Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Date | 23 September 2022

Tomorrow (23 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1107th meeting which will be a ministerial session on “strengthening regional organizations for the maintenance of peace and security in Africa: preventing and fighting terrorism and violent extremism in the continent”. The session is expected to take place in a hybrid format, with the in-person meeting to be held in New York.

The session is expected to have an open and closed segment. In the first, open segment, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana is expected to deliver opening statement as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of September 2022. This will be followed with remarks by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission and a statement by Mr. Vladimir Voronkov Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Office of Counter-Terrorism. In the second, closed segment, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a presentation on “the impetus of a robust Continental Early Warning System in the context of implementing the May 2022 Malabo Declaration to effectively Counter Terrorism”. This will be followed by interventions from PSC member States and Executive Secretaries/Commissioners of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

While Council decided to institutionalise ‘preventing and combating terrorism and violent extremism’ as a standing annual agenda item at its 957th session of 20 October 2020, the theme has featured more regularly on the agenda of the PSC over the years since at least as far back as 2010. The regularity and the level at which this item is dealt with by the PSC has shown notable rise in recent years. In 2021, Council dedicated three ministerial sessions, demonstrating the increasing recognition of the growing threat that terrorism has come to pose for increasing number of AU member states. Indeed, the ‘Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Continental Efforts in Preventing and Combating of Terrorism in Africa’ to the PSC at its 1040th ministerial session highlighted the very worrying spike in attacks and in the spread of terrorism and violent extremism as well as emerging trends in the manifestation of terrorism on the continent.

In terms of the scale of increase in the threat of terrorism, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) reported that Africa has witnessed a 400% and 237% rises in attacks and deaths respectively between 2012 and 2020. As pointed out in Amani Africa’s special report, the trend in the growing threat of terrorism witnessed in recent years and the data from the 2022 Global Terrorism Index indicate that Africa has become the epicentre of global terrorism. The region accounts for about 50% of global deaths due to terrorism while four of the ten countries globally to have experienced increase in deaths from terrorism in 2021 are also in Africa, namely Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali and Niger.

The geographic expansion of the threat of terrorism also continues to pose a serious concern. Demonstrating the expansion and spread of terrorism in the continent, Ghana, the only country along the Gulf of Guinea which has for long remained least affected by terrorism, is now feared to be target of the expansion of terrorism from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. Other coastal west African States are already experiencing attacks as the terrorist groups push south wards from the Sahel, particularly via Burkina Faso. For instance, on 11 May, Togo experienced its first deadly jihadist attack perpetrated by the Al-Qaida-affiliated Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) in a town along Togo’s border with Burkina Faso, which killed 8 and wounded 13 Togolese soldiers. Côte d’Ivoire has also been experiencing recurrent cross-border attacks from neighbouring Burkina Faso perpetrated by armed groups linked to Al-Qaida. In addition to its expansion to littoral States of west Africa, the threat of terrorism has also spread to other sub-regions of the continent including the Great Lakes Region, East Africa and Southern Africa.

The terrorism menace in Africa has far reaching social, economic and political consequences that go beyond the security realm. During the past few years, it became a major factor behind the occurrence of military coups. This has been particularly the case in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso. The humanitarian toll from terrorist attacks also continues to grow. According to the ACSRT’s 2022 Mid-Year Africa Terrorism Trends Analysis, 433 out of the 699 terrorist attacks perpetrated during the first half of 2022 were launched against civilians and out of the 5,412 deaths that were recorded during the period, 3,517 were civilian deaths. In some of the most affected countries such as Burkina Faso, the displacement rate has continued to show an unabating increase. According to the UN, over 19,000 Burkinabe citizens have fled into Côte d’Ivoire in 2021 alone, due to extremist attacks. This has been a 50% increase as compared to the previous year of 2020. In 2022, the situation has shown further deterioration with the multiplication of violent attacks in the country driving more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021. Across the wider Sahel region extending over Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, over 4.8 million people are estimated by the UN to have fled their homes due to violence including jihadist attacks and communal conflicts. In northern Mozambique, after a respite in violence between mid-July to late August, attacks have resumed displacing over 38,000 people according to the latest data.

The threat of terrorism in Africa is expanding at an alarming rate not because the investment for fighting against it and in counter terrorism operation is lacking. Indeed, indications are that the threat is expanding at an exponential rate despite the increase in counter terrorism instruments. As the AU Commission Chairperson noted in his address to the AU summit held in Malabo at the end of May, from Somalia to the Sahel and Mozambique the AU and regional bodies deployed various military operations. Analysis of the policy decisions of the AU both at the level of the AU Assembly and that of the PSC show that between 2010 and 2022, some nine hard security mechanisms have been initiated to deal with terrorism hotspots across the continent. The AU has also established key institutions such as the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and ACSRT. There has also been notable increase since 2015 in the deployment of various international multilateral and bilateral security instruments in the Sahel.

As Amani Africa’s special report highlighted and the AUC Chairperson admitted, the threat of terrorism continues to grow despite the increase in the investment in and the use of these and other hard security tools including border control, intelligence exchange, and criminal justice. One explanation, AUC Chair highlighted in his address, is the lack of adequate support to make the use of these hard security instruments effective. Indeed, as Amani Africa’s report also admits, there are gaps that limit the effectiveness of the hard security instruments that are deployed for countering terrorism on the continent. As such policy interventions, including continental and international support instruments, have to be designed and geared towards facilitating the building of not just the fighting capacity of national forces but also importantly their legitimacy and professionalism, including both in terms of strict adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law standards and protection of civilians and their skills and mindsets in assisting local communities in finding ways and means of addressing the issues facing them.

However, it would be of interest for the PSC to take note of the existence of more than enough evidence both from elsewhere in the world and most importantly from the recent experiences from Somalia to the Sahel that no amount of force irrespective of its effectiveness would constitute a recipe for success against terrorism.  Amani Africa’s special report, challenged both the diagnosis of and the policy response measures to the threat of terrorism in Africa. The dominant view about terrorism in Africa is based on a misdiagnosis of the nature of the phenomenon. There are two aspects to the misdiagnosis. The first is that it considers groups identified as terrorists to be the core of the problem. Second, it also erroneously states that these groups are mainly ideologically driven by global jihad. The report showed that terrorist groups, rather than being the core of the problem, are the symptom of the main problem. As our report put it, ‘the political and socio-economic governance pathologies’ and the grievances and vulnerabilities that such pathologies produce on the part of affected communities are the core conditions that open the space for the emergence and growth of terrorist groups.

These two aspects of the misdiagnosis also led to faulty policy responses. Rather than focusing on approaches that prioritize addressing ‘the political and socio-economic pathologies’, the responses focused on eliminating the symptom of the problem. As such, both the policy discourse on and the policy tools often deployed in response to terrorism are predominantly centred around the use of hard security instruments (namely combat operations, law enforcement measures, border control, intelligence cooperation and sharing etc). Given the inadequacy of the security heavy approach to countering terrorism, it is of paramount significance that the PSC gives consideration for the AU and RECs to invest as much in the socio-economic, development, governance and humanitarian dimensions of the underlying and driving factors of terrorism as, if not more than, they invest in security-heavy instruments of counter terrorism. This necessitates that AU and RECs/RMs expand their capacity and develop relevant instruments for initiating and supporting efforts of local communities both for deradicalization, reconciliation, inter-communal dialogue and for implementing measures for addressing the humanitarian and socio-economic needs of affected populations. Not any less important is the role of AU and RECs in supporting the development of governance and development oriented political strategy backed by full commitment of national actors as the basis for countering terrorism. In terms of the mobilization and deployment of resources as well, the AU and RECs/RMs need also to build the capacity to develop strategies for channelling resources for addressing the underlying conditions that facilitate the emergence of terrorism.

In terms of the use of AU and RECs instruments, it is also critical for the PSC that the AU and RECs/RMs bring to the centre their policy response, and add to the security-oriented instruments usually referred to in their policy decisions (such as the ACSRT, the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and AFRIPOL as well as the PSC Sub-committee on Terrorism), their governance and development structures. This means that RECs/RMs and the AU need to harness and bring to the centre of counter terrorism the role of African Governance Architecture (AGA), ACHPR, APRM, the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the African Development Bank etc. Similarly, the AU and RECs can also play a role in initiating and delivering targeted technical support to national security institutions with a focus on enhancing their compliance with human rights and humanitarian laws and on the use by these security institutions of civilian counter terrorism measures including community dialogue, building or rebuilding of local or community governance structures, rehabilitation of the livelihood of communities affected by or vulnerable to violent extremism and terrorism and in facilitating humanitarian assistance and psychosocial support.

Among the key decisions of the Malabo Summit was the development of a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa. Considering the lessons from the experiences thus far, it is of particular significance for tomorrow’s ministerial meeting of the PSC to ensure that the strategic plan is premised on the primacy of politics and the need to invest as much in building and mobilizing relevant policy intervention tools and resources for addressing the governance and socio-economic deficits underlying the emergence and expansion of terrorism as in sustaining the military, rule of law, intelligence instruments for countering terrorism. Such a balanced approach would position the AU and RECs/RMs engagement to be more effective and successful.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council is expected to express grave concern over the growing expansion of terrorism and violent extremism in the continent. It is also expected to underscore the importance of strengthening capacity of and horizontal collaborations among various RECs/RMs in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Apart from highlighting the importance of upscaling the role of RECs in mobilizing coordination among affected countries in responding to the threat of terrorism, the PSC may underscore the importance of AU and RECs focusing their attention on developing and deploying tools for addressing the governance and development deficits that terrorist groups take advantage of. It may also emphasise the need to enhance collaborations among ad-hoc counterterrorism coalitions, RECs/RMs and relevant AU organs. Council may further highlight the importance of developing a strategy for coordination of efforts between the AU and various RECs/RMs on maintenance of peace and security. It may also follow up on the status of implementation of the decisions of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Assembly conducted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 28 May 2022, particularly on the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on Counter Terrorism and the development of a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa. Council may also take note of the centrality of governance and development deficits as the cause and driver of the growing threat of terrorism and emphasise the importance of advancing the use of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and other AU governance and development instruments and mechanisms in responding to the threat of terrorism in the continent.


Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Date | 19 September 2022

Tomorrow (19 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will convene its 1106th session to receive updates on the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali.

The session starts with opening remarks from Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL) and Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Ndjamena are expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Chad, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements as relevant country and regional mechanisms, in addition to the representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It will be for the second time that Council considers the situation in countries undergoing political transitions due to unconstitutional changes of government as one agenda item. The first was held on 14 April 2022 at its 1076th session where Council discussed the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. It is not clear why Council has not included Sudan in the agenda item this time. It has been now more than five months since the PSC considered the political transition in Sudan despite its decision, at its 1041st session, to receive monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to review the political developments in the four countries since its last meeting in April. It also presents Council the opportunity to follow up on the implementation of some of its key decisions taken at its 1076th session, including the establishment of a monitoring dashboard of the situations in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan; the organization of a Needs Assessment Mission to Guinea; the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea; and the establishment of a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF).

On Burkina Faso, a major development since the last session is the decision of Burkinabe authorities to set a shorter transition period than its initial 36 months timetable. Duration of the transition was a source of disagreement between Burkinabe authorities and ECOWAS as the latter found the 36 months proposal in early March unacceptable. As part of the effort to support the transition in Burkina Faso and resolve the disagreement over the duration of the transition, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS appointed former President of Niger Mahamadou ISSOUFOU as its mediator. Subsequent engagement between ECOWAS and Burkinabe authorities through the mediator bridged differences between the two sides. While the communique of the 61st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority stated that the progress made led to lifting of economic and financial sanctions, there was no specified list of economic & financial sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso. What is lifted could only be the threat of immediate application of unspecified economic and financial sanctions to which reference was made in the March 2022 ECOWAS Authority meeting. Despite various policy measures including the reshuffling of the army command & the understanding reached on the duration of the transition, the security situation in the country did not show any improvement. If anything, the dire security situation has continued to deteriorate since the coup. According to ACLED data, more than 530 violent incidents occurred between February and May 2022, showing a 115 percent year-on-year increase. The humanitarian situation also continues to worsen. According to the latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September, ‘violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’ in Burkina Faso, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crises in the world. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. The same source indicates that the ‘rate of severe food insecurity has nearly doubled compared to last year, with over 600,000 people in emergency hunger levels during this lean season’. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation underscore the need for ending the political and constitutional crisis and implementing the necessary political and institutional reforms.

On Mali, like in the case of Burkina Faso, diplomatic engagements between ECOWAS and the transition authorities in Mali culminated in acceptable transition timeline of 24 months from 29 March 2022. With Malian transitional authorities submitting a new timetable of 24 months and taking other positive steps notably the promulgation of a new electoral law on 24 June and establishment of the single election management body, Agence Indépendante de Gestion des Elections (AIGE), the 61st ordinary session of ECOWAS authority decided to lift the economic and financial sanctions it imposed on 9 January while maintaining the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups.

The convening of the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) took place on 6 September in Togo pursuant to 1027th and 1076th sessions of the Council. Co-convened by the AU, ECOWAS, and UN under the auspices of the Togolese government, the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali presented an opportunity for Malian authorities to present steps being taken for implementing the transitional roadmap and mobilize support from regional and international actors for the reform process. The Transitional Authority of Mali, during the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, also requested the lifting of remaining sanctions. It remains to be seen how Council will respond to the call for lifting also of suspension, which under current circumstances could realistically happen only with agreement with ECOWAS. Mali’s request of the lifting of sanction also brings the gap in AU’s normative framework of sanctions into the spotlight as there is still unclarity on the issue of how and when sanctions are lifted.

On Guinea, the country has witnessed deteriorating political situation as tension erupted between the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) (an alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups and a leading opposition group that spearheaded protests against former president Alpha Conde), and the military authority that took over-power unconstitutionally on 5 September 2021. The opposition group staged protests in late July and on 17 August over concerns of military authority’s ‘unilateral management’ of the transition towards a civilian rule. On 8 August, the transition authorities dissolved the FNDC, a further blow to the country’s transition towards democracy. Following the same pattern in Mali and Burkina Faso, the National Transition Council of Guinea set a 36-month transition to civilian rule on 11 May, which ECOWAS rejected. ECOWAS at its 61st ordinary session requested the transition authorities either to propose an acceptable transition timeline until 1 August 2022 or face economic and financial sanctions as well as targeted sanctions. The authorities did not comply with the provided deadline, and it is accordingly susceptible for ECOWAS sanctions. ECOWAS mediator, former Beninese President Boni Yayi, was reportedly in Conakry in August trying to convince the transition authorities to agree for a shorter duration of transition period, but no indication that such diplomatic engagements bore fruit so far.

On Chad, the situation in Chad is marked by two significant developments since Council’s last session in April. The first is the signing of peace agreement between Chad’s transition government and about 40 politico-military groups on 8 August in Doha, Qatar, after more than five months of peace talks. Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), main rebel group which was behind the April attack that cost the life of former President Idriss Déby Into, remains a holdout group, denting the success of the Doha peace talk. The second key development is the launch of the 21-day ‘Inclusive National Dialogue’ on 20 August following the signing of the Doha agreement. The dialogue gathered some 1,400 delegates from various stakeholders. After the launch, the dialogue ran into procedural challenges, its scheduled end has been pushed back by ten days, to 30 September. Apart from FACT, the dialogue was also boycotted by Wakit Tamma, a large coalition of opposition groups and civil society groups. Last week, Chadian forces fired tear gas on supporters of the leader of Transformers, one of the parties of the coalition that boycotted the dialogue, after he was summoned for questioning by authorities. The authorities have been cracking down on members of Transformers, with about 200 having been arrested and held for several days before their release for planning to stage a rally.

In apparent departure to its own norms and established practices, PSC did not sanctioned Chad for the military seizure of power in April 2021 but outlined list of conditions that Chad’s transition authorities should meet. During its 996th session held on 14 May 2021, Council requested the Transitional Military Council (TMC), among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. PSC’s 18-months deadline will lapse this October and it is unlikely that the deadline will be met. The question therefore remains: will the PSC proceed with sanction or extend the transition timeline? The PSC is seen as having dealt with the military seizure of power & the suspension of constitution leniently. For it to be seen to be applying AU norms fairly, at a minimum it needs to uphold its own decisions on Chad by reaffirming the timeline and conditions of the transition as set out in the communique of its 996th session.

The expected outcome is a communique. Council is expected to welcome the agreement reached between ECOWAS and Burkina Faso as well as Mali on the new timetable of the transition and the resultant lifting of the economic and financial sanctions on these countries by ECOWAS. It may also note the convening of the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, the promulgation of a new electoral law and the establishment of the single election management body in relation to Mali and the need for enhancing closer working relationship and support for the transitional process in Mali; and the signing of Doha peace agreement between Chadian Transitional Authorities and politico-military groups, the launch of the ‘inclusive national dialogue’ in relation to Chad as steps in the right direction towards the restoration of constitutional order and ensure lasting peace in these countries. While commending the signing of the peace agreement, it may call upon the holdout groups to join the peace process. It may also reiterate the demands it set in its 996th session and call on the transitional authorities to respect the freedom of assembly and protest of opposition groups and ensure full inclusion of all political and social forces in the national dialogue by addressing concerns of various stakeholders. On Guinea, Council may express its dissatisfaction over the Transitional authorities’ proposal of 36 months transition, and thus, it may urge the authorities to engage with ECOWAS in good faith with the view to reaching agreement on acceptable timetable for a rapid return to constitutional order and call for the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea for working with ECOWAS to get a transitional roadmap agreeable to all. It may also express concern over the deteriorating socio-political situation in Guinea due to the political disagreement with opposition groups over the transition. In this regard, Council may urge transition authorities to respect political rights as enshrined in the relevant instruments of the AU and hold inclusive national dialogue to resolve underlying issues. Council may also express its grave concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation particularly in the context of Burkina Faso and Mali, which Council may call upon international partners to step up efforts to address these situations.


Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Date | 16 September 2022

Tomorrow (16 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene a joint-meeting with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) Sub-Committee on Budget Matters along with the Board of Trustees of the AU Peace Fund, to discuss the status of the AU Peace Fund operationalisation.

Apart from the remarks of the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma Adomaa Twum-Amoah, the opening segment of the session is envisaged to feature remarks of the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund and the Chairperson of the AU Committee of (F15). The substantive session is envisaged to involve update on the status of the Peace Fund. In this respect, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, who is a member of the Executive Management Committee of the Peace Fund, will brief the session on the rational for the establishment and operationalizing a high-performing Fund in line with international best practice. This is followed by an update by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) on ‘Evolving consensus on financing AU Peace Support Operations and priority utilization of the Fund’.

The last time Council convened a session to discuss the AU Peace Fund was in October 2021, at its 1036th meeting. At that session, Council deliberated on the utilisation of the Peace Fund on priority areas including support to peace processes in specific conflict and crisis affected member states including Libya, Mali, Somalia and Sudan. Tomorrow’s briefing presents the opportunity for Council to receive updates and reflect on the latest developments regarding operationalisation of the Peace Fund. The session is unique in bringing together all the major stakeholders, thereby presenting an opportunity for achieving consensus on the full operationalization of the Fund including the proposed piloting of the utilization of a specified amount of the Fund.

The major developments since the last session of the PSC include the finalization of the identification of the priority areas for use of funds from the interest accrued to the current contributions to Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that the PSC discussed and agreed on the utilization of the AU Peace Fund through pilot projects from the accrued interest during its 13th retreat on its working methods in the context of AU Institutional Reforms (ref. PSC/Retreat.13 dated 27-29 May 2021) held in Mombasa Kenya.

The AU Commission engaged the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund towards the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund in 2022 through costed and prioritized programmatic activities to address urgent peace and security challenges on the Continent. The representatives of the Executive Committee composed of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and the Commissioner for PAPS, in consultation with the AU High Representative on Financing of the AU and the Peace Fund, have identified priorities for utilisation of the Fund. Within this framework, 21 priority areas were identified.

The Board of Trustees approved for consideration and adoption by the relevant AU policy organs the use of $ 8.4 million from the interest accrued to the Peace Fund to implement pilot projects. During the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, the Executive Council approved an additional $5 million for the Crisis Reserve Fund (CRF). The revolving $5 million for the CRF proposed for the pilot phase is expected to be used for activities that do not exceed one year.

Through CRF the AUC envisages to support startup costs of missions authorized by relevant AU policy organs, emergency situations that exceed the capacity of member states, activities that can be undertaken in a short period and activities that can rapidly bring change in the peace and security situation. The CRF fund allows the PSC and the AUC to respond to emerging crises for which provision could not have been made in the annual regular budget for peace and security.

During the consideration of the report on the CRF in Lusaka, one of the issues raised centered around the extent to which the relevant bodies were consulted and whether due process has been followed as stipulated in the Financial Rules and Regulations (FRR). The concept of implementing a pilot project under the three windows of the Peace Fund has been largely welcomed but the Executive Council could not consider the proposed project for approval. Hence this Joint Briefing session is meant to provide firm clarity on compliance with the FRR and ensure that the relevant AU bodies achieve common understanding. It also serves to pave the way for proposed $8.4 million for the pilot projects that is yet to be approved by the PRC for adoption by AU policy organs.

In addition to reaching agreement on priority areas, the legal, operational and governance mechanisms relevant for the full functioning of the Fund have also been established. This includes finalisation of the process of drawing programmes and costing priority areas for utilisation; establishment and operationalisation of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Management Committee; adoption of modalities for the recruitment of Independent Evaluation Panel and Fund Managers; and commencement of processes for the establishment of the Peace Fund Secretariat. The PAPS Department has also prepared the Monitoring and Evaluation framework for the budget proposal for the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund.

On 30 June 2022, the Board of Trustees held a meeting to review the progress obtained in operationalising the Peace Fund. Key progresses noted at the meeting include the appointment of two external, independent Fund Managers – Old Mutual Investment Group from South Africa and Sanlam Investments East Africa from Kenya. Further to that, the Financial Rules for the Peace Fund have also been adopted as part of the AU’s financial rules and regulations in February 2022.

With respect to the status of contributions of member states to the Peace Fund, as of mid-August 2022, the amount from member states assessed contributions stands at $279,069,008.43. Together with voluntary contributions, interest earned on investment of Peace Fund assets and the transfer of the Legacy Peace Fund to the revitalized Peace Fund, the total amount of the Peace Fund stood at $321,504,709.15 as of mid-August 2022. According to the AU report presented to the 41st Ordinary Session held in Lusaka last July, twenty-two (22) AU member states paid their 2022 Peace Fund assessments in full while five (5) member states had made partial payments as at 30 June 2022. Twenty-eight (28) member states had not made any payment to their 2022 Peace Fund assessments. Apart from collection of assessed contribution of member states, there is also the ongoing process for achieving consensus on the contribution of six member states from the North region and the collection or clearing of arrears by defaulting member states.

On the process for achieving the modalities for contribution to the Peace Fund by the six countries, the Executive Council through its Decision (EX.CL/Dec.1162(XL) of February 2022 directed the Commission to work closely with the F15 and the Office of Legal Counsel to analyze proposals made by the Countries of the Northern Region regarding the assessment of member states to the Peace Fund and the implications thereof and recommend solutions in accordance with the legal frameworks of the African Union. While consultations have accordingly been carried out, breakthrough has as yet to emerge finding a proposal that is satisfactory to all while complying with the legal requirements. In terms of collection or clearing of arrears, the report of the Joint-Sitting of the Ministerial Committee on Scale of Assessment and Contributions and the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15) highlighted that Seychelles had fully implemented its payment plan and cleared all its arrears to the budget of the Union. Somalia and Burundi had not made payments in 2022 in line with their payment plan for clearing arrears. Also, Libya and Sudan have yet to conclude the consultations with the Commission to agree on their respective payment plans.

Such progress in the operationalization of the Peace Fund notwithstanding, also of significance for tomorrow’s session is the need for momentum for finalising the common African position on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU peace and security activities. It is to be recalled that after the stalling of the efforts of the African 3 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in 2018 and 2019 to get adoption of a resolution on UN assessed contributions for AU led or authorized peace support operations, the matter was referred back to the AU to provide guidance through a common position.  In this regard, a notable progress attained in 2021 has been the development of a ‘Zero Draft African Consensus on Accessing Sustainable and Predictable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities.’ At the 23rd and 24th PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) meetings, the Zero Draft was considered and the CoE gave inputs for further refinement of the draft. However, the updated draft is as yet to be presented and considered by the PSC before its submission to the AU Assembly for final approval. During tomorrow’s session, one of the issues on which Adeoye could provide update is where this process stands and the next steps for finalizing it and resuming the engagement with the UNSC on accessing assessed contributions.

At the time of going to production, while an outcome document is expected, the form that it will take was unknown. Council and the PRC Sub-Committee on Budget Matters are expected to welcome the commendable progress obtained in the operationalisation of the AU Peace Fund and the steps taken for the utilisation for pilot priority areas. The meeting is expected to endorse the $8.4 million and the additional $5 million of the CRF for adoption by the AU policy organs, so that the utilization of peace fund for the pilot priority projects would fully commence in 2023. The meeting may call on defaulting member states to pay their assessed contributions on time, including those member states expected to finalize the clearing of arrears. It may also urge concerned member states and the AU Commission to fortify efforts towards reaching consensus on contribution of the six countries from the North region to the Peace Fund. The meeting may welcome the progress made in developing the consensus position and encourage the speeding up of the remaining steps for resuming the engagement of the UNSC on accessing UN assessed contributions for AU led peace support operations.


Inaugural Annual PSC and CSO Consultative Meeting

Inaugural Annual PSC and CSO Consultative Meeting

Date | 14 September 2022

Tomorrow (14 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its inaugural annual consultative meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage on the implementation of the Accra Declaration and Malabo Decisions.

Following the opening statement of Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, Bankole Adeoye Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver a presentation. Following his intervention, representatives of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), Civil Society Organizations and the United Nations are expected to deliver their statements.

The inaugural session is expected to focus both on strengthening the working relations between PSC and CSOs and to fast-track the operationalization of the outcome documents of the Accra Forum and Malabo Extraordinary Summit that took place in March and May 2022 respectively.

The AU Constitutive Act stipulates that one of the objectives of the Union is ‘to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society’ and to promote the ‘participation of the African peoples in the activities of the Union’. The Statutes of the AU ECOSOCC provides a broad description of civil society organizations comprising social, professional groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), community-Based Organizations (CBOs), as well as voluntary and cultural organizations. The important role of policy research and knowledge production by academic and research institutions has been recognized in the 2009 Tripoli Declaration.

Similarly, Article 20 of the PSC Protocol states that: ‘the Peace and Security Council shall encourage non-governmental organizations, community-based and other civil society organizations, particularly women’s organizations, to participate actively in the efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in Africa. When required, such organizations may be invited to address the Peace and Security Council.’ Article 8 of the Protocol further stipulates for the PSC to hold ‘informal consultations with…civil society organizations for the discharge of its responsibilities’. This informal consultation envisaged in Article 8 of the PSC has as yet to be operationalized, CSOs are invited to and engage in the open sessions of the PSC at which they present statements on the agenda of the session.

There were various efforts in terms of operationalizing Article 20 of the PSC. The first retreat of the PSC, the Dakar Retreat called for the establishment of a mechanism to manage the engagement between the PSC and CSOs. Building on the 2007 conclusions of the Dakar Retreat, the PSC elaborated the modalities for engaging with such institutions in the Livingstone Formula and the Maseru Retreat Conclusions. The Livingstone Formula identified a number of areas in which CSOs can contribute towards the promotion of peace and security including in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction as well as the provision of technical support, popularizing the decisions of the PSC.

While these initiatives are encouraging, the partnership has not been institutionalized. PSC engaged with and drew on the work of various institutions on an ad hoc basis. It is hence fundamental making the engagement with think tanks, civil society organizations and policy research organizations more systematic and it’s more beneficial for strengthening the Council’s role in discharging its mandate. This in particular can be achieved by enhancing PSC’s understanding of the role of these institutions and the contributions that they made and by engaging more regularly. Tomorrow’s session will be an important step in consolidating this understanding and implementing the provision identified in the Livingstone Formula which called for an annual meeting between the PSC and CSOs through the ECOSOCC. It is also important to critically reflect and assess the gaps in the implementation of the of the provisions of Council’s retreat conclusions and its norms.

The agenda and the complexity of issues that the PSC has to address have expanded exponentially. The number of meetings of the PSC has increased by almost five-fold since the PSC was inaugurated in 2004. This growing scope requires additional capacity and resources. More particularly the PSC may benefit from expertise and resources of policy and research institutions to cover the wide range of issues that require immediate and continuous attention. The policy analysis that can be provided by policy and research institutions brings a non-state perspective that adds depth to and enriches policy deliberations of the PSC. The Council can tap into the expertise, knowledge and technical resources of non-state actors particularly African policy research organizations, think tanks and civil society organizations. This would allow for the Council to explore and experiment with the range of policy options that it can choose from in its efforts for taking the most optimal policy action for conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa.

As indicated in the concept note the other central objective of tomorrow’s session is to chart a way to deepen the collaboration between the PSC and CSOs in implementing the Accra declaration and Malabo decisions.  It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 1061st session held in January 2022 decided to organize a reflection forum on unconstitutional changes of government after the spike in military coups in Africa. Consequently, the Accra forum was convened from 15 to 17 March. The PSC decided to submit the Accra Declaration to the Malabo Extraordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government, for consideration and adoption, which among other considered the developments related to unconstitutional changes of government.

The consultative meeting will present an opportunity for the PSC and CSOs to enhance their engagement in ‘promoting good governance, democracy, rule of law, constitutionalism and dealing with the emerging menace of unconstitutional changes of government.’ The aim is to enhance synergy on timely governance, peace and security issues which the PSC is seized with while strengthening the broader cooperation as enshrined in the various instruments of the PSC.

The outcome of the session remains unknown. Yet, it is expected that the PSC would recall the commitments enshrined in its Protocol, the Livingstone Formula and Maseru Conclusions. It may recognize the role of CSOs in providing independent analysis, technical support for the PSC in discharging its mandate and the importance of tapping into their expertise. Beyond CSOs participation in PSC sessions, the Council may call for a more enhanced engagement and proactive engagement in the context of field missions, mediation as well as peace support operations. The Council may identify concrete steps in advancing the role of CSOs in the decision and policy making process. The PSC may decide to institutionalize the annual consultation with CSOs to have a more systematic engagement. The Council may underline the critical role of CSOs in advancing inclusive governance, peace and security and in order to reverse the current trend of unconstitutional changes of government that threatens the gains made so far in the continent. PSC may call on CSOs to deepen their engagement with the Council to also further popularize its decision and work at national and local levels.


Provisional Programme of Work for the Month of September 2022

Provisional Programme of Work for the Month of September 2022

Date | 1 September 2022

During September, Ghana will take over chairship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). The provisional programme of work for the month envisages five substantive sessions addressing six agenda items. Three of these are expected to address country/region specific situations whereas the remaining three will focus on various thematic topics. One of the sessions to be convened during the month will also be taking place at Ministerial level while the remaining will be convened at Ambassadorial level. In addition to the various sessions, the provisional programme of work also envisages field missions among the activities planned for the month of September 2022.

On 1 September, the PSC will start the month with a preparatory meeting for the field mission it will undertake in Togo and Niger. The Chair is also expected to provide an overview of the sessions and activities that will be conducted in September.

The first mission of the month will be to Togo and is planned to take place from 5 to 6 September. This field mission has two purposes. The first one is to celebrate Africa Amnesty Month which has been commemorated by the PSC every September since 2017, in line with the decision of the AU Assembly adopted at its 29th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec. 645 (XXIX)]. It is to be recalled that Assembly/AU/Dec. 645 (XXIX) declared the month of September each year, starting from 2017 till 2020, as “Africa Amnesty Month” for the surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons and arms. In December 2020, the AU Assembly, at its 14th Extraordinary Session, extended the commemoration and conduct of the Africa Amnesty Month for ten years until 2030 [Ext/Assembly/AU/Dec.1(XIV)]. The Council is expected to commemorate this year’s Amnesty Month through various symbolic activities including collection and burning of weapons and arms. During this commemorative event it is important to also reflect beyond the destruction of weapons, particularly on aspects related to security sector reform, boosting security of arms depots, enhancing the professionalization of security forces and addressing the gaps in states’ security institutions. This approach that focuses on the demand side rather than the supply side is critical in addressing the root causes of illegal circulation of arms.

The second purpose of the field mission to Togo is for the PSC to join the Mali Transition Support Group (GST-Mali) meeting taking place in Lomé on 6 September. The GST-Mali was established in 2020 with the basic purpose of supporting Mali’s political transition after the coup of 18 August 2020. The GST-Mali held its inaugural meeting on 30 November 2020 in Bamako, Mali and its second meeting on 08 March 2021 in Lomé, Togo, under the auspices of the co-chairs of the group – AU, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and United Nations (UN). The upcoming meeting of the GST-Mali will be essential in outlining the areas of support for Mali’s current transition authorities, taking into account changes that have been introduced following the second coup of 24 May 2022.

From 8 to 9 September, the PSC is scheduled to conduct its second field mission of the month which will be a visit to Niger. This field mission will serve as an opportunity to reflect on the increasing expansion of the threat of terrorism in the region.

On 12 September, Council will consider and adopt the draft provisional programme of work for the month of October 2022. On the same day, the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) is expected to meet in preparation for the 7th Informal Joint Meeting and the 16th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the PSC and UN Security Council (UNSC), which is expected to take place during October. Preparation for the 14th PSC retreat and consideration of the draft communiqué of the Ministerial session planned during the month, also form part of the agenda items of the CoE meeting.

On 14 September Council will convene the first substantive session of the month which will be an inaugural annual consultative meeting between the PSC and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Although this will be the first time for the PSC to convene a consultative meeting with CSOs, Art.20 of the PSC Protocol sets the framework for the Council’s engagement with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and CSOs. Moreover, at various occasions, the PSC has been briefed by CSOs and it has increasingly recognised the importance of their engagement in advancing the Council’s mandate and in promoting peace and security in the continent. The upcoming inaugural consultative meeting is expected to have a specific focus on engagement between the PSC and CSOs in the implementation of the Accra Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCG) and the Malabo Decisions on terrorism, UCG and humanitarian situation in Africa. The session aims at bringing umbrella organizations and regional focal points focusing on peace and security and governance.

The second substantive session of the month will be taking place on 15 September. The first agenda item of this session is expected to be consideration of the status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) with a focus on Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA). The CSCPF was developed by the AU as a strategy aimed at addressing structural issues which evolve overtime with the potential to cause violent conflicts. It aims to deploy preventive measures through operational and direct interventions before structural weaknesses turn into large-scale violence. Within the framework of the CSCPF, the CSVRA is designed to facilitate identification of a member State’s vulnerabilities to conflict at an early stage. It assesses a member State’s performance in areas which are of relevance to the prevention of violent conflicts including socio-economic development, good governance, rule of law, democracy and human rights. It is to be recalled that Ghana volunteered to be the first country to conduct CSVRA and underwent the process in 2017 at national and regional levels. More recently, in November 2021, Zambia also conducted CSVRA. The status report to be considered at the upcoming session could highlight lessons and best practices from the experiences of these and other countries that have undergone the CSVRA.

The second agenda item expected to feature at the session taking place on 15 September is consideration of PSC’s field mission reports to Togo and Niger.

On 19 September Council will convene the third substantive session of the month to receive updates on some countries in political transition. As envisaged in the provisional programme of work for the month, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali will be the four countries that will be discussed at this session. In addition to dedicating separate sessions to address the transitions in these countries, it is to be recalled that updates regarding transitions in each were presented at Council’s 1076th session convened on 14 April 2022. Key developments since then which could feature at the upcoming session include the lifting of economic and financial sanctions imposed against Burkina Faso and Mali by ECOWAS at its 61st Ordinary Summit which took place on 3 July 2022. This was in response to the adoption of 24 months’ transition timetables by the transition authorities of both member States. Guinea’s transition authorities on the other hand continue to uphold the 36 months transition period which ECOWAS declares unacceptable. The authorities are also growingly facing opposition from within as the demonstrations conducted during August indicate. After much delay, Chad’s national dialogue has commenced on 20 August. The dialogue which is expected to last for three weeks will be essential in determining key issues such as reforms of State institutions and drafting of a new constitution. While reportedly over 1,400 representatives from various sectors including rebel groups are taking part in the dialogue, some key oppositions have boycotted the talks.

The fourth substantive session of the month is scheduled to take place on 23 September and will be a Ministerial session on prevention and combating terrorism and violent extremism in the continent. The session will be the third Ministerial level meeting of the year. In 2021, it is to be recalled that of the ten Ministerial sessions convened during the year, three were committed to terrorism and violent extremism, demonstrating the increasing concern and corresponding Council’s attention over the expansion of terrorism and violent extremism in the continent. The upcoming session which will be taking place in the margin of the 77th UN General Assembly is expected to have a focus on strengthening regional organisations in the maintenance of peace and security in the continent. The session will also afford the PSC the opportunity to reflect on a new approach in responding to the threat of terrorism that continues to spread in the continent.

From 26 September to 01 October, the PSC CoE is expected to convene a workshop to discuss the operationalisation of the PSC Sub-Committee on Sanctions and on protection of children in conflict situations.

On 29 September, Council will convene its last session of the month to consider the political and security situations in Abyei region. Since early 2022, intercommunal tensions have been on the rise in Abyei. Clashes between communities in the region were particularly high during February and March, claiming the lives of multiple people and displacing many more. The latest news coming from the region indicates that relative calm has returned to the region following talks among representatives of the disputing community members, mediated by the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). In addition to discussing these and other recent developments in the region, the coming session will be an opportunity for the Council to reflect on broader AU efforts to resolve the status of Abyei since its last briefing delivered at the 966th session of 24 November 2020.

The provisional programme of work for September also envisages in footnotes, a joint briefing on the AU Peace Fund and consultations between the PSC Chair and UNSC President for the month France, on dates to be determined.


Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Date | 31 August 2022

Tomorrow (31 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1103rd session to address the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Statements will also be presented by the respective representatives of DRC, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of Angola (on Luanda Peace Process and as the Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)), the Republic of Kenya (on Nairobi Process), Republic of Burundi as Chair of the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Secretariat, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and United Nations (UN) Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

The last time Council discussed the situation in eastern DRC was at its 1078th session on the Great Lakes Region (GLR) which took place on 19 April 2022. An issue of central concern which featured at that session was the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23), a development which further aggravates the challenges to security facing eastern DRC. In addition to deliberating on the security threats imposed by M23 and other armed groups’ insurgency in eastern DRC, tomorrow’s session is expected to address the growing concern over the possibilities of regional conflict among countries neighbouring the DRC. The session is also expected to serve as an opportunity for the PSC to discuss how it can contribute to ongoing efforts and initiatives spearheaded by EAC and ICGLR to deescalate tensions among countries in the region and to effectively respond to the armed insurgency in eastern DRC.

The recent resurfacing of M23, a movement which was assumed to have been effectively defeated through the collaborative efforts of the DRC military, MONUSCO and the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), represents the most serious security challenge to eastern DRC in recent years. Since the resumption of its military activities in March 2022, M23 has been able to advance and capture key strategic towns in Kivu and Ituri provinces. In North Kivu in particular, the M23 was able to overran the Rumangabo military base which is the largest military base of the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC). By June 2022, a wing of M23 was able to take over the city of Bunagana along the border with Uganda. Although M23’s activities became widely apparent in March 2022, reports indicate that the movement has been infiltrating key military positions and strategic areas in North Kivu since at least November 2021.

The deteriorating insecurity in eastern DRC due to revival of M23 is also having grave humanitarian consequences. In just a few weeks of fighting and attacks by M23, over 170,000 people were reportedly displaced. According to the latest report of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “North Kivu has recorded twice as many cases of gender-based violence between January and June [2022] compared to the same period in 2021”. In Ituri province, the same report records the killing of over 60 civilians just between 30 July and 11 August 2022, due to intensified attacks. As a result of heightened insecurity, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delivering humanitarian assistance have also been forced to cease their activities in some parts of the region. The death toll among displaced populations has also been causing increasing concern among humanitarian actors in the region. In Ituri, over 800 deaths were recorded in the period from January to June 2022 and out of these, 715 are reported to have been sheltered in internally displace persons (IDP) camps. Having been redeployed to fight M23, a significant portion of the Congolese army has been unable to provide protection to vulnerable communities including IDPs.

In addition to worsening the insecurity in eastern DRC and its humanitarian toll, M23’s revival has also resulted in political tensions between DRC and Rwanda in particular. The tension has led to suspension of Air Rwanda flights to DRC and freezing of diplomatic relations. In June 2022, the DRC decided to close its border with Rwanda after a Congolese soldier was found shot dead in Rwandan territory. Since then, the tension between the two countries escalated with the two countries trading accusations and blames. On the one hand, DRC has been alleging Rwandan involvement in reviving the M23 while on the other hand, Rwanda blames DRC forces of firing rockets into its territory. Further to that, Rwanda also accuses DRC of supporting the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed rebel group operating in eastern DRC and with links to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Other developments during end of 2021 and into 2022 that also apparently contributed to the heightened regional suspicion include the deployment of Ugandan forces into eastern DRC to pursue the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel armed group which also operates actively in North Kivu province of eastern DRC. In December 2021, DRC allowed the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) to enter its territory to chase ADF fighters. Further to that and as part of the military agreement between DRC and Uganda, an MoU was also signed between the military chiefs of the two countries for the construction of roads linking DRC and Uganda. According to some reports, the MoU which has not been made public, allows the UPDF to provide security services for the construction of the roads that extend to DRC territories, which gives huge advantages to Uganda.

Following complaints expressed by DRC against alleged Rwandan support for M23 during the Executive Council meeting in Malabo, the AU Assembly at the Extraordinary Summit of 28 May 2022 entrusted Angola, as the chair of the ICGLR, to mediate talks between DRC and Rwanda. As a follow up to that, the Angolan President, João Lourenço facilitated talks between President Félix Tshisekedi and his counterpart Paul Kagame on 06 July 2022. The talks resulted in the adoption of the Luanda Roadmap which among other key points provides for the adoption of de-escalation measures including discussions around addressing the issue of FDLR. As a follow up to the adoption of the Luanda Roadmap, another meeting was held between the foreign ministers of the two countries on 21 July which led to the establishment of a Joint Permanent Commission for monitoring implementation of the roadmap.

Prior to the Luanda process, the EAC on its part has initiated the Nairobi Process for stabilising eastern DRC, under the outgoing Chairship of Kenya. The Nairobi Process envisages two parallel tracks for stabilising the region. The first one is a political track focusing on facilitating dialogue between DRC government and armed non-State actors including M23 operating in the region. The second track is a military track proposing the deployment of a regional force to contribute to the fight against negative forces.

On the proposed military track of the Nairobi Process, the EAC plans to deploy between 6,500 and 12,000 soldiers with a mandate to ‘contain, defeat and eradicate negative forces’ in the eastern DRC. While the first deployment took place during this month with Burundian troops, the deployment of other forces amid the breakdown of trust and the financing of the troops remain unclear. Two issues that the PSC is expected to address include the mandating of the force, including bringing the deployment under the ASF framework and how the AU may lend support for sourcing funds for the mission.

In terms of the role of the AU, another issue of major interest for members of the PSC is determining how the AU can support the two processes and facilitate coordination and complementarity between the Luanda and Nairobi processes. On the military track, while supporting the initiative, it is also of interest for PSC members to draw on the lessons from past experiences including from the deployment of the FIB of MONUSCO. One such lessons is the challenges of armed militias and insurgencies in eastern DRC could not be addressed through military means. This underscores the need for the primacy of political processes and also the necessity for both undertaking the military measures in strict respect to the sovereignty of the DRC and in compliance with applicable AU and UN norms, including those relating to international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights and protection of civilians.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council is expected to express grave concern over the developments in eastern DRC, particularly the resurgence of M23 and the resultant deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the region. It is also expected to express concern over the political tensions between countries in the region, particularly between DRC and Rwanda and call on both to take all necessary de-escalation measures including through good-faith engagement in mediation efforts facilitated by the AU mandated Luanda process and the relevant RECs/RMs. Council may further express its support for the Luanda and Nairobi Processes and call on all member States of the GLR to lend their support to efforts aimed at de-escalating tensions and degrading negative forces operating in the region. To enhance its role in supporting the two processes and enhancing coordination between them, the PSC may also call on the AU to establish a support mechanism that leverages existing AU processes including its liaison offices in DRC and Burundi. Council may further emphasise the importance of prioritising political solutions and implementation of military tracks in support of such political solutions. It may also stress the need to ensure respect to DRC’s sovereignty as well as standards of IHL and human rights law in the implementation of military efforts. It may further emphasise the importance of sustained and full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the region (PSCF), particularly its provisions on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), for sustainable resolution of conflict and insurgency in the region. Having regard to the dire humanitarian situation in eastern DRC, Council may also appeal to AU member States, partners and the international community to redouble their humanitarian assistance to affected communities in the region.


Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Date | 22 August 2022

Tomorrow (22 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1102nd session on ‘Lessons Learning session on the implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratization’.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. For the experience sharing, presentations are expected from the representatives of The Gambia, Libya, South Africa, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda.

Tomorrow’s session will be the first time that Council discusses the AU Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) since its adoption in February 2019. However, Council has dedicated several sessions on the theme of ‘peace, justice and reconciliation’ since at least 2013 which in fact contributed great deal in articulating the African conception of transitional justice (TJ) and clarifying the policy options for Member States to undertake TJ process. For instance, during its 383rd meeting held at the ministerial level in Algiers in June 2013, Council highlighted around six elements that could serve as a basis for the conduct of national reconciliation processes in Africa, including the use of traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution and reconciliation and the imperative of a judicious combination of measures relating to truth telling, repentance, justice, healing, forgiveness, solidarity, reparations, reintegration and socio-economic development. These elements are indeed incorporated in the AUTJP, which reflects the contributions of the Council in shaping the Policy. At its 672nd session convened in March 2016, Council recognized that the ‘issue of achieving an equilibrium between reconciliation and justice is work in progress in the continent and that there is no universal approach or model in applying these two concepts on the ground.’ Council also underscored the importance of balancing retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice, further highlighting the intricacies in the idea of sequencing of peace, reconciliation, and justice in Africa. It is also to be recalled that during its 525th session in July 2015, Council agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item while the 899th session which was held in December 2019 at a ministerial level decided to dedicate annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on ‘national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa’.

As indicated in the Concept note prepared for the session, tomorrow’s session is aimed at sharing the experience on the establishment and implementation of the AUTJP at various levels of governance in Africa, as well as sharing of experiences by Member States who have implemented transitional justice processes. Such experience sharing is expected to serve as an inspiration for other Member States who are dealing with violent past. The session also presents a platform to familiarize the AUTJP and its salient features.

The AUTJP is the culmination of a nearly decade-long legislative process, having its root in the 2011 report of the Panel of the Wise titled ‘Non-Impunity, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation’. Building on the June 2006 AU Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) and drawing from the rich experiences of African countries in transitional justice, the Policy provides practical guide to Member States with violent and/or authoritarian legacies to navigate through difficult transition towards sustainable peace, justice, and democratic order. While the Policy takes significant inspiration from international norms and standards on TJ, it offers an alternative perspective to the dominant conception of TJ that is shaped by its own history, political and socio-economic realities. The Policy defines TJ to cover not only the formal mechanisms but also non-formal or traditional justice approaches that recognize the importance of symbolic and dialogic justice and traditional or religious ritual processes, as well as culturally and socially relevant forms of reparations. While the mainstream model prioritizes retributive approach focusing on criminal justice and accountability, the AUTJP tries to balance the demand for retributive criminal justice and the need for society to achieve reconciliation and rapid transition to a shared democratic future. The other saliant feature of the Policy is the emphasis given to national ownership. As highlighted in para. 32 of the Policy, national ownership entails two substantive components. The first is ‘process leadership and decision making’ whereby national stakeholders involving all sides most importantly victims drive the design and implementation of TJ. The second is the ‘primacy of national resources and capacities’ which emphasizes the need to adapt and exhaust all suitable formal and traditional mechanisms that are available at the local level before resorting to foreign sources and capacities.

The AU is one of the actors identified in the AUTJP bestowed with the role of providing the strategic political leadership at the continental level for the successful implementation of the Policy. It is in this framework that the AU Commission developed a Roadmap for the implementation of the Policy in 2020, which serves as the vehicle for coordinating AUC’s activities regarding the implementation of the Policy for the period 2020-2024. In tomorrow’s briefing, the Commission may highlight some of its activities towards the implementation of the AUTJP. The Commission is likely to mention range of technical assistances provided to Member States including the provision of trainings on the application of the Policy (The Gambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan), support to the development of national transitional justice strategy and policy (DRC and South Sudan), support to the development and implementation of TJ programmes (Libya), and translation of the AUTJP into local languages (such as Ethiopia).

The other aspect of the session is expected to be experience sharing where invited Member States are expected to shed light on their experiences, best practices, and challenges, as well as how they addressed peace versus justice dilemma.

In the case of The Gambia, one of the issues likely to be raised is how the proceedings of the transitional justice process enormously uplifted the political consciousness of the public and provided platform not only to expose the depth of the violations perpetrated by the previous regime but also for public hearing and acknowledgement of the brutalities victims and their families and communities endured. In his recent piece published on 8 June, the former Executive Secretary of The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Baba Galleh Jallow, stated that in a radical departure from previous experiences of truth commissions, ‘the Gambian TRRC created an institutional structure, operational method, and strategic communication processes built on the twin principles of inclusivity and transparency that allowed it to be visibly transformative well before the completion of its work and submission of its final report and recommendations to the Government.’ This is on account of the strong interest that the works of the Commission, particularly its public hearings, evoked among the public, which was previously experienced profoundly during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings as well. In balancing between justice and reconciliation, the Commission combined different modalities including prosecution, amnesty, and reparation. TRRC delivered a final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights from 1994 to 2017 and the government also issued a white paper in May containing its response to the recommendations of the report. While these are steps in the right direction, the success story of The Gambia’s TJ process would remain incomplete without translating those recommendations into action.

Rwanda’s experience reveals the use of combination of customary African values with international and domestic criminal justice to deal with the crime of genocide. International, national, and traditional criminal courts operated together but the traditional Gacaca community justice process remain its key feature. The Gacaca court is lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide. It was also instrumental in facilitating truth telling, promote reconciliation, and end impunity. However, forgetting that the Gacaca courts were dealing with extraordinary conditions of mass atrocities that also destroyed formal legal institutions and implicated extraordinarily large number of peoples, some have wrongly sought to hold the processes of the Gacaca courts to standards that are crafted and envisaged for ordinary times.

The TJ process in Sierra Leone was marked by the simultaneous operation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special hybrid court. It allowed the country to pursue both justice and reconciliation, and it is particularly raised in the context of its special attention to the subject of sexual abuses and to the experiences of children within the armed conflict. The simultaneous existence of the truth commission and a hybrid special court however brought about confusion over mandates. The two processes were also constrained by the focus on national level actors and the vertical state-society relations, thereby leaving enormous vacuum for reconciliation & justice at the local level, which the traditional processes used at the local levels tried to fill in, enabling child soldier to be reintegrated back to the community and broken social relationships to start to heal.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The TJ process in South Africa emphasized truth and reconciliation over criminal prosecution. The process has delivered political transformation and democracy to the country. There are today calls for consolidation of the gains achieved through the TRC process by implementation of the recommendations in the TRC Report, notably those relating to reparations, and by instituting process for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to imped the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In Libya and South Sudan, the TJ process is not only in its nascent stage but also facing enormous challenge. In case of South Sudan, the establishment of the Commission of for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as well as Reparation Commission is a welcome development. For these processes to deliver the justice expectations of victims and survivors of the brutal civil war, it is imperative that they are organized and carried out in full compliance with the standards set in the AUTJP including the inclusive and transparent process of constituting the members of these bodies and ensuring their full independence from political interference and full participation of victims and survivors. Additionally, attention should be paid on how to take advantage of the unique legal and policy resources that the AUTJP  offers for operationalization of the hybrid court in a way that addresses the challenge to balance criminal accountability and reconciliation. In Libya, the process has been stalled as the country continues to reel under political and security crisis. However, the representative may shed light on recent activities including the support provided by AU Commission towards the development of a legitimate TJ programme and National Reconciliation Commission.

Issues of political buy-in from Member States and financial limitations are expected to be highlighted as challenge to the implementation of TJ in the continent. As rightly captured in the AUTJP, it is the primary responsibility of Member States to pursue TJ process and its success ultimately depends on the political commitment, leadership, and capacity of the concerned country. Financial constraint is another factor likely to compromise the level and quality of support that AU could provide to Member States. It was also for lack of funding that the AU ended its Technical Support Team in The Gambia (AUTSTG), one of its success stories in supporting countries in political transition. One important avenue that the Council may consider addressing this challenge is the utilization of the Peace Fund. It is worth recalling that transitional justice mechanisms, truth and reconciliation processes are identified as one of the strategic priorities under Window 2 for the utilization of the Peace Fund.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council may recognize the development and adoption of the AUTJP as an important milestone in having a comprehensive policy framework that guides not only Member States in their TJ undertakings but also the AU, RECs/RMs, and non-state actors in their effort to support such undertakings. While acknowledging that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to TJ, it may reiterate some of the key elements of the TJ Policy that should serve as a basis for the implementation of TJ. In this respect, Council may stress the imperative of national ownership of the process, the use of traditional mechanisms, and striking a balance between reconciliation and justice, as well as between retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice. Council may highlight the importance of popularizing and sensitizing the Policy to ensure greater political buy-in from Member States given that the success of any TJ initiatives as well as the effective implementation of the Policy largely depends on the political will and good faith of the political leadership. It may also commend the AU Commission for the steps it has put in place to promote the implementation of the AUTJP in countries in transition and the need for ensuring that relevant AU organs, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which contributed to the drafting of the AUTJP and to the TRRC, to contribute to and use their mandate for promoting the implementation of the AUTJP.

Council is expected to re-emphasize the imperative of sharing experiences and lessons learned in promoting TJ and assisting countries that confronted violent past to address their challenges of reconciliation, accountability, social cohesion, and nation-building. In this regard, it may stress on the need to follow up its decisions, at its 899th session, to dedicate annual session on TJ. Regarding the financial constraint, Council may allude to the utilization of the Peace Fund for AU’s TJ activities as the Union moves towards the operationalization and pilot utilization of the Peace Fund. Council may call for enhanced cooperation and coordination between AU and RECs/RMs, as well as international partners in supporting Member States in their TJ initiatives. Council may commend the countries that shared their experiences with initiating and implementing TJ processes. The Council may note that transitional justice is not a one time process but a continuous one that aims at addressing ever more forcefully and increasingly legacies of past wrongs and violations and the inequities that they have created in affected societies. It may call on the states to implement the recommendations of truth commissions and continue the work for achieving increased levels of reconciliation and healing as well as irreversible cohesion through implementing inclusive development policies and deepening democratic and accountable system of political governance.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 41ST ORDINARY SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND THE 4TH AU MID-YEAR COORDINATION MEETING IN LUSAKA

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 41ST ORDINARY SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND THE 4TH AU MID-YEAR COORDINATION MEETING IN LUSAKA

Date | August 2022

INTRODUCTION

The 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council and the 4th AU Mid-year coordination meeting were held on 14-15 July and 17 July respectively in Lusaka, Zambia. The meetings were preceded by the 44th Ordinary of the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) held from 20 June to 8 July in Addis Ababa under the chairship of Senegal.

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Open Session on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts

Open Session on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts

Date | 18 August 2022

Tomorrow (18 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1101st session which will be an open session on children affected by armed conflicts (CAAC).

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Robert Nanima, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) Special Rapporteur on CAAC is also expected to make a statement at the session. Presentations and statements are also expected to be delivered by representatives of the respective Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), the United Nations (UN) Office to the African Union (UNOAU), the European Union (EU) and Save the Children International to the AU and Pan Africa Office. Four children affected by armed conflicts are also expected to share their experiences at the session.

The last time Council discussed CAAC was at its 1070th session convened on 29 March 2022. At that meeting, Council considered two draft policies essential for the protection of children in situation of armed conflicts – Policy on Child Protection in AU Peace Support Operations (AU PSOs) and Policy on Mainstreaming Child Protection in the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) – and requested that they be considered by the Specialized Technical Committee for Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS). At its 14th Ordinary Session convened on 12 May 2022, the STCDSS considered and adopted both policies. Further to welcoming the adoption of the policies, tomorrow’s session may serve as an opportunity for Council and invited participants to reflect on the necessary steps that will be required for their implementation.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to deliberate on the general situation of children in armed conflicts in Africa, highlighting some of the more concerning country/region situations and address some of latest issues arising in connection with protection of children in conflict and crises settings in the continent. In the various regions of Africa, the situation of children caught in conflict and crises situations continues to deteriorate, in some cases reaching alarming levels.

According to the United Nations (UN) Children’s Fund (UNICEF), West and Central Africa continues to account for a quarter of the global violations against children in situations of armed conflicts. Since 2005, more than 67,000 verified grave violations against children have been recorded in these regions. This accounts for the six incidents which form grave violations – killing and maiming, child recruitment and use, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. In the Sahel region in particular, the high rate of displacement resulting from conflict and insecurity has put children at the risk of overlapping grave violations. Reportedly, in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the number of verified grave violations has shown a 40% increase as compared to the data recorded for the last quarter of 2021.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa is among the countries globally that have recorded highest number of grave violations committed against children in the context of armed conflicts. According to the UN, 3,546 violations against 2,979 children were verified in the DRC in the course of 2021. Children are also affected by conflicts in Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR). One of the worst manifestation of the conflict in Cameroon involves the direct targeting of children and schools, thereby leading to the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of children from school as the UN reported. In the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, over 700,000 children are estimated to be deprived of education due to attacks on schools. In CAR, about 944,000 children were projected to be in need of psychosocial support due to the impacts of conflict and sexual violence.

In the East and Horn region, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan are among the countries with highest rates of grave violations recorded during 2021. While no statistics are available, children are among those most affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia. In South Sudan, the UN verified 196 grave violations against 183 children, including the recruitment and use of 129 children. In Sudan, 202 grave violations were verified against 195 children, including killing of 54 and 112 cases of maiming against 166 children. Somalia has recorded the highest rate of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflicts in the region with 3,340 grave violations against 2,687 children as verified by the UN. Out of these, 1030 were cases of children abducted by Al-Shabaab while 307 were cases of sexual violence against children, 306 of which were perpetrated against girls.

The situation of children affected by conflicts is compounded by food insecurity and challenges to humanitarian access. Such is the case, for example, in the Horn of Africa, which is also experiencing severe drought. According to data availed by UNICEF in early June 2022, over 1.7 million children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are estimated to be facing severe acute malnutrition out of which 386,000 reside in Somalia.

In Southern Africa, conflict and terrorist violence in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique continues to fuel the displacement crisis in the region. As of September 2021, over 800,000 people were estimated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to have been internally displaced and out of these, 48% were reported to be children. Since the outbreak of insurgency in northern Mozambique in 2017, about 370,000 children have reportedly been displaced. Recent reports by Save the Children also indicate that renewed violence in the northern region of Mozambique has displaced nearly 30,000 children. In most cases, children in the region are forced to face secondary and tertiary displacement and are growingly running out of safe shelters due to the spread in attacks. Not only does this entail significant immediate challenges, its long term psychological impacts on children will likely be grave.

Although relatively better, Libya from the North African region experiences its share of challenges in relation to protection of children affected by conflict and crisis situations. The latest UN report indicates that 63 grave violations against 52 children were verified in the country throughout 2021. In the midst of continued concerns over protection of human rights of detained migrants, including children, 125 additional cases of detention of children were reported during that period.

In addition to reflecting on these concerning trends faced in the various regions of the continent, Council may also wish to draw attention to the issue of statelessness faced among displaced children or children born in displacement, an issue which has gained relatively little attention in the past. Displaced children or children born to displaced parents are among the principal victims of the consequences of armed conflicts, natural disasters and other crises including political instabilities. Although the issue of statelessness of such children does not become apparent until they are confronted with situations that require official documentations and national identification, studies have demonstrated the prevalence of the issue across Africa.

A recent study by the UNHCR indicates for instance that while providing exact or estimated statistics on stateless children is not possible – owing mainly to poor birth registration and documentation practices of member States – the risk of statelessness among children in the Horn of Africa has currently become a highly concerning issue. The report specifically highlights that ‘children in Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia, including those of mixed parentage, with parents who have been displaced or are members of cross-border communities, and those who have been separated from their parents, are among persons most at risk of statelessness in the Horn of Africa’. It is known that the immediate causes for statelessness are gaps in nationality laws which provide safeguards against statelessness in line with international law. For example, Art.6 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) provides the right of every child to acquire nationality. However, children born in displacement (from refugee, migrant or asylum-seeker parents) are often denied this right by host countries.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. Council is expected to welcome the adoption of the Policy on Child Protection AU PSOs and the Policy on Mainstreaming Child Protection in APSA. It may further highlight the importance of a well-defined strategy to help guide the implementation of these policies and call for the development of such framework. Taking note of the high prevalence of grave violations against children in conflict settings in the continent, Council may urge all parties to conflicts to abide by the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law and to exercise utmost restraint in the conduct of hostilities as to avoid victimisation of children. It may further appeal to all relevant stakeholders including regional and international partners to strengthen their support and assistance for children affected by conflicts in Africa. Having regard to the growing concern of child statelessness, Council may also call on member States to align their laws regulating nationality with relevant regional and international standards on the prevention of statelessness. Having regard to the absence of data on statelessness among children caught in crisis situations, Council may also call on relevant AU organs such as the ACERWC to conduct a mapping study in that area. In the light of the worrying statistics of children affected by conflicts, the PSC may call on the AU to use the policy on mainstreaming child protection in APSA for preventive diplomacy, mediation, peace-making and peace processes to ensure that measures are put in place for ensuring protection of children in the concerned conflict or crisis settings where these tools are deployed.