Peacebuilding Commission Opens: UN Reform Process Rolls On - Will Women’s Voice be Heard?
1. PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION OPENS
The UN reform process moved a step forward on Friday, June 23rd, 2006 at
UN Headquarters in New York, with the inaugural meeting of the
Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), a new 31 member intergovernmental
advisory committee. The role of the Commission is to facilitate
collaboration and coordination among political, military, humanitarian,
development and UN actors to help countries during the fragile
transitional period between war and lasting peace.
During the inaugural meeting, provisional rules of procedure were
adopted. Mr. Ismael Gaspar Martins, Permanent Representative of Angola,
was elected to chair the PBC and Sierra Leone and Burundi were adopted
as the first two countries on the Commission's peacebuilding agenda to
receive advice (recommended by the Security Council). The next meeting
of the Organizational Committee of the Commission is expected to convene
within a few weeks and country-specific meetings are also expected to
Significantly, Carolyn McAskie from Canada was appointed by the
Secretary-General as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding
Support. Carolyn McAskie is the former Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General to Burundi. She is known for strongly promoting gender
equality and women’s human rights principles within the UN peacekeeping
mission in Burundi and hopes are high that gender concerns will take
centre stage as the Commission begins its important work. In the words
of Carolyn… “Security Council res. 1325: Women, Peace and Security, will
be important for the Commission and we intend to bring it to the
attention of the members as a core issue at all levels….” In addition to
the Commission, a Peacebuilding Fund will be established to help (along
with other monetary sources) to ensure sustained financing for early
recovery initiatives and longer-term investment, while the Peacebuilding
Support Office will provide the PBC with information and analysis as
well as groundwork at the country level.
2. WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS RAISE CONCERNS
As the PBC begins to carry out its mandate, gender justice advocates
around the world are closely tracking its progress. Many questions
remain with respect to the actual commitment of the PBC to meaningfully
integrate a women's rights architecture into its operations, such as:
- Will the delegates on the PBC Organizational Committee have expertise
in gender-mainstreaming and be sensitive to the specific needs of women
in conflict zones?
- Will the PBC implement the recommendations of Security Council
Resolution 1325 by actively seeking to consult with and involve women
representatives from governments and civil society organizations (from
the local, regional and international levels) in not only the
country-specific meetings, but also in any resulting initiatives in
post-conflict zones? Specifically, what role will women's organizations
in Sierra Leone and Burundi have in helping to guide the PBC in its
advising capacity in these first two cases?
- Will the PBC meetings include the participation of representatives
from UNIFEM, UNFPA and the Gender Advisory Offices in UN peacekeeping
- Will the personnel in the Peacebuilding Support Office have a
comprehensive understanding of the women-peace-security nexus and be
able to effectively integrate a feminist perspective into their work?
Will there be specific gender and peacebuilding advisors within the
PBSO? Further, will they liaise with women's networks and groups at a
national and international level?
- Will the Peacebuilding Fund have a significant portion of finances
allocated to women-specific projects and towards strengthening the
capacity of women's civil society to participate in peacebuilding
initiatives? Further, will a gendered analysis be integrated into the
Fund's operations in order to ensure that resources are dispersed in a
manner that is responsive to the needs and priorities of women? For
example, will the PBF prioritize the psychosocial reconstruction of
3. MEMBERSHIP OF THE PBC
Members of the commission will be from the Permanent Country Missions at
UN Headquarters and were selected in the following ways for two year
Seven members from the Security Council: China, Denmark, France, the
Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland, the United Republic of Tanzania and the United States of
Seven members from the Economic and Social Council (five seats
distributed to each of the five regional groups, two additional seats):
Angola, Belgium, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Poland and Sri Lanka.
Five top providers of assessed contributions to UN budgets and of
voluntary contributions to the UN funds, programmes and agencies:
Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway.
Five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United
Nations missions: Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Seven members from the General Assembly: Burundi, Chile, Croatia, Egypt,
El Salvador, Fiji and Jamaica
However, additional opportunities for women to be involved in the PBC
remains to be seen. Indeed, the PBC will only be effective in achieving
its goals of facilitating long-lasting peace in post-conflict zones if
it heeds SCR 1325, allowing for meaningful participation of women’s
networks at local, national and international levels.
Important Links and Reports:
UN Peacebuilding Commission Homepage http://www.un.org/peace/peacebuilding/
Reform the UN--Peacebuilding Commission Website:
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom PBC website:
Ekiyor, T. Engendering Peace. How the Peacebuilding Commission can
live up to UN Security Council Resolution 1325, FES New York, June 2006.
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