In April 2015, the Quaker United Nations Group and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict released a report titled How Civil Society Engagement can help the UN Peacebuilding’s Architecture Meet its Purpose. In addition to reviewing the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA), the report explains how civil society is a vital link to the UN peacebuilding efforts as it helps the UN better understand the people and communities they serve.
The report suggests that although the initial resolutions of the PBA acknowledge the importance of civil society engagement, these resolutions and guidelines have not resulted in regular and effective engagement with civil society. Through community voices and local interviews, the report examines the current state of civil society relations with the UN PBA. It concludes that better consulting mechanisms with local civil society organizations (CSOs) could lead to deeper insight of local communities and networks in order to successfully fulfill PBA’s mandate. These nongovernmental organizations could also help execute, supervise and examine the projects funded by the Peacebuilding Fund.
The report highlights several recommendations regarding transparency, strategic partnerships, convening power, and mutual accountability. The study suggests that the UN Peace Building Commission, an inter-governmental advisory board that works under the PBA, should set clear guidelines and processes in order to explain their activities and set national peacebuilding priorities. The recommendation includes:
- publicly disclosing the Chairs of Country Specific Configurations
- providing early meeting materials to relevant NGOS, which would encourage a greater commitment from the CSOs and an understanding of the PBC’s mission.
- using its power to join various stakeholders and establish an environment for dialogue. This dialogue could identify key drivers of violence and bring attention to countries that are at the risk of resorting back to violence.
Finally, the report emphasizes that the UN should create a role for CSOs and local communities to ensure that both the national governments and the UN carry out their peacebuilding responsibilities. The PBA can establish accountability by requiring UN agencies, upon receipt of financial resources, to consult with CSOs while building project proposals.
The report notes that although these recommendations specifically refer to the review of the PBA, it is likely that tackling these issues will continue to be a challenge to the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and UN in general, despite the current analysis from the 2015 PBA review.