Security situation in the Gulf of Guinea: Robust Response to combat Maritime Insecurity and Piracy

Security situation in the Gulf of Guinea: Robust Response to combat Maritime Insecurity and Piracy

Date | 17 April 2024

Tomorrow (18 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will consider the Security situation in the Gulf of Guinea Robust Response to combat Maritime Insecurity and Piracy, as one of the agenda items of its 1209th session.

Following opening remarks by the Permanent Representative of The Gambia and PSC Chairperson for April, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a statement. It is also expected that statements will be delivered by Florentina Adenike Ukonga, Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), the Representative of the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre, Yaoundé (CRESMAO/CRESMAC), and the Coordinator of the Experts for the Establishment of the Combined Maritime Task Force (CMTF). Additionally, the representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as the representative of United Nations (UN) Office to the African Union (UNOAU) and European Union (EU) are expected to make statements.

Since 2013, the PSC has held various sessions addressing maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region. The outcome documents from these sessions bear witness to the significant progress and collective efforts made by the countries in the region with the support of international partners worldwide. Therefore, tomorrow’s session will serve as an opportunity for the PSC to reflect on the positive strides made in the region, while also considering recurring challenges and emerging threats to the GoG’s maritime security.

During the last PSC session on the issue that was held on 18 September 2023 (1174th session), the PSC revisited the issue of increasing insecurities in the region, a concern that attested to the slight increase of incidents in 2023. The session was marked by the PSC’s deep concern over the threats posed by pirates and organized crime networks in the GoG region. Despite a decrease in the number of reported incidents in the GoG in 2023 there were 22 reported incidents, which shows an increase from 19 in 2022. The International Maritime Bureau reported that these waters remain perilous, as the Gulf accounted for three out of four global hijackings, all 14 reported kidnappings of crew members, and 75% of crew members held hostage in 2023. Additionally, two crew members were injured, reinforcing the GoG’s reputation as treacherous waters for seafarers.

Despite a notable decrease, remnants of hijackers and pirates continue to linger on the waters of the GoG region. This maritime threat has evolved from the looting and hijacking of oil cargos to the kidnapping of seafarers, bringing the root cause of the problem sharply into focus. The mid-2000s witnessed a surge in piracy, largely driven by the rapid expansion of the oil industry, particularly in Nigeria and Angola, which together account for approximately 3% of global oil production. The region as a whole account for more than 35% of the world’s total petroleum reserves, attracting extensive energy company presence. However, this prosperity has been accompanied by socio-economic challenges, disrupting the livelihoods of local artisanal fishers and driving youth to join militant groups as a result of environmental pollution. These groups hijack oil tankers and interfere with commercial oil extraction, perpetuating instability. In spite of a decrease in the ransom for oil tanker in the mid-2010s, the dire living conditions persist, leading to a shift towards kidnapping seafarers. In this context, it is crucial to consider the recent surge of Somali pirates in the Gulf of Eden region, which has prompted the question among observers: are the pirates truly ‘back,’ or have they simply never left? These commentators highlight the insufficient efforts to address the root causes and the inefficiency of highly militarized responses that offer only short-term relief.

In recent years, the strategies implemented in the GoG region have displayed a more collaborative approach, relying less on international partners compared to the Gulf of Eden region. However, it is crucial to consider addressing the root causes of the problem.  It is therefore anticipated that tomorrow’s session will provide an opportunity for the PSC to evaluate whether the successful efforts in the GoG region are temporary fixes or the foundation for sustainable change. The PSC may consider whether these strategies are enhancing the capabilities of regional maritime agencies, investing in education, creating jobs, elevating social infrastructure in coastal communities, and establishing effective legal frameworks.

Maritime hijacking and piracy are few of the numerous threats to maritime security in the GoG region. Another significant challenge is illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which resulted in estimated losses averaging $10 billion in the GoG region in 2023. Reports indicate that fishing vessels are frequently implicated in various other crimes. Beyond the substantial economic losses incurred, IUU fishing leads to the depletion of fisheries, driving coastal communities into poverty and often fostering their involvement in acts of piracy and other transnational crimes, including drug and human trafficking, illicit trade, and arms trafficking. As such, the PSC is expected to receive updates on efforts being implemented to address the growing threats of IUU fishing and various other maritime crimes in the region

Tomorrow’s session is also expected to address the recent spread of terrorism to littoral states like Benin and Angola, as a threat posing an additional threat to the region. In previous years, military rule has emerged in three Western African countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea – contributing to increased insecurity and the proliferation of terrorism. Weak governance and lax security structures have created vulnerabilities that terrorist groups may exploit, posing risks to maritime trade, navigation, and safety. Additionally, the PSC may consider the threat of maritime cybersecurity as a pressing concern for the continent. While technology has greatly enhanced maritime safety and security, it also brings significant challenges. Cyber threats have the potential to disrupt not only maritime operations and infrastructure but also extend into inland internet-dependent sectors, underscoring the interconnectedness of cybersecurity across various domains. Thus, the PSC may deliberate on how to develop proactive measures to safeguard against cyber threats.

In response to these persistent insecurities and emerging threats, the upcoming session is expected to review progress on the decisions made during the 1012th session, which emphasized the importance of ensuring that the African Standby Force (ASF) possesses adequate naval capabilities to promote maritime security and safety in Africa. Additionally, the PSC expressed anticipation, during the 1174th session, for the successful organization of the inaugural maritime exercise under the ASF. However, our analysis of the 1174th session revealed a lack of mention regarding the assessment of financial, logistical, and institutional implications, potentially contributing to a lack of follow-up on organizing the exercise. Therefore, during the upcoming session, updates from the AU Commission on the planning of the maritime command post exercise, including financial, logistical, and institutional implications, are expected to be presented to the PSC.

Furthermore, in its endeavor to mitigate maritime insecurity in the GoG region, the PSC may revisit its 1128th session decision, which emphasized the importance of strengthening national navies, law enforcement, and border control agencies, alongside advocating for continuous sea presence of African naval forces. Notably, in May 2022, a gathering of African Naval Staff and Coast Guard chiefs convened in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, resulting in the adoption of the Port Harcourt Declaration. This declaration called for the establishment of a CMTF in the GoG. Subsequently, during its previous session (1174th), the PSC directed the AU Commission to engage with the CMTF and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) to facilitate alignment of their activities, while urging expedited activation of the Committee of the Heads of African Navies and Coastguards (CHANS). Therefore, it is anticipated that the PSC will follow up on these requests to reinforce the regional mechanism for swift responses to maritime threats in the region.

Another aspect of previous requests of the PSC that requires follow-up relates to the creation of an expert panel or Task Force. This group’s role would be to synchronize efforts, disseminate knowledge, and make recommendations on maritime security. Additionally, the establishment of a Maritime Security coordination mechanism or unit within the AU Commission is also a pending matter that requires the attention of the PSC. It remains to be seen whether the AU Commission will offer an update on this matter.

Lastly, tomorrow’s session is expected to consider the recent developments in the implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its associated security architecture, which encompasses regional, interregional, and multinational coordination centers, as well as national maritime operations centers. The notable decrease in piracy and maritime hijacking is credited to the effectiveness of the Yaoundé security architecture. Nonetheless, several challenges hinder its full implementation, notably the inadequacy of funding and varying levels of commitment among member states in the region. In this regard, the European Council in November 2023 has adopted an assistance measure under the European Peace Facility, allocating €21 million to bolster the Yaoundé Architecture and strengthen the capacities of military actors and navies in selected coastal states.

The outcome of the session is expected to be a communique. The PSC is expected to encourage further collaboration among GoG states and international partners to enhance maritime security capabilities, intelligence-sharing, and joint maritime patrols. The PSC may stress the need for Member States to devise all-encompassing solutions to the grievances driving piracy and maritime crime, including poverty, unemployment, and environmental degradation in coastal areas. In this regard, it may also underscore the need for security and military actions to be components of a holistic, well-rounded approach to tackling maritime insecurity. The PSC may further encourage Member States to invest in education, job creation, and social infrastructure in coastal communities to reduce vulnerability to recruitment by militant groups and criminal networks. The PSC may also emphasise the need to strengthen maritime governance frameworks, law enforcement capacities, and border control measures to deter illicit activities and improve maritime domain awareness. In relation to this, the PSC may encourage GoG states that have developed and enforced domestic legislation to prosecute maritime crimes, notably piracy and armed robbery and call on those states that have not done so to enact national laws that allow for the prosecution of pirates and maritime criminals. The PSC may also stress the need to develop proactive measures to safeguard maritime infrastructure and communication networks from cyber threats, ensuring the resilience of maritime operations and information systems. The PSC may call for support for the activation and operationalization of regional mechanisms such as the CMTF and the Committee of the CHANS to facilitate coordinated responses to maritime threats.


Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Briefing on the Situation in Sudan

Date | 17 April 2024

Tomorrow (April 18), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1209th session on the situation in Sudan.

The session will commence with an opening statement by Jainaba Jange, Permanent Representative of the Republic of The Gambia to the AU and stand-in Chairperson of the PSC for the month. This is followed by introductory remarks from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS). It is envisaged that Mohammed Ibn Chambas, AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns and Chair of the AU High Level Panel on Sudan will deliver the briefing. Additionally, representatives of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Ramtane Lamamra, Personal Envoy of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for Sudan are also expected to make statements.

Indicating lack of sustained engagement on the part of the PSC, the last substantive PSC convening was in November 2023 during which the PSC decided on the establishment of an ad hoc High-Level Panel on Sudan, after months of calls for such a standing mechanism dedicated to the Sudan file on a fulltime basis. In line with the Communique of the 1185th meeting of the PSC, the AU Commission Chairperson finally acted on the PSC decision with the appointment of the High-Level Panel comprising of Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, chair of the Panel and  Dr Specioza Wandira-Kazibwe, Former Vice President of the Republic of Uganda and Ambassador Fransisco Madeira, Former Special Representative of the Chairperson to Somalia and Head of AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

It is anticipated that tomorrow’s session will focus on three major issues. The first one concerns the current state of the conflict situation in Sudan. The second area relates to the current state of the various initiatives for the resolution of the conflict. This would cover activities undertaken by the AU Ad Hoc Panel. Considering the grave humanitarian situation that the war has induced, the third area that warrants PSC’s attention in tomorrow’s meeting would be the dire humanitarian situation in Sudan and ways to mitigate this crisis including the role that the AU brings to bear in this respect.

A year into the outbreak of the war, there is no indication of any slowing down of the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Between 26 October and 4 November 2023, RSF and its allied forces gained ground, claiming to seize control of South Darfur capital Nyala (the second largest city), Central Darfur capital Zalingei, and El Geneina of West Darfur. During the last quarter of the year, the war expanded beyond Khartoum, Darfur and South Kordofan as RSF marched on Wad Medani, Gezira state, launched new offensive on South Kordofan and initiated fighting in Gedaref and the White Nile regions.

Highlighting that the two sides are locked down in a battle for dominance and to resolve their contest through fighting, as RSF’s campaign expands its territorial reach, particularly into Eastern Sudan lost momentum, the SAF has since January been on a counteroffensive in an attempt to regain lost territories in Omdurman and Gezira. Relying significantly on its airpower bolstered by combat drones, reportedly supplied by Iran, the SAF’s counter-offensive delivered some success as it recaptured territories in Omdurman.

Indications of further worsening of the security situation, with risks of more actors joining the fighting, are also notable. In Darfur, the situation is getting worse as non-Arab armed groups aligned with SAF are facing off against the RSF for dangerous fighting, involving acts of mass atrocities by the RSF. There is also the mobilization of militias on the side of SAF in eastern Sudan and River Nile, Northern and Kassala states.

The AU High-Level Panel on Sudan commenced its work two weeks after the appointment. Since their appointment, the members of the Panel have engaged with other mechanisms on Sudan such as the Expanded Mechanism on the sideline of the AU Summit in February 2024 as well as the regional bloc IGAD, where the Panel reiterated its plan to push forth the implementation of the AU Roadmap for the Resolution of the conflict in Sudan and its commitment to an inclusive process that will engage all Sudanese stakeholders as well as partners.

What makes the war in Sudan destructive is not merely the fact that the two warring parties are determined to achieve their objectives through military means, with each believing that it can win the war. The actions of both the RSF and the SAF in conducting hostilities show a complete lack of regard for the rules of war, albeit to various degrees. Apart from the destruction, death, mayhem and displacement caused by the indiscriminate use of force, civilians have become a battle ground as they become direct targets of mass atrocities, rape and other forms of sexual violence particularly in RSF-held areas. Both parties to the conflict are also engaged in impeding humanitarian access.

After a year of a brutal war fought without any regard for the rules of war, Sudan is in the process of collapsing. As the UN Secretary-General warned in a briefing to the UNSC last month, this ‘could ignite regional instability of dramatic proportions, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.’

In light of these dire security conditions, the issue of how to secure some kind of a halt to hostilities is a major pressing issue that deserves particular attention in tomorrow’s session. One option for the PSC is to try and contribute to securing the kind of internationally supported and protected humanitarian ceasefire agreement that established the ground for further peace efforts in Darfur in the early 2000s. The other option available is for the PSC to call on the UNSC to adopt a decision on the establishment of internationally protected humanitarian corridors for facilitating access to civilians. Short of these, the PSC can also take an initiative on its own focusing on the facilitation of humanitarian access by establishing a mechanism dedicated to such role through monitoring and reporting on both actions impeding humanitarian access and targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure or by assigning such responsibility to the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan.

Admittedly, any effective effort for achieving any measure of cessation of hostilities requires at the very least two conditions. The first is to achieve diplomatic consensus and align efforts of all those with influence, leverage, and interest to halt this downward spiral of the situation in Sudan. The second and based on the first condition is to ensure cessation of the flow of support to the two sides. In this respect, the PSC may also find ways of working with IGAD and the UN to secure the required measures for stopping the flow of arms and to squeeze the funding sources of these warring parties.

On the humanitarian front, Sudan now has the hallmark of being the worst conflict-induced humanitarian crisis on the continent. Tens of thousands lost their lives. In various instances, the loss of these lives was a result of mass killings. The continued fighting has left at least 8.2 million displaced. According to the World Food Program (WPF), there are approximately 25 million people in need of assistance classifying the humanitarian condition as ‘the world’s largest hunger crisis’. According to UNICEF, the war in Sudan also led to the world’s worst child displacement crisis. Despite the staggering and growing dire humanitarian situation, access to humanitarian assistance remains hugely impeded. Indicating the catastrophic trend of the worsening of the humanitarian situation, the Famine Early Warning System Network warned of an impending famine threatening parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and the Greater Darfur region. According to the WFP, nearly five million individuals are on the brink of experiencing famine.

Significant outcomes in reducing the humanitarian crisis were seen days after the adoption of a UNSC resolution, following which the government of Sudan decided to open humanitarian corridors via four routes, namely: Tina crossing from Chad to El Fasher; Port Sudan to El Fasher via Atbara; Red Sea Road to Port Sudan via Egypt; Wadi Halfa-Dongola crossing; and Renk to Kosti via land route from South Sudan. These recent developments are also supplemented by this week’s Humanitarian Conference on Sudan held in Paris, France which saw the pledging of the reported 2 billion Euro plus an additional 900 thousand to aid the UN in providing humanitarian assistance in Sudan and neighboring countries.

Regarding the peacemaking efforts, the first of the issues that the PSC is expected to deliberate on is the work that the AU High-Level Panel has undertaken thus far and how it plans to execute its mandate. Since the start of its mandate last February, the Ad Hoc Panel has been on diplomatic tours, engaging various Sudanese stakeholders and regional actors. The diplomatic missions involved the engagement of the panel with the conflict actors, both senior officials from the SAF as well as representatives from the RSF. In addition to its engagement with the armed forces, the panel also ensured to convene consultations with key regional stakeholders including civil society actors, academics, humanitarian actors, political actors and other armed actors involved in previous Juba Peace Agreements. The Panel’s consultations also involved non-Sudanese actors with visits, among others, to Cairo and Djibouti where the panel discussed with the League of Arab States, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the executive secretary of IGAD.

The other issue that deserves attention in terms of peacemaking efforts is the approach to the peace process, most notably in terms of the existence of multiple processes that are not necessarily complementary. The efforts thus far involved initiatives by Saudi Arabia and the US focusing on ceasefire negotiations, by IGAD seeking to bring the leaders of the two warring parties and by the AU seeking to facilitate the wider political track of the peace process. None of these various initiatives achieved any meaningful breakthrough. It is expected that the US and Saudi Arabia seek to relaunch talks in Jeddah. Indications are that, unlike previous processes, this time around the scope of Jeddah talks may not be exclusively limited to securing a ceasefire. Additionally, it is expected to expand the participation of key regional and international actors including Egypt, UAE, the AU, IGAD and UN who were not represented in the earlier Jeddah talks.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC may welcome the establishment and operationalization of the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan. It may welcome the diplomatic tours that the Panel undertook for consulting Sudanese and other regional stakeholders. As such, the PSC may request the Panel, pending the start of the political peace process within the framework of the AU/IGAD roadmap, to actively participate and engage in all the processes on Sudan. It may also request for the Panel to identify an action plan on a way forward from their field mission. Concerning the armed conflict, the PSC may express its concerns over the continued fighting underscoring that there will be no military solution to the crises in Sudan and calling for the actors to abide by the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan and the recent call for a cessation of hostilities. The PSC may urge an end to the intensification of the fighting and request the conflict actors to contain the proliferation of support from armed groups. The PSC may call on countries backing the two warring parties to end all support to either side of the war as a necessary condition for averting the risk of the situation in Sudan getting completely out of control with dire consequences for the region and international peace and security. The PSC may wish to request for the AU Commission and the AU High-Level Panel to institute a monitoring, documenting and reporting mechanism as useful diplomatic leverage for promoting collaboration of the parties in complying with international humanitarian law rules and avoiding the deliberate targeting of civilians and indiscriminate use of force.  On the humanitarian front, the PSC may welcome the initiative taken by the warring parties to facilitate the opening of humanitarian corridors. It may call for the reinforcement of the protection of humanitarian corridors by calling for the establishment of internationally protected humanitarian corridors. The PSC may also welcome the recent announcement of the pledge of 20 million by donors to facilitate aid in Sudan. In this regard, it may call on follow through on pledges made and delivering on the pledges urgently.


Indifference of Africa and the rest of the world is allowing the warring parties to push Sudan to total collapse

Indifference of Africa and the rest of the world is allowing the warring parties to push Sudan to total collapse

Date | 15 April 2024

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

Tefesehet Hailu
Researcher, Amani Africa

One year ago today, a conflict broke out in Sudan, triggered by a rivalry between two former allies, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (widely known as Hemedti), the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

In April 2019, Burhan and Hemedti used the widespread mass protest that brought Sudan to a standstill to overthrow al-Bashir and declare a three-year transitional military rule.

Despite the establishment of a power-sharing government in August 2019 after AU-backed mediation initiated following Sudan’s suspension from the AU in June 2019, the two generals staged another coup ousting the civilian government in October 2021 just before handing over control of the sovereign council to the civilian arm of the power-sharing government.

In subsequent months, the resort of the two generals to resolve their rivalry for prominence plunged Sudan into its latest civil war. After one year of near-total war, Sudan’s collapse, which is imminent and inevitable, would unleash a disaster of catastrophic proportions for Sudan, Africa, and international peace and security.

The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, a sight of some of the most indiscriminate and brutal fighting is reduced to rubbles.  Many of its residents, who survived indiscriminate attacks and deprivation of access to basic needs, are forced to flee. Most hospitals, schools, houses, and business centers are shattered to the ground.

Darfur, a region severely affected by the war, endured atrocities and faces imminent risk of such atrocities that are reminiscent of the genocidal violence that the region experienced two decades earlier.

The fighting is engulfing the entire country as it also expanded to South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Gazirah, Gedaref and the White Nile regions.

Exacerbating an already dire situation and escalating the imminent risk of collapse, in the recent fighting, the circle of actors involved in the fight has expanded beyond the two main conflicting parties. Armed groups in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and those in Darfur have joined the fray.

Caught in the crossfire are the people of Sudan, who endure unspeakable horrors at the hands of the warring factions. Although not as brutal in Darfur, the RSF unleashed its violence on civilians in the other territories it seized as 2023 was coming to a close.

RSF is not alone in inflicting suffering on civilians. SAF’s air force rains down terror from above, indiscriminately bombing civilian areas in a ruthless bid to regain control.

As a war without respect for any rules, the violence against civilians also involved widespread killings, forced displacement, deprivation of access to basic needs and humanitarian assistance, and the use of sexual violence including rape.

The ongoing war has claimed a reported 14,000 lives’. The number of people forcibly displaced inside and outside the country is fast approaching the ten million mark. Sudan has the world’s largest displacement crisis and the largest child displacement crisis.

24.8 million Sudanese are in need of humanitarian assistance, yet there is no humanitarian access.

Adding to this grim reality, the Famine Early Warning System Network raises a red flag, warning of an impending famine threatening parts of West Darfur, Khartoum, and the Greater Darfur region. According to the World Food Programme, nearly five million individuals are on the brink of experiencing famine.

The conduct of the warring parties along with the failure and indifference of Africa and the rest of the world, in complete disregard of AU’s principle of non-indifference, is pushing Sudan to the brink.

It remains unclear how long Sudan can sustain the continuation and escalation of this war without complete collapse. Indeed, unless something dramatically changes in terms of the effort to arrest the escalating war, it is difficult to foresee how Sudan can avoid complete collapse.

Sudan’s collapse will not be like anything we have seen before. Unlike Somalia which borders only three states, Sudan borders seven countries. Sudan is at the crossroads of various geopolitical regions of Africa.

It is in the middle between North Africa and Africa South of the Sahara. It borders countries in Central Africa, North Africa and East Africa regions. It strudels the Horn of Africa, North Africa and Central Africa regions. It is the bridge between Gulf countries and East Africa. It is strategically located on the Red Sea. Considering the fraught situation on this strategic waterway for international maritime trade, any additional complications would carry huge global economic and geostrategic consequences.

Sudan’s collapse would obviously mean protracted suffering for the people of Sudan first and foremost. It would mean more death, mayhem and suffering. More people would be displaced and flee outside of the country.

Given its history and location, a collapsed Sudan is appealing not just to terrorist groups in the region but to global jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS.

The establishment of a foothold by terrorist groups in Sudan could end up creating a belt of terrorist networks stretching from the Southwestern Sahel near the Atlantic coast across the Sahel to the Red Sea.

Sudan’s collapse would reverberate across the conflict ridden Horn of Africa and Central Africa regions. It could make an already dire situation catastrophic. It would have a serious knock on the political and conflict situations in the fragile neighboring states of the Central African Republic, Chad, and South Sudan.

The stakes for Sudan, the region, and the international order could not be more grave. Beyond addressing the life and death humanitarian situation for people caught up in this total war through directing funding to local humanitarian actors and establishing internationally protected humanitarian corridors, there is nothing more urgent than preventing Sudan’s collapse and its catastrophic ramifications.

As Sudan enters its second year of this devastating war, the question is whether the African Union, countries in the region, and international actors appreciate the urgency and gravity of the imminent danger of state collapse in Sudan and whether they are able and willing to do all that it takes to avoid it.

Are they willing and able to halt the supply of weapons to the warring parties and cutting off their funding sources? How about establishing a rigorously monitored and enforced ceasefire? How about for setting up a technocratic transitional government with a time-bound and limited mandate to foster conditions for an inclusive transitional process?

If the AU, its member states and the wider international community care about Sudan, the region, and international peace and security enough, this is the moment to show it. If the AU and its partners are serious about AU’s flagship program of Silencing the Guns, now is the time to muster the will and resolve necessary to demonstrate their seriousness by taking the necessary measures to avert the collapse of Sudan.

The time for making statements and expressing concern is long over. It is time to act and act decisively.

The content of this article does not represent the views of Amani Africa and reflect only the personal views of the authors who contribute to ‘Ideas Indaba’


Unblocking the obstacles to effective Continental Early Warning System (CEWS)

Unblocking the obstacles to effective Continental Early Warning System (CEWS)

Date | 15 April 2024

Tomorrow (16 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1208th session to discuss the theme of ‘unblocking the obstacles to effective Continental Early Warning System (CEWS)’ with a joint briefing by the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), and African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL).

Following opening remarks by Jainaba Jagne, Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and stand-in Chair of the PSC for the month of April, Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) will make a statement. The representatives of CISSA, ACSRT, and AFRIPOL are expected to deliver briefings.

This session comes within the framework of PSC’s 1014th (2021) session, which requested CISSA, ACSRT and AFRIPOL to provide quarterly briefings to the Council on emerging threats to peace and security on the Continent in the effort to strengthen conflict prevention and early warning mechanisms. Previously, during its 360th (2013) session, the PSC had agreed to receive a periodic update, at least once every six months, on the state of peace and security on the continent, using horizon scanning approaches. In recent years, the security threats of terrorism, unconstitutional changes of government and climate change have dominated such briefings.

The last time the PSC received a briefing on continental early warning and security outlook was at its 1170th session in August 2023. In that session, the PSC requested the Commission to ‘urgently review and adapt all AU counter-terrorism legal frameworks to ensure that they are in sync with the existing international counter-terrorism legal frameworks.’ The session specifically called for future early warning briefings to address the persistence of terrorism, particularly in the Sahel, and to propose actionable strategies for mitigating security challenges in the region. As a follow-up to this specific request, tomorrow’s briefing may provide highlights on the state of terrorism in the Sahel as part of the broader horizon scanning of the emerging and existing security threats in the continent.

ACSRT’s database indicated a staggering 99% surge in terrorist attacks and a 53% rise in terrorist-related deaths recorded between January and December 2023, compared to the corresponding period in 2022. The Sahel stands out as the most severely affected region, not only within Africa but also globally, accounting for almost half of all deaths from terrorism worldwide, per the 2024 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report. Central Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, notably the tri-border area described as the ‘Liptako-Gourma’, have seen the most significant increase in the impact of terrorism among the Sahelian nations, with Burkina Faso now ranked first on the GTI. (For more details on the state and dynamics of terrorism in the continent, see Amani Africa’s analysis on the theme). Besides terrorism and violent extremism, the electoral landscape of the continent also remains an issue requiring closer follow-up, with elections planned in twenty Member States for 2024.

The central focus of tomorrow’s session ‘the obstacles to effective early warning’ and unblocking them requires serious consideration. As the Chairperson noted to Amani Africa’s ‘in the words of the PSC Chairperson’, this session will look into ways of enhancing and fully operationalizing the CEWS to strengthen anticipation, preparedness and early response to conflicts across the continent.

As envisaged under article 12 of the PSC Protocol, the main purpose of the early warning system is the provision of timely advice on potential conflicts and threats to peace and security to enable the development of appropriate response strategies to prevent or resolve conflicts in the continent. Experience shows that despite the institutional and technical advances made in operationalizing CEWS, the actual operation of CEWS in providing early warning and those responsible for taking action in initiating timely responses leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, AU’s engagement in peace and security is generally characterised by firefighting as opposed to detecting and preventing violent conflicts and crises from breaking out.

Broadly speaking, the challenges to CEWS can be grouped into two: technical and institutional and political. The technical aspect of early warning and analysis concerns the development of methodologically sound and substantively rigorous and solid early warning reports. Related to this is the process not only for the collection of quality data but also for an informed analysis and interpretation of the early warning data.

The other technical issue is determining the point at which a crisis/situation warrants the attention of the PSC for early action. This is not an easy matter. Developing clear and objective criteria and ensuring their consistent application remains critical for an effective preventive mechanism. In light of this, the PSC’s 11th (Cairo) retreat emphasised the importance of establishing a ‘trigger mechanism and indicators’ to facilitate the role of the PSC in assessing the need for early action. This was echoed during the 1073rd session, where the PSC called upon the Commission to develop and urgently submit such mechanism and indicators for consideration. However, it remains unclear whether this request has been followed-up on.

The other challenge that traverses the technical and political domains is the lack of effective flow of information between the early warning mechanism and those responsible for initiating early response, the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the PSC. Cognizant of this challenge, the conclusions of PSC’s 13th (Mombasa) retreat on its working methods emphasised leveraging the horizon scanning briefings and informal consultations as platforms for the Commission and the PSC to exchange particularly ‘sensitive’ early warning information. The retreat’s conclusions envisage monthly early warning meetings between the PSC Ambassadors/Charge d’Affaires and the Commissioner for PAPS, as well as quarterly consultations between the PSC and the Chairperson of the Commission. While there are efforts to convene the informal interactions, there is still much to be desired in terms of regularizing the monthly and quarterly early warning briefings between the Commission and the PSC.

The political challenge relates to a) the extent to which the CEWS operates consistently across different country or regional situations and most importantly b) the reluctance, if not outright rejection, of Member States, and even the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs). As noted by the PSC during its 1073rd (2022) session, there is a persistent denial of credible early warning reports of looming crisis and conflict situations, often invoking of sovereignty, thus obstructing timeous early action including deployment of preventive diplomacy and mediation. There are also instances where the principle of subsidiarity has been invoked by the RECs/RMs to prevent the situation from reaching the agenda of the PSC. While Member States have the obligation to commit themselves to facilitate early action by the PSC and/or the Chairperson of the Commission pursuant to article 12(6) of the PSC Protocol, there is a need to enhance quiet/back channel diplomacy with Member States signalling potential crises.

From a perspective of overcoming these challenges, one of the key issues is ensuring confidence and trust in the early warning. This is crucial not only for dealing with some of the technical challenges but also some of the political ones, as well as it would contribute to limiting the scope for denial. The other issue is determining the nature of the response and how the response/early action is pursued. It may be advisable that at the early stages of a crisis, the early action is pursued discretely and using non-intrusive methods. It is only when the crisis has reached a boiling point and discrete measures would not be fitting that more public preventive diplomacy is deployed. It is at this stage that consideration should be given to putting the matter on the agenda of the PSC.

Meanwhile, there is also need for the AU to reinvigorate the CEWS which suffered a major institutional setback when its structure was removed from the PAPS department structure established as part of the institutional reform of the AU. This needs to be revisited. The role of the CEWS (which is based on human security considerations) cannot be replaced by CISSA, ACSRT or AFRIPOL, whose approach, by the very nature of their institutional and technical formation, largely draws on and is informed by state security analytical tools including intelligence.

It is also important for the AU to leverage, reinvigorate and sharpen some of its preventive tools. For instance, despite the expectation of a regular engagement between the PSC and the Panel of the Wise pursuant to 665th (2017) session, which requested quarterly briefings from the Panel of the Wise, such interactions have not been regular and remain to be fully institutionalized. The Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework and its tools, the Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and the Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS), are largely ignored despite its potential to strengthen the CEWS by addressing structural causes of conflicts.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. PSC may also follow-up on the implementation of previous decisions meant to strengthen the continental early warning system and bridge the gap between early warning and early action. In this respect, echoing the Mombasa Retreat Conclusions, it may urge the Commission to regularize the interactions between the Chairperson of the Commission as well as the Commissioner for PAPS, and the PSC. It may also call for the reinstatement of the CEWS structure as per Article 12 of the PSC Protocol as a measure for reinvigorating early warning and early action. The PSC may also reiterate the conclusions of the Cairo retreat on the establishment of transparent threshold for identifying the point at which early action is activated. The PSC may further request the Commission to streamline the quarterly briefings by the Panel of the Wise with the continental early warning and security outlook briefing. To facilitate more substantive engagement, the PSC may request the submission of a comprehensive report that provides an in-depth analysis on not only thematic issues but also country-specific crises/situations, along with concrete recommendations for early response.


Annual Activity Report of Amani Africa 2023

Annual Activity Report of Amani Africa 2023

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR

2023 has been a year that registered substantial expansion in Amani Africa’s work. We have continued to enhance our work involving the production of knowledge and analysis and the provision of timely information on matters AU and its PSC.

In 2023, we have been able to expand not only the range of issues our work covers but also our products and their impact. We have introduced new products such as the Amani Africa resources hub, Ideas Indaba and Amani Africa Dispatch. We also upscaled the range of partnerships and engagements with state, intergovernmental and non-state stakeholders including those beyond the continent.

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A moment of reckoning for the AU in Chad as interim leader declares candidacy for presidential election

A moment of reckoning for the AU in Chad as interim leader declares candidacy for presidential election

Date | 9 April 2024

Going against a commitment he made to an African Union (AU) delegation that visited Chad following the seizure of power by the military, Chad’s interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno declared his candidacy to run for the presidential election slated for 6 May 2024. Considering clear rules of relevant AU norms and equally clear decisions of AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC), Deby’s candidacy raises the difficult policy question of whether the AU will continue with ‘its exceptional treatment of Chad’ or enforce relevant AU norms and its own decisions.

Countries where the military seized power unconstitutionally from 2020-to-date

How this policy question is handled will set the tone for the six other countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Sudan) that are in transition and suspended from the AU on accounts of military coups.

On 20 April 2021, the military in Chad stepped in to grab power after the death of then President Idriss Deby Itno from wounds he suffered during a visit to troops on the frontlines fighting against an armed rebel group, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which was reportedly marching towards Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. After suspending the Constitution and dissolving the Government and Parliament, the military spokesperson announced a decree establishing a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to lead the country and designating Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of the deceased president, as head of the Council.

Under AU norms, such seizure of power by the army constitutes an unconstitutional change of government (UCG) banned and sanctioned by various AU legal instruments including, AU’s grand norm, the Constitutive Act of the AU. The various instruments banning UCG, including the Lome Declaration of 2000, the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG), and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) Protocol make it clear that any UCG is subject to automatic sanction and they don’t envisage exception. This has also been supported by the large body of AU practice in responding to UCG since the turn of the century.

The various instruments banning UCG, including the Lome Declaration of 2000, the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG), and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) Protocol make it clear that any UCG is subject to automatic sanction and they don’t envisage exception. This has also been supported by the large body of AU practice in responding to UCG since the turn of the century.

In an emergency session it convened on 22 April 2021, the AU, through its standing peace and security decision-making body, the PSC, failed to designate the event in Chad as an UCG. This was despite the fact the PSC, in the communique it adopted, expressed ‘grave concern over the establishment of the Transitional Military Council.’ Subsequently and after deploying a ‘fact-finding mission’ comprising of ‘the members of the PSC and the AU Commission’ (a composition contrary to established international practice and undercut the impartiality of the PSC), the PSC used the excuse of ‘the complexity of the current political and security situation in Chad’ for persisting with not designating the military power grab in Chad as a UCG.

While there were two earlier instances in which the PSC withheld the automatic application of the consequences of the designation of a situation as UCG, namely suspension from the AU (in November 2014 and April 2019 concerning Burkina Faso and Sudan, respectively), this is the first time that the PSC failed to characterize a military seizure of power as UCG. In doing so, the PSC dealt a major blow to its credibility, exposing the AU to legitimate charges of applying double standards and being inconsistent.

This is the first time that the PSC failed to characterize a military seizure of power as UCG.

The major casualty of PSC’s failure on Chad was the deterrence effect of the AU norm against coups. PSC’s failure to enforce the norm on Chad broke the practice of consistent enforcement and the attendant international diplomatic censure that gave the norm its force. In so doing, it sent a message to others watching the events in Chad that this was a season to stage a coup and get away with it. It is no wonder that some countries against whom the PSC enforced the anti-coup norm challenged the legitimacy of the AU’s action given its failure to uphold the same rule in neighbouring Chad. Indeed, countries such as Mali, which are facing complex security threats, share the same, if not more, challenges as Chad, and have a point in criticizing the AU for not giving them a pass as it did for Chad.

The major casualty of PSC’s failure on Chad was the deterrence effect of the AU norm against coups.

Despite letting Chad get away with its UCG, the AU in the PSC decision of 14 May 2021 expressly stated its expectation that the authors of the unconstitutional seizure of power in Chad will not auto-legitimize their hold to power by having themselves ‘voted’ during elections held for restoring constitutional order. In this respect, the PSC demanded ‘the Chairman and members of the TMC to abide with the avowed commitment, not to contest or take part in the upcoming national elections towards democratic rule.’ It even went further stating that ‘the Military will be held fully accountable in this respect.’ Subsequently, in the communique adopted at its 1016th meeting of August 2021, the PSC reiterated ‘that the members of the Military Transition Council shall not be eligible to be candidates for the elections at the end of the Transition.’ In the communique of its 1106th session held on 19 September 2022, the PSC was emphatic stating it ‘unequivocally reiterates that all members of the TMC shall be ineligible to participate as candidates for the elections at the end of the transition’ (emphasis in the original).

The PSC demanded ‘the Chairman and members of the TMC to abide with the avowed commitment, not to contest or take part in the upcoming national elections towards democratic rule.’ It even went further stating that ‘the Military will be held fully accountable in this respect.

It is thus clear from the various pronouncements that any attempt by the members of the TMC to run for election is set as a clear redline as the PSC makes. For this, the PSC draws legal authority from the AU Assembly Decision of 2010 (Assembly/AU/Dec.269(XIV) and the ACDEG.

A sign of a potential breach of the redline set for the junta in Chad emerged in October 2022. Following a national dialogue convened for charting a roadmap for the transition, the national dialogue forum announced on 1 October 2022 to extend the transition period by another 24 months in contravention of the timeframe established by the PSC. Even more gravely, the national dialogue forum further agreed to allow the head of the TMC and its members to participate in the elections at the end of the transition period. This pronouncement is not only a clear contravention of the decision of the PSC, emphatically reiterated several times, but also a clear rule in the extant AU norms including Assembly/AU/Dec.269(XIV) that bar coup-makers from participating in elections.

Instead of encouraging it to cooperate and abide by agreed commitments set in the various PSC decisions, these developments suggest that the junta in Chad took PSC’s initial failure to enforce the norm on UCG as a license for pursuing its ambition of legitimizing itself by ‘getting voted into power’. Yet, the reading of the various PSC communiques on Chad and the commitment that the head of the TMC made to a delegation of the AU suggest that the PSC would enforce the anti-coup norm against Chad in the event of the contravention of this redline. It thus came as no surprise that when the PSC convened a session on Chad on 11 November 2022, a key aspect of the agenda was whether to suspend the country given the new developments arising from the conclusions of the national dialogue. Indeed, the report that the AU Commission Chairperson submitted to the session presented the suspension of Chad from the AU as one of the possible courses of action available to the PSC.

It thus came as no surprise that when the PSC convened a session on Chad on 11 November 2022, a key aspect of the agenda was whether to suspend the country given the new developments arising from the conclusions of the national dialogue.

As documented in the November 2022 Monthly Digest on the PSC, after long hours of debate, the session was adjourned without a consensus among members of the PSC on the actions to be taken vis-à-vis the developments in Chad that are in clear breach of PSC’s decisions. While the provisions that ban UCG are clear and the existing PSC decisions of its 996th and 1121st sessions affirm the importance of upholding AU principles including the ineligibility of members of the TMC for elections that will be held for restoring constitutional order, the PSC was divided on the issue of the suspension of Chad.

In response to media reports accusing the Chairperson of the AU Commission of seeking to punish Chad in proposing suspension as one course of action in the report he presented, the spokesperson of the Chairperson stated on 12 November, apart from noting that no member of the PSC challenged the report, the statement rightly put blame for the mishandling of the situation in Chad on PSC member states stating that ‘Some felt that the authorities of the Transition should continue to be given exceptional treatment, others stated that they should be sanctioned by suspending the country via the rules invariably followed and implemented in matters of unconstitutional change of government. The PSC failed to reach an agreement on the matter during its meeting held on 11 November.’ (emphasis added) Despite holding a second meeting on 30 November to conclude the consideration of the developments in Chad that started on 11 November, the members of the PSC were not able to bridge their differences.

Apart from noting that no member of the PSC challenged the report, the statement rightly put blame for the mishandling of the situation in Chad on PSC member states stating that ‘Some felt that the authorities of the Transition should continue to be given exceptional treatment, others stated that they should be sanctioned by suspending the country via the rules invariably followed and implemented in matters of unconstitutional change of government. The PSC failed to reach an agreement on the matter during its meeting held on 11 November.’

This marks the second time that the PSC was unable to enforce on Chad a norm it applied against others. One of the arguments made at the time was that the PSC could only act when any member of the TMC stood for election.

In a Press Statement it issued, the PSC reiterated in general terms its previous decisions on Chad and reaffirmed its total rejection of UCG. Despite not stating them explicitly, the PSC, in reiterating its previous decisions (of which ineligibility of members of the TMC to elections is key), signalled that suspension. While avoided for now, suspension is still a possibility that the PSC may resort to. This is to happen when any member of the TMC decides to stand as a candidate for the elections expected to be organized at the end of the transitional period.

With elections set for 6 May 2024 and the declaration by Deby of his plan to run for the presidential elections, there is now no possibility of kicking the can down the road. The AU and its PSC are now faced with only one option- to end its ‘exceptional treatment of Chad’ and sanction it by suspending it from the AU, ‘by the rules invariably followed and implemented in matters of unconstitutional change of government’ and its own various decisions. Failing to do so would wipe out any of the PSC’s residual credibility on this matter and firmly suggest the continental body’s lack of conviction for its own decisions.

The AU and its PSC are now faced with only one option- to end its ‘exceptional treatment of Chad’ and sanction it by suspending it from the AU, ‘by the rules invariably followed and implemented in matters of unconstitutional change of government’ and its own various decisions. Failing to do so would wipe out any of the PSC’s residual credibility on this matter and firmly suggest the continental body’s lack of conviction for its own decisions.

One avenue that the PSC may opt for to maintain a semblance of credibility, if it is unable to suspend Chad, it is to decide that the AU should not deploy election observers to the upcoming elections in Chad.

Beyond the legitimacy crisis for the PSC, there are more reasons why the issue of how the PSC deals with this case matters for the AU and its policy on UCG. How the PSC handles this case is not without consequences for other cases. Indeed, if the PSC is unable to enforce the rule on non-eligibility concerning Chad, it would be the end of any future application of this rule as well. And most immediately, this would also mean that the AU would have no standing to apply this rule for stopping any of the military leaders in the six other countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger and, Sudan) from becoming candidates for elections that will be held at the end of the transitional period in those countries.

If the PSC is unable to enforce the rule on non-eligibility concerning Chad, it would be the end of any future application of this rule as well. And most immediately, this would also mean that the AU would have no standing to apply this rule for stopping any of the military leaders in the six other countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger and, Sudan) from becoming candidates for elections.

The content of this article does not represent the views of Amani Africa and reflect only the personal views of the authors who contribute to ‘Ideas Indaba’


Briefing on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin, MNJTF operations and Regional Stabilisation Strategy implementation

Briefing on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin, MNJTF operations and Regional Stabilisation Strategy implementation

Date | 7 April 2024

Tomorrow (8 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will receive a briefing on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the region.

Following opening remarks by Ambassador Jainaba Jagne, Permanent Representative of the Republic of The Gambia to the AU and stand-in Chairperson of the PSC for April 2024, Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to make a statement. As per the usual practice, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Mamman Nuhu, is expected to brief the PSC.

The last time the PSC received a briefing on this issue was on 30 January 2024 when it renewed MNJTF’s mandate for one year until 1 February 2024. At that meeting, the PSC requested the AU Commission and the LBC to renew the provision of AU support to MNJTF for one year and to report regularly on the activities of the MNJTF. Tomorrow’s session could focus on the state of operation of the MNJTF, the security situation in the Lake Chad Basin and the implementation of the regional stabilization strategy.

On the security front, despite the progress registered by the MNJTF over the past years in degrading Boko Haram, the threat in the Lake Chad Basin from the two main Boko Haram splinter groups, Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), remains high. Boko Haram-related incidents have reportedly surged recently resulting in an increased number of civilian casualties. As a recent research report on the two Boko Haram splinter groups highlighted, the militant groups still command thousands of fighters and hold swathes of territory. In terms of territory, JAS controls much of Lake Chad and the Mandara mountains and ISWAP has strong control, particularly in rural areas of central Borno and eastern Yobe state in Nigeria.

The continued insecurity in the region has also exacerbated the humanitarian situation with more than 11.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 5.5 million people facing acute food insecurity and some 758,000 children experiencing severe malnutrition, according to the UN. Additionally, most schools in the conflict-affected areas are dysfunctional due to the level of insecurity, thus denying children access to education. The region is also host to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, refugees, and returnees. This situation has been further compounded by the ongoing conflict in Sudan, which has increased the number of displaced people crossing into Chad.

MNJTF has been playing an important role in fighting Boko Haram and stabilizing the region to allow the free movement of people and revive socio-economic activities. The joint task force has recently announced operational successes in neutralizing several Boko Haram elements and capturing many others. It also reportedly disrupted the group’s supply lines capturing a lot of weapons and ammunitions. Some MNJTF soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice in this process, while others suffered injuries.

However, despite continuing military operations particularly by Nigeria under the MNJTF, there remain concerns about the level of effective coordinated operation by all members of the MNJTF. It was reported that the MNJTF operation planned for 2023, Lake Sanity 2, did not take place. Additionally, the MNJTF continues to face several other challenges. One of the challenges it faces relates to political instability facing some of the contributing countries such as Niger. Apart from the souring of relations with Nigeria after the July 2023 coup, Niger declared suspension of its participation in the MNJTF.  According to the UN Secretary-General’s Report to the UNSC in January 2024, following Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions on the Niger, ‘the de facto authorities in the Niger prohibited Multinational Joint Task Force troops based at Mallam Fatori, Nigeria, from crossing the border, and the Force Commander of the Task Force from visiting the Niger. They also temporarily suspended some reporting to the Task Force headquarters.’

The MNJTF also faces, similar to other operations on the continent, the lack of adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding. Therefore, the task force needs the continued support of the region and the international community. The lack of adequate resources to support recovered areas is a further challenge that complicates the situation.  A recent UN assessment in the region concluded that ‘economic hardships continued to drive vulnerable young persons towards illegal activities, including joining extremist groups’ and that ‘insecurity had disrupted traditional transhumance routes, affecting local economies and exacerbating resource competition, food insecurity and displacement.’

In this connection, the implementation of the Regional Stabilization, Recovery, and Resilience Strategy for Areas Affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin Region developed by the LCBC with the support of the AU is expected to be another focus of tomorrow’s PSC meeting. The LCBC has been benefiting from the support of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) which since 2019 has been facilitating the implementation of the strategy through its regional stabilization facility. Through the regional stabilization facility, more than 1.36 million people reportedly benefitted from stabilization interventions including more than 76,000 people who received vital livelihood support through grants, capacity-building opportunities, and cash-for-work initiatives, according to UNDP. Additionally, health and education services have resumed; infrastructure has been rehabilitated; access to energy has expanded; and more than 400,000 displaced persons have returned home. The first phase of the regional strategy’s implementation was concluded last year and the second phase has started this year.

Despite some of these positive developments, however, challenges abound underscoring the need to accelerate and adjust the implementation of the regional strategy which is considered the key to addressing the underlying causes and drivers of extremism, violence, and underdevelopment. It is to be recalled that following the fourth meeting of the steering committee for the Regional Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience Strategy for Areas Affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin Region, in Abuja, Nigeria on 27 September 2023, the Regional Strategy was extended for a further period of one year. Additionally, the meeting directed the LCBC to consider an adjusted regional strategy for validation by the Council of Ministers in August 2024. It would thus be of interest for the PSC to learn about the progress being made in developing the adjusted regional strategy and how the adjustment would advance the effectiveness of the MNJTF.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the PSC may call for the mobilization of international assistance to support the implementation of the regional strategy to promote peace, security and development in the Lake Chad Basin. The Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum for Regional Cooperation on Stabilization, Peacebuilding, and Sustainable Development was held in N’Djamena from 5-7 July 2023 and highlighted the need to support socio-economic development and enhance community-based reintegration and transitional justice initiatives across the region. The Forum also expressed continued support for the Multinational Joint Task Force, while underscoring the need to adhere to human rights standards in security operations. Furthermore, they stressed the imperative of finding durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons in the region.

Another issue that would be of interest to PSC members in tomorrow’s session is the role of the MNJTF in providing support in such areas as the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the rebuilding of state authorities in areas recovered from terrorist groups. In terms of the role of the MNJTF beyond its kinetic activities, it would be of interest for PSC members to receive updates on its decision from its 1126 session. It is to be recalled that the PSC called for ‘restructuring of the MNJTF into a multidisciplinary force with robust police and civilian components that takes into consideration a comprehensive approach to addressing terrorism’.

Another important focus of tomorrow’s PSC meeting is the adverse effects of climate change in the Lack Chad Basin with worsening drought and receding water levels in Lake Chad. This has weakened the livelihood of the people of the region and exacerbated communal violence. The LCBC has been supporting regional countries in mitigating the impact of climate change, preserving biodiversity, and managing scarce water resources. Tomorrow’s PSC meeting will be held in advance of the third annual international forum on the development of the Lake Chad Basin which is scheduled to take place in N’Djamena from 28-30 May 2024. This forum is supported by the World Bank which funds the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC). The forum seeks to promote and strengthen regional cooperation between the Lake Chad Basin countries in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, promoting socio-economic development, and fostering regional integration. Several topics are expected to be discussed during the upcoming forum, including how to enhance community resilience and strengthen inclusive management of natural resources.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to express concern over the continued threat posed by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region. While commending the MNJTF for its successful operations against the terrorist group, the PSC may underscore the need for reinforcing the close coordination and active participation of all the participating countries of the MNJTF. With respect to the conduct of military operations by the MNJTF, the PSC may call for enhanced compliance with human rights and IHL rules to avoid civilian casualties that undermine the effectiveness of such operations. The PSC may welcome steps taken by ECOWAS and Nigeria to ameliorate tension with countries affected by coups and may in this respect call on Niger to continue its collaboration and active participation in the MNJTF to avoid reversal of gains achieved through the MNJTF. It may emphasize the critical role of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience for supporting affecting communities and restoring state authority in newly recovered areas. The PSC may also recommend a summit of the MNJTF countries for reinvigorating the MNJTF and the implementation of the Stabilization Strategy. The PSC also may call for ensuring comprehensive plans are put in place for the socio-economic revival of affected areas including within the framework of the Stabilization Strategy. The PSC may also welcome the upcoming convening of the third annual international forum on the development of the Lake Chad Basin. Having regard to the adverse impacts of climate change in the region, including aggravating insecurity and instability, the PSC may underscore the importance of investing in measures for mitigating the impacts of climate change including through the provision of humanitarian and adaptation support for affected communities.


Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - February 2024

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - February 2024

Date | February 2024

In February, under the chairship of The Kingdom of Morocco, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) had a scheduled program of work consisting of twelve sessions and an informal meeting. After multiple revisions of the programme, only five sessions were convened.

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