Discussion on Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Discussion on Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Date | 5 February 2024

Tomorrow (6 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1199th Session. This session will consider transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding.

The session is expected to begin with opening remarks by Mohammed Arrouchi, the Permanent Representative of Kingdom of Morocco and Chairperson of PSC for the month of February. This will be followed by a presentation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy by Bankole Adeoye, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS). Statement is also expected to be delivered by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. Representatives of the National Human Rights Council of Morocco and the EU Delegation to the AU are also respectively expected to make statements.

Since the adoption of the AU Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) in 2019, the PSC has only convened once to discuss the AUTJP on 23 August 2022. The 1102nd session, focused on the deliberation of the AUTJP, aimed at allowing AU Member States to exchange their experiences, best practices, challenges, and prospects in the implementation of the policy. Additionally, it aimed to explore ways of better addressing the underlying causes of conflict and insecurities and foster synergies that can have a multiplied impact. It is also recalled that the 1102nd session decided to regularize briefing on the theme as an annual meeting of the Council.

Facts on the AU Transitional Justice Policy (TJP)

Although there were no specific sessions dedicated to transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding, the Council held various sessions to identify policy options for transitional justice initiatives and discussed different transnational justice mechanisms. Under the theme ‘peace, reconciliation and justice’, the PSC conducted several discussions. Notably, during the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly in May 2022 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the focus was on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. It was during this session that 31 January of each year was designated as the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’. Moreover, in its 525th session in July 2015, the PSC agreed to include the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice’ as a regular item on its annual program of activities. Lastly, during its 899th session on 5 December 2019, the PSC agreed to dedicate an annual session to sharing experiences and learning lessons related to national reconciliation, peace restoration, and cohesion building in Africa.

As indicated in the Concept note prepared for the session, tomorrow’s session will serve as an opportunity for the PSC to receive an update in the implementation of the AUTJP. In ensuring the effective implementation of the policy, the Roadmap for the Implementation of the AUTJP outlines various activity areas to be implemented by the AU Commission. One of the key activities is resource mobilisation in support of the implementation of the policy. In this regard, during its 1102nd session, the PSC requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to mobilize the necessary resources for the successful implementation of the AUTJP.

In response to this request and in alignment with the roadmap, the AU and EU have launched the Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa (ITJA) project. This three-year project, officially launched on 25 October 2023, aims to support AU member states in adopting the AUTJP and implementing transitional justice processes at the national level. The ITJA project will be executed by a consortium of three organisations, with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) leading the initiative, despite the existence of African institutions that could play a leading role in the development of the AUTJP, most notably the Centre for the Study of Reconciliation and Violence (CSVR). The African Transitional Justice Legacy Fund (ATJLF) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) are also part of the consortium. This initiative covers various activities outlined in the implementation roadmap, including awareness creation and popularising the AUTJP, technical assistance to AU Member States and commissioning research on transnational justice in Africa. Most importantly, the initiative assists in the establishment and coordination of the African Women Platform on Transitional Justice and increases the meaningful participation of civil society organisations in the design, implementation, and monitoring of transitional justice mechanisms by strengthening its capacity. In this regard, it is expected that the AU Commission will brief the Council on how these activities are planned to be undertaken by the consortium.

“The ITJA project will be executed by a consortium of three organisations, with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) leading the initiative, despite the existence of African institutions that could play a leading role in the development of the AUTJP, most notably the Centre for the Study of Reconciliation and Violence (CSVR). “

Furthermore, the AU Commission is also expected to emphasize its efforts in implementing the AUTJP in relation to capacity building. In this regard, the Commission is likely to discuss various capacity-building training activities offered to youth and women. These include providing training on the application of the Policy to The Gambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Sudan.

In exploring the challenges, the PSC may emphasise that the successful implementation of transitional justice in Africa hinges on addressing key challenges. The success of transitional justice endeavours is intricately tied to the political commitment, leadership, mobilization of support for and confidence in the process from a critical mass of the public and the capacity of the country concerned. Political buy-in along with a level of public support for and confidence in the process remains a crucial determinant of the success of transnational justice.

Even when political buy-in exists, capacity limitations may get in the way of implementing the AUTJP.  The AU’s capacity to provide assistance is intricately linked to the financial resources at its disposal. One viable solution that the Council could explore to overcome this financial challenge involves the exploration of alternative sources of funding identified in the revised AU PCRD policy considering the critical contribution of transitional justice mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation processes for post-conflict peacebuilding. Additionally, lack of public awareness and active participation in the transitional justice process may also be raised as a factor that could hinder the success of the transitional justice process. Some of the key considerations for addressing technical and public awareness challenges could be the establishment of a continental network of transitional justice practitioners and analysts as an important platform for providing timely and relevant technical support for the implementation of the AUTJP in member states and the institutionalisation of the continental forum on transitional justice into the annual indicative program of the PSC.

“Some of the key considerations for addressing technical and public awareness challenges could be the establishment of a continental network of transitional justice practitioners and analysts as an important platform for providing timely and relevant technical support for the implementation of the AUTJP in member states and the institutionalisation of the continental forum on transitional justice into the annual indicative program of the PSC.

In relation to countries that are undergoing political transition, the absence of a comprehensive legal framework or supportive legislation can impede the successful implementation of transitional justice. Moreover, in regions facing ongoing or latent conflict, security concerns can pose a significant challenge to the implementation of transitional justice.

Another aspect of the session is expected to be the sharing of experiences and challenges in the implementation of the AUTJP, particularly in relation to the development and implementation of transnational justice programs. There are various AU member states that are resorting to the use of transitional justice as a means of resolving grievances that resulted from conflicts. A recent example of this aspect is Ethiopia. The peace deal that was signed in November 2022 between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) envisaged that ‘the government of Ethiopia shall implement a comprehensive national transitional justice policy aimed at accountability, ascertaining the truth, redress for victims, reconciliation and healing consistent with the constitution of the FDRE and the African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework’. In March 2023, the AU announced that it will pledge to provide support to the planned transnational process in Ethiopia. Therefore, it is anticipated that the PSC will receive an update on the contribution of the AU towards the development of the transitional justice policy in Ethiopia and the extent to which the AUTJP has been used to inform and shape Ethiopia’s policy.

The AU is also assisting South Sudan’s transitional justice and post-conflict peace-building efforts. The revitalized Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed in 2018 provides for transitional justice, reconciliation and healing (Chapter 5). Under the R-ARCSS, the parties committed to the establishment of three transitional justice mechanisms: Hybrid Court, the Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) and the Compensation and Reparations Authority (CRA). The AU collaborated with the Government of South Sudan in convening a transitional justice conference in May 2023 in support of the process towards the adoption of the relevant legal instruments for the operationalization of the transitional justice mechanisms under Chapter V of the agreement. Despite the failure to meet the deadline for the operationalization of these mechanisms, there are recent developments highlighted in the report of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC). The report stated that CTRH and CRA Bills was adopted by the Council of Misters and they are expected to be enacted by the parliament. Yet, there is no progress regarding the hybrid court.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may encourage the developments made regarding resource mobilization and advocate for sustained efforts in resource mobilization to support the effective implementation of the African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP). Additionally, the PSC may applaud and reinforce support for the AU-EU Initiative for Transitional Justice in Africa (ITJA) project and encourage enhanced use of the technical expertise present in African institutions that played a leading role in the development of this globally most up-to-date policy on transitional justice and post-conflict peacebuilding. It may underscore the need to strengthen efforts to raise awareness and popularize the AUTJP across Member States. The PSC may in this respect call for the establishment of a continental network of transitional justice practitioners and analysts as an important platform for providing timely and relevant technical support for the implementation of the AUTJP in member states. The Council may also request the establishment of a regular monitoring and evaluation mechanism for AUTJP implementation progress. In recognising the important role of civil society organisations, particularly women and youth-led organisations, the Council may emphasise the need for increased collaboration with civil society organisations, empowering them to actively participate in the design, implementation, and monitoring of transitional justice mechanisms. Furthermore, the PSC may reiterate the need for regular updates on the experiences and challenges faced by AU Member States in implementing the AUTJP and facilitating knowledge-sharing sessions to derive best practices and lessons learned from countries undergoing transitional justice processes. To this end, the PSC may decide to institutionalise the continental forum on transitional justice that the AU Commission organises annually as part of its calendar of events in its annual indicative program.


Commemoration of Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation

Commemoration of Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation

Date | 30 January 2024

Tomorrow (31 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1198th session where it will discuss the commemoration of the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ as its second agenda item for the session.

Following the first agenda item for the session on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), the PSC will proceed to address the second agenda item for the session on Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. The session will take place virtually with an opening statement by the chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma A. Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU. This will be followed by a statement by Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Mr Domingos Miguel Bembe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Angola to the African Union may also provide a briefing on the Biennale of Luanda Pan-African Forum as the AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation. Other members that may participate in the session include the Chairperson of the AU Panel of the Wise and members of the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

31st January was designated as ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ during the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where the Declaration on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government (UCGs). It was marked for the first time on 31 January 2023. Before the establishment of 31 January as the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation, the AU PSC has since as early as 2013 convened a total of six sessions solely dedicated to the agenda of the national reconciliation processes The 899th session of the PSC convened under Angola’s chairship called for an annual convening on experience sharing among member states that have undergone national reconciliation and set the basis for the inaugural session of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. Among others, in some of the sessions the PSC’s request for the establishment of a draft AU policy framework on justice and reconciliations. In 2019, the AU Assembly adopted the AU Transitional Justice Policy that outlined guidelines and benchmarks for the initiation and implementation of justice, accountability and reconciliation processes.

“Before the establishment of 31 January as the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation, the AU PSC has since as early as 2013 convened a total of six sessions solely dedicated to the agenda of the national reconciliation processes. “

It is against this backdrop that the AU PSC held its first inaugural meeting on Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation in 2023. Although the first PSC session on the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation was successful in establishing a platform that allowed experience sharing among member states who have undergone reconciliations, it did not take account of PSC’s previous engagements and the role that AU Transitional Justice Policy plays in that respect. The first inaugural session primarily focused on the experience-sharing component where member states such as Gambia, Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa provided their experience on the reconciliation process. The outcome also emphasizee several issues in the light of reconciliation including the need to focus on the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program for soldiers; the need for parties involved in any form of cessation of hostility agreement to be fully committed to the implementation of such agreements and lastly the need to strengthen AU mechanisms including PCRD frameworks and continental early warning systems.

As the PSC convenes its second Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation, it is anticipated that the session will serve as a platform for receiving updates from Angola on its role of championing peace and reconciliation. In this respect, the PSC may hear about Angola’s efforts in relation to the conflict in Eastern DRC including the implementation of the outcome of the inaugural Quadripartite Summit which most recently convened at the level of Chiefs of Defence (CDFs) to enhance coordination and identify the division of labor regarding implementation of the outcomes.  It is also to be recalled that early in 2023 Angola also hosted a tripartite summit involving Chad and the Central African Republic. Although there aren’t any tangible outcomes from the tripartite summit, it is indeed an indication of the political will of both member states to address cross-border security issues amicably and identify areas of cooperation and coordination. The session may also focus on countries that have begun the process of undergoing transitional justice and reconciliation during the past year. Countries such as South Sudan and Ethiopia may be mentioned as they have both received support from the AU TJP unit throughout 2023 in the implementation of their own transitional justice and reconciliation processes.

The expected outcome will be a communiqué. The communiqué may welcome the institutionalization of the annual Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. It may also commend the efforts by the AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, for his efforts in the promotion of reconciliation and peace-building via the Biennale of Luanda Pan-African Forum. The PSC may also welcome member states that have undergone mediation, dialogue, and reconciliation processes. The PSC may urge countries undergoing the reconciliation process to ensure an inclusive process that takes into consideration vulnerable groups, particularly women, youth and community leaders and leaders of religious groups. The PSC may also reiterate the need to complement the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ with a focus on the promotion of the implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy.


Consideration of the revised AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Policy

Consideration of the revised AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Policy

Date | 30 January 2024

Tomorrow (31 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1198th session to consider the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Policy as one of its agenda items.

The session will commence with the opening remarks by the chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma A. Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU. Bankole Adeoye, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to brief the PSC on the revised AU PCRD Policy, highlighting key elements of the revision. The representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt, as the AU Champion for PCRD and Representative of the Republic of Angola, as the Champion of Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation may also deliver statements.

The last time the PSC addressed the issue of PCRD was during its 1188th session, on 29 November 2023. In that session, the PSC urged the Commission to expedite the review process of the AU PCRD Policy and promptly submit the draft for consideration by the PSC. Subsequent consideration by the Permanent Representatives of the Committee, the Executive Council, and ultimately, the AU Assembly is expected during its upcoming ordinary session scheduled for 17-18 February 2024. Tomorrow’s session is therefore convened in line with this direction from the PSC and will focus on the revised AU PCRD Policy, which is a culmination of two review processes conducted in Accra and Cairo in September 2022 and May/June 2023, respectively. It is recalled that the AU Assembly (at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)]) and PSC (at its 1047th session) called for the urgent review of the 2006 PCRD Policy with the view to re-aligning and adapting to the evolving continental security dynamics.

The revised Policy highlights several reasons behind the revision of the 2006 PCRD Policy Framework. The first is the evolving nature of conflicts and other threats to peace, security and development in Africa including the rise to dominance of conflicts involving terrorism and the growing impact of climate change. The Policy originally operated on the premise of a ‘linear conception of conflicts progressing from pre-conflict to post-conflict states’. As a result, PCRD interventions were initially conceived to occur towards the end of the process, following the cessation of hostilities and the conclusion of peace agreements. However, the revised Policy notes, that contemporary conflicts in Africa exhibit a non-linear nature, requiring engagements and interventions throughout a peace continuum for ‘dynamic, sufficient and timely responses at the various stages of conflict’. This shift is seen as an opportunity to enhance the AU’s focus on conflict prevention, aiming to address not just the symptoms but also the underlying causes of conflicts. Indeed, the 1047th session emphasized the imperative of broadening the scope of AU PCRD activities, which involves incorporating a peacebuilding dimension, thus covering the entire conflict cycle phase—pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict.

“the revised Policy notes, that contemporary conflicts in Africa exhibit a non-linear nature, requiring engagements and interventions throughout a peace continuum for ‘dynamic, sufficient and timely responses at the various stages of conflict’. “

The other reason highlighted in the revised policy is the need to align the Policy Framework with the normative, policy and institutional evolutions around the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the African Governance Architecture (AGA), as well as other AU frameworks and instruments that have been established since the adoption of the Policy in 2006. The third factor driving the need for revision is the evolving conceptual landscape, both at the international and regional levels, shifting from post-conflict peacebuilding to a broader perspective of peacebuilding and sustaining peace, which is understood as ‘a goal and a process that encompasses activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict’.

This conceptual underpinning also informed the definition of ‘post-conflict reconstruction and development/ peacebuilding’ provided under paragraph 16 of the draft revised Policy, adopting a more holistic working definition that draws upon peacemaking, conflict prevention, stabilization and peacebuilding practices.  ‘Post-conflict reconstruction and development/ peacebuilding’ is thus described as ‘a comprehensive set Against this background, the other proposed change is the proposal to rename the PCRD Policy and related AU Commission organs and mechanisms, including the AU Center for PCRD, to be the AU Policy on ‘Peace Building, Reconstruction and Development (PBRD)’. The representative of Egypt put forth this proposal during the Cairo Workshop, arguing that replacing ‘Post-Conflict’ with ‘Peace Building’ could address the challenge of the stigma that persists around some countries being labeled as ‘conflict situation’ or ‘post-conflict situation’.

” ‘Post-conflict reconstruction and development/ peacebuilding’ is thus described as ‘a comprehensive set of measures that seek to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflicts through assessing and addressing the needs of countries and regions affected by conflicts, violence and instability, including the needs of affected populations.’ “

Alongside the shift in the conceptual framework and the expansion of the scope of PCRD activities, another significant revision in the Policy concerns the indicative pillars. The revised Policy incorporates two additional pillars, namely youth and environmental security. It recognizes the significant role that youth play in PCRD and peacebuilding, highlighting the importance of tapping into their demographic dividend.  Accordingly, the Policy not only views them as peacebuilding actors but also strives to actively engage and involve young women and men, as well as youth organized groups, in the promotion of peace. Concerning environmental security, the revised Policy highlights the imperative of effectively integrating an environmentally security-sensitive and gender-responsive approach into peacebuilding strategies for multi-actor engagement, aligning with the other indicative elements of PCRD. Within this pillar, the revised Policy addresses Africa’s mineral wealth and its critical role in the energy transition agenda amid the challenges of climate change. Despite Africa’s involvement in global value chains for green minerals, the Policy notes that its role is predominantly concentrated in the first phase of the value chain—exploration and extraction. Consequently, the Policy, under this pillar, underscores the need for Member States to develop value chains and strategies for green minerals to leverage the opportunities arising from the ongoing energy transition.

“The revised Policy incorporates two additional pillars, namely youth and environmental security. “

The practical impact of revising the Policy will however largely depend on establishing a robust peacebuilding infrastructure and allocating adequate resources. This is particularly important as the scope of the Policy expands to cover interventions and initiatives across all stages of conflict. In recent years, the AU has taken steps to strengthen its peacebuilding and PCRD architecture with the establishment of the AU PCRD Centre in Cairo and the launch of a Working Group on AU PCRD. Yet, there are still outstanding initiatives awaiting implementation, including revitalizing the interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD, reactivating the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD, and fully operationalizing the PCRD Centre. Meanwhile, resources earmarked for AU’s PCRD and peacebuilding initiatives are diminishing, even as the continent grapples with ever-more intricate security threats. Securing adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for PCRD and peacebuilding efforts is imperative, especially as their scope is envisaged to expand in line with the revised Policy. In addressing the funding challenge, the revised Policy highlights that ‘the AU’s strategic policy direction will be underpinned by ownership of its PCRD and peacebuilding mechanisms and processes which are largely financed by external partners.’

Furthermore, recognizing the limitations faced by initiatives such as the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) and the African Peace Fund in terms of implementation, the revised Policy outlines a broad spectrum of actions that should be pursued for mobilizing resources. These include: seeking unconventional sources of financial and other support for PCRD mechanisms and processes such as south-south and triangular cooperation; attracting investment and encouraging the private sector to participate in PCRD activities; encouraging the involvement of regional financial mechanisms such as development banks in PRCR processes; advocating debt cancellation for post-conflict countries that do not traditionally qualify under HIPC and other debt-relief initiatives; providing ‘seed money’ to kick-start PCRD activities; cooperating with the UN Peacebuilding Fund; and providing support to cater the special needs of countries and regions emerging from conflict, such as the lack of resources to finance the basic functioning of the state including salaries and pensions for civil service and security sector.

“the revised Policy outlines a broad spectrum of actions that should be pursued for mobilizing resources. These include: seeking unconventional sources of financial and other support for PCRD mechanisms and processes such as south-south and triangular cooperation; attracting investment and encouraging the private sector to participate in PCRD activities; encouraging the involvement of regional financial mechanisms such as development banks in PRCR processes; advocating debt cancellation for post-conflict countries that do not traditionally qualify under HIPC and other debt-relief initiatives; providing ‘seed money’ to kick-start PCRD activities; cooperating with the UN Peacebuilding Fund; and providing support to cater the special needs of countries and regions emerging from conflict, such as the lack of resources to finance the basic functioning of the state including salaries and pensions for civil service and security sector. “

It may be of interest to members of the PSC to seek clarity on some aspects of the revised policy. The first of these is around the core focus of this policy. While welcoming the interlinkages of PCRD to the entire peace continuum established under the revised policy, the identification of its core focus areas is key in distinguishing PCRD from measures initiated by conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanisms of the APSA. Related to this is also the demarcation of the roles of PCRD actors vis-à-vis other AU entities with related responsibilities in peace and security to avoid duplication.

“the identification of its core focus areas is key in distinguishing PCRD from measures initiated by conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanisms of the APSA. Related to this is also the demarcation of the roles of PCRD actors vis-à-vis other AU entities with related responsibilities in peace and security to avoid duplication. “

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. The key outcome of the session is expected to be the adoption of the revised PCRD Policy with the view to facilitating its consideration by the AU Assembly in the upcoming ordinary session slated for 17-18 February 2024. Echoing the revised Policy, the PSC may underscore the imperative of establishing a robust peacebuilding and PCRD architecture aligned with the expanded scope envisaged in the Policy. In this regard, it may reiterate the urgency of expediting the full operationalization of the AU PCRD Centre in Cairo, reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD and revitalization of the interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD, among other measures. The PSC may also affirm the importance of the strategic leadership of the PSC in the implementation and deployment of PCRD interventions. It may also reaffirm the importance of securing adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for AU’s PCRD and peacebuilding initiatives to fully realize the objectives outlined in the revised Policy.

“The PSC may also affirm the importance of the strategic leadership of the PSC in the implementation and deployment of PCRD interventions. “


Briefing on the post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa

Briefing on the post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa

Date | 29 November 2023

Tomorrow (30 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1188th session to receive a briefing on the post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa.

Following opening remarks by Abdi Mahamoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November 2023, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to deliver a statement. A representative of the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD); representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB); representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt; and representative of the United Nations (UN) Office to the African Union (UNOAU) are also expected to make statements during the session

This session comes within the context of the commemoration of the third edition of PCRD awareness week, which is taking place from 22-30 November 2023 under the theme ‘fostering Africa’s future through sustained peacebuilding’. PCRD awareness week was first launched in November 2021 with the aim to raise awareness on and promote collective action of AU Member States and partners, on the recovery and development needs of post-conflict societies. Subsequently, the Assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)), as well as the PSC (during its 1047th session) endorsed the institutionalization and regularization of the awareness week as an annual event.

The last time PSC received briefing on PCRD was at its 1122nd session, which was held on 28 November 2022. While welcoming the launch of the AU PCRD Policy Framework review process, PSC, in that session, requested its Committee of Experts (CoE) to conduct an urgent review of the draft revised policy and submit to the PSC for its consideration ahead of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly that took place in February 2023. As part of the effort to enhance its peacebuilding architecture, PSC also directed the Commission and the AU Development Agency (NEPAD) to establish a PCRD Working Group. Furthermore, it called for the establishment of a Continental Network of National Development and Cooperation Agencies that would support the envisaged Working Group in implementing PCRD activities and programmes on the continent. In tomorrow’s briefing, Bankole is expected to highlight progress made in the implementation of these and other decisions.

The Policy Framework was launched in 2006 with the intention to address the recovery and reconstruction needs of countries and communities emerging from conflict thereby consolidate peace and prevent relapse of violence. Since then, AU’s PCRD interventions has taken different forms, including the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and Peace Strengthening Projects (PSPs) (as in the case of Somalia); the development of Regional Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the Stabilization Strategy for the Sahel; support in the areas of reconciliation and healing (as in the case of South Sudan), supporting in the reform and establishment of state institutions (as in the case of Gambia); and implementation of  disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and security sector reform (SSR) (as in the case of Central African Republic).

Yet, as PSC’s 670th session of March 2017 recognized, PCRD dimension remains the ‘weakest link’ in the implementation of both the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Other challenges added the impetus for a revision of both the PCRD Policy Framework and its implementation. The first challenge stems from the evolving security landscape of the continent, now characterized by the prevalence of terrorism, violent extremism, worsening humanitarian situation and the impact of climate change. Secondly, the persistent recurrence of conflicts in the continent including the relapse of countries back to conflict, despite AU’s PCRD efforts, raises the question of gaps in the Policy Framework and significantly its implementations. The third challenge pertains to financing; with some of AU’s initiatives aimed at addressing this issue either falling short of securing commitments from Member States or remaining unimplemented. Lastly, there is a lack of effective coordination among diverse stakeholders within and outside the AU, coupled with a need for harmonization among the various AU policy frameworks

It is against the above context that both the AU Assembly (at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)]) and PSC (at its 1047th session) reached a conclusion that the 2006 PCRD Policy requires a revision with the view to aligning the policy with the evolving continental security dynamics and ensure its effectiveness in achieving its intended purpose. Accordingly, the AU Commission initiated the revision process, convening a high-level expert engagement in September 2022 in Accra, Ghana. Since Egypt as Champion of PCRD and host of the AU PCRD Centre sought further engagement of the policy review process, the revised policy was not presented to the 36th AU Assembly as envisaged in the decision of the 1122nd session of the PSC. As a follow-up to the first engagement, the second AU workshop on the review of the PCRD Policy was convened in Cairo, Egypt from 30 May to 1 June, 2023. In his tomorrow briefing, Bankole may highlight the key outcomes of the Cairo workshop and outline next steps for the final adoption of the revised Policy Framework.

One aspect of the changes introduced in the revised version of the Policy, as indicated in the outcome of the Cairo workshop, is the broadening of the scope of AU PCRD activities to incorporate peacebuilding dimension and cover the entire conflict cycle– pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict. This is indeed pursuant to the policy guidance provided by the PSC at its 1047th, held on 12 November 2021. The other aspect is that the revised policy underpins an integrated approach to peacebuilding that addresses the interlinked Humanitarian, Peace and Security, Development, and Governance (HDPG quadruple nexus) needs of countries affected by conflict. The inclusion of humanitarian principles as part of the core values that underpin the Policy, and some highlights on PCRD funding as part of the Policy’s section on rationale, as well as the inclusion of youth and environment security as additional pillars of the Policy are also among the important areas of the revision. The other aspect worth highlighting is the proposal to rename the PCRD Policy and related AU Commission organs and mechanisms, including the AU Center for PCRD, to be the AU Policy on ‘Peace Building, Reconstruction and Development (PBRD). The representative of Egypt put forth this proposal during the Cairo Workshop, arguing that replacing ‘Post-Conflict’ with ‘Peace Building’ could address the challenge of the stigma that persists around some countries being labeled as ‘conflict situation’ or ‘post-conflict situation’.

In addition to the revision process, the other major development in terms of strengthening AU’s peacebuilding architecture is the launch of a Working Group on AU PCRD on 15 May in line with PCS’s 1122nd session. Co-chaired by PAPS Commissioner Bankole and AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer Nardos Bekele, the working Group is aimed at developing and operationalizing mechanisms and processes based on the AU PCRD Policy, at the technical and strategic levels. While welcoming the launch of the Working Group, PSC members may wish to follow-up on the status of the implementation of its previous decisions, including the revitalization of the interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD, the reactivation of PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD, and preparation of the terms of reference (ToR) and time frames for the Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee on PCRD is the third awaiting reactivation, alongside the Sub-Committees on sanctions and counter-terrorism. Additionally, PSC members may be interested in receiving updates on the progress made towards achieving full operationalization of the AU Centre for PCRD in Cairo, which was officially inaugurated in December 2021. One significant progress in the operationalization of the Centre is the appointment of substantive head of the Centre. The Centre is expected to have 30 staff members when it becomes fully operational.

It may be of interest for members of the PSC to seek clarity on some aspects of the revised policy. One such aspect is clarity around the core focus of this policy. While welcoming the interlinkages of PCRD to the entire peace continuum established under the revised policy, the identification of its core focus areas is key in distinguishing PCRD from measures initiated by conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanisms of the APSA. Related to this is also the demarcation of roles of PCRD vis-à-vis other AU entities with related responsibilities in order to avoid duplication.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. PSC is expected to welcome the convening of the Cairo Workshop and its outcomes, including the finalization of the review of PCRD Policy Framework. The PSC may decide that the revised Policy Framework is submitted to the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly for its consideration and adoption including the change to the nomenclature of the policy and associated bodies. While commending the Commission and AUDA-NEPAD for the launch of AU PCRD Working Group, PSC may once again urge the Commission and its Committee of Experts to expedite the implementation of agreed-upon decisions, particularly the reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD. The PSC may also affirm the importance of the strategic leadership of the PSC in the implementation and deployment of PCRD interventions. In relation to the AU PCRD Centre, PSC may echo the call of AU Champion on PCRD and urge the Commission to expedite the full activation of the Centre. PSC is also expected to emphasize the imperative of ensuring sustainable and predictable resources for its PCRD activities. In that regard, in addition to the revitalization of African Solidarity Initiative, it may once again stress the importance of engaging the African Development Bank, the African private sector, international financial institutions, and other international partners such as the UN Peacebuilding Commission to mobilize the necessary resources. It may also call upon the Commission to allocate finance for PCRD interventions from the Peace Fund in line with the identified priority activities.


Briefing on Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook

Briefing on Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook 

Date | 21 August 2023

Tomorrow (22 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1169th session to receive briefing on continental early warning and security outlook. This briefing is expected to be delivered by the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA); African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT); and African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL).

Following opening remarks by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of August, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. Executive Secretary of CISSA, Zainab Ali Kotoko is also expected to make a statement. Representatives of ACSRT and AFROPOL are also expected to deliver briefings.

Taking place in line with the decision of PSC’s 1073rd session which requested for quarterly briefings on continental early warning and security outlook, tomorrow’s session is expected to discuss the state of the political and security situation of the continent since the last briefing on the security outlook of the continent. At the 1138th session when the PSC last received a briefing on early warning and security outlook of the continent, the increasing spread of terrorism, resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) and unstable political transitions were among the main concerns that received attention. During tomorrow’s session, members of the PSC may seek update on the measures taken to follow up on the outcome of the previous session and what more needs to be done in respect to these conditions.

The changing nature of conflicts in Africa is perhaps one of the first concerns that may feature in tomorrow’s briefing. This can be viewed from at least two perspectives. The first one involves the increasing trend in urban based hostilities in parts of Africa. Although not a new phenomenon, the increase in the prevalence of conflicts in urban areas necessitates re-examination of the response of AU to conflicts. As the unfolding civil war in Sudan attests, conflicts in urban areas exponentially increase civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure including strategic facilities.

These features of conflicts in urban settings underscore the need for making observance of international humanitarian law (IHL) principles the central focus of regional and continental peace and security diplomacy. Securing commitment of and pressing conflict parties to observe IHL rules should be made part of the ToRs of mediators and envoys. Significantly, the PSC needs to add to the tools that are used for enhancing civilian protection in such conflict settings the establishment of a dedicated mechanism for monitoring, investigating and reporting on violations.

Another important manifestation of the changing nature of conflicts in the continent is related to the spike in internationalisation of internal armed conflicts in African countries. While the involvement of external actors in conflict situations in Africa is not a new development, data sources indicate a significant rise in such interventions observed over the past few years. A recent research documents for example that while only 12 internationalised conflicts were recorded in Africa between 1991 and 2010, 27 such conflicts were recorded in the years from 2011 to 2021. And in 2021 alone, 17 cases of internationalised conflicts were documented. This is further compounded by the rise of ‘emerging powers’ and their aspiration to exert influence on the direction and outcome of conflicts as happened in the conflicts in Libya and most recently in the Horn of Africa. As being experienced in Libya and Sudan, one of the major consequences of this increasing internationalization of conflicts in Africa is the increasing decline in the leadership role of the AU in mobilizing conflict management and resolution efforts.

Another related feature of the peace and security landscape of the continent that the PSC needs to reflect on during tomorrow’s session is the deepening geopolitical rivalry pitting western countries such as the US and France against Russia and China is exacerbating existing conditions of fragility and insecurity on the continent. This is playing itself out in conflicts in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region, among others, as well as the resurgence of coups and the contestations surrounding how to respond to the coups as is currently unfolding in Niger.

A concerning persistent trend on which ACSRT would provide update in tomorrow’s briefing is the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism. Apart from the eruption of new conflicts (a case in point being Sudan’s new conflict that erupted in April 2021), conflicts involving terrorist groups are main feature of the rise in the number and geographic spread of conflicts in Africa, as depicted in the graph below.

According to the ACSRT’s quarterly bulletin on terrorism in Africa, in the first quarter of 2023 alone, 426 terrorist attacks were recorded resulting in 2,809 deaths. Of the total deaths recorded, majority (1,226) were civilians demonstrating the continuing increase in civilian casualties resulting from terrorist attacks. On the other hand, despite the civilian harm most attacks continued to result in, the primary targets of majority of the attacks perpetrated during the first quarter of 2023 were military and security forces.

ACSRT’s bulletin further indicates the increase experienced both in terrorist attacks and deaths ensuing therefrom, in the first quarter of 2023 as compared to the pervious reporting period (last quarter of 2022). While attacks have shown a 43% increase, related deaths have increased by 60%. In terms of regions most affected by terrorist attacks, west Africa continues to contribute the highest number of attacks as well as related casualties, with east and central Africa following closely.

Source: ACSRT Quarterly African Terrorism Bulletin (QATB)

Aside from the spike in terrorist attacks, it is also important to note the increasing sophistication and complex nature of terrorist activities. In the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) region, terrorist groups such as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been noted not only for scaling up their use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) but also deploying efforts for the usage of drones to carry out attacks. It is known that previously, terrorist networks like Boko Haram have been able to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the purposes of surveillance.

While the AU entities that deliver the briefing on the security outlook are by the very nature of their mandate focus on hard security dimension of the peace and security dynamics of the continent, the challenge that the democratic governance deficit poses to peace and security in Africa also deserves not any less importance, including from prevention dimension. In this respect, it would be of particular significance for the PSC’s reflection to go beyond a focus on the resurgence of coups as the coup in Niger makes clear.

Map of successful, attempted and plots of coup in Africa from August 2020-July 2023

Tomorrow’s session needs to critically interrogate the deleterious impact that elections with questionable legitimacy, prolongation of power by tampering with constitutional provisions on presidential term limits, corruption and nepotism and the failure of states to deliver basic services have on political stability on the continent.  In this context and in the light of the risk for coups arising from elections whose legitimacy is contested, there is a need for reflecting on the lessons from the recent Sierra Leone elections and the need for monitoring the post-electoral environment with a view to help address the situation. Although there is necessity for a margin of appreciation that enables member states to deal with certain governance and peace and security issues internally, the AU and relevant RECs have the duty to effectively implement their preventive mandates by deploying the appropriate measures to address these conditions before they erupt into more serious threats.

Impacts of climate change on peace and security forms another factor that may feature in tomorrow’s briefing. In addition to fuelling intercommunal violence, such as the conflict between herder and farming communities in parts of West Africa and the Sahel, by intensifying competition over increasingly depleting scarce resources, climate induced whether conditions ranging from droughts to flooding in the Horn of Africa continue to have a devastating effect on significant portion of populations across Africa. Faced with food insecurity, environmental degradation and loss of livestock as well as arable land, thousands of peoples in various African countries are regularly displaced from their homes. In addition to straining the continent’s humanitarian response capacity, these climatic conditions severely challenge capacities of states and multilateral bodies for managing existing conditions of insecurity and conflict.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to take note of the emerging as well as persisting peace and security threats in Africa. It may express the need for the AU to mobilize deliberate and targeted strategies on the various threats to peace and security on the continent ranging from those focusing on mitigation to those involving sustained use of conflict resolution tools working together with member states and the relevant RECs/RMs to effectively and timely respond to these concerns. The PSC may request that RECs/RMs and the governance and human rights bodies of the AU including the African Peer Review Mechanism (with its additional mandate of early warning) to work with the AU entities that deliver the quarterly briefing on continental early warning and security outlook both in the delivery of the briefing and in developing targeted strategies and plans for mitigating and resolving these security threats including through the use of the various APSA and AGA tools. The PSC may underscore the need for member states to avoid denialism and the invoking of national sovereignty in order to enable a more enhanced collaboration with relevant AU and RECs/RMs mechanisms for conflict prevention. The PSC may also request that the quarterly briefings apart from providing comprehensive update on the overall outlook provide focused analysis on specific peace and security threats in the briefings to enable a more focused engagement on such specific aspect of the peace and security outlook. In this respect, the PSC may request that the AU Commission provide it with analysis on the impact of the increasing influence of middle powers and geopolitical rivalry in Africa and the attendant adverse impacts on peace and security.   Having regard to the continued prevalence of security threats related to UCG and terrorism, the PSC may also call for review of the Declaration on Terrorism and UCG in Africa adopted at the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly [Ext/Assembly/AU/Decl.(XVI)] and the development of effective responses within the framework of the declaration to arrest the spread of UCGs and terrorism in Africa.


Briefing on status of implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF)

Briefing on status of implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF)

Date | 22 June 2023

Tomorrow (22 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1159th session at a ministerial level to receive briefing on the status of implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and other relevant instruments on defence and security on the continent with Special focus on: Update on the Operationalisation of the Africa Standby Force (ASF).

Frederick Shava, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Zimbabwe and chair of the PSC for the month of June, is expected to preside over the session. Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to brief PSC members on the progress made and pending issues in the full operationalization of the ASF, while the various Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are expected to provide update on their respective efforts to attain full operational capability of their Regional Standby Brigades.

The last time PSC met to follow up on the operationalization of the ASF was during its 1069th session held on 10 March 2022. In that session, which adopted a Summary Record as its outcome, the PSC discussed capacity gaps that continue to constrain the deployment and employment of the ASF. During its 1124th session, convened on 1 December 2022, PSC also considered the outcome of the inaugural lessons learned forum on AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) and the ASF, which was held in November of last year in Abuja, Nigeria. The 1124th session tasked the Military Staff Committee of the PSC to review and submit for its adoption. The conclusions of the inaugural forum was accordingly submitted to and adopted at PSC’s 1129th session. Apart from adopting the conclusions, a key decision taken in that meeting was the direction given by the PSC for the AU Commission to ‘utilize the ASF framework in the mandating, implementation, management, and oversight of all AU PSOs’.

This decision is against the context that the RECs/RMs are deploying regional forces outside of, and even without making references to, the ASF framework except for SADC, which has so far made three deployments (in Lesotho (SAPMIL), Mozambique (SAMIM), and most recently in Eastern DRC) purportedly within the ASF framework. This obviously raises the question of coordination and harmonization of decision-making and mandating process between the AU and RECs/RMs. Beyond coordination, even SADC’s claim of these deployments as ASF deployments could not be considered as ASF deployments to the extent that their deployments were made without the authorization of the PSC. When they were referred to the PSC, it was post-facto. The ASF, as the peacekeeping and intervention outfit of the AU, is established under the PSC Protocol and is envisaged under the Protocol to be deployed in pursuit of a decision of the PSC for the promotion of peace and security. The purported use of ASF outside this framework envisaged in the PSC framework or the resort to ad hoc coalitions constitute an aberration that endangers the fragmentation and erosion of AU’s peace and security order. Such fragmentation creates vacuum that encourages the use of all manners of external security arrangements on the continent that are not necessarily for a multilateral-based peace and security interest of the continent as envisaged in the PSC Protocol.

The purported use of ASF outside this framework envisaged in the PSC framework or the resort to ad hoc coalitions constitute an aberration that endangers the fragmentation and erosion of AU’s peace and security order. Such fragmentation creates vacuum that encourages the use of all manners of external security arrangements on the continent that are not necessarily for a multilateral-based peace and security interest of the continent as envisaged in the PSC Protocol.

Infographic 1: PSC sessions on the ASF and key outcomes

Moreover, as highlighted during the inaugural lessons learned forum, there is also a need for ‘reconceptualization and alignment of the ASF with the current PSO practices and realities’ on account of two main grounds. The first is that the ASF was envisaged to be a continental force coordinated and utilized by the AU. Yet, contrary to the PSC Protocol’s conception of the ASF, the prevalent practice is that it has been regionally facilitated and the forces raised by the regions are claimed to be ‘owned’ by the RECs/RMs. The second is the current security dynamics of the continent taking trans-regional character going beyond one REC/RM and requiring speedy and robust deployment necessitates the ASF is both well resourced and equipped and equally flexibility in the deployment of ASF capabilities without the need for such deployment being tied to a particular region but within the multilateral and continental framework of the AU.

One of the milestones achieved since 1069th session is the adoption of the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the AU and RECs/RMs on the ASF during the Ministerial meeting of the 15th Specialized Technical Committee of Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) that took place on 12 May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The MoU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the AU and RECs/RMs in the preparation, employment, deployment, and post-employment of the ASF. Considering that the issue of the operationalization of the ASF as envisaged in the PSC Protocol is in significant part a political issues, it would be of interest for members of the PSC to explore whether the attempt made in the MoU to clarify the modalities of use of the ASF and respective roles of RECs/RMs would be enough to effect the much discussed full operationalization of the ASF in practice.

Considering that the issue of the operationalization of the ASF as envisaged in the PSC Protocol is in significant part a political issues, it would be of interest for members of the PSC to explore whether the attempt made in the MoU to clarify the modalities of use of the ASF and respective roles of RECs/RMs would be enough to effect the much discussed full operationalization of the ASF in practice.

An important aspect of tomorrow’s briefing will be the reception of update from the RECs/RMs on capability generation. AU has been complaining over the ‘hesitancy and reluctance’ by the RECs/RMs to confirm capabilities pledged and how they are to be made available as this would be critical to assess readiness for rapid deployment. At its 1069th session, the Commission informed the PSC that it was only the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) Secretariat that had provided a verification report pursuant to the request of the AU Commission in July 2021 for RECs/RMs to verify their pledged capabilities using the 2019 ASF Pledged Capabilities Verification Guidelines. PSC members are likely to be interested to hear which of the regional brigades other than the EASF were able to submit the verification report and what specific challenges are hindering the rest from submitting the reports. Of interest to the PSC in this regard is the recent request during the 15th STCDSS meeting to declare that the North Africa Regional Capability (NARC) is operationally ready for deployment as part of the ASF. Based on this request, the Commission is expected to undertake a verification for the declaration of NARC’s readiness for deployment.

PSC members are likely to be interested to hear which of the regional brigades other than the EASF were able to submit the verification report and what specific challenges are hindering the rest from submitting the reports.

Infographic 2: Declarations on the ASF’s full operationalization

PSC may also receive update on the status of the utilization of the AU Continental Logistics Base (CLB) in Doula, Cameroon. The CLB has been put to use for storing and managing equipment for PSOs including some donated to SAMIM and to the Multinational Joint Task Force against the Boko Haram (MNJTF). Despite its important utility, the CLB faces challenges, including shortage of funding for the recruitment of substantive staff because of which the CLB has been functioning through officers seconded by AU Member States. On a positive note, the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in February of this year, approved structures with an estimated cost of USD$ 4,717,606.45 for 2024. The recruitment for the approved structured is however conditioned on the availability of fund. In addition to the funding, lack of capacity in the continent to airlift equipment donated from the CLB in Doula to their intended place of use has been the other challenge. This was apparent from AU and SADC’s struggle to airlift the donated equipment to Mozambique for the use of SAMIM.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. PSC is expected to welcome the Ministerial meeting of the 15th STCDSS and its outcomes, including the adoption of then MoU between the AU and RECs/RMs on the ASF and express its expectations of the contribution of this in advancing the operationalization of the ASF and addressing some of the challenges arising between AU and RECs/RMs in relation to decision-making and mandate processes for the deployment of ASF.  On capability generation, PSC may note the request made during the 15th STCDSS meeting to declare operational readiness of NARC for deployment, and it may request the AU Commission to conduct a verification in that regard. Furthermore, PSC may urge RECs/RMs that have not yet done so, to submit reports verifying their pledged capabilities and ensure that their deployments are conducted within the ASF framework. It may also commend RECs/RMs that have attained their full operational capability (FOC) and encourage those RECs/RMs that are yet to achieve FOC, to scale up the capabilities of their Regional Standby Brigades and work towards operationalizing their respective Regional Logistic Depots. On the reconceptualization of the ASF, PSC may echo the 15th STCDSS meeting and request the AU Commission to conduct a strategic review of the ASF and report to the 16th meeting of the STCDSS for consideration. The PSC may in this regard underscore the imperative of adapting the ASF concept to the prevailing realities of conflict dynamics that are not tied to one region and hence could not be addressed under one Regional Standby Force but through the use of the ASF under the AU as envisaged in the PSC Protocol. Taking its earlier decision of the 1129th session calling for all AU PSOs to be deployed under the ASF to the next level, the PSC may assert the need for all deployments under the ASF to be authorized by the PSC in accordance with the PSC Protocol. On the Continental Logistics Base, while welcoming the structures approved by the 36th ordinary session of the Assembly, PSC may appeal to Member States to support the efforts for the mobilization of the required budget of USD$ 4,717,606.45 for the approved structures.


Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Date | 03 March 2023

Tomorrow (03 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session, at ministerial level, to receive a briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa.

Following opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for the month of March, Tanzania’s minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Domitien Ndayizeye, Chairperson of the Panel of Wise is also expected to brief the PSC.

The last time the PSC received a briefing on the activities of the Panel of the Wise was in March 2017, at its 665th session. In 2022, a session was planned to be dedicated to a briefing by the Panel of the Wise, during June, under the chairship of the Republic of Congo. However, the session was postponed, delaying the planned updates on the activities of the Panel. It is to be recalled that at the 665th session, the PSC decided that the ‘Panel of the Wise shall make quarterly briefings to the PSC, in order to enhance the conflict prevention capacity, early warning and timely decision-making processes of the Council’. Similar calls have been made by the PSC including at its 568th session, towards having more regular engagements. This is in line with the mandate of the Panel of the Wise recognized in PSC Protocol which outlines the Panel’s role in supporting the work of the PSC in conflict prevention.

Although the Panel of the Wise is expected to regularly brief and advise the PSC, the meetings have been rare particularly in the past few years and are yet to be fully institutionalised. This has affected the harmonisation and collaboration between the two organs around the role of the Panel on conflict prevention, including preventive diplomacy.

Tomorrow’s session will provide an important platform to brief the PSC on a number of developments that have taken place since the last briefing session. One key development has been the appointment of new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The new members were appointed for a three-year term by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)]. The fifth Panel includes the following eminent persons: Domitien Ndayizeye, former President of Burundi (Central Africa Region) and chair of the Panel, Amre Moussa, former Foreign Minister of Egypt and former Secretary General of the League of Arab States (Northern Africa Region), Effie Owuor (Eastern Africa Region), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Southern Africa Region) and Babacar Kante (Western Africa Region).

Following the appointment of the members, the Panel held its inaugural meeting on 28-29 March 2022 in Addis Ababa. The meeting served, among other purposes, for the Panel to be briefed by the AU Commission on the work of its subsidiary bodies and to receive a horizon scanning briefing on issues related to peace, security and governance. The meeting was also critical to allow the Panel of the Wise to deliberate on and outline the thematic issues and country situations that need to be prioritised. Accordingly, the Panel committed to work in support of specific countries namely Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Somalia. More particularly, on the situation in South Sudan, the Panel called for the operationalisation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS). In this context, an issue that may be of interest for PSC members is how these efforts by the Panel will and can contribute to the PSC’s ongoing engagement in these countries and the work of the various mechanisms of the AU dealing with these country situations.

Taking into consideration various developments and the current peace and security trends, in the first year of its mandate the Panel decided to focus supporting member states holding elections, those experiencing political transitions and countries that need support around constitutionalism and promotion of consensus building, including through national dialogue, reconciliation and transitional justice issues, and climate and security. These are also areas which the PSC has deliberated on in its various sessions.

With regards to transitional justice it would be of interest for the PSC and the Panel to coordinate around further popularising the AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework adopted in February 2019. The policy framework which was developed based on the recommendation by the Panel may support its work in particular in peacebuilding, reconciliation and consensus building. Moreover, the PSC and the Panel of the Wise can reflect on ways through which the Panel can contribute to AU’s role of supporting countries experiencing complex transitions. The Panel can also contribute to the implementation of PSC’s previous decisions, including at its 383rd and 525th sessions, to dedicate regular sessions on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The resurgence of military coups in multiple countries across the continent was also one of the key issues that was highlighted with grave concern in the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The issue also took centre stage in the discussions of the inaugural joint retreat of the African Pear Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons and the AU Panel of the Wise, which took place on 13 November 2022, in line with the 819th PSC session which encouraged the two organs to work in close collaboration, particularly in the area of preventive diplomacy. The 7th retreat of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) which was held on 20-21October 2022 also drew attention to the growing concern of governance related peace and security challenges in its section dedicated to horizon scanning reflections. Having regard to the need for timely responding to underlying socio-economic and political grievances, governance deficits and constitutional crises that culminate in coups, the Panel of the Wise, in collaboration with the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, can play a significant role in the deployment of preventive diplomacy at the earliest warning signs of governance challenges, to avert impending military takeover of power and maintain constitutional rule in affected member states.

The briefing also comes at a high time where there is mounting political and security tension in the Great Lakes Region. The rising confrontation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) calls for an immediate continental intervention and response in deescalating the crisis. Although regional efforts are underway, it would be critical for the Panel of the Wise, as key mandate holder in preventive diplomacy, to play its role in support of the ongoing efforts for de-escalating the tension for restoring stability in the region and to ensure that the gains made so far are not reversed.

The session also serves as an opportunity for the PSC and Panel of the Wise to reflect on how the Panel can contribute to address the existing gap between early warning and early action that hampered the effective engagement in deescalating crises before they transform into full blown armed conflicts. To address these gaps, PSC’s previous decisions calling for more regular briefings from the Panel were also echoed in the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel. In this context, the Panel decided ‘to prioritize regular horizon scanning (briefing) to the PSC to inform relevant options for response and rapid interventions in conflict situations with the aim of preventing and managing potential violent situations,’ although the Panel’s role is and should be on response to early warning rather than engaging in early warning.

Another issue which may be discussed in tomorrow’s briefing is how to create more institutional synergy with newly formed subsidiary bodies of the Panel. In addition to PanWise and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), a new subsidiary body has been endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022, the Network of African Youth on Conflict Prevention and Mediation (WiseYouth). It would be of interest for the PSC to inquire and seek clarity on the newly established WiseYouth and how it complements and coordinates with existing mechanisms including AU Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYAPs), the second cohort of which was selected in November 2021 and endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022 at its 35th Ordinary Session and welcomed by the PSC at its 1067th session.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communique. The PSC may welcome the new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise appointed by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session. It may also welcome the establishment of WiseYouth. The PSC may take note of the outcome and priorities set during the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise convened from 28 to 29 March 2022. It may welcome the outcomes of the inaugural joint retreat of the Panel of the Wise and the APR Panel of Eminent Persons. Council may underline the importance of reinvigorating early warning and conflict prevention by working closely with the Panel. It may underline the importance of enhancing coordination with the Panel in supporting complex transitions, sustaining peace in fragile contexts and ensuring early action to deescalate looming crises. To this end the PSC may reiterate its previous decision and call for the institutionalisation of conflict prevention and preventive deployment briefing by the Panel.


Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Date | 01 March 2023

Tomorrow (01 March), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session to consider a status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework: Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).

The Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the AU and Chair of the PSC for the month of March, Innocent Shiyo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to provide a status update on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework.

One of the side events at the recently concluded 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly was a High-Level meeting on ‘early warning within the framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA)’, which was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In that side event, the representative of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called on Member States to ‘embrace’ the CSCPF and its tools, the CSVRA/CSVMS, as part of the efforts to strengthen continental early warning system. The tools were devised with the hope to address structural causes of conflicts and achieve sustainable peace in the continent, but the political buy-in so far remains far from satisfactory as evident from the fact only three African countries were part of this process since the launch of the CSCPF.

Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the PSC to take stock of the implementation of the CSCPF and its tools -CSVRA/CSVMS – and provide strategic guidance on how to revitalize the process for effective conflict prevention, which is one of the main objectives of the PSC.

The CSVRA/CSVMS came within the framework of continental early warning system and as a follow-up to PSC’s 360th session, held in March 2013, a session that stressed the need for a strategic focus on addressing the structural/root causes of conflicts. During its 463rd session that took place in October 2014, PSC commended the Commission for its efforts to finalize the elaboration of the CSCPF as well as to develop a Structural Vulnerability Assessment tool and further requested the Commission to expedite the process. PSC’s 502nd session, convened in April 2015, adopted the CSVRA/CSVMS tools, and requested the Commission, in collaboration with the RECs, to avail all the necessary assistance to Member States and popularize the tools while encouraging Member States to fully take advantage of these tools in their efforts towards the structural prevention of conflict.

Recently, the Assembly, during its 35th ordinary session, held in February 2022, encouraged Member States to ‘utilize the opportunities afforded by the Commission and RECs/RMs to address structural causes of violent conflict through the implementation of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment/Country Structural Vulnerability and Mitigation Strategies (CSVRA/CSVMS) processes.’ In that summit, the Assembly went on requesting the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee’ comprising the AU Commission, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member States to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In tomorrow’s session, PSC may follow-up on progress made towards the implementation of this decision.

As highlighted in the 502nd session of the PSC, the CSCPF has been developed to facilitate a Commission-wide and coordinated approach to structural conflict prevention with the aim to identify and address structural weaknesses that have the potential to cause violent conflicts if left unaddressed. In operationalizing the CSCPF, the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division (CPEWD) of the Peace and Security Department developed the CSVRA/CSVMS tools with the former designed to facilitate the identification of a country’s structural vulnerability to conflict at an early stage while the later to focus on strategic and medium to long-term measures aimed at mitigating the country’s structural vulnerabilities and build resilience.

The CSVRA/CSVMS are voluntary processes and hence should be implemented by Member States through a request simultaneously addressed to the AU Commission and the concerned REC. The request may come at the initiation of the AU. Following the request, a team of experts composed of an expert nominated by the Member States, the CEWS staff, representatives of relevant AUC departments, representative from the concerned REC, as well as representatives from other stakeholders will be formed to work on CSVRA report, which is envisaged to be finalized within three months. Once the report is finalized, the next phase will be for the concerned state, in coordination with the AUC and the relevant REC, to start working on the CSVMS in coordination between the Member State.

Indeed, the status of implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS leaves a lot to be desired, highlighting the need for revitalizing these important tools. In that context, there are at least three points that the PSC may consider in tomorrow’s deliberation.

First, as a voluntary process, the ideals of CSVRA/CSVMS cannot be achieved without securing greater political buy-in of Member States. The fact that only three Member States have acceded to the process thus far clearly tells not only the low buy-in but also the Commission’s limitation to effectively sell these tools and the benefits they avail to Member States. It is recalled that Ghana was the first to initiate the structural vulnerability assessment in 2017, followed by Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It is encouraging that few other countries – such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius – have reportedly shown interest to engage in the process, but additional effort is required on the side of the Commission to bring more countries on board. This may also require addressing concerns about the framing of the exercise as vulnerability assessment. Additionally, structurally there is a need for aligning this exercise with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose review also involves such structural vulnerability analysis of countries under review.

Second, despite the rhetoric, conflict prevention and early warning system in general and the CSVRA/CSVMS tools in particular have received little attention as much of the focus seems on activities related to conflict management. This has been for instance reflected in the new PAPS structure, which, unlike the previous structure, does not have a dedicated division to conflict prevention and early warning. There is in particular a need for the member states to provide resources for the AU Commission in order for it to have a dedicated capacity, which, working with the APRM, promotes the full and active operationalization of these tools.

Third, there is a high need to clarify the relation with other AU tools particularly the APRM. The PSC should provide policy guidance on how these two mechanisms complement each other so that there is no confusion on their respective purposes and objectives.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may underline the critical importance of CSVRA/CSVMS tools to the structural prevention of conflict and consolidation of peace and stability in the continent. Considering the benefits that the CSVRA/CSVMS tools offer particularly in identifying and addressing the structural vulnerabilities of member states that may evolve into violent conflicts, the PSC is expected to encourage Member States to fully take advantage of these tools. It may also request the Commission to provide all the required support to Member States. It may further request the Commission to develop strategy to better popularize these tools and ensure greater buy-in of Member States so that more countries undertake the assessment. PSC may also request the Commission to enhance its working relationship with the RECs/RMs in the implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS, as well as to better clarify the relationship between these tools and the APRM. In the light of the fact that the institutional reform had left the CSCPF without a structure for its effective operationalization, the PSC may call for a dedicated capacity within PAPS for taking responsibility in promoting and implementing CSVRA/CSVMS.


Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Date | 8 February 2023

Tomorrow (8 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold its 1138th session to receive a briefing on the peace and security outlook on the continent for the year 2023.

The session commences with the opening remark of Edward Xolisa Edward, Permanent Representative of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make statement presenting reflections from the PAPS department on the peace and security outlook of the continent. The main briefing on the theme of the session is expected to be delivered by a representative of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA).

Tomorrow’s session is taking place in line with PSC’s decision adopted at its 1073rd session held on 6 April 2022 that requested the Commission to facilitate quarterly briefings to enhance conflict prevention. In line with this decision, the PSC in its annual indicative program of activities for 2023 has scheduled to receive such briefings in February, June, October and December.

When the PSC convened its 1073rd session on the same theme, it expressed grave concern over the ‘persistence of a myriad of threat to peace, security and stability and socio-economic development on the continent.’ In the session, a number of security threats were highlighted including political instability and electoral disputes, unconstitutional changes of government, human rights violation, violent extremism and terrorism and cybercrime.

During tomorrow’s session, the briefing by CISSA may highlight the continuation or worsening of the security threats that were witnessed in 2022. The first of such threat that is sure to receive particular attention is the persistence of conflicts involving terrorist groups and the threat of their expansion into new areas. In terms of the persistence of conflicts involving terrorism, various parts of the continent experienced more incidents of violence in 2022. Out of the 699 terrorist attacks that the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) documented for the first half of 2022, the Sahel region recorded 179 attacks that resulted in 1,909 deaths while the Lake Chad Basin recorded 153 attacks that caused 1,229 deaths. On the other hand, the Great Lakes region accounted for 96 attacks and 1,013 deaths, and Horn of Africa region accounted for 71 attacks that resulted in 504 deaths during the period. According to the latest report from United Nations (UN) Development Programme (UNDP) on the spread of terrorism, human rights violations and abuses have become triggers of instability including in relation to the emergence and expansion of conflicts involving terrorism.

In terms of the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorist groups, the most worrying is the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorism from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. In this respect, Ghana’s President warned in a meeting last November that the ‘worsening situation …threatens to engulf the entire West Africa’.

The other major source of threat to peace and security on the continent is the worsening of democratic governance deficit on the continent and the discontent and grievances this continues to breed. In countries that have not experienced change of leadership or have been dominated by one party for a long period of time, the worsening of the democratic governance deficit in the context of expanding socio-economic challenges is sure to become a fertile ground for political instability. These may take various forms including mass protests, riots and in worst case scenario, the emergence of armed militias or insurgent groups.

On the socio-economic sources of threat in 2023, attention may be drawn to the fact that the vast majority of the 50 countries in the world that are at risk of debt crisis are in Africa. This debt crisis is compounded by high levels of inflation and fast-growing rise in the price of consumer goods, including basic necessities, with the IMF reporting that consumer prices have increased in Africa by more than 20 percent on average in 2022. These severe economic pressures can have dire consequences in terms of stability not only for fragile and conflict affected countries on the continent but also for those less fragile and not affected by conflict. Accordingly, one aspect of the peace and security outlook of the continent for 2023 that requires proactive policy action relate to the threats of instability that arises from these dire socio-economic trends.

Another site of threat to stability and peace in Africa in 2023, as in the past years, involves elections. Close to twenty countries will be holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 2023. Some of the countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Guinea Bissau, will be holding their elections in fragile political and security contexts. In others countries, such as Madagascar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, trust deficit in electoral institutions and processes combined with disinformation and rising cost of living and food insecurity could create flashpoints for electoral dispute and violence taking various forms including political protests, mass demonstrations, strikes and riots which are met with heavy-handed responses by security forces.

Source: Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EiSA) and Amani Africa Tracking

 

Developments in 2022 also suggest that the management of complex political transitions, peace processes and conflict hot spots will continue to be sites of geopolitical rivalry that in some cases may lead to reversal of progress towards resolution. As the influence and meddling of external actors on the continent intensifies in 2023, existing geopolitical rivalries over transitions and conflict settings such as in Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Libya and Sudan are expected to persist and such rivalries could become prominent in others such as the DRC. An important consideration for the PSC in the attempt to prevent relapse of transitions into conflict or crisis or further deterioration of existing conflicts due to the impact of geopolitical rivalries, is the question of the measures that should be devised and implemented to mitigate to the minimum possible, the adverse impact of such deepening geopolitical rivalry on Africa.

Aside from the impact of geopolitical rivalry, tomorrow’s session may focus on the challenges around protracted and complex political transitions and the difficult path towards the restoration of constitutional order in these countries and the way forward. Other complex transitions are related to the slow implementation of peace agreements as witnessed in the case of South Sudan, CAR and Libya.

The threat of coups or attempted coups and other forms of unconstitutional changes of government is also expected to continue to loom large on the peace and security landscape of the continent. This may affect, as witnessed in 2022, countries that are in political transition induced by military coups, and other countries facing political, socio-economic and security challenges.

Tomorrow’s PSC session also comes after the conclusion of the 18th ordinary session of CISSA held between 29 January and 4 February under the theme ‘Food security, conflict and peace in Africa’. Hence one aspect that CISSA will likely highlight in its briefing is the link between conflict and hunger. There has been a concerning trend witnessed in the various conflicts in the continent of the use of starvation and the destruction of agricultural products and infrastructure as a tactic of war. On the other hand, the impact of drought on food and nutrition has also been devastating. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, an estimated of 22 million people are now acutely food insecure because of drought.

The mismatch between humanitarian needs and assistance is expected to exacerbate the dire situation. While there is an expected reduction in humanitarian assistance in Somalia starting from the second quarter of 2023, more than eight million people across Somalia are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity outcomes between April and June 2023. This is due to the five consecutive seasons of reduced rainfall, a possible sixth season of below-average rainfall from March to June 2023, and exceptionally high food prices, further exacerbated by insecurity. Similarly, the number of people affected by hunger in West and Central Africa is projected to reach an all-time high of 48 million people (including 9 million children) in 2023.

A related challenge that will be particularly relevant for tomorrow’s briefing is the interplay between climate change and insecurity. Various parts of the continent particularly the Sahel and Horn of Africa have been susceptible to climate shocks including recurrent droughts and floods. Extreme whether events operate as risk multipliers in conflict affected countries. Fierce inter-communal competition and violence over depleting resources have led to deadly clashes.  Climate change induced displacement has also created tension between host and displaced communities.

Tomorrow’s session may also serve as an opportunity to follow up on the status of the requests made to the AU Commission by the PSC, including on the need to convene a meeting between the AU Commission and PSC Committee of Experts on early warning, provision of support to member states, establishment of clear communication channel with the PSC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and elaboration of trigger mechanism.

The PSC may also reflect on how to ensure effective use of available early warning and response tools in the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigations Strategies (CSVMS) which are critical to enhance the early warning role of the PSC. There is also the issue of more effective use of other pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) particularly the Panel of the Wise, notably for enhancing preventive diplomacy.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may welcome the briefing presented by CISSA. The PSC may express concern over the deteriorating peace and security, governance and humanitarian landscape of the continent. It may underline the importance of receiving regular and institutionalized briefings on peace and security outlook to enhance its early warning capacity. The PSC may express its readiness to continue and enhance its engagement with the various bodies including the Panel of the Wise for a strengthened preventive diplomacy and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to address the structural governance challenges that continue to drive insecurity in the continent. Given the concerning trends witnessed in the continent, the PSC may underline the importance of deliberating on all countries that require PSC’s attention without facing opposition on the inclusion of any item in the agenda of the PSC. The PSC may also consider to have dedicated deliberation on how to address the issue of denialism by member states on the existence of risks and the invocation of sovereignty.


Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Date | 31 January 2023

Tomorrow (31 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1135th session for the inaugural commemoration of the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ in line with the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU. The open session is expected to take place in a hybrid format where AU Member States and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) attend the meeting in-person while other participants join remotely.

The Permanent Representative of Uganda and Stand-in Chairperson of the PSC for January, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, will deliver opening remarks to the session which is expected to proceed in two segments. During the open segment of the session, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat is expected to make the lead statement while President of Angola and AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, is scheduled to provide the inaugural keynote statement for the launch of the Africa Day of peace and reconciliation. Representatives of four Member States, namely The Gambia, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa, are expected to share the experience of their respective countries on how they pursued the reconciliation processes. In addition, Chairperson of the AU Panel of the Wise and former President of Burundi, Domitien Ndayizeye, and Co-Chair of FemWise-Africa and former President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, are anticipated to deliver statements while presentations on the Peace Dividends from National Reconciliation, Dialogue and Social Cohesion could be made by an African female/Child affected by armed conflict.

This session is convened in accordance with the declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government in Africa held last May in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which decided to institute 31 January of each year as the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’. In that Summit, the Assembly further appointed Angola’s President, João Manuel Gonçalves LOURENÇO, as AU Champion for peace and Reconciliation in Africa. It is to be recalled that the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec.501(XXII)] of February 2022 declared 2014-2024 as the ‘Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa’. On the other hand, the PSC, at its 525th session held in July 2015, agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item on its indicative annual programme of activities. On 5 December 2019, during its 899th session, PSC also agreed to dedicate an annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The PSC has dedicated several stand-alone sessions since 2013 to discuss the theme of peace and reconciliation. For instance, during its 383rd session, held in June 2013 at the ministerial level, PSC highlighted the critical role of national reconciliation to achieve lasting peace by overcoming divisions arising from conflict and restoring social cohesion. It was also at this ministerial session that the PSC first proposed the idea of developing an AU Framework on national reconciliation and justice, but that initiative seem to have fallen through the cracks.

PSC’s 525th session of July 2015 urged Member States to ‘show greater sense of responsibility and strong commitment to national reconciliation processes’ as part of the efforts to achieve a peaceful, integrated, and prosperous continent. The 672nd session, convened in March 2016, drew attention on the need to invest in institutions and reconciliation processes while embarking on post-conflict reconstruction. The 899th session of December 2019, convened at the initiation of Angola, then Chairperson of the PSC, took several decisions to step-up efforts in the promotion of national reconciliation in the continent, including the decision to dedicate annual session on experience sharing on national reconciliation, and develop an implementation and monitoring mechanism to take forward the various aspects of national reconciliation in post-conflict situations. Most recently in August 2022, PSC also convened lessons learning session broadly on the implementation of AU Transitional Justice Policy, though not specific to the issue of reconciliation.

The commemoration of Africa Day will complement and builds on these existing AU efforts that are aimed at raising awareness about and mobilize support for reconciliation as a vital tool to achieve lasting peace in the continent.

The continent has rich experience of national reconciliations that offer good lessons to Member States that are pursuing or intend to pursue reconciliation. As such, part of tomorrow’s program will be lessons learnt and experience sharing by three of PSC Member States (The Gambia, Burundi, South Africa), as well as Rwanda.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The reconciliation process has successfully transformed South Africa from an Apartheid system to a constitutional democracy, but there is a growing call for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to impede the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In the case of The Gambia, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which was established in December 2017 with the mandate to investigate and establish an impartial historical record of human rights violations from July 1994 to January 2017, has received international prominence for its achievements in uplifting the political consciousness of the public and the high level of public interest it evoked in giving a hearing for victims and the public an opportunity for acknowledging the violations. It is to be recalled that the TRRC delivered its final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights and the government issued a white paper in May 2022 accepting almost all the TRRC’s 265 recommendations. The next critical step for The Gambia, therefore, remains the full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the TRRC report.

Burundi also pursued the reconciliation process by creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is born out of the Arusha Agreement of 2000 for peace and reconciliation in Burundi, in 2014 and extended for four years in 2018. The Commission has made some progress in conducting investigations and identifying mass graves as well as exhuming victims. At the same time, the composition, mandate, and activities of the Commission has been subject of controversy as critics raise question about the impartiality of the Commission in interrogating acts of violence involving all conflict actors, not excluding members of the ruling party.

Rwanda’s experience on the other hand reveals the use of traditional mechanisms, the community based Gacaca courts, as a home-grown solution to achieve the twin goals of retribution and reconciliation. The Gacaca courts are lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide and played instrumental role towards achieving unity and reconciliation. Reintegration of genocide convicts, unresolved cases of compensation to genocide survivors, persistence of genocide ideology and denials remain challenges for Rwanda.

Beyond exchanging best practices from these experiences to identify lessons learned, this day can also be instrumental for reflecting on existing conflicts and peace processes on the continent. Indeed, this first anniversary of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation comes at a time when Africa is in very dire security situation. The number of conflicts has spiked in recent years. Apart from conflicts that take the form of civil wars, many countries in various parts of the continent also suffer from conflicts involving terrorist violence. The factors for the emergence and continuation of many of these conflicts involve political, socio-cultural, and developmental governance deficits exacerbated by a winner takes all approach to political power and repressive and authoritarian exercise of government power and violent response to opposition and dissent.

Indeed, the litmus test of the material contribution or value of this day as well as that of the AU flagship project of Silencing the Guns lies in how this day helps to put a spotlight on and mobilizes targeted intervention for the mitigation, if not resolution of existing conflicts from the Great Lakes Region, where the armed conflict involving armed rebel groups such as the M23 and Allied Democratic Forces is raging with the mounting tension between Rwanda and DRC reaching yet another high point last week, to the Sahel where conflicts involving terrorist violence continues to expand unabated and to the Horn of Africa battered by existing and new wars and violence. In this regard, the day may serve as an occasion for mobilising and reaffirming support for, among others, the Luanda and Nairobi processes on the conflict in Eastern DRC while calling for maximum restraint by DRC & Rwanda, the full implementation of the Pretoria peace agreement between Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the accompanying Nairobi Declaration, the peace process in Libya, implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan within the newly extended timetable and the negotiations towards civilian led transitional process in Sudan being facilitated by the Trilateral Mechanism.

The expected outcome of the session is not clear at the time of finalizing this insight. However, the outcome document is expected to welcome the inaugural commemoration of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. It may highlight the important role of national reconciliation towards achieving AU’s noble goal of Silencing the Guns by 2030 considering the critical role that reconciliation plays in preventing conflict relapse and laying strong foundation for sustainable peace in countries emerging from violent conflicts. In that regard, PSC may urge the Commission and other stakeholders to pay due attention to the reconciliation component while brokering peace between parties to a conflict. PSC may also reiterate those key elements of credible reconciliation process as outlined in the 383rd session and may further emphasize the importance of ensuring the participation of key stakeholders such as women and youth in the process. The PSC may also call on conflict parties to implement cessation of hostilities as good will for the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation and opportunity for resolving the conflict through mediation and negotiation. The PSC may also urge those involved in peace processes (in Eastern DRC, Libya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan) in various conflict settings to collaborate with and actively engage in the processes and take the necessary measures for implementation of commitments they made for resolving conflicts and active reconciliation.