Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Date | 24 January 2023

Tomorrow (24 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1133rd session to consider the revised AU Policy Framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD).

Following opening statement by the month’s stand-in Chairperson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the AU, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement.

At its last briefing on PCRD efforts in Africa which took place at its 1122nd session, the PSC welcomed the initiation of the review process of the 2006 AU Policy Framework on PCRD, in line with the decision of the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)] and the Communiqué of the 1047th PSC session [PSC/PR/COMM.1047(2021)], in order to ensure that the policy is adaptable to emerging peace and security challenges in the continent. One of the key outcomes of the 1122nd session was the request made for the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) to conduct an urgent review of the draft revised policy and submit to the PSC for its consideration ahead of the Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly scheduled to take place in February 2023. Tomorrow’s session is being convened in the context of this previous decision of the PSC.

It is to be recalled that the process of revising the AU Policy Framework on PCRD was initiated through a convening of experts which took place in Accra, Ghana, from 09 to 14 September 2022. Further to enabling the consideration and reflection of new peace and security challenges that confront the continent such as terrorism, pandemics and unconstitutional changes of government within the revised PCRD Policy Framework, the review process allowed to identify best approaches for the implementation of the policy in relevant areas ranging from conflict prevention to stabilisation, early recovery and periods of transition.

In terms of substantive changes introduced in the revised version of the policy, one important aspect is the inclusion of some highlights on PCRD funding as part of the policy’s section on rationale. This is a significant addition considering that resource constraint and absence of sufficient financing has been one of the main factors that continues to challenge implementation of PCRD efforts in the continent. Introducing a paragraph on PCRD funding within the policy framework could be considered as an important step towards clarifying the need to channel available means of financing towards PCRD efforts. One such channel is the utilisation of the AU Peace Fund which envisages under its pillar for building institutional capacity (Window 2), the operationalisation and capacity building of the AU PCRD Centre and enhancement of member States’ capacity in the areas of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). In addition to this and other existing means for financing PCRD works in Africa – such as the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) which as noted by the PSC at its 1047th session needs to be urgently revitalised –, it is also important to look into more innovative funding approaches, including, as highlighted by the PSC at its 1122nd session, through smart partnerships between the AU and private sector ‘to ensure adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for PCRD efforts in the continent’.

Another important substantive addition to the revised policy framework is the inclusion of humanitarian principles as part of the core values that underpin the policy. Humanitarian principles which pertain to humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are critical not only to carryout humanitarian action during armed conflicts, but also in the post-conflict phase and need to be well integrated in all peacebuilding activities. Further to that, the emphasis drawn to the importance of strengthening the link between PCRD and humanitarian response at the 15th Extraordinary AU Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference plays a significant role in creating some clarity around the contributions of humanitarian action in transition or post-conflict situations, which hasn’t always been well-defined. While the shift in the nature of interventions is expected to change from one of life-saving to that of sustaining and stabilising, the continued engagement of humanitarian action during the post-conflict phase is fundamental to ensure ‘ability of state institutions to protect civilians and deliver adequate social services, supporting the return and reintegration of displaced populations, and helping resuscitate socio-economic activities’ as underscored in the decision of the 15th AU Extraordinary Summit [Ext/Assembly/AU/Decl.(XV)].

In addition to the review of the Policy Framework on PCRD, the AU Commission has also been engaged in efforts aimed at revitalising the overall AU Peacebuilding Architecture. Perhaps the most critical element for the effective operationalization of PCRD is the existence of the requisite level of staff complement able to design innovative PCRD interventions. Linked to this is the on-going efforts to fully operationalise the Cairo based AU PCRD Centre which was officially launched in December 2021 and forms a principal part of these efforts. But lack of resources and slow pace of recruitment of staff for the Centre mean that full operationalization of the Centre is not yet realised.

Further to seeking updates regarding the full operationalisation of the Centre since the briefing it received at its previous session, tomorrow’s session also presents the PSC the opportunity to emphasise the need to strengthen the Centre’s capacity to undertake activities aimed at addressing the psychosocial needs of trauma survivors in post-conflict settings, particularly vulnerable parts of society including children, women, elderly and people with disabilities.

The experience in AU’s PCRD work such as in the Gambia highlight the need for tailoring and deploying PCRD interventions on the basis of the transitional needs and priorities that countries in transition identified. Efficient PCRD interventions also necessitate the leveraging of the role of various entities including AU liaison offices currently crippled by staffing and other resource constraints and others with the expertise and experience of working on matters relevant to PCRD including humanitarian actors and the African Development Bank. The other lesson from AU’s engagement in peace and security including through peace support operations and mediation and peace making is the need for planning and integrating PCRD support into AU peace support operations, the mandate and expertise of AU political offices and liaison offices and its mediation and peace-making works.

In terms of making PCRD efforts more responsive to contemporary challenges to peace, security and development in the continent, the PSC may also reflect on the impacts of climate change on peacebuilding efforts in Africa. An issue which formed the central focus of the discussions between the PSC and the United Nations (UN) Peace Building Commission (UNPBC) at their 5th Annual Consultative Meeting which took place on 28 November 2022, the adverse impacts of climate change have proven to be disruptive to peace, security and development in multiple ways. In the post-conflict situations where States are only emerging from crisis and have very weak and fragile institutions as well as economic capacity to respond to climate induced disasters, there is a high likelihood for peacebuilding efforts to be easily reversed. Considering climate-sensitive planning and ensuring climate-responsive financing should therefore form part of all peacebuilding efforts implemented in the continent.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to welcome the finalisation of the Revised Policy Framework on PCRD ahead of its submission to the upcoming AU Summit and commend the CoE for its efforts in this regard. It may call on the AU Commission to diversify its partnerships in order to address the gaps and challenges faced in financing PCRD efforts. It may emphasise the importance of ensuring humanitarian financing to respond to humanitarian concerns that persist during post-conflict phase and contribute to recovery and peacebuilding challenges. It may reiterate its call for the AU Commission to develop a Policy on Psycho-Social Support to survivors of violent conflicts. Echoing the key outcomes of its 5th Annual Consultative Meeting with the UNPBC, the PSC may also emphasise the importance of predictable climate-responsive financing for peacebuilding efforts in Africa and draw attention to the importance of adopting a common African position on the nexus between climate and peace and security.  The PSC may also reiterate some of the important decisions of its previous session including its request for the AU Commission to establish a PCRD Working Group, in collaboration with the AU Development Agency (AUDA/NEPAD). It may further follow up on its calls for the urgent reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD and revitalisation of the Interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD. With respect to the full operationalization of the PCRD Centre, the PSC may request for a plan on the finalization of the staffing requirements of the Centre for it to start effectively delivering on its work. The PSC may also call for the planning and integration of PCRD support tasks into the design and mandates of AU peace support operations, political offices, liaison offices and mediation and peace-making processes.

Consideration of the Half Year Report on Elections in Africa: July to December 2022 and outlook for 2023

Consideration of the Half Year Report on Elections in Africa: July to December 2022 and outlook for 2023

Date | 20 January 2023

Tomorrow (20 January), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1132nd session to consider AU Commission Chairperson’s half year report on elections in Africa.

The Permanent Representative of Uganda to the AU and the stand-in Chair of the PSC for the month of January, Rebeca Amuge Otengo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to present the half year report. The representatives of Member States that held elections in the second half of 2022 and those that are expected to organize elections in the first half of 2023 are expected to deliver statements. The Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also among the speakers during tomorrow’s session.

The Chairperson’s half year report on elections in Africa is in line with the PSC’s decision at its 424th session of March 2014 to receive quarterly briefings on national elections in Africa. Since then, PSC has been receiving the report on a regular basis – twice a year since recent times. The last time the Chairperson presented his half year report was during PSC’s 1096th session in August last year, covering elections conducted between January and June 2022. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to provide updates on the outcomes of elections conducted in the second half of 2022 (July to December) as well as preview of upcoming elections that are expected to take place in the first half of 2023. In addition, the report is expected to reflect on some of the key trends observed in the continent’s electoral and political governance.

Between July and December 2022, eight Member States organized presidential and parliamentary elections. Kenya, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea held general elections while Lesotho, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, and Senegal organized parliamentary elections. On the other hand, Tunisia organized a constitutional referendum on 25 July 2022, followed by parliamentary elections in December. AU deployed election observation mission (EOM) in all these countries except for Sao Tome and Principe to assess the electoral process. AU’s newly introduced integrated post-election preventive diplomacy and mediation approach was also employed in the context of Kenya’s election, which proved to be successful in Zambia and The Gambia in 2021.

One of the key positive trends likely to be highlighted by the Chairperson’s report is that all the elections during the reporting period were conducted in a relatively calm political atmosphere, evidencing the deepening and consolidation of democracy in the continent. The peaceful transfer of power in Kenya was particularly notable as it turned the page on its violent electoral history. One factor contributing to the peaceful conclusion of Kenya’s hotly anticipated Presidential election, held on 9 August, was the major shift in terms of candidates’ mobilization strategies where campaigns were largely issue-centred as opposed to ethnicity. Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s recourse to the judiciary over election dispute and his subsequent acceptance of the decision of the court that upheld William Ruto’s Presidential victory is not only a sign of political maturity but also contributed to stave off electoral violence in the country.

Majority of the elections under the reporting period were competitive. Oppositions made significant gains for instance in the parliamentary elections in Angola, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe. Angola’s MPLA ruling party was declared winner in the most hotly contested 24 August general elections, but opposition (UNITA) received 44 percent of the vote to MPLA’s 51 percent. In Senegal, the President’s coalition narrowly won the 31 July legislative election with 82 seats while the opposition gained 80 seats of the national assembly’s 165. The opposition Independent Democratic Action (ADI) won Sao Tome and Principe’s 26 September legislative elections. Similarly, the newly formed opposition Revolution for Prosperity Party (RFP) won the 7 October parliamentary elections taking 56 of the 80 seats. Yet, in some context, there is a long way to go to make the elections competitive as observed in the case of Equatorial Guinea where the incumbent President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was re-elected for a sixth term with nearly 95 percent vote.

Some Member States also leveraged technology for voter registration and transmission of results, which indeed contributed to enhance the transparency and integrity of the electoral process. A case in point is Kenya’s 9 August Presidential elections, which introduced additional voter identity verification features in the Kenyan Integrated Election Management Systems (KIEMS) kit to provide for biometric and alphanumeric identification of voters on election day. This change provided the capture and transmission of images of the duly completed presidential election results forms from the polling station to the National Tallying Centre, which made provisional results publicly accessible. Similarly, Nigeria is prepared to deploy technology from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management in the upcoming general elections, boosting public confidence over the credibility of the election. Angola also introduced diaspora voting for the first time, highlighting the importance of ensuring the participation of citizens living abroad in democratic processes.

Africa’s electoral landscape has registered considerable progress, but challenges remain. One of the main challenges observed during the reporting period has been low voter turnout as starkly manifested in the context of Tunisia’s constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections. The election in Tunisia may particularly interest members of the PSC considering the growing concern over the risk of democratic backsliding in that country. The new constitution that was put forward by the President Kais Saied for referendum is believed to provide sweeping power to the President while weakening the legislative and judicial branches of the government. The constitution was approved overwhelmingly but nearly 70 percent of Tunisians did not vote. Even more striking was the 17 December parliamentary elections (first round), witnessing a historical low turnout of 11.22 percent, according to the official figures. Sources indicate that this figure is perhaps the second lowest voter turnout ever recorded worldwide in an election since 1945. The second round is set for 20 January, but the low turnout in the first round could be seen as the harbinger of looming political crisis.

While many African countries are organizing periodic elections in accordance with their constitutions, some countries particularly those that are in political transitions have also failed to meet agreed timelines. Mali, South Sudan, and Sudan were supposed to organize elections in 2023 and complete transitions, but that could not materialize. After missing the planned 24 December 2021 general elections, agreement on alternative election timeframe is not in sight for Libyans as political impasse continued. Guinea Bissau also failed to organize its legislative elections on 18 December 2022, further complicating the political condition of the country.

In relation to election outlook for 2023, Several Member States are expected to hold presidential and/or parliamentary elections. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Gabon are set to elect their Presidents while countries like Eswatini, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Djibouti, Benin are expected to conduct parliamentary elections. On the other hand, Mali is scheduled to organize constitutional referendum this March and its legislative elections around October 2023 to pave the way for the February 2024 Presidential election. Most of these countries are yet to announce the exact date for the elections. However, six of them, namely Nigeria, Benin, Djibouti, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone will hold elections in the first half of 2023. The Chairperson’s half year report is likely to focus on Nigeria’s Presidential election as it is going to happen in few weeks – on 25 February. Bankole is expected to brief members of the PSC about Nigeria’s state of preparedness for the elections based on the report of the Special Pre-electoral Political Mission led by Phumzile MlamboNgcuka, former Deputy President of South Africa and Member of the AU Panel of the Wise, which was deployed by the Commission in November 2022.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will stepdown after two-terms in office, further consolidating Nigeria’s democracy and setting good lessons to the region that is experiencing resurgence of coup and third-termism. Election preparation seems on the right track with a surge of new voter registrations, particularly among the youth. In a major shift to previous elections, the upcoming election is also witnessing credible presidential candidates outside the two parties that have been ruling Nigeria since the restoration of democratic rule in 1999. But security threats and the use of technology in some parts of the country are likely to remain key challenges.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may congratulate those Member States that successfully conducted peaceful elections during the reporting period. It may particularly welcome the peaceful transfer of power in Kenya. PSC may take note of the evolving culture of holding of regular elections in the continent. PSC is also expected to express its concern over persisting challenges, weakening confidence in elections in delivering democratic change as evidenced, for example, by low voter turnout. PSC may highlight the imperative of addressing such challenge, particularly through undertaking inclusive national dialogue. It may call on those member States preparing to conduct their elections in the second half of the year, to put their utmost efforts towards ensuring the conduct of peaceful, fair, credible, and transparent elections in accordance with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. PSC may commend the AU Commission for its continued efforts in supporting Member States to hold credible elections, including through the deployment of observation mission. It may also encourage Member States to implement the recommendations provided by the election observation missions to deepen democratic elections in their respective jurisdictions. In that relation, PSC may find it important to remind AU Commission on the need to continue the practice of what is called a ‘Return Visit’ of the election observer team to the country where they observed elections to follow up on the implementation of AUEOM recommendations, which was first employed in November 2021 in the context of Zambia.

Provisional Programme of Work for the Month of January 2023

Provisional Programme of Work for the Month of January 2023

Date | January 2023

In January, Uganda will be chairing the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC), as a stand-in chair. The provisional program of work for the month envisages five substantive sessions. All of the sessions planned to take place during the month will be addressing thematic issues. The PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) will also convene meetings during the month.

On 6 January, the PSC will consider and adopt the draft provisional programme of work for the month of February 2023.

Consecutively on 17 and 18 January, the CoE will meet to consider the annual Report of the PSC on its activities and on the state of peace and security in Africa, as well as the Report on the implementation of the ‘AU Master Roadmap on Practical Steps on Silencing the Guns in Africa’.

The first session of the month will be taking place on 20 January. The session will be dedicated to the PSC’s consideration of the Report of the AU Commission Chairperson on Elections conducted in Africa from July to December 2022 and outlook for elections to be conducted in 2023. This is in line with PSC’s 791st meeting convened in August 2018 which decided to institutionalise and regularise the holding of sessions to review the conduct of elections in various member States. General elections conducted in member States such as Angola and Kenya as well as the parliamentary election in Senegal and the referendum as well as parliamentary and local elections in Tunisia are expected to feature in the Chairperson’s report for the second half of 2022. In terms of outlooks for upcoming elections in 2023, the report may provide some highlights on Nigeria’s presidential election and Zimbabwe’s general elections planned to take place during this year and the AU’s efforts in assisting member States in their preparations.

The second session is scheduled to take place on 24 January and the PSC will be considering the revised/updated policy framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD). The review of the PCRD policy framework took place in the context of the 1047th PSC session which underscored the need to ensure ‘urgent review of the AU PCRD Policy Framework in order to ensure that it is re-aligned and adaptable to the emerging challenges in the Continental peace and security landscape’ as well as the decision of the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)] which requested the AU Commission to ‘review the 2006 AU PCRD Policy Framework and submit the report for consideration by the next ordinary session of the Assembly’. The PSC may endorse the reviewed/updated policy which is expected to be tabled at the upcoming 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly.

On 26 January, the PSC will convene its third session of the month to consider and endorse two reports ahead of the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly – the PSC Report on its activities and on the state of peace and security in Africa, as well as the Report on the implementation of the ‘AU Master Roadmap on Practical Steps on Silencing the Guns in Africa’. Having been endorsed by the PSC, the two reports will be submitted to the upcoming ordinary session of the Assembly in accordance with Article 7 of the PSC Protocol.

The fourth session planned for the month will be taking place on 27 January and will be a Joint briefing of the PSC, the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15), the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) Sub-Committee and Board of Trustees on the AU Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that on 16 September 2022, the PSC held a joint briefing with the PRC Sub-Committee on Budget Matters along with the Board of Trustees of the AU Peace Fund where the status of operationalisation of the AU Peace Fund was discussed. The upcoming joint briefing is expected to discuss updates since the deliberations of the previous joint engagement, particularly on aspects related to the status and modalities for contribution to the Peace Fund and the status of finalisation of consensus African position on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU peace and security activities.

On 30 January, the CoE will meet once again to consider a draft Engagement Mechanism between the PSC and the African three members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) or the A3. Establishing mechanisms for enhanced coordination between the PSC and A3 was one of the key decisions emerging from the 983rd PSC session which took place on 4 March 2021, under the title ‘Unified role of the African Members in the United Nations (UN) Security Council (A3) in the UN Security Council’. The development of a draft manual for engagement between the PSC and A3 undertaken during 2021 is a welcome progress on which the PSC Secretariat reported to the most recent high-level seminar in Oran, Algeria that took place in December 2022.

The fifth and final session of the month will be an open session dedicated to inauguration of Africa reconciliation day, scheduled to take place on 31 January. The session will be held in line with the decision of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly [Ext/Assembly/AU/Decl.(XVI)], which decided to institutionalise the annual commemoration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ every 31 January. The coming session may serve to welcome, commend and support reconciliation efforts in various member States and encourage relevant partners to lend their support to reconciliation works in Africa.