Consideration of the Midyear Report of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Elections in Africa (January - June 2021)

2021

Date | 23 September, 2021

Tomorrow (23 September) African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1034th session to consider the midyear report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the elections in Africa.

Following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to present the midyear report on elections held in the continent. Representatives of member States that organized elections during the period from January to June 2021 may deliver statements.

The midyear briefing is based on PSC’s request, at its 424th meeting held in March 2014, to receive quarterly briefings on national elections in Africa as part of AU efforts towards conflict prevention on the continent. Since then, the Council has been briefed by the AUC on a regular basis. This briefing follows the previous one, which took place during the 982nd meeting in February, to highlight the outcome of elections organized between January and June 2021 and provides an outlook of the elections set to take place between July and December of this year. Apart from providing reviews and outlooks of the elections, the bi-annual briefing is also expected to shed light on key trends in governance, patterns emerged in the conduct of elections, the electoral support and interventions made by the Commission, as well as policy recommendations.

From the 17 presidential and parliamentary elections on the AU calendar for 2021, 11 presidential and parliamentary elections, namely Uganda, Niger (runoff), Cote d’Ivoire, CAR, Congo, Djibouti, Benin, Chad, Cape Verde (parliamentary), Algeria, and Ethiopia) were conducted between January and June 2021. For the second half of the year, seven elections are organized or are expected to take place, which includes Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, Morocco, Somalia, Cape Verde (presidential), The Gambia and Libya.

In relation to the governance issues in the continent, the midyear report captures four key trends: the increasing appeal for democratic dividends around the continent; the “choiceless” nature of electoral politics; voter apathy; and the persistent challenge of the concentration of power at the centre. These worrying governance trends are further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the quality of elections in the continent. The resurgence of unconstitutional change of government in Africa, which witnessed three military seizure of power this year alone, is also a clear indication of the ‘deepening democratic deficit’ that the continent is facing.

One of the positive developments witnessed in the reporting period likely to be highlighted in the report is Niger’s first-ever democratic power transfer since its independence in 1960, although the attempted coup few days before the presidential inauguration signals the fragility of the democratic gains. The other positive trend is member states ability and will to stick to their electoral calendars despite the enormous challenge posed by COVID-19 pandemic and other political and security issues. Given that the PSC (for instance during its 982nd and 713th meetings) emphasized the importance of mobilizing funds from within the continent with the view to reducing external manipulation and influence, there are encouraging trends in this regard as well. The report indicates that four of the member states that conducted elections during the reporting period ‘primarily financed’ their elections by national funds. The increasing participation of women and youth in the electoral process is another area of positive development though there are still limitations in the participation of the same as candidates.

Despite electoral progress in some member states, challenges to elections in Africa have persisted in the reporting period. Volatile security atmosphere not only dented the credibility of some of the elections but also affected voter turn out. Security threats, political tension, shrinking political space, opposition boycott, and low voter turnout have continued to be worrying trends affecting the elections in some member states. It is worth noting that elections conducted amid intense political climate and high opposition boycott are clear indications of deep-seated divides, highlighting the imperative of political dialogue to accompany elections.

Some elections including the April presidential election in Benin exhibited continued challenge of voter apathy. There is a need to address the factors behind this problem given that voter participation is one key element of credible election. It is to be recalled that the PSC, at its 713th session in August 2017, ‘urged member states to make deliberate efforts towards ensuring and promoting participation in democratic process’.

In relation to the elections that happened in third quarter of the year (covers Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, and Morocco), of particular interest to the Council is the general elections in Zambia held last month where power has been transferred peacefully to an opposition leader after incumbent Edgar Lungu conceded defeat. The successful transfer of power is a testament to the effective electoral support provided by the AU, which deployed election observation mission to Zambia led by former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.

The PSC may also wish to discuss those elections scheduled to take place during the fourth quarter of the year, particularly in Somalia, The Gambia, and Libya. The power tussle between the Prime Minister and the President in Somalia not only risks escalation into an open conflict but also threatened to derail the Presidential election slatted for next month. In Libya, uncertainties are looming on whether the conduct of the parliamentary and presidential elections is feasible within the agreed timeline of 24 December as some of the contested issues (such as the types of elections to hold in December, a referendum on a draft constitution and qualifications to stand as candidate) remains yet unresolved. Given its history of engagement in supporting the transition in Somalia, The Gambia and Libya and the high stakes involved, it is a high time for the AU to utilize all the available tools to keep the electoral process on track.

With respect to the practice and methodology of election observation, AU has deployed short-term election observation and technical missions to all countries that organized elections during the reporting period except for Cape Verde and Algeria (on account of logistical reasons). As highlighted in the Chairperson’s report, in case of Ethiopia, AU deployed a long-term election observation mission in addition to short-term AU Election Observation Missions (AUEOMs). While positive measures have been taken to make AU observation missions more effective and efficient, one important issue worth following up for the PSC is its decision, at its 713th meeting (2017), for the establishment of monitoring and follow-up mechanisms for the implementation of the recommendations of the observation missions. The other issue is on the progress in terms of building synergies with regional mechanisms, particularly through deploying Joint High Level Political Mission (JHLPMs) and championing joint election observation missions, as stressed by the Council during its 653rd session in 2017. The joint deployment of JHLPM in The Gambia and Ghana, as well as AU and ECOWAS co-leading pre-election mission in Niger in 2020 are some of previous experiences for the Commission to build on in this regard.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would congratulate those member states who successfully conducted their elections during the reporting period. The Council may welcome the growing positive trend of peaceful transfers of power in some member states, notably in Niger and Zambia. However, the Council is also likely to express concerns over persisting challenges of elections including tense political climate, insecurity, opposition boycott, and low voter turnout. In this respect, the Council may encourage member states to take all the necessary steps to create conducive conditions for conducting credible, peaceful and democratic elections. On AU election observation mission, the Council is likely to echo the communique of its 713th meeting in stressing the importance for member states to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of AUEOM.

The Council may also encourage the Commission to build more synergies with regional mechanisms on election related matters, particularly through the deployment of JHLPMs as well as joint election observation missions. In relation to the upcoming elections in Somalia, the Gambia and Libya, the Council may request the Commission to use all the available tools at its disposal to support the election process in these countries, particularly through the deployment of strategic technical support to the electoral management bodies (EMBs) as well as preventive diplomacy and mediation interventions. As elections continue to be conducted within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council may reiterate its call for member states to ‘expedite the adoption, and there after the implementation of AU Guidelines on Elections in Africa in the Context of COVID-19 pandemic and other Public Health Emergencies’ with the view to ensuring safety and security of people.


Open session on the Commemoration of the International Day of Peace

2021

Date | 21 September, 2021

Tomorrow (21 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1033rd session, which will be an open session dedicated to the commemoration of international day of peace. Council will receive briefing on the second edition of the Luanda biennale “pan-African forum for the culture of peace” at the session.

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, is expected to make a statement. It is also expected that Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development will be making remarks. Representatives of the Republic of Angola, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as well as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are also expected to make presentations. A statement is also expected to be delivered by Solomon Dersso Founding Director of Amani Africa. All AU member States and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are envisaged to participate in the session.

A joint initiative of the AU, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Angola, the Pan-African Biennale was held for the first time in September 2019, in Luanda, where it was agreed that the forum shall be convened every two years. The first edition of the forum served to highlight the importance of strategic partnerships to scale up projects for sustainable peace in Africa, the value of disseminating good practices for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the need to showcase cultural diversity in Africa and demonstrate the resilience of the people in the face of conflicts. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to elaborate the main contents of the second edition of the biennale which is planned to take place on 4 October, under the theme “Strengthening the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence: Towards a Global Partnership”.

As indicated in the concept note for the biennale, one of the thematic areas of focus expected to feature at the event is “the contribution of arts, culture and heritage to peace”, in line with AU’s theme for the year 2021. As emphasised by the PSC at its 995th meeting commemorating “International Day of Living Together in Peace”, respect for history, heritage and religious and cultural diversity are fundamental for maintaining peace. Similarly, at its 928th session committed to the same theme, Council underscored the need to address the underlying root-causes of conflicts in the continent including “inequalities, exclusion, marginalization, as well as mismanagement of ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity”. As demonstrated in different crises throughout Africa, intolerance for religious and cultural diversity is among the main factors instigating and exacerbating conflicts and violence. In connection with that, tomorrow’s briefing may address the growing concern over terrorism and violent extremism in the continent, which are largely the results of fundamentalism that is based on intolerance of diversity. Promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogues therefore needs to be emphasised as a critical means of countering intolerance, a major underlying root-cause for conflicts as well as the increasing incidence of terrorism and extremism in Africa. AU’s 2021 theme also presents the best opportunity to demonstrate through various arts, Africa’s rich heritage as well as the diverse history, culture and religion of its people as a way of promoting better appreciation and respect for varied identities, thereby strengthening the culture of peace.

In addition to intolerance of diversities, deeply entrenched inequalities also contribute immensely to the outbreak and exacerbation of violence and conflicts in Africa. Ethnic, religious and other minorities, indigenous people and other marginalised groups are particularly most impacted as a result of legal norms or State practices which result in unequal treatment among citizens. Exclusion of specific sects of society, principally women, from participation and decision-making in peace processes and other State affairs is also another adverse impact of inequality on nurturing sustainable peace and development. Most importantly, the dominance of power and consequently, access to wealth and resource resting in the hands of very few, while an overwhelming majority of the continent’s population lives under poverty lines is a principal reason for the creation of social divides in Africa. This is further complicated by either perceived or manifest ethnic dimensions to such class divides which have in multiple cases led to the creation of interethnic and clan based tensions culminating in political crises and armed conflicts. Violation of civil and political rights, lack of good governance and corruption also form part of factors which contribute to the creation and furthering of socio-economic inequalities. Tomorrow’s briefing may reflect on how governments, civil society and the people at large could better utilise existing AU norms and frameworks on equality, human rights and democracy, to effectively fight against socio-economic inequalities.

Another topic that may feature at tomorrow’s briefing is the contribution and importance of Africa’s youth for the sustainability of peace and stability on the continent. One of the thematic areas of focus at the upcoming biennale, youth engagement in peace processes throughout the phases of conflict prevention, management and resolution is paramount to ensuring that peace efforts will have lasting impact. Also taking into account that Africa’s youth constitutes almost 60% of the continent’s population, it is important to take advantage of this and work towards building a generation that advances and champions peaceful settlement of disputes. It is also to be recalled that at its 933rd session on “Youth, Peace and Security”, Council emphasised the importance of increasing youth involvement in peace and security efforts and recognising the youth as resourceful agents for peace and security as well as for socio-economic development, and particularly, their role in the realisation of the Silencing the Guns agenda. In light of that, Council highlighted the importance of ensuring full implementation of the various relevant instruments including the African Youth Charter, Aspiration number four of Agenda 2063, as well as the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and its 10-year implementation plan. At tomorrow’s session, Council may reiterate its request for the AU Commission to collaborate with the regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) towards the popularisation and implementation of the Continental Framework and its 10-year implementation plan.

The last theme which will be addressed at this year’s Luanda biennale is the potential of Africa’s maritime domain for fostering peace and development. The importance of Africa’s blue economy for the continent’s sustainable development and integration, and therefore the need to ensure its effective management was among the key concerns stressed by the PSC at its 834th session. At a more recent session convened on maritime security (Council’s 1012th meeting), emphasis was given to the need for concerted efforts, particularly among littoral States, to address maritime insecurity and its root-causes, including through adoption of security and military measures. One of the more contemporary concerns around the African maritime sector is also the vulnerability and exposure of sea traders to cyber attack. Hence, in addition to the traditional threats such as piracy and other crimes committed at sea, there is need for addressing cyber security concerns within the maritime domain, mainly through incorporating cyber security measures in instruments and frameworks dealing with Africa’s maritime security. Tomorrow’s briefing may capture the major challenges to Africa’s effective utilisation of its maritime domain and reflect on the available normative standards for addressing these challenges.

The expected outcome of the session is a Press Statement. Council may underscore the importance of the Luanda biennale for strengthening African unity and solidarity and for fostering the culture of peace. In light of that, it may reiterate the call made by the AU Assembly in Assembly/AU/Dec.796(XXXIV), for all AU member States to support and participate in the 2nd Luanda Biennale. It may call on member States and all other relevant stakeholders to take all necessary measures against intolerance of diversities, including through formal and informal education and awareness creation. It may also urge member States to address existing inequalities in their societies and to work towards building social cohesion based on equal rights and opportunities. Council may encourage the meaningful participation of youth, women and other marginalised groups in peace processes, as well as the instrumentality of indigenous approaches to prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It may call on member States to ensure ratification and implementation of relevant instruments relating to maritime domain, including the Lomé Charter as well as Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and its Action Plan.


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

2021

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.


Commemoration of the 2021 Africa Amnesty Month

2021

Date | 08 September, 2021

Tomorrow (8 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1029th session to commemorate the Africa Amnesty Month. Representatives of all AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), and the international community in Addis Ababa are expected to participate in this open session.

The PSC Chair for the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan will be delivering opening remarks. The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, as well as the representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) are expected to make presentations.

The PSC has been convening annual sessions to commemorate Amnesty Month since 2017, following the decision of the Assembly during its 29th Ordinary Session to declare the month of September of each year, until 2020, as ‘Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender and collection of illicit small arms and light weapons’. It is initiated as an occasion for drawing attention to the challenge of small arms and weapons as major drivers of conflicts on the continent and for promoting the surrender and control of illicit arms and weapons. The 14th Extra Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held on 6 December 2020 on Silencing the Guns extended the commemoration and conduct of Amnesty Month until 2030. As Commissioner Bankole stated in his statement for the launch of the Africa Amnesty Month 2021, ‘this September is yet another golden opportunity for anyone who owns an illegal gun to surrender it to their national authorities’.

One of the focuses of tomorrow’s session is expected to be the consideration of the compendium developed by the Commission, which highlights best practices and challenges in the implementation of the African Amnesty Month. This is in line with PSC’s request of the Commission, at its 943rd session, to conduct a lessons-learned study and submit to the Council in the course of 2020 for its consideration.

Beyond commemoration, tomorrow’s session is also an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the Amnesty Month initiative and remaining challenges, and reflect on how to move the initiative forward in the next 10 years. The occasion is largely symbolic. But tomorrow’s session can also examine the need for and the ways for addressing the challenge of illicit arms and weapons, among others, drawing on the compendium on ‘African Union Member States’ Experiences in Voluntary Surrender of Civilian Firearms’. The session can also consider how to follow up the recommendation of the 2019 mapping study on the illicit small arms flows in Africa.

It is also to be recalled that the Amnesty Month initiative led to the joint project initiated by the AU and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) last year. As an implementing partner of the project, the presentation by RECSA is expected to shed light on the supports provided to interested member states in sensitization and awareness campaigns and collection and destruction of illicit SALW, as well as training of law enforcement officials. One aspect the presentation is expected to highlight is the growing number of member states joining the project since last year. In 2020, the project succeeded in bringing seven member states on board, namely Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. More member states have expressed interest this year including Madagascar, Niger, The Gambia, and Uganda. Furthermore, the project reportedly supported the collection of some 3,500 SALW in 2020, though this is only fraction of the staggering 40 million illicit arms/weapons circulating in the hands of civilians in Africa.

Disarmament programmes yet remain the most effective means for Amnesty programmes to deliver better results in collecting illicit arms and weapons. There are encouraging steps in this regard including the most recent one in Nigeria where Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists started to surrender en masse last month. The controversy that sparked following the amnesty for ‘repentant’ terrorists also highlighted the delicate tightrope between ending conflicts and justice for victims.

There are plethora of regional and global legal instruments relating to SALW, but AU is yet to develop a consolidated and binding legal instrument on the area that responds to the unique contexts and realities of Africa. One of the issues the Council is expected to take practical steps in the years ahead is developing a comprehensive continental legal framework on illicit flow of arms and weapons.

The Amnesty Month initiative also contributed to support measures to strengthening institutional and human capacities of member states in the areas of stockpile management, record keeping and tracing, and the destruction of illicit firearms. Diversions from national stockpiles remain a big challenge for many African countries. As highlighted in the mapping study on illicit small arms flows in Africa, the massive national stockpile diversion due to the crises in Libya, Mali and CAR not only intensified armed conflicts in these countries and beyond but also became significant source of material for terrorist groups. The other big challenge is illicit inflow of firearms into the continent. The study reveals in this regard the ‘robust trend’ in the involvement of Middle Eastern states in illicit arms transfers to Africa. But most of all, trafficking across the borders of Africa remains the main source of illicit arms on the continent, further exacerbated by the porous nature of African borders. These challenges not only require strengthened national law enforcement agencies but also highlights the need to promote the greater use of AU mechanisms such as the AU Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and Committee of Intelligence and Security Service (CISSA).

The expected outcome is a press statement. Among others, the Council may welcome the contributions of the African Amnesty Month initiative over the past few years and may stress on sustaining the gains and redouble efforts towards the significant reduction of illicit SALW circulating in hands of non-state actors in Africa. The Council may reiterate Commissioner Bankole’s statement issued for this year commemoration which appealed to ‘all the citizens of the African Union Member States who are in possession of illicit firearms’ to surrender them to national authorities. The Council may further reiterate its call at its 716th, 793rd, and 943rd sessions for the Commission to effectively engage African civil society including the youth and women, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, faith-based organizations to actively participate and contribute to the surrender of arms during the Amnesty Month. The Council may particularly appeal to the media to actively engage in the advocacy of the need for surrendering of firearms in the hands of civilians, reiterating Bankole’s statement on the launch of this year Amnesty Month. The Council may also echo its 832nd session in encouraging the Commission to closely work with the RECs/RMs in popularizing the Amnesty Month to bring about tangible results in the collection of illegal firearms. On challenges relating to illicit flow of arms, the Council is likely to reiterate its previous call for member states to strengthen their national legal and institutional frameworks that would enhance stockpile management, arms marking and record keeping, as well as border security. In light of the worrying trend of illicit inflow of arms into Africa, the Council may particularly reiterate its decision to ‘name and shame suppliers, brokers and recipients of illicit arms/weapons in Africa’. Taking this further, the PSC could mandate the AU Commission to develop a legal framework with a monitoring and enforcement mechanism for the control of the importation and circulation of illicit arms in Africa. The PSC may finally underscore the importance of addressing the root causes driving illicit firearms by non-state actors and explore ways in which AU’s existing Peace and Security as well as Governance Architectures can be utilized in this context.


PSC emergency VTC meeting on the situation in Guinea

2021

Date | 06 September, 2021

Today (6 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an emergency meeting on the situation in Guinea. It is expected that the PSC will receive update on the situation from the AU Commission. AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. A representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may also address the PSC. The representative of Guinea may also make a statement as per the usual practice of the PSC.

This emergency meeting comes after special forces of the Guinean army staged a coup d’état on 5 September in the capital Conakry. Following gun fire near the presidential palace that lasted for some hours, the coup makers captured President Alpha Conde and held him in detention. They announced on television that the constitution is suspended and the government dissolved. Criticizing the government for corruption and mismanagement and professing their commitment to democratic values, they told the public the establishment of The National Committee for Rally and Development.

It is to be recalled that Guinea held elections on 18 October 2020. President Conde, running for a third term, was declared a winner of the presidential election and was on his first year of his third term in office. The President stood for a third term during the 2020 elections after a controversial constitutional referendum removed the clause of the constitution limiting presidential term of office to two terms. The 22 March 2020 referendum was boycotted by the opposition who contested that the referendum was called by the Speaker of Parliament instead of the parliament itself as required by the Constitution of the country. Reports indicated that at least 32 protestors were killed by police in the run up to the election. At the time various international actors including ECOWAS, the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel and the European Union expressed their concern over the lack of inclusiveness and credibility of the referendum and the parliamentary election.

The presidential election in October 2020 was marred by violence. At least 30 people were reportedly killed by security forces as demonstrators staged protests during the election. The opposition also rejected the electoral outcome alleging that the presidential election was fraudulent.

The response from regional and international institutions shows a common position condemning the coup. In a joint statement issued on 5 September, the AU Chairperson, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned ‘any seizure of power by force’ and called for ‘immediate release of President Alpha Conde’. The joint statement also invites the PSC ‘to meet urgently to examine the new situation in Guinea and to take appropriate measures in the circumstances’.

ECOWAS also issued a statement through the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority, President of Ghana. In the statement, it noted ‘with great concern the recent political developments which occurred in Conakry, Republic of Guinea’ and condemned ‘with the greatest firmness this coup attempt’. It reaffirmed its ‘disapproval of any unconstitutional political changes.’ ECOWAS further demanded ‘respect for the physical integrity of the President of the Republic’ and ‘his immediate and unconditional release as well as that of all the personalities arrested’.

Similar sentiments of condemnation have also been voiced by Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. In the meantime, some people in Conakry have been seen cheering coup makers and celebrating the ouster of President Conde.

In today’s session, it is expected that the PSC will make a determination on whether what the AU statement called ‘the new situation in Guinea’ involving the ouster of the President of the country and the suspension of the Constitution and dissolution of government constitutes a military coup warranting the application of the measures envisaged under the Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government of 2000, the AU Constitutive Act, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and Article 7 of the PSC Protocol. All indications are that the measures taken by the special forces including the seizure of power by force, the suspension of the constitution of the country and the dissolution of the government have all the ingredients of a military coup prohibited under these AU instruments.

While the reading of the Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government of 2000 and other relevant instruments of the AU including the AU Constitutive Act and the dominant practice of the AU suggests that the application of suspension of the county in which unconstitutional change happened to be automatic, there have been instances in which the PSC opted for holding back the automatic application of these legal consequences. Such was the case in respect to the situation in Burkina Faso in November 2014 and that of Sudan in April 2019. On the other hand, the PSC recently at its 1001st session imposed automatic suspension on Mali following the ouster by Malian army of the leaders of the transitional government in May 2021.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. It is expected that the PSC would condemn the seizure of power by the special forces of Guinea by force. It may also urge the army to restrain from any acts that further endanger the peace and stability of the country. While echoing the call for respect of the safety and security of the President and other government leaders in its custody, the PSC may also echo the call for the unconditional release of the President. The PSC may consider the situation in Guinea as military coup in line with the Lomé Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance. It is also expected to invoke Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol suspending Guinea until the restoration of constitutional order. The PSC may call on the perpetrators of the coup to uphold the Constitution of the Country and stick to their constitutional mandate and cease interference in the political processes of the country by returning to the barracks in compliance with their professional duty. The PSC may also request the AU Commission working with ECOWAS and other regional and international actors to initiate efforts to assist the Guinean actors towards the restoration of constitutional order and find a peaceful and inclusive solution to the current crisis and achieve reconciliation.


Briefing on the Situation in Mali

2021

Date | 02 September, 2021

Tomorrow (02 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1027th session to receive updates on the situation in Mali and consider the report of PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali which was undertaken from 14 to 17 July, in line with Council’s decision under Paragraph 11 of its 1001st Communiqué.

The session is expected to have an open and closed segment. During the open segment, the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, will be delivering opening remarks to be followed by a statement from the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Mali and Head of the AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL) is also expected to make a presentation during the open segment of the session, which is to be followed by statements from the Representative of Republic of Ghana, Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and the Representative of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU. At the closed segment of the session, Victor Adeleke, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the AU will present the evaluation report to Council members, as the PSC Chairperson during the month of July, when the evaluation mission to Mali was conducted.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to deliberate on the findings of PSC’s evaluation mission report which may capture some of the key developments that have been unfolding in the country’s socio-political, security, economic and human rights and humanitarian situation since Council’s last deliberation at its 1001st session, which saw the country suspended from all AU activities following the coup of 24 May 2021. While ECOWAS’s suspension clearly defines a timeline (until after the February 2022 elections and the formation of a democratically elected government), the PSC has set some preconditions that need to be met before it can lift its suspension.

One of Council’s demands stressed at its previous session was the immediate appointment of a civilian Prime Minister to lead the conclusion of the 18 months transition period. The appointment of Choguel Kokala Maiga, chairman of the strategic committee of the June 5 Movement, Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP) has hence been a welcome step in the right direction. The release of the former interim President and Prime Minister of the transitional government who were kept under house arrest following their ouster also meets another one of Council’s demands. The pledge made by the current authorities to forge ahead with the elections planned for February 2022 and to remain committed to the full implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali are also expected to receive the attention of the PSC. There has been no indication the Council’s call to refrain from taking part as candidates for the upcoming presidential election will be heeded.

Another development that would be of interest to PSC members during tomorrow’s session is the adoption of the Government Action Plan 2021-2022 (PAG). As highlighted in PSC’s evaluation mission report, the PAG is based on four main pillars which are: strengthening national security; ensuring political and institutional reforms; organisation of general elections and promotion of good governance and the adoption of a social stability pact. While the adoption of this key document is encouraging on its own and demonstrates the commitment of the new transitional authorities to conduct the elections, there is still no concreate agreement on an independent election management body which may result in delaying the planned elections.

The issues contained in the Communiqué summarising the outcomes of the visit by ECOWAS mediator for Mali, Goodluck Johnathan, conducted from 9 to 12 May, would also be of interest to PSC members. In this respect, the areas of progress noted in the communiqué include: the initiation of judicial processes relating to those arrested over alleged attempts of destabilising the country and their eventual acquittal; the gradual return of State authority to parts of the country where terrorist groups are active; and the disarmament (albeit slow) and conversion of some armed self-defence groups. On the other hand, lack of consensus on the choice of the election management bodies; lack of inclusivity and clarity in the conduct of the transition and lack of progress with respect to human rights and rule of law were the major concerns underscored. PSC’s evaluation mission has also highlighted similar concerns, particularly with regards to the implementation of major reforms which are lagging and yet to commence despite the approaching deadline of the transition period. One major example highlighted in this regard is the pending measures towards updating the electoral and referendum timetable of 31 October 2021.

With respect to the security situation, there is reasonable fear that the recurrence of coups in the country could embolden insurgent groups by demonstrating weakness in the State’s cohesion and its security apparatus. The jihadist attack which took place in June 2021 claiming the lives of 160 people and another one staged in August which killed 17 Malian soldiers and was claimed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated ‘Support Group for Islam and Muslims’ are illustrative of such tendency of such groups. Given Mali’s strategic importance in the fight against terrorism in the overall Sahel region, the uncertainty resulting from the country’s political instability also puts at risk the regional response to terrorism and violent extremism and could further destabilise the wider Sahel region. Moreover, despite gains made in disarmament of some armed self-defence groups, the country’s security situation still continues to be marked by the presence of non-State armed groups along its border areas. Inter-communal violence and attacks on national and international militaries and humanitarian actors as well as kidnapping, looting and killings of villagers also continue to characterise the security landscape in Mali. Added to these circumstances are gaps that may result from France’s decision to scale down its military presence and the announcement by Chad of its decision to withdraw half of its troops from the G5-Sahel Joint Force deployed in the three-border region along central Mali. The area which is known to be hit hardest by terrorists could hence experience further deterioration due to the reduction in troops. There is a possibility for filling in these gaps through the deployment by the AU of 3000 troops to the Sahel region in line with Assembly/AU/Dec.792(XXXIII), although progress to achieve this remains limited. Another option that could be considered is the deployment of the Battalions of Reconstituted Armed Forces (BATFAR). Although the redeployment of reconstituted Malian armed and security forces is envisaged in the Algiers Accord, the operationalisation of the process remains incomplete and slow.

Mali’s humanitarian situation also continues to deteriorate. As UN reports demonstrate, the country’s already fragile and complex humanitarian context has worsened as a result of the political volatility from the recent coup. An increase in attacks against civilians, particularly in the central and northern regions of the country, has led to unprecedented increase in displacement rates. As of the end of May 2021, the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country has reached 372,266, out of which, 63% are children. In addition to the increase in displacement rates, various human rights violations have also been recorded including attacks against civilians by security forces, gender-based violence and recruitment of children by armed groups. Added to these, the socio-economic situation in the country is also suffering due the negative impact of the recent coup on Mali’s international relations and the level of insecurity and instability.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council may reflect, based on the report of its evaluation mission, on the status of implementation of the conditions it laid down at its 1001st session and highlight the areas where the AU could extend support to Mali’s transition. It may commend the current Malian authorities for taking some encouraging steps to maintain the gains achieved in the country’s political transition and urge them to ensure that the planned elections will be conducted at the end of the transition period, without any delays and preconditions. Council may also once again urge Mali’s transitional authorities to refrain from taking part in the upcoming elections and to work towards ensuring non-interference of the military in political issues. Welcoming the adoption of the PAG 2021-2022, Council may also call on the transitional government to publish a feasible timeline for the actualisation of key activities outlined therein. It may encourage Malian parties to work towards finalising the major outstanding reforms that need to be completed before the end of the transitional period including most particularly reaching consensus on the electoral management body, and welcome the planned visit of ECOWAS mediator on 05-07 September 2021 to engage Malian actors. The PSC may urge all actors in Mali to observe respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and request the AU Commission, working with ECOWAS, to support Mali in implementing a robust framework for compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law. Having regard to the humanitarian needs and security threats in the country and the wider region, Council may also appeal to the international community to strengthen its assistance.


Provisional Programme of Work of the PSC for the Month of September 2021

2021

Date | 01 September, 2021

During September, Chad will assume chairship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). Council’s indicative programme for the month envisages seven substantive sessions. Out of these, two are expected to address country/region specific concerns whereas the remaining five will be committed to various thematic topics. All of the planned sessions are expected to be held virtually. Two of the sessions will be open sessions.

The month’s first session is expected to take place on 2 September. The session will be committed to an updated briefing on the situation in Mali and consideration of the report of PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali. The decision to constitute a PSC evaluation mission to Mali was made at Council’s 1001st session, which took place during June. At the session, Council suspended Mali and underscored conditions that shall be met by the current transitional authorities. The upcoming session and the evaluation report may serve to shade light on how far these conditions have been met in addition to providing updates on the general political and security situation in the country.

On 6 September, Council is scheduled to consider and adopt via email exchanges, the draft program of work for October 2021.

The second substantive session of the month scheduled to take place on 8 September will be an open session dedicated to the commemoration of 2021 Africa Amnesty Month. Council has convened annual sessions to commemorate Amnesty Month since 2017, following the AU Assembly’s decision to declare the month of September of each year as amnesty month, until 2020. While 2020 was the last year for the commemoration of amnesty month in line with Assembly/AU/Dec.645(XXIX), the AU Assembly, at its 14th Extra Ordinary Session on Silencing the Guns, extended its commemoration for 10 years, from 2021 to 2030, in line with PSC’s recommendation at its 943rd session that the Assembly extends amnesty month for a further period aligned with the First Ten Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) of Agenda 2063. The upcoming session hence offers the chance to reflect on how the coming ten years could be best utilised in order to address remaining challenges around surrender and collection of illicit weapons and in curbing the flow of illegal arms.

On 14 September, the PSC will meet to prepare for two of its upcoming joint annual consultative meetings scheduled for October. The first one will be its annual consultative meeting with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which has been taking place since 2007. This year’s meeting will mark the 15th consultative meeting between the two Councils. The other annual consultative meeting of the PSC which is expected to take place during October is its joint consultative meeting with the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (PSC). This year’s PSC meeting with the EUPSC will be its 13th annual consultative meeting.

On 16 September, Council will convene its third substantive session to receive a briefing on continental and regional activities in the area of mine action in Africa. Council’s 837th session convened in April 2019 highlighted the indiscriminate nature of mines, among other “excessively injurious” weapons and stressed the need for member States to ensure compliance and implementation of relevant instruments such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the Maputo Declaration aiming to achieve a mine-free world by 2025 and the Mine Action and Explosive Remnants of War Strategic Framework. The upcoming briefing may provide updates on the status of implementation of these instruments.

The fourth session of the month is scheduled to take place on 21 September which is also the second open session of the month. The open session is dedicated to the commemoration of International Day of Peace, where Council will also receive briefing of the second edition of the Luanda Biennial “Pan African Forum for the Culture of Peace”. A joint initiative of the AU, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Angola, the Pan-African Biennale was held for the first time in September 2019, in Luanda, where it was agreed that the forum would be convened every two years. The first edition of the forum served to highlight the importance of strategic partnerships to scale up projects for sustainable peace in Africa, the value of disseminating good practices for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the need to showcase cultural diversity in Africa and demonstrate the resilience of the people in the face of conflicts. The second edition is expected to be held under the theme “Strengthening the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non- Violence: Towards a Global Partnership”.

Council’s next session, which is scheduled for 23 September, will consider the mid-year report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on elections in Africa. The report will likely summarise the outcomes of elections in Africa conducted during or scheduled for the first and second quarters of 2021. This session also presents the Council the opportunity to discuss upcoming elections and what the AU can do to help member states prevent violence in contexts of elections.

On 28 September, Council may have, subject to confirmation, a ministerial level session addressing the projected impact of withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya on Sahel region and the rest of the continent. The presence of foreign fighters in Libya has been challenging the implementation of the October 2020 ceasefire agreement and is considered as a threat to the successful conduct of the elections planned for December this year. While the withdrawal of these foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya is critical for the success of the country’s peace process, there is fear that if not properly managed, it will result in the spread of terrorist fighters and arms into the wider Sahel region and the rest of Africa. Council’s session may thus focus on mechanisms that shall be employed for the effective management of the departure of these foreign fighters from Libya.

The last session of the month, which is scheduled to take place on 30 September, will consist of two agenda items. The first one will be consideration of strategic priorities for the utilisation of the AU Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that the PSC Committee of Experts convened during August under Cameroon’s chairship to consider this particular issue. The upcoming session could hence serve to update Council which types of peace and security initiatives the Committee of Experts has identified as priority areas to receive funding through the three thematic windows of the Peace Fund. The second agenda item is dedicated to the consideration of a zero draft African consensus paper on the financing of AU-led peace support operations (PSOs) using UN assessed contributions. The submission of the draft was requested at Council’s 986th session, where the AU Commission was requested to develop a paper presenting common African position for funding of AU PSOs through UN assessed contributions. Both agenda items are expected to be presented by the Chairperson of the PSC Committee of Experts for August 2021, Cameroon.

In addition to its substantive sessions, Council’s provisional programme indicates that the Committee of Experts will be meeting within the month to consider the implementation status of PSC decisions.


Briefing on consultations with Somalia on post-2021 AU Engagement

2021

Date | 31 August, 2021

Tomorrow (31 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene a briefing session on the consultations with the Federal Government of Somalia on the post-2021 AU mission in Somalia the AU (AMISOM). The session is a follow up to Council’s meeting convened on 30 July during which the PSC considered the report of the AU Independent Assessment team regarding AU’s engagement in and with Somalia post-2021.

Following opening statement by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Chairperson of the PSC for August, Fiona Lortan, the Ag. Director for Conflict Management, at the Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS) Department is expected to brief the Council. As the country of concern, a representative of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is also expected to deliver a statement.

It is to be recalled that the PSC considered the report on independent assessment on the future of AMISOM 1015th session. The independent assessment team, established pursuant to PSC Communique of 9 February 2021, led by Major General Xolani Mankayi from South Africa, recommended the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional stabilisation support to Somalia as the most appropriate options, among the four options, for the future of AMISOM post-2021. The consensus reached among members of the PSC during their last session on AMISOM was in support of AU-UN multidimensional stabilisation mission despite UN independent-led assessment report calling for a reconfigured AMISOM.

It is worth noting that the government of Somalia, through its Foreign Minister, rejected the report of independent assessment team, complaining on the lack of sufficient consultation. Somalia’s rejection of the AU independent assessment team’s report seemed to also show preference for a more supporting role from AMISOM through the supply of mobile forces while the main security responsibility falls within the hands of government forces. This perspective of Somalia’s Government was also emphasised by the country’s representative at the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC)’s meeting on the situation in Somalia which took place on 12 August 2021.

While there is recognition on the need for transition involving transfer of security responsibility for Somalia security forces (SSF), how this is done and the nature of AMISOM support that the security situation and the state of readiness of SSF remain critical questions for averting rushed processes risking reversal of gains made with so much sacrifice. As stressed in the report of the AU Independent Assessment team, a premature withdrawal of AMISOM could result in a serious security vacuum and lead to the loss of positive gains that have been made over the years. The importance of a cautious approach is highlighted by the threat Al-Shabaab continues to pose in Somalia. This is particularly true in light of recent fears that were ignited as a result of Al-Shabaab’s hailing of Taliban following the latter’s takeover of Kabul in Afghanistan.

It is against this context that AU Commission sent a delegation led by Fiona Lortan to engage with the government of Somalia with the aim to iron out differences and reach on a common understanding on the future of AMISOM post-2021. The meeting between AU Commission delegation and the FGS took place on 18-19 August 2021 in Mogadishu, Somalia. This led to a breakthrough resulting in the signing of an agreement and a joint statement. Tomorrow’s PSC session is in accordance with the agreement reached between the AUC delegation and the FGS to present the outcome and main agreements of the joint meeting to the PSC as well as the UN Security Council and the international partners. In this respect, the briefing by Lortan is expected to highlight the major outcomes of the agreement.

One major issue likely to receive attention is the consensus reached on the AU Transition Mission as the post-2021 Somalia mission. The agreement reached focusing on strengthening the command control of AMISOM and most importantly the call for AMISOM and Somalia national army joint operations seem to suggest a model that resembles option 2, which is a reconfigured AMISOM. The exact shape that this post-2021 AMISOM takes in Somalia is expected to become clearer with the finalization of the joint Concept of Operations (CONOPS), which, according to the joint statement, ‘will form the basis for the future AU Transition Mission’. It is worth noting that the Commission and FGS agreed on developing a joint ‘workable’, ‘realizable’, and ‘game-changing’ CONOPS no later than 31 October 2021 with the participation of UN and other international partners. It is of interest to the Council that AU is also working with UN, EU, UK as well as the FGS to address the main concern of securing predictable and sustainable funding to the post-2021 AU mission in Somalia.

In light of the growing threats posed by the Al-Shabaab and the upcoming elections in Somalia, the other issue of interest to the Council is the consensus reached on enhancing military operational effectiveness of AMISOM and Somalia Security Forces (SSF). An interesting development in this respect is the agreement reached for joint operations by enabling ‘effective, agile and mobile operations with strong tactical cooperation and coordination’. As a follow up to this agreement, the military commanders of AMISOM held a two-day meeting with their Somalia counterpart to evaluate the progress towards the implementation of joint operations. The two sides also assessed progress made regarding AMISOM’s CONOPS, the Somalia Transitional Plan (STP), and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2568 (2021). The reconfiguration of military, police, and civilian components of AMISOM and the establishment of ‘mobile and quick reaction forces’ are considered as steps towards enhancing operational effectiveness in countering the evolving threats posed by Al-Shabaab.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. The PSC may commend the work done by the AIA team and the AU delegation that visited Somalia for reaching at a common position. Council may congratulate the AU and FGS for reaching an agreement on the modalities for determining the form that AU’s Mission in Somalia takes post-2021. It is also expected to underscore the need for a well-planned and phased and adequately resourced and structured transition that is capable of sustaining the gains and containing the threat posed by Al Shabaab. It may call on the UN, EU and UK as well as other relevant partners to engage with AU on the modalities and financing of the transition mission. The PSC may also reiterate its appreciation for AMISOM and call on its continued support to the country in realising the goals of the Somalia Transition Plan (STP). Council may also welcome the initiatives by AMISOM working with the Government of Somalia towards enhancing the effectiveness military operations. The PSC may also indicate next steps including the plan for engagement by the AU Commission and African members of the UNSC with members of the UNSC and the EU as well as the process and timeline for the elaboration of the CONOPS for post-2021.


Second Annual Consultative meeting between the PSC and the Peace and Security Organs of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms

2021

Date | 26 August, 2021

Tomorrow (26 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene the second annual consultative meeting between the PSC and the Peace and Security organs of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

The session on the consultative meeting is expected to start with the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono. Thereafter, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement on the state of AU-RECs/RMs relationship. The representatives of the Policy Organs of the RECs/RMs and the RECs/RMs, namely the East African Community (EAC), East African Standby Force (EASF), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), North African Regional Capability (NARC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) are expected to make presentation on their respective relationship and engagement since the inaugural meeting with the PSC and the AU.

This session is convened as a follow up to the decision taken at the inaugural consultative meeting of the PSC and the policy-making organs of the RECs/RMs in 2019 to hold the consultative meeting on annual basis. The consultative meeting is also in line with Article 16 of the PSC Protocol on close working relations and policy coordination with RECs/RMs, and the conclusions of the various retreats of the PSC which called for a mechanism to strengthen harmonization and coordination through a periodic engagement between the PSC and the policy bodies of RECs/RMs.

This year’s consultative meeting affords the Council the opportunity to follow up on the decisions of the inaugural consultative meeting and the communiqué of 870th PSC session, particularly those relating to the modalities to harmonize decision-making processes and strengthen coordination as well as institutionalize their relationship. In this regard, it is worth recalling that paragraph 18 of the communique of the inaugural meeting stipulates that, the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs agree to institutionalize their relationship, in particular through the following:

i. holding of annual joint consultative meetings, between the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs on peace and security issues, alternately in Addis Ababa and in the headquarters of the RECs/RMs, in rotation. In this context, the joint consultative meeting should be convened ahead of the mid-year coordination summit between the AU and RECs/RMs;

ii. swiftly communicate decisions on peace and security issues to each other for enhancing subsidiarity and complementarity, while ensuring coherence in decision- making process;

iii. regular interaction between the PSC and the RECs/RMs Chairpersons of the policy organs and/or equivalent relevant structures on peace and security matters, on issues of common concern, including through the use of the video-teleconferencing;

iv. joint field missions to assess situations of common concern and identify further joint action as may be needed;

v. holding of joint retreats/brainstorming sessions to reflect on priorities on peace and security issues of the PSC and the RECs/RMs and develop appropriate common response strategies; and

vi. organizing staff exchange visits.

Among others, tomorrow’s session helps in considering whether and how much progress has been made in implementing the foregoing modalities and the challenges faced in pursuing policy coordination and mobilizing a more synchronized collective action by the PSC and policy organs of RECs/RMs. Best practices, if any, and gaps in coordinated policy-making as well as emerging issues affecting coordination between the PSC and RECs/RMs are also expected to be highlighted in this meeting.

From the available evidence, little seems to have moved forward in terms of translating the commitments made in the joint communique into action. Notwithstanding the framework articulated in the joint communique, policy coordination between the PSC and the RECs/RMs depends on convenience and has as yet to be institutionalized. For example, the representation of PSC and its active participation in meetings of the policy organs of RECs/RMs where decisions on matters that concern its mandate leaves a lot to be desired. Though such engagement is extremely important to coordinate responses and harmonize decisions, there is the issue of whether RECs/RMs have recognized the importance of regularly inviting and ensuring the participation of the PSC, through its Chairperson as envisaged in the Conclusions of the Abuja retreat of the PSC. On the other hand, while the practice of joint field missions and joint retreats is taking hold with other institutions, notably the European Union Political and Security Committee (EU PSC), the same kind of engagement between the PSC and RECs/RMs is yet to develop.

Tomorrow’s session may also follow up on its previous decision to establish a team of focal points from all RECs/RMs and the PSC Secretariat, a mechanism devised to facilitate a ‘well-coordinated network for regular meetings/consultations’, particularly on issues that are in the agendas of both the PSC and RECs/RMs.

The consultative meeting may also reflect on trends affecting harmonization of decision-making and strong coordination between PSC and RECs/RMs. One such issue is the divergence of norms between RECs/RMs and the AU system that may lead to diverging policy approach. This has been more visible in relation to contestations on elections and events involving unconstitutional changes of government. The SADC and AU were not on the same page in terms of the policy responses they respectively adopted initially to the unconstitutional change of government in Madagascar in 2009. The recent military seizure of power in Mali and Chad not only illustrates the divergence of norms among RECs but also shows how this could lead to the PSC taking divergent policy approaches to military coups.

The other major issue is the lack of clarity about the principle of subsidiarity and its application vis-à-vis the envisaged primary role of the PSC in the maintenance of peace and security in the continent. First, there is the issue of how the PSC may discharge its mandate as provided for in the PSC Protocol when a conflict situation arises within a particular REC/RM. The expectation from the mandate entrusted to the PSC under the PSC Protocol is that at the very least the PSC plays the role of accompanying and contributing to the policy response of the concerned REC/RM while ensuring that the applicable AU norms are duly respected. Where the REC/RM concerned is not seized with the issue despite the need for regional and continental engagement, the PSC faces the issue of discharging its mandate by being seized with the situation while coordinating with the concerned REC(s)/RM(s).

The trans-regional nature of some situations such as the security threat posed by Boko Haram and overlapping membership in regional mechanisms is another emerging challenge for policy coordination. On the trans-regional nature of some security situations, while this offers the opportunity for horizontal coordination among RECs/RMs, the experience towards such practice remains limited. It is to be recalled that the PSC underscored the importance of horizontal coordination in the Communiqué of its 870th session. Most recently, at its 1010th session held in July 2021, the PSC also stressed the importance of strengthening institutional collaboration between ECCAS and ECOWAS in the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas of Lake Chad Basin. On conflict/crisis situation that erupts in a country with multiple membership to RECs and RMs, not only the issue of who takes the lead in resolving the situation remains controversial but also harmonizing and coordinating actions can become even more challenging.

The latest deployment of the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) along with Rwandan troops is another development of interest to the Council. It is to be recalled that the inaugural consultative meeting stressed the importance of ‘prior consultations and coordination, particularly, during the planning and deployment phases of peace support operations’ and further emphasized the importance of undertaking the deployment of African Standby Force within a ‘partnership between the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs.’ However, indications are that the deployment of SAMIM did not take place within this framework. Close coordination and consultation between the PSC and the policy organ of the concerned REC was lacking.

The expected outcome of the annual consultative meeting is a joint communique. It is expected that the communique would welcome the convening of the joint consultative meeting and the presentations that the various RECs/RMs made. It may also reiterate the importance of the close working relationship between the PSC and the Policy organs of the RECs/RMs and the need for implementation of the modalities for policy coordination and close working relationship between the two outlined in the joint communique of the first consultative meeting. The PSC and the representatives of the Policy Organs of the RECs/RMs may follow up on its decision at its 870th session to convene a “meeting of the Technical Working Group of Experts to develop a matrix outlining concreate practical steps to be undertaken, assign responsibilities with specific timelines, as well as a roadmap with clearly defined modalities and timeframes for consideration by the Council”. They may also urge the need for close consultation and invitation for participation of each in decisions relating to conflict situations of which the other is interested. They may also underscore the importance of the need for applying the principle of subsidiarity without it inhibiting the need for active participation and engagement of the PSC within the framework of the mandate entrusted to it under the PSC Protocol for taking conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development measures guided by the demands of the situation concerned while coordinating with the concerned REC/RM. In this respect, the communiqué may reiterate the decision of the PSC from its 870th session for “convening of a joint retreat of the PSC and RECs/RMs to brainstorm and reflect on ‘Decision-making, Harmonisation and Coordination between the AUPSC and RECs/RMs on the promotion of peace and security’ and develop report on appropriate common response strategies”. They may also emphasise the need for horizontal coordination between RECs/RMs affected by shared security issues including with the facilitation of the PSC.


Consideration of proposed finalisation and operationalisation of the AU Humanitarian Agency

2021

Date | 24 August, 2021

Tomorrow (24 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene a virtual session to consider the proposed finalisation and operationalisation of the AU Humanitarian Agency (AUHA).

Following the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a remark. The AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira El Fadil is also expected to brief Council on the status of finalisation and operationalisation of the AUHA.

It is to be recalled that Council last convened a session on the AUHA at its 843rd session where it was briefed on the status of the AUHA, however there was no outcome document. At its 762nd meeting held in April 2018 the PSC called on the AU Commission to expedite the development of modalities for operationalising the agency, outlining the legal, financial and structural implications. In addition to reflecting on the importance of the AUHA to contribute towards resolving the current humanitarian crisis in the continent, tomorrow’s session may follow up on the progress obtained in the process of operationalising the agency.

A study on the operationalisation of the AUHA was conducted and its preliminary findings were evaluated among member states and independent experts in 2019. The study which details the options for operationalisation, proposes the structure of the agency and highlights its legal and financial implications was validated at an Extra-ordinary session of the Special Technical Committee (STC) on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (MR&IDPS-STC) and adopted with couple amendments at a meeting of member state experts which took place in June 2020. In the same year, the AU Commission finalised the draft AUHA Statute as directed at the 3rd Ordinary Session of the MR&IDPS-STC. It is expected that the 4th Ordinary Session of the MR&IDPS-STC, planned for November this year will consider and validate the draft Statute of the AUHA, which will be one of the considerations that will determine when the agency will become fully operational. Tomorrow’s briefing by the Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development may provide more highlights in this regard.

The increasing rate of humanitarian crises in Africa and the intensifying nature of exacerbating factors such as climate change and outbreak of pandemics like Covid-19 are more than ever making it mandatory to find ways to respond to the situation in an organised and better coordinated manner. While AU has already mechanised various structures to respond to crises and disasters (such as the Special Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF), the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) and Africa Risk Capacity (ARC)), there is limited coordination among these structures in addition to the slow implementation of normative standards such as the African Humanitarian Policy Framework, the OAU Refugee Convention and the Kampala Convention. One of the key roles the AUHA aims to undertake is coordination of humanitarian action, as emphasised in the 2016 Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness, which was adopted by Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI). The AUHA would thus be instrumental to fill the existing gap in effectively coordinating action among existing operational mechanisms which are fundamental for addressing humanitarian challenges in the continent.

While both the AU and its predecessor – the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – have for long sought ways to deal with humanitarian crises on the continent, solid steps towards the establishment of the AUHA were initiated following the adoption of AU Assembly Decision of 30 January 2016 (Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI)). As emphasised in Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI), the AUHA is aimed to be “anchored on regional and national mechanisms and funded through African resources”. The purpose behind fully financing the AUHA through African resources is to ensure full African ownership of the agency and the establishment of the agency has already obtained the support of all 55 member states of the AU. In this context it is also important to consider the potential challenges that may be encountered in the process of establishing the agency.

The first challenge is around the mechanisms in which member states mobilize financial resources to effectively and sustainably finance the agency. As primary responders to humanitarian crises within their territories, member states – some more than others – have already strained capacities. Hence, they may find it difficult to consistently finance the AUHA to ensure that it can effectively manage humanitarian crisis in the continent. It is therefore important to compliment member states’ contributions through building strong partnerships with global actors who can contribute to the successful formation and functioning of the AUHA, while the agency maintains its foundation in existing continental policy and legal frameworks.

The second issue relates to collaboration and coordination with other humanitarian actors. It is important to have clarity on the added value of the AUHA in the presence of a number of aid agencies and international humanitarian organizations in various humanitarian situations in the continent. To prevent any duplication of efforts and resources it would be useful to also identify the exact gap that the AUHA is expected to fill.

It would be of interest for Council members to also consider how the PSC may collaborate with the agency. As enshrined in the PSC Protocol, the Council is among the various AU organs assuming responsibility to respond to humanitarian issues. Art.6(f) of the Protocol for instance stipulates humanitarian action and disaster management among the functions of the Council. Art.7 mandates the PSC to facilitate and support humanitarian action in the context of both natural disasters and armed conflicts. Another relevant provision is Art.13(3)(f), which mandates the African Standby Force (ASF) to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilians in conflict situations and to support efforts in cases of major natural disasters. The PSC and the AUHA – once operationalised – will thus need to work in collaboration and complement each other’s mandates. In addition to coordination and collaboration with the relevant AU organs, it is also important for the AUHA to work together with international humanitarian actors and UN agencies that already have presence on the ground and extensive experience in dealing with humanitarian challenges in the continent.

The outcome of the session is expected to be a press statement. Council may express concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the continent, particularly the growing rate of displacement and the plight of migrants, refugees and IDPs. It may urge the Commission and member states to further expedite the full operationalization and establishment of the AUHA. It may call on member states to honour their commitments to finance the AUHA and to ensure implementation of Executive Council decision EX.CL/Dec.567(XVII) which called for the increase of AU humanitarian fund from 2% to 4% of member states’ assessed contributions.