/PV.7723).


(This update supplements pages 473 to 474 of the book.)


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