Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Date | 01 March 2023

Tomorrow (01 March), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session to consider a status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework: Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).

The Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the AU and Chair of the PSC for the month of March, Innocent Shiyo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to provide a status update on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework.

One of the side events at the recently concluded 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly was a High-Level meeting on ‘early warning within the framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA)’, which was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In that side event, the representative of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called on Member States to ‘embrace’ the CSCPF and its tools, the CSVRA/CSVMS, as part of the efforts to strengthen continental early warning system. The tools were devised with the hope to address structural causes of conflicts and achieve sustainable peace in the continent, but the political buy-in so far remains far from satisfactory as evident from the fact only three African countries were part of this process since the launch of the CSCPF.

Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the PSC to take stock of the implementation of the CSCPF and its tools -CSVRA/CSVMS – and provide strategic guidance on how to revitalize the process for effective conflict prevention, which is one of the main objectives of the PSC.

The CSVRA/CSVMS came within the framework of continental early warning system and as a follow-up to PSC’s 360th session, held in March 2013, a session that stressed the need for a strategic focus on addressing the structural/root causes of conflicts. During its 463rd session that took place in October 2014, PSC commended the Commission for its efforts to finalize the elaboration of the CSCPF as well as to develop a Structural Vulnerability Assessment tool and further requested the Commission to expedite the process. PSC’s 502nd session, convened in April 2015, adopted the CSVRA/CSVMS tools, and requested the Commission, in collaboration with the RECs, to avail all the necessary assistance to Member States and popularize the tools while encouraging Member States to fully take advantage of these tools in their efforts towards the structural prevention of conflict.

Recently, the Assembly, during its 35th ordinary session, held in February 2022, encouraged Member States to ‘utilize the opportunities afforded by the Commission and RECs/RMs to address structural causes of violent conflict through the implementation of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment/Country Structural Vulnerability and Mitigation Strategies (CSVRA/CSVMS) processes.’ In that summit, the Assembly went on requesting the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee’ comprising the AU Commission, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member States to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In tomorrow’s session, PSC may follow-up on progress made towards the implementation of this decision.

As highlighted in the 502nd session of the PSC, the CSCPF has been developed to facilitate a Commission-wide and coordinated approach to structural conflict prevention with the aim to identify and address structural weaknesses that have the potential to cause violent conflicts if left unaddressed. In operationalizing the CSCPF, the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division (CPEWD) of the Peace and Security Department developed the CSVRA/CSVMS tools with the former designed to facilitate the identification of a country’s structural vulnerability to conflict at an early stage while the later to focus on strategic and medium to long-term measures aimed at mitigating the country’s structural vulnerabilities and build resilience.

The CSVRA/CSVMS are voluntary processes and hence should be implemented by Member States through a request simultaneously addressed to the AU Commission and the concerned REC. The request may come at the initiation of the AU. Following the request, a team of experts composed of an expert nominated by the Member States, the CEWS staff, representatives of relevant AUC departments, representative from the concerned REC, as well as representatives from other stakeholders will be formed to work on CSVRA report, which is envisaged to be finalized within three months. Once the report is finalized, the next phase will be for the concerned state, in coordination with the AUC and the relevant REC, to start working on the CSVMS in coordination between the Member State.

Indeed, the status of implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS leaves a lot to be desired, highlighting the need for revitalizing these important tools. In that context, there are at least three points that the PSC may consider in tomorrow’s deliberation.

First, as a voluntary process, the ideals of CSVRA/CSVMS cannot be achieved without securing greater political buy-in of Member States. The fact that only three Member States have acceded to the process thus far clearly tells not only the low buy-in but also the Commission’s limitation to effectively sell these tools and the benefits they avail to Member States. It is recalled that Ghana was the first to initiate the structural vulnerability assessment in 2017, followed by Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It is encouraging that few other countries – such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius – have reportedly shown interest to engage in the process, but additional effort is required on the side of the Commission to bring more countries on board. This may also require addressing concerns about the framing of the exercise as vulnerability assessment. Additionally, structurally there is a need for aligning this exercise with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose review also involves such structural vulnerability analysis of countries under review.

Second, despite the rhetoric, conflict prevention and early warning system in general and the CSVRA/CSVMS tools in particular have received little attention as much of the focus seems on activities related to conflict management. This has been for instance reflected in the new PAPS structure, which, unlike the previous structure, does not have a dedicated division to conflict prevention and early warning. There is in particular a need for the member states to provide resources for the AU Commission in order for it to have a dedicated capacity, which, working with the APRM, promotes the full and active operationalization of these tools.

Third, there is a high need to clarify the relation with other AU tools particularly the APRM. The PSC should provide policy guidance on how these two mechanisms complement each other so that there is no confusion on their respective purposes and objectives.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may underline the critical importance of CSVRA/CSVMS tools to the structural prevention of conflict and consolidation of peace and stability in the continent. Considering the benefits that the CSVRA/CSVMS tools offer particularly in identifying and addressing the structural vulnerabilities of member states that may evolve into violent conflicts, the PSC is expected to encourage Member States to fully take advantage of these tools. It may also request the Commission to provide all the required support to Member States. It may further request the Commission to develop strategy to better popularize these tools and ensure greater buy-in of Member States so that more countries undertake the assessment. PSC may also request the Commission to enhance its working relationship with the RECs/RMs in the implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS, as well as to better clarify the relationship between these tools and the APRM. In the light of the fact that the institutional reform had left the CSCPF without a structure for its effective operationalization, the PSC may call for a dedicated capacity within PAPS for taking responsibility in promoting and implementing CSVRA/CSVMS.

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of March 2023

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of March 2023

Date | 1 March 2023

In March, Tanzania takes over the role of chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). As envisaged in the provisional programme of work, the PSC will convene six substantive sessions. Of these one will have two agenda items. All sessions except one will take place at ambassadorial level. Of the total agenda items, three will address country specific situations. The remaining four will be focusing on various thematic issues. Additionally, the PSC is also set to conduct of a field mission. The PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) and the Military Staff Committee (MSC) will also be meeting during the month.

The first session of the month is scheduled to take place on 01 March. The PSC will consider the status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF): Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS) at this session. The CSCPF was developed by the AU as a strategy aimed at addressing structural issues. 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 while the CSVMS explores the best avenues to enable appropriate actions by the AU and concerned regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to address structural root causes of violent conflicts in member States.

The second session of the month which will contribute considerably to the PSC’s preventive role will be a briefing by the Panel of the Wise, planned to take place on 03 March. This will be the first briefing of the panel to be delivered since 2017 which was the last time it updated the PSC on its activities. The coming session serves the PSC to welcome the new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise appointed for a three-year term by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)] and to receive updates on the engagements of the Panel in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and dialogue since its previous briefing.

An updated briefing on the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forms the third session of the month. Scheduled to be held on 07 March, the session is expected to assess key developments since PSC’s 1121st session when it considered and approved the request of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to extend Phase 1 of ATMIS operational timelines, from 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023. In addition to reviewing the security situation including the operations against Al Shabaab, the session is expected to assess the status of force generation and integration process and efforts underway to ensure the extended deadline of 30 June 2023 will be met for ATMIS Phase 1 drawdown.

The fourth session is planned to take place on 09 March and will be committed to a briefing on the conduct of a Continental Maritime Command Post Exercise. It is to be recalled that at its 1128th session, the PSC called on the AU Commission to conduct the ‘First Regional Maritime Command Post Exercise in order to increase preparedness and synergy of the Navies of the region to respond to the threats in the Gulf of Guinea, within the framework of the ASF’. In its other previous decisions, particularly the 1012th session, the PSC has also emphasised the importance of capacitating the African Standby Force (ASF) with the required naval capacity. The briefing during this session could provide important highlights on efforts being deployed to enhance the ASF’s naval capacity both at regional and continental levels.

On 10 March, the PSC will consider and adopt the provisional programme of work for the month of April 2023.

From 10 to 13 March, the CoE will convene to consider key highlights of the 2023 Africa Governance Report (AGR) which assesses the state of governance in Africa, with the aim to provide relevant and accurate information on governance issues in all AU member States.

The fifth session of the month expected to be held on 14 March will be an open session dedicated to the annual meeting on the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda. The session will be convened in line with PSC’s 223rd Communiqué of 30 March 2010, in which the PSC agreed to devote an annual open session to the WPS theme. Following up on the decisions of its previous session on the theme – the 1109th meeting – the PSC may seek updates regarding efforts being made to ‘establish a forum for knowledge sharing amongst the AU Member States and partners to leverage experience, lessons learnt and good practices in addressing sexual violence against women in conflicts and crises’.

From 15 to 18 March, there will be a training of the MSC to be conducted in Tanzania.

From 20 to 23 March, the PSC will undertake a filed mission to the DRC. It is to be recalled that the PSC’s field mission to Burundi which took place from 20 to 22 June 2022 was conducted in the context of the PSC’s engagement on the Great Lakes Region and was supposed to extend to DRC. However, increasing tensions due to the situation in eastern DRC limited the PSC’s visit to Bujumbura, Burundi. Although the situation in eastern DRC largely remains the same and has even shown signs of deterioration, the planned PSC visit highlights the importance of PSC’s engagement through undertaking field visits to the conflict settings that it addresses.

The sixth and final session of the month planned to take place on 31 March will have two agenda items. The first one of these will be an updated briefing on the situation in Mozambique and operations of the South African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). In addition to reflecting on on-going insecurity experienced in Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique due to continued terrorist activities, the session could serve the PSC to follow-up on the decision of its 1119th session which drew specific attention to the logistical and financial challenges that face SAMIM and directed the AU Commission to ‘explore all options to facilitate additional support to SAMIM’.

The second agenda item will be consideration and adoption of the report on the outcomes of PSC’s field mission to the DRC.

Is the AU addressing the challenges to effective enforcement of its norm banning Unconstitutional Changes of government?

The 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly was held on 18-19 February preceded by the 42nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on 15-16. As part of covering this year’s summit, we profile some key issues and events around the summit. In the light of the democratic regression the continent, like other parts of the world, is experiencing, one event we wish to profile is the 2023 Africa Governance Report presented to the Assembly. The thematic focus of the 2023 African Governance Report by the African Peer Review Mechanism is unconstitutional changes of government. In this second and last part, we provide further analysis on where progress is being made and where it is lacking.

Is the AU addressing the challenges to effective enforcement of its norm banning unconstitutional changes of government?

Date | 24 February 2023

Part II

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

Tsion Hagos
Researcher, Amani Africa

In a clear admission that the AU norm banning coups faced serious enforcement challenges, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), African Union’s (AU) highest standing decision making body on matters peace and security, convened one of its important sessions on the subject on 15th August 2022. Convened under the theme ‘Sanctions and enforcement capacities: deterrence against unconstitutional changes of government (UCG)’, the session served as a follow-up to the outcome of the 16th Extraordinary session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on 28 May 2022 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Notably, the session aimed at assessing the effectiveness of sanctions in deterring UCGs in Africa, as well as the capacities of the existing enforcement mechanisms.

The range of policy issues for consideration in this session are canvased in full detail in the analysis we produced ahead of the session. As highlighted in Amani Africa’s Policy Brief produced ahead of the Malabo summit, the fact that sanctions imposed on Mali in April 2021 did not deter subsequent coups in four other cases, has brought into sharp focus the efficacy of the responses of the AU and Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) involving suspension and other forms of sanctions.

In the Communique it adopted on the session, the PSC admitted with concern ‘the challenges facing the implementation of AU sanctions regime against unconstitutional changes of government.’ This, according to the PSC, is due, among others, to ‘lack of coordination between the AU and RECs/RMs, partners as well as the actions of external actors.’ Indeed, as pointed out in our analysis, on the normative plane, not all RECs/RMs have comparable standards making military coups illegal. In the absence of all RECs/RMs having standards banning UCG comparable to the AU norm, the AU and RECs/RMs face the unavoidable challenge of adopting complementary positions. That is why, for example, it is difficult to coordinate between IGAD and AU in respect to the coup in Sudan. Accordingly, the PSC should have called on RECs/RMs lacking such norms and authority to sanction UCG, to adopt legal instrument authorizing them to sanction their occurrence. Instead, the PSC ‘underscored the need to improve coordination of efforts to achieve wider buy-in of AU sanctions by other international actors, as well as to ensure synergies between AU sanctions and sanctions imposed by similar intergovernmental organizations, particularly the RECs and UN.’ It also reiterated the need ‘for full implementation of the commitments of the Accra Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government and the Assembly Decision and Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Chances of Government.’

Another issue that arose during the session of the PSC and highlighted in our analysis was the absence of a common framework on a) what kind of sanctions (beyond suspension) to be applied, b) under what circumstances, c) the mechanism for monitoring and d) the criteria for the lifting of such sanctions. In this respect, the PSC underlined ‘the importance of refining existing sanctions pronouncements into consistent frameworks that are aligned with the current evolution of the challenges they are meant to address.’

To this end, it requested ‘the AU Commission, in collaboration with the UN stakeholders and relevant African research institutions and think tanks including the African Members of the UN Security Council (A3) and UN Security Council Permanent Members, to explore and to develop an effective mechanism for the strengthening of the AU sanctions regime and providing appropriate technical capacities to the PSC Committee of Experts and the Military Staff Committee.’ As a follow up to this request, the AU Commission convened a workshop in Ghana in September 2022. The work for developing such effective sanctions framework has since been underway.

Of course, the development of this framework needs to build on the existing norms of the AU which in various ways present in a skeletal form the sanction for UCG. These AU norms include: the AU Constitutive Act, the Lomé Declaration, the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance (ACDEG). In particular, Chapter 8 of the ACDEG specifically outlines ‘Sanctions in Cases of Unconstitutional Changes of Government’. It defines UCGs in Article (23); it empowers the PSC with powers to impose sanctions against Member States (Article 24); and it details the types of sanctions that could be imposed against the Member States and perpetrators (Article 25).

African Peer Review Forum of Heads of State and Government, High-Level Validation of the Africa Governance Report 2023 (AGR2023) on UCG, 07 February 2023

Source: Office of the Presidency, Republic of Sierra Leone

In terms of strengthening the structures and processes for enhancement of the effectiveness of sanctions, the PSC called for the operationalization of the PSC Sub-Committee on Sanctions, the development of the requisite technical capacities to ensure its effectiveness and directed the PSC Committee of Experts to draw up the terms of reference of the Sub-Committee.

Most notably, the PSC went further and provided for the establishment of both ‘a solid sanctions infrastructure… that will effectively support the work of the PSC Sub-Committee on Sanctions’ and ‘a monitoring and evaluation group, to assess the implementation of the sanctions imposed against the Member States.’ While the development of such institutional structures for the AU sanctions is a welcome development, the form that such structures take is yet to be seen. Of particular significance is also the provision for the establishment of the monitoring and evaluation group.

It is worth recalling that our analysis also underscored the need for ‘an expert body (which) could play an instrumental role in monitoring implementation of sanctions imposed by the Council and in assessing fulfilment of conditions for their lifting thereof.’ Depending on the terms of reference of the expert group and the criteria that is used for the group to develop the technical assessment on the occurrence of UCG to propose the type of combination of response measures for adoption by the PSC and to monitor the implementation of the measures, this stands to contribute to the credibility and predictability of PSC’s responses to UCG.

There were a few things that did not receive the level of adequate attention that they deserved. The first is the need for strengthening the support of member states for the AU policy of zero tolerance to coups. This is particularly important given that the lack of strong consensus and support for AU norms banning coups by member states is one of the factors for the weakening of the efficacy of the sanctions in 2021. The other issue not addressed in the PSC communiqué is the lack of consistency in how the PSC applies its power under Article 7(1)(g). As we pointed out in our analysis, the failure of the PSC to apply (on Chad) the same measures it applied on Mali has led to legitimate charges of ‘selective application’. The PSC also missed an opportunity to address the lack of established criteria for applying Article 23(5) of the ACDEG that enables the AU to sanction not only coups but also unconstitutional extension of presidential terms.

On further strengthening the nature and scope of the response to UCGs, the PSC called for ‘a new strategic approach that will simultaneously employ mediation and peace-building to prevent and resolve conflicts.’ Both in the policy brief we published to inform the Extraordinary AU Assembly Session in Malabo and the edition of Insights on the PSC for this session, our analysis underscored the need for the response of the AU and RECs/RMs to go beyond adopting sanctions. It emphasized the imperative for the deployment of robust diplomatic initiative as critical measure for ensuring that relevant reform measures that guarantee sustainable restoration of constitutional order are pursued as part of the transitional process.

Ultimately, effective application of the AU norm banning coups depends on AU’s firmness and consistency in applying the relevant provisions as well as the reversal of the unfolding democratic regression and the accompanying lack of commitment to constitutionalism on the continent.

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’

Address by H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwahn on ‘Africa and the reform of the multilateral system’

On the occasion of the signature event on the sidelines of the 36th AU Summit jointly held by the Republic of Namibia and Amani Africa on ‘Africa and the reform of the multilateral system’ and as part of our coverage of some of the key events around the summit, we present in our ‘Ideas Indaba’ the Keynote Address by H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia.

Date | 20 February 2023

Keynote Address by

H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,

Delivered on her behalf by Ambassador Jerobeam Shaanika, Deputy Executive Director of Multilateral Relations and Cooperation, Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation


Director of Ceremonies

Distinguished members of high-level panel of experts

Distiguished invited guest

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address this gathering which, I believe, offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on the new agenda for peace and the reform of the multilateral system, in order to assess whether it reflects present day reality and to determine whether the multilateral system is able to respond appropriately to geopolitical challenges in a fair and balanced manner.

The multilateral system has evolved since the First World War. Each time institutions have been created to respond to the challenges of the time. It should therefore be noted that these institutional reforms have been necessitated by a number of factors such as the increase in the number of Member States and the increase demands for equitable participation. Therefore, it is essential that we continue to scrutinize multilateral institutions and pose critical questions about their future relevance.

Distinguished invited guests

Multilateralism has demonstrated to be a cornerstone of global harmony and uniting nations large and small in advancing issues of common values and confronting threats to humanity.

It is worth noting that the responsibility of maintaining peace and security cannot be solely left to one member state or particular region. The indispensability of the multilateral system, lies in unity and global solidarity.  The outbreak of Covid-19 has unearthed the urgent need of unity of purpose, in working together in solving common problems, as no nation large and small was speared by COVID -19.

Ladies and Gentlemen

COVID-19 has demonstrated that humanity can face a common threat to our way of life. Thus, the pandemic has left a dent in all health systems throughout the world.

COVID-19 taught us useful lessons and the urgency of reforming the multilateral system. So that it speaks to the upholding of the dignity and worth of the human person in all nations, so that we do not speak divisive language, such as “them and us” when facing a common threat. Because no one is safe until everybody else is safe.

It started as a health emergency that quickly evolved into also a socio-economic crisis which disrupted socioeconomic and lives of peoples of the world. Despite good intentions, there were acts of discrimination perpetuated by some member states, in the form of vaccine hoarding, towards developing countries and Africa in particular. Instead of the pandemic to soothe geopolitical tensions and bring countries together, we witnessed inward looking policies being implemented by some of the multilateral institutions.

Yet, the multilateral system, with all its flaws and limitations, remains the only framework for imagining and working towards collective action in the face of this global threat. In one way or another, it is what we continue to and should rally around. Because, a safe world without multilateralism is difficult to imagine.  Therefore, African Union and its members states must remain firmly committed to advancing the reforms of the multilateral system including the reform of the United Nations Security Council. 

Distinguished invited guests

Africa as a continent has abundant resources that can be harnessed for the benefits of the continent. Likewise, Africa has enormous human capital that can develop the continent and propel its economic growth. Our Fauna and Flora attracts tourist from the rest of the world.

Therefore, there is no doubt that Africa’s resources contribute enormously to global development, however there is a negative perception towards Africa viewed as a mere supplier of raw materials and all negative things. Therefore, there is a need to reflect on how the African resources are used to develop other nations to the determent of the African continent. If we were to examine critically the composition of international soccer players and best performing athletes, majority of them are of African origin. The raw material from Africa are propelling the 4th Industrial revolution, the interesting question, is that not an African contribution to the development of the world?.

While Africa has all these abundances of resources, it has no say or little control in the global financial systems, hence there is a compelling need to reform the global economic trading and financial systems, to level playing field. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While reform in this area is without a doubt challenging, the imperative for making the multilateral system to live up to its lofty ideals, in the face of difficulties facing many parts of the world, and, indeed our capacities as peoples of the world, are such that these challenges are not insurmountable.

With imagination and commitment, it is actually possible to inject reform to the governance of the global trading, economic and financial systems for unleashing the huge potential of the global order to deliver better and more equitably for all with enormous benefits for all social, economic and political actors.

Distinguished invited guest

This is also an era when we have, on top of the health pandemic and the ensuing economic crises and further accentuating the foregoing challenges, the existential threat posed by climate change. This threat is not something that will come in the future. It is a clear and present danger for today and now. We see this from

  • the drought affecting parts of Southern Africa, and the longest drought that led to the perishing of cattle that is a source of livelihood for millions of people in the Horn of Africa
  • the flooding in South Sudan and Sudan and in Nigeria, Niger and Chad
  • And further afield the flooding that left tens of millions of people homeless and claimed the lives of thousand in Pakistan
  • The heat waves, wildfires in Europe, the US and Australia

While the world has made good progress in establishing commitments and some instruments including financial arrangements to deal with this climate emergency, the pace with which commitments are implemented and the ways in which the instruments operate leaves a lot to be desired.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

Herein respect to the climate crisis, we have a case that illustrates that the operation of the multilateral system in a business-as-usual fashion is inadequate to meet the needs of those bearing the brunt of this crisis and the imperative for saving humanity.

As if all of these are not enough, wars and conflicts are adding further fuel to the multiple challenges facing the multilateral system. One such case that drives home the deep fragility of the multilateral system is the inability to solve the problem and response to genuine call for people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination particularly in Palestine and Western Sahara, as well as imposition of unilateral sanctions meant to change governance systems in certain countries.

Distinguished invited guest

Namibia was one of those countries whose people were denied rights to self- determination. The people of Namibia fought to gain their independence, with the help of international community, they managed to get their independence. Therefore, Namibia understands too well, what is like to be denied the rights to freedom.

The constitution of Namibia commits the state to pursue the policy that encourages the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means. This out of our experience, having waged a long and bitter war of liberation struggle and to say, not again a generation will endure a scourge of war. Of course, it worth emphasizing that this is but one, of major, example of how the promise of the multilateral system, as encapsulated in the UN Charter, to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados last September put it rightly that  ‘A survey of the global security situation, notably in eastern Europe and the Middle East, but in many other places as well, reminds us daily of the tragic inability of the international system to deliver more peace and more security to the many vulnerable people of the world.’

Ladies and Gentlemen

For us in Africa, partly it was this realization that prompted us to transition from the OAU to the AU and establish the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) for complementing and reinforcing, through regional collective action, the multilateral collective security system was founded on the provision of the UN Charter. Our conviction has been that, as we pursue the reform of the UN Security Council to address the historic injustice imposed on Africa by its exclusion from permanent membership and veto power, we also have brought our efforts together to share the burden of the multilateral system and contribute to the global public good of international peace and security through the APSA.

Alongside the contribution from regional bodies like the AU, the urgency of the need for reform of the multilateral peace and security system has been highlighted, by ongoing wars and conflicts. Although the multilateral collective security system has not ceased to function in the face of these grave security challenges, it is clear that it is seriously battered.

Distinguished invited Guest,

This means that it is in need of intensive critical care which may require a wide range of interventions from surgery to blood fusion. Nothing less than such reform will suffice to revive multilateralism to its full health.

It is in this context and having regard to our contribution to the global public good of international peace and security through the APSA that we support the UN Secretary General’s initiative for articulating a New Agenda for Peace. In addition to the foregoing, we believe that this effort needs to also tackle new forms of challenges to peace and security, not only existing ones relating to conflicts involving terrorist groups to emerging ones such as those that arose with new technology including in the cyberspace and in the use of automated machine systems in wars.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Each of the foregoing major global challenges on their own present serious challenge to multilateralism. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of facing them one after the other.

Indeed, while many of these challenges are not completely new, it is clear that they are bigger in scale, unfold in the same timeline and tend to reinforce each other. They are also taking place at a time of major global power shifts and worrying geopolitical rivalries not only along old ideological divides but also rivalries pitting old against new powers and major powers against middle powers.

In this context, it may all seem for us in Africa that there is little we can do to change. All that we have to do is to try to mitigate the consequences of these multi-crises. We have to remained ourselves that moments of crisis are also opportune moments for changing existing conditions for the better. And that change should not necessarily come from the powerful only. In any case, power is also a matter of how one masters the use of one’s resources and on this we are endowed with not only huge natural resources but also being the largest block in the UN, which gives us, if we speak with one voice, an unparalleled influence in the process for the reform of the system.

For the continent of Africa, this would mean that our collective effort should go beyond presenting a good case for securing the interest of Africa. It should also include articulating proposals on how to reform the multilateral system in a way that also meets the just expectations and needs of the whole of humanity. This challenges us to harness ways of thinking that both attends to and transcends existing faultiness and divisions in the world.

I believe that we are capable of going beyond the usual and mobilizing such a bold thinking. This particular gathering and the process we are launching is meant to help us rise to this challenge and articulate perspectives from the people of Africa on how humanity can achieve the multilateral system and a world that we all want and deserve.

Our founding President Sam Nujoma, has taught that “a united people striving to achieve a common good for all members of the society will always emerge victorious”

I thank you for your attention and wish us all a successful deliberation and follow up high-level process.

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’

The Peace and Security Council in 2022: The Year in Review

Amani Africa

Date | 18 February 2023


The focus of this review is the presentation of analysis of the work of the PSC in 2022 drawing on the data and research work carried out on the PSC in 2022. This review is however set within the overall context of the prevailing peace and security landscape of the continent. Accordingly, our review of 2022 additionally presents overview of the state of peace and security highlighting the major issues of concern in Africa in the year and the trends and dynamics arising from these issues.

Read Full Document

Address by Ambassador Tekeda Alemu on ‘Africa and the reform of the multilateral system’

One of the signature events on the sidelines of the 36th AU Summit jointly held by the Republic of Namibia and Amani Africa is on ‘Africa and the reform of the multilateral system’. As part of our coverage of some of the key events around the summit, we present in our ‘Ideas Indaba’ the address by Ambassador Tekeda Alemu on the theme of this high-level side-event and its importance. Among others, he argues that ‘it would not make sense to seek those (permanent) two seats for Africa unless member states of the AU have the capacity for a common position on critical international and regional peace and security issues.’    

Address by Ambassador Tekeda Alemu on ‘Africa and the reform of the multilateral system’

Date | 17 February 2023

Dr Tekeda Alemu
Former State Minister of Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council during the joint high-level side-event to the 36th AU Summit on ‘Africa and reform of the multilateral system’

Thanks Prof Murithi, our moderator. I recognize my old friend Basso Sanqu, who in New York was very dynamic and set the tone in the UN Security Council.

I would like to first of all to thank Ambassador Jeobeam Shaanika, who delivered, the very rich and excellent keynote address of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia. I have taken to heart the contents of the address.

There is little doubt in my mind that at no time in the past has the theme of this meeting – Africa, the new agenda for peace and the reform of the multilateral system – been as urgent as it is today. I believe the statement delivered by Shaanika has risen to the occasion and set the tone for the presentation that will follow.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank our AU colleague Ambassador Fred Ngoga for the opening remark made on behalf of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, H.E. Ambassador Bankole Adeoye. It was very rich and I must say very educative for me.

I must also express appreciation to Dr Solomon for organizing this event with the Republic of Namibia and for the great effort he has been making to highlight how much the reform of the multilateral system has become so urgent as to become almost an existential imperative for Africa. I have a very deep appreciation for Amani Africa of which he is the founding director.

I must also express with great deal of gratitude and appreciation the dignified and principled manner with which Namibia has been carrying out its pan-Africanist obligation.

Excellency, Dear Moderator,

As I already said, the reform of the multilateral system which is also being prioritized by the UN Secretary-General, as underlined in his Our Common Agenda, is an objective which has increasingly become an urgent matter which can no longer be postponed.

It should be admitted that multilateral governance has placed Africa, more or less, outside of its purview. Nowhere is this more vivid than with respect to international cooperation. One recalls how much the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals were unanimously adopted with great fanfare in 2015. Now, we are at mid-point of the implementation of that agenda which has failed to deliver on the promises made in a number of areas extremely meaningful for Africa and others in the same situation.

One cannot, of course, afford to despair. It is in that light one ought to look at the proposals contained in the UN Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda, all the more since it is said that the eleven policy briefs would offer concrete ideas to advance the work.

Now, we are told that the first brief will ‘address the New Agenda for Peace and Security.’ And it is said, this ‘for a world in transition and a new era of geopolitical competition.’ Equally important is what the brief will be adopting as an approach which will be holistic in the sense of focusing on the peace continuum, from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development.

It is indeed encouraging, though it is not entirely a novel idea, to put the issue of sustainable long-term development within the peace and security continuum. In the same vein, two other policy briefs seem to encourage hope that perhaps at the level of the UN, there is a more robust realization that multilateralism is losing credibility. The two policy briefs on finance, one focusing on metrics that go beyond GDP, and the second proposal for reform of the global financial architecture seem to show perhaps a new determination to try to repair the damage caused by the failure sustained by the 2030 SDGs.

Coming to the issue of Africa’s longstanding demand for the reform of the UN system with respect to which the reform of the Security Council is the most critical, it has been apparent that not even a small progress has been made since the Ezulweni consensus was formulated by Africa in 2005.

It seems to me there is a great need for Africa to address the challenge in two ways. One is within our domain and it has to do with our own effort to achieve real and tangible unity in pursuing the acceptance by others of the two seats as permanent members and the 5 non-permanent seats by Africa. There is no doubt that there is a feeling among member states, particularly among the permanent members, that, when the chips are down, they could prevail upon some African members to give in.

It is therefore critical that everything possible is done to ensure that Africa stands together on all critical international issues. Of course, it would not make sense to seek those two seats for Africa unless member states of the AU have the capacity for a common position on critical international and regional peace and security issues. That would be the litmus test for our capacity to occupy those seats.

The second is more problematic and requires a lot of diplomatic foot work on the part of both member states and the Commission. It must be clear, and this is not a new discovery, that all countries are driven by their respective national interests, and this is even more true in the case of the permanent members.

Though it may not always be the case, it is nonetheless very wise to be skeptical about the promises of support for the African position. It is critical to analyze the implication of the expansion of the membership of the UN Security Council for each (permanent) member of the body.

From that point of view, it is possible that those who wish for a stalemate might be supportive of the African position from conviction that doing so would discourage movement forward in the intergovernmental negotiation. This would mean that there is a lot of work to be done by member states of the AU as well as by the (AU) Commission with a view for an objective assessment of the position on the matter of the permanent members of the Council.

I have no doubt that the body that (Namibia and Amani Africa) has been trying to create might contribute greatly to this exercise.

I wish us all a most productive conversation.

I thank you.

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 eastern DRC and the deployment of the EAC regional force

Briefing on the situation in eastern DRC and the deployment of the EAC regional force

Date | 17 February 2023

Tomorrow (17 February), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1140th session at the Heads of State and Government level to consider the deteriorating security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the deployment of the East African Community (EAC) Regional Force. The session is expected to consider the situation within the framework of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for DRC and the Region (PSCF Agreement). This month marks the tenth anniversary of the signing of the PSCF which rekindled a sense of hope for ending the recurring cycles of conflict in eastern DRC and its impacts on the stability and development of the Great Lakes region.

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month is expected to deliver opening remarks to be followed with a briefing update by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission. Statements are also expected from João Manuel Lourenco, President of the Republic of Angola, AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation and Chairperson of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Évariste Ndayishimiye, President of the Republic of Burundi and Chairperson of the EAC. The Chairpersons of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) are also expected to make statements. As countries concerned, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the DRC and Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda will also present statements.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in eastern DRC was at its 1103rd session convened on 31 August of the previous year, where it endorsed the deployment of EAC Regional Force to eastern DRC and called on the AU Commission to facilitate coordination among efforts being deployed by the various stakeholders in the region.

Unfortunately, peace continues to elude the eastern DRC and the deterioration of the security situation is once again stoking tensions in the region. DRC happens to be the chair of the regional oversight mechanism (ROM) which is the main body that reviews the progress on the implementation of the national and regional commitments made by signatory countries under the PSC framework. DRC is expected to hand over the chairmanship to Burundi who will host the next meeting of the ROM.

Regional diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the EAC and the ICGLR, otherwise known as the Nairobi and Luanda processes, have been trying to address the growing insecurity in the eastern DRC. However, the security situation has continued to escalate worsening the already dire humanitarian situation in the region. The M23 Movement had reportedly withdrawn from some of the territories it controlled in North Kivu as a result of these regional diplomatic efforts. With the recent resumption of intense fighting with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and other armed groups, however, M23 reportedly took control of several villages including a strategic town, Kitshanga, cutting off the road to Goma, the regional capital. In recent days, M23 is said to have moved closer to Sake, a town west of Goma.

The EAC Facilitator of the Peace Process in the eastern DRC, former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation in North Kivu and called for the cessation of all hostilities and adherence to the agreements reached within the framework of the Nairobi and Luanda processes which, among other things, included the withdrawal of M23 from occupied territories, the accelerated implementation of the Demobilisation, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilisation Program (P-DDRCS) and the resumption of consultations between the Congolese government and armed groups.

Although international attention is focused on the military activities of the M23, other armed groups operating in eastern DRC such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Coopérative pour le Développement du Congo (CODECO), the FDLR, and the Mai-Mai Group have also continued to cause havoc in the region. The ongoing fighting has resulted in massive displacement of people. The rise of hate speech and incitement to violence targeting minority communities in the eastern DRC is also causing significant alarm.

The escalating security situation has continued to aggravate the already tense relationship between the DRC and Rwanda. On 24 January, Rwanda said that it took defensive measures against a Congolese aircraft that violated its airspace, while DRC denied the accusation and characterized Rwanda’s actions as “a deliberate act of aggression”. Both Kinshasa and Kigali have ratcheted up the rhetoric and this has heightened fears of direct military confrontation between the two countries. Most recently, on 15 February, Rwanda released a statement accusing DRC soldiers of cross-border shooting. According to the press release, FARDC forces entered ungoverned territory between the two countries and started firing against Rwandan border post.

Clearly there is increasing risk of the situation plunging the two countries into full blown inter-state war with dire consequences including the danger of sacking other countries from the region into regional conflagration. Not any less worrisome is misinformation, disinformation and propagation of ethnic based hate speech and incitement of violence continues to deepen inter-ethnic and intercommunal tension and heightened risks of mass atrocities.

The EAC Heads of State and Government met in Bujumbura in an extraordinary summit on 4 February 2023 to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the eastern DRC. The Presidents of DRC and Rwanda as well as other regional leaders attended the summit which called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign armed groups. The summit also instructed the EAC chiefs of defense forces to meet and set new timelines for the withdrawal of these forces.  The chiefs of defense forces met in Nairobi based on the EAC summit decision to assess the security situation in the eastern DRC and recommend a new course of action. As the M23 continues to advance and control more territories in North Kivu, however, public sentiment in the region is changing with protests against both the EAC regional force. The Congolese government is pushing the regional force to undertake offensive operations against the M23. Kenyatta has called on countries deploying their troops as part of the regional forces to take their positions urgently. In North Kivu, he called on the regional force to interpose itself between the warring parties in areas vacated by the M23.

Kenyatta has expressed his intentions to convene a fourth round of talks as part of the Nairobi process.  He also urged all the parties to implement the outcomes of the third round of talks to build the necessary confidence in the process and called for regional and international support to ensure the success of the next round of talks. Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye, current chair of the EAC, are also reportedly planning to convene a mini-summit on 17 February in Addis Ababa ahead of the PSC Summit, which will bring together Presidents Tshisekedi and Kagame as well as EAC leaders along with ICGLR to assess the implementation of the decisions made in in the context of the Nairobi and Luanda processes.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC meeting is expected to assess developments in the eastern DRC and express serious concerns about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the region. It may express support for the decision of the EAC extraordinary summit for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign armed groups. It may also reiterate support for the EAC regional force and its expedited deployment to carry out its mandate. The PSC may express concern about the increasing tensions between DRC and Rwanda and encourage the two countries to resolve differences through dialogue in the context of the ongoing regional initiatives. The PSC may express support to the EAC and ICGLR and commend the efforts of the Chairperson of ICGLR Angolan President Joao Lourenco and the EAC Chairperson Burundi’s President as well as the facilitator for the Nairobi process Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. It may emphasize the need for the scrupulous implementation of decisions taken within the framework of the Nairobi and Luanda processes to de-escalate the situation in the eastern DRC and ease tensions between DRC and Rwanda. The PSC may take the opportunity to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the PSCF and call on the convening of a summit level meeting on the reinvigorating of the various mechanisms of the PSCF and for countries of the region to reaffirm their commitments and the guarantors in this regard. It may also underscore the need to reinvigorate the mechanisms under the PSCF to address the prevailing peace and security challenges and build the necessary trust and confidence between and among countries of the region. The PSC may express concern on the widespread misinformation, disinformation, ethnic based hate speech and incitement of violence and the associated risks of mass atrocities in the region and may request the AU Commission to put in place a mechanism for addressing these grave threats. It may finally call on the relevant regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECS/RMs) to convene a joint summit for ensuring harmonization and coordinated action with a view to avoid any misunderstanding and divergence of policy actions among them.

AU summit: Family photo and participation

The 42nd Ordinary Session of the Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council started earlier today. In a matter of a few days, the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly will be on. In this new contribution to ‘Ideas Indaba’, Solomon Ayele Dersso shares his reflections on how Agenda 2063, the Africa We Want could and should change the Family Photo of the AU Assembly and the level and nature of participation in the AU summit in the way the AU norm banning military coups changed the Family Photo from the OAU times.

AU summit: Family photo and participation

Date | 15 February 2023

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

It is that time of the year when Addis Ababa plays host to the Heads of State and Government of African Union (AU) member States. Foreign Ministers making up the Executive Council of the AU are first to congregate in Addis Ababa on 15 and 16 February. They have kicked off their meeting earlier today with the opening session.

In a push to assert African agency, the Chairperson of the Executive Council, Senegal’s foreign Minister told participants during the opening session earlier today that Africa expects to ‘be heard, consulted and, most of all, respected in the choices it makes’.

The leaders of AU member states are set to descend on Addis Ababa on 17 February and hold the ordinary session of the Assembly of the AU on 18 and 19 February. The composition of the leaders of the continent which is reflected in the family photo they take after the opening session of the Assembly show that nearly all of them are men. It is only the presence of Tanzanian President restrains observers from concluding that the Assembly is an ‘only men’ club, as former Liberian President Ellon Johnson Sirleaf’s presence did previously.

I don’t know whether to say bless the Tanzanians or praise to God or perhaps both that made possible the ascent of Samia Suluhu Hassan to Tanzania’s presidency that now will shone bright light on the long road ahead to transform the AU Assembly from remaining a ‘men’s only’ club.

I have a dream that one day, hopefully in the time of my daughter’s generation, we will have a family picture of the leaders of the continent that is female dominated and reflective of the average age of people on the continent!

This is not to say that Africa has not made progress. I was at a dinner recently where I was reminded in a conversation about the OAU times and the progress made under the AU. Unlike the OAU times when it was not uncommon for some leaders to pitch at the summit wearing their military uniforms, today all of them smile in front of the camera wearing their suits, curtesy of AU norm banning coups and other unconstitutional changes of government. Indeed, even those who are military leaders who seized power militarily will show up wearing suit rather than their military uniform.

Of course, all five leaders except one who seized power by military coup during 2021/22 are barred from participating at this upcoming summit, they are ostracized for breaching AU’s norm banning coups and other unconstitutional changes of government (to which we should return some other time). This was completely unthinkable during OAU times.

Curious to know the one military strongman who is accorded a privileged treatment of attending the summit despite seizing power unconstitutionally? If you don’t know, are you sure that you are interested in African affairs?

In addition to the gender inclusivity of the AU Assembly, which is of course a function of the gender inclusivity or lack thereof of national politics, attendance in AU summit continues to be a topic of discussion. For example, this is first and foremost an issue for African civil society organizations, who would have liked to seize the occasion for championing specific issues of concern for the wider African public by having a slot for a representative of CSOs to make a statement at the opening session and have interactions with leaders on the corridors of the AU.

I hope that in the slow and challenging but steady progress to achieve agenda 2063, the Africa We Want, we will one day see a representative of African citizens bringing in the voice of African people to Mandela Hall during the opening of the Assembly session. And allow me to also dream that we will also make, as part of the journey to realize agenda 2063, the AU a union also of peoples of Africa and African decent not just that of states and governments!

Access to the AU during the summit is also a subject of discussion among AU partner countries. More so this year. The AU sent a note inviting partner countries to attend the opening session of the summit on the basis of 1+0 representation, signaling to partners not to bother with bringing to Addis Ababa high-level representatives from their capitals. While this means that partner countries would not be able to have interaction with as many leaders as they could around the summit, for the AU this ensures that it spares the leaders from attending the summit with divided attention. Yet, it remains an issue for which workable formula is yet to be found.

It is also curious if this 1+0 invitation has been extended to Israel whose AU observer status has been in dispute, triggering a heads of state and government taskforce for which there is so far no record of any convening since its establishment. In the meantime, the lobbying from Israel is in full swing in Addis Ababa. Come this weekend, we may know if there is any resolution to this dispute, although the AU should not have been put in this situation in the first place considering the many continental issues that it should invest its time and attention on.

The other issue of attendance concerns which of the African leaders will make their pilgrimage to Addis Ababa or delegate it to their minister. This summit is billed to be one that will attract the attendance of large number of African leaders. Even if this were to happen, barring any intervening factors, you should not hold your breath that we will have as many African leaders as those who attended the EU-AU, China-Africa, US-Africa etc summits.

I dearly wish that they all come for their summit, demonstrate their pan-African commitment to the AU and its ideals. And prove me wrong.

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’

A New Dawn for AU's Role in Humanitarian Action?

As we continue to profile some of the key items for the 36th AU summit, the latest from ‘Ideas Indaba’ focuses on engagements around humanitarian issues. While these engagements include submission of a report to the Assembly on the state of the humanitarian situation and a ministerial side event, today’s ‘Ideas Indaba’ features the AU Humanitarian Agency, whose Statute is expected to be adopted by the Assembly. This also offers analysis on why this matters.

A New Dawn for AU's Role in Humanitarian Action?

Date | 13 February 2023

Tsion Hagos
Researcher, Amani Africa

In the face of the dire humanitarian crises affecting parts of the continent induced mainly by violent conflicts and in some cases by extreme weather events, one of the highly anticipated events is the expected adoption by 36th African Union (AU) Summit of the Statute of the AU Humanitarian Agency (AHA). This will bring to a close the establishment of the AUHA that was in the making for a number of years. Other activities on humanitarian issues around the summit include the presentation of a report to the summit on the state of the humanitarian situation in Africa, which according to the report has gone worse, and the ministerial side-event on ‘Towards a new humanitarian agenda in Africa’  by Rwanda and Sierra Leone in partnership with Norway, OCHA and IFRC, with a focus on the AU 10 Year Humanitarian Plan of Action taking place on 16 February, ahead of the opening of the Executive Council Session.

While the establishment of an African mechanism charged with undertaking humanitarian activities officially formed part of AU’s agenda in 2016 at the 26th AU Summit, the need to mobilise African capacity to address growing humanitarian needs in the continent was already one of the concerning issues at the forefront of discussions among AU Heads of State and Government, in earlier years. For instance, the Executive Council’s decision in 2010 at its 17th Ordinary Session, to increase member States’ contributions to the Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) fund from 2% to 4% [EX.CL/ /Dec.556-599(XVII)] was in recognition of the growing deterioration of humanitarian crises Africa. Similarly, at its 14th Ordinary Session convened in the same year, the AU Assembly noted the need for an African body that can ensure coordination and harmonisation of humanitarian action in the continent [Assembly/AU/Dec.268 – 288 (XIV)].

Experiences in recent years, including the worrying deterioration of the humanitarian situation on the continent, have made it clear that Africa ill affords to deal with the humanitarian situation in a business-as-usual fashion. In an initiative that seeks to shift Africa’s place from being a mere object of global humanitarian action to being an actor in responding to the plight of Africans caught up in humanitarian crises,  in 2016, at its 26th Ordinary Session, the AU Assembly decided to ‘establish an African Humanitarian Agency which should be anchored on regional and national mechanisms and funded with Africa’s own resources’ and requested the AU Commission to ‘embark on the process for the establishment of such an architecture anchored on principles of pan-Africanism and African shared values’ [Assembly/AU/Dec.588-604(XXVI)].

The process for translating this ambition into reality through establishing the AUHA has since been underway. A critical milestone achieved in this regard has been the development of the Draft Statutes of the AUHA articulating the objectives, mandates, functions, operational modalities and overall structure of the agency. After a few years of work and rounds of revisions, the final consideration of the Statute before submission to the Assembly for adoption was during the 8th ordinary session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs of the AU held on 11 December 2022. While the meeting adopted the Statute, a major proposed change concerned the naming of the entity. The proposal was to change ‘Agency’ to ‘Institution’. In the text of the Statute for presentation to the Executive Council before its consideration for adoption by the Assembly, this change is not reflected.

The rationale for establishing a humanitarian agency of the Union has in fact been an important aspect of the discussions around operationalisation of the AUHA. As emphasised in a 2019 study conducted on the operationalisation of the agency, one critical factor which justifies the need for the establishment of the AUHA is the coordination void faced in the existing humanitarian response framework. For instance, while the AU has already instituted various structures such as the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) that can and are playing major role to respond to natural disaster and crises, there is absence of clear modalities for coordination between these mechanisms.

Similarly, implementation of normative standards on humanitarian issues including the OAU Refugee Convention, the Kampala Convention and the AU Humanitarian Policy Framework can benefit from a more organised and coordinated approach in order to be more impactful. The need to respond to humanitarian disasters in a coordinated manner also becomes more apparent as the nature of crises in the continent growingly turns to be more complex and compounded, adding impetus to the operationalisation of the AUHA. In addition to advancing coordination of existing mechanisms and normative standards, the agency is also expected to allow a well synchronised humanitarian response at the national, regional and continental levels through harmonisation of efforts between member States, Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and the AU.

Further to playing a critical role in ensuring coordination, the AUHA would also contribute considerably towards supporting the global humanitarian system which is often regarded as being ‘over-stretched’. Not only that, but having an agency which is founded upon continental policy and legal frameworks and which is ‘anchored on principles of pan-Africanism, solidarity and African shared values’ is also crucial to boost sense of ownership and commitment among African stakeholders. The war in Ukraine which broke out in February 2022 showed how humanitarian operations in Africa can easily suffer due to shifting of aid budget among major contributing countries.

In addition to filling in these gaps, the AUHA can also be deployed towards approaching humanitarian assistance in a manner that is both preventive and responsive. For the most part, humanitarian efforts in the continent are deployed in reaction to full-scale disasters and suffering, most of which could, at the very least, be minimised, if not averted, if timely and effective early warning and preventive action is taken. This applies in cases of both manmade and natural disasters and further to minimising the human cost, environmental damage and collapse of economies, a proactive preventive approach based on effective early warning system is also less costly than responding to an already aggravated humanitarian crisis.

It is against this background that a significant preventive role is assigned to the AUHA in the Statute for instance be the development and implementation of anticipatory tools for crisis preparedness and early action. Indeed, the first of the objectives of AUHA is to ‘prevent humanitarian crises through early warning for timely response to situations that may result in humanitarian crises’. In terms of armed conflicts which continue to cause the greatest humanitarian crises on the continent, the agency, in close coordination with the continental early warning system (CEWS), could for example take on the role of actively anticipating hotspots expected to experience highest loss of human life and damage to property in countries that show clear signs of looming full-blown conflicts. In case of climate change and natural disasters too, the agency can undertake a similar preparedness and early action role in collaboration with pre-existing mechanisms.

Another area of major value addition of the agency could be in advancing humanitarian diplomacy. As we have argued in our policy brief on the AU humanitarian summit in May 2022, one of the gaps in responding to conflicts relates to the use of humanitarian diplomacy as part of the tool box for responding to conflicts in Africa. The leadership of AUHA on humanitarian diplomacy would fill in a major gap and can contribute hugely to mitigating suffering by facilitating early negotiations with conflicting parties on unhindered humanitarian access, full observation and compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights principles.

While its importance therefore remains beyond doubt, the effective operation and functioning of the AUHA is more than likely to face considerable challenges when it comes to securing sustainable and sufficient funds. As specified in the Draft Statutes and in accord with the central objective of creating an African owned humanitarian agency, the AUHA’s budget is to be borne by the AU. This means the agency’s main source of financing comes from member States’ contributions. While emphasizing contribution from member states, the Draft Statutes already acknowledge the need for securing funding from outside sources, through voluntary contributions from member States, private sector contributions and contributions from AU partners. Also worth considering is as further resourceful African base to explore for funding the agency could be the African diaspora community.

No doubt it is better to resolve the main source of humanitarian crises on the continent than invest in deploying humanitarian action. Yet, while working on such long-term structural solutions such as the effective operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is the thematic focus of the AU for 2023, the establishment of this agency is a demonstration of responsibility by the AU. With the AU in its report to this upcoming summit indicating that Africa alone accounts for 11.6 million newly Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the world triggered by conflict and violence- the highest figure ever recorded, the need for this agency, if anything, is long overdue. One hopes that it will prove its value.

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’