PSC Consideration of the MNJTF Mandate Renewal

Date | 28 November, 2019

Tomorrow (28 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a session on  the  security  situation  in  the  Lake  Chad  Basin  region  and to consider the mandate renewal of the Multi‐National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

The  representative  of  the  Lake  Chad  Basin  Commission  (LCBC) is expected to brief the Council. LCBC member states as well as Benin are also expected to deliver their statements.  The  AU  Department  of  Peace  and  Security  (PSD) and UNOAU representative may also make an intervention.

It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 816th session has renewed  the  mandate  of  the  MNJTF  for  12  month  effective from 31 January 2019. The communique LCBC requested  the  LCBC  Secretariat  to  provide  biannual  briefing on the implementation of the Regional Strategy for  the  Stabilization.  It  is  to  be  recalled  that  the  LCBC  briefed the PSC at its 838th session in April 2019 and the Council  called  for  a  ‘comprehensive  and  rapid  implementation of the Regional Strategy’. As a follow up to  this,  it  is  also  expected  that  the  LCBC  presents  an  update on the implementation of the strategy. The Strategy,  drawn  up  with  the  support  of  the  AU  PSD  as  part of post conflict reconstruction and development work,  was  adopted  by  the  LCBC  member  states  on  30  August 2018 and later on 5 December 2018 by the PSC.

It is expected that the briefing is to provide highlights of the  activities  that  were  undertaken  since  the  last  PSC  session on the matter. The LCBC briefing may include the outcome of the second meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum held in Niamey, from 17‐18 July 2019. The  meeting,  which  brought  together  eight  regions  of  the Lake Chad Basin countries affected by Boko Haram primarily  aimed  at  enhancing  cross‐border  cooperation  and the implementation of the Regional Strategy. One of the key outcomes was the pledge made by donors where they  committed  around  60  million  USD  to  the  establishment of a stabilization facility that will coordinate the implementation of the Strategy. The PSC may  request  an  update  regarding  the  establishment  of  the facility as well as the practical measures taken in implementing the Strategy.

In  accelerating  the  implementation  of  the  Regional  Strategy, the PSC may also recall its previous decision, which  tasked  the  AU  Commission  to  support  the  LCBC  secretariat to ‘develop a clear roadmap for the implementation of the strategy’, a resource mobilization strategy  and  the  convening  of  a  solidarity  conference  under the Africa Solidarity Initiative. The statement by the PSD may provide details on the support provided and on the remaining tasks.

The briefing may make reference to the 2020‐2024 eight‐point action plan in combatting and eradiation terrorism adopted  at  the  ECOWAS  extraordinary  summit  in  Ouagadougou on 14 September 2019. It is expected that the mandate renewal will consider the priority areas that were  identified  by  the  ECOWAS  meeting  which  range from coordination, training, financing and dialogue.  The  action plan, which is expected to serve as resource mobilization tool is expected to be finalized and adopted at the ECOWAS ordinary session on 21 December 2019. The  framework  may  also  offer  guidance  for  the  PSC  in  assessing not only the military operation of the MNJTF but  also  in  examining  the  deliverables  against  the  comprehensive set priority areas in the Regional Strategy.

The MNJTF has recorded operational successes in many of the offensives undertaken in the region including the liberation  of  occupied  territories  and  in  reducing  the  capabilities of the group. But various factors continue to enable  proliferation  of  terrorist  groups  in  the  wider  region. It is reported that new members coming from Libya and Syria have joined the ranks of terrorist groups in the region including North East Nigeria.

Despite  the  success  the  MNJTF  registered,  the  insurgency remains to be capable of orchestrating attacks and providing support for other groups. The UN Secretary  General  Report  on  West  Africa  and  the  Sahel  indicates that in the first six months of 2019, ‘despite counter‐terrorism efforts, the “Islamic State West Africa Province”  faction  of  Boko  Haram  expanded  its  area  of  operations’. The armed group continued to use suicide bombers  against  civilians  and  security  and  defence  forces. Between January and April alone 189 terrorist attacks  took  place  in  the  northern  states  of  Nigeria,  resulting in 453 deaths and 201 kidnappings.

In  a  dangerous  development,  the  group  has  increased  the use of suicide vehicle‐borne improvised explosive devices  (IED)  against  national  security  forces  and  the  MNJTF in the countries of the Lake Chad region. In the past six‐month there has also been renewed attacks on army deployments and civilians.

It  is  also  critical  for  tomorrow’s  session  to  not  only  highlight the military efforts that aim at addressing immediate  security  concerns  but  also  to  ensure  that  there is adequate deliberation on addressing root causes and restoring sustainable peace, which are key elements identified  in  the  Regional  Stabilization  Strategy.  Indeed,  the presidential statement of the 8592nd meeting of the UN Security Council, held on 7 August 2019, underlined ‘the need for security efforts to be aligned with political objectives, to enable the restoration of civilian security, the  establishment  of  effective  governance  to  deliver  essential services, and the revival of local economies to provide  livelihood  opportunities  for  surging  youth  populations’. These are also key elements identified in the Regional Strategy. The upsurge of terrorist groups in the  region  have  added  urgency  to  the  imperative  of  enhancing national ownership and prioritizing political strategies,  notably  active  and  sustained  engagement  of  national leaders in the affected areas and strengthening state  institutions  and  bolstering  the  legitimacy  of  local  structures of government in those areas and others susceptible to penetration of terrorist groups.

The  expected  outcome  is  a  communiqué.  The  PSC  may  commend the LCBC member states and Benin in their counter‐terrorism efforts.  It  may welcome  the outcome  of the meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum on  the  implementation  of  the  Regional  Strategy.  It  may call for increased efforts in realizing the objectives of the Strategy. It may task the AUC to support member states in developing implementation tools to monitor and track progress by also aligning it with the 2020‐2024 ECOWAS counter‐terrorism  action  plan.  It  may  also  reiterate  the  need for the convening of a solidarity conference. The PSC  could  also  express  concern  on  the  volatile  security  situation in the region despite the sustained efforts of the MNJTF and may in this regard urge the prioritization of political processes that facilitate the enhancement of legitimate  structures  of  governance  at  the  local  levels  and the delivery of social services. Considering the political and security developments in the region, it may renew the mandate of the force for another 12 months.