Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - February 2023

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - February 2023

Date | February 2023

Five sessions were convened by the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) in February with South Africa, under Ambassador Edward Xolisa Makaya, as PSC’s chairperson for the month. Four of the sessions addressed country specific situations while one session was committed to a thematic issue. Apart from the convening of all the sessions initially envisaged to take place, the PSC also held an additional session on the 2023 Africa Governance Report (AGR) by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Explaining the emphasis put on specific conflict situations as opposed to thematic issues during the month, the Chairperson, Makaya told Amani Africa that the choice of those situations sought to ‘inject some urgency in the resolution of these situations.’

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Open Session on Women, Peace and Security in the context of the AU theme of the year for 2023

Open Session on Women, Peace and Security in the context of the AU theme of the year for 2023

Date | 14 March 2023

Tomorrow (14 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1144th meeting which will be committed to its annual open session on women, peace and security (WPS). In line with AU’s theme for the year 2023 – acceleration of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) –, it is expected that the session will pay particular attention to integration of WPS agenda in the implementation of the AfCFTA. This session is also convened at the time of the 20th anniversary of the landmark Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol).

Following opening remarks by Innocent Eugene Shiyo, Permanent Representative of Tanzania and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of March, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. It is expected to pay homage to the contribution of women and AU Commission’s work on WPS.  Bineta Diop, AU Special Envoy on WPS, is also expected to brief the PSC. Representatives of United Nations (UN) Office to the AU (UNOAU) and UN Women may also make statements.

Since its 223rd session convened on 30 March 2010 when it decided to hold annual open sessions dedicated to the WPS theme, the PSC has institutionalised its session dedicated to WPS agenda in Africa. The last time the PSC held a session on WPS, the 1109th session committed to commemoration of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS (S/RES/1325), the focus was on the persisting challenge faced in the fight against sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in conflict and crisis settings. One of the key outcomes of the session was PSC’s request to the AU Special Envoy to ‘establish a forum for knowledge sharing amongst the AU Member States and partners to leverage experience, lessons learnt and good practices in addressing sexual violence against women in conflicts and crises’. While the follow up and report on action taken in this regard is expected to take place in the session of the PSC on WPS focusing on 1325 later in the year, tomorrow’s session may address it by drawing attention to the ways in which the integration of WPS within the AfCFTA implementation also enhances protection of women and girls from SGBV.

Estimates indicate that between 70% and 80% of African informal cross-border traders are women. The engagement of women in informal cross-border trading not only advances women’s empowerment, but also significantly contributes to poverty reduction in the continent by presenting women the opportunity for income generation. However, women cross border traders operate their businesses under serious risks to their person and property. This is particularly the case in border areas in fragile and conflict affected territories.

The result of the lack of targeted protection measures particularly for informal traders means not only that women traders are subject to various kinds of risks but their societies are deprived of the opportunity to benefit from the full scale of the socio-economic contributions of women cross border trade. In various regions of the continent, women cross border traders face challenges emanating from the absence of proper regulatory frameworks that govern their activities. Studies indicate for example, women cross border traders in the west African region experience multitude of challenges and insecurities due to the informal nature of their trading activities. Although the regional economic bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) provides the proper platform for facilitating protected free trade in the region, this platform caters to formal sectors of trade while those engaged in informal cross border trade largely remain marginalised. Representing about 60% of informal traders in the region, women hence bear the brunt of the absence of policies that regulate their trading practices. The same is true for women informal traders in the East African Community (EAC) region, 90% of which are estimated to rely on cross border trade as their only source of income.

Due to the informal nature of their activities, women engaged in cross border trade are excluded from accessing information related to customs and border regulations. They also do not benefit from initiatives aimed at enhancing inter-state trade at national and regional levels, including in the form of access to profitable markets and credit services. In addition, the lack of sufficient awareness and uncertainties about border procedures among women informal traders exposes them to corrupt practices and manipulation.

One good example of an activity women in cross border trading are largely engaged in is Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM). In Africa, it is estimated that no less than 40% to 50% of the workforce engaged in ASM is comprised of women. Due to deeply rooted misconceptions of gender roles and constrictive legal standards that are influenced by oppressive cultural norms, women engaged in ASM are often left behind in accessing relevant equipment, technology and institutional support key for a successful engagement in the sector. As a result, majority of these women are forced to pursue informal routes for trading in mines and minerals across borders. Not only does this expose women to multi-layered risks, it also imposes an economic disadvantage to states by facilitating illegal smuggling of mines outside of their borders.

Worse still, women cross border traders in conflict and post-conflict settings face even more serious violations that range from verbal abuse, to physical harm and sexual violence. Regulatory vacuums that result due to the situation of insecurity and instability in such settings leave women vulnerable to gender specific risks and exploitations. For instance, a 2022 report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) indicates that at the Goma border post between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, not only are women cross border traders subjected to indecent searches by male inspectors, but are also raped after confiscation of their goods. Poor infrastructure and absence of state presence in the northern parts of DRC also subject women cross border traders to travel long distances in insecure settings, exposing them to varying forms of sexual violence and even murder according to the report.

In the context of displacement, women living in refugee camps are also largely engaged in informal trade activities. Due to the way refugee camps are often established and the general form in which populations fleeing conflicts and instability in their country of origin tend to settle in border areas of neighbouring states, such areas often end up being hot spots for intense informal cross border trade. However, women refugees engaged in informal trade in such settings operate not only under major financial and infrastructural constraints as well as restrictions to their movements, they also conduct their business under the constant fear of being discovered by border control police provided that their informal trade is treated as illegal activity.

It is in the light of these realities that the integration of WPS in the implementation of the AfCFTA becomes a critical point of discussion for the PSC within the framework of its annual engagement on the WPS agenda. The AfCFTA Agreement already envisages under Article 27, the commitment of states parties to improve ‘the export capacity of both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium size women and youth service suppliers’. The Agreement further recognises the importance of gender equality in order to attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development as well as structural transformation of states parties. This focus on the provision of regulatory protection to women cross border traders in the informal sectors also enables border communities and trading societies to harvest the full scale of the socio-economic contributions of women’s cross border economic and trade activities.

The AfCFTA, when fully operational, also presents multiple practical opportunities for women involved in informal cross border trade. These include the free movement of persons and goods as well as the reduction of burdensome trading costs through the elimination of tariffs for intra-Africa trade, among others. Hence, the AfCFTA framework already provides critical entry points for integration of women rights and WPS. The implementation of AfCFTA in a manner that takes into consideration the specific concerns of women engaged in cross border trading, particularly in conflict and crisis settings, largely depends on the level of commitment and political will of relevant policy actors. Tomorrow’s session hence serves the PSC to urge all relevant stakeholders to factor in the importance of both gender equality and the WPS agenda for the full realisation of the objectives of the AfCFTA in its implementation.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to emphasise the importance of integrating WPS into the implementation of the AfCFTA. It may emphasis how such integration helps to enhance regulatory protection to women cross border traders as a measure to foster both their equal participation in trade and their important contributions to Africa’s economy. It may recall Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 which calls for ‘an Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth’ to emphasise the centrality of women’s full inclusion and involvement in the AfCFTA. It may further call on AU member states to take their commitments to gender equality and implementation of WPS agenda into consideration in the development of their national policies on implementation of the AfCFTA for the enhancement of cross border trade. The PSC may also note the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Maputo Protocol, urge states parties to the protocol to ensure its full implementation and call on member states that have not yet ratified the instrument to do so. The PSC may request the Special Envoy on WPS to work with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the PAPS Department both to undertake activities that document and popularise the cross border trade activities of women including those in fragile and conflict affected territories and to outline targeted proposals on how the WPS can be meaningfully integrated in the processes and implementation of the AfCFTA as part of the AU theme of the year for protection of women (informal) traders and harnessing of the contributions of their trade activities to the socio-economic advancement of their families, communities and societies.

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - January 2023

Monthly Digest on The African Union Peace And Security Council - January 2023

Date | January 2023

Uganda was the stand-in chair of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) in January. Five sessions were convened during the month. Out of these, two were substantive sessions with specific thematic focus while the remaining three were committed to the consideration of reports and outcome documents emerging from the PSC’s various activities in the preceding months.

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The case for a feminist approach to peace and security

The case for a feminist approach to peace and security

Date | 08 March 2023

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

For a number of years, some countries such as Canada, France, Mexico and Spain have adopted a feminist foreign policy. At the start of this month, coinciding with the women’s month, German Foreign Minister announced new feminist guidelines on foreign policy. As we mark the international women’s day, it is very fitting to reflect on the case for such a feminist approach to peace and security. I attempt to do this by drawing on the work of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC).

It was in 2010 that the PSC took a decision to have the women, peace and security (WPS) theme as its standing thematic agenda. However until its convening on WPS at the level of Ministers in 2021 under Kenya’s Chairship, its engagement has broadly taken two dimensions. The first and key dimension concerns the question of protection. This is premised on the recognition of the gendered nature of conflicts and its vicious impact on women and girls. The second dimension, which also affects the first, relates to the place of women in peace processes. This is the concern about women’s participation and leadership role in decision-making on peace and security and in peace processes. Arguably, much of the policy actions of the PSC and the AU on WPS mostly centered around these two areas.

A broader feminist approach to peace and security that concerns itself with the structural conditions that lead to gender oppression affecting women and girls, going beyond manifestations of gender oppression in situations of insecurity, has not received as much attention. The PSC came close to having such a feminist approach during its ministerial level session at its 987th meeting held on 22 March 2022.

Two elements of the communique of this session standout in terms of espousing elements of a feminist approach to peace and security. The first is the acknowledgement of the significance of the issue of gender equality in society in general beyond peace and security. As contained in operational paragraph 1, it underscores ‘the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies … broadening women’s access to education, improving their participation in the economy and decision-making, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.

The second element reflecting the feminist approach is the reference to a comprehensive approach. Thus, in operational paragraph 6 the PSC put premium on the ‘Pertinence of adopting a comprehensive approach resting on the four pillars of prevention, protection, participation and, recovery and relief for the full and effective implementation of gender equality and the Women, Peace and Security agenda.’ The nod towards gender equality in particular is most significant.

In a statement that we submitted to the session at the time, we at Amani Africa welcomed the focus on ‘gender inclusive culture of peace’. This framing that centers WPS on a feminist approach, we argued, helps us to discuss the source of oppression of women and girls in society. This is the source of oppression that both limits women’s access to equal enjoyment of all their human rights and their equal role in society and exposes them to some of the most barbaric acts of violence, particularly in times of conflict as reports from ongoing conflict settings attest.

This feminist approach thus brings to the center of our analysis of how to advance WPS agenda the core issue at the heart of gender oppression. This is patriarchy and how patriarchy defines the roles and place of women and men in society. Patriarchy and its pervasiveness in nurturing and perpetuating structures of hierarchy and inequity in the social, political, economic and cultural life of society sustains the conditions for the unequal access of women and girls to the full measure of their rights. As the renowned Egyptian author and feminist advocate, Nawal El Saadawi, who passed away the day before the convening of the 987th session, put it, men are also less free due to the burden that patriarchy puts on them. This unfreedom of men relates to the fact that the expectation that patriarchy sets for them to act and live in a certain for them to be treated as worthy of being men.

Indeed, the way politics is organized and mobilized as well as the continuing hold of patriarchal conceptions of power not only enables social traits of domination and violence in society but also inhibits gender inclusivity. The resultant absence or weakness of gender inclusive culture of peace both exposes women and girls to domination and violence in times of negative peace (one cannot be able to speak of positive peace in conditions of pervasive oppression of women and widespread perpetuation of GBV and sexual violence) and makes them more vulnerable to be targets of violence in conflict situations.

The feminist approach to peace as a matter of necessity thus requires the dismantling of the association of politics and power to patriarchal masculinity. The dismantling and reframing of the patriarchal approach to and conception of politics and power is indeed a pre-requisite for ensuring a gender inclusive culture of peace and thereby creating the conditions for women and girls both to enjoy the full measure of their rights on an equal basis but also to live a life free from fear. This radical approach goes beyond the symptoms and manifestations and targets the underlying factors of vulnerability of women and girls to become targets of oppression and violence both in times of (negative) peace and during conflicts.

With respect to the representation and participation of women in peace processes, this approach makes it clear that the assumption of leadership positions by women at various levels of decision-making at the national level is essential. In the absence of such widespread presence of women in positions of leadership at the national level it would not be possible to have the pool of women leaders from which women can be recruited to participate and take leadership in peace processes. Additionally, there is a need for the creation of gender sensitive conditions of work in peacekeeping operations and in mediation and peace negotiation as critical measure for ensuring their effective participation in these processes free from the constraints of a patriarchal work environment that does not take account of the specific needs of women.

Arguably therefore, taking the WPS agenda to the next level requires the full embrace of this feminist approach to peace and security. The foundation laid by the 987th session of the PSC with its emphasis on gender inclusive culture of peace offers a unique opportunity to carry out this important undertaking.


Dedicated to the women leaders in Africa and beyond who are at the fore front of champing the WPS agenda – especially the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (past & present), the women in diplomacy particularly the women ministers, Ambassadors and colleagues in the field of peace and security and to the many women colleagues at Amani Africa and in and beyond Africa as well as to my daughter, wife and Emaye. Happy international women’s day!

The content of this article does not represent the views of Amani Africa and reflect only the personal views of the authors who contribute to ‘Ideas Indaba’

Critical reflections on continental policy approaches to prevention of violent extremism and terrorism in Africa

Critical reflections on continental policy approaches to prevention of violent extremism and terrorism in Africa

Date | 28 February 2023

From presentation by Solomon Ayele Dersso at ‘Le Grand Rendez-vous 2023 – PVE in West and Central Africa: Realities and Perspectives held in Dakar, Senegal on 28 February – 2 March 2023


I would like to start by thanking the organizers of this event for the kind invitation extended to Amani Africa to be part of this important and timely convening. I also would like to thank the earlier speakers for their edifying address.

Amani Africa is a pan-African policy research, training and consulting thank tank that works on the promotion of effective policy responses to threats to peace and security in Africa through multilateral bodies on the continent, particularly the African Union (AU). The specific focus of our work on the role of African peace and security institutions, most notably the AU, means that the issue that is the subject of this conference has, over the course of the past several years, become a major area of preoccupation. We have produced analysis on the various peace support operations that are engaged in counter terrorism operations including those in West and Central Africa regions. We have also provided analysis on the AU Peace and Security Council meetings focusing on terrorism.

It is against this background that we produced one of our major policy research works in May 2022 as critical input to the extraordinary summit of the AU held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on terrorism and violent extremism.  Titled ‘The growing threat of terrorism in Africa: A product of misdiagnosis and faulty policy response?’, this special research report serves as the basis for my remarks for this high-level panel.

Apart from the interest to inform the policy debate of the AU extraordinary summit on the issue, a major factor for this research work was the fact that the epicenter of terrorism shifted from other parts of the world to Africa. During the past decade terrorism has come to constitute the major threat to peace and security in Africa in two ways.

First, the frequency and fatality of the violence of conflicts involving terrorist groups have been on the rise on the continent. Civilians are bearing the brunt of much of these the violence mostly from terrorist attacks and from counter terrorism operations as well. By the counts of AU’s Algiers based African Centre on the study of terrorism, Africa witnessed a 400% and 237% rises in attacks and deaths respectively between 2012 and 2020.

This rise in the frequency and fatality of violence in conflicts involving terrorism is particularly the case in recent years in the Sahel and Central Africa regions, which are the focus of this conference. For the Sahel for example, the most current data shows that deadly violence has surged by 22 percent, with fatalities spiking by as much as 50% in 2022.

Second, geographically, the threat of terrorism was very limited, of not non-existent, in West and Central Africa regions until the late 2000s. When the AU Commission Chairperson produced the first report on the threat of terrorism in Africa, for example, the threat was confined to pockets of East Africa and North Africa. During the past decade, the threat of terrorism spread across the five regions of the continent.

Today, West Africa and Central Africa have become main sites of conflicts involving terrorism. Demonstrating the continuing expansion of this threat, including emerging signs of terrorist activities in littoral states of West Africa, Ghana’s President warned in a meeting last November that the ‘worsening situation …threatens to engulf the entire West Africa.’ Indeed, incidents of attacks have already been reported in Benin, Cot d’Ivoire, and Togo.

What were the policy responses to the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa? 

As the AU Commission Chairperson noted in his address to the AU summit in Malabo last May, from Somalia to the Sahel, Lake Chad basin and Mozambique the AU and regional bodies deployed various military operations. According to our research report, analysis of the policy decisions of the AU both at the level of the AU Assembly and that of the PSC show that between 2010 and 2022, some nine hard security instruments or initiatives have been mobilized to deal with terrorism hotspots across the continent. This is without counting the various security initiatives of multilateral and bilateral partners of the AU and the regions.

As Amani Africa’s report highlighted and the AUC Chairperson admitted, the threat of terrorism continues to grow despite the increase in the investment in and the use of these and other hard security tools including border control, intelligence exchange, and criminal justice measures. One explanation, AUC Chair highlighted in his address to the Malabo summit, is the lack of adequate support to make the use of these hard security instruments effective. Similarly, during his visit to West Africa, UN Secretary General said that the ‘operating in circumstances … call not for a peacekeeping force, but a strong force to enforce peace and fight terrorism.’

Admittedly, as also recognized in our research report, there are indeed capacity gaps that limit the effectiveness of the hard security instruments used for countering terrorism on the continent. We agree that the use of hard security tools including military missions constitute essential component of any successful policy response to the threat of terrorism and they should be provided with the means to effectively execute their part of the responsibility.

One good example that demonstrates the importance of counter terrorism military operations is the experience of the AU Mission in Somalia. As my friend, the CEO and President of the International Crisis Group, Comfort Ero pointed out in her address to the Security Council last September, ‘[b]etween 2011 and 2012, and at great cost in Ugandan, Burundian, Kenyan and Somali partner forces’ lives, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) ‘ended Al-Shabaab’s formal control of Mogadishu and Kismayo, the country’s second-largest city, prised swathes of territory out of militants’ hands and provided much-needed security for two electoral cycles.’

Yet, the experience of AMISOM and the various other regional initiatives including the G5 Sahel and MNJTF in the Sahel and Central and West African regions as well as the Accra Initiative illustrate, the conventional policy responses put premium on the use of hard security institutions. Despite the increase in the use and multiplication of security heavy response mechanisms, the threat is not declining. If anything, it is further deteriorating. Accordingly, our report posed the question:

What are the problems with the conventional policy response to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa?

The research report revealed that the flaws in the conventional policy responses relate to both the diagnosis of and the policy response measures for countering the threat of terrorism in Africa. It highlights that, the dominant view about terrorism in Africa is based on a misdiagnosis of the nature of the problem.

According to Amani Africa’s report, there are two aspects to the misdiagnosis. The first is that the conventional policy analysis considers groups identified as terrorists to be the core of the problem. Second, it also erroneously assumes that these groups are mainly ideologically driven by global jihad, a reading that is parachuted from experiences elsewhere in the world rather than being an accurate representation of the nature of such groups in Africa.

Contrary to these conventional views of the nature of terrorism, our report showed first that terrorist groups are the symptom of the main problem. Second, rather than being purely ideologically driven jihadist groups, they are complex socio-political entities that are embedded in and feed on local political, social and conflict dynamics.

Such misdiagnosis also led to faulty policy responses. Rather than focusing on approaches that address the underlying ‘political and socio-economic pathologies’, the conventional policy responses focused on ‘eliminating’ the symptoms of the problem. This is sought to be achieved by making hard security tools including military operations front and center of the response to the threat of violent extremism and terrorism.

They become both state security oriented and hard security based, hence too mechanical bereft of the fundamental political, social, cultural & economic tools the context demands. Echoing this, in his address to the UN Security Council on 15 December 2022 Kenya’s Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr Korir Sing’oei observed that ‘[t]oo much counter terrorism is too kinetic and narrowly technical.’ In the same vein Comfort also told the Security Council that ‘it’s rare – in fact, so far unheard of – that military operations alone can defeat movements that are quite deeply entrenched in parts of society, if not necessarily popular.’

Indeed, as even the relatively successful experience of AMISOM in Somalia, to which we made reference earlier, shows, military operation by itself alone is utterly inadequate. And it can never become a substitute to a political strategy that makes socio-political, governance, development and reconciliation measures, supported by military measures, the core of the policy response tools.

We thus call in Amani Africa’s research report for a shift in both the diagnosis of and the policy response measures to the threat of terrorism. As the report put it, ‘the political and socio-economic governance pathologies’ and the grievances and vulnerabilities that these pathologies produce on the part of affected communities are the major conditions that precipitate the emergence and proliferation of terrorist groups. Experiences from the Sahel to Mozambique provide rich data to illustrate this.

The report thus advocates for a human security-based approach that brings to the centre of policy analysis and intervention

    1. affected communities and
    2. the resolution of their grievances, and the conflict dynamics of which terrorist groups are only a part.

What does this human security-based approach mean in practical terms?

Drawing some of the instructive experiences on the continent including, for example, the Lake Chad Basin stabilization strategy, first and foremost, this policy shift advocates for addressing the socio-economic, cultural and environmental needs of communities in territories that are vulnerable to conflicts involving terrorist groups. As our report put it, this necessitates a socio-economic and political program that focuses on

    1. promoting respect for human rights, and the (re)building of legitimate local governance structures and capacities,
    2. the delivery of public services and social and economic provisions, and
    3. facilitate the provision of required humanitarian and livelihood support as well as other assistance and support as well as rehabilitation programs supported by regional security cooperation.

Additionally, this paradigm shift also necessitates the rebuilding of new state-society pact and public trust in the state and its governance institutions.

In terms of allocation of resources, this paradigm shift in the approach to the policy response to terrorism in Africa also necessitates that programming of counter-terrorism interventions should thus be reconfigured in a way that avails resources and capacity building support geared towards

    1. building local capacities and governance structures for delivery of public services,
    2. empowerment of local communities and marginalized members of such communities (youth, women, traditional or religious leaders and institutions)
    3. strengthening of mechanisms for peaceful settlement of disputes among local communities, and
    4. reforming of national structures of governance for promoting the inclusion of marginalized communities in national decision- making processes.

‘Such reconfiguration of counter- terrorism programming,’ our report argued, ‘has a higher chance of creating the social conditions that deprive terrorist groups of the grounds that make it easy for them to extract support from local communities.’

The other element that cannot be emphasized enough for the success of this recalibrated policy approach is the critical importance of nurturing and supporting courageous national leadership.  Such is a leadership that has the political will, dexterity and imagination for acknowledging the existence of fragilities and the absence or fragility of state institutions in parts of the state and the accompanying complex challenges facing politically and geographically peripheral territories in those parts of the state, which terrorist or insurgent groups take advantage of.

As our report put it, the ‘other element of this new policy approach, in terms of its conflict settlement and peacebuilding dimensions, is its recognition, and advocacy for active use of, the peacemaking instruments of negotiation and dialogue with members of terrorist groups as part of the peace and security tools available in conflict situations involving the presence of terrorist groups with strong local base.’

Explaining the importance of this, we stated that ‘[g]iven that the threat of terrorism in most part is primarily an outgrowth of governance and underdevelopment induced local conflict dynamics, the recognition of negotiation as part of the peace and security instruments necessary for conflict resolution in situations involving terrorist groups has the advantage of preventing current (hard security focused) policy options from condemning affected societies to perpetual conflict.’

Particularly instructive for the African context in this regard is the wisdom that Somalia’s President in his article to The Economist shared that ‘we must be realistic about how we bring about lasting peace and stability. It is simply too dangerous to stick to the idea that military defeats alone will miraculously produce ready-made peace. Talks are needed, too.’

I thank you for your kind attention!

The content of this article does not represent the views of Amani Africa and reflect only the personal views of the authors who contribute to ‘Ideas Indaba’

Briefing on the situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Briefing on the situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Date | 07 March 2023

Tomorrow (07 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1143rd session to assess key developments in the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

Following opening remarks by Innocent Eugene Shiyo, Permanent Representative of Tanzania and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of March, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Mohammed El-Amine Souef may also brief the PSC. The representatives of the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are also expected to deliver statements.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS was at its 1121st meeting held on 11 November 2022, when it approved the Somali government’s request to extend Phase I of ATMIS operational timelines for six months. Tomorrow’s meeting will afford the PSC the opportunity to deliberate on the security situation in Somalia, including the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. The meeting is also expected to assess the status of force generation and integration and efforts being made to meet the extended deadline of 30 June 2023 for ATMIS Phase I drawdown. It will also follow on the request it made for the AU Commission to submit a joint report, including a technical assessment of progress made and compliance with agreed benchmarks, in order to guide the PSC on the next steps in the transition including proposals on revisions of the CONOPs and force generation requirements.

The Somali National Army (SNA) together with allied local militia have succeeded in dislodging Al-Shabaab from some of its strongholds in Galmudug and Hirshabelle regions in central Somalia. New operations have also been launched against the group in South West State and Jubaland in southern Somalia. President Mahmoud hosted a regional leaders’ summit on 1 February in Mogadishu to mobilize support for the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. This was attended by the presidents of Djibouti and Kenya and the prime minister of Ethiopia. The leaders agreed to develop joint operational strategy against Al-Shabaab. In addition to their soldiers serving under ATMIS, these three countries are expected to deploy troops in Somalia in a matter of few weeks to support the offensive operations, according to media reports.

While under intense pressure, Al-Shabaab still continues to carry out heinous attacks using improvised explosive devices and other asymmetrical tactics. The group continues to carry out such attacks repeatedly in Mogadishu, sometimes in areas of the city meant to be protected from access to the group. Last month, ten people were killed in Mogadishu in an attack perpetrated by Al-Shabaab targeting military officials and militia fighters involved in the ongoing offensive operations.  The possibility of Al-Shabaab acquiring commercial drones to enhance its capabilities seems to have also become a major concern.

In terms of the role of ATMIS in the current Somali led offensive against Al-Shabaab, at the recently held meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Somalia, SRCC Souef explained that ATMIS has been providing support to the offensive operations by SNA and allied militia including through close air support, casualty evacuation and medical evacuation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, indirect fire support and combat service support such as ammunition, water, drugs and field accommodation.

At the PSC meeting on 7 March, SRCC Souef may explain the status of progress   in terms of the implementation of Phase I of ATMIS drawdown which hinges on the progress made by the Somali government in terms of force generation and integration. At the UNSC meeting, SRCC Souef said that Somali is on track to meet its target of training 15,000 new forces this year but called on the UN to enhance its support package to the Somali security forces (SSF) beyond the mandated 13,900 forces. He also underscored the need to undertake more detailed planning on a sector-by-sector approach to identify which areas that ATMIS should continue to hold and which areas the Somali government is ready to take over or accept the risk of some ATMIS troop drawdowns.

Only three months are left for the expiry of the extended deadline and, once again, there seems to be a need for consultation on the way forward not to allow a reversal of the gains made as a result of the recent offensive operations. This is expected to be raised at the UNSC meeting which is going to be held later this month to discuss the transition in Somalia with the participation of Representatives from Somalia, the AU, the EU, and ATMIS troop-contributing countries. Two reports to be presented by the end of April pursuant to resolution 2670 (2022) will also inform future UNSC discussion and action over the coming months. These include a sector-by-sector assessment of the security situation in Somalia and ATMIS performance to be presented by the AU as well as a progress report on the implementation of the Somali transition plan, including an updated force generation plan to be presented by the Somali government.

One possible way forward could be a further extension of the ATMIS timeline to facilitate more progress with the ongoing offensive operations, sustain the gains made recently and allow the Somali government to accelerate the force generation and integration process to pave the way for ATMIS drawdown. Like what happened in November last year, the request may have to come from the Somali government itself if there is a need for a further extension of the timeline. It is to be recalled that the PSC and UNSC in their joint communique of their 16th annual consultative meeting pointed out ‘the need to ensure ATMIS Force protection and to conduct the security transition in Somalia in a manner that does not lead to a security vacuum to be exploited by Al-Shabaab.’ However, such adjustments also require sustaining international support   and finding a way of addressing the funding shortfall that ATMIS is facing. When the timeline for its Phase I drawdown was extended by six months, the expectation was that bilateral and international partners will continue supporting the mission financially. A very positive development in this respect is the announcement by the EU of additional funding on 2 March last week. According to the statement from the EU, the EU Political and Security Committee approved additional Euro 85 million in support of both SSF and ATMIS. While this may not cover the funding shortfalls facing ATMIS, it would help in narrowing down the current funding gap.

The AU during the summit last month also reiterated its longstanding appeal to the UNSC to provide support to ATMIS and other AU peace support operations from UN assessed contributions. This is likely to be raised later this month when the UNSC meets to discuss the transition in Somalia. The issue of financing of ATMIS from UN assessed contributions cannot be separated from the broader discussions on the financing of AU peace support operations. This broader discussion will take place in the UNSC based on the upcoming report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to a 30 August 2022 Presidential statement and  will be submitted by the end of April. The report is expected to provide updates on progress made by the UN and the AU to fulfill the commitments set out in resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 (2017), including recommendations on how to move forward on the financing of AU peace support operations that reflect good practices and lessons learned with the view to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible resources. The AU consensus paper on predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for AU peace and security activities which has been under discussion by the PSC has now been adopted by the 36th AU Summit. This could also contribute to the discussion over the coming months.

Tomorrow’s session can also serve as an opportunity for the PSC to follow up decisions from last year including from its 1075th session and the joint communique on the 16th consultative meeting of the PSC and the UNSC which invited ‘the UN Secretary General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to consider jointly convening an international pledging conference for ATMIS operations, by March 2023.’

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC may welcome the ongoing offensive  by the Somali government to degrade Al-Shabaab and commend ATMIS for its continued support. It may further welcome the joint operational strategy against Al-Shabaab planned by Somalia and its neighboring countries and encourage their continued efforts in this regard. The PSC may emphasize the need for consultations between the AU, UN, EU and the Somali government to determine timelines and exact areas for ATMIS drawdown ahead of the expiry of the fast approaching extended timeline for Phase I drawdown of ATMIS. It may also reiterate its earlier call for joint assessment and submission of report by the AU Commission. The PSC may welcome the announcement by the EU on the provision of additional funding to ATMIS and SSF. It may also echo the call made at the 36th AU Summit, for the UNSC to provide support to ATMIS and other AU peace support operations from UN assessed contributions.

The 36th AU Summit beyond peace and security: Reform of the multilateral system and the AfCFTA

The 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly was held on 18-19 February preceded by the 42nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on 15-16. As part of covering this year’s summit, we profile some key issues and events around the summit. We present in our ‘Ideas Indaba’ the issues that received particular attention: reform of the multilateral system and the AfCFTA.

The 36th AU Summit beyond peace and security: Reform of the multilateral system and the AfCFTA

Date | 03 March 2023

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

The members of the African Union (AU) Assembly, African Heads of State and Government, did not disappoint. They did not show up in their numbers to their own party. Well you may say, after all Addis Abeba is not Brussels, Beijing or Washington DC. One cannot help wondering if it would be a good idea for purposes of full attendance if the AU rather considers holding its summit back-to-back the summits our leaders hold with their counterparts form elsewhere in the world.

But is it really about the venue? Or is it about the value they attach to the AU, to matters pan-African? If the report of the claim by France that it is responsible for getting the President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani, to become AU Chairperson for 2023 is true, clearly there are countries like France who seem to value the AU more. As to the venue, yes, Addis Abeba is not like any of those other cities. And there is nothing bad about that. After all, Addis is Africa’s foremost diplomatic capital. A city with its own charm. Being in Addis also has an added value. It spares our dear leaders from the pain of spending our money on shopping. A huge plus in this time of crushing socio-economic distress.

Speaking of socio-economic distress on the continent, I would consider you lucky if you are not feeling the very painful pinch on your pocket. The spike in cost of living, which continues to grow every month and massively, seems to have made currencies in our continent worthless. The prospect does not look promising either. Most of our economies on the continent are facing serious debt distress during 2023 and 2024.

So, one of the questions we had was whether the leaders of our beloved continent would make this debilitating erosion of the little we have in our pockets as one of the priority agenda items during the summit. This issue also received particular attention in the summit of representatives of CSOs from across the continent held on 17-18 February in Addis Abeba for which Amani Africa had the privilege of playing a host.

It was encouraging that the dire economic issues from inflation to debt took the limelight at the summit. During the opening segment of the AU Summit, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, asserted that in the face of the prevailing economic challenges, the ‘activation of various mechanisms of internal resilience, intra-African solidarity, rapid implementation of African financial institutions, all supported by virtuous governance seems in my view to be the way to salvation’.

The most profound idea came from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. He hit the nail on the head by properly naming the leading source of the current economic woes facing countries such as those in Africa – the global financial system. In the words of Guterres, ‘the global financial system routinely denies them debt relief and concessional financing while charging extortionist interest rates’.

To end this unjust system, which is beyond the reach of ‘the mechanisms of internal resilience’ central to Faki’s speech, Guterres called for a new Bretton Woods moment, a moment that necessitates a fundamental reform of the system. This call was not limited to the opening session. It was echoed, among others, forcefully by President William Ruto of Kenya in his maiden address to the Assembly.

Yet, the AU summit has not gone far enough. For example, it did not put in place a common African proposal on the reform of the global financial system, something akin to the Bridgetown Initiative led by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottle. The most the AU did was the announcement of a debt observatory. This, according to AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, ‘is going to be a debt observatory to enable us monitor the debt situations. We intend to have real-time data with respect to debt management around the countries of Africa.’

Unsurprisingly, this year’s theme of the AU: acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was also a major focus of the summit. Apart from COVID-19, which highlighted the depth of lack of preparedness of African health systems and Africa’s exclusive dependence on and the unreliability of global supply chains and the skewed nature of the global trading system as the resistance to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver attested, the food and energy price crises that ensued following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have further accentuated the imperative for intra-African trade and urgency of full operationalization of the AfCFTA.

During the summit, the theme of the year was launched with the AfCFTA Secretary General presenting the concept for the theme of the year. The three Protocols on Competition Policy, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights were tabled and considered for adoption during the summit.  As the AU Assembly’s Champion for AfCFTA, former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou put it, ‘the implementation of the AfCFTA will enable the continent to emerge from the colonial pact that reduced it to a mere reservoir of raw materials.’

While it did not take center stage during this year’s summit, peace and security issues, attracted some attention. AU’s highest standing decision-making body on matters of peace and security, the Peace and Security Council (PSC), held a summit level session on 17 February on the pressing conflict in Eastern DRC. Among others, the summit called for ‘the cantonment and disarmament of M23 under the control of the DRC authorities, and the supervision of EAC Regional Force.’

The Assembly also debated the African Consensus position on funding of AU peace operations, including through accessing UN assessed contributions. As stated in the consensus position paper, the AU ‘will endeavor to pay up to 25% of PSO budgetary component of AU PSOs’ from member states contributions. This, according to the paper, ‘progressively covers in large part the preparation stage of AU-Led PSOs especially effective assessment, planning, and readiness for efficient mandate implementation. In addition, this will cover costs related to strategic planning, mission-specific pre-deployment training, mission-specific technical assessments and fact-finding missions, recruitment and selection process of mission personnel, pre-deployment verification of personnel and equipment, negotiations and signing processes for the MoU between the AU and Police/Troop Contributing Countries (PTCC), negotiations and signing processes for AU-Host Country Status of Forces/Mission Agreements, negotiations and signing processes for Letters of Assists between the AU and Countries Contributing capabilities for AU-Led PSOs.’

In terms of financing of Peace Support Operations (PSOs), one of the major outcomes of the AU PSC summit on the DRC was the decision for contributing to the funding for the East African Force from the AU Peace Fund. While various figures were floated by member states during the consideration of the report of the PSC to the Assembly, the only portion of the Peace Fund, which was approved following the financial rules and available for use during 2023, is the USD 5 million from the Conflict Reserve Fund (CRF) of the Peace Fund.

One of the items that also attracted some interest was the agenda on the request for reform of the PSC with a focus on increasing representation of the Northern region, which in the current PSC set up only has the least number of seats with one three years and one two years term seats. The debate on this item was cut short with the new AU Chairperson, Assoumani, announcing that as no consensus was emerging he would take it up with his peers. As no decision was adopted by the Assembly, it remains unclear if and how this agenda would be followed up.

On the global geo-political situation, President Kagame of Rwanda pointed out in his intervention that ‘Africa must not become a casualty of geopolitical tensions. What Africa wants and needs first is peace’. At the same time, as the debate on the report of the Ministerial Committee of Ten on the Reform of the UN Security Council revealed, there is a recognition that this could be an opportune moment for advancing Africa’s longstanding quest for permanent membership in the UN Security Council. Of course, the debate also made it apparent that AU member states should guard against the pressure facing them from various quarters in the jockeying of different groupings on the reform of the UN Security Council. As the Chair of the Committee at Assembly level, Sierra Leone’s President put it, ‘Africa should stay the course, continue to speak with one voice.’

This proved to be a summit that is not dominated by peace and security issues. However, in terms of whether it makes any difference depends a great deal on the quality of decisions and the adoption by states of the measures necessary for implementation of those decisions. Thus, as a year for acceleration of implementation of the AfCFTA, the catalyst role of the AfCFTA, as the acting chief of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) put it, in bringing supply chains closer to home and facilitating the production and trading of food and fertilisers in Africa, depends a lot on whether the requirements for harnessing its potentials would be prioritized in the ongoing push towards the operationalization of the world’s largest free trade area.

These requirements include legislation by states parties on tariffs, customs and certification of origin. Also not any less important are speeding up industrialization (and expanding manufacturing capacities including the manufacturing of medicines – we were told that our governments have left us to be dependent on importation for 98% of medicines people on the continent need), free movement of people without which goods and services could not fully move (by ensuring ratification and implementation of the protocol on free movement of persons), cross border cooperation (by ensuring ratification and implementation of the Niamey Convention) and investing in agricultural development (by among others, implementing commitments under AU’s flagship program Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CADAP) and the outcome of the Dakar Summit on food security – so that a continent with 60 % arable land reduces its dependence on importation of staple food resources from elsewhere in the world).

The content of this article does not represent the views of Amani Africa and reflect only the personal views of the authors who contribute to ‘Ideas Indaba’

Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Date | 03 March 2023

Tomorrow (03 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session, at ministerial level, to receive a briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa.

Following opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for the month of March, Tanzania’s minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Domitien Ndayizeye, Chairperson of the Panel of Wise is also expected to brief the PSC.

The last time the PSC received a briefing on the activities of the Panel of the Wise was in March 2017, at its 665th session. In 2022, a session was planned to be dedicated to a briefing by the Panel of the Wise, during June, under the chairship of the Republic of Congo. However, the session was postponed, delaying the planned updates on the activities of the Panel. It is to be recalled that at the 665th session, the PSC decided that the ‘Panel of the Wise shall make quarterly briefings to the PSC, in order to enhance the conflict prevention capacity, early warning and timely decision-making processes of the Council’. Similar calls have been made by the PSC including at its 568th session, towards having more regular engagements. This is in line with the mandate of the Panel of the Wise recognized in PSC Protocol which outlines the Panel’s role in supporting the work of the PSC in conflict prevention.

Although the Panel of the Wise is expected to regularly brief and advise the PSC, the meetings have been rare particularly in the past few years and are yet to be fully institutionalised. This has affected the harmonisation and collaboration between the two organs around the role of the Panel on conflict prevention, including preventive diplomacy.

Tomorrow’s session will provide an important platform to brief the PSC on a number of developments that have taken place since the last briefing session. One key development has been the appointment of new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The new members were appointed for a three-year term by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)]. The fifth Panel includes the following eminent persons: Domitien Ndayizeye, former President of Burundi (Central Africa Region) and chair of the Panel, Amre Moussa, former Foreign Minister of Egypt and former Secretary General of the League of Arab States (Northern Africa Region), Effie Owuor (Eastern Africa Region), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Southern Africa Region) and Babacar Kante (Western Africa Region).

Following the appointment of the members, the Panel held its inaugural meeting on 28-29 March 2022 in Addis Ababa. The meeting served, among other purposes, for the Panel to be briefed by the AU Commission on the work of its subsidiary bodies and to receive a horizon scanning briefing on issues related to peace, security and governance. The meeting was also critical to allow the Panel of the Wise to deliberate on and outline the thematic issues and country situations that need to be prioritised. Accordingly, the Panel committed to work in support of specific countries namely Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Somalia. More particularly, on the situation in South Sudan, the Panel called for the operationalisation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS). In this context, an issue that may be of interest for PSC members is how these efforts by the Panel will and can contribute to the PSC’s ongoing engagement in these countries and the work of the various mechanisms of the AU dealing with these country situations.

Taking into consideration various developments and the current peace and security trends, in the first year of its mandate the Panel decided to focus supporting member states holding elections, those experiencing political transitions and countries that need support around constitutionalism and promotion of consensus building, including through national dialogue, reconciliation and transitional justice issues, and climate and security. These are also areas which the PSC has deliberated on in its various sessions.

With regards to transitional justice it would be of interest for the PSC and the Panel to coordinate around further popularising the AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework adopted in February 2019. The policy framework which was developed based on the recommendation by the Panel may support its work in particular in peacebuilding, reconciliation and consensus building. Moreover, the PSC and the Panel of the Wise can reflect on ways through which the Panel can contribute to AU’s role of supporting countries experiencing complex transitions. The Panel can also contribute to the implementation of PSC’s previous decisions, including at its 383rd and 525th sessions, to dedicate regular sessions on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The resurgence of military coups in multiple countries across the continent was also one of the key issues that was highlighted with grave concern in the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The issue also took centre stage in the discussions of the inaugural joint retreat of the African Pear Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons and the AU Panel of the Wise, which took place on 13 November 2022, in line with the 819th PSC session which encouraged the two organs to work in close collaboration, particularly in the area of preventive diplomacy. The 7th retreat of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) which was held on 20-21October 2022 also drew attention to the growing concern of governance related peace and security challenges in its section dedicated to horizon scanning reflections. Having regard to the need for timely responding to underlying socio-economic and political grievances, governance deficits and constitutional crises that culminate in coups, the Panel of the Wise, in collaboration with the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, can play a significant role in the deployment of preventive diplomacy at the earliest warning signs of governance challenges, to avert impending military takeover of power and maintain constitutional rule in affected member states.

The briefing also comes at a high time where there is mounting political and security tension in the Great Lakes Region. The rising confrontation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) calls for an immediate continental intervention and response in deescalating the crisis. Although regional efforts are underway, it would be critical for the Panel of the Wise, as key mandate holder in preventive diplomacy, to play its role in support of the ongoing efforts for de-escalating the tension for restoring stability in the region and to ensure that the gains made so far are not reversed.

The session also serves as an opportunity for the PSC and Panel of the Wise to reflect on how the Panel can contribute to address the existing gap between early warning and early action that hampered the effective engagement in deescalating crises before they transform into full blown armed conflicts. To address these gaps, PSC’s previous decisions calling for more regular briefings from the Panel were also echoed in the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel. In this context, the Panel decided ‘to prioritize regular horizon scanning (briefing) to the PSC to inform relevant options for response and rapid interventions in conflict situations with the aim of preventing and managing potential violent situations,’ although the Panel’s role is and should be on response to early warning rather than engaging in early warning.

Another issue which may be discussed in tomorrow’s briefing is how to create more institutional synergy with newly formed subsidiary bodies of the Panel. In addition to PanWise and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), a new subsidiary body has been endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022, the Network of African Youth on Conflict Prevention and Mediation (WiseYouth). It would be of interest for the PSC to inquire and seek clarity on the newly established WiseYouth and how it complements and coordinates with existing mechanisms including AU Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYAPs), the second cohort of which was selected in November 2021 and endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022 at its 35th Ordinary Session and welcomed by the PSC at its 1067th session.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communique. The PSC may welcome the new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise appointed by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session. It may also welcome the establishment of WiseYouth. The PSC may take note of the outcome and priorities set during the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise convened from 28 to 29 March 2022. It may welcome the outcomes of the inaugural joint retreat of the Panel of the Wise and the APR Panel of Eminent Persons. Council may underline the importance of reinvigorating early warning and conflict prevention by working closely with the Panel. It may underline the importance of enhancing coordination with the Panel in supporting complex transitions, sustaining peace in fragile contexts and ensuring early action to deescalate looming crises. To this end the PSC may reiterate its previous decision and call for the institutionalisation of conflict prevention and preventive deployment briefing by the Panel.

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Date | 01 March 2023

Tomorrow (01 March), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session to consider a status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework: Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).

The Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the AU and Chair of the PSC for the month of March, Innocent Shiyo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to provide a status update on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework.

One of the side events at the recently concluded 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly was a High-Level meeting on ‘early warning within the framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA)’, which was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In that side event, the representative of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called on Member States to ‘embrace’ the CSCPF and its tools, the CSVRA/CSVMS, as part of the efforts to strengthen continental early warning system. The tools were devised with the hope to address structural causes of conflicts and achieve sustainable peace in the continent, but the political buy-in so far remains far from satisfactory as evident from the fact only three African countries were part of this process since the launch of the CSCPF.

Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the PSC to take stock of the implementation of the CSCPF and its tools -CSVRA/CSVMS – and provide strategic guidance on how to revitalize the process for effective conflict prevention, which is one of the main objectives of the PSC.

The CSVRA/CSVMS came within the framework of continental early warning system and as a follow-up to PSC’s 360th session, held in March 2013, a session that stressed the need for a strategic focus on addressing the structural/root causes of conflicts. During its 463rd session that took place in October 2014, PSC commended the Commission for its efforts to finalize the elaboration of the CSCPF as well as to develop a Structural Vulnerability Assessment tool and further requested the Commission to expedite the process. PSC’s 502nd session, convened in April 2015, adopted the CSVRA/CSVMS tools, and requested the Commission, in collaboration with the RECs, to avail all the necessary assistance to Member States and popularize the tools while encouraging Member States to fully take advantage of these tools in their efforts towards the structural prevention of conflict.

Recently, the Assembly, during its 35th ordinary session, held in February 2022, encouraged Member States to ‘utilize the opportunities afforded by the Commission and RECs/RMs to address structural causes of violent conflict through the implementation of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment/Country Structural Vulnerability and Mitigation Strategies (CSVRA/CSVMS) processes.’ In that summit, the Assembly went on requesting the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee’ comprising the AU Commission, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member States to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In tomorrow’s session, PSC may follow-up on progress made towards the implementation of this decision.

As highlighted in the 502nd session of the PSC, the CSCPF has been developed to facilitate a Commission-wide and coordinated approach to structural conflict prevention with the aim to identify and address structural weaknesses that have the potential to cause violent conflicts if left unaddressed. In operationalizing the CSCPF, the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division (CPEWD) of the Peace and Security Department developed the CSVRA/CSVMS tools with the former designed to facilitate the identification of a country’s structural vulnerability to conflict at an early stage while the later to focus on strategic and medium to long-term measures aimed at mitigating the country’s structural vulnerabilities and build resilience.

The CSVRA/CSVMS are voluntary processes and hence should be implemented by Member States through a request simultaneously addressed to the AU Commission and the concerned REC. The request may come at the initiation of the AU. Following the request, a team of experts composed of an expert nominated by the Member States, the CEWS staff, representatives of relevant AUC departments, representative from the concerned REC, as well as representatives from other stakeholders will be formed to work on CSVRA report, which is envisaged to be finalized within three months. Once the report is finalized, the next phase will be for the concerned state, in coordination with the AUC and the relevant REC, to start working on the CSVMS in coordination between the Member State.

Indeed, the status of implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS leaves a lot to be desired, highlighting the need for revitalizing these important tools. In that context, there are at least three points that the PSC may consider in tomorrow’s deliberation.

First, as a voluntary process, the ideals of CSVRA/CSVMS cannot be achieved without securing greater political buy-in of Member States. The fact that only three Member States have acceded to the process thus far clearly tells not only the low buy-in but also the Commission’s limitation to effectively sell these tools and the benefits they avail to Member States. It is recalled that Ghana was the first to initiate the structural vulnerability assessment in 2017, followed by Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It is encouraging that few other countries – such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius – have reportedly shown interest to engage in the process, but additional effort is required on the side of the Commission to bring more countries on board. This may also require addressing concerns about the framing of the exercise as vulnerability assessment. Additionally, structurally there is a need for aligning this exercise with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose review also involves such structural vulnerability analysis of countries under review.

Second, despite the rhetoric, conflict prevention and early warning system in general and the CSVRA/CSVMS tools in particular have received little attention as much of the focus seems on activities related to conflict management. This has been for instance reflected in the new PAPS structure, which, unlike the previous structure, does not have a dedicated division to conflict prevention and early warning. There is in particular a need for the member states to provide resources for the AU Commission in order for it to have a dedicated capacity, which, working with the APRM, promotes the full and active operationalization of these tools.

Third, there is a high need to clarify the relation with other AU tools particularly the APRM. The PSC should provide policy guidance on how these two mechanisms complement each other so that there is no confusion on their respective purposes and objectives.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may underline the critical importance of CSVRA/CSVMS tools to the structural prevention of conflict and consolidation of peace and stability in the continent. Considering the benefits that the CSVRA/CSVMS tools offer particularly in identifying and addressing the structural vulnerabilities of member states that may evolve into violent conflicts, the PSC is expected to encourage Member States to fully take advantage of these tools. It may also request the Commission to provide all the required support to Member States. It may further request the Commission to develop strategy to better popularize these tools and ensure greater buy-in of Member States so that more countries undertake the assessment. PSC may also request the Commission to enhance its working relationship with the RECs/RMs in the implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS, as well as to better clarify the relationship between these tools and the APRM. In the light of the fact that the institutional reform had left the CSCPF without a structure for its effective operationalization, the PSC may call for a dedicated capacity within PAPS for taking responsibility in promoting and implementing CSVRA/CSVMS.

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of March 2023

Provisional Programme of Work for the month of March 2023

Date | 1 March 2023

In March, Tanzania takes over the role of chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). As envisaged in the provisional programme of work, the PSC will convene six substantive sessions. Of these one will have two agenda items. All sessions except one will take place at ambassadorial level. Of the total agenda items, three will address country specific situations. The remaining four will be focusing on various thematic issues. Additionally, the PSC is also set to conduct of a field mission. The PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) and the Military Staff Committee (MSC) will also be meeting during the month.

The first session of the month is scheduled to take place on 01 March. The PSC will consider the status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF): Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS) at this session. The CSCPF was developed by the AU as a strategy aimed at addressing structural issues. It aims to deploy preventive measures through operational and direct interventions before structural weaknesses turn into large-scale violence. Within the framework of the CSCPF, the CSVRA is designed to facilitate identification of a member State’s vulnerabilities to conflict at an early stage while the CSVMS explores the best avenues to enable appropriate actions by the AU and concerned regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to address structural root causes of violent conflicts in member States.

The second session of the month which will contribute considerably to the PSC’s preventive role will be a briefing by the Panel of the Wise, planned to take place on 03 March. This will be the first briefing of the panel to be delivered since 2017 which was the last time it updated the PSC on its activities. The coming session serves the PSC to 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)] and to receive updates on the engagements of the Panel in the areas of conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and dialogue since its previous briefing.

An updated briefing on the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forms the third session of the month. Scheduled to be held on 07 March, the session is expected to assess key developments since PSC’s 1121st session when it considered and approved the request of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to extend Phase 1 of ATMIS operational timelines, from 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023. In addition to reviewing the security situation including the operations against Al Shabaab, the session is expected to assess the status of force generation and integration process and efforts underway to ensure the extended deadline of 30 June 2023 will be met for ATMIS Phase 1 drawdown.

The fourth session is planned to take place on 09 March and will be committed to a briefing on the conduct of a Continental Maritime Command Post Exercise. It is to be recalled that at its 1128th session, the PSC called on the AU Commission to conduct the ‘First Regional Maritime Command Post Exercise in order to increase preparedness and synergy of the Navies of the region to respond to the threats in the Gulf of Guinea, within the framework of the ASF’. In its other previous decisions, particularly the 1012th session, the PSC has also emphasised the importance of capacitating the African Standby Force (ASF) with the required naval capacity. The briefing during this session could provide important highlights on efforts being deployed to enhance the ASF’s naval capacity both at regional and continental levels.

On 10 March, the PSC will consider and adopt the provisional programme of work for the month of April 2023.

From 10 to 13 March, the CoE will convene to consider key highlights of the 2023 Africa Governance Report (AGR) which assesses the state of governance in Africa, with the aim to provide relevant and accurate information on governance issues in all AU member States.

The fifth session of the month expected to be held on 14 March will be an open session dedicated to the annual meeting on the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda. The session will be convened in line with PSC’s 223rd Communiqué of 30 March 2010, in which the PSC agreed to devote an annual open session to the WPS theme. Following up on the decisions of its previous session on the theme – the 1109th meeting – the PSC may seek updates regarding efforts being made to ‘establish a forum for knowledge sharing amongst the AU Member States and partners to leverage experience, lessons learnt and good practices in addressing sexual violence against women in conflicts and crises’.

From 15 to 18 March, there will be a training of the MSC to be conducted in Tanzania.

From 20 to 23 March, the PSC will undertake a filed mission to the DRC. It is to be recalled that the PSC’s field mission to Burundi which took place from 20 to 22 June 2022 was conducted in the context of the PSC’s engagement on the Great Lakes Region and was supposed to extend to DRC. However, increasing tensions due to the situation in eastern DRC limited the PSC’s visit to Bujumbura, Burundi. Although the situation in eastern DRC largely remains the same and has even shown signs of deterioration, the planned PSC visit highlights the importance of PSC’s engagement through undertaking field visits to the conflict settings that it addresses.

The sixth and final session of the month planned to take place on 31 March will have two agenda items. The first one of these will be an updated briefing on the situation in Mozambique and operations of the South African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). In addition to reflecting on on-going insecurity experienced in Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique due to continued terrorist activities, the session could serve the PSC to follow-up on the decision of its 1119th session which drew specific attention to the logistical and financial challenges that face SAMIM and directed the AU Commission to ‘explore all options to facilitate additional support to SAMIM’.

The second agenda item will be consideration and adoption of the report on the outcomes of PSC’s field mission to the DRC.