Briefing on Continental and Regional activities in the area of Mine Action in Africa

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 16 September, 2021

Tomorrow (16 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1032nd session on activities in the area of mine action in the continent.

It is envisaged that following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will make a statement. It is also expected that the representative of the United Nations Mine Actions Services (UNMAS) will make a presentation. Others expected to make statements include the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the representative of the European Union (EU).

Council emphasized at its 837th session on International Disarmament that antipersonnel mines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to impose serious risk to the lives, safety and health of civilian populations. As highlighted in the Statement of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) to the AU at the commemoration of 2021’s International Day for Mine Awareness, there were 30,000 deaths caused due to the use of explosive weapons recorded in 2019 only, out of which 66% were civilian deaths. In addition to the immediate risk to the life and safety of individuals, mines and ERW also impede social and economic development and stand as serious hindrance to humanitarian action. On the impact for humanitarian work, United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/80 of December 2019 (A/RES/74/80) stated that the presence of mines and ERW in humanitarian settings impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance, thereby impacting the lives and livelihoods of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other members of civilian populations who are dependent on humanitarian aid.

Africa hosts majority of the world’s countries that are highly affected by mines and ERW. While encouraging steps have been taken by multiple African States in ratifying and taking some steps towards implementation of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) and other relevant instruments, there is still much that remains to be done. Notably, the number of AU States parties to the APMBC suspected to be contaminated with or affected by anti-personnel mines and ERW has decreased from 30 to 16 States. However, the remaining 16 States are yet to fully meet their obligations related to demining. For instance, according to data presented by the Mine Action Review of 2020, out of eight States parties to the APMBC with regards to which no clearance of anti-personnel mines was recorded for the year 2019, seven were African countries. The same review also indicates that of the nine States parties to the APMBC, which failed to submit their reports on its implementation for the year 2020, seven are African States. In addition, in countries like Mali that confront struggles against armed non-State actors, increased threat from improvised anti-personnel mines has been recorded. This has invoked reasonable concerns over re-proliferation of mines in conflict affected African countries. One of the issues for PSC during tomorrow’s session is how to address these gaps and ensure that States renew their commitments towards full implementation of the APMBC.

Another relevant instrument is the Declaration of States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Maputo Declaration). The Maputo Declaration has been instrumental in highlighting the need to expedite demining efforts around the world, thereby setting the year 2025 as a deadline by which member States shall ensure that there are no new mine victims in areas under their jurisdiction or control and that survivors are fully assisted and included in societies on equal basis with others. As the deadline for the implementation of the Maputo Declaration quickly approaches, it is essential for member States of the AU through the leadership of the PSC to reflect on how far they have been able to meet their commitments and how they can strengthen efforts towards meeting the 2025 deadline. Indeed, silencing anti-personnel mines and freeing African countries from landmines should form part of the AU flagship project on Silencing the Guns.

In addition to demining efforts, it is also important to emphasise the importance of taking actions against the production, export and proliferation of landmines and other excessively dangerous weapons. Particularly in light of the rise in illicit proliferation of arms in Africa, it is important for member States to remain cautious and take additional institutional and legal measures against the infiltration of excessively hazardous weapons into their territories. Although some IEDs that are remotely operated are not considered as mines, it is equally as important for States to take all necessary measures to ban the use of these devices and restrict the availability of the chemicals and elements, which are used to locally manufacture them. States also need to abide by their obligations under the APMBC to destroy their mine stockpiles, which impose serious risks including the possibility of diversion and use by unauthorized non-state actors. As experience in some African States, exemplified most recently by the experience of Libya, has indicated in the past, the lack of strict and proper regulation of the flow of arms and importantly their proper stockpiling and management has enabled non-state groups and separatists to obtain mines in black markets at very low prices, in some cases, serving as catalyst for outbreak of conflicts.

Another issue of interest for tomorrow’s session related to the proliferation of mines is the issue of porous borders. In addition to taking measures against production, transfer and storing of mines within their territories, States need to strengthen border security cooperation among them in order to thwart attempts by criminal and terrorist groups to traffic mines and other arms and weapons. In order to protect civilian populations and spare them from the impacts of mines and ERW, States also need to engage in awareness creation campaigns and consider incorporating lessons in their education curriculum, targeting particularly rural communities and refugees and IDPs who are at heightened exposure and risk of mines and ERW.

One of the major constraints that has lagged AU States parties to the APMBC from implementing their commitment under Article 5 to conduct mine clearance activities is the lack of sufficient resources and the decline in donor funding for mine action programmes. This has become particularly more challenging in the context of Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced concerned States to divert most of their resources towards efforts aimed at responding to the pandemic. The AU Mine Action Strategic Framework launched by the AU Commission is aimed at, among others, supporting concerned member States transition to national ownership and financing of their demining efforts. One of the avenues the AU Commission aims to explore in this regard is through providing capacity building trainings for AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) on management and clearance of explosive hazards. It is important to explore similar approaches and options in order to address the resource barrier faced by concerned member States.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a press statement. Council may emphasise the serious victimisation of civilians as a result of mines and other dangerous weapons and call on States and other relevant actors to take necessary measures against production, use and transfer of such weapons. The PSC may decide that the monitoring and promotion of the efforts of member states in the clearance of mines and the banning of the production, circulation and use of mines in Africa should be include in the AU Roadmap on Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa as silencing mines on the ground that threaten the lives and personal security of people is as important as silencing other forms of arms. It may encourage Members States, who haven’t yet done so, to sign, ratify and implement the APMBC as well as the Maputo Declaration. It may urge States who are already parties to the APMBC to take all necessary measures to clear mined areas, assist victims of landmines and ensure timely reporting on their clearance and demining activities in line with Article 7 of the Convention. Member States may also be urged to sign, ratify and implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in order to ensure that survivors of exploded mines are fully assisted. Council may also appeal to international partners to continue their support for States in their mine clearance activities as well as efforts aimed at strengthening border control and weapons regulations. In light of the importance of enhancing cross-border coordination and cooperation to control transfer of mines as well as their use in border areas, Council may call on Member States, who have not yet done so, to accede to and ratify the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention). The various RECs/RMs may also be requested to enhance their regional strategies on management of cross-border threats. The AU Commission may be requested to mobilise support, including technical and financial resources, in collaboration with its partners.

Open Session on Protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated  areas

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 17 July, 2019

Tomorrow (17 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold an open session on the protection of civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
During the session it is expected that the Permanent Representative of Mozambique to UN Office in Geneva, representatives of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will deliver their presentations. AU Peace and Security Department is also expected to make a statement.

The adverse effect of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) has been a widely recognized challenge causing harm to civilians in conflicts. As indicated in the concept note, civilians are the overwhelming majority constituting 90% of victims during the use of wide-area effects explosive weapons in populated areas. Weapons designed to spread a wide effect or lacking precision when launched, often times lead to civilian suffering. In a time where violence and conflicts are increasingly taking place in populated cities instead of remote areas, the impact of the use of such weapons rises exponentially.

Beyond the immediate impact, the effects have long-term consequences in terms of the destruction of infrastructure, education and health facilities heavily affecting the coping capacity of communities. Particularly in the context of protracted conflicts, EWIPA may also delay or complicate conflict reconstruction and peace building processes.

With the increased level of urbanization coupled with the rise of conflicts in cities, various types of explosive weapons are being used such as mines, anti-personnel mines, missiles and grenades both by national military forces and armed groups. The AU has demonstrated commitment in the fight against the use of anti-personnel mines. 51 African member states have ratified the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Treaty). The 837th PSC session recognizing the risks associated with improvised explosive device (IED) and their devastating impact on civilians, called on ‘Member States to prevent and counter the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) through integrated and coherent approaches including helping one another, and demand the Commission to continue consultations with Member States to develop the necessary framework in this regard’.

Moreover, the protection of civilians has been a key priority to the AU as it is articulated in various policy instruments and deliberations. The AU provides a comprehensive definition to the protection of civilians. The Draft Guidelines for the protection of civilians in PSOs identified four tiers or dimensions of protection: protection through political process; physical protection; rights-based protection; and establishing a secure environment.

A dedicated regional meeting on Protecting Civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas was also held in November 2017. In the communiqué of the meeting states highlighted that they ‘support the process that will lead to the negotiation and adoption of an international political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas’. The meeting although aimed at forming a group of African States that can actively support the development of the declaration, thus far only Senegal and Mozambique have participated in the diplomatic process. The two countries will represent Africa in the Core Group that will be leading on the development of the declaration. Following the upcoming October 2019 conference in Vienna, the declaration is expected to be adopted in Dublin in 2020.

Similarly the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his annual report on the protection of civilians in May 2019 called on member states to join the political process.

Across the continent EWIPA is further exacerbated by the increasing flow of illicit arms. The 788 session of the PSC highlighted that flow of ‘small arms and light weapons (SALW), to non-state actors contributes significantly towards exacerbating insecurity and violence in various parts of Africa, thereby undermining social cohesion, public security, socio-economic development and the effective functioning of state institutions’.

Presenters particularly the ICRC may highlight and provide an overview of the humanitarian dimension of the use of EWIPA, including the failure of such weapons to meet the international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality. The destruction of homes and basic infrastructure the use of EWIPA coupled with a lack of access to basic services, lead to forced displacement of civilians. The delivery of humanitarian aid is often times hampered by destruction of roads, preventing access to life saving assistance and basic services. Hence, beyond the direct impact on people it affects the entire system of particular area or a country. Within the context of 2019 theme on Refugees, IDPs and Returnees the interventions may further highlight the linkages with forced displacement and the challenges associated with returns due to the destruction of homes and livelihoods.

INEW’s intervention may elaborate on the distinctive pattern of harm caused to civilians by the use of EWIPA. Given its role in the development of the political declaration, it may provide further details on the progress made thus far and next steps. It may also elaborate on why such a declaration is needed and how it can serve as a guiding framework for member states in their efforts in designing policies and in effectively responding to the security threat. The declaration may explicitly address issues related to harm of civilians due to the use of EWIPA and it may also pay particular attention on the mechanisms to ensure protection of civilians.

The representative of Mozambique may highlight the key outcomes of the Maputo regional meeting and elaborate on the country’s role and contribution in articulating a global political commitment anchored by provisions in existing African instruments.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC in the outcome document may recommend key actions and next steps towards mitigating harm and ensuring the full protection of civilians. It may commend Mozambique and Senegal for their leadership in contributing to the process of developing the political declaration. It may call on member states to strengthen their efforts by utilizing existing regional and international instruments. It may also call for a greater respect for international humanitarian law to reduce suffering of civilians.

Consideration of the Mapping Study on Illicit Arms Flows in Africa 

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 18 July, 2019

Tomorrow (18 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will consider the mapping study on illicit arms flow in Africa.

The Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the Small Arms Survey are expected to brief the council and present the main findings of the mapping study. The joint study has been conducted pursuant to the 430th PSC decision that tasked ‘the Commission to undertake a comprehensive study on the flow of illicit weapons into and within Africa and submit to it the outcome of such a study’.

Following this decision the AU Commission, jointly with the Small Arms Survey, has co-organized the inception meeting on mapping illicit arms flows in Africa, in June 2017. The press release at the inception meeting indicated that the study aims at producing data on patterns and trends in arms and ammunition inflows, diversion and illicit circulation, and gaps in control measures. The study also serves to equip the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and member states with relevant tools to ‘prevent the flow of illegal arms and ammunition into conflict zones, implement evidence-based policies and better measure progress and impact in line with the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020’.

The study has been underway over the past two years including the validation by RECs and international experts in 2018. Following tomorrow’s consideration by the PSC, the study will be launched and presented to the various stakeholders in the AU headquarters.

The study is expected to establish a continental data and analysis that identifies regions and countries affected by illicit arms flow and trends in the illicit production, trade, possession, stockpile and circulation of arms. The data and analysis may also identify sources and patterns of movement and circulation of arms. This study is essential given the complexity of the issue and the absence of a continental binding instrument and a dedicated continental mechanism that can monitor trade and illicit arms flows and track their effects on peace and security. Currently the Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons is the only existing continental instrument but it only expresses political rather than legal commitment. Hence its implementation and impact has been limited. Additionally, there is not a continent-wide dedicated mechanism for promoting the standards of the Declaration.

The various RECs have established frameworks within their respective regions. Although this is a positive step, it has resulted in parallel legal regimes and made response fragmented. Even in regions that have instruments, implementation is still lacking. The very nature of the flows of illicit weapons necessitates a kind of response that is trans-regional and a standardized continental framework. The fragmented response has also left regions such as the Sahel without an established instrument.

Although the 832nd PSC session underlined the primary responsibility of member states in combating illicit circulation of arms, however their capacities are limited. A related challenge is the porous nature of the boarders of many African countries and their inability to regulate their peripheral territories. Member states’ limited capacity and resources in putting in place effective administrative and institutional measures for safe stockpiling of arms has affected the safekeeping and control of arms. In this regard there is a need for the AUC to provide guidance and technical support on ways member states adequately monitor and track illicit arms as well as produce reports on their efforts and the challenges that are encountered as a follow up to the various calls of the PSC for receiving reports from member states. Hence institutional support to member states for the development of national strategy and reporting will enable relevant national institutions in discharging their roles for effective control of flow of arms.

Previous PSC sessions have made reference to the linkages between the proliferation and illicit flows of arms on the one hand and terrorism, organized crime and financing of terrorist groups. Additionally, there is a need to recognize the increased transnational nature of conflicts and how weak border control leads to porous borders that allows free movement of traffickers of arms across national borders.

Flows and circulation of illicit arms are particularly critical in conflict affected countries and post-conflict situations. The absence of effective implementation of DDR and SSR enables the proliferation of armed groups and the flow of illicit weapons, hampering cessation of hostilities and peace building processes. It may also contribute to potential relapse to violence by compromising gains made in restoring peace and security.

The PSC may also follow up on its previous decision at the 832nd, which requested ‘the Commission to consider organizing a forum for the AU to constructively engage with weapons manufacturers’. Apart from being a shared area of interest for the UN Security Council (UNSC), this international dimension of the illicit manufacturing, trade and transfer to Africa of small arms and light weapons also necessitates developing close coordination and joint approach with the UNSC. The risks and challenges associated with illicit flow of arms have been regularly debated at the UNSC.

The UN Secretary-General submits biennial report on small arms and light weapons to UNSC. In the Resolution 2220 (2015), the Security Council requested the SG to continue to submit to the Council on a biennial basis a report on the issue of small arms and light weapons. Following this decision the SG has submitted its fifth report in December 2017. In this context, the growing concern over the increased links between transnational organized crime, illicit small-arms trafficking and terrorism as well as emerging technologies for illicit trafficking and production has received attention.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. It may express concern over illicit small arms and light weapons within the continent and from the outside. It may commend the AUC and Small Arms Survey for leading on the development of the continental mapping study on illicit arms flows in Africa. It may call on member states in strengthening their monitoring and control mechanisms and may urge for enhanced cooperation among countries and with relevant international bodies. The PSC is also expected to adopt the recommendations of the study and call for their implementation. In its deliberation the council may call for standardization of the norms and approaches of RECs for a more harmonized and coordinated approach. In terms of targeted action within the framework of the AU Roadmap on Silencing the Guns as well, the implementation of measures directed at countries most affected by illicit circulation and trade of small and light weapons such as Libya. The PSC could also emphasize issues related to partnership and international cooperation in tracing illicit flows and movement of arms, capacity building to member states for arms and ammunition management and information sharing including through the UNSC.

Sensitisation Session on International Disarmament

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 04 April, 2019

Tomorrow (4 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold a sensitization session on International Disarmament with a focus on the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Treaty) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The concept note of this 837th meeting envisages that tomorrow’s session will be an open one.

Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Beatrice Fihn are expected to brief the Council. The Commissioner of Peace and Security and the Defense and Security Division (DSD) will also deliver a statement. Additionally, statements are also expected from invited participants including Norway as the President of the Mine Ban Treaty for 2019 and host of the fourth review conference of the treaty. A statement will also be delivered by the Chair of the month, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye of Nigeria.

The session aims at generating awareness and reinvigorating commitment for the implementation of the two instruments. The Ottawa Treaty came into force in March 1999 with the central objective of eliminating anti-personnel land mines (AP-mines) globally. Currently 51 African member states have ratified the treaty. The review of the Treaty has taken place every five years, the last one was held in 2014 in Maputo, which also marked the 15th anniversary of the entry into force of the treaty. Consequently the Maputo Action Plan (2014-2019) was adopted with clear commitments on the implementation of time-bound obligation of the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines by the year 2025. The fourth review conference is scheduled for November 2019 in Oslo, which will mark the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Convention.

The concept note of the session indicates that despite the commitments of African member states both at the global and regional levels and the progress that has been made over the years, 13 AU Member States remain affected by mines, while 4 have not completed the destruction of their stockpiles. The anti-personnel land mines continue to kill and injure people even after cessation of hostilities by warring parties. Member states are continuously facing challenges due to armed groups increased use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) compounded with Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) threat particularly in Peace Support Operations context.

Although there has not been regular PSC briefing on AP-mines, at the AUC level the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action has been observed in past on 4 April. Moreover, previously the AU developed and launched the Mine Action and Explosive Remnants of War Strategic Framework project document for the period 2014-2017. The session may serve as a reminder of existing initiatives, which require renewed commitments and to commemorate the International Day.

The other instrument that will be discussed extensively is the TPNW and its implementation in line with the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (the Treaty of Pelindaba). The TPNW was adopted in July 2017 by 122 UN Member States, including 42 African countries, as a global instrument banning nuclear weapons. Despite such efforts, currently a total of 50 ratifications are needed to bring the treaty into force and only 22 countries have ratified including two African countries. Thus far, there are 70 signatories and 22 ratifications of the TPNW.

From Africa, while 20 AU member states are signatories, only South Africa and The Gambia have ratified this treaty. Botswana, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Sudan and Tanzania have expressed their intention to ratify the treaty. Given the leadership that African states demonstrated through the Pelindaba Treaty banning the proliferation of nuclear weapons with ratification from 41 AU member states, tomorrow’s session may serve as an opportunity for AU member states to take Africa’s commitment to the international level by mobilizing the ratification of the TPNW as a means of strengthening the international legal regime aiming at outlawing nuclear weapons.

This session that can help in the effort for strengthening multilateral regulation of nuclear weapons is very timely, taking place as the tension at the global level is heightened. With the withdrawal of the US and Russia from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the lack of talks between the two countries for extending the 2010 treaty that reduced nuclear warheads, there are increasing fears of nuclear arms race, which threatens the TPNW. There are also risks in other fronts including around upholding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal due to the withdrawal of the US, the collapse of the talks between the US and North Korea and the recent escalation of tension between India and Pakistan are all concerns that the PSC members may raise as existential threats of global stability.

In the midst of these challenges Africa remains committed in maintaining a nuclear weapon free zone. The AU Chairperson and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have signed a four-year agreement (2018-2022), an agreement on a safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies for development in Africa. At the 763rd PSC session held in April 2018, the Council ‘reaffirmed its commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy, as enshrined in the AU Constitutive Act and the Protocol relating to the establishment of the PSC’. In the same decision the Council ‘requested the AU Commission and the AFCONE to provide annual briefing to the PSC on the status of the implementation of the Pelindaba Treaty and the activities of AFCONE’. The latter was established by the Pelindaba Treaty to monitor compliance of member states in the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes and development.

As indicated in the concept note the session may also shed light on the fact although the continent is a nuclear weapon free zone, the global threats and use of nuclear weapons will have severe humanitarian impact on Africa and may reverse the development gains made. It may also make the case for the massive global expenditure on nuclear weapons amounting to close to US$105 billion annually to be channeled for global development and cooperation. The discussions may also highlight the efforts of countries including Nigeria and South Africa, who facilitated the initial resolution that led to the establishment of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and continue to engage in the implementation of the treaty.

The expected outcome is a press statement. Tomorrow’s PSC meeting will hold a comprehensive discussion and deliberation given that it will be covering two interlinked instruments and processes that have immense impact globally and for the continent. The PSC may reiterate its commitment to nuclear weapons disarmament non-proliferation and cooperation in the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology. The Council may highlight the existential risks and humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonation would have on the continent. Hence, it may call on member states to ratify the TPNW to ensure that it enters into force. The PSC may also urge for the full implementation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the realization of the Maputo 2025 Commitment and for international partners to support the complete clearance of AP mines in Africa. The PSC may also call on the AU Commission to convene a meeting of AU member states for an African common position for the fourth review conference of the Ottawa Treaty.

Briefing on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 14 March, 2019

Tomorrow (14 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to receive a briefing on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and its impact on the AU plan for Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020. The PSC is expected to receive briefing from the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA). The AU Peace and Security Department (PSD), particularly its division on Defense and Security is expected to brief. Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms are also expected to share their experiences.

The session is initiated by Kenya as the Chair of the month and host of RECSA. As the concept note for the session developed by Kenya indicates, the aim is to identify concrete actions to address the proliferation and circulation of illicit weapons and ammunition in line with the provisions of AU Master Roadmap on Silencing the Guns. The concept note makes reference to the Silencing the Guns Continental Plan of Action (STG-PoA) that is currently being developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) as a framework to operationalize the Master Roadmap. The briefing will also offer an overview of the success and challenges of the efforts undertaken against the proliferation of illicit weapons by particularly focusing on the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. At its 778th session the PSC stated that ‘illicit flow of arms, particularly small arms and light weapons (SALW), to non-state actors contributes significantly towards various parts of Africa’. exacerbating insecurity and violence in Following its 824th meeting held on February 5 2019, the Council, in a press statement, emphasized the centrality of national institutions in the fight against the proliferation of SALW and further urged ‘Member States to invest more in building and further strengthening their capacities to effectively safeguard national stockpiles of weapons, with a view to preventing weapons and ammunition from falling into wrong hands’.

Building on this, the session is expected to discuss the role of regional organizations and inter-state coordination in mitigating the proliferation and accumulation of illicit arms. AU peace and security frameworks including the Silencing the Guns Roadmap recognize the role of RECs/RMs to design and monitor tailored policy instruments that addresses the specific security situation in their respective regions.

In line with the session’s objective, the briefing by RECSA may provide an overview of the impact of flow of illicit arms and gaps in control measures on peace, stability and development. RECSA’s intervention is expected to shed light on the recent political developments in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes regions and their impact in fostering regional cooperation to eradicate illicit flows of arms and weapons. It may also make reference to the UN Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspect and the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa in order to identify practical steps towards accountability and regulation of non-states actors possession SALW.

The briefing from PSD may highlight challenges around regulatory frameworks, including the lack of protection and management of stockpiles which often lead to diversion of legally sourced arms by illegal non-state actors. The intervention may emphasize on the importance of compliance with international and regional legally binding instruments, including the universal ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as the need to strengthen national legislations and institutions. PSD may also speak on the draft AU policy for the management of recovered arms and ammunitions in peace support operations.

The Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec. 645 (XXIX) adopted by the 29th Ordinary Session of the AU, has declared the month of September of each year until 2020, as “Africa Amnesty Month” for the surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons and arms. During the commemoration in September 2018 the PSC has urged RECs/RMs to submit reports to the Council, through the AU Commission, on the actions taken in line with the Africa Amnesty Month.

The AUC has also been leading on the development of technical and operational guidelines by the Council to inform national and regional efforts in undertaking activities under the Africa Amnesty Month and a compendium of the success stories and best practices across the continent in implementing voluntary disarmament programs. The PSD may provide status update on the development of such instruments and on following up on national measures.

PSC members may discuss the increased link between the circulation of small arms, terrorism and proliferation of rebel armed movements. The UNSC resolution 2457 on Silencing the Guns in Africa adopted on 27 February 2019 underscored ‘the need for effective implementation of relevant arms control and disarmament instruments and regimes as well as arm embargoes imposed by the United Nations Security Council’. The PSC may urge member states and regional organizations to take measurable actions against the proliferation of illicit weapons and arms, including through the strengthening the criminal justice response and enhancing law enforcement institutions. The PSC may also follow on UNSC resolution 2457, urging international actors to take specific measures of cooperation including in terms of effective regulation of the sale and movement of small arms and light weapons and supporting the sanctioning of illicit flows.

At the time of production of this insight the form that the outcome of the session takes was unknown. The PSC could consider urging member states to strengthen their capacities to vigorously monitor and protect national stockpiles of weapons and recover illegally owned arms. The Council may also call on RECs/RMs to complement the efforts of member states and assist them in developing and implementing national action plans and regional cooperation to curb illicit proliferation of arms. The PSC may reiterate its previous decision by urging compliance with international and regional legal frameworks and task the AU Commission to submit a report on the trends and dynamics of illicit flow of small arms and light weapons and progress made and challenges faced in implementing continentally and regionally agreed measures. The PSC may call on member states in transition from conflict to undertake sustainable disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs to prevent relapse to violence and conflict.

Illicit flow and financing of arms in Africa

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 23 May, 2018

Illicit flow and financing of arms in Africa: Sources of conflict and impediment to silencing the guns’

Tomorrow (24 May) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have a briefing session on the theme of ‘Illicit flow and financing of arms in Africa: Sources of conflict and impediment to silencing the guns’. The PSC is expected to receive a briefing from the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) and the AU Peace and Security Department (PSD), particularly its division on Defense and Security. Others who will participate in this session include members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and representatives of Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

This session is convened within the framework of the 430th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council, held on 24 April 2014 under the theme ‘Silencing the Guns: Pre-requisites for Realising a Conflict-Free Africa by the Year 2020’ which identified the curbing of illicit flow of light and small weapons as one of the measures requested for achieving the AU agenda of silencing the guns by 2020. As reflected in the agenda for this session, this session is designed to support the efforts of the AU to achieve its aim of silencing the guns and adopt decisions identifying measures that help in preventing illicit flow of arms and its financing.

One of the aims of the session is to understand current dynamics in the flow of arms and their financing in Africa. The briefing from RECSA is expected to provide insights on patterns and trends in arms and ammunition inflows, illicit circulation, and gaps in control measures. It is in particular expected to share the experience of the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes regions in terms of both the challenges these regions face due to illicit flows and financing of arms and the measures being taken to address these challenges.

The briefing from PSD is expected to highlight the role of illicit flow of arms in fueling and sustaining conflicts, in the displacement of peoples, in disrupting development efforts and the scale and nature of casualties inflicted on civilians. In this regard, mention can be made of how the illicit flow of arms from Libya in the aftermath of the collapse of Col Gadhafi’s regime fueled the conflict in Mali and the surge in acts of terrorism and groups engaged in such acts in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions of Africa. It is also worth noting that the changing character of conflicts in Africa that witnessed the proliferation of small and poorly organized militias, insurgents, terrorist groups and criminal networks is partly attributed to easy access to illicit flow of weapons.

At the AU level, the policy framework that serves as point of departure is the ‘African Common Position on illicit circulation, proliferation and trafficking of small and light weapons’ (SALW), also known as the Bamako Declaration of 2000. This declaration commits member states to identify, seize and destroy illicit weapons. In January 2017, the AU Assembly adopted the AU Master Roadmap on Practical Steps to Silence the Guns by 2020. As a follow up to this master roadmap, in September 2017 the PSC declared the month of September an amnesty month for the Surrender and Collection of Illicit Weapons. As noted in our ‘Insight’ on the PSC Field Mission to Sudan, Darfur, one of the stabilization efforts being implemented in Darfur is the collection of weapons.

At sub-regional levels, important normative and institutional developments have taken place, including with the adoption of binding treaties. These include the 2001 SADC Protocol, the 2004 Nairobi Protocol for the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States, the 2006 ECOWAS Convention, and the 2010 Central Africa Convention.

Member states of the PSC would expectedly share their experiences with respect to illicit flow and circulation of weapons as well as its consequences and their efforts to address the threat that illicit flow and circulation of SLWPs poses. In terms of the efforts of the AU, it would be of interest to PSC member states to know why illicit flow and circulation of weapons persist despite the various legal and institutional regimes put in place and the various interventions both at AU and regional levels.

For PSC member states and the wider AU system, this session presents an opportunity not only to take stock of the policy and institutional architecture but also the steps that are required for both enhancing the effectiveness of the legal and institutional regime for curbing illicit flow of SALW and implementing practical measures for countering illicit flow and circulation of SALW at national, regional, continental and global levels. With respect to the legal and institutional regimes, one of the major challenges remains to be non-ratification and lack of adherence to the measures stipulated in the various regional conventions. The universal ratification and implementation of these legal instruments is thus necessary. Regional level efforts should include the strengthening of the legaland security measures for cracking down entry pointes and trafficking routs, arms dealers, including the activities of brokers and the sources of financing of the illicit flow, sell and circulation of SALW.

There is a need for regionally targeted approach to the challenge of illicit flows. The nature of the problem and its manifestations are not the same in the different regions of the continent. It is necessary in this regard that targeted interventions are designed and implemented in collaboration with RECs/RMs for parts of the continent most affected by the illicit flow and use of illicit weapons or arms. The measures to be taken in this regard include not only the strengthening of control measures and coordination between member states but also implementation of programs for collection of weapons and for the effectives physical security and management of stockpiles.

At the national level, issues that need attention include corruption and the strengthening of the regulatory measures for effective control, management and protection of SALW. Indeed, weak regulatory framework, including poor protection and management of stockpiles, and corruption often lead to diversion of legally sourced arms through leakages and raids by illegal non-state actors.

Given the global dimension of the movement and circulation of arms, the agenda for this session recognizes the need for the AU to work with international actors. In this respect, the agenda envisages a plan for the PSC, through its Chair with the support of the African members of the UNSC (A3) and the AU Commission, to brief the UNSC on Africa’s efforts for silencing the guns with a view to have a UNSC resolution calling on different arms producing countries to implement arms certification, including end user certification. Another avenue for effective follow up is the expected review of the UN Program of Action on small arms during 2018. The PSC can articulate African common position on this review addressing issues including transparency in small arms production and sell, the obligation of tight regulation and accountability measures by producing countries of the transfer of SALW and weapons registers as well as standardization of certification.
The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué.

Nuclear Energy, non-proliferation and disarmament

Illicit Weapons – Use, Proliferation and Disarmament

Date | 10 April, 2018


Tomorrow (10 April 2018) The PSC will receive a briefing on nuclear energy, non-proliferation and disarmament. The session will discuss the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Africa, and the status of the Pelindaba Treaty, and increasing Africa’s global role and contribution for a nuclear free world by strengthening its non-proliferation efforts. Apart from the Commission for Peace and Security, the PSC is expected to receive briefing from the Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE).
The meeting builds on the 29 March 2016 report of the AU Chairperson to the PSC on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. The session is taking place less than a month after the fourth ordinary session of the conference of the state parties to the treaty of Palendaba that took place on 14-15 March 2018 in Addis Ababa. The meeting reviewed the status of the implementation of the African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone treaty, known as the Pelindaba Treaty, which serves as the African legal and political regime for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Pelindaba that was adopted in 1996 entered into force on 15 July 2009. To date it is signed by 52 members of the AU and ratified and deposited by 41 member states. Beyond prohibiting the possession, use and threatening to use nuclear weapons, the agreement also sanctions undertaking, assisting or encouraging the testing of nuclear weapons.

The concerns and focus of the PSC meeting lies at issues of uranium trading, nuclear testing and the safety of using nuclear energy for civilian purposes. The PSC is expected to discuss the status the operationalization of the Algiers based African regulatory body AFCONE which oversees the implementation of the Pelindaba treaty. The meeting will also examine the two-year program and budget for AFCONE adopted by the March meeting. The program from 2018-2020 will a have a special focus on safeguarding nuclear material, enhancing the accounting and control mechanism, and upgrading verification and monitoring activities of the AFCONE. In the post Fukushima era, AFCONE will also be working on the safety of radioactive waste management and regulating the peaceful application of nuclear energy.

The increased capacity, visibility and mobility of multinational and cross border terrorist groups and networks, and the easy accessibility of the nuclear knowhow and technology is a major concern for the continent. The council will discuss this major security threat tomorrow. Africa has one of the biggest deposits of uranium in the world. A single member state, Namibia alone holds about 7% of the world’s uranium reserves. The country supplies the mineral to nuclear power stations around the world. Niger, South Africa, Botswana and the DRC also have reserves or produce uranium. The threat of non-state actors holding the possession of uranium and its illicit trafficking is a major security threat the PSC is expected to address.
Africa is a nuclear weapon free zone. South Africa was the only country on the continent to had the possession of nuclear weapons. It had its nuclear weapon by the end of the 1970s and had a total of six bombs by the time it decided to end its nuclear weapons program and dismantle the weapons in the early 1990’s. The abolition of all the nuclear weapons was later confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At the moment, South Africa is also the only African country on the continent with a nuclear power plant. The plant provides around 5% of its electricity production. In recent years however, several other member states of the African Union have signed agreements or shown interest to use of nuclear power to generate electricity. The most notable ones include Egypt, Nigeria and Ethiopia. In 2013 Egypt announced its plan to build 1,000 MW nuclear reactor for power generation and on October 2017, Russian state-owned company Rosatom signed a deal to build two nuclear power plants in Nigeria with the cost of around $20bn. In 2013, the Ethiopian government announced it targets generating up to 1,200 Megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy. And in March 2018 Ethiopia signed memorandum of understanding on cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy with Russian Nuclear Technology Agency. Other countries like Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, and Uganda, have a serious and publicly expressed plans to go nuclear for power.

The increasing trend and interest in the use of nuclear power plants on the continent demand a proper regulatory framework, monitoring mechanisms and accountably and control. On 15 February, the AU Chairperson and head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed a four-year agreement (2018-2022), an agreement on a safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies for development in Africa. Beyond the development of nuclear power infrastructure, the cooperation includes areas like health, agriculture, environment and industrial applications of nuclear technology. Building Africa’s capacity in radiation and nuclear safety and security is also part of the four-year deal. The PSC will discuss the details of the agreement.

Africa is aspiring to be a major actor in the global non-proliferation regime. The PSC meeting is taking place at a time where the most prominent international nuclear deal, the Iran Nuclear Deal of October 2015 between Iran and the P5 plus Germany and the EU faces its biggest challenge. The AU Chairperson hailed the agreement as ‘triumph for multilateral diplomacy and a vindication of the principle of peaceful and negotiated resolution of international disputes’ in a press statement on 15 October 2015, a day after the signing of the deal. The AU also expressed its support to the deal and its proper implementation. Tomorrow’s PSC meeting will discuss global trends and updates on international and regional efforts towards nuclear weapons disarmament non-proliferation and cooperation in the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s PSC session is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the role of AFCON. It would also emphasized the need for coordination among AU actors including member states to address current threats relating to threat of possession and illicit-trafficking of uranium by non-state actors. The PSC is also anticipated to affirm AU’s firm support for the Iran Nuclear Deal and to urge that the parties to the deal to maintain their commitment to the terms of the agreement.