Provisional Program of Work for the Month of July 2022

Provisional Program of Work for the Month of July 2022

Date | 1 July 2022

In July, Djibouti will be chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). Council’s provisional programme of work for the month envisages three sessions addressing four substantive agenda items. One of these will have a thematic focus while the other three will be addressing country/region specific situations. Council is also scheduled to undertake a field mission to Somalia during the month.

On 01 July, the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) is set to convene a meeting in preparation for two upcoming consultative meetings of the Council. The first one is the 7th Informal Joint Meeting and 16th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the PSC and the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC). The second one is the 3rd Annual Consultative Meeting between the PSC and Policy Organs of Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs).

The first substantive session of the month, scheduled to take place on 05 July, is envisaged to have two agenda items. The first agenda will be committed to an updated briefing on the situation in the Horn of Africa. The AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, is expected to brief Council, mainly on the situation in Ethiopia as he did in his earlier briefings to the Council. This will constitute the second briefing of the High Representative to Council in 2022, the first one having taken place in February. Although a briefing session was planned to take place in May at the request of High Representative Obasanjo, it was later cancelled. The coming briefing is expected to provide Council updates on the High Representative’s activities since his last briefing as well as overall developments regarding the situation.

The second agenda for Council’s session on 05 July will be a briefing on the situation in South Sudan. This session comes at a time when the end of the transitional period is fast approaching before the completion of key transitional activities envisaged in the Revitalised Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).  The coming session is expected to assess where the transitional process stands, what to do with some of the more transitional tasks that could not be completed before the end of the transitional period and whether and how the elections envisaged to take place in early 2023 could be organized. Council may also follow up on the decisions of its previous session on South Sudan – the 1060th meeting – where among others, it mandated the AU PCRD Centre to prioritize South Sudan amongst its priority areas of focus and requested the AU Commission to dispatch a post-conflict needs-assessment mission to South Sudan. The session can also serve as an occasion for considering the conclusions of the Council’s filed mission to South Sudan that took place in February 2022. Although Council planned to convene a session in March to consider the report of its field mission, that did not take place.

On 11 July, Council will consider and adopt the draft provisional programme of work for the month of August 2022.

The third session of the month will be taking place on 21 July and will be committed to the consideration of the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on elections in Africa. This is a session which was initially planned to take place in June but later moved into July due to changes to Council’s programme of work for the month of June. Following the previous report of the AU Commission Chairperson on elections in Africa conducted in the period from July to December 2021 – considered at Council’s 1062nd session – the coming report is expected to provide details of elections conducted during the first half of 2022 (January to June 2022).

The last session of the month is expected to take place on 25 July. The session will be committed to a briefing on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and operations of the AU Observer Mission in CAR (MOUACA). It is to be recalled that MOUACA was authorised by the PSC at its 936th session held in July 2020. The mission’s main purpose is to support and monitor the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR. The session will be important to draw attention to some of the key factors that continue to limit progress in the implementation of the Political Agreement and impede effective discharge of MOUACA’s mandate. The session may also serve to follow up on the status of implementation of the decisions of Council’s previous –  1011th – session, including its request for the Chairperson of the AU Commission to conduct an assessment on the illegal flow of arms in CAR and submit a detailed report to Council and for the AU Commission to undertake a technical needs assessment mission to the CAR, with a view to mapping out the priority needs of the CAR Government.

From 27 to 29 July, Council will conduct a field mission to Somalia to take stock of the political, security and humanitarian developments in the country. This filed mission comes not long after the end of the long delayed and protracted electoral process that culminated in the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President of Somalia. It is to be recalled that the PSC played an important role for the electoral process by rejecting the attempt of the former president to extend his term of office and the field mission serves as an occasion for affirming close working relationship with ATMIS and the AU for implementation of the Somalia Transitional Plan and achieve stability in Somalia.

The provisional programme of work for July also envisages in footnotes, the possibility of convening of a session to consider renewal of the mandate of G5 Sahel Joint Force, on a date to be determined. The footnotes also envisage possible PSC informal consultations with the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye as well as consultations between the PSC Chair and UNSC President for the month, also on dates to be confirmed.


Briefing on the situation in Libya

Briefing on the situation in Libya

Date | 29 June 2022

Tomorrow (29 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1091st session to receive a briefing on the situation in Libya.

Following opening remarks by Daniel Owassa, Permanent Representative of Congo to the AU and Chairperson of the Council for the month of June, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver a statement. Wahida Ayari, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission in Libya; the representative of the State of Libya as the country concerned and representative of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) are also expected to deliver statements. Other invited guests expected to participate at the session include representatives of the immediate neighboring countries of Libya – Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger and Tunisia and representatives of the relevant regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) – Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN-SAD), North African Regional Capability (NARC) and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).

The AU position on Libya is encapsulated in the relevant AU Assembly and PSC decisions. The 997th PSC Communique which was adopted on 18 May 2021 following the holding of a Ministerial level meeting on the situation in Libya stressed the importance of an inclusive, comprehensive national reconciliation process, as well as the need to implement confidence-building measures such as a framework to put to an end to divisions and to restore social cohesion among Libyans. Tomorrow’s meeting will afford an opportunity for PSC members to take stock of the developments in Libya since their last meeting and pronounce themselves on the deteriorating political and security situation in the country, the political consultation process in Cairo and the holding of elections to conclude the prolonged transition period which is deemed critical to respond to the needs and aspiration of the Libyan people.

After more than a decade since the Libyan revolution, the country remains mired in a protracted political crisis. There was hope that the organization of inclusive, free, fair and credible elections would have helped in ending the long transition period. Although 2.8 million people were registered to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections which were scheduled to be held on 24 December 2021 based on the roadmap agreed within the framework of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), the elections were postponed and the Libyan political stakeholders have yet to agree on a new timeline. The mandate of the Libyan Government of National Unity within the framework of the LPDF is set to expire by the end of this month.  The transitional phase was due to expire on 22 June, according to the LPDF roadmap, had the Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held on 24 December 2021, which did not happen.

Following the postponement of the elections, the Tobruk based House of Representatives appointed Fathi Bashagha, a former minister of interior and one of the presidential candidates, as the new prime minister for the remaining transition period arguing that the incumbent prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh failed to organize elections. However, Debeibeh insisted that he will only handover power following the holding of elections. The political rivalry between the Dbeibeh and Bashagha has escalated tensions in Libya leading to clashes in Tripoli in May when Bashagha tried to take over the government but was met with resistance from Dbeibeh’s forces. Another round of fighting took place on 10 June between rival forces supporting Dbeibeh and Bashagha. This latest crisis is threatening to divide the country and plunge it into yet another cycle of conflict and violence. It also led to the partial blockade of Libya’s oil facilities.

UN Special Advisor Stephanie Williams has been trying to resolve the political impasse and engaged with both Dbeibeh and Bashagha to encourage them to resolve their disputes through dialogue. She is also facilitating a discussion on the constitutional basis for the holding of elections through the establishment of a Joint Committee comprising of representatives from the High State Council and the House of Representative. The Joint Committee has met three times and the latest meeting taking place in Cairo. During the two previous sessions held in April and May, the Joint Committee reached agreement on 137 of 197 articles on the form and nature of the state; basic rights and freedoms, including women rights; the structure and powers of a bicameral Parliament; and some of the prerogatives of the President and Prime Minister, including on the prerogative of president and Prime Minister”, according to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosmary Dicarlo who briefed the Security Council on the matter on 26 May 2021.

There are, however, outstanding issues that need to be addressed and the hope was that during the third and final round the joint committee will finalize the constitutional arrangements for the holding of national elections. Stephanie Williams underscored the need to continue working towards building the necessary consensus on the constitutional framework to pave the way for the holding of elections. As the final round came to a close on 20 June, Stephanie Williams released a press statement stating that ‘the Joint Committee achieved a great deal of consensus on the contentious articles in the Libyan Draft Constitution’ also highlighting differences on the ‘measures governing the transitional period leading to elections’. The Special Advisor urged the Presidencies of the two Chambers ‘to meet within ten days at an agreed upon location to bridge outstanding issues’.

Some observers have been expressing concerns about the ongoing consultation process including the lack of openness to involve the wider Libyan populace. The other complication is the involvement of regional and international actors in the situation in Libya through their backing of different parties. In the meantime, Stephanie Williams is expected to leave her position as Special Advisor by the end of June. Consultations are underway to appoint a new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The AU has been insisting that this post should be filled by an African and the African members have been advancing this same position in the Security Council.

The AU is part of the Libya Quartet which involves the UN, the EU and League of Arab States. The UN has been in the lead in terms of facilitating the Libyan political dialogue but it is not clear how much the AU has been involved and/or consulted within the framework of the latest UN led talks in Cairo.  The AU has a Liaison Office which was based in Tunis. The 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly decided to relocate the office to Tripoli.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Council is expected to express its concern over the recent flare up of tension between armed groups in support of the two rival governments. Council may further urge the rival groups to avoid any violence and resort to dialogue to reach at a consensus on a unified Libyan government that would steer the country towards the Presidential and Parliamentary elections. It may also urge all international actors to refrain from taking any actions that may re-ignite divided foreign support and engage instead in a more constructive role that will contribute to ensuring peaceful resolution of the current impasse. It may further call on the AU High-Level Committee on Libya chaired by H.E. President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, to convene a consultative meeting on the current infighting between rival parties. While noting the consultations made by the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High Council of State on the constitutional basis for the holding of the elections and progresses made in this regard, Council is also expected to call upon them to reach agreement over the remaining outstanding issues.


Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Date | 28 June 2022

Tomorrow (28 June 2022), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1090th session to discuss maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Following opening remarks by Daniel Owassa, Permanent Representative of Congo to the AU and Chairperson of the Council for the month of June, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver statement while the representative of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GCC) is scheduled to make presentation. The representatives of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Gabon, and Angola will also make statements in their capacity as members of the GGC. In addition to the representatives of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the representatives of the Indian ocean Commission, United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), and the European Union (EU) are also expected to make statements.

The last time Council considered the issue of maritime security in Africa was at its 1012th session, which was convened on 23 July 2021 under the chairship of Nigeria. In that session, Council, among others, expressed its ‘deep concern over the challenging situation in some regions and areas of Africa’s maritime security domain’. Council also condemned the ‘illegal exploitation of Africa’s maritime resources and the dumping of toxic waste in Africa’s maritime domain’. This session is expected to focus on the maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, which has overtaken the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa over the past few years, turning the region into the world’s major hotspot for piracy, armed robbery at sea and other forms of maritime crime including transnational organized crime, oil and cargo theft, illicit trafficking and diversion of arms, drug and human trafficking, illegal trade and smuggling, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). As such, tomorrow’s session presents Council the opportunity to assess the maritime security situation of the Gulf of Guinea and explore ways and means to effectively respond to the situation. It is to be recalled that a resolution on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea (S/RES/2634 (2022)) – co-sponsored by Ghana and Norway – was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 May, a decade after its last resolution on the issue.

Stretched from Angola to Senegal and covering around 11,000 square kilometres (4,247 sq. miles), the Gulf of Guinea remains one of the world’s most important shipping routes for both Gulf of Guinea oil exports from the Niger Delta and consumer goods to and from central and southern Africa, accounting for 25 % of African maritime traffic. Piracy has continued to emerge ‘almost exclusively’ from Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta though attacks also take place elsewhere, according to Dryad Global.

Although it is difficult to establish the exact cost of maritime insecurity in the region, a recent report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed direct, indirect and opportunity costs to the region and beyond. One source claim that piracy in the region costs the coastal states some 2 billion USD a year. As UNODC’s study rightly pointed out, the cost will not be however limited to the coastal states but also ‘trickle along trade corridors to the heart of the continent’, highlighting the importance of the issue for countries beyond the coastal states.

The maritime security landscape of the Gulf of Guinea has been changing over the years. Maritime incidents are no longer restricted to territorial waters but increasingly occurring further offshore often outside of the Exclusive Economic Zones. The threat has spread outward from the shore with pirates operating over a vast region extending hundreds of miles from the coast, showing a worrying trend of increasing operational capability of pirates. While incidents have turned increasingly violent, kidnap for ransom has also become the most significant risk to commercial operations in the region. Moreover, a dangerous linkage between piracy and terrorism is also evolving in the region as the tentacles of terrorist groups operating in the Sahel is reaching to the Gulf of Guinea. In this connection, members of Council could be interested to know more about how piracy and armed robbery in the region interact with the expansion of terrorism and violent extremism as well as the resurgence of coups, and how these can impact the peace and security situation of the West and Central Africa regions.

Despite the grim picture however, the maritime security landscape of the region recorded a notable improvement in 2021 though the sustainability of such gain remains questionable. The 2021 annual report of Dryad Global, a maritime risk company, indicates that piracy off West Africa in 2021 declined dramatically with 56% drop from previous year. It further highlights that incidents of actual and attempted attacks and vessels being fired upon decreased by more than 85%. The number of vessels boarded throughout the region fell by 54% while incidents of crews being kidnapped declined by 60%.

Many attributes the decline in piracy in the region with Nigeria’s 195 million USD Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project (DBP), though some like the Dryad Global doubts this. On the other hand, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United Representative at the UN, during UN Security Council meeting on maritime security in May associated the crimes decrease with enhanced international collaboration. The blue project of Nigeria, initiated in 2017 but officially launched this month, brings together a mix of special mission vessels, fast interceptor boats, special mission aircraft, helicopters, and drones to patrol the shipping lanes off Nigeria’s coast. It is to be recalled that the country passed an anti-piracy bill, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act in 2019, to stem the rising trend of piracy in the region. During the launch ceremony on 10 June, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that the Deep Blue would ‘advance the security architecture and ensure greater enforcement action in Nigerian waters and beyond’, particularly in the prosecution of suspects under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act.

While the project is a significant positive development to tackle the immediate maritime security concerns in the region, the long-term success of this initiative in turning the tide against piracy is not guaranteed nor the gains of last year remain sustainable without addressing the underlying causes of piracy and armed robbery. The absence of economic opportunities and governance deficit have become major drivers of piracy and other criminal activities in the region. It is imperative that the security measures are complimented with addressing such underlying conditions if the threat is to be resolved sustainably. On a related note, it is worth noting that the UN Security Council resolution 2634 (2022) requested the Secretary-General to report on the situation of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea and its underlying causes, including any possible and potential linkages with terrorism in West and Central Africa and the Sahel.

Another important factor to stem maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea is the need to strengthening the existing frameworks and institutions created to address the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as enhancing cooperation and coordination between the plethora of structures. In this respect, the Yaoundé Architecture for Maritime Security and Safety, a culmination of a meeting between ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in 2013, is at the centre of such mechanisms designed to address the maritime insecurity in the region. While significant progress has been made towards its operationalization and strengthening cooperation with international partners, limited capacity continues to remain a challenge for the effectiveness of the architecture. Yaoundé Code of Conduct, Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050, African Charter on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa (Lomé Charter) are also relevant instruments available at regional and continental level.

The presence of different structures and initiatives at national, regional, and international levels to address maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea also raises the question of coordination. One notable development of interest to the Council in this respect is the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-Confliction (GoG-MCF/SHADE) last year. The platform was created by Nigeria and the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) – representing 21 countries in the Gulf of Guinea – to serve as a platform for navies, industry partners and other relevant stakeholders from across the Gulf of Guinea and beyond with the view to harmonising counter-piracy efforts and communication in the region. International partners such as the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea and the European Union have also stepped in to support regional efforts against piracy.

Adding to the above structures, the PSC in its last session on the theme also envisioned a naval capacity within the African Standby Force (ASF) for promoting maritime and security and safety in Africa though its practicality would remain a problem. This will be in addition to the Counter-terrorism unit which Council decided to establish within the ASF at its 960th session held on 28 October 2020.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council is expected to express concern over the persistent threat posed by piracy, armed robbery, and other forms of maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea. It may further express concern over the trend of the expansion of the threat posed by pirates far from the coast, as well as the economic implications of the threat on the coastal states. Council is likely to welcome the launch of Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project on 10 June 2022 and may appeal to international partners to provide the necessary support to the effective implementation of the project. It may also re-emphasize the importance of adopting a comprehensive solution to the multidimensional underlying causes and drivers of maritime insecurity in order to sustainably address the problem. Echoing UN Security Council Resolution 2634 (2022), Council may urge member states in the region to criminalize piracy and armed robbery at sea under their domestic laws, and may further call to investigate, prosecute, or extradite, in accordance with applicable international law, perpetrators of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Taking note of the decline of piracy in the region over the past year, Council may encourage coastal states to keep the momentum and sustain the gains through continued collaboration and strong coordination among states of Gulf of Guinea as well as the different initiatives and institutions including the Yaoundé Architecture, AU, ECOWAS, ECCAS, and GGC in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at the sea of Gulf of Guinea.


13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 10 June 2022

Tomorrow (10 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 13th annual joint consultative meeting, preceded by the 5th joint retreat taking place today. With AU hosting this year’s round of meetings, the consultative meeting will be taking place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AUPSC and EUPSC have been convening joint consultative meetings since 2008 in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. These meetings mainly serve to discuss thematic and conflict related agendas of common interest to the two counterparts. Within that framework, previous joint consultative meetings have addressed thematic issues such as migration and terrorism and violent extremism as well as country/region focused situations including conflicts and crises in Libya, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and others.

This year’s joint consultative meeting is expected to commence with opening remarks by Chairperson of the AUPSC and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo to the AU, H.E Ambassador Daniel Owassa and the Permanent Chair of the EUPSC, Ambassador Delphine Pronk. The meeting is expected to address four country/region specific situations. These are situations in the Great Lakes Region (GLR), the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) and Sahel Region, Libya, and Somalia. It is to be recalled that the Sahel Region and Somalia were also on the agenda of the previous joint consultative meeting convened on 26 October 2020, along with the situation in Sudan.

In relation to the GLR, Burundi is expected to be the lead speaker on behalf of the AUPSC. Insecurity in the GLR continues to be a matter of grave concern despite positive developments having been recorded in the areas of cooperation, integration and dialogue in the region. Dialogue between Burundi and Rwanda paving the way for reconciliation, and the normalisation of relations between Rwanda and Uganda through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2019 as well as the recent reopening of the Gatuna border are some of the examples of encouraging trends in regional cooperation and integration which may be welcomed. On the other hand, the AUPSC and EUPSC may take note of the recent tensions between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda and call up on all relevant stakeholders including the guarantors of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) for the DRC to engage both sides within the framework of the Nairobi process before the tensions grow any further. In this respect, AUPSC and EUPSC may also welcome the initiative of the AU Assembly that tasked the President of Angola, as Chairperson of the ICGLR, to engage both countries and the initiatives taken by Angola’s President meeting with the leaders of both countries. As a measure of de-escalation, the two bodies may also welcome the report on the release of the two Rwandan soldiers taken from the border with the DRC.

On the security and humanitarian track, the operation of ‘negative forces’ in eastern DRC continues to destabilise the region creating a cycle of forced displacement. Intensified military activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group implicated for affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the resumption of military activities by the March 23 (M23) Movement have particularly been major causes for concern in the early months of 2022. In late March, following the resumption of its activities, M23 expanded its operations over North Kivu at an alarming rate leading to the displacement of thousands of people. By the end of May 2022, the number of displaced persons as a result of the recent fighting in North Kivu had reached over 72,000. Operations by the ADF in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have also resulted in widespread violence against civilians including abductions and destruction and pillage of properties. According to data presented by the UN, the number of civilian deaths between June 2021 and March 2022 increased to at least 1,261 from 559 recorded for the period from June 2020 to March 2021, in North Kivu province. In this regard and as necessary measure for containing the crises involving these armed groups, the AUPSC and the EUPSC may also welcome and urge Kenya, as host of Nairobi process initiated to deal with the threat these negative forces present both through a diplomatic track and a security track, to convene the participants of the process towards supporting Rwanda and DRC in the effort to deescalate the growing tension between them and work on achieving political resolution of their disputes.

On the LCB and Sahel region, it is expected that Nigeria will take the lead speaking in representation of the AUPSC while Cameroon will be a supporting speaker on the agenda. The LCB and Sahel region are experiencing deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions. Despite the death of Abubakar Shekau – leader of Boko Haram’s Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JAS) faction – in May 2021, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter Boko Haram faction took the opportunity to expand its operations by taking over former JAS territories and fighters. Taking an approach aimed at establishing itself as a better alternative to State authority, ISWAP’s attacks have mainly been targeted against government forces and infrastructures while it extorts funding from civilian communities in its areas of operation, in exchange for essential services. Fighters from JAS have on the other hand continued attacks against civilian populations. Terrorist insurgency and spread of violent extremism in the Sahel region also continue to frustrate military efforts including operations by the G5 Sahel Joint Force. A recent development worth reflecting on is also the decision of Malian transition authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force and its consequent impact on regional security.

Despite some success attained in degrading insurgencies in the region, emerging trends in the means and methods used by terrorist groups have demonstrated the need for a more enhanced focus on non-military approaches that address, what our latest report called, the political and socio-economic pathologies that create grievances enabling the emergence and growth of terrorist insurgencies. The need for prioritising a multipronged political, socio-economic and humanitarian strategy towards whose fulfilment the security instruments are geared cannot be overemphasised. The important role of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the need for enhancing support for the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region (RSS) also remains key.

According to the UN, violence and insecurity across countries in the LCB has severely frustrated basic social services and natural resources leaving about 11 million people depending on humanitarian aid. As of April 2022, 4.1 million people in the region are facing food insecurity with 300,000 children severely malnourished. The insecurity induced humanitarian crisis in Sahel also continues to intensify. Burkina Faso in particular is faced with severe humanitarian condition, with the number of internally displaced persons reaching over nearly 2 million in 2022.

In addition to security challenges, 2021 and early 2022 have seen the Sahel region’s political situation characterised by the upsurge in unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) and prolonged transitions. Coups in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali have occupied much of the AUPSC’s deliberations while relevant regional bodies – mainly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – have also been actively engaged in efforts aimed at returning constitutional order in these countries.

With regards to Libya, Morocco will be the lead speaker from AUPSC’s side. The challenging political context, the fragile security situation and the dire condition of migrants are the main areas of concern the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on in relation to the situation in Libya. On the political front, the lack of agreement on the necessary legal framework for the conduct of the general elections which were scheduled to take place on 24 December 2021 have resulted in the postponement of the elections indefinitely. This has led to the challenge against the legitimacy of the interim Prime Minister based in the capital by the east-based House of Representatives which appointed a new Prime Minister, leading to the country’s slide back to having parallel governments. While the rivalry between the two executives has not yet turned into full armed conflict, it has already rekindled economic, political and military disputes. The halt of the unification process of parallel security forces which was already facing significant challenges entails serious concerns to the sustainability of the October 2020 ceasefire agreement. Moreover, Russia has officially recognised the east-based government, reigniting divided foreign support for the two executives and taking the country back to the pre-October 2020 situation.

The challenge for AU and EU is to achieve a shared concern and perception of threat about the continuation of the crisis in Libya. Africa, particularly countries in the Sahel, have born and continue to bear the brunt of the fall out from the military campaign that precipitated the collapse of Libya in 2011. The marginalization of the AU from active role in the effort for resolving the crisis in Libya remains a source of disaffection in Addis Ababa. For the EU, the deterioration of the political situation in Libya creates complications in the context of the confrontation with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. First, it hampers Europe’s plans to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas by resorting to Libya as one of the main hydrocarbon suppliers. Second, the impasse between Libya’s executives and the resulting insecurity will further fuel the migration crisis in the region. According to the International Organisation on Migration (IOM), the number of displaced persons in various parts of Libya had reached 635,051 by the end of January 2022. Given that no one actor can on its own address the complex political and security crisis in Libya, it is of particular significance that the AUPSC and EUPSC affirm the interest of each for the resolution of the crisis and the need for full involvement of the AU in the multilateral effort for achieving political resolution and national reconciliation in Libya.

Regarding Somalia, Djibouti will be lead speaker while Uganda will assume the role of supporting speaker from the side of the AUPSC. In Somalia, the completion of the much delayed parliamentary and presidential elections, with the appointment of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been a welcome progress. The final reconfiguration of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is another milestone met in 2022 although the funding requirements for the new mission remain unmet. While the EU was a principal funder of AMISOM and has already committed to continue financing AU’s peace support efforts in the spirit of the Joint AU-EU vision for 2030, EU’s proposed funds for financing ATMIS are said to fall short of the required amount. Despite the progress noted in the political situation and AMISOM’s transition, the security situation in Somalia remains volatile with Al-Shabaab sustaining its activities and carrying out intensified attacks throughout the country. The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in its various areas of operation has particularly been a notable trend in Al-Shabaab’s more recent attacks. In addition to civilian causality and humanitarian toll due to insecurity, Somalia is also experiencing an escalating severe drought. According to the latest UN data, 4.8 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity while 4.2 million people are experiencing life-threatening water shortages.

The expected outcome of the meeting is a joint-communiqué. With regards to the GLR, the AUPSC and EUPSC may urge the international community to strengthen support for the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). They may further highlight the importance of exploring parallel non-military approaches aimed at addressing underlying root-causes of conflict and instability in the region and commend countries of the GLR for the formation of the Contact and Coordination Group which is aimed at overseeing non-military measures to assist in the neutralisation of armed groups in eastern DRC. Regarding the LCB, in addition to reaffirming their commitment to support the Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF) and LCBC, the AUPSC and EUPSC may emphasise the importance of sustained support for the implementation of the Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin in order to address the security and humanitarian crisis in the region in a comprehensive manner. Regarding Libya, they may stress the need for sustained efforts between the AU, EU and UN, with active and full participation of the AU, for the adoption of a comprehensive plan providing concreate steps towards resolving the dispute between the two parallel governments and providing the framework for the conduct of elections. They may also call on all relevant stakeholders including the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to sustain the momentum on the implementation of the action plan adopted in October 2021 for the gradual and sequenced withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from the country. With respect to the political situation in the Sahel region, the two Councils may emphasise the importance of addressing the common underlying root causes of coups in the region such as democratic and governance deficits, manipulation of constitutional term limits, damaged state-society relationships and grave violations of human rights and freedoms. They may further stress the instrumentality of addressing root causes for resolving the security challenges in the region including the high rate of terrorist insurgency. On Somalia, the two may welcome the completion of the national elections and congratulate the newly elected President. They may reflect on how sustainable, predictable and sufficient funding for ATMIS can be secured including through contributions through joint mobilisation of resources, including by leveraging the EU Peace Facility, which provides the lions share of financial support for ATMIS.


5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 9 June 2022

Tomorrow (9 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 5th informal joint retreat, which will be followed by the 13th annual joint consultative meeting to be convened on 10 June. This year’s joint retreat is expected take place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Starting from 2015, the AUPSC and EUPSC have institutionalised the practice of convening informal joint retreats ahead of their joint annual consultative meetings, with aim of facilitating constructive dialogue through informal engagements. As such, the joint retreats mainly serve the two organs to discuss issues of partnership and exchange views on how to enhance cooperation on various aspects of peace and security. The last time the two convened a joint retreat was in 2018, ahead of the 11th joint consultative meeting, which constituted their 4th joint retreat. In 2020, although the 12th joint consultative meeting between the two bodies took place, the joint retreat was not convened, making this year’s retreat the 5th one.

Two main agenda items are expected to feature at this year’s joint retreat – first the issue of multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy and second, the sustainability of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). From the AUPSC side, there was interest in discussing the issue of humanitarian situation in the continent. However, given that the thematic issue was considered to be beyond the mandate of the EUPSC, the topic was not taken forward in the final agenda for the retreat. On the other hand, the EU proposed to discuss the war in Ukraine as one of the agenda items of the joint retreat. Similar to the EUPSC, it was considered to be beyond the mandate of the PSC for discussing it in the joint retreat. It is however expected that individual members of the EUPSC would in their intervention raise the war in Ukraine.

The first agenda item expected to feature at the 5th joint retreat is envisaged to focus on multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. In ways more than one, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy are in crisis in Africa, as in other parts of the world. As highlighted in our report on Major Peace and Security Issues in Africa, the number and geographic spread of conflicts in Africa has grown exponentially.  Further highlighting the precarious state of peace and security on the continent, Africa witnessed the largest number of coups (five) since AU came into existence in a matter of 10 months period between April 2021 and February 2022. The PSC in the communique of its 1000th session expressed ‘deep concern over the persistence and resurgence of conflict and crisis situations in some parts of the Continent, including the growing threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism and armed groups.’ All these are on account of the persistence or further deterioration and expansion of existing protracted conflicts such as those in Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and the eruption of new conflicts or crisis situations include those in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. AU Commission Chairperson in his opening address to the 35th AU Assembly warned that these trends raise ‘serious questions about the future of our flagship project to silence the guns’.

There are at least three issues that the worrying peace and security trends and the challenges they pose to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy give rise to. The first of this concerns the adequacy and effectiveness of the approach to the management and resolution of existing protracted conflicts. In the face of lack of sustained collective continental and international support and diplomatic attention as well as failure of national actors to assume their responsibilities for achieving peace, both peace support operations and mediation efforts as currently deployed are struggling to deliver. The second issue relates to the effective operation of conflict early warning and early response systems. While information on potential risks of conflicts is ubiquitous, there are questions on the quality of early warning reports and their timely communication for decision-makers. There is also the issue of the formation of common understanding among various decision-making actors both within the AU and between the AU and various security actors including RECs/RMs and multilateral partners such as the EU. The existence of quality early warning without catalyzing such shared understanding would not trigger early action. The third issue that perhaps presents the most serious challenge to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy is the refusal or reluctance of concerned states to cooperate for actions for conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. This is due to the pervasive culture of denialism and the increasing use of the defense of sovereignty. As AU Commission Chairperson rightly pointed out, ‘a restrictive, even dogmatic reading of the intangible principle of the sovereignty of the Member States raises an iron wall against any intervention by the continental organization, either as a preventive measure through early warning, or as a remedy when the crisis breaks out.’

In the light of the foregoing and against the background of the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, it is right that the two bodies focus on addressing the challenges facing conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy as part of a commitment for multilateralism and find ways of investing in and enhancing the effective use of conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy in Africa including through enhancing regular interaction, joint analysis and exchange as well as complementary actions for prevention and preventive diplomacy, by among others focusing on channeling resources to social spending and addressing governance and development fragilities and linking the provision of support for transitions to concrete governance reforms and investment in provision and expansion of social services. Equally important is the imperative of the provision of both high-level and sustained diplomatic attention and resources support for preventive diplomacy and mediation or peacemaking processes. Success of the informal retreat on this theme would depend on the specific commitments that the two make for joint action and the mechanisms they put in place for delivering on such specific commitments along the foregoing lines.

The second agenda item to be discussed at the 5th joint retreat is the issue of ensuring sustainability of AU PSOs. An issue which may also be of central focus in the discussion on financing AU PSOs is the end of the EU funding through the Africa Peace Facility (APF) and what it could mean for collective African decision making on peace and security and AU leadership in peace efforts. The shift from APF to the European Peace Facility (EPF) which aims to explore the option of financing African peace efforts through bilateral agreements has been cause for concern among African stakeholders, not only in terms of its implications to multilateral engagement of the two continents, but also with respect to the financing gap it would entail for AU PSOs. With agreement on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs still pending, the funding gap created due to the shift from APF to EPF will surely have a significant impact on the capacity of AU PSOs that previously benefited from the APF scheme.

It is also to be recalled that at the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, the two Unions adopted a joint vision for 2030 which includes commitment to support ongoing discussions on the utilisation of United Nations (UN)-assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs authorised by the UN Security Council (UNSC). The importance of ensuring sustainable and predictable financing for AU-led PSOs including through UN-assessed contributions also remains a key point of discussion at AUPSC-UNSC consultative meetings while the AUPSC continues to dedicate sessions to deliberate on the issue. Despite the weight that has been given to the issue, reaching agreement on a UNSC Resolution on utilising UN assessed contributions to co-finance AU PSOs has proven to be an on-going challenge. While the adoption of a ‘zero-draft African consensus paper on accessing sustainable and predictable financing for AU peace and security activities’ has been a welcome progress, agreement on a final version of the consensus paper is yet to be achieved. At the forthcoming joint retreat, the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on the primary responsibility of the UNSC for ensuring global peace and security, including in Africa, which serves as the basis for financing of AU PSOs through UN assessed contributions. In addition, the AUPSC may particularly wish to draw attention to the human cost Africa continues to pay as the most invaluable contribution to international peace and security, whose significance has never been appreciated in discussions on Africa’s contributions.


Prevention of the ideology of hate, genocide and hate crimes in Africa

Prevention of the ideology of hate, genocide and hate crimes in Africa

Date | 7 June 2022

Tomorrow (7 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1088th session on the theme ‘prevention of the ideology of hate, genocide and hate crimes in Africa’. The session is to be convened in line with the Communiqué of the 678th session of the PSC that decided to convene annually an open meeting on hate crimes.

The PSC Chairperson for the month Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo, Daniel Owassa, is expected to deliver opening remarks followed by a statement from the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye. Presentations will also be delivered by the Representative of the Republic of Rwanda.

Tomorrow’s session forms part of the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi’s in Rwanda, which was observed on 7 April in accordance with AU Assembly Decision Assembly/ AU / Dec.695 of 2 July 2018. The PSC designated the theme of the session for remembering both the lives lost and the destruction caused in Rwanda on the one hand and the lessons learned from the genocide on the other hand. It thus serves as an occasion both to pay tribute to the women and men as well as children brutally massacred during the genocide and express solidarity with the survivors of the genocide and renew AU’s and its member states responsibilities to renew its commitment to the lessons from the genocide for addressing contemporary challenges.

As widely documented including through the Organization of African Unity (OAU) International Panel of Imminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and Surrounding Events, ethnic based incitement of hate, particularly through the instrumentality of the media, was one of the drivers of the genocide against the Tutsis. Hate crimes and genocide are known to occur, not as isolated events, but rather as a result of sustained campaigns of hatred and violent incitement which develop and strengthen over a period of time. Indeed, the perpetration of ethnic violence does not start with the physical attacks against members of the target ethnic group. It starts with propagation of hate, the production and circulation of narratives having the effect of rendering members of target ethnic groups objects of both hate and dehumanization.

The impact of new communication technology and social media is another area of interest for the PSC, particularly in terms of their role in the propagation of fake news, hate speech and incitement of violence and the impact thereof. Both the speed of dissemination/circulation harmful content and the role of social media in magnifying extreme views have made incitement of hate more dangerous not only in hardening social polarization but also in inflaming tensions.

There is increasing concern that new communication technology and social media platforms have also proven to negatively impact peace and security, mainly by serving as a platform for incitement of violence and exacerbation of hate speech, including for mobilizing and recruitment by terrorist groups. The key issue arises here is promoting responsible use of social media platforms, ensuring that the companies owning the platforms institute inbuilt mechanisms both for limiting the use of the platforms for propagation of hate and incitement of violence and for encouraging content that promotes harmony, social cohesion and civil discourse.

Council may reflect on ways in which the traditional and social media space can be used for advancing the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and for promoting respect for democratic norms and international human rights and international humanitarian principles.  Central to the prevention of incitement of ethnic hatred and genocide is to find ways of facilitating both responsible use and inhibit the abuse of such platforms for causing harm on other people. This requires various non-legal measures including the critical role of civil society, the media, community leaders and public intellectuals in the promotion of a culture of peace and ethno-cultural and religious tolerance. Of equal importance is also the role of education, including but not limited to, civic education in nurturing civil discourse. The vital role of youth and women in this regard is of particular importance. These non-legal policy measures can be supplemented as secondary and last resort instruments by the promulgation and enactment of the necessary legal frameworks on the prevention of hate speech, hate crimes and genocide. Accordingly, Council may urge Member States to sign, ratify, domesticate and implement relevant international legal instruments on hate crimes and genocide, as well as ensure proper prosecution of perpetrators of such atrocious crimes in line with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Additionally, as the PSC repeatedly highlighted at its previous sessions on the theme, combating impunity of genocide perpetrators and denialism is an essential part of seeking sustainable peace, justice, truth and reconciliation. This requires strengthened cooperation and coordination among Member States to prosecute or extradite suspected fugitives. Just as important is fighting against denial and revisionism of the genocide against the Tutsi which deprives healing and justice to victims/survivors, and prevents a successful process of reconciliation from taking place.

This year’s commemoration and tomorrow’s session comes in a context of some worrying developments in the Great Lakes Region. The social media space in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is awash with inflammatory narratives and speeches that incite hate against particular ethnic groups. Given existing tensions and mistrust among communities in the region, there are concerns that such incitement of ethnic hate would further inflame tensions. The Special envoy of the UN Secretary-General during his visit to the region expressed the firm stance of the UN against hate speech which cannot be justified against anyone, anywhere and anytime. What compounds the situation further is the diplomatic raw and trading of accusations between the DRC and Rwanda in the context of the resurfacing of the M23 armed rebel group and its fighting with the DRC army, FARDC that uprooted tens of thousands of civilians from their homes. While DRC accused Rwanda of supporting the M23, Rwanda accused FARDC of ‘kidnapping two members of Rwandan armed forces from the border with DRC’ and collaborating with Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) Rwandan Hutu armed group operating in Congo, some of whose members took part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and had attacked Rwandan forces.

It is thus of immediate concern for the PSC that steps for both disrupting the dangerous rhetoric and narratives inciting hate and violence against particular groups and for initiation of steps for de-escalation of the raw between Rwanda and DRC. The PSC may also welcome the initiative of Senegal’s President, who chairs the AU, and Angola’s President, who chairs the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), to facilitate dialogue between the leaders of the two countries.

It is to be recalled that the 1994 genocide was made possible by, among others, the failures of African and international actors to take preventive measures before the mass violence started or to stop it once it has started. As the Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that ‘If there is anything worse than the genocide itself, it is the knowledge that it did not have to happen. The simple, harsh, truth is that the genocide was not inevitable; and that it would have been relatively easy to stop it from happening prior to April 6, 1994, and then to mitigate the destruction significantly once it began.’ Despite the move away from the dogmatic application of non-interference to the norm of non-indifference as enshrined in Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act as part of the transition from the OAU to the AU, as recent events from some of the recent major conflict situations in Africa show, the continental body is experiencing a reversal of the principle of non-indifference envisaged under Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act as the politics of indifference in the face of grave circumstances takes hold in the continent’s peace and security diplomacy. The AU Commission Chairperson pointed out in his opening address to the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly that ‘a restrictive, even dogmatic reading of the intangible principle of the sovereignty of the Member States raises an iron wall against any intervention by the continental organization, either as a preventive measure through early warning, or as a remedy when the crisis breaks out.’ This defense of sovereignty has come to render the AU’s commitment to non-indifference as encapsulated in Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act hallow, by serving, as the Chairperson aptly put it, as ‘a protective shield against all sorts of abuses occurring in a member country.’

The expected outcome of the session, if previous sessions are any guide, is expected to be a press statement. The PSC may welcome the progress that Rwanda registered in the reconstruction of the country and consolidating stability and development. It may reject denialism and revisionism of the genocide against the Tutsi, which not only denigrate the memory of the dead and the suffering of survivors but also undermines the effort to prevent its recurrence. The PSC may reiterate the need to reinvigorate the early warning mechanism as a preventative tool to enable an early response before hate speech and crimes degenerate into violent conflicts and genocide. It may also emphasize the importance of responsible use of the media in general and social media platforms in particular and of promoting civic education, particularly among the youth, dialogue and the culture of peace, national reconciliation and healing, as well as prevention of hate crimes and genocide. The PSC may also express concern about recent trends in the ethnic-based propagation of hate targeting particular groups and the resurgence of tension in eastern DRC. It may accordingly condemn the abuse of social media platforms for engaging in such propagation of hate. The PSC may also condemn in the strongest terms the hostile acts of the M23, including its attacks against UN peacekeepers and urge that full implementation of the decision of the Nairobi summit for addressing the threat of armed rebel groups. The PSC may express concern about recent trends of the use of the defence of sovereignty by states to block the exercise by the AU of its role in supporting the effort to prevent and stop the occurrence of identity-based atrocities in accordance with the principles of non-indifference. It may reaffirm its readiness to uphold and ensure respect for AU’s legal commitment to the principle of non-indifference and remind member states of their obligations to collaborate with the AU for the implementation of this principle.


Briefing on the situation in the Sahel region

2022

Date | 1 June 2022

Tomorrow (01 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its first session of the month to receive briefing on the situation in the Sahel region.

Following opening remarks by Daniel Owassa, Permanent Representative of Congo to the AU and Chairperson of the Council for the month of June, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver statement. Mamane Sambo Sidikou, AU High Representative for Mali and Head of AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL) is expected to make statement. General Oumar Bikimo, G5 Sahel Joint Force Commander is also scheduled to make a presentation. The representative of Ghana as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Chair and the representatives of the three members of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, namely Chad, Mauritania, and Niger are expected to make statements. In addition, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the AU and Head of United Nations Office to the AU (UNOAU), Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, may also deliver statement.

This item is put on the agenda of the PSC by the AU Commission, coming in the context of worrying security, political and humanitarian developments in the Sahel region. The last dedicated session of the Council on the general security situation in the Sahel region was at its 939th session that took place in July 2020. This is apart from PSC sessions dedicated to situations in specific countries of the region including the latest one at its 1076th session in April 2022 where it considered the political transition processes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad, among others.

The data from various sources that document acts of terrorist attacks, including the Global Terrorism Index 2022 published in March 2022, show that there is continuing rise both in the number of attacks and of fatalities from attacks in the Sahel region. Incidents of terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso increased from 191 in 2020 and to 216 in 2021, pushing the number of fatalities from 657 to 732. With 333 incidents, the attacks from terrorism in Mali increased by 56% in 2021 compared to 2020 and led to more than 100% increase in fatalities, representing the highest number of terrorist attacks and deaths in the last decade in Mali. Although the number of incidents did not increase in Niger, the attacks in the country led to 129% increase in fatalities.

With such spike in attacks and fatalities, the Sahel has now become the region with countries most affected by terrorism in the world. Various factors account for these. These include weak capacity of security forces, absence of state presence in border areas increasingly affected by terrorism, socio-economic and political marginalization of affected territories and climatic and demographic pressures on the lives and livelihoods of communities. Added to these is the expansion in operational capacity and geographic stretch of the two main terrorist groups operating in the region, the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and Al Qaeda-affiliated Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam Wal Muslimeen (JNIM).

Making matters worse, the Sahel is also experiencing heightened levels of political volatility, partly on account of the worsening security situation. All the three Sahelian countries most affected by terrorism and Chad have experienced attempted military coups. While the coup attempt in Niger failed, those in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso were successful. Apart from the suspension from the AU and ECOWAS, the disagreement between ECOWAS and Mali over the timelines for the return to constitutional order led ECOWAS to impose further sanctions on Mali. While it has not as yet led to similar sanctions ECOWAS imposed on Mali, Burkina Faso and ECOWAS also remain unable to agree on a timeline for the transition and return of constitutional order. Apart from the political uncertainties these disagreements have created in both countries, the situation, further aggravated by tensions over the role of international actors, is straining diplomatic relations among ECOWAS countries and impeding mobilization of cohesive regional and continental policy measures.

Dealing further blow to effective policy responses to the growing threat of terrorism is the deepening tension afflicting the international security partnership in the Sahel. Apart from the withdrawal from Mali of Operation Berkhane, the diplomatic fallout between Mali and France and the disaffection from the reported deployment of personnel of the Russian private security company, Wagner Group, in Mali in December 2021 have led to the announcement on 17 February by members of the Task Force Takuba of a decision to start the ‘coordinated withdrawal of their respective military resources’ from Mali within six months.

G5 Sahel joint force is caught in the crossfires of the diplomatic tensions in the Sahel involving both regional and international actors. In his 11 May 2022 report on the G5 Sahel to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary General expressed his deep concern ‘by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the Sahel, as well as by the potentially debilitating effect that the uncertain political situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and beyond will have on efforts to further operationalize the G5 Sahel Joint Force and to address the underlying causes of instability and improve governance.’ On 15 May 2022, the transitional authorities of Mali announced the withdrawal of Mali from the G5 Sahel joint force protesting against its exclusion from assuming the rotating presidency of G5 Sahel. Ordinary session was supposed to happen in February in Bamako where Mali was due to take up the baton of the rotating presidency of the body from Chad. Amid the fallout between Mali and France and the tension over the deployment of the Wagner group, some members of the G5 Sahel opposed Mali’s takeover of the presidency of the regional group. Mali pointed its finger on ‘a state outside the region for desperately seeking to isolate Mali.’

Mali’s withdrawal from the G5 Sahel is not without serious consequences for counter terrorism in the region. The UN mission in Mali has reported worrying levels of spike in insecurity on Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and Niger. Highlighting the significance of Mali’s continued engagement in G5 Sahel, Niger’s President went as far as stating that its withdrawal will mark the end of the alliance.

The rising insecurity, political volatility and tension combined with climatic and demographic pressures on the livelihoods of people in the region are aggravating already dire humanitarian situation in the region. People continue to be displaced. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, forced displacement is at ‘an unprecedented high, with over 4 million refugees and internally displaced peoples’ across the Sahel in 2022. The spate of terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso has already led in record numbers of displaced people, numbering 1.5 million in that country alone. OCHA’s 20 May Briefing Highlights reported that food insecurity has reached ‘alarming levels’ in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger, where people will experience ‘emergency levels of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August.’ Despite the deteriorating humanitarian condition, the declining level of funding for humanitarian and stabilization activities, as noted by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his recent visit to Niger, remains extremely concerning.

During tomorrow’s session one of the issues of concern for the PSC is how to resolve the political uncertainties in the countries affected by military coups. This should include not only Burkina Faso and Mali but also Chad. Perception of inconsistent treatment opens regional, continental and international policy responses to charges of double standard, severely impeding effectiveness and undermining cohesion. In terms of resolving the diplomatic crisis between ECOWAS and its two member States Burkina Faso and Mali, there is also a need for finding consensual timelines for the transitions that is informed by the urgency of ending the adverse impact of this difference on the security situation in the region.

The other area of concern for the PSC is the uncertainty facing the G5 Sahel joint force following the withdrawal of Mali. Member states may inquire AU’s assessment of the situation and how the AU can help to facilitate the resolution of the recent disagreement among countries of the G5 Sahel. This is critical to restore cohesion of members of the G5 Sahel and the effective functioning of the joint force.

In terms of security partnerships in the Sahel, similar issue of concern for the PSC is the impact of the disagreement involving international partners undertaking security operations in the region. It is to be recalled that Council, at its 1006th session convened on 6 July 2021, requested the Chairperson of the Commission to dispatch ‘a joint technical assessment mission to the Sahel region’ to, among others, assess the possible implications of the exit of Operation Barkhane. Considering more recent withdrawals within the framework of operation Takuba and concerns about deterioration of conditions optimal for the effective operation of MINUSMA, tomorrow’s session is expected to examine measures required for addressing both the implications of these developments and the deteriorating security.

In this context, PSC members may also revisit how the AU can revive more forcefully the follow up of the implementation of the decision for the deployment of the 3000 AU force. The need for such force received major boost during the UN Secretary-General’s visit to West Africa. While he was in Niger, he said that the ‘operating in circumstances … call not for a peacekeeping force, but a strong force to enforce peace and fight terrorism.’ Elaborating further, the UNSG said the force would need to be ‘from the African Union, but with a Chapter Seven Security Council mandate and obligatory financing.’

In terms of the multidimensional challenges facing the Sahel, the other issue of concern for tomorrow’s session is ways of giving greater attention in diplomatic, institutional and diplomatic terms to address the underlying conditions and drivers of instability, such as underdevelopment, weak governance and climate change. Indeed,  as argued in our latest special report on the growing threat of terrorism in Africa, there is an urgent need to move beyond military measures and pay due attention to non-military strategies that put politics front and center to address underlying structural conditions including deep poverty, exclusion, and governance deficits. In this context, member states may inquire about the plan for the joint AU-UN strategic assessment of the Sahel. It was announced during the Secretary-General’s visit that an independent high – level panel on security and development in the Sahel, chaired by former President of the Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, will lead the strategic assessment.

In terms of addressing immediate concerns, there is also the pressing need for the PSC, against the backdrop of the AU humanitarian summit, to mobilize more efforts to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which is having a toll on civilians.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Council may express its grave concern over the persistence of terrorist attacks, political crisis, and the accompanying deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Sahel. It may recognize the multidimensional nature of the instability in the region, and in this respect, Council may re-emphasize the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach that would address not only the immediate security challenges but also its underlying causes. It may also welcome the joint initiative by the Chairperson of the Commission and the UN Secretary-General on the AU-UN Joint Strategic Assessment on the situation in the Sahel. The PSC may affirm the importance of the role of the G5 Sahel joint force and urge the members of the G5 Sahel countries to initiate dialogue with Mali to retain the cohesion of the Joint Force and reverse the negative impact of Mali’s withdrawal on the unity and effectiveness of the Force. The PSC may call for the urgent need for ECOWAS and Mali to reaching at a consensual understanding on the timelines for the transition as a necessary means for focusing the attention of all stakeholders on addressing the growing security challenges. In relation to the disagreement between Mali and ECOWAS, Council may commend Algeria and Togo for taking the initiative to facilitate consultation between Mali and the regional bloc and it may further ask the two countries to coordinate their efforts. Finally, Council, recalling its decision at its 1006th session that requested the Chairperson of the Commission to continue engagement with relevant stakeholders on the deployment of the 3000 troops in the Sahel and report back the Council on the outcome of the engagement, may request the Chairperson of the Commission to submit an updated plan within the framework of the joint strategic assessment of the AU and the UN and the recent support the UN Secretary General expressed for the deployment of an AU force.


The situation in the Lake Chad Basin

2022

Date | 31 May 2022

Tomorrow (31 May), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold its 1086th session to receive an update on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin.

Following the opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of Cameroon, Churchill Ewumbue Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to brief the PSC. The Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Head of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Mamman Nuhu is expected to make a presentation. Basile Ikuegbe, Special Representatives of the AU Commission Chairperson and Head of AU liaison office in Chad is also scheduled to deliver a briefing. It is also expected that Governors of the Lake Chad Basin namely the Governor of the Far North Region of Cameroon and current chair of the Lake Chad Basin Governors Forum, Executive Governor of Borno State, Governor of Diffa region in Niger and Governor of Hadjer Lamis in Chad will provide updates of the Territorial Action Plans (TAPs).

The Lake Chad region continues to be afflicted by a deteriorating security, humanitarian and ecological conditions. The Boko Haram affiliated and splinter groups and the expansion of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) are considered major threats to the security and stability of the Lake Chad Basin. MNJTF has intensified its military operations against these terrorist groups. MNJTF spokesperson Muhammad Dole was quoted by the media on 17 April as saying that “well over a hundred terrorists have been neutralized, including over 10 top commanders…following intelligence-driven lethal airstrikes in the Lake Chad islands by the combined air task forces”. Various reports indicate that increasing number of ex-Boko Haram fighters are said to have been surrendering which underscores the need to support their rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life through the effective implementation of a DDR process.

On 14 January, at its 1057th session, the PSC considered the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the MNJTF against the Boko Haram and welcomed the significant progress made in the fight against Boko Haram terrorist group in the region. It also renewed the mandate of the MNJTF for another 12 months, effective from 1 February 2022. Furthermore, the PSC reaffirmed its support for the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience (RSS) of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region developed by the LCBC with the support of the AU.

The violence perpetrated by terrorist groups operating in the Lake Chad Basin has further compounded the humanitarian situation in the region displacing close to three million people, according to the UN. With the dire food security situation, around 11 million people are also said to be in need of humanitarian assistance. The region continues to face the adverse impact of climate change with worsening drought and receding water levels in Lake Chad. This has weakened the livelihood of the peoples of the region and exacerbated communal violence.  The Lake Chad Basin Commission has been working to address the interlinked security, humanitarian and development challenges of the region. Tomorrow’s briefing may provide update on these interlinked issues and on the implementation of the RSS. In this regard, accelerating the implementation of the regional strategy is considered the key to addressing the underlying causes and drivers of extremism, violence and underdevelopment.

The eight governorates (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States of Nigeria, North and Far North Regions in Cameroon, Lake Region and Hadjer Lamis in Chad and Diffa region in Niger) from the five countries sharing the border with the Lake Chad Basin developed TAPs to identify the needs and priorities to localize and institutionalize the implementation of the strategy. The TAPs were presented at the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum for Regional Cooperation on Stabilization, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development held in Yaoundé on 4-5 October 2021, which is said to have assessed civil-military-humanitarian cooperation, the rehabilitation of persons associated with Boko Haram, cross-border collaboration and the revitalization of Lake Chad. According to a 5 October Communique adopted at the end of the Forum, the Governors agreed, among other things, to ensure the systematic and effective implementation of the TAPs in line with local and national development plans and to periodically monitor the progress achieved.

As a follow up to the Governors’ Forum, the UN Peacebuilding Commission convened a meeting on 20 April 2022 to discuss the peacebuilding priorities of the Lake Chad Basin and mobilize further support. The meeting, which saw the participation of the AU PAPS Commissioner, Bankole Adeoye and other key stakeholders, stressed that a purely military approach is insufficient and called for sustained political will and scaled up funding to address the root causes of insecurity and violence. It also recognized the need for predictable funding for the implementation of the regional strategy, including through the establishment of a basket fund. Furthermore, the meeting underscored the need for projects specifically dedicated to strengthening institutional capacity of LCBC states to implement the regional strategy. The Lake Chad Basin Commission has been benefiting from the support of the UN Development Programme which since 2019 has been facilitating the implementation of the strategy through its regional stabilization facility.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC may express concern over the continuing insecurity due to Boko Haram and its splinter groups as well as ISWAP and the dire humanitarian situation in the region. The PSC may reaffirm its support to the work of the LCBC to address the root causes of conflict and violence through the peace and development nexus approach and welcome the progress made by MNJTF in fighting terrorist and violent extremist groups operating in the region. The PSC may commend the developments of TAPs and underline their instrumentality in contributing to the implementation of overall stabilization strategy. The PSC may call for the mobilization of international assistance to support the implementation of the regional strategy through the TAPs to promote peace, security and development in the Lake Chad Basin. The PSC may underline the importance of national ownership, policy coherence, technical, political as well sustained financial support for the successful implementation of the RSS. In this context, the PSC may call on AU’s Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Centre to support the implementation of the various pillars of the strategy.


Provisional Program of Work for the Month of June 2022

Provisional Program of Work for the Month of June 2022

Date | 1 June 2022

During June, the Republic of Congo will be chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). According to Council’s provisional programme of work for the month, seven substantive sessions are planned to take place. These include two sessions dedicated to country/region specific situations, four sessions on thematic agenda items and the Joint Retreat and Annual Joint Consultative meeting of the PSC and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC).

The first session of the month will be a briefing on the situation in the Sahel region, scheduled to take place on 01 June. Apart from sessions on specific countries of the region – mainly the political transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso – the last time the Council convened a dedicated session on the security situation in the Sahel region was in 2020, at its 939th meeting. Since then, the security situation in the region has continued to deteriorate with major surge in the number and intensity of terrorist attacks. In addition to receiving updates on the security trends in the region and the humanitarian toll of terrorist attacks, an issue which may take centre stage at the upcoming session is the decision of Malian transition authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force and its consequent impact on regional security. Council may also use the session to discuss ways forward in the deployment of the 3000 troops to Sahel, which remains pending since the 2020 decision of the AU Assembly to deploy 3000 troops to the region (Assembly/AU/Dec.792(XXXIII)) and PSC’s endorsement of the “Revised Strategic Concept Note on Planning Guidance for the Deployment of 3000 Troops to the Sahel” at its 950th session.

On 6 June, the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) will meet to prepare for the PSC field mission to the Great Lakes Region (GLR) planned to take place within the month. It is expected to finalize the details on the field mission including the destinations for the visit.

The second session scheduled for 07 June will be Council’s annual deliberation on the prevention of the ideology of hate, genocide and hate crimes in Africa. This theme became part of PSC’s annual agenda item following the Council’s 678th session which decided to dedicate annually, an open session to the prevention of hate crimes and genocide. The session is convened in collaboration with the Embassy of Rwanda.

On 9 and 10 June respectively, the PSC will have its 5th annual joint retreat and 13th annual joint consultative meeting with the EUPSC. The AUPSC and EUPSC have held Annual joint consultative meetings in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, since their inaugural meeting in 2008, although no such meeting was held in 2021. Starting from 2015, the joint consultative meetings are preceded by joint informal retreats aimed at creating the opportunity for an informal engagement to facilitate more constructive dialogue and convergence of approaches. While the agenda is still being consolidated, the proposed topic for the joint retreat taking place on 9 June includes enhancing AU-EU cooperation in multilateral fora: ensuring sustainability of AU peace support operations (PSOs) while the agenda for the annual consultative meeting scheduled for 10 June includes situations in the GLR, Lake Chad Basin (LCB), Libya, Sahel Region and Somalia/AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

On 13 June, Council will consider and adopt the draft provisional programme of work for the month of July 2022, through email exchanges.

From 14 to 17 June, Council will conduct a field mission to the GLR. This is a follow up to the decision of its 1078th session to ‘undertake a field mission to the eastern part of the DRC and the Great Lakes Region as a whole, as soon as possible.’ The PSC is expected to visit countries including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Congo, with the possibility of visit to an additional county. This field mission comes at a critical time for the GLR as tensions in the region are raising with the attacks from the militant Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) wreaking havoc in Eastern DRC and the resumption of fighting between the M23 rebel group and the DRC army fuelling regional tension.

On 20 June, the PSC CoE will convene to conduct a review of implementation of PSC decisions. This is a key exercise for improving the decision-making of the PSC and its effectiveness.

A briefing on the situation in Libya is the next item on Council’s agenda for the month, planned to be held on 21 June. This session is expected to be a physical meeting, with the attendance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo as a guest participant. It is expected that the session will discuss the state of the transition in Libya and follow up on various previous decisions on enhancing AU’s role in supporting the transitional process. The last time Council convened a session to address the situation in Libya was in May 2021, at its 997th ministerial level meeting.

On 23 June, the PSC is scheduled to have a briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa.  The last time Council received a briefing on the activities of the Panel of the Wise was in March 2017, at its 665th session. At the upcoming session, Council may welcome the new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise appointed for a three-year term by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session (Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)). In addition to receiving updates on the engagements of the Panel in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and dialogue since its previous briefing, Council may also hear about the key outcomes of the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise convened from 28 to 29 March 2022.

Maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea is the focus of the next session of the PSC scheduled for 28 June. At its 1012th session where Council last discussed maritime security in Africa, the growing insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea was one of the issues which took centre stage. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a serious security concern. Council may reflect on the current state of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea since its last meeting, follow up on earlier decisions on the subject and on enhancing the role that the AU and the concerned Regional Economic Communities (RECs), namely Economic Community of Central African States (ECAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The last substantive session of the month is expected to take place on 30 June and will be committed to the consideration of the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on elections in Africa. Following the previous report of the AU Commission Chairperson on elections in Africa conducted in the period from July to December 2021 – considered at Council’s 1062nd session – the coming report is expected to provide details of elections conducted during the first half of 2022 (January to June 2022).

On 30 June, The Chairperson of the Council is scheduled to brief the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) on its activities conducted during the month.

Council’s provisional programme of work for the month also envisages in footnote, consultations between the PSC Chair and the President of the UN Security Council for the month, on a date to be determined.


Addressing the recent resurgence of Unconstitutional Changes of Government: Policy Recommendations for the AU Extraordinary Summit

2022

Date | 26 May 2022

INTRODUCTION

On 28 May, the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government are scheduled to hold the 16th extraordinary session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. One of the two major agenda items for the extraordinary summit will be to deliberate on and adopt measures to address the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) that the continent experienced during the past few years.

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