The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UNPBC) was established as a part of the reform process that took place during the 60th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Peacebuilding, a precautionary framework aimed at reducing threats that would undermine the peaceful status of a post-conflict country, has always been a fundamental goal of the United Nations. However, there was much deliberation throughout the process of creating a separate institution to address this issue. The founding of the UNPBC began in December 2004 when the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan established the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. This panel sought to assess current global threats to international peace and provide an analysis of future challenges, identify the contribution of international parties, and recommend changes necessary to ensure effective collective action. It was within this panel’s report that the Secretary-General first proposed a new intergovernmental body, the “Peacebuilding Commission.” The framework of the Peacebuilding Commission provided the foundation for the creation of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission the following year.
Topic A: The Situation in the Sahel
The Sahel is a semi-arid region roughly encompassing ten African countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The region has drawn attention over the last few years for many humanitarian and political crises, most notably the 2012 food crisis, when 18.7 million people in the region faced extreme food shortage. A coup d’état took place in Mali in the same year. This ongoing turmoil has led to poverty, famine, threats of religious terrorism, international trafficking, and poor access to natural resources. UNPBC has been involved in the Sahel since 2017 at the direct request of the Security Council, and, in 2018, the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) invested a combined USD 65 million in the region, to promote cross-border cooperation, access to basic services and renewable energy, and empowerment of youth and women for peace and development. However, more work is needed. It is crucial for UNPBC to promote efforts to build peace and economic prosperity in the Sahel region.
Topic B: The Situation in Liberia
The year 2018 was a year of development for Liberia. The country experienced a transition from one democratically elected leader to another—the first time ever in 74 years of history—marking a milestone of peace in the African country. In the same year, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) completed its mandate, withdrawing after almost 15 years and two civil wars that claimed almost 250,000 lives. These milestones mark important transitions for a country with a troubled past. As other groups leave the country, it is now up to the UNPBC to continue to promote strong institutions of law and justice, so that the gains in Liberia become permanent despite lingering threats. According to one of the final peacebuilding plans elaborated by UNMIL, “land disputes, corruption, boundaries disputes and concession related tensions” continue to trigger violence in the country. Additionally, Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in Africa, and international aid is still a vital part of its economic development model. In order to prevent old conflicts from reigniting, UNPBC must work towards ensuring Liberia is able to grow economically and create a stable environment for its citizens.