Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security

Youth, Peace and Security

Date | 12 November, 2020

Tomorrow (12 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene an open Session on ‘Youth Peace and Security: Advancing Youth Roles and Capacities for Silencing the Guns in Africa’. This 963rd session of the PSC is expected to take place through VTC.
The Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Cessouma Minata Samate, and Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, Sarah Anyang Agbor, are expected to make statements. The AU Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi and the five AU Youth for Peace Ambassadors (AYAPs) are scheduled to make presentations.

This session is organized as part of the African Youth Month and the annual thematic session of the PSC on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). As envisaged in the concept note, the objectives of the session include, among others, discussing the contribution of youth to the AU agenda on Silencing the Guns and the provision of technical and financial support to the conflict prevention projects to be undertaken by AYAPs in the five regions of the continent.

It is to be recalled that the PSC convened its first session dedicated to YPS in November 2018, which amongst others requested for undertaking a study on the role of the youth in promoting peace and security, the appointment of the five AYAPs and decided to ‘institutionalize and regularize an annual open session dedicated to the theme of YPS’. During its second session on YPS in November 2019, the PSC appointed the five AYAPs to promote, in collaboration with the youth envoy, the inclusion and participation of the youth across the entire peace and security cycle. The appointment was subsequently endorsed by the Assembly at the 33rd Ordinary Session in February 2020. This is in line with the African Youth Charter, which calls on states parties to strengthen the capacity of young people and youth organizations in peace-building, conflict prevention and conflict resolution through, among others, dialogue.

At its 933rd PSC session, the PSC considered and adopted the two PSC mandated documents, the ‘Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security’ along with the 10-year implementation plan (2020-2029), and the ‘Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth towards Peace and Security in Africa’. The framework was developed in collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) to provide policy guidance for member states and RECs/RMs for the promotion of effective and meaningful participation of the youth in all spectrums of peace, security and development in Africa.

Tomorrow’s PSC session focuses on YPS in relation to the theme of the year 2020: ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conductive Environment for Africa’s Development’. The youth are major actors whose role significantly shapes the agenda of Silencing the Guns in Africa. This is due to, among others, the demographic size of the youth in Africa (comprising over 60 %), the governance and socio-economic challenges affecting majority of youth and the impact of conflicts on youth (one in four young people), particularly on young women and girls. Apart from mobilization of the youth by conflict parties, youth are often caught in the crossfires of conflicts or are deliberately targeted as the recent brutal attack of a school in Cameroon highlighted. A youth-centered approach is thus a peace and security imperative both to understand the challenges for achieving the AU agenda of Silencing the Guns and to gauge the degree of public awareness and engagement on this theme.

As the AU prepares to convene an extraordinary summit on silencing the guns on 5 December 2020, tomorrow’s session serves to enhance ways for mobilizing substantive inputs of youth to the summit including through the planned youth tweet chat.

This session presents an opportunity for the AYAPs to share their experiences and perspectives in relation to their contribution and how best their capacities can be enhanced in the implementation of the STG agenda in the continent. During the intervention of Chebbi, the Council could also identify achievements and positive roles played by young Africans, which can be supported further.

Of particular interest to the Council could be the recent launch of the Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign by the AU’s Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the AU Office of Youth Envoy (OYE) in collaboration with other relevant departments on 24th of July 2020. The main aim of the campaign is to ‘mobilize the development and support of key actions that can be undertaken by youth to fast-track the implementation of the STG agenda in Africa’. The OYE, for instance, rolled out series of regional consultations, dubbed as intergenerational dialogue (IGD). This open session, as part of the campaign, is expected to further strengthen the intergenerational dialogue between the PSC, AU member states, RECs/RMs, international organizations, partners and the youth with the view to ramp up the immense role and positive engagement of African youth towards the actualization of the STG agenda. Also, of interest is the ‘Youth Silencing the Guns Award’, which was established by OYE to recognize and promote young peacebuilders behind innovative and impactful STG initiative.

As indicated in the concept note, one of the objectives of the session is to provide policy guidance to facilitate financial and technical support for the implementation of projects conflict prevention and peacebuilding to be undertaken by the AYAPs. In this regard the PSC may request the AUC to prepare and present options to support the projects.

Another issue that may be of interest to PSC members is update on the outcome of recent events and milestones and planned activities. The UN Resolutions on YPS including notably 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018) and 2535 (2020) offer further support and elaborate meaningful ways of advancing the YPS agenda which are relevant to the AU YPS agenda including notably inclusion and participation and creating the space for youth role through prevention and protection.

The expected outcome is a press statement. The PSC may underscore the critical importance of the contribution of the youth towards the actualization of the STG agenda despite the wide range of challenges. In this respect, the Council may further call for the promotion and creation of awareness regarding the role of African youth in conflict prevention and peacebuilding and the need for recognizing and harnessing the leadership of the youth by the AU, RECs/RMs and States. The PSC may request that AU peace processes pay particular attention to and highlight the youth dimension of conflicts and peace processes in their analysis and work, with a particular focus on young women. In terms of support for the role of the AYAPs, the PSC may call on the AU Commission working in collaboration with RECs and the UN to mobilize technical and financial support. The Council may commend the AUPSD, OYE and other relevant bodies of the AU for the launch of the Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign. The council may further call the Commission, RECs/RMs, member states, and other stakeholders to scale up their efforts for the active and meaningful engagement of the youth geared towards the pursuit of STG and the broader peace and security agenda at continental, regional and national levels.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Youth, Peace and Security

Date | 23 June, 2020

Tomorrow (23 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to have its 932nd session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The briefing from the Peace and Security Department (PSD) is circulated to the members of the PSC in a written statement, which will be circulated to the members.

It is expected that PSC member states will conduct the session remotely and share their input via email communication. Subsequently, the PSC Secretariat together with the Chairperson are expected to draft a communiqué and circulate for its adoption through silence procedure.

The 807th inaugural PSC meeting on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) was held on 8 November 2018. At the end of the session the PSC decided to institutionalize the agenda by dedicating an annual session on the theme. During the same meeting the PSC requested the Commission to undertake a study on the role of the youth in promoting peace and security in Africa and to finalize the Continental Framework on YPS and appoint the five African Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYPA), who among others, work with the AU Youth Envoy.

The PSC held the second session on YPS on 15 November 2019. The focus of the session was to “review actions undertaken since the inaugural (807th) PSC open session on 8 November 2018”. In addition, the session also received presentation on ‘the Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth to Peace and Security in Africa’. It was also at this session that the five African youth ambassadors for youth were introduced and presented to the PSC. It is to be recalled that subsequently, the 33rd AU Summit endorsed the appointed ambassadors and requested the Commission to institutionalize the Y4P Program within the PSD with a dedicated desk.

Tomorrow’s session is a follow up to the previous year’s open session and will afford the Council with the opportunity to consider the revised drafts of the Continental Framework on YPS and the ‘Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth to Peace and Security in Africa’. Accordingly, the PSD’s briefing is expected to provide an overview on the joint work undertaken by the Commission and the PSC committee of experts in finalizing the continental framework and in providing additional inputs in the study. With regards to the continental framework the briefing may shed light on its objectives and its five priority areas namely: participation, prevention, protection, partnership and coordination as well as disengagement and reintegration.
The central objective of the framework is to ensure the active engagement of the African youth in all aspects of peace and security. The framework also aims at tackling the hindrances to the active participation of the youth including limitation related to financial and technical capacity of youth initiatives and limited role of youth in formal peacebuilding initiatives.

The second part of the briefing is expected to provide update on the progress of the study. The rationale behind the study is to document and adequately portray the active contribution of youth in peace and security in Africa. A similar study conducted by the UN ‘The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth and Peace and Security’ interrogates existing stereotypes related to youth and violence and illustrates the relationship between youth, government and communities and youth’s participation in political, economic and social aspects.

It is of interest for members of the PSC to review persisting challenges limiting the active role of the youth. In this respect, some of the issues affecting the youth include structural limitations and cultural attitudes, requirements for experience for their engagement in institutional activities for peace and the lack of space and access to platforms for peace processes. Consideration of these and related issues affecting youth, particularly young women, is critical to identify the concrete initiatives and measures that member states and the AU should take to support and strengthen the role of youth, including their participation in AU peace processes.

In terms of following up on the 33rd AU Assembly decision on institutionalizing the AU program on youth peace and security in the Department of Peace and Security, an issue of interest for PSC members is the steps taken to implement this decision and how the PSC could support the full implementation of this decision. The briefing from the PSD may call on strengthened financial and technical support for youth led projects.

The briefing from the PSD may also put forward recommendations for the adoption of the two documents. The priority areas of the continental framework are informed by UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015). An important aspect of tomorrow’s session is accordingly to discuss the opportunities for effective inclusion of youth in peace processes. It would also be of interest to the PSC to review and assess the benchmarks under the various pillars of participation, prevention, protection, partnership and coordination and disengagement and reintegration. In the light of concerning trends mainly the spread of radicalization and violent extremism on the continent over the years and its impact on the youth, it would be of interest to the PSC to examine mechanisms to support the youth in regions affected by activities of terrorist operations to help prevent radicalization and their involvement in any actions related to terrorism and violent extremism.
The subsequent UNSC resolution on YPS, 2419 (2018) further called for a more robust youth participation in peace efforts at national, regional and global levels. One particular aspect that is underscored in the resolution, which may also be of interest to the PSC is around gender inequalities that put young women at particular risk. This offers the PSC to also recommit to the empowerment of young women and gender equality and to call on all member states to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and to protect young women.

There is a need to streamline policies and programs at the Commission level as well in close collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and member states. The PSC may encourage a closer partnership between RECs and the five regional African Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYAP). It may also urge member states that have not done so to ratify the African Youth Charter and to develop national youth policies in line with the Charter’s Article 12.

Tomorrow’s session is also taking place within the context of COVID19 pandemic. The AU Youth Envoy has noted the unprecedented impact on educational systems and youth employment. It would be critical for the PSC to also assess the adverse consequences of closure of schools and unemployment on youth’s role in peace and security, respect for the rights of young women and in fighting radicalization and extremism.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may recognize the agency and active role of youth in peace efforts. It may also underline the need to address the structural challenges that hinder their active engagement in peace efforts including in formal mediation and prebuilding processes. The PSC may commend the work undertaken by the Commission and for completing the various frameworks requested by the PSC. The PSC may welcome the recommendations put forward by PSD in the briefing note. The Council may decide to adopt the two documents of the continental framework and the study. The PSC may also note the importance of policy harmonization and coordination among the various stakeholders namely the Y4P, Office of the Youth Envoy, the five regional ambassadors and relevant departments in the Commission to ensure that the YPS agenda is implemented in a coherent manner. The PSC could also require that particular attention is given to the gender dimension of the role of youth in order to ensure that issues affecting young women are recognized and addressed.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Youth, Peace and Security

Date | 15 November, 2019

Tomorrow (5 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to convene an open session on the implementation and commemoration of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325. The session is expected to take place under the theme ‘20 Years of Resolution 1325: An Opportunity to Scale up Women’s Actions for Silencing the Guns in Africa’.

Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is scheduled to make a statement. The PSC is also expected to receive a briefing from the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop and the representative of UN Women. Others expected to address the PSC include the Minister for Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dega Yasin, and the Chairperson of FEMWISE.

This would be the first VTC session to be fully open since the PSC started operating virtually since April 2020. The PSC will receive statements from participants of the session.

Tomorrow’s session serves as an opportunity to take stoke of the 20 years journey of this landmark resolution. The objectives of the session as set out in the concept note are: assess the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa in the 20 years of 1325, analyse the socio-economic and financial impact of COVID19 on women and girls particularly in the context of armed conflict situations, recognize the role of women and women-led organizations in Silencing the Guns and Building Peace in Africa, provide space for African women organizations and women leaders in the area of peace and security to advocate for enhanced delivery on the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda.

Apart from its recognition of the differentiated impact of conflict on women and girls, an important feature of UNSC Resolution 1325 is its emphasis on the vital role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. It underscores the importance of women’s full involvement and equal participation in all efforts made for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. It is expected that presenters will highlight the role of Resolution 1325 in raising the profile of the women, peace and security agenda and serving as catalyst for advocacy and institutional and policy changes. Despite the achievements registered, serious challenges remain. Chief among these are the disproportionate impact of conflicts on women including the deliberate use of abductions and sexual violence against women and the slow pace of progress in the level of representation and participation of women in peace processes.

In this context the session may address the challenges around the limited involvement of women in peace processes, mediation and their absence in leadership positions. As a recent UN Women analysis pointed out, despite two decades of advocacy, analysis and policy measures, women’s inclusion in formal, high-level mediation processes has long been difficult to achieve. Although women’s participation in peace process increases sustainability of peace, in the past 20 years women constituted only 3 per cent of mediators and only 4 per cent of signatories in major peace processes. It is also important to note that beyond increasing the number of women, it is crucial to ensure their active, meaningful and direct engagement in peace process, including in positions of influence. Another issue concerns the provision of effective accountability and legal redress for violations inflicted on women.

One of the mechanisms to track the implementation of Resolution 1325 has been through the adoption of National Action Plans (NAPs) by governments and it may be an issue of major importance that could be noted by the PSC. As indicated by the Special Envoy about 30 African Member States have now adopted NAPs and six Regional Economic Communities have adopted Regional Action Plans. Despite the adoption and wide recognition attributed to Resolution 1325 both globally and in Africa, implementation of its provisions is still lacking. Many Member States are still yet to allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the resolution and NAPs (in case of those countries that have already adopted NAPs).

It is to be recalled that at its 887th session in 2019, the PSC received a report from Diop on the implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa based on the Continental Results Framework (CRF), which was adopted by the PSC in May 2018. It is expected that in her briefing Diop is expected to provide update on the follow up to the outcome of the 887th session of the PSC, which requested her to undertake consultations with member states.

It would be of importance for the PSC to also note that 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of PSC’s decision at its 223rd session to make WPS a standing thematic agenda of its annual program of work. Beyond the commemorative sessions of Resolution 1325 which the PSC usually convenes in October, the Council has been holding regular open sessions on women in armed conflicts since March 2010 following Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.275(XIV). Tomorrow’s session accordingly offers an opportunity for reflecting on the evolution of the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC. In this respect, some of the notable achievements registered include the appointment of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the establishment of the Gender Peace and Security Program and the launch of FemWise.

With regards to the 2020 AU theme and women’s contribution to the full realisation of– “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, those delivering briefings, most notably, Diop are expected to highlight the role that women have played in mobilizing action for conflict prevention, management and resolution in various conflict settings and the contribution of the convenings and solidarity missions that focused on peace processes. Also, of interest in this context is the intervention from Yasin in terms of the concrete experience of women and their role in peace efforts at the national level in the context of the situation in Somalia. It would also be interesting for the PSC to reflect on how the full implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa could advance the achievement of the AU theme of the year.

In light of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, tomorrow’s session may draw attention to the impact of the pandemic on women in conflict situations. Of particular concern is the consequences on women of the adverse impacts of COVID19. Women are disproportionately affected from its negative impacts on peace processes and on social and political stability and from its role in exacerbating existing drivers and causes of conflicts and in disrupting access to protection measures in conflict settings including humanitarian assistance.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC could highlight the various advances made in the implementation of resolution 1325 in enhancing the role of women, introducing policy and institutional measures, the role of women organizations and awareness. It could also expression appreciation to the progress made in institutionalizing the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC and the AU. Despite these, it could also note that there are still critical areas that require further work. It may underscore the critical role of increasing the active and direct role of women in peace processes and decision-making. The PSC could call on Member States to adopt 1325 NAPs and allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the plans. It may call on Member States to strengthen their accountability and justice mechanisms to allow effective investigation and justice for sexual violence committed against women and girls. The PSC may reiterate its previous request to the Commission to prepare the report that evaluates the implementation of its previous decisions to undertake a stocktaking exercise and to assess the level of implementation. In order to consolidate the WPS agenda within the PSC, it may encourage the Special Envoy and the AU Commission to enhance coordination of various AU institutions and programs working on this theme.