14th Annual Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

14th Annual Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 03 May 2023

Tomorrow (03 May), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 14th annual joint consultative meeting, preceded by the 6th joint retreat taking place today. The EU will be hosting this year’s round of meetings, which will be taking place in Brussels, Belgium.

The joint consultative meeting between the AUPSC and EUPSC has been taking place since the inaugural meeting held in 2008. Convened within the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the annually convened joint consultative meeting of the two organs mainly serves to discuss thematic and conflict related agendas of common interest.

Chairperson of the AUPSC and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the AU, Ambassador Rebecca Amuge Otengo and the Permanent Chair of the EUPSC, Ambassador Delphine Pronk are expected to make opening remarks to start off the 14th consultative meeting. This year’s meeting is expected to address three region specific situations of concern in Africa. These will be situations in the Great Lakes Region (GLR), the Horn of Africa and the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin (LCB).

Sahel and LCB

The situation in the Sahel and LCB was one of the agenda items that featured in the previous joint annual consultative meeting. On this specific item, it is expected that Senegal will take the lead speaking on behalf of the AUPSC while Morocco, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia will be supporting speakers.

The Sahel region continues to experience complex security and humanitarian crises. Terrorist groups have continued to stage string of attacks in Burkina Faso, including the most recent attacks that claimed the lives of 44 civilians in north-eastern part of the country, near the Niger border. The attacks against civilians by various armed groups has intensified in the country. On 20 April, the UN has reported the killing of 150 civilians by armed men in uniform. Similarly, in Mali, civilians continue to be targets of terrorist attacks. The UN Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2023/236), which was presented to the Security Council on 12 April, characterized the security situation in Mali as ‘volatile’ with surging clashes between non-state armed groups, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, mainly in the Gao and Menaka regions.

The protracted and deadly conflicts involving terrorist groups and the compounded effects of climate change, socio-economic and governance challenges have unleashed a dire humanitarian crisis. According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 24 million people in the Sahel needed assistance in 2022, which is estimated to be six million more than in 2021. While the humanitarian needs are high, a concerning trend is the limited humanitarian access and the dwindling resources for assistance that hinders the delivery of assistance to vulnerable populations and exposes humanitarian personnel to high risks.

In terms of the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorist groups, one of the most worrying trends is the geographic spread of the insecurity from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. This has triggered the establishment of the Accra Initiative. In December 2022, the 62nd Ordinary session of ECOWAS Summit, highlighting the urgent need for ‘more effective coordination and structured harmonization of the different counter-terrorism initiatives in the region’, agreed to establish a regional force to combat terrorism and deter unconstitutional changes of government. The envisaged regional force will be an additional arrangement to the already existing plethora of multilateral security frameworks, including the G5 Sahel Joint Force and UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The two sides are also expected to discuss the transitional processes towards restoration of constitutional order in Mali and Burkina Faso. It is to be recalled that the PSC for the first time held an informal consultation with countries affected by coups and held exchanges with representatives of these countries, including Burkina Faso and Mali on 26 April. This is the first encounter for the PSC to have direct engagement with these countries and may inform PSC’s approach to the discussion on the transitions in these two Sahelian countries.

The complex security situation in the Sahel is further compounded by the deepening geostrategic tension playing itself out in this region. While there are various factors for the major diplomatic breakdown between Mali and France, the emergence of the Wagner Group as the preferred security partner of Mali as Mali kicks out France and cancels longstanding security agreement with France and the Group’s involvement in Burkina Faso have transformed the Sahel into a major theatre of geostrategic rivalry. This geostrategic tension has come to increasingly affect regional and international diplomatic efforts for stemming the tide of increasing insecurity in the region. It has eroded trust between these countries and countries in the region and is one of the factors that soured relations in G5 Sahel leading to Mali’s withdrawal from it.

Against the background of the foregoing, the consultative meeting is expected to discuss not only the current state of the security situation but also how best the two Councils work together to address the challenges facing regional and international peace and security diplomacy in the region including the issues that have put the future of the UN Mission in Mali on the balance and how to lesson, through the provision of effective multilateral security partnership, the dependence of Sahel countries on the Wagner Group that is having its heavy toll on civilians and may further undermine regional security in the long term. In the medium to long-term, it is expected that the two sides would indicate their expectation to get useful strategic guidance from Joint Strategic Assessment being undertaken by the Independent High-Level Panel on Security and Development in the Sahel led by former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou and which was formally launched by AU, UN, ECOWAS, and the G5 Sahel in September 2022.

The second aspect of the agenda is the situation in the Lake Chad. While the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) plays a critical role in the fight against terrorism in the region, violence against civilians has increased steadily over the past year. As of January 2023, the crisis in the region has affected 11 million people depending the humanitarian crisis including four million facing severe food insecurity and more than 2.5 million displaced population. Despite the dire needs, humanitarian action continues to face challenges not only in relation to access but also due to decreasing humanitarian funding, which may in part be due to the large-scale commitment of resources to the crisis in Ukraine including resources that would otherwise have been used for meeting humanitarian needs in other settings. In 2022, in the Lake Chad, only 55% of the required funds were received to provide humanitarian assistance to affected population.

Beyond the military response to the threat of terrorism, responding to the broader challenges requires development and humanitarian interventions. Towards providing a more sustained response and in terms of addressing the immediate and long-term needs, the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region (RSS) remains critical.

Similarly, the third high level conference on the Lake Chad held in Niamey in January 2023 further reinforced the importance of complementarity of various actions and interventions and called for a harmonized response supported by humanitarian, stabilisation and development actors.

Horn of Africa

With respect to the Horn of Africa, Uganda will be taking the lead in delivering PSC’s intervention while Djibouti, Namibia and Zimbabwe will assume supportive role representing the AUPSC. As the consultative meeting is happening at the time when the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) marked the first anniversary of its operation in April, the PSC and EUPSC may take the opportunity to evaluate the progress and challenges of the mission over the last one year.

The ‘Somalia-led and owned offensive’ against Al Shabaab since August 2022 has registered notable military and political gains. While Somali local militias or community defence forces along with Somali Security Force (SSF) take the lead in the offensives, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) not only provided critical logistical support but also carried out successful joint kinetic operations with the SSF as part of the execution of its mandate pursuant to PSC communique 1068 (2022) and the UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 (2022). Al Shabaab has come under enormous pressure and suffered military defeats, particularly in Hirshabelle and Galmudug states, with its operational capability degraded and control of several towns and villages lost to the SSFs. This also paved the way for the handover of Forward Operating Basis (FOBs) as part of the security transition in line with the ATMIS Concept of Operations (CONOPs) and the Somalia Transition Plan (STP). The first of FOBs handover took place in January when ATMIS transferred Maslah FOB to the federal government.

EU being the main financial contributor to ATMIS, the consultative meeting is likely to focus on the funding shortfall that the mission has continued to face as well as the financial implication of the delay of the 2000 troops drawdown until 30 June 2023. The funding shortfall of ATMIS for 2022 was around €25.8 million (US$32 million). The shortfall has considerably increased for 2023, standing at US$89 million. In March of this year, Bankole reportedly appealed to bilateral and international partners to help fill the indicated shortfall, further warning that if ATMIS does not have the funds to operate effectively in the coming months before the scheduled handover of security responsibility to SSF in December 2024, ‘it may mean that al-Shabaab will eventually take over the responsibilities of a state in Somalia.’ It is worth underscoring that much of the success that AMISOM /ATMIS registered in Somalia owes its main resource base to the funding that the EU provided under the now defunct Africa Peace Facility. This has developed, by any standard, to be one of, if not the most successful, peace and security partnership with AU and EU complementing each other harnessing their comparative advantages. There is growing concern in EU about heavy dependence on its resources and the lack of similar commitment and contribution from others. The EU has also been encouraging the AU to make at the very least symbolic financial contribution towards PSOs. While the AU has initiated processes highlighting its commitment to make financial contributions through the revitalization of its Peace Fund, this has as yet to be translated into committing symbolic financial contribution demonstrating burden sharing in the financial sphere. Of course, beyond funds, one thing that is not adequately highlighted but worth mentioning in terms of AU’s contribution to international peace and security is its enormous burden sharing through its peace support operations, which pay through lives and limbs as well as the various social and other costs resulting from loss of such lives and limbs.

The peace process in Ethiopia, particularly the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement, is also expected to feature in the consultative meeting. Apart from the encouraging progress made in silencing the guns, reports from recent engagements from various international actors with and media reports of the interim administration of Tigray major remaining issues include addressing the enormous needs of people affected by the war for humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation support and the remaining challenges of the departure of forces other than the Ethiopian army from Tigray.

The conflict in Sudan is expected to be the other item expected to dominate the consultative meeting. The ongoing fighting that broke out on 15 April in Khartoum between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is claiming the lives of hundreds of people, destroying civilian infrastructure, and leaving millions of people stranded without adequate access to amenities and necessities. Wide range of actors are putting diplomatic pressure on the two conflicting parties to commit to a ceasefire and immediately resume dialogue, but fighting has continued to escalate, risking a full-blown civil war. In a conversation with Mo Ibrahim on 29 April, the former Prime Minister of Sudan warned that the conflict in the country could become worse than the civil wars in Syria and Libya. The concern about this grave risk is very legitimate given existing faultlines, fragility of state institutions and the huge risk of the conflict becoming a site of regional and global geostrategic confrontation as different foreign parties take sides as the war becomes protracted.

Considering the enormous humanitarian consequences of this fighting and the frightening implications of its continuation, the most urgent imperative the consultative meeting is sure to focus on is how to secure effective ceasefire and launch peace talks for a permanent cessation of hostilities. While the phone calls and statements to the two sides continue to be made by regional and international actors, the AUPSC and EUPSC are expected to take stock of the state of the diplomatic efforts and how best to bolster and sustain these efforts further and to seek ways and means of creating conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance in Sudan.

Great Lakes Region (GLR)

Burundi will be taking the lead in relation to the GLR on behalf the AUPSC while Tanzania and South Africa will play supportive role on the file. With the full revival of the March 23 Movement (M23) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the GLR has been experiencing heightened insecurity and increasing humanitarian crisis. The tension between DRC and Rwanda which ignited over Rwanda’s alleged support to the M23 rebel group has been escalating throughout the last few months of 2022 and early 2023, with little to no progress attained in restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries. Despite fortified regional efforts to respond to M23 insurgency and activities of other armed groups in eastern DRC including the deployment of the East African Community (EAC) regional force, conflict between M23 and the Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC) remains unresolved. However, the intensity of fighting seems to have faded and some territories have been handed by the M23 to the EAC force. There is however increasing hostility against the EAC force from DRC. This has recently led to the resignation of the Force Commander of the EAC Force who accused Kinshasa of undermining the mission. Welcoming advances made through the military intervention deployed by the EAC and expressing support to the Nairobi and Luanda processes, the AUPSC and EUPSC may emphasise the need for fortifying efforts geared towards political solution of the crisis in eastern DRC and stress the importance of strengthening mediation to restore diplomatic relations between DRC and Rwanda.

Another pertinent issue that requires attention is also the coming general election in the DRC which is scheduled to take place in December 2023. Months from the commencement of the elections, DRC President Tshisekedi has conducted reshuffling of government, appointing his former Chief of Staff as minister of economy and former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba as defence minister. Tshisekedi’s suggestions in early March of possible delays to the elections in eastern provinces due to insecurity has already provoked criticism from the prominent opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. Voter registration was also extended by the Electoral Commission on 15 March. Noting these developments, the two counterparts may emphasise at the coming consultative meeting, the need to ensure political tensions over the timely conduct of the general elections do not further compound the already complex security situation in the country.

6th Informal Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

6th Informal Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 02 May 2023

Tomorrow (02 May), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 6th informal joint retreat, which will be followed by the 14th annual joint consultative meeting to be convened on 03 May. This year’s joint retreat is expected take place in Brussels, Belgium.

The practice of convening an informal joint retreat ahead of the annual consultative meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC was institutionalised starting from 2015. Since then, the two counterparts have regularly held these retreats which are meant to facilitate constructive dialogue by presenting the platform for consultative engagement based on identified thematic issue(s). The coming informal joint retreat is expected to feature two agenda items. The first one will be global peace and security concerns, with a focus on issues surrounding multilateralism. The second agenda item will focus on the financing of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs), including through access to UN assessed contributions.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, the world today faces complex challenges that necessitate joint action and multilateral solutions. Arms proliferation, transnational organised crimes, spread of terrorism, climate change, global economic shocks and cybersecurity are some of the security threats that have clear transboundary effect and cannot be effectively addressed in the absence of a well organised global approach. Despite this, we witness growing scepticism about multilateralism with nationalist sentiments and individualistic tendencies increasing globally. While this trend started a while ago, it became particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic during which some parts of the world such as Africa were left to fend for themselves despite the mantra ‘we are all in this together’. The rise of protectionism and the failure of advanced countries to show solidarity by sharing essential medical supplies including therapeutics and vaccines and vaccines technology blew a major blow to people’s faith in multilateralism. The situation was further aggravated by the lack of collective action that fairly responds to the socio-economic fallouts that the pandemic triggered. As if these were not enough, the war in Ukraine and the responses it triggered added a more dangerous dimension with economic shock waves and deepening bug power confrontation threatening to plug the world into further division and even a nuclear catastrophe. All of these and the various other conflicts in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa highlight not only the failure of the prevailing multilateral system to deliver on some of its most basic roles and the need for its urgent transformative reform. Questions such as how to make the multilateral system more inclusive and representative (for example through the reform of the archaic and increasingly failing UN Security Council), how to ensure consistent and effective collective enforcement of international norms and how to achieve the call of Secretary General for a new Bretton Woods moment and the enhancement of the role of regional organizations are some of the issues that are of pressing concern for this first agenda item of the 6th informal joint retreat.

One of the key issues in this regard that may receive some attention at tomorrow’s informal joint retreat is the use of sanctions and coercive measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. While the use of Chapter VII to impose sanctions has to an extent been an effective tool for maintaining international peace and security, both sanctions under Chapter VII and more so unilateral sanctions have also lately come under criticism for having counterproductive impact on nations’ ability to effectively defend themselves and pursue their development agendas. For the AU, as elaborated in the outcome of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly [Assembly/AU/Res. 1(XXXV)], unilateral coercive measures and sanctions have proven not only to have ‘disproportionate and indiscriminate human cost’, but also impede on the right to development particularly by constraining trade and investment relations and negatively impacting post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts. Additionally, given the major reversals being experienced in the state of peace and security both in Africa and globally, it may interest for tomorrow’s informal consultation that the AUPSC and the EUPSC explore ways of enhancing effective conflict prevention and peaceful resolution of disputes through diplomatic and other means within the framework of Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter (on ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ and ‘Regional Arrangements’, respectively) as critical measure for restoring the effectiveness of the multilateral system to meet the promise of the UN Charter to ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’.

Aside from these issues, it is also possible that EUPSC members will make remarks regarding the war in Ukraine, within the framework of the agenda item on global peace and security concerns. It is to be recalled that the EU proposed to discuss the Ukraine war as one of the agenda items of the previous joint retreat. However, on the side of the AU, the topic was considered to be beyond the mandate of the PSC for discussion at the joint retreat. Eventually, the lack of agreement on the inclusion of a reference became a deal breaker as the annual consultative meeting ended without the adoption of a joint communique. Discomfort on the part of AU member states on the matter still persists and it would be interesting to see if the convening of the meeting in Brussels will lead to the inclusion of a language on the war in Ukraine.

The other agenda tabled for the AUPSC-EUPSC informal retreat is the perennial issue of financing of AU PSOs, which is not actually totally separate from the first agenda. AU PSOs serve and contribute to the global public good of maintaining international peace and security. It is this recognition of the role of AU PSOs that led to the establishment by the EU of its most celebrated financial instrument – the Africa Peace Facility. This facility more than any other served as the fuel critical to both the establishment and effective take off of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the launch of over a dozen peace support operations that tremendously contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security, albeit at heavy loss of the lives of PSO personnel which only African troop contributors are willing to bear. The lack of effective, predictable and sustainable funding has severely undermined the use of AU PSOs. The resultant vacuum that this situation has left has led to not only the proliferation of poorly functioning, military heavy, ad hoc and politically expedient self-defence based operations but also the increasing resort of countries seeking robust security cooperation to private military companies. These are developments that not only take place with little regard to multilateral frameworks but also in the case of the Wagner Group in a manner that undermines various tenets of multilateralism.

The discussion on the agenda is coming on the heels of the adoption of the African Consensus Paper on predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for the AU peace and security activities by the AU Assembly at its 36th ordinary session held in February of this year. On 28 April, the UN Secretary-General also released the much-anticipated report on progress made towards the fulfilment of commitments set out in UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 2320(2016) and 2378(2017), which were adopted to advance the issue of sustainable and predictable funding for AU PSOs using UN assessed contributions.

Members of the EUPSC are likely to be interested to get clarity on what AU’s 25 percent commitment to the PSOs means as envisaged in the Consensus Paper. It is to be recalled that the AU Assembly agreed to cover 25 percent of its PSOs budget in January 2015 as part of the effort to take charge of its own budget. According to the Concept Note, it appears that the commitment is not to cover 25 percent of the total budget of PSOs but to dedicate the same percent of AU’s annual budget to cover the ‘preparation stage’ of AU PSOs while expenses required for the ‘employment and post-employment stages’ of the PSOs are expected to be covered by the UN through its assessed contribution.

The Consensus Paper further explains activities that fall within the category of ‘preparation stage’ stating that the 25 percent of the Union’s annual budget will cover costs related to strategic planning, mission specific pre-deployment training, mission-specific technical assessments and fact-finding missions, recruitment and selection process of mission personnel, pre-deployment verification of personnel and equipment, negotiations and signing processes for the MoU between the AU and Police/Troop Contributing Countries (P/TCC), negotiations and signing processes for AU-Host Country Status of Forces/Mission Agreements, negotiations and signing processes for Letters of Assists between the AU and Countries Contributing capabilities for AU-Led PSOs.’

In terms of the operationalization of the AU Peace Fund, the PSC members may also highlight the commitment the AU Assembly displayed at its 36th ordinary session in February of this year, where it decided to the immediate use of the Peace Fund and its Crisis Reserve Facility to support the deployment and operations of East African Community regional force in eastern DRC, as well as to contribute towards filling the financial gap in ATMIS.

The informal retreat is also an opportunity to assess the status of the implementation of the tripartite AU-EU-UN project on AU Compliance and Accountability Framework (AUCF). Launched in November 2022, the project aims to enhance AU’s capacity to ensure that its PSOs are continuously planned and conducted in compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as applicable standards of conduct and discipline. Given that the compliance issue was one of the sticking points during the negotiation to adopt UNSC resolution on financing AU PSOs in 2018 and 2019, the work undertaken under this project is expected to strengthen AU’s position in the negotiation expected to resume this year. The informal meeting serves as an occasion to build and renew the consensus for access to UN assessed contributions for AU PSOs authorized by the UNSC.

13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 10 June 2022

Tomorrow (10 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 13th annual joint consultative meeting, preceded by the 5th joint retreat taking place today. With AU hosting this year’s round of meetings, the consultative meeting will be taking place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AUPSC and EUPSC have been convening joint consultative meetings since 2008 in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. These meetings mainly serve to discuss thematic and conflict related agendas of common interest to the two counterparts. Within that framework, previous joint consultative meetings have addressed thematic issues such as migration and terrorism and violent extremism as well as country/region focused situations including conflicts and crises in Libya, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and others.

This year’s joint consultative meeting is expected to commence with opening remarks by Chairperson of the AUPSC and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo to the AU, H.E Ambassador Daniel Owassa and the Permanent Chair of the EUPSC, Ambassador Delphine Pronk. The meeting is expected to address four country/region specific situations. These are situations in the Great Lakes Region (GLR), the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) and Sahel Region, Libya, and Somalia. It is to be recalled that the Sahel Region and Somalia were also on the agenda of the previous joint consultative meeting convened on 26 October 2020, along with the situation in Sudan.

In relation to the GLR, Burundi is expected to be the lead speaker on behalf of the AUPSC. Insecurity in the GLR continues to be a matter of grave concern despite positive developments having been recorded in the areas of cooperation, integration and dialogue in the region. Dialogue between Burundi and Rwanda paving the way for reconciliation, and the normalisation of relations between Rwanda and Uganda through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2019 as well as the recent reopening of the Gatuna border are some of the examples of encouraging trends in regional cooperation and integration which may be welcomed. On the other hand, the AUPSC and EUPSC may take note of the recent tensions between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda and call up on all relevant stakeholders including the guarantors of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) for the DRC to engage both sides within the framework of the Nairobi process before the tensions grow any further. In this respect, AUPSC and EUPSC may also welcome the initiative of the AU Assembly that tasked the President of Angola, as Chairperson of the ICGLR, to engage both countries and the initiatives taken by Angola’s President meeting with the leaders of both countries. As a measure of de-escalation, the two bodies may also welcome the report on the release of the two Rwandan soldiers taken from the border with the DRC.

On the security and humanitarian track, the operation of ‘negative forces’ in eastern DRC continues to destabilise the region creating a cycle of forced displacement. Intensified military activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group implicated for affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the resumption of military activities by the March 23 (M23) Movement have particularly been major causes for concern in the early months of 2022. In late March, following the resumption of its activities, M23 expanded its operations over North Kivu at an alarming rate leading to the displacement of thousands of people. By the end of May 2022, the number of displaced persons as a result of the recent fighting in North Kivu had reached over 72,000. Operations by the ADF in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have also resulted in widespread violence against civilians including abductions and destruction and pillage of properties. According to data presented by the UN, the number of civilian deaths between June 2021 and March 2022 increased to at least 1,261 from 559 recorded for the period from June 2020 to March 2021, in North Kivu province. In this regard and as necessary measure for containing the crises involving these armed groups, the AUPSC and the EUPSC may also welcome and urge Kenya, as host of Nairobi process initiated to deal with the threat these negative forces present both through a diplomatic track and a security track, to convene the participants of the process towards supporting Rwanda and DRC in the effort to deescalate the growing tension between them and work on achieving political resolution of their disputes.

On the LCB and Sahel region, it is expected that Nigeria will take the lead speaking in representation of the AUPSC while Cameroon will be a supporting speaker on the agenda. The LCB and Sahel region are experiencing deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions. Despite the death of Abubakar Shekau – leader of Boko Haram’s Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JAS) faction – in May 2021, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter Boko Haram faction took the opportunity to expand its operations by taking over former JAS territories and fighters. Taking an approach aimed at establishing itself as a better alternative to State authority, ISWAP’s attacks have mainly been targeted against government forces and infrastructures while it extorts funding from civilian communities in its areas of operation, in exchange for essential services. Fighters from JAS have on the other hand continued attacks against civilian populations. Terrorist insurgency and spread of violent extremism in the Sahel region also continue to frustrate military efforts including operations by the G5 Sahel Joint Force. A recent development worth reflecting on is also the decision of Malian transition authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force and its consequent impact on regional security.

Despite some success attained in degrading insurgencies in the region, emerging trends in the means and methods used by terrorist groups have demonstrated the need for a more enhanced focus on non-military approaches that address, what our latest report called, the political and socio-economic pathologies that create grievances enabling the emergence and growth of terrorist insurgencies. The need for prioritising a multipronged political, socio-economic and humanitarian strategy towards whose fulfilment the security instruments are geared cannot be overemphasised. The important role of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the need for enhancing support for the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region (RSS) also remains key.

According to the UN, violence and insecurity across countries in the LCB has severely frustrated basic social services and natural resources leaving about 11 million people depending on humanitarian aid. As of April 2022, 4.1 million people in the region are facing food insecurity with 300,000 children severely malnourished. The insecurity induced humanitarian crisis in Sahel also continues to intensify. Burkina Faso in particular is faced with severe humanitarian condition, with the number of internally displaced persons reaching over nearly 2 million in 2022.

In addition to security challenges, 2021 and early 2022 have seen the Sahel region’s political situation characterised by the upsurge in unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) and prolonged transitions. Coups in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali have occupied much of the AUPSC’s deliberations while relevant regional bodies – mainly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – have also been actively engaged in efforts aimed at returning constitutional order in these countries.

With regards to Libya, Morocco will be the lead speaker from AUPSC’s side. The challenging political context, the fragile security situation and the dire condition of migrants are the main areas of concern the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on in relation to the situation in Libya. On the political front, the lack of agreement on the necessary legal framework for the conduct of the general elections which were scheduled to take place on 24 December 2021 have resulted in the postponement of the elections indefinitely. This has led to the challenge against the legitimacy of the interim Prime Minister based in the capital by the east-based House of Representatives which appointed a new Prime Minister, leading to the country’s slide back to having parallel governments. While the rivalry between the two executives has not yet turned into full armed conflict, it has already rekindled economic, political and military disputes. The halt of the unification process of parallel security forces which was already facing significant challenges entails serious concerns to the sustainability of the October 2020 ceasefire agreement. Moreover, Russia has officially recognised the east-based government, reigniting divided foreign support for the two executives and taking the country back to the pre-October 2020 situation.

The challenge for AU and EU is to achieve a shared concern and perception of threat about the continuation of the crisis in Libya. Africa, particularly countries in the Sahel, have born and continue to bear the brunt of the fall out from the military campaign that precipitated the collapse of Libya in 2011. The marginalization of the AU from active role in the effort for resolving the crisis in Libya remains a source of disaffection in Addis Ababa. For the EU, the deterioration of the political situation in Libya creates complications in the context of the confrontation with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. First, it hampers Europe’s plans to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas by resorting to Libya as one of the main hydrocarbon suppliers. Second, the impasse between Libya’s executives and the resulting insecurity will further fuel the migration crisis in the region. According to the International Organisation on Migration (IOM), the number of displaced persons in various parts of Libya had reached 635,051 by the end of January 2022. Given that no one actor can on its own address the complex political and security crisis in Libya, it is of particular significance that the AUPSC and EUPSC affirm the interest of each for the resolution of the crisis and the need for full involvement of the AU in the multilateral effort for achieving political resolution and national reconciliation in Libya.

Regarding Somalia, Djibouti will be lead speaker while Uganda will assume the role of supporting speaker from the side of the AUPSC. In Somalia, the completion of the much delayed parliamentary and presidential elections, with the appointment of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been a welcome progress. The final reconfiguration of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is another milestone met in 2022 although the funding requirements for the new mission remain unmet. While the EU was a principal funder of AMISOM and has already committed to continue financing AU’s peace support efforts in the spirit of the Joint AU-EU vision for 2030, EU’s proposed funds for financing ATMIS are said to fall short of the required amount. Despite the progress noted in the political situation and AMISOM’s transition, the security situation in Somalia remains volatile with Al-Shabaab sustaining its activities and carrying out intensified attacks throughout the country. The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in its various areas of operation has particularly been a notable trend in Al-Shabaab’s more recent attacks. In addition to civilian causality and humanitarian toll due to insecurity, Somalia is also experiencing an escalating severe drought. According to the latest UN data, 4.8 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity while 4.2 million people are experiencing life-threatening water shortages.

The expected outcome of the meeting is a joint-communiqué. With regards to the GLR, the AUPSC and EUPSC may urge the international community to strengthen support for the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). They may further highlight the importance of exploring parallel non-military approaches aimed at addressing underlying root-causes of conflict and instability in the region and commend countries of the GLR for the formation of the Contact and Coordination Group which is aimed at overseeing non-military measures to assist in the neutralisation of armed groups in eastern DRC. Regarding the LCB, in addition to reaffirming their commitment to support the Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF) and LCBC, the AUPSC and EUPSC may emphasise the importance of sustained support for the implementation of the Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin in order to address the security and humanitarian crisis in the region in a comprehensive manner. Regarding Libya, they may stress the need for sustained efforts between the AU, EU and UN, with active and full participation of the AU, for the adoption of a comprehensive plan providing concreate steps towards resolving the dispute between the two parallel governments and providing the framework for the conduct of elections. They may also call on all relevant stakeholders including the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to sustain the momentum on the implementation of the action plan adopted in October 2021 for the gradual and sequenced withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from the country. With respect to the political situation in the Sahel region, the two Councils may emphasise the importance of addressing the common underlying root causes of coups in the region such as democratic and governance deficits, manipulation of constitutional term limits, damaged state-society relationships and grave violations of human rights and freedoms. They may further stress the instrumentality of addressing root causes for resolving the security challenges in the region including the high rate of terrorist insurgency. On Somalia, the two may welcome the completion of the national elections and congratulate the newly elected President. They may reflect on how sustainable, predictable and sufficient funding for ATMIS can be secured including through contributions through joint mobilisation of resources, including by leveraging the EU Peace Facility, which provides the lions share of financial support for ATMIS.

5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 9 June 2022

Tomorrow (9 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 5th informal joint retreat, which will be followed by the 13th annual joint consultative meeting to be convened on 10 June. This year’s joint retreat is expected take place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Starting from 2015, the AUPSC and EUPSC have institutionalised the practice of convening informal joint retreats ahead of their joint annual consultative meetings, with aim of facilitating constructive dialogue through informal engagements. As such, the joint retreats mainly serve the two organs to discuss issues of partnership and exchange views on how to enhance cooperation on various aspects of peace and security. The last time the two convened a joint retreat was in 2018, ahead of the 11th joint consultative meeting, which constituted their 4th joint retreat. In 2020, although the 12th joint consultative meeting between the two bodies took place, the joint retreat was not convened, making this year’s retreat the 5th one.

Two main agenda items are expected to feature at this year’s joint retreat – first the issue of multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy and second, the sustainability of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). From the AUPSC side, there was interest in discussing the issue of humanitarian situation in the continent. However, given that the thematic issue was considered to be beyond the mandate of the EUPSC, the topic was not taken forward in the final agenda for the retreat. On the other hand, the EU proposed to discuss the war in Ukraine as one of the agenda items of the joint retreat. Similar to the EUPSC, it was considered to be beyond the mandate of the PSC for discussing it in the joint retreat. It is however expected that individual members of the EUPSC would in their intervention raise the war in Ukraine.

The first agenda item expected to feature at the 5th joint retreat is envisaged to focus on multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. In ways more than one, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy are in crisis in Africa, as in other parts of the world. As highlighted in our report on Major Peace and Security Issues in Africa, the number and geographic spread of conflicts in Africa has grown exponentially.  Further highlighting the precarious state of peace and security on the continent, Africa witnessed the largest number of coups (five) since AU came into existence in a matter of 10 months period between April 2021 and February 2022. The PSC in the communique of its 1000th session expressed ‘deep concern over the persistence and resurgence of conflict and crisis situations in some parts of the Continent, including the growing threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism and armed groups.’ All these are on account of the persistence or further deterioration and expansion of existing protracted conflicts such as those in Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and the eruption of new conflicts or crisis situations include those in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. AU Commission Chairperson in his opening address to the 35th AU Assembly warned that these trends raise ‘serious questions about the future of our flagship project to silence the guns’.

There are at least three issues that the worrying peace and security trends and the challenges they pose to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy give rise to. The first of this concerns the adequacy and effectiveness of the approach to the management and resolution of existing protracted conflicts. In the face of lack of sustained collective continental and international support and diplomatic attention as well as failure of national actors to assume their responsibilities for achieving peace, both peace support operations and mediation efforts as currently deployed are struggling to deliver. The second issue relates to the effective operation of conflict early warning and early response systems. While information on potential risks of conflicts is ubiquitous, there are questions on the quality of early warning reports and their timely communication for decision-makers. There is also the issue of the formation of common understanding among various decision-making actors both within the AU and between the AU and various security actors including RECs/RMs and multilateral partners such as the EU. The existence of quality early warning without catalyzing such shared understanding would not trigger early action. The third issue that perhaps presents the most serious challenge to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy is the refusal or reluctance of concerned states to cooperate for actions for conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. This is due to the pervasive culture of denialism and the increasing use of the defense of sovereignty. As AU Commission Chairperson rightly pointed out, ‘a restrictive, even dogmatic reading of the intangible principle of the sovereignty of the Member States raises an iron wall against any intervention by the continental organization, either as a preventive measure through early warning, or as a remedy when the crisis breaks out.’

In the light of the foregoing and against the background of the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, it is right that the two bodies focus on addressing the challenges facing conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy as part of a commitment for multilateralism and find ways of investing in and enhancing the effective use of conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy in Africa including through enhancing regular interaction, joint analysis and exchange as well as complementary actions for prevention and preventive diplomacy, by among others focusing on channeling resources to social spending and addressing governance and development fragilities and linking the provision of support for transitions to concrete governance reforms and investment in provision and expansion of social services. Equally important is the imperative of the provision of both high-level and sustained diplomatic attention and resources support for preventive diplomacy and mediation or peacemaking processes. Success of the informal retreat on this theme would depend on the specific commitments that the two make for joint action and the mechanisms they put in place for delivering on such specific commitments along the foregoing lines.

The second agenda item to be discussed at the 5th joint retreat is the issue of ensuring sustainability of AU PSOs. An issue which may also be of central focus in the discussion on financing AU PSOs is the end of the EU funding through the Africa Peace Facility (APF) and what it could mean for collective African decision making on peace and security and AU leadership in peace efforts. The shift from APF to the European Peace Facility (EPF) which aims to explore the option of financing African peace efforts through bilateral agreements has been cause for concern among African stakeholders, not only in terms of its implications to multilateral engagement of the two continents, but also with respect to the financing gap it would entail for AU PSOs. With agreement on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs still pending, the funding gap created due to the shift from APF to EPF will surely have a significant impact on the capacity of AU PSOs that previously benefited from the APF scheme.

It is also to be recalled that at the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, the two Unions adopted a joint vision for 2030 which includes commitment to support ongoing discussions on the utilisation of United Nations (UN)-assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs authorised by the UN Security Council (UNSC). The importance of ensuring sustainable and predictable financing for AU-led PSOs including through UN-assessed contributions also remains a key point of discussion at AUPSC-UNSC consultative meetings while the AUPSC continues to dedicate sessions to deliberate on the issue. Despite the weight that has been given to the issue, reaching agreement on a UNSC Resolution on utilising UN assessed contributions to co-finance AU PSOs has proven to be an on-going challenge. While the adoption of a ‘zero-draft African consensus paper on accessing sustainable and predictable financing for AU peace and security activities’ has been a welcome progress, agreement on a final version of the consensus paper is yet to be achieved. At the forthcoming joint retreat, the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on the primary responsibility of the UNSC for ensuring global peace and security, including in Africa, which serves as the basis for financing of AU PSOs through UN assessed contributions. In addition, the AUPSC may particularly wish to draw attention to the human cost Africa continues to pay as the most invaluable contribution to international peace and security, whose significance has never been appreciated in discussions on Africa’s contributions.

12th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting Between the AUPSC and EUPSC

PSC meetings with EU Organs

Date | 25 October, 2020

Tomorrow (26 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its 12th annual joint consultative meeting with the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (PSC). The session is expected to take place through VTC.
The respective chairpersons of the two bodies, namely the Chairperson of the PSC Ambassador Osama Abdelkhalek and the Permanent Chair of the EUPSC Ambassador Sofie From-Emmesberger, are set to deliver the opening remarks. The Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui and EU representative are scheduled to address the joint consultative meeting.

The PSC and EU PSC joint consultative meeting is convened on a yearly basis, aimed at facilitating dialogue between the organs on topical thematic and conflict specific agendas of common interest. The AUPSC and EUPSC have held annual joint consultative meetings in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, since their inaugural meeting in 2008. Starting from 2015, the joint consultative meetings are preceded by joint informal retreats aimed at creating the opportunity for an informal engagement to facilitate more constructive dialogue and convergence of approaches.

Given that the two bodies were unable to hold the annual joint consultative meeting in 2019, the convening of this year’s meeting carries its own significance. It signifies continuing interest on both sides to maintain the regularity of the consultative meeting.

Throughout their meetings over the years, the AU PSC and EU PSC have addressed various thematic and country specific peace and security concerns in Africa. Some of the thematic topics that featured on the agenda of previous consultative meetings include unconstitutional change of governments, election management, migration, and the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa. Conflict specific agendas of previous meetings addressed conflicts in countries such as Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, CAR, Somalia and the Sahel region. In addition, key collaborative issues are also discussed at these meetings such as the importance of sustainable financing of AU-led peace operations and the need for enhanced AU–EU partnership in maintaining peace and security and boosting development in Africa, particularly by supporting conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

Over the 12 years of their joint collaborations, the AUPSC and EUPSC have also introduced the conduct of joint field missions to particular conflict settings. In 2015, the AUPSC and EUPSC also undertook a joint field mission to Mali. The mission focused on consultations and discussion on finding lasting solutions to the political and socio-economic crisis in Mali. Subsequently, in March 2018, they undertook a joint filed visit to CAR, in the context of the AU-EU common agenda for sustainable stabilisation of the situation in CAR.

The 11th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting took place in October 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. At their last meeting in 2018, the AU PSC and EU PSC were able to address multiple issues with a particular focus on the situations in Mali/Sahel, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, CAR and DRC.

This year the agenda is expected to focus only on three country/region specific issues: Mali/Sahel, Somalia and Sudan. In preparation for this year’s meeting, three preparatory meetings and consultations have been held in the course of this month, two at the ambassadorial level and one at the level of the PSC Committee of Experts. These preparatory meetings reflected on the issues of interest on the agenda items to be considered during the consultative meeting and identified the speakers from members of the AUPSC designated to speak on the three agenda items.

On the situation in Mali/Sahel Ambassador of Ghana Amma Twum-Amoah and Ambassador of Algeria Salah Francis Elhamdi will make presentations on behalf of the PSC. With regards to Mali and the Sahel, some of the key points raised in the 2018 AU PSC- EU PSC consultative meeting were the continued spread of terrorist attack in the Sahel region with a concerning spill-over effect from northern Mali to the central parts of the country as well as neighbouring States, mainly Burkina Faso. They also discussed the importance of supporting G5 Sahel Joint Force and ECOWAS led efforts, through mobilising political support from regional and international actors to follow up on the pledges and through ensuring greater ownership of initiatives by countries of the region.

As the following years demonstrated, the terrorism situation in Mali and the Sahel region in general have deteriorated further. The heightened increase in terrorist attacks in the region in 2019 has rendered the border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger into major crisis hotspot. A discussion on the situation in Mali at the 12th consultative meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC is expected to highlight the efforts deployed towards the establishment of a civilian led transitional government in Mali after the 18 August military coup that ousted Ibrahim Keita and the state of the transition since the establishment of the transitional government. Apart from supporting the transition, the meeting is also sure to reflect on the need for adhering to the Malian Transitional Charter, the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of and the key ECOWAS decisions and the terms of the last AUPSC communique on Mali.

On Somalia three presentations are expected from the PSC side: Ambassador of Djibouti, Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, Ambassador of Lesotho Mafa Mosothoane Sejanamane and Ambassador of Ethiopia Tesfaye Yilma.

In relation to Somalia, the main points noted during the 11th consultative meeting were the continued Al-Shabaab threats to the security situation; the adoption of the Somali Transitional Plan (STP); the need for a reconfigured AMISOM to move towards the gradual handover of security responsibility to the country’s security institutions as well as the need for enhanced support to the Somalia National Army as to prepare it to take over security responsibilities from AMISOM; and the importance of collaboration between FGS and FMS for the success of Somalia’s security sector reform.

While Al-Shabaab continues to pose serious threat as its various attacks have shown, new threats in the form of desert locust invasion and flooding (threats impacting most of the horn region currently) have compounded the security crisis in Somalia and the horn of Africa during 2020. Together with the COVID-19 pandemic, these conditions have worsened the humanitarian situation. On the other hand, despite some progress registered in terms of the process of AMISOM’s handover of responsibilities and in the political situation in Somalia, the level of preparedness of Somali Security Forces and the relationship between FGS and FMS remain at best work in progress. A major recent positive development was the agreement among Somali political actors on the modalities for the election.

A country situation which was not a topic of discussion at the 2018 AUPSC-EUPSC joint consultative meeting but that will feature in tomorrow’s meeting is Sudan. Three PSC members are expected to deliver presentations: Ambassador of Kenya Catherine Mwangi, Charge D’Affair of Nigeria Richards Adejola and Ambassador of Egypt Osama Abdelkhalek.

The situation in Sudan has been among the most dominating topics in the agenda of the AUPSC throughout 2019 and to some extent in 2020. Major points of discussion expected to feature during the consultative session include the peace process notably, the peace agreement signed between the transitional government and major rebel groups, the socio-economic reconstruction of Sudan and the humanitarian situation resulting from heavy flooding. Of major concern for the Sudan transition has been the country’s continued designation by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism. In this respect, the announcement by the US Government for delisting Sudan from the list of states sponsors of terrorism offers the unique opportunity for supporting the transitional process more robustly.

The expected outcome is a joint communiqué. On Mali/Sahel the two organs may commend the work of ECOWAS in mediating and facilitating political dialogue. It may welcome the recent developments in the formation of a transitional government in Mali and the importance of maintaining the civilian nature of the transition and respect the provisions of the Malian Transitional Charter. They may underline that the fight against terrorism should be accompanied with addressing the root causes of conflict and instability and improving governance in Mali and the Sahel region. On Somalia the communiqué may welcome the progress made towards the preparation of the upcoming election and the dialogue between the FGS and FMS. It may express concern over the continued security challenges in the country and underline the importance that the drawdown of AMISOM should be based on the security realities of the country. On Sudan AUPSC and EUPSC may welcome the positive developments in the signing of the peace agreement and they may call on the remaining non-signatories to join the peace process. Welcoming the decision of the US to delist Sudan from the list of sponsors of terrorism, they may also urge for enhanced economic support to address the severe economic challenges facing Sudan.