PSC@20. Brainstorming: “Summit of the Future”

Date | 4 July 2024

Tomorrow (5 July), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1220th meeting to brainstorm on the Summit of the Future. The meeting is expected to be held as an open session.

Following opening remarks from Miguel Cesar Domingos Bembe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Angola to the AU and PSC Chairperson for July 2024, Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Namibia to the AU is also expected to make a statement alongside Stephan Auer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Ethiopia and representatives from the United Nations (UN) Office to the AU (UNOAU) and the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU.

The meeting is being convened following the adoption of UN75 Declaration by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2020 which tasked the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to give prospective recommendations to enhance global governance following the exponential  threats and minimum progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. This subsequently led to the secretary-general releasing the report, ‘Our Common Agenda’ on 5 August 2021, which gave an outfit of his vision for the future of multilateralism, in which he proposed to have the ‘Summit of the Future’, which is to be convened in September 2024 in New York.

Under the theme, ‘Summit of the Future: Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow’, the upcoming summit is expected to converge leaders from across the world, to enhance efforts to accelerate progress on current global commitments and address emerging challenges, with the aim of revitalising the multilateral system. The summit will culminate in the endorsement of a negotiated document called the ‘Pact for the Future’ – to be adopted by consensus – which will focus on Sustainable Development and Financing for Development; International Peace and Security; Science, Technology and Innovation and Digital Cooperation; The Rights of Youth and Future Generations; and Transforming Global Governance. The Pact for the Future is a global commitment to address the importance of human rights, gender equality and the ‘need to leave no one behind.’ The zero draft Pact of the Future additionally calls for increased funding for sustainable development and peacebuilding efforts and highlights the need for new models of peace operations to address the evolving nature of conflict. To achieve this, the Pact calls for increased funding for sustainable development and peacebuilding, alongside new approaches to peacekeeping that can adapt to the changing nature of conflict.

The developments leading into the Summit of the Future have been led by Germany and Namibia. They released a starting point for zero draft of the Pact of the Future in January 2024. Before that, there were discussions in late 2023 where many countries and other groups gave their ideas. In July 2023, the UN Secretary-General proposed a new approach to peace and security (“A New Agenda for Peace” – NA4P) which underscored the need to strengthen the relationship between the UN and regional organisations, recognising that regional organisations, like the AU, are the critical building blocks of multilateral cooperation and central to conflict prevention, management and resolution. UN Secretary-General highlighted the significance of peace support operations as a key area of cooperation between the UN and AU and emphasised the need for reliable, predictable and sustainable funding for such operations.

Noteworthy, the AU has a number of existing policies and common positions that can be adapted to assist in drafting a common position for the Pact for the Future. It is important for the AU to highlight these to its member states to enable the region to negotiate as a collective bloc, which would benefit Africa’s overall development. Specifically, the AU can draw from the following:

Chapter 1: Sustainable Development and Financing for Development:

  • Agenda 2063 – The AU’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation.

Chapter 2: International Peace and Security:

  • AU’s understanding on Resolution 2719.
  • Common African Position on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Chapter 3 – Science, Technology, Innovation and Digital Cooperation

Chapter 4 – Youth and Future Generations

Chapter 5 – Transforming Global Governance:

  • Common African Position on the Proposed Reform of the United Nations (Ezulwini Consensus)

Over and beyond, stakeholder engagements have occurred, offering insights for developing common positions among African States and exploring AU positions. From 9 to 11 May 2024, a UN Civil Society Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya which provided preliminary discussions and data ahead of the Summit of the Future. UN outreach efforts were also conducted at regional and country levels between February and April 2024, including regional fora. Furthermore, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) hosted the tenth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-10) from 23 to 25 April 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to, among others, mobilise Africa’s priorities and inputs for the Summit of the Future. In conjunction with the Pact for the Future zero draft, a Global Digital Compact and Declaration on Future Generations was developed. Co-facilitated by Sweden and Zambia, the Global Digital Compact underwent informal consultations from February to May 2024. Notably, it underwent three readings: the first on 5 April 2024, the second on 2 May 2024 and the third on 16 May 2024. The Netherlands and Fiji originally co-facilitated the Declaration on Future Generations, with Jamaica succeeding Fiji as co-facilitator and the informal consultations took place in January 2024 and virtual consultations with stakeholders on the 15 and 16 January. Written inputs were provided by 26 February enabling a zero draft on the Declaration, which was circulated in March. To date, there have been four readings, the first reading on 8 April, second reading on 14 May, third reading on 10 June and the fourth reading on the 26 June 2024.

In relation to this, Amani Africa has also been instrumental and resourceful in contributing to the developments leading to the Summit of the Future, with publications and organising events. Its Policy Brief titled: Africa and Peace and Security Diplomacy in a Time of the New Agenda for Peace, released in June 2023, provided thoughts on crisis management (peace and security) diplomacy in the changing global order through the prism of what this means for Africa and its role. The policy brief recommended a multifaceted approach to peacebuilding that extends beyond military solutions. An approach that should leverage regional organisations, development tools and non-military means for conflict prevention, such as early warning systems and addressing the root causes of conflict. The policy brief further emphasised the importance of strong regional partnerships and a networked multilateral system for effective peacebuilding efforts. In addition, it was also recommended that peacebuilding efforts extend beyond conflict resolution to include delegitimising war economies, supporting local communities and fostering regional cooperation in post-conflict situations. The policy brief also acknowledged the emergence of new threats like pandemics and climate change, necessitating the development of updated diplomatic strategies, and called for strengthened arms control efforts to address traditional threats like nuclear weapons. It also underscored the critical role of robust humanitarian diplomacy in protecting civilians caught in conflict and maintaining legitimacy in a complex global landscape. This emphasis included utilising frameworks like Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS), alongside broader civilian protection measures.

Building on this, in February 2024, Amani Africa released a Dispatch on Why Africa needs a new strategy on how to position itself in the face of tectonic global shifts and the quest for reform of multilateralism. In addition Amani Africa’s Special Research Report: Africa and the Summit of the Future: Seizing the New Window of Opportunity for the Reform of the UN Security Council, released in June 2024, dissected the renewed push for the reform of the UNSC, and how Africa comes in, in this push for reform. In general, the special research report highlights the historical point of view of Africa not being well-represented when the UN was formed, and today, the continent lacking permanent seats in the Security Council, and having limited non-permanent ones. The desired outcome however from the recommendations of the research outlined that Africa wants a UNSC that is: more just: Fixes the historical imbalance in representation; more effective: Addresses global peace and security challenges better; and more reflective of today’s world: Represents the rise of multipolarity (more than just a few powerful countries). In this regard, Amani Africa underscored that the Summit of the Future will not change how the Security Council works, rather it will be a stepping stone for future reforms.

Subsequently, Amani Africa has organised a series of events on this discourse since July 2023 under the Joint Namibia and Amani Africa high-level panel of experts on Africa and the reform of the multilateral system project. On 17 to 18 July 2023, Namibia and Amani Africa jointly convened the meeting of a High-Level Panel of Experts on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System held in Windhoek, Namibia, which brought together experts to deliberate on the nature of the multidimensional changes or transformations taking place in the world, the challenges and opportunities these developments present for Africa in its engagement in the multilateral system and the negotiating position that Africa needs to articulate to secure its interest in the ongoing varied processes for the reform/transformation of the multilateral system, including for redressing the historical injustice of Africa’s exclusion from the UN Security Council. This led to the adoption of a strategic document articulating the objectives, methodology and program of work of the panel of experts towards elaborating a report on ‘Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System.’

On 26 September 2023, at the sidelines of the UNGA 78, the continuation of the series of events of the High-level Panel took place in New York with the Africa and the transformation of the Multilateral System – Side Event in which the discussion centred on Africa’s desired outcomes from the reform of the multilateral system. The core concerns from the event were how to ensure Africa has a strong voice and can achieve its development goals. These included reforming financial and trade structures, as well as securing a more just and influential role in the UN Security Council, potentially including permanent membership. Beyond just a veto on the Council, the discussion explored other ways for Africa to contribute meaningfully to global peace and security. Amani Africa also convened a Dialogue on the New Agenda for Peace: Reimagining the UN-AU Partnership in Peace and Security on 12 December 2023 which converged stakeholders from the UN, AU and other independent entities in the space of peace and security in Africa, to discuss how to strengthen the partnership between the UN and AU in maintaining peace and security in the continent.

On 14 to 15 December 2023, Amani Africa convened the joint Namibia-Amani Africa High-Level Panel of Experts on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System in Nairobi, Kenya, which served as a platform to consider the draft report of the High-Level Panel on the reform of the multilateral system. The Final Convening of the Joint Namibia-Amani Africa High-Level Panel on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System was held on 18 to 19 March 2024 in Addis Ababa which saw discussions delving into reflections on global digital architecture and Africa’s place in shaping norms for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other Transformative Technology; Reflections on Reform of Global Financial Architecture and Establishment of AU Financial Institution; Reflections on UNSC Reform – which focused on options and pathways for Africa’s equitable representation. The high-level panel also focused on multilateral negotiations on Climate Change and enhancing Africa’s negotiation architecture on climate change; and Reflections on ‘AU as a pillar of reformed multilateralism’ with a particular interest in Resolution 2719 and AU at G20 as signifiers. This convening provided the platform for the finalisation of the High-level report on the reform of the multilateral system.

Tomorrow’s meeting therefore will serve as a platform for the AU to involve its member states and other stakeholders to discuss on how to address current and future challenges, and restore trust in multilateralism ahead of the ‘Action Day(s)’ on 20 to 21 September 2024, which will prompt additional action and commitments from member states, civil society and other stakeholders. The cardinal elements that will guide the AU to augment Africa’s peace and security priorities will be the push to reform the UNSC; A new peace operation doctrine that surpasses traditional peacekeeping in favour of the realities on the ground; A reaffirmation of the primacy of politics – which involve resolving conflict through dialogue and not militarily. More so, the discourse on the reform of the Global Financial Architecture (GFA) is of significance, alongside (a just) climate change agenda; a global digital architecture; an Effective Representation of Africa in the G20; and women and youth representation. In this regard, a reformed multilateral system should be guided by a number of principles which include representation, in essence, having a seat the decision-making table. Second, equity, fairness and justice. Third, equality of the dignity of all nations and peoples; transparency; and lastly, the reaffirmation of commitment for the principles of the UN Charter and international law.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique or a summary record. Council may commend the contributions of member states, partners and civil society for their contribution to the preparation to the Summit of the Future, and particularly extend its appreciation to Namibia and Germany who are co-facilitating the Summit. Council may also call for strengthened cooperation and coordination among member states to address current and emerging peace and security challenges on the continent. Council may also raise awareness of the preparations for the Summit of the Future and mobilise the member state’s contribution to the draft Pact of the Future in addressing Africa’s priorities and common positions to be included in the Summit of the Future on peace and security and global governance. Council may urge AU member states to actively engage in the Summit of the Future and promote common positions to increase the voice of Africa as a region and also to renew multilateral system support to the realisation of the AU’s Agenda 2063 aspirations and silencing the guns flagship project. Furthermore, the meeting may provide guidance on approaches Africa should adopt to reflect its interests and voice in the Pact for the Future.