The PSC during April 2020

2020 Program of Work

Date | 03 April, 2020

Kenya takes over from Equatorial Guinea the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of April. Although a draft provisional program of work of the PSC for April was being finalized, it has become impossible to proceed with the draft program of work that was being finalized due to the decision to freeze the holding of physical meetings until the end of April in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID19).

The term of office of the ten members of the PSC serving for two years term since 2018 has come to an end on 31 March 2020. Below is the list of these outgoing members of the PSC from which Djibouti will remain in the PSC as a member of the PSC re-elected during the February 2020 AU Summit.

Table 1 PSC members whose two-year term ended on 31 March 2020

Region States whose term ends in 2020
Central Africa Equatorial Guinea and Gabon
Eastern Africa Djibouti and Rwanda
Northern Africa Morocco
Southern Africa Angola and Zimbabwe
Western Africa Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo

The ten newly elected and returning members of the PSC have assumed their role as members of the PSC as of 1 April 2020. See below in table 2 the list of the members of the PSC starting their two-year term from 1 April.

Table 2 PSC members whose two-year term starts on 1 April

Region States whose term ends in April 2020
Central Africa Cameroon and Chad
Eastern Africa Djibouti and Ethiopia
Northern Africa Egypt
Southern Africa Malawi and Mozambique
Western Africa Benin, Ghana and Senegal

Due to the disruption of PSC activities because of COVID19, the reintroduction of the new members to the work of the PSC as observers during March 2020 and through the convening of an induction retreat scheduled to take place in Maputo has not been possible. Apart from getting introduced to the work of the PSC and its working methods electronically and in the course of participating in the activities of the PSC, the new members will also have to adjust to the improvisation required in the method of work of the PSC during the period which the PSC could not hold meetings physically.

The ordinary conduct of PSC’s work through the regular convening of meetings physically will not take place as envisaged in Article 8 of the PSC Protocol and the 2004 Rules of Procedure of the PSC (PSC Rules). It is however expected that the PSC will continue to conduct essential functions on account of the continuous nature of its mandate pursuant to Articles 2 and 8 of the PSC Protocol. Notwithstanding the provisions of the PSC Protocol and the PSC Rules on the conduct of business of the PSC under normal circumstances via physical meetings, these instruments and the Working Methods do not prohibit the PSC from conducting its business through working modalities other than meeting physically.

Accordingly, although much of the activities envisaged in the draft program of work of the PSC that was under finalization before the interruption by the COVID19 pandemic including the annual session on genocide and hate crimes could no longer be undertaken, the PSC is improvising to avoid the total freezing of its work including by focusing on essential works. Pursuant to the Manual on the PSC Working Methods, there is a list of mandatory/statutory meetings, which are reflected in the Annual Indicative Work Plan that the PSC is required to conduct. These include what are known as technical rollovers, which are related to the renewal of mandates of PSC mandated or PSC authorized missions.

The PSC is required to renew the mandate of such missions to ensure that they continue to function and that they have the legal basis for continuing to operate. During April, the PSC is expected to renew the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Taskforce, which was extended in 2019 until 11 April 2020.

The PSC will also continue to monitor the peace and security landscape on the continent to respond to new or emerging situations. It is to be recalled that the PSC during its last meeting on COVID-19, the 915th session, has requested to be briefed regularly on the fight against COVID-19. In the light of the concerns around the dire socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges arising from the
measures that countries are adopting, how the pandemic affects countries/regions experiencing conflict and risks of social tensions are issues deserving of PSC’s attention as a follow up to its 915th session.

It is expected that for purposes of these activities the PSC will resort to existing electronic medium of communication by adapting and building on the provisions in the Manual on the PSC Working Methods on silence procedure.


PSC Provisional Program of Work for April under new meeting formats

2020 Program of Work

Date | 07 March, 2020

One of the consequences of the novel coronavirus (COVID19) on the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council has been the freezing by the PSC its meetings in person. As a standing decision-making body on matters of peace and security in Africa, the inability of the PSC to convene meetings in person presented a major challenge for the continuity of its work. During March, the PSC was forced to suspend its activities and hence was unable to implement its program of work for the month as initially planned.

To prevent the emergence of a void in peace and security decision-making and enable the PSC to carry out its essential functions during this period, the PSC sought to find interim methods of conducting its business. Two interim working arrangements have been agreed in lieu of its usual meetings in person (Amani Africa will publish a special research report on this). Following the assumption by Kenya of the chairpersonship of the PSC for April, a program of work of the PSC for the month (whose overview is discussed below) was finalized. To carry out the monthly program of work, the PSC will be utilizing two mechanisms for meeting remotely and exchanging electronically on the agenda of a particular session.

The provisional program of work finalized via electronic communications involves some five substantive sessions including briefings on the current COVID19 outbreak and its impact on peace and security in Africa. On 9 April, the PSC will consider two agenda items. First it will receive an update on the situation in South Sudan. It is to be recalled that the PSC has conducted a field mission to South Sudan in February 2020 and considered the report of the field mission in March. Following the session on South Sudan, the PSC will then receive a ‘briefing on the humanitarian situation in the countries affected by the desert locust menace in Africa’. The briefings are expected to be circulated to all PSC Members through emails and the expected outcome will be circulated through the silence procedure as per the PSC Manual on Working Methods.

On 14 April the PSC will receive a briefing by Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) on the implications of COVID19 on peace and security in Africa. While much of the continental response including the two AU Assembly Bureau teleconference meetings has been on the public health and the socio-economic impact of COVDI19, this session provides a muchneeded focus on the peace and security impact of COVID19.

This session is expected to take place using a virtual communication platform with members of the PSC joining to discuss the agenda of the session remotely. On 16 April the PSC will consider and adopt the provisional program of work for the month of May. The draft agenda will be circulated with all members for comments.

On 21 April the PSC will hold a discussion on the implementation of the decisions relating to peace and security adopted by the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU. This may include follow up on key decisions taken on the Sahel region and Libya. It is envisaged that the Matrix of the Summit Decisions will be circulated to all PSC Members by 15 April 2020. The most notable aspect of this session is expected to be the initiative for deploying 3000 AU troops to the Sahel region in support of the efforts of the countries of the Sahel.

Similar to the 14 April session, this one is expected to take place through virtual meeting which will allow PSC Members to join the session online. On 23 April the African common position paper on financing AU peace support operations will be shared to all PSC Members for comments.

On 28 April the PSC will have a briefing session on IDPs, refugees and returnees in the context of COVID19 pandemic. Similar to the previous COVID19 briefing, this meeting is also expected to take place virtually. In addition to these agenda items, the provisional program of work indicates in footnotes a PSC session to consider the renewal of the mandate of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which will expire on 12 April.

Although the date of the meeting is not specified, this meeting is expected to be conducted through email communication ahead of the expiry of the current timeline for the mandate of G5 Sahel Joint Force. The last agenda item of the month is taking place on 30 April, which is the PSC briefing to the PRC. For this purpose, summary of the compilation of activities of the PSC for April 2020 will be sent to all AU member states. With the introduction of the new working arrangement, the PSC has ensured the continuity of its work. This could be important during this period not only for the PSC to deal with key existing peace and security issues but also to address emerging peace and security issues including those arising from COVID19 and elections.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of May 2020

2020 Program of Work

Date | 30 April, 2020

Lesotho assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of May. The provisional program of work, involves some seven substantive sessions including five on COVID19 related agenda items.

On 6 May the PSC is expected to receive a virtual briefing by Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on the spread, control and implications of COVID-19 in Africa. This is the third VCT briefing on COVID-19 since the PSC adopted its new working methods. On 7 May, the PSC will hold a briefing on the situation in Somalia and consider the renewal of the mandate of the AMISOM, which expires on 27 May. The briefing will be circulated to all PSC Members through email and PSC Member States will send their inputs to the PSC Secretariat for the draft communiqué. The draft communiqué will then be circulated through silence procedure for its adoption in line with the Manual on PSC Working Methods.

On 12 May, the PSC will hold a session on the impact of COVID-19 on the security and welfare of children in Africa. This is in lieu of the annual thematic agenda on children affected by armed conflict, which normally takes place in an open session. For the purpose of this meeting however the PSC is expected to receive a virtual briefing from various presenters without an open session.

The next session is slated for 14 May when the PSC will consider and adopt its provisional programme of work for the month of June 2020. The Draft Provisional Programme of Work will be circulated to all PSC Member States, through emails, for their comments. This will also be held via email communications.

The PSC will receive a follow up briefing on the progress in controlling COVID-19 and its impact in Africa on 20 May. This meeting is expected to take place virtually and PSC Members will connect online.

The fifth substantive session of the month is scheduled for 22 May. This will be a briefing on the impact of COVID-19 on Living together in Peace. The first time the PSC considered Living together in Peace was in November 2019. At that time the format of the meeting was an open session. However, the briefing to this meeting will be circulated to all PSC Members through emails and PSC Member States will send their elements to the PSC Secretariat for the draft communiqué. The draft communiqué will then be circulated through silence procedure.

The third update of the month on the impact of COVID19 will take place on 27 May, but will focus on the impact on peace and security in Africa and is a follow up to the 918 session of the PSC. The PSC is expected to receive a virtual briefing. On 29 May, the PSC will hold its second country specific meeting of the month focusing on the situation in Darfur and the activities of UNAMID. The last time the PSC
considered this agenda item was in March 2020.

The last agenda item of the month is the briefing to the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) on activities of the PSC during the month of May 2020. The compilation of activities of the PSC for May 2020, with a summary, will be sent to all AU member states.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of July

2020 Program of Work

Date | 06 July, 2020

Burundi assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of July. The provisional program of work, involves some six substantive sessions including three focusing on country specific situations.

The first session of the month is expected to take place on 7 July. On this day the PSC is scheduled to receive a briefing on elections in Africa in the context of the COVID19 pandemic. The Department of Political Affairs is scheduled to provide an overall update on current developments in countries that have recently concluded elections, those that are preparing to undertake elections and those that have decided to postpone elections. The meeting is expected to take place through video teleconference (VTC).

This session affords the PSC an important opportunity to provide guidance to member states on how to manage elections in the context of COVID19. This is important in order to ensure that the holding of elections under restricted conditions or postponement of elections due to COVID19 measures would not lead to electoral disputes and instability.

On 10 July the PSC will consider the situation in the Central African Republic. The PSC is expected to assess the implementation of the peace agreement signed last year particularly in relation to the ongoing fighting and COVID19 pandemic and the overall humanitarian situation in the country. This meeting is also expected to be held via VTC.

On 14 July the PSC will receive a briefing on the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the context of the COVID19 pandemic and implications for healthcare and humanitarian workers. The PSC is expected to receive update on the new Ebola outbreak declared on 1 June 2020 as well as the compounded effects of COVID19 on the health sector and humanitarian action. The session is expected to take place through VTC.

The consideration and adoption of the provisional program for the month of August is scheduled for 16 July. The draft program is expected to be circulated to all PSC member states through email and members will share their inputs.

On 21 July, the PSC is scheduled to consider the third country specific session. During this session, the PSC will receive an update on the status of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Crisis in South Sudan. It is to be recalled that the PSC held its last session on South Sudan on 9 April 2020. This session is expected to review developments since the last session. This session is also scheduled to take place through (VTC).

On 24 July, the PSC will have a preparatory meeting on two agenda items. The first one is the annual joint consultative meeting with the UN Security Council (UNSC). Due to the disruptions that COVID19 has caused, it is not anticipated that the two Councils will hold meetings physically. It also does not seem possible that the Committee of Experts would travel to New York for the annual meeting with UNSC political coordinators and negotiating the draft joint communiqué.

The second meeting for the day is the discussion between the PSC and A3 on the preparation of the upcoming presidencies of the A3 in the UNSC. The meeting is expected to take place through VTC.

On 28 July the PSC will receive an update on of operationalization of the African Standby Force in the context of Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PSC may also take in consideration the existing guideline on the role of the ASF in Humanitarian action and Natural Disaster Support (HANDS). The session is scheduled to take place through VTC.

The last session of the month is scheduled for 31 July. On this day, the PSC will receive a briefing from the PSC Military Staff Committee on the ‘revised concept note on the guidelines for the deployment of 3000 AU troops in the Sahel’, which is prepared based on the Strategic Concept Note prepared as a follow up to the decision the AU Assembly adopted during the February 2020 AU summit. It is to be recalled that AU Commissioner for Peace and Security presented a draft Strategic Concept Note to the PSC in April. This meeting is also expected to take place through VTC.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of June 2020

2020 Program of Work

Date | 30 May, 2020

Algeria assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of June. The provisional program of work, involves some six substantive sessions including two on country specific situations.

On 2 June the PSC is scheduled to hold a virtual session on cessation of hostilities and humanitarian truce in Africa within the framework of COVID19 and Silencing the Guns. The session is also in line with the global call for ceasefire, which was further reiterated by the AU as well. On 9 June the PSC will consider the situation in Sudan. The last time the PSC considered Sudan was at its 906 session on 30 January 2020. The briefing will offer an opportunity to deliberate on the latest developments in the political transition also in relation to the impact of COVID19 and importantly the lifting of the sanctions on Sudan.

The consideration and adoption of the provisional program for the month of July will take place on 11 June. The draft provisional programme of work will be circulated to all PSC member states through email for inputs and comments.

On 16 June the second country specific briefing is scheduled and will focus on the situation in Guinea Bissau. After a disputed electoral process and outcome, President Umaro Cissoko Embalo was sworn in as the new president of Guinea Bissau. The PSC is expected to consider the post-election developments in the country since the last briefing it received on Guinea Bissau in January 2020. On 18 June the PSC will receive a briefing on the follow up of the implementation of the AU Border Strategy. The briefing will be circulated to PSC members through email and members will send their elements for the draft communiqué. The draft communiqué will be circulated and adopted through silence procedure.

On 23 June the PSC will receive a briefing on youth, peace and security. The meeting is expected to take place virtually and the AU Youth Envoy is expected to brief the Council. The last session of the month will be on the socioeconomic impact of COVID19 on peace and security in Africa and will take place on 30 June. The session is expected to be a virtual meeting. There is growing concern that the socio-economic fallouts of COVID19 will have much more devastating consequences on the continent than the public health impact of COVID19 itself. To avert or limit the negative impacts of these fallouts on peace and security, it is worthwhile for the PSC to engage early for activating preventative measures proactively.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of March

2020 Program of Work

Date | 01 March, 2020

Equatorial Guinea assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of March. The provisional program of work, involves some six substantive sessions. These include an open session and a ministerial level meeting.
The first meeting of the month scheduled for 3 March is a briefing on the situation in Darfur and the UNAMID transition. It is to be recalled that the PSC, at its 856th session, has renewed the mandate of the mission until June 2020, which is also the planned exit period of UNAMID from Darfur.
On 5 March the PSC will receive a briefing by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) on the report of peer reviewed member states. This is the second time that the APRM addresses the PSC. It is a session that could serve as avenue for following up some of the early warning issues identified in the report of peer reviewed member states. On the same day, the Council will also have a preparatory session on the ministerial meeting planned at the end of the month in Malabo.
The schedule on the program of work for 10 March the PSC provides for two items. The first is consideration and adoption the provisional program of work for the month of April. The Council with continue its preparatory session for the ministerial meeting.
On 12 March, the PSC is expected to hold the only open session of the month. The session is expected to focus on the implementation of the Safe School Declaration in the promotion of education for children affected by armed conflicts in Africa, within the AU theme of the year silencing the guns.
On 17 March the PSC will receive a briefing on elections in Africa. The PSC may receive updates on upcoming and recently conducted elections. In 2020 close to 20 countries are preparing to hold elections including Somalia, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi and Guinea. On the same day the PSC will also undertake preparation for the PSC induction program of its new members.
The induction of the new members is scheduled to take place on 20 and 21 March. The program will include sessions on working methods and on activities of the PSC in implementing the AU theme of the year “ Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. The newly elected members will start participating as observers in the various sessions of the PSC starting from the third week of March. They take up their seat as full members of the PSC on 1 April.
On 24 March the Council will consider three agenda items. The first is the situation in Guinea Bissau. The PSC may be briefed on the developments following the recently concluded presidential election and its outcome. The second agenda item is the preparation for the ministerial meeting. And lastly, the PSC will prepare for its activities with the EU Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) including the AUPSC/EUPSC joint field mission (whose dates and location are yet to be confirmed), the 12th annual joint meeting and the 5th joint retreat.

The PSC will conclude the month with the ministerial meeting on “The role of Youth and Women in Silencing the Guns in Africa” in Malabo on 31 March. A technical level meeting will precede the ministerial meeting on 30 March. The meeting is also in line with the standing annual PSC thematic on women, peace and security which usually takes place in March.
In addition to these agenda items, the provisional program of work indicates in footnotes possible meetings of the Military Staff Committee and Committee of Experts for which the dates are yet to be set.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of February 2020

2020 Program of Work

Date | 02 February, 2020

Djibouti assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of February. The provisional program of work, prepared under Mohamed Idriss Farah, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the AU, involves some three substantive sessions. These include a meeting at the Heads of State and Government level and another one at ministerial level. Additionally, the PSC will also undertake a field mission.

On 8 February, the PSC is scheduled to hold its first meeting at a summit level focusing on two situations: the situation in Libya and the one in the Sahel. Despite the flurry of non-African peace efforts including the declaration signed during the Berlin Conference, the deterioration of the situation in Libya continues unabated. The focus on Libya follows the meeting of the AU High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, held in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo on 30 January. The dire consequences of the spike in the frequency and geographic spread of terrorist attacks and intercommunal violence in the Sahel has similarly become gravely concerning, requiring summit level engagement.

On 9-10 February the 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly will take place. The PSC is expected to submit to the Assembly its report on its activities and the state of peace and security pursuant to Article 7 of the PSC Protocol.

On 13 February the PSC is expected to consider three agenda items. First, the Council is expected to receive a briefing on the future of AMISOM and upcoming elections in Somalia. This PSC session is also taking ahead of the withdrawal of additional troops planned during the month as part of the drawdown of AMISOM.

In the second part of the session the PSC will discuss the preparation of its field mission to South Sudan and Sudan. Lastly, the PSC is expected to consider and adopt the PSC provisional programme of work for the month of March 2020.

From 16-20, the PSC will undertake a field mission to Sudan and South Sudan. In October, at its 889th session the PSC decided to undertake a field mission to Sudan and Darfur in early 2020 as part of the overall efforts aimed at contributing towards the promotion of peace in the country. The field mission to Sudan follows the meeting that the PSC held on Sudan on 30 January focusing on addressing the challenges facing the transition in Sudan, including its continued listing in the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

The visit to South Sudan comes as a follow up to its 894th session decision in November to undertake a field visit to South Sudan in February 2020 before the expiration of the 100 days extension of the pre- transitional period.

On 24 February the PSC will undertake a preparatory meeting for the ministerial meeting in Djibouti.

On 26 February, the PSC ministerial meeting is expected to address two agenda items. The first is on the challenges relating to the Horn of Africa and Red Sea. It is to be recalled that the PSC held a meeting on the situation in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea in November 2018 at ambassadorial level. The ministerial session will build on the previous meeting.

The second agenda item will be a briefing on maritime security in Africa. This will take place in relation to the Lomé Charter adopted in October 2016 at the Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa in Togo and based on previous PSC sessions on the topic.
In addition to these agenda items, the provisional program of work indicates in footnotes possible meetings of the Military Staff Committee and Committee of Experts for which the dates are yet to be set.


Provisional program of work for the month of January 2020

2020 Program of Work

Date | 06 January, 2020

Burundi assumes the role of the monthly chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of January. The provisional program of work includes some five substantive sessions, including four country and region specific sessions and a high level seminar on peace and security in Africa. The committee of experts is also expected to meet regularly to consider the draft report on the Activities of the PSC and the State of Peace and Security in Africa and the draft report on the Implementation of the AU Master Roadmap on Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020.

The PSC will hold the first session of 2020 on 9 January to consider and adopt the draft provisional programme of work of the PSC for February 2020 and to continue its preparation for the annual High Level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa taking place in Gabon, during the same month.

The following day, on 10 January the PSC will receive a briefing on the security situation in the Great Lakes Region. This is an agenda included in the program on the initiative of the Chairperson of the Month. On the same day the committee of experts will hold a preparatory session to consider the draft report on the Activities of the PSC and the State of Peace and Security in Africa and the draft report on the Implementation of the AU Master Roadmap on Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020.

From 13‐15 January the PSC will hold its annual High Level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa with the A3 (African members in the UNSC) in Libreville, Gabon. In the light of the difficulties faced in coordination between the PSC and the A3 and the differences that emerged on the draft resolution on the financing of peace and security in Africa from UN assessed contributions, this seminar presents an opportunity for reviewing current approaches to coordination and share perspectives for achieving shared position on how to proceed with respect to the draft resolution.

On 17 January, the Committee of Experts will resume its preparatory work on the two draft reports that will be presented to the Assembly in February 2020. The Committee will also consider the draft indicative annual programme of activities of the PSC for the year 2020.

On 20 January, the PSC is scheduled to consider two agenda items. The first is the situation in South Sudan. The last time the PSC received a briefing on South Sudan was in November 2019 during the extension of the pre‐ transitional period to 100 days. This session presents the PSC an opportunity to assess what progress, if any, the parties made to finalize the pre‐transitional period tasks and consider next steps.

The second agenda item is the briefing on the situation in Guinea Bissau. The PSC received a briefing on the situation few days prior to the 24 November presidential election in the country. The country went for a run‐off election on 29 December, whose outcome is under contestation.

The committee of experts, which considers the draft reports to be submitted to the Assembly, is expected to finalize its consideration of the two reports during its meeting on 23 January.
On 28 January, the PSC is scheduled to consider the two reports and the draft indicative annual program of activities for 2020 for review and adoption.

On 30 January the PSC will have the last session of the month on the situation in Sudan. The PSC did not convene a session on Sudan since the lifting of the suspension. For the session planned for January, the PSC may invite international partners to deliberate on the process of supporting the country’s transition.

After the PSC adopted the January provisional program of work of the PSC last month, provision has been made for including an item on an interaction with the ICRC.

In addition to these agenda items the provisional program of work indicates in in footnotes possible meetings of the Military Staff Committee for which the dates are yet to be set.