5th Annual Consultative meeting between the PSC and the UN PBC

5th Annual Consultative meeting between the PSC and the UN PBC

Date | 28 November 2022

Tomorrow (28 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1122nd session in which one of the agenda items will focus on the 5th annual consultative meeting with the United Nations (UN) Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) on climate change and peacebuilding in Africa.

The Consultative meeting is expected to start with opening remarks from Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for November, and, Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN and Chair of the UN PBC. The PSC will also receive interventions from Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary General for Peacebuilding Support Office and Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU).

PSC and UN PBC have been able to regularize their engagement in recent years within the context of the joint AU-UN framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security signed in 2017 and the AU-UN framework for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2018), which lay the foundation for continued cooperation between AU and UN on peace and security on the continent. PSC and UN PBC have convened four annual consultative meetings since 2018. The last consultative meeting was held on 11 November 2021 during the inaugural AU PCRD week on the accompaniment of African countries undergoing political transitions with peacebuilding tools. The fifth annual consultative meeting will focus on climate and peacebuilding in Africa. This timely thematic focus comes at the backdrop of the conclusion of the two-week-long United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Moreover, the issue of climate change and security is high on the agenda of the PSC; the latter has convened around 12 sessions dedicated to climate change and security in Africa since 2016.

According to the concept note prepared for tomorrow’s session, the consultative meeting aims to exchange views on the ‘impact of climate change on peacebuilding, particularly in support of Agenda 2063 and the “Silencing the Guns” initiative’ and presents the two sides the opportunity to explore options that would synergize and coordinate ‘strategic and operational responses to the climate crisis in the pursuit of building and sustaining peace in the continent’.  The consultative meeting is expected to specifically tackle the following questions:

  • How is climate change impacting peacebuilding on the continent?
  • What are the differential effects of climate change and conflicts on women, girls, youth,and other vulnerable groups?
  • What are the existing local-specific mechanisms, good practices, and opportunities forclimate sensitive programming for peacebuilding?

Africa remains the most vulnerable continent to climate change despite its low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (less than 4 percent). The PSC has recognized the link between climate change and security in Africa in various of its sessions. Its 1051st session of November 2021, for instance, acknowledged the ‘wide-ranging risks of climate change, as a threat multiplier, to the peace and security landscape in the continent including on food and water insecurity, loss of livelihoods, failure of management of natural resources, the scarcity of water resources, climate-induced displacements, and possibly aggravating existing vulnerabilities, tensions and conflicts’.

Amani Africa’s statement on climate and security nexus that was released ahead of COP27 also noted ‘mounting consensus and evidence that the climate crisis carries adverse consequences for political stability and peace and security’ despite the uncertainty over the causal links between climate and conflict. The statement identified four points in which climate change and security intersects in Africa. The first is where climate induced scarcity of natural resources leads to violent competition over control and access to such ever depleting resources. The second is where climate change induced extreme weather events operate as multipliers of conflict factors, through their interaction with existing national and local political, social, and environmental stresses. The third is where climate related disaster interferes with and undermines peace processes and transitions, while the fourth is when climate change in causing disasters and humanitarian emergencies leads to not only displacements that could undermine social cohesion but also impedes development efforts and resilience of societies for averting and managing political tensions and conflicts.

Negative effects of climate change particularly manifests in fragile contexts where ‘governance systems and institutions are not strong’, ‘coping mechanisms are weak’, ‘the natural resources are a key source of livelihoods’, and ‘there are stark gender inequalities.’ As such, given that climate change, developmental, and peace and security challenges of the continent are interconnected and mutually reinforcing, it is imperative to adopt a comprehensive strategy that are climate-sensitive and addresses underlying causes of insecurity in a holistic manner. Indeed, during its 1051st session, PSC underlined ‘the importance of adopting a climate-sensitive planning dimension in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts to prevent any relapse to armed conflicts in fragile communities’. In this respect, AU-Lake Chad Basin Commission regional strategy for the stabilization, recovery & resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin and UN integrated strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) and its Support Plan (2018-2030) offer important lessons in terms of developing such a comprehensive strategy that integrates peacebuilding as a major component in addressing multidimensional challenges including climate change. On the part of UN PBC, they are also likely to mention the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund and its various climate informed peacebuilding projects with an active portfolio of over USD 251 million across Africa.

Of particular interest to the participants of the consultative meeting is the recent launch of the Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace (CRSP)- an initiative of COP27 Presidency in partnership with the AU as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Anchored on four pillars (strengthening the climate adaptation and peacebuilding nexus; sustaining peace through climate resilient food systems; advancing durable solutions to the climate-displacement nexus; and accelerating climate finance for sustaining peace), the initiative aims to ensure that integrated climate responses contribute to sustainable peace and development.

In terms of specific conflict contexts, tomorrow’s session may also put the limelight on how extreme whether events induced by climate change (floods and drought from repeated failure of rains) is undermining peacebuilding in South Sudan and in Somalia. The experiences in these countries clearly illustrate that unless accompanied by and integrates measures that address the impacts of climate change peacebuilding could not be pursued successfully.

The expected outcome from the consultative meeting is a press statement. It is expected that the two bodies welcome the progress made in strengthening their relations while reiterating the call made at the previous consultative meeting for an impact-driven collaboration with greater emphasis on coherent planning, operational complementarity, and leveraging on comparative advantages in specific contexts. The two bodies may also recognize some of the positive efforts made by AU in strengthening its PCRD and peacebuilding responses, notably the revision of the AU PCRD Policy and the launch of Cairo PCRD Centre. However, they may also recognize the resource constraint and in this regard, the two sides may emphasize the need for adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for AU peacebuilding efforts. In relation to the theme of the meeting, while acknowledging the negative impact of climate change on the peace, security, and stability of the continent, they may further underscore the imperative of strengthening the climate adaptation and peacebuilding nexus. They may also welcome the launch of the CRSP initiative and call upon international partners to support the same, in addition to other continental, regional, and national initiatives in pursuit of addressing underlying causes of multidimensional challenges that many African countries are facing. They may also emphasize the need for climate sensitive planning and implementation of peacebuilding interventions and may in this respect call for enhanced climate action in implementing peacebuilding interventions in South Sudan and Somalia. Cognizant of the disproportionate impact of climate change on most vulnerable groups, the two bodies may also stress the importance of paying a particular attention in integrating the needs and priorities of women and youth.

Joint Consultative Meeting between the AUPSC and the UNPBC

PSC meetings with other UN Organs

Date | 11 November, 2021

Tomorrow (11 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold its regular meeting with the United Nations (UN) Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). The Chair of the AUPSC Ambassador Mohammed Gad and the Chair of the UNPBC Ambassador Osama Abdel Khalek are expected to deliver opening remarks. Then, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU), Hanna Tetteh, will brief the meeting. This will be followed by interventions and interactive discussion.

This meeting is taking place during the post-conflict reconstruction and development week launched for the first time by the African Union to allow experts and relevant stakeholders from the peacebuilding and development community “to exchange views on practical ways to support countries in political transition, strengthen their resilience and avoid a relapse into conflict”. Series of events are organized during this week which include the first Annual African Flag Day, a virtual High-Level Seminar on PCRD in Africa and an AUPSC session to examine the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the AU’s Efforts on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa.

The last meeting between the AUPSC and the PBC was held virtually on 23 October 2020 where the two bodies exchanged views on how to further enhance cooperation in support of peacebuilding in Africa on the basis of the AU’s policy framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development as well as the UN’s sustaining peace agenda. The meeting took place at the backdrop of the 2020 review of the UN peacebuilding architecture and it recognized the African common position on the review of the peacebuilding architecture. A discussion was also held on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peacebuilding in Africa, with particular emphasis on the role of women and youth.

The AU-UN partnership in peacebuilding and sustaining peace has been strengthened in recent year within the context of the AU-UN framework on enhanced partnership for peace and security signed in 2017. The then AU peace and security department and the UN peacebuilding support office also signed a memorandum of understanding the same year. Since its establishment, the UNPBC has been supporting the peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction efforts of African countries emerging from conflict. It has been considering numerous country specific and thematic issues related to Africa on its agenda. The UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has also provided financial support to several of these countries constituting 66% of PBF’s investments.

The AUPSC and the UNPBC have been meeting annually since 2018. Tomorrow’s meeting is expected to explore UN-AU cooperation in support of political transitions in Africa, including in the Sahel and in the Great Lakes region, according to the concept note prepared to help guide the discussion. This includes how the two organizations can coordinate their efforts across “the full spectrum of preventive action and diplomacy, post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable development” to support political transitions in the continent.

There appears to be keen interest to link the discussion with the Secretary-General’s “common agenda” released in September. The PBC held a discussion with him recently to exchange views on the peacebuilding objectives of his common agenda. The document underscores, among other things, the need to support regional capacities in peacebuilding. It also points out the need to take measures to increase investments in prevention and peacebuilding and dedicate more resources to the Peacebuilding Fund, including through assessed contributions.

The African Union has outlined its priorities on peacebuilding as encapsulated in the common African position on the review of the peacebuilding architecture. One of the priorities is financing for peacebuilding and the CAP supports the proposals by the UN Secretary-General, which among other things, include allocating a certain percentage of assessed contribution to support medium to long-term peacebuilding. The UN General Assembly is expected to hold a high-level meeting next year to consider options for ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for peacebuilding.

The expected outcome of the consultative meeting is a press statement with solid recommendations for future collaborations between the two organs in the prevention of conflicts, as well as in assisting political transitions and maintaining peace in Africa.

Annual Informal Consultative Meeting between the AUPSC and the UN Peace Building Commission (UNPBC)

PSC meetings with other UN Organs

Date | 23 October, 2020

Tomorrow (23 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its annual informal consultative meeting with the United Nations (UN) Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). The informal consultation is the second agenda item of the 958th PSC session and is expected to take place virtually.

The annual informal consultative meeting takes place in the form of a panel discussion, which will be co-facilitated by the Chairperson of the AUPSC Osama Abdel-Khalek and the Chairperson of the UNPBC Bob Rae. Following opening remarks by the two chairs, Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the AU and Oscar Fernandez-Taranco UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support are expected to deliver a briefing. This will be followed by interventions from the AUPSC and the PBC. A concept note has been circulated to guide the informal consultation.

The Council and the Commission have been holding their consultations over the last couple of years with a view to forging cooperation in support of peacebuilding efforts in Africa. Most of the country specific, regional, and thematic issues under consideration by the PBC are focused on the African continent. Four African countries – Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Guinea-Bissau, and Liberia – will remain on the agenda of the PBC, with the exit of Guinea and eventually Sierra Leone. These and other African countries have over the years benefited from the financial assistance of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

There are several instruments, which have been guiding the cooperation between the AUPSC and the PBC. The concurrent resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (70/262) and the Security Council (2282) in 2016 following the review of the United Nations Peacebuilding architecture underscored the importance of partnership between the Commission and the African Union and its regional mechanisms in support of peacebuilding in Africa. The African Union has also the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding Policy Framework adopted in 2006. The AU initiative on Silencing the Guns in Africa is also significant and the Security Council through the adoption of resolution 2457 (2019) expressed strong support for this initiative. Furthermore, the United Nations and the African Union signed a Joint Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security and MoU on peacebuilding in 2018.

It is within this overall framework that the annual meeting takes place on Friday. What makes the meeting particularly important is that it is happening at a time when Africa is facing serious challenges on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in terms of the various post-conflict countries and regions, particularly in west Africa and the Sahel region, the Lake Chad Basin, Central Africa and the Great Lakes. The situation has also been further compounded by the multifaceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemics. The PBC has been discussing this important issue over the last couple of months and what has come out clearly in these discussions was the need for stronger partnerships, particularly with regional organizations and International Financial Institutions to better respond to the impact of the pandemic.

The annual AUPSC-PBC meeting also takes place at the backdrop of the 2020 review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture and intergovernmental consultations have already started in New York under the co-facilitation of New Zealand and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to achieve the broadest possible consensus among member States on the review process. The co-facilitators have circulated a zero-draft resolution for member State’s consideration.

The AUPSC has already adopted a Common African Position on the review at its 948th meeting on 22 September 2020, underscoring that the review should consider practical means for enabling the AU to exercise ownership of PCRD efforts and engagements on the Continent; ensuring closer collaboration and information-sharing on operational and programmatic engagements; and enhancing national and continental African capacities for planning and implementation of programmes and projects designed to address context-specific cross border challenges and sub-regional dimensions of peacebuilding. The PSC instructed the Commission to transmit the Report of the Chairperson on the Common African Position on the 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, towards an enhanced global peacebuilding system to the African Group in New York, to guide and advance its engagement in the negotiations on the review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.

The Common African Position is indeed an important contribution to the 2020 review of the peacebuilding architecture sharing Africa’s views and perspectives on enhancing the global peacebuilding system. It was a result of thorough reflection on the AU’s experience over the past two decades in peacebuilding in Africa underscoring the “indispensability of national ownership and leadership of peacebuilding process; the importance of effective partnership in support of peacebuilding; the imperative for institution building and financing, and a strong emphasis on impact, through implementation at the field level”. It provided specific recommendations on how to strengthen the global peacebuilding architecture in line with Africa’s own priorities.

The hope and expectation is that these priorities will be taken on board during the review process. The role of the African Group in New York is going to be critical in making sure that they are adequately reflected in the intergovernmental consultations, which are currently underway. The African Caucus on Peacebuilding is said to have already made proposals on Financing and Partnerships for Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace and Institution Building and System-Wide Engagement for Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace, to the informal phase of the review. The AU Commission is also said to have submitted inputs on “Financing and Partnerships for Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”. The annual meeting will provide yet another opportunity for members of the AUPSC to advance Africa’s views and perspectives on the review based on the common position.
According to the draft concept note prepared for the annual meeting, the Council and the Commission are expected to identify ways of further enhancing synergies between the two bodies in support of peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa, building on the ongoing UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the Common African Position on Peacebuilding. They are also expected to examine ongoing AU and UN efforts to help address the impact of COVID-19 on peacebuilding and sustaining peace efforts in Africa, including under the framework of Silencing the Guns and particularly in regions under the consideration of the PBC (West Africa and the Sahel; Central Africa; Lake Chad Basin; and the Great Lakes), with a focus on the role of women and youth.

This is indeed a landmark year for Women, among others, because of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the 20th anniversary of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on the Women, Peace and Security agenda adopted by the United Nations Security Council. Series of activities are being organized to mark these important events. Both the AUPSC and the PBC had also held meetings over the course of this month focusing on women, peace, and security. The meeting between the AUPSC and PBC provides yet another opportunity to highlight this issue in the context of the country specific, regional, and thematic issues under consideration by the PBC.

The expected outcome may be in a form of a joint press statement. The outcome document may call on the need to enhance the strategic partnership to ensure the provision of a comprehensive peacebuilding support to countries emerging from conflict. It may further call on efforts to address the adverse impact of COVID-19 on peacebuilding in Africa and prevent the risks of relapse to conflict. It may underline that sustainable peace requires addressing root causes of conflict through coordinated security and development efforts. The document may reiterate the key components of the Common African Position on peacebuilding and underline the importance of supporting a global peacebuilding architecture that accommodates Africa’s priorities. The joint statement may also highlight the need to further clarify the format of the annual informal consultation between the PSC and PBC.

Annual Interaction Between the Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Peace building Commission

PSC meetings with other UN Organs

Date | 11 November, 2019

Tomorrow (11 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold its annual interaction with the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UNPBC). The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, UNPBC Chair and Vice Chair and the representative of UN office to the AU (UNOAU) are expected to address the Council. The Department of Peace and Security is also expected to deliver a statement.

The 633rd PSC session held on 18 October 2016 decided to institutionalize its partnership with UNPBC through annual interactive sessions alternating between Addis Ababa and New York, joint missions to conflict affected countries and joint retreats. Consequently, the Chairs of UNPBC have held consultations in Addis in 2017 and in New York on the margins of the 12th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting between the AUPSC and the UN Security Council in 2018. The UNSC in its resolution 2282 (2016) and 2457 (2019) has similarly urged the UNPBC to hold regular exchanges of information with relevant regional and sub regional organizations in particular with AU Commission.

Drawing on these decisions and the practice of the previous years, UNPBC is expected to provide update on its activities in the continent including recent field visits undertaken in conflict affected countries. The interactive session may also focus on particular regions and countries namely Central African Republic (CAR), Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Mano River Union and the Sahel. The two bodies are also expected to assess the progress made in the implementation of the previous deliberations and commitments.
The Chair of the thirteenth session of the UNPBC Guillermo Fernández de Soto Valderrama when outlining the 2019 work plan in January, highlighted the UNPBC’s partnership with the PSC should particularly ‘continue to focus on conflict prevention, good governance, human rights and national reconciliation’. These priority thematic areas are also anchored in the 2017 MoU signed between AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. The Sahel region and Liberia are also key priority areas in 2019 as indicated in the statement of the Chair.

In line with the work plan of the UNPBC, the respective country configuration Chairs may brief the Council on their activities. The Sahel region, which has also been a key area of focus at the recently concluded 13th joint consultative session of the PSC and UNSC, is expected to feature prominently in tomorrow’s session. PSC and UNPBC may discuss the deteriorating security situation in the region and the increasing attacks against civilians and security forces witnessed in Mali and Burkina Faso. In a high-level meeting on Burkina Faso convened by UNPBC in September 2019 participants underscored the worrying trend of the spike in terrorist attacks and spill over effects in other countries of the region.

The latest deadly attacks in the region are also an indication of the increased strength, capacity and territorial presence of terrorist groups and networks operating in the Sahel region. Hence, it is critical to assess mechanisms in which security operations can also be accompanied by political discussions and negotiations.

The Mano River region is another area on which tomorrow’s session is expected to deliberate. It would be of interest for the PSC to get UNPBC’s assessment of the situation in Mano River region and its support in Liberia after the completion of United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) mandate on 30 March 2018. In terms of the support for Liberia, the UNPBC is expected to highlight the work undertaken over the past 18 months in facilitating a smooth transition, in sustaining the peacebuilding plan and averting any gap that might be created after the withdrawal of the mission. The two bodies may particularly emphasize on the need for joint efforts in sustaining the peacebuilding process in the country.

Similarly, in the case of Sierra Leone the UNPBC may discuss the efforts in supporting the establishment of national institutions mandated to promote peace and national cohesion. Also, worth noting is the important role of ECOWAS in the region and the need to harmonize efforts at various levels in order to provide coordinated support in the countries.

The CAR, another priority country during the recent PSC-UNSC annual consultative meeting, is also expected to be on the agenda in tomorrow’s interactive session. It is to be recalled that there was a UNPBC visit to CAR jointly undertaken with the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support and the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in February 2019. The visit, which took place in the aftermath of the signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic aimed at supporting National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan and exploring the role of the UNPBC in the preparation of the 2020-21 planned elections. The Chair of CAR configuration, permanent representative of Morocco has then briefed the UNSC on the key findings of the field visit.

At a high-level event on the situation in CAR held in June 2019 the Chair of CAR configuration, described the situation in the country as ‘layers of unresolved conflict, weak state presence throughout the country, persistence of armed groups, and more than half the population in need’.
Most recently, alarming developments that may jeopardize the signed peace agreement have surfaced. The leaders of two rebel group who joined the government as military advisers after the signing of the agreement have recently resigned from their positions. Other groups continue to violate provisions of the agreement and have resumed competition for more territorial control. Opposition leaders have also voiced their strong disapproval of rebel leaders joining the government apparatus. The proliferation of armed groups continues to be a critical obstacle of the peace processes. A new armed group which is not part of the February agreement has emerged in northern CAR.

In addition to the country configuration Chairs the Vice Chairs may also use the opportunity to engage the PSC. Particularly Egypt as one of the Vice-Chairs of UNPBC may brief the PSC on the establishment and activities of AU Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD). Egypt as the 2019 Chair of the AU has been championing the PCRD work of the Union by supporting the establishment of the Centre.

The expected outcome of the session is unknown during the production of this ‘Insight’. However the PSC may adopt a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the work of the UNPBC and commend it for the briefing it has provided on the activities in specific countries. It may call on the UNPBC to continue its support to countries emerging from conflict. The PSC could also express concern over the relapse some countries and regions back to conflict, which undermines the gains that were made so far. It may underline that sustainable peace requires addressing root causes of conflict hence the importance of the security and development nexus. The PSC may further call on the need to foster the strategic partnership to ensure the provision of a comprehensive and multi-sector peacebuilding support to countries and regions.