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.

Insights on the Peace & Security Council - 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.