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 Cambodia
Between 1975–1979, Cambodia suffered a scarring genocide which killed three million out of its eight million inhabitants living under Pol Pot’s Communist Party of Kampuchea. As Prime Minister, Pol Pot sought to create an agrarian communist society. Foreigners, government officials, Buddhist monks, almost the entire educated class, and even people who wore glasses (who were considered a threat to Pol Pot’s regime due to their perceived intellect) were brutally tortured and killed. Today, following this horrific period in the country’s history, Cambodia is trying to recover from this devastating tragedy, but the country is stymied by political and economic obstacles. For nearly half a century, Cambodia has been struggling with issues ranging from political corruption, economic prosperity, and security to issues related to child trafficking, inadequate health services, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) generated in the aftermath of the Cambodian Genocide. In addition to the current spread of political corruption, the Cambodian people also lack necessary access to education and adequate health services. Research has indicated increasing rates of child trafficking in the country, fueled by economic instability and the pervasive corruption of local law enforcement. As a peacebuilding body, the UNPBC work to help secure sustainable post-conflict peace in the country to ensure that Cambodians can live happy, prosperous lives.
Topic B: The Situation in Burundi
In 2014, the United Nations Office in Republic of Burundi completed its Security Council mission, leaving Burundi in the hands of UN agencies, funds, and programmes. A year later, a civil crisis began when President Pierre Nkhurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in office, in violation of the country’s constitution. Following an attempted military coup in 2015, Burundi experienced immense civil unrest, the ramifications of which persist today. A series of violent human rights abuses, including executions, sexual violence, abduction, torture, arbitrary arrests, and detention have occurred at the hands of local officials, political leaders, and security forces. On February 28, 2020, the East African Community and the UN Security Council renewed the mandate for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to serve as the mediator in Burundi and adhere to the recommendations of the Secretary-General. These recommendations emphasize the importance of political stability, support the leadership of the African Union, and the continuation of support in regional efforts. As this political situation has unfolded, there have also been widespread humanitarian abuses in the country as well. Party leaders, local officials, and police have continued to commit human rights violations against civilians. It is imperative that Burundi takes the steps to protect, respect and guarantee human rights and freedoms, in order to maintain the country’s international obligations and follow its constitution. As voiced by the Security Council, the lack of “inter-Burundi dialogue” will result in an escalation of the humanitarian crisis. It is up to the UNPBC to provide Burundi with strategies to promote institutions of proper governance, a strong body of laws, and respect for all human rights.