Annual consultative meeting between the PSC and ACHPR

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 10 August, 2021

Tomorrow (10 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its annual consultative meeting with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) (Banjul Commission). The session will be the third consultative meeting between the PSC and the ACHPR since the inaugural meeting convened in August 2019. The session is envisioned to be held via video teleconference.

Following the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a remark. It is expected that the Chairperson of the ACHPR and the Focal Point of the ACHPR on Human Rights in Conflict Situations will deliver a presentation.

The consultative meeting is established within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. The inaugural consultative meeting held during the 866th session of the PSC articulated the modalities and tools for the operationalization of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. The second consultative meeting was held in October 2020 during PSC’s 953rd meeting taking the outcome of the first consultative meeting forward. The consultative meeting presents an opportunity for taking stock of the follow up to the outcomes of the two previous consultative meetings.

Tomorrow’s session coming at the time of the merger of Political Affairs and Peace and Security under PAPS can serve as an occasion for achieving the ambition set in the 953rd session of the PSC, namely the mainstreaming of human rights into all aspects of the conflict prevention, management, resolutions and post-conflict reconstruction. More specifically the PSC may recall its previous request to the AUC and ACHPR secretariat to develop a ‘modality for the establishment of a coordinated early warning mechanism on human rights related issues’ in Africa between the two bodies.

The consultation is also expected to provide an update on human rights in conflict situations and the work undertaken by the ACHPR since the last consultative meeting in 2020. The presentation may highlight major trends in the protection of human rights in conflict situations. In this context, a resolution that may be of interest to the PSC is the Commission’s 467th resolution on the needs for ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa based on human and peoples’ rights’ adopted at its 67th session. With regards to the resolution the Commission may further highlight its request to the PSC on the development of ‘a comprehensive continental legal and institutional framework…to address the scourge of illicit arms and weapons in Africa’. The resolution further requested the ACHPR focal point on human rights in conflict situations to support relevant AU bodies in developing such instrument. Hence the ACHPR representative may provide an update on this activity. The session offers an opportunity for Council members to reflect on mechanisms to initiate the process and seek advice from the focal point as well.

With regards to illicit arms, the PSC may make reference to its 860th session and the study endorsed during the session, which presented a continental mapping on illicit arms flows. The study may be an input to the proposed legal and institutional instrument on curbing the flow of illicit arms and weapons. The legal instrument may complement existing policies and guidelines in providing effective measures to prevent illicit flow and the diversion of stockpile to unauthorized non-state actors.

The ACHPR representative may also highlight resolutions on human right violations in specific emerging conflict situations released by the Commission during its 67th and 68th ordinary sessions as well as 32nd extraordinary session, which may be of particular interest to the members of the Council.

The other aspect of the update may also include the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the protection of human rights. Similarly, the adverse socio-economic impact of COVID19 has exacerbated vulnerabilities and widened disparities within societies as well as globally. Hence beyond managing the public health threat it will also be important to address such inequalities so as they do not pose threats to security and stability. Moreover, efforts should be accompanied by ensuring equitable access of vaccines by African countries with a particular focus on the inclusion and protection of vulnerable groups.

It would be of interest to members of the PSC to receive an update on the implementation of AU Transitional Justice Policy adopted in February 2019. The briefing from the department of PAPS may address this particular process. Given that the consultative meeting is the first one after the official launch of the PAPS department, it offers an opportunity to also highlight the synergy between APSA and AGA in protecting and promoting human rights in conflict situations. The institutional harmonization that brings more coordination between the two architectures will be an added value in providing a comprehensive briefing on transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations.

One major issue worth addressing during tomorrow’s session is the effective and practical operationalization of the modalities of close working relationship articulated in the communiqués of the 866th and 953rd sessions of the PSC. This requires engagements in between the annual consultative meetings including finding ways of using the input of the ACHPR for addressing the human rights dimensions of the situations on the agenda of the PSC and of integrating human rights in the peace and security work of the AU generally.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the human rights update from the ACHPR and the continued cooperation with the Commission through the annual consultative meeting within the framework of Article 19. Beyond this the PSC may further call for the modalities to operationalize Article 19 to be put in place including more regular exchanges between the two organs around early warning, the establishment of a thematic agenda on human rights and peace and security as well as undertaking joint field visits. The PSC may also welcome resolution 467 and the Commission’s decision to develop a general comment on Article 23 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to advance the right to peace and security. The PSC may call on the focal point on human rights in conflict situations to brief the Council on the development of the general comment. The PSC may also welcome the Commission’s request for the development of a legal and institutional framework to illicit arms and weapons. It may reiterate its previous call to the AUC to include human rights standards and principles in its conflict prevention, management and post-conflict reconstruction programs. It may urge Member States to strengthen their support to the Commission in delivering on its mandate. It may also express its wish for the subsequent consultative meeting.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Briefing by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 05 November, 2020

Tomorrow (5 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a virtual briefing by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The Chairperson of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, Fatma Zohra Karadja is expected to deliver the briefing. The briefing is expected to focus on the country review report of Mozambique. The representative of Mozambique may also make a statement.

The APRM has briefed the PSC for the first time on 19 December 2018 at the 819th PSC session. The second briefing by APRM was conducted on 5 March 2020 during PSC’s 914th session. Tomorrow’s briefing is taking place in line with PSC’s 914th session that decided to institutionalize the Council’s engagement with APRM by receiving briefings from the latter twice a year. It further requested the Commission, to organise a joint retreat to thoroughly review the various country reports undertaken in the past two years including the report of Mozambique. Hence tomorrow’s briefing will present the key findings of the country review of Mozambique. The country review report was peer reviewed by the APR Forum of Heads of State in February 2019 and the government of Mozambique has launched the Report in May 2020.

The country report which is anchored in the National Program of Action (NPOA) will shed light on the progress made on all the four pillars including: Democracy and Political Governance; Economic Governance and Management; Corporate Governance; and Socioeconomic Development. It would be of particular interest for PSC members to examine the developments under the first pillar on democracy and political governance. In this regard the report is expected to present the developments around normative frameworks that are aimed at expanding the political space.

On the other hand, despite such progress it may also touch upon the growing dissatisfaction in the Northern part of the country as well as the concerning trend of terrorism in the coastal province of Capo Delgado. It is to be recalled that the 929th session of the PSC, which welcomed ‘the outcomes of the Troika Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation held situation in Mozambique, which are aimed at finding a in 19 May, 2020 in Harare, Zimbabwe, on the security lasting solution to the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism’, affirmed the readiness of the PSC to support SADC in its efforts to combat terrorism in the region’. Tomorrow’s session also presents an opportunity for the PSC to follow up on this and explore how best the AU can contribute to address the situation in Cabo Delgado, which has led to loss of lives, displacement and destruction.

Another key issues that is expected to be included in the briefing is the political development that transpired in the previous year and the work undertaken around national dialogue and the peace agreement between the Mozambican government and former rebel group RENAMO for which the AUC Chair was one of the guarantors of the agreement. This process was shortly followed by the national election. These developments and their implications in sustaining peace in Mozambique are key elements, which may be of interest for PSC members.

The policy measures and efforts under the other pillars including alleviation of poverty and reduction of inequality are also essential components to further consolidate the political cohesion in the country. In this respect, one area of policy interest for the PSC, which is linked to instability and conflict, is natural resource governance. Due to issues relating to weak financial management of revenues from extraction of resources, here are concerns that Mozambique faces the risk of the phenomenon of resource curse. It is also worth noting that there is vast proven gas reserves in the Rovuma basin off shore the Cabo Delgado province, the region affected by the operation of terrorist groups.

Policies and measures designed for social protection of certain groups including children, women and internally displaced persons are also expected to feature in the briefing. In addition to the four thematic areas, the country review further identifies crosscutting issues, which require particular attention including corruption, youth employment, environment and climate change. It is to be recalled that when cyclone Idie hit the east and south eastern cost of Africa, Mozambique was one of the countries that was hit hard by the destruction that the cyclone caused.

The report is also expected to provide insights on the process of the review including the consultations that were held during the visit of APRM’s Country Review Mission in the country 10 to 26 November 2018. A range of consultations was held with various groups including government representatives, CSOs, the President and the leaders of the two major political parties FRELIMO and RENAMO.

The second aspect of tomorrow’s briefing is expected to focus on the APRM’s ongoing initiatives being undertaken to respond to the global pandemic of Covid-19, in partnership with the AUC including the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). In this regard the briefing may discuss the recently launched Preliminary Report on Africa’s Governance Response to COVID-19. The report captures the continent’s early response and policies that have been adopted to fight the pandemic. The report also includes an assessment of the legal and institutional capacities of member states in disease prevention and containment measures including in relation to vaccine research and development as well as the ability to prepare and manage disasters. The report further presents recommendations targeted at member states and the AU. Particularly for member states it underlines the need for the protection of human rights while responding to the pandemic.

Indeed, since the last APRM briefing, the continent has witnessed significant governance issues connected with measures adopted in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Tomorrow’s briefing may therefore shade some light on the COVID-19 related socio-economic and political crisis encountered by member states, particularly in relation with elections and protection of human rights, and elaborate opportunities within the framework of APSA-APRM collaboration, for resolving such challenges before they escalate into conflict or crisis situations.

In light of the compounded impact of political instability, economic crises, natural disasters and pandemics experienced in some parts of the continent region, tomorrow’s briefing may also set the stage for further reflection on the proper utilisation of AU institutions like the APRM and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) as well as appropriate pillars of APSA, in collaboration with modalities set up by relevant RECs/RMs to carry out early response to avert the impending crisis.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s deliberation is a communiqué. The PSC may commend Mozambique for preparing the country progress report and for the efforts it has demonstrated in the various thematic areas. The PSC may call on building on the gains made in enhancing peace in the Mozambique and may in this respect underscore the imperative for collective action of Mozambique, SADC and the AU to address the threat of and actual presence of terrorist groups in Cabo Delgado. The PSC may also underscore the importance of strengthening the legal, financial and regulatory framework for natural resource governance in Mozambique to avoid risk of the [phenomenon of resource curse] in the country. It may also commend the APRM for its work and support to Mozambique as well as its work around COVID19 including the recently launched report. It may take note of the preliminary actions being taken by the APRM in order to support the efforts of the AU to strengthen the various governance systems to effectively respond to Covid-19 pandemic and promote experience sharing. The PSC may call on member states that have joined the APRM and encourage them to enhance the quality and regularity of their reviews. Council may also encourage member states that have not yet acceded the APRM, to do so. The PSC may further express its wish to receive similar country review reports in the future.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Consultative meeting between the PSC and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 08 October 2020

Tomorrow (8 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold a session involving a consultative meeting with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul) Commission). The session is envisaged to be held via video teleconference.
It is expected that, the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission’s Focal Person on Human Rights in Conflict Situations is expected to deliver a briefing on human rights and peace and security and the follow up to the communique of the 866th session of the PSC.

This session is convened within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC. It is to be recalled that the PSC held the first such session at its 866th meeting held on 8 August 2019. One of the major outcomes of that session, stipulated in the communiqué of the session, is the decision to convene the consultative session with the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission on annual basis. Tomorrow’s session thus constitutes a follow up to this decision. This consultative meeting also represents an important avenue for enhancing synergy between the governance work of the AU and the African Peace and Security Architecture.

There are at least three legal bases for the convening of this session. The first of this relates to the mandate that the PSC has been explicitly assigned under the PSC Protocol for upholding human and peoples’ rights as part of its conflict prevention, management, resolution and post-conflict reconstruction mandate. It is envisaged that this is to be done in accordance with the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the founding treaty of the African human rights system that has near universal ratification by AU member states.

The second foundation for the convening of this session is the overlap in the mandate of the PSC and that of the African (Banjul) Commission. Given that the African (Banjul) Commission is the body with the expertise for the interpretation and application of the human and peoples’ rights of the African Charter, it is best placed to provide the requisite technical analysis to enable the PSC in the implementation of the human rights dimension of its mandate including its role relating to Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act. It is worth noting in this regard that the African (Banjul) Commission has also established a thematic focus on human rights in conflict situations under its Resolution 332.

Finally, and crucially, tomorrow’s session is convened within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. This article provides for the establishment of close working relationship between the PSC and the African (Banjul) Commission.

Apart from establishing the modalities for operationalizing the human rights dimension of the mandate of the PSC by deciding to convene the consultative meeting on an annual basis and establishing human rights and peace and security as a standing thematic agenda of the PSC, the communiqué of the 866th session of the PSC also provided for the mechanisms for maintaining close working relationship with the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission. These mechanisms include information sharing including through an established arrangement for incorporating relevant work of the African (Banjul) Commission into the Continental Early Warning system (CEWS); provision of briefings to the PSC in between the annual sessions on the human rights dimension of conflict situations on the agenda of the PSC or on themes of interest for the PSC; and regular interaction between the PSC Chairperson and Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission through its Chairperson or the Focal Person on Human Rights in Conflict Situations.

In the briefing, the Focal Person of the Commission is expected to provide update on follow up to the outcome of the inaugural consultative session and on human rights in conflict or major crisis situations. In respect of the follow up to the 866th session, there two areas expected to receive attention. The first of this is the operationalization of the specific elements of the 866th session communique. In this respect, issues to be highlighted include the importance of a dedicated arrangement that facilitates the engagement of the African Commission and the operationalization of the measures envisaged in the 866th session of the PSC. The other is the update on the work of the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission with a bearing on peace and security that may receive particular attention. These include the Commission’s Guideline on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, transitional justice study under its Resolution 235 and the study on human rights in conflict situations under its Resolution 332.

In the context of the AU theme of the year, one work worth noting is the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission’s study on ‘Addressing Human Rights in Conflict Situations’, which was launched in November 2019 and unveiled on the sidelines of the February 2020 AU Summit in a press briefing held at the AU Commission. Of particular interest for the PSC is the five-pillar approach that the Study outlined as a framework for addressing human rights issues in peace and security, which include, among others human rights monitoring and response and remedial measures for violations.

In terms of the update on human rights in conflict situations, the briefing is expected to share the work of the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission as reflected in its resolutions and statements. Other issues that may feature during this session include human rights, the COVID19 pandemic and peace and security and the importance of human rights for silencing the guns. With respect to COVID19, it is expected that the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission will highlight its resolution 449 on human rights and COVID19 adopted at its 66th session.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the work of the Commission and the opportunity for the operationalization of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol and the modalities established under the 866th session of the PSC. In this respect, one major expected outcome is welcoming the work of the Commission on human rights and peace and security, particularly its study and expression of support for the role of the Human and Peoples’ Rights Focal Person and the need for enhancing the role of and collaboration with the Focal Person. The PSC may welcome the update on human rights in conflict situations and request that the Human and Peoples’ Rights Commission works closely with the countries concerned and provides it with more comprehensive briefing on the same. The PSC may also welcome the work of the Commission with respect to protecting human rights in the context of the COVID19 pandemic and call on states and the AU to apply the guidelines outlined in Resolution 449 on ‘Human and Peoples’ Rights as central pillar for a successful response to COVID19 and its socio-political impacts’.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Briefing by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 5 March, 2020

Tomorrow (5 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a briefing from the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) on the reports of peer reviewed member states. The Chairperson of the African Peer Review Panel of Eminent Persons Ibrahim Gambari is expected to make a presentation.

The APRM has briefed the PSC for the first time on 19 December 2018 at the 819th PSC session. The PSC recognized ‘the importance of the APRM as one of the most effective mechanisms for promoting conflict prevention, as it contributes in addressing some of the structural root causes of conflicts’. Hence tomorrow’s briefing is expected to look into the role of APRM in early warning and on how in partnership with other African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) components it may contribute to conflict prevention efforts.

The Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) and the Panel of the Wise (PoW) are the two key components in the APSA that have the central mandate to avert conflicts and crises, escalation of tensions and relapses to conflict. Both CEWS and PoW report to the PSC and particularly CEWS has the responsibility of providing regular horizon scanning briefings on peace and security trends and imminent threats across the continent. Moreover, Peace and Security Department (Conflict Early Warning and Prevention Division) has developed Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF).

Towards operationalizing this framework, the Department has also developed the country structural vulnerability assessment (CSVA) and structural vulnerability mitigation strategy (SVMS). These existing instruments are also expected to serve as complementary mechanisms to APRM’s work in ensuring that the PSC adopts a more preemptive approach than a reactive conflict response.

In addition to the APSA elements, the PSC briefings by the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) on election form another layer of conflict prevention mechanism particularly in relation to mitigating contested electoral processes and post-electoral violence. Hence, in the briefing the APRM may also highlight the extent to which harmonization can be created among the relevant actors both within the AUC and policy organs to provide regular briefing and reporting to the PSC.

Gambari’s presentation may also cover the outcome of the recently concluded workshop on ‘Positioning the APRM as an early Warning Tool For Conflict Prevention’. The meeting was held within the context of the AU 2020 theme, Silencing the Guns and anchored in the Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.686(XXX) which welcomed the harmony and synergy between the APRM, the APSA, and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). One of the key outputs of the workshop, which will be presented by the APRM representative, is the APRM Framework on Early Warning and Conflict Prevention.

In addition to the coordination with APSA and AGA, the presentation may also cover the ways in which the APRM coordinates with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs). Given the increasing centrality of RECs/RMs in the AU policy space and more particularly with the PSC, there is a need to also include RECs engagement in the wider conflict prevention roadmap. The PSC may recall its previous session with RECs, which has agreed to develop ‘modalities for undertaking early responses to looming crisis and expediting action to resolve/mitigate blown out crises/conflicts’. In this respect the coordination both at the PSC level but also at the decision making organ at the RECs level may provide a comprehensive and multi-layered approach.

The APRM Framework on Early Warning and Conflict Prevention is expected to serve as an overarching instrument to map the relevant actors that will work closely with the APRM and to solidify harmonization among them.

The second issue that may be considered tomorrow is around seeking clarity on the notion of popular uprising and on modalities of responses. In 2019 the PSC at its 871st held a brainstorming session on the concept of popular uprising. The PSC indicated the lack of an agreed upon definition of ‘popular uprising’ as well as the absence of an AU normative framework that articulates the concept. Nonetheless, popular uprising has increasingly shaped political transition and democratization in many African countries. Hence, recognizing the importance of the phenomenon and in order to address the conceptual and normative gap the Council has tasked the Commission in collaboration with the APRM to prepare and submit a draft AU framework on popular uprising.

When developing a conceptual framework it is important to also address issues related to legitimacy. Previous initiatives such as the AU High-level Panel on Egypt in June 2014 has made recommendations on what kind of conditions make popular uprisings compatible with existing AU norms. Building on such recommendations and through the technical expertise of DPA and the legal counsel the framework can be formulated and presented to the PSC. The APRM on its part may present key elements that need to be included in the draft AU framework. It may identify a number of measures to address structural causes leading to popular uprising as well as actions for effective response when such developments take place.

The presentation is also expected to highlight the various activities undertaken by the mechanism including the reviews of member states. In this regard it may stress the importance of not only increasing number of participating member states in the APRM but also expanding reviews of members and increasing the regularity of reviews.

The outcome of the recently concluded 29th Summit of the African Peer Review Forum of Heads of State and Government, which was held at the margins of the AU Summit, may also feature.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may decide to institutionalize its engagement with the APRM through regular briefings. It may welcome the efforts towards strengthening APRM’s role as a conflict prevention tool and it may stress the need for harmonization with the relevant APSA and AGA components to ensure a more effective and coordinated conflict prevention approach. It may welcome the presentation on popular uprising and may call for the finalization of the draft framework to be considered and adopted. It may call for member states that have not acceded to the APRM to do so and complete their regular reviews.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Interaction between the Peace and Security Council and the African Union Commission 

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 16 September, 2019

Tomorrow (16 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and  Security  Council  (PSC)  is  expected  to  hold  an  interaction with the AU Commission at 3pm. The Chairperson  of  the  AU  Commission,  Commissioner  for  Peace and Security, the Commissioner for Political Affairs and  the  Commissioner  for  Rural  Economy  and  Agriculture are expected to participate in the interactive discussion.
The  various  departments  of  the  Commission  have  reported and briefed the Council in their respective areas of  expertise.  Tomorrow’s  session  aims  at  assessing  the  current methods of engagement and based on that to identify  ways  of  enhancing  and  systematizing  the  relationship to ensure a more coordinated and regular collaboration between the PSC and AUC.

The  issues  expected  to  be  discussed  during  tomorrow’s  session include the level of effective execution by the AUC of its roles vis‐à‐vis the peace and security agenda of the AU and review of existing methods of interaction between  the  PSC  and  the  AUC.  In  discussing  these  different issues, consideration is given to the various roles of the AUC.

The  AUC  as  the  secretariat  of  the  Union  has  the  responsibility of providing operational support to the PSC.  In  this  respect,  the  roles  of  the  AUC  include preparing  reports,  briefing  notes,  other  working  documents of the PSC and keeping summary records of the  meetings  of  the  PSC,  to  enable  the  PSC  and  its  subsidiary bodies to perform their functions effectively. Similarly, the PSC protocol recognizes the wide range of roles  and  responsibilities  of  the  AUC  under  the  leadership of the AUC Chairperson in terms of conflict prevention,  agenda  setting,  and  following  up  on  the  implementation of the PSC decisions.

In  line  with  the  roles  and  responsibilities  identified  in  article 7 and 10 of the PSC protocol, it would be of interest for the PSC to hear the Chairperson in providing an  assessment  on  how  the  Commission  has  discharged  its responsibilities in these set standards and in providing operational  support  for  the  PSC’s  mandate.  Consideration is also to be had on strengthening the level and quality as well as predictability of interaction in all phases of conflict from prevention, management and post‐conflict  reconstruction  as  appropriate  through  the  AUC Chairperson, Commissioners, the AUC Departments or  the  special  envoys  or  representatives  of  the  AUC  Chairperson.
Another area for discussion during tomorrow’s session is the  role  of  the  various  departments  of  the  AUC.  In  its  retreat held in Swakopmund in 2015 the PSC highlighted the  need  to  work  closely  with  a  number  of  actors  in  order to maintain peace and security in line African Peace  and  Security  Architecture.  Towards  enhancing  conflict prevention, the PSC stressed the need for the department  of  Political  Affairs  to  ‘attend  all  PSC  meetings and provide regular briefings including those focusing on early warning aspects to the PSC’. Similarly, the Council  called on the  AUC to ‘intensify its efforts in  the area of PCRD, including submission of a report as decided  by  the  Council,  on  the  status  of  the  AU  PCRD  architecture’. The Council has also tasked the Commission to regularly report on the operationalization of  both  African  Peace  and  Security  Architecture  (APSA)  and African Governance Architecture (AGA).

Given the complementarity of the Departments of Peace and  Security  (PSD)  and  Political  Affairs  (DPA)  and  the  decision within the framework of the reform of the AU to merge the two departments in 2021, tomorrow’s session is  also  expected  to  discuss  the  measures  being  taken  towards smooth process of consolidating the two departments  and  managing  the  PSC’s  interaction  with  both departments. The two departments may provide an update  on  the  plans  for  the  merger  of  the  two  departments and where the merger process stands.

Tomorrow’s  session  may  also  delve  into  addressing  technical and operational issues. Although the various departments  provide  reports  and  briefing  upon  the  request of the PSC, the interaction may also be critical in ensuring  that  the  engagements  are  not  ad‐hoc  or  reactive. In this regard, an issue for discussion is reviewing  the  working  arrangements  in  terms  of  the  relationship between the PSC and the AUC. These include the role of the AUC in terms of the drafting of the outcome documents of the PSC, in following up with the decisions of the PSC including timely delivery of briefings requested  to  be  delivered  within  a  set  time  frame,  provision of updates on PSC decisions and the predictability in the timely submissions of the reports of the AUC Chairperson. Also significant is the availability of an  effectively  functioning  process  for  sharing  early  warning analysis with the PSC and provision of updates on outcomes of PSC sessions requiring follow up.

In this context the PSC and the Commission may wish to agree  on  preparing  calendar  of  activities  on  delivery  of  time specific briefings, updates on previous decisions and  on  submission  of  reports  of  the  AUC  Chairperson  that could feature in the monthly work plan in addition to  the  other  agenda  items  proposed  by  the  rotating  chairs. This will also be a critical step in ensuring the continuity  of  proper  follow  up  of  decisions  and  to  prevent interruption when monthly chairs rotate. This exercise  may  enable  the  monthly  chairs  of  the  PSC  to  build on decisions and deliberation from previous month and contribute to  their implementation and predictable  working practice of the PSC.

The interaction will also offer the Council to map the in‐house capacity in the Commission and ways to adequately make use of the expertise and knowledge of staff  in  the  Commission  to  ensure  informed  decision‐making process. This will also essential in addressing siloes  and  foster  inter‐departmental  coordination,  information sharing and complementarity. It will also enable  the  PSC  and  Commission  to  utilize  existing  capacity and resources.

In  addition  to  the  responsibilities  of  the  departments,  the role of AU offices located in various African member states may also be discussed. The PSC may also stress the critical role of its Secretariat. The PSC Secretariat has a wide role in not only following up on the decisions of the Council but also in arranging the  meetings  of  the  PSC,  preparing  the  working  documents, and keeping records of PSC meetings. By tapping  into  the  vast  expertise  in  the  Commission  and  various offices of the AU, the Secretariat also helps in enabling  the  PSC  to  receive  the  technical  inputs  that  boost the decision‐making process. The Secretariat is in key  position  in  bridging  the  information  sharing  and  coordination mechanism between the Council with departments  in  the  Commission  including  those  participating in tomorrow’s session.

In  this  regard  and  recognizing  the  expanding  role  and  responsibilities of its Secretariat, the PSC may wish to propose  ways  of  enhancing  its  capacity.  The  secretariat  has been coordinating the activities of the Council and the  operationalization  of  the  ambitious  mandate  of  the  Council with limited capacity.

The  expected  outcome  is  a  communiqué.  The  PSC  may  commend the Commission for its efforts in supporting the  mandate  of  the  Council.  It  may  call  on  the  Commission to support continuous collaboration through reporting  and  regular  briefing  by  departments.  It  may  identify calendar of activities that will ensure predictable interaction, bring continuity in the work of the PSC and foster cooperative and more institutionalized interaction with the Commission. It may also highlight on the need to enhance the capacity of its secretariat. In the light of the impending merger of the PSD and DPA, the PSC could request the AUC to present to it a report on the plan and timelines for the merger. It is also expected to decide on having a regular interactive session with the Commission to  follow  up  on  tomorrow’s  session  and  institutionalize  the assessment of the working relationship between the two.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Review of Partnerships between the AU Commission, non-African States and  Organisations

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 13 August, 2019

Tomorrow (13 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to review the institutional relationships and partnerships between the AU Commission, non-African states and/or organizations and their impact on the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA).

The Departments of Peace and Security and Political affairs are expected to brief the PSC on partnerships on the APSA and the AGA respectively.

The AU PSC, being the principal decision-making body with respect to both APSA and AGA, plays a key role in reviewing and providing guidance on the modalities of partnership. Critical to the role of the PSC is the review of how partnerships on the APSA and AGA are initiated, negotiated, designed and implemented.

The session is expected to offer an opportunity for PSC member states to be informed of the nature and diversity of partnerships established on the APSA and the AGA currently in place. Indications are that PSC members do not have full information on the various partnerships established on the APSA and the AGA. Apart from the information gap, PSC member states are also keen about accountability around the planning and implementation of partnership programs.

Other issues expected to feature during the session include the focus areas of the various partnerships, how the partnerships inform or shape the focus and orientation of the APSA and the AGA including their alignment with Agenda 2063, the extent to which partnerships may impact on the ownership and leadership of the AU in the planning and implementation of APSA and AGA projects and challenges of coordination and the burden of multiple reporting formats. Also, of interest would be the availability of mechanisms for engaging the PSC and reporting to it on the establishment and implementation of APSA and AGA partnerships programs.

Within the context of multilateralism, the session may identify and categorize the various forms of partnerships including with non-African member states, inter-governmental and international organizations as well international non-governmental organizations towards the operationalization of AGA and APSA. It may also look into the establishment of standardized partnership framework that can also streamline a harmonized support to the two complementary and mutually reinforcing architectures, APSA and AGA.

Moreover, given the existence of numerous state and non-state partners that engage the AUC the review may provide a clearer direction on coordination among partners and more organized AU engagement to prevent duplication of efforts and resources. Also given the overlap between the two architectures, the review of partnerships may explore the possibility of having a comprehensive common strategy for both the APSA and the AGA.

In terms of the multilateral partnerships on APSA and AGA, the most notable ones include those with the UN and the EU. APSA is anchored on the recognition of its complementarity to the multilateralist global collective security system articulated in the Charter of the United Nations (UN). Hence AU’s primary and well-established partner in the area of promoting peace and security has been the UN. The partnership in this specific area was strengthened when the AUC and the Secretary-General of the UN signed the Joint UN–AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security in April 2017 at the first UN–AU Annual Conference. The Framework outlines priority areas for cooperation including early warning, prevention, mediation, conflict management, and working together to sustain peace and address climate change. The Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.644(XXIX) adopted by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government at its 29th Ordinary Session held in July 2017 which welcomed the signing of the framework, it also requested the Chair of the AU Commission to accelerate the process of accessing the UN assessed contributions to finance AU peace support operations.
The implementation of the key areas of the framework have also been spearheaded through the UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU), established in July 2010 to support the UN Secretariat’s presence in Addis Ababa on peace and security matters.

The EU has been AU’s longstanding partner on peace and security dating back to 2003, the early years of the APSA. The EU APSA-support program of the African Peace Facility was established in 2004 at the request of African leaders at the 2003 AU summit in Maputo, Mozambique. Tomorrow’s session is also taking place as two major multi-year and strategic engagements are being developed between the AUC and the European Union (EU), which directly target APSA and AGA: the support program for APSA IV (2020 – 2024) and support to (AGA) 2020-2023. These engagements build on the key common priorities on strengthening resilience, peace, security and governance identified at the most recent AU-EU Summit held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in November 2017.

The second category of partnership is the AUC engagement with non-African member states. In this context, engagement with members of the UNSC may be particularly relevant for the promotion of the continental peace and security agenda including the preventive mechanisms identified in the AGA. Tomorrow’s session is timely particularly in light of recent developments where a number of cooperative platforms have been launched in 2019 with various non-African states. For example, the first China-Africa peace and security forum was launched in July 2019. The first session of the strategic dialogue between France and the AUC was held following the meeting between President Macron and the Chairperson of the Commission on 13 March 2019. A MoU was signed between the UK government and AUC in early 2019.

The PSC may need to identify a coherent policy direction in managing these multiple engagements, which over the years have deepened. It will also be essential for the Council to strategize ways in which the Commission can leverage from longstanding and emerging partnerships and advance the set objective in its normative and policy frameworks. This may require the close cooperation between the Council and Commission to jointly strategize in addressing partnership issues.

The third form of partnerships that the PSC may also review is with international non-governmental organizations and their role in the implementation of APSA and AGA. The review may look into the contribution of partners such as most notably the GiZ, which has provided long term support to both APSA and AGA.
The other key issue that may feature in tomorrow’s session is also the reform process and its effects on AGA and APSA operationalization. The proposed restructuring of the AUC in 2021 and the merger of the Departments of Political Affairs and Peace and Security will have direct implication on the harmonization between AGA and APSA. The main area that may require attention in this regard is on how establishing common objectives between the two architectures in order to generate coherent partnership policy. The changes associated with the reform will also affect the implementation of the activities of the two architectures and the long-term partnership built around them.

One of the ways in which the merger of the two departments and its implications on synergy between the two architecture can be accommodated is through the development of a common APSA-AGA roadmap. The opportunity for elaborating such common roadmap is present with the end of the current APSA roadmap in 2020.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC may call for an enhanced coordination and a standardized partnership framework that governs AUC engagement with various actors on the implementation of APSA and AGA. It may urge the Commission to strengthen its efforts in providing regular update and analysis on partnership. It may particularly highlight the need for harmonization between the two architectures to also enhance coordinated partners engagement.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Consultative meeting between the PSC and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’  Rights

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 8 August, 2019

Tomorrow (8 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will held its 866th session. This session involves a consultative meeting between the PSC and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African (Banjul) Commission). With its Secretariat based in Banjul the Gambia for which it is also known as the Banjul Commission, the Commission is the oldest and premier human rights body of the AU.

It is expected that a member of the African (Banjul) Commission will deliver a briefing on the theme of the session. As the department of the AU Commission responsible for human rights and governance, a representative of the Department of Political Affairs is also expected to brief the PSC.

There are at least three legal bases for the convening of this session. The first of this relates to the mandate that the PSC has been explicitly assigned under the PSC Protocol for upholding human and peoples’ rights as part of its conflict prevention, management, resolution and post-conflict reconstruction mandate. It is envisaged that this is to be done in accordance with the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the founding treaty of the African human rights system that has near universal ratification by AU member states.

The second foundation for the convening of this session is the overlap in the mandate of the PSC and that of the African (Banjul) Commission. Given that the African (Banjul) Commission is the body with the expertise for the interpretation and application of the human and peoples’ rights of the African Charter, it is best placed to provide the requisite technical advice to enable the PSC in the implementation of the human rights dimension of its mandate including its role relating to Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act. It is worth noting in this regard that the African (Banjul) Commission has also established a thematic focus on human rights in conflict situations under its Resolution 332.

Finally, and crucially, tomorrow’s session is convened within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. This article provides for the establishment of close working relationship between the PSC and the African (Banjul) Commission.

While Article 19 of the PSC Protocol provided for the establishment of close working relationship between the PSC and the African (Banjul) Commission and the Conclusions of the 2007 Dakar retreat of the PSC on its working methods stipulated annual consultative meeting between the two as one avenue for operationalizing Article 19, no meeting has been held between the PSC and the African (Banjul) Commission neither prior to the 2007 Dakar retreat of the PSC since the latter’s establishment in 2004 nor since that retreat. Tomorrow’s session thus presents a good opportunity not only to activate the consultative meeting envisaged in the Dakar retreat conclusions but also take stock of the nature of the relationship between the two bodies thus far.

Despite the fact that there was no institutionalized interaction and the PSC, the African (Banjul) Commission have had working interactions on various occasions. There have been various instances in which the PSC requested the African (Banjul) Commission. From recent experiences, one good example is the African (Banjul) Commission in early December 2015 undertook an investigation mission into human rights violations in Burundi in the context of the 2015 crisis in Burundi on the request of the PSC. Most recently, the PSC made reference to the role of the African (Banjul) Commission with respect to the investigation missions it called for in relation to the situation in Sudan and that of Libya. Admittedly, the working relationship is characterized by ad hocism. As such even when a request is made by the PSC for the Commission to undertake such investigation, there are no established modalities for follow up in terms of both enabling the African (Banjul) Commission execute such task in pursuit of the mandate of the PSC and inscribing a session for the receipt and processing of the findings of the Commission after the African (Banjul) Commission undertook the investigation mission.

In the briefing, the representative of the African (Banjul) Commission is expected to inform the PSC both on the relevant work of the Commission that are of material interest to the mandate of the PSC and on the various modalities (in addition to the annual consultative meeting as per the Dakar retreat conclusions) for the full operationalization of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. In this respect, the work of the African (Banjul) Commission that would deserve particular mention for being of interest to the PSC include the work in relation to women rights under the Maputo Protocol, its Guideline on protecting human rights while countering terrorism, transitional justice under its Resolution 235 and human rights in conflict situations under its Resolution 332.

In terms of the modalities for the operationalization of Article 19, some of the approaches that may feature in the briefing include: informal consultations; institutionalizing PSC requested investigation missions by the African (Banjul) Commission through a more clear arrangement for follow up on the conduct and outcome of such mission; information sharing including through an established arrangement for incorporating relevant work of the African (Banjul) Commission into the Continental Early Warning system (CEWS); provision of briefings to the PSC in between the annual sessions on the human rights dimension of conflict situations on the agenda of the PSC or on themes of interest for the PSC such as protection of human rights in countering terrorism or transitional justice in post-conflict countries; establishment of a standing thematic agenda of the PSC on human rights and peace and security in Africa; and joint filed missions.

The intervention from the Department of Political affairs (DPA) is expected to highlight existing practices and work undertaken with the active role of the Department that are of direct relevance to the theme of the session. One such area of work of the Department which commonly feature on the agenda of the PSC concerns elections. Another one relates to the work of the DPA on the African Governance Architecture (AGA) including that relating to unconstitutional changes of government. And in this respect the institutionalization of the annual consultative meeting under Article 19 offers an opportunity for enhancing the synergy between the AGA and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Also, of interest for highlighting in the intervention by the DPA include the work done on transitional justice – particularly the adoption during the February 2019 summit of the AU of the AU Transitional Justice Policy – a key instrument for implementing the accountability dimension of the mandate of the AU broadly and the PSC specifically. From the perspective of PSC’s mandate, also worth mentioning is the emerging practice of deployment of human rights experts (monitors) as part of an AU mission and in collaboration with the African (Banjul) Commission has been done in Mali and Central African Republic or as a standalone deployment as has been the case since 2015 in Burundi.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the work of the Commission and the opportunity for full operationalization of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. In this respect, one major expected outcome is the establishment of the annual consultative meeting as standing agenda of the PSC to be inscribed into the annual indicative plan of work of the PSC. The PSC may also decide to establish a thematic agenda on human rights and peace and security as an avenue for receiving briefing by the African (Banjul) Commission both on the human rights dimension of situations on the agenda of the PSC and on other ways of full implementation of the human rights related mandate of the PSC. The outcome document may also stipulate arrangements for sharing of information of early warning value, for effective implementation of PSC requests for human rights investigation mission by the African (Banjul) Commission and for undertaking joint field visits.


Briefing on APRM Reports

PSC meetings with AU Organs

Date | 19 December, 2018

Tomorrow (19 December) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) is scheduled to hold a briefing on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Reports. This session is organized on the request of the APRM secretariat and it is anticipated that a representative of the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons will present the country review reports.

Initiated as a self-monitoring mechanism to which AU member states accede voluntarily, the APRM is a unique mechanism that produces reports of volunteering states based on agreed standards and processes involving self-appraisal and peer review. The reports present assessment of the performance of the state under review in four thematic areas: political and democratic governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance and socio-economic governance.

The number of member states that have subscribed to the APRM has now reached 38. The background note indicates that as at January 2018 twenty-three (23) of the 38 volunteering states have completed the first peer review process, while two (2) countries, namely Kenya and Uganda, have completed their first and second reviews.

The session is organized in accordance with a provision stipulated in the APRM Base Document of 2003 that mandates the APRM to present country review reports to the PSC. Most notably, Paragraph 25 of the APRM Base Document states that ‘six months after a report has been considered by the Heads of State and Government of the participating member countries, it should be formally and publicly tabled in key regional and sub-regional structures such as … the Peace and Security Council…’

Additionally, the presentation is also informed by the findings of the Progress Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Institutional Reform of the AU. The Report, among others, noted the lack of utilization of the potential of the APRM to enable relevant AU organs to react in a timely manner in the area of conflict prevention, notably through APRM briefings to the AU PSC and the need for improving complementarity between the APRM and peace and security.

The experience of the APRM in implementing paragraph 25 of the Base Document indicates that the APRM has thus far established a practice of presenting country review reports before the Pan-African Parliament and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

While there have been various occasions in which the PSC held sessions on governance issues, this is the first time for the APRM to come to the PSC for presenting reports of member states. From the perspective of the APRM the presentation of the reports can serve as mechanism for encouraging implementation of the recommendations of the reports.

This session is an initiative that stands to further deepen the synergy between the governance structures of the AU and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). It is to be recalled that the AU Assembly at its 30th Ordinary Session held in January 2018 acknowledged in Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.686(XXX) the role that the APRM stands to play as an early warning tool for conflict prevention on the continent furthering the synergy between the APRM, the APSA and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Admittedly, given the multiplicity of governance processes within the AU, this initiative also gives rise to questions of duplication as well.

As indicated in the background note, the presentation of the review reports is expected to contribute to the realization of the role of the PSC, under Article 3(b) of the Protocol on the Establishment of the PSC, in the anticipation and prevention of conflicts. Although the link between internal governance and regional peace and security is acknowledged in the PSC Protocol, the background note underscores the importance of AU member states ‘critically acknowled(ging) the impact of domestic policies, not only on internal political stability and economic growth, but also on the promotion of peace, security and stability as well as the creation of conditions conducive to sustainable development’.

Research reports indicate that some of the APRM reports have indeed highlighted risks of crisis in countries under review and these risks subsequently materialized. A case in point that the researches highlight is the Kenya APRM Report, which warned against ethnic violence in 2006. However, the potential of the early warning role of the reports depends on the quality of the reports.

While the presentation of the APRM reports can innovatively be used for effectively operationalizing the early warning and response responsibility of the PSC under Article 3(b) of the PSC Protocol, whether or not such early warning can be acted upon for taking preventive action is incumbent on the PSC. The role that the APRM presentation of country review reports plays in effectively activating this responsibility of the PSC depends on whether as part of the presentation of the report the APRM offers the PSC practical options on how best the PSC can follow up the PSC relevant issues highlighted in the reports. From the perspective of the work of the PSC, instead of presenting the whole APRM report what would be useful is to draw the attention of the PSC to those issues pertaining to its mandate.

Tomorrow’s session being the first meeting of the PSC on APRM reports, which reports and how they are presented and the methodology for how the PSC deliberates on and follows up on the country review reports has as yet to be clarified. It is not clear, for example, whether the PSC will adopt a statement or communiqué highlighting the specific issues raised in the APRM reports presented and requesting each of the countries concerned to take necessary measures for addressing the issues. Perhaps, this would be one of the issues that can also be elaborated as part of the revision of the working methods of the PSC.

The expected result of the briefing is a communiqué. It is anticipated that the communiqué will establish the modus operandi between the APRM and the PSC, hence establishing the presentation of APRM reports a standing agenda of the PSC. This will clarify how the APRM reports will be presented and used by the PSC as part of the continental early warning system for the PSC to timeously take action for preventing conflicts. In terms of synergy and coordination, the communiqué could also envisage the importance of institutionally feeding the reports to the Panel of the Wise (PoW) for the PoW to use the reports in implementing its mandate.