Informal consultation on countries in political transition

Informal consultation on countries in political transition

Date | 20 December 2023

Tomorrow (21 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold an informal consultation with the representatives of Member States currently undergoing political transitions, namely Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.

This marks the second instance of the PSC deploying the format of informal consultation pursuant to article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol, Rule 16 of its Rules of Procedure, and article 25(3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). The informal consultation affords the PSC the opportunity for direct engagement with Member States suspended from AU activities due to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) for discussing the transition and the process towards restoration of constitutional order and civilian rule. The first such consultation was held on 26 April of this year, during which the PSC interacted with representatives of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. It is noteworthy that this consultation did not result in a formal outcome document. Tomorrow’s informal engagement is expected to take stock of the progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of key transition activities in the three countries, and exchange on how to enhance the progress in the transitional process.

On Guinea

PSC’s last engagement on Guinea was during the informal consultation in April. Subsequently, PSC had planned to undertake a field mission to Guinea in August and receive an updated briefing on the political transitions in Guinea and Mali in September, as outlined in its program of work. However, neither the field mission nor the updated briefing session occurred as originally planned.

In October 2022, ECOWAS and Guinea’s transition authorities agreed on a two-year transition period after intense negotiations, with the election expected to take place at the end of next year. PSC, at its 1116th session, welcomed the agreement reached on the timeline, urging all stakeholders for its adoption and support to ensure a sustained and comprehensive return to constitutional order. The transition timeline covers ten priority areas, including the development of a new constitution, a referendum on the new constitution, establishment of an election management body, and organization of local, legislative, and presidential elections. In late April, the transition authorities appealed to the international community for assistance in mobilizing some 6 trillion Guinean francs ($600 million) for the implementation of the transition plan.

One of the issues likely to receive attention during the consultation is progress towards the drafting of the constitution. The National Transitional Council initiated a series of constitutional consultations, inviting key stakeholders to engage in discussions on the guiding principles of the constitution and offer recommendations. Despite the participation of certain stakeholders who provided their inputs, the large opposition and civil society coalition known as Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG) boycotted the initiative. Sources indicate that the transitional legislature was expected to consider and adopt the draft constitution in June, with a subsequent referendum on the draft constitution scheduled for this December. The June deadline has already been missed, and it is also unlikely that the referendum will take place according to the original plan.

Guinea’s transitional authorities are currently experiencing strained relations both internally with opposition parties and externally with the regional bloc ECOWAS, posing a significant challenge to the transition process. The fluid security situation also remains a cause for concern as the prison break staged in early November in the capital Conakry demonstrates. Top ex-military officials, who have been on trial for the 2009 massacre of civilians, were reportedly freed by armed men from a central prison in the capital. Three of them, including the former military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, were recaptured, while former minister of Presidential Security Colonel Claude Pivi remains fugitive. The incident reportedly witnessed a fighting between Special Forces, formerly led by interim President Col. Mamady Doumbouya, and Autonomous Battalion of Airborne Troops, of which Colonel Pivi was once a member. This coupled with preceding events in April and May, during which Col. Doumbouya dismissed key figures, including the armed forces chief of staff and the head of military intelligence, signals internal discord within the transition authorities.

On Burkina Faso

The last time PSC discussed the situation in Burkina Faso was at its 1166th session on 3 August, while considering the report of the field mission to the country conducted from 22 to 27 July 2023. In the communiqué adopted during that session, PSC urged the’ transitional authority to practically demonstrate its commitment and ensure that elections are successfully organized within the stipulated timelines.’ The interim President, Captain Ibrahim Traore, who assumed power following the military coup on September 30, 2022, agreed to adhere to the initially agreed-upon transition timeline of 24 months, with the election expected to take place in July 2024. While there have been encouraging developments—including the establishment of a Transition Roadmap, an electoral calendar, and the Independent National Electoral Commission—convening the elections on the scheduled timeline of 24 July 2024 remains doubtful, mainly due to the prevailing security challenges. The PSC, during its recent field mission, observed that several stakeholders in Burkina Faso expressed uncertainties regarding the likelihood of the election taking place in July. Meanwhile, in September, interim President Traore explicitly stated on state TV that elections are ‘not priority’ compared to security. He went on to say that ‘there won’t be an election that is only concentrated in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso and other nearby towns’, alluding to cities less impacted by terrorist attacks.

Indeed, the worsening security situation in Burkina Faso will remain a significant challenge to the organization of elections. Despite government claims of significant security gains, with purported control over 65% to 70% of the territory, Burkina Faso has witnessed a concerning surge in terrorist attacks throughout the period from January to September 2023, according to the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on counter-terrorism and related issues. Currently, Burkina Faso ranks second only to Afghanistan in bearing the brunt of terrorism globally, making the country ‘the epicenter of terrorism and violent extremism’ in the continent. On the other hand, the ban on the public demonstrations and political activities, which has been in place since the issuance of communiqué No. 3 of 30 September 2022, remains intact. Political parties are voicing their concerns over the ongoing restriction and limited space for their participation in the management of the transition process. Against this backdrop, PSC’s 1166th session urged Burkinabé transitional authorities to lift such ban, an important request worth following-up in tomorrow’s consultation.

The other key issue likely to receive attention in tomorrow’s consultation is the operationalization of the monitoring mechanism of the transition, which remains an important aspect of accompanying the transitional process. A year ago, ECOWAS and Burkina Faso signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism for the 24 months transition—a development welcomed during the 62nd Ordinary Session of ECOWAS on 04 December 2022. Nevertheless, PSC’s field mission report highlights the challenges to operationalize the mechanism, including difficulties faced by the ECOWAS Mediator in conducting visits to the country. The announcement of the formation of a regional alliance between Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali is not received favorably in the region. In the communiqué adopted during its latest summit on 10 December, ECOWAS expressed its rejection of ‘all forms of alliances that seek to divide the region and promote foreign interest in the region.’ It is also recalled that the PSC, at its 1076th session, decided to establish a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF), in collaboration with ECOWAS and the UN, with the aim to mobilize the necessary resources to address security, development and human challenges.

On Mali

Mali was last discussed by the PSC during the first informal consultation it held with countries undergoing political transition in April this year. One key development since this informal consultation has been the successful conduct of Mali’s national referendum in June which approved amendment of the constitution with, according to the national electoral authority, 97% votes in favor. While the referendum in itself has by and large been regarded as a test to the transition authorities’ commitment to a democratic process, it has not been free of contentions. Although proponents of the newly amended constitution are hopeful it would strengthen fragile political institutions, opponents criticize the document for bestowing excessive power to the president.

While welcoming the conduct of the referendum and commending the transition authorities for deploying the necessary efforts towards its successful completion, ECOWAS, at its 64th Ordinary Session held on 10 December, expressed concern over the reluctance of Malian transition authorities to cooperate with ECOWAS.

In late September, Mali’s transition authorities announced that the presidential elections that were set to take place in February 2024 will be slightly delayed due to technical reason including the pending review of electoral lists. Further to the absence of any indication of a projected date for the postponed presidential elections to be conducted, the authorities have also decided not to hold legislative elections which were scheduled for end of 2023, opting instead to exclusively have presidential elections. This partial implementation of the transitional processes may not be without consequences for full return to constitutional and civilian rule.

On the security track, Mali continues to confront intense insurgencies with increasing tensions having been noted in the northern region over the past few months. Reports have indicated that in recent months, Al Qaeda’s Sahelian affiliate has increased its attacks in northern Mali, to exploit the security vacuum already being created due to the ongoing withdrawal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). As a result of such insecurity, humanitarian access to several parts of Mali’s northern region is now limited, frustrating the already dire humanitarian situation. The heightened tensions and armed presence in the region is also impeding the timely and orderly departure of withdrawing MINUSMA troops and personnel. While reaffirming its plans to stick to the deadline of 31 December 2023 to complete withdrawal of MINUSMA as per Mali’s request, the UN has expressed concern in mid-October, over the challenges being faced in the movement of logistics convoys.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s consultation. The consultation may highlight the importance of institutionalizing the practice of informal consultation with countries undergoing political transitions, aiming to expedite their return to constitutional order. In addition to the informal consultation, it may also emphasize the need to operationalize monitoring and evaluation mechanism to effectively track the implementation of transition plans in countries under political transition. In this context, PSC may follow-up on its previous decisions, including the decision to establish a Monitoring Mechanism on Transition in Guinea (MMTG) during its 1064th session. While recognizing the complex and multi-dimensional challenges facing these countries, the consultation may emphasize the significance of adhering to the agreed transition timelines and fostering close collaboration for the effective implementation of key transition activities. Also of significance in respect to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is how to support their efforts in the fight against terrorism and consolidating security in these countries. It may also welcome the recent decision of ECOWAS, during its 64th ordinary session held on 10 December 2023, which directed its Member States to ‘exempt the Transition Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the Member States in Transition from the travel ban and other targeted individual sanctions imposed on the three Member States’ as important step for mending very strained relations with these countries.

Press Release: Amani Africa and Namibia convene a meeting of the High-level Panel of Experts on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System

Press Release: Amani Africa and Namibia convene a meeting of the High-level Panel of Experts on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System

14 and 15 December, 2023

Nairobi, Kenya: Amani Africa convenes the joint Namibia-Amani Africa High-Level Panel of Experts on Africa and the Reform of the Multilateral System in Nairobi, Kenya on 14-15 December. This Panel, following the launch of the joint initiative in February 2023 on the side-lines of the 36th AU Summit, held its inaugural meeting in July 2023. It serves as a platform to harness the rich expertise and insights of seasoned diplomats, scholars and policy makers for facilitating and informing the engagement of African states in the various policy discussions and negotiations for making the multilateral system fit for purposes.

Amid the dynamic shifts in global power structures, intensifying geopolitical tensions and a marked rise in impunity, there is growing need and urgency for reforming the structure and operation of the current multilateral system. For Africa and others that have no seat in some of the key multilateral decision-making forums, this would entail, among others, representation and effective participation in decisions that profoundly affecting them.

The joint High-level Panel of Experts brings together experts from different fields to examine the challenges facing multilateralism and to articulate proposals for reforming the system reflecting Africa’s position for a more representative and fairer multilateral system. This is cognizant of the rising profile of Africa and the African Union (AU) in global affairs and how AU’s role vis-a-vis the United Nation (UN) can serve as a locus for reform of the multilateral system.

The Nairobi meeting, opened with Keynote address of Dr Korir A. Sing’Oei, Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, discussed the current state of the policy processes on the reform of multilateralism. It also thoroughly examined the draft text prepared to serves as the base of the final report of the Panel.

The Nairobi meeting built on and took forward the views canvassed during the inaugural meeting of the Panel and the consultative meeting the Panel held with the Africa Group in New York under the leadership of H.E. the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia.

The convening of the High-Level Panel jointly by Namibia, as member state of the AU and the UN, Amani Africa, as a think tank, and is lauded as ground breaking initiative that is the first of its kind both in its approach and relevance for enabling Africa, through the AU and the Africa Group, to play its expanding role effectively and meaningfully in the global arena.

The work of the panel is designed to serve as useful input for Africa’s engagement in the various reform processes including those leading to the Summit of the Future in September 2024. Apart from feeding the analysis from the work of the Panel to various policy negotiations at the level of the AU and global multilateral forums such as the UN and the G20, the High-level Panel of Experts is expected to finalize and launch its report in early 2024.

Amani Africa acknowledges with appreciation the generous support of Open Society Foundations towards this convening. We also thank Switzerland, Ireland, and Norway for their support for our other works.

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

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

Date | October 2023

In October, the Republic of Congo chaired the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC), which had a scheduled program of work consisting of four sessions and a field mission to Libya. However, during the month, five sessions were convened.

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Establishment of a high-level panel an opportunity for reinvigorating AU's role on Sudan

Establishment of a high-level panel an opportunity for reinvigorating AU's role on Sudan

Date | 5 December 2023

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

The ministerial meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), AU’s standing peace and security decision-making body, decided for the establishment of an AU dedicated mechanism for peace in Sudan. The communiqué of the session tasked the Chairperson of the AU Commission ‘to set up a High-Level Ad hoc Panel on Sudan, that will work with all the Sudanese stakeholders including women and the youth, to ensure an all-inclusive process towards…civilian-led political transition’.

Such a dedicated mechanism, initially proposed by President Yoweri Museveni during the heads of state and government session of the PSC on 27 May, will replace the existing arrangement that failed to facilitate the effective role of the AU in the search for ending the war in Sudan. Provided that the panel is constituted promptly and with members that have the gravitas and credibility, it will enable the AU to take its rightful place in dealing with this brutal war.

This decision also comes at a time when some encouraging developments are emerging in the diplomatic scene with respect to the peace effort in Sudan. Major among these is the appointment by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, of Ramtane Lamamra as his Envoy for Sudan. The regional body, Inter-Governmental Authority on Sudan (IGAD), also seemed to have overcome a major factor that stalled its role, the rejection by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) (the internationally recognized authority of Sudan) of Kenya’s role as Chairperson of the IGAD Quartet constituted to facilitate the peace process in Sudan.

Following a meeting held in Nairobi Kenya on 13 November, Kenya’s President, William Ruto and SAF’s chief and the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Abdel-Fattah Al Burhan, agreed on the need to speed up the Jeddah talks on ceasefire and to this end convene an IGAD summit.This summit is now scheduled to be held on 9 December 2023.

The urgency of an effective architecture for giving the peace-making effort in Sudan a fighting chance for success cannot be overemphasized. As the brutal war between the SAF and the paramilitary, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), that broke out on 15 April 2023 fast approaches its eighth month, every passing day brings the grim prospect of this brutal war becoming protracted, hence more difficult for speedy resolution.

Its geographic spread continues to expand. The pattern of mobilization of support and deployment of violence is aggravating the ethnic profile of the war. The damage being inflicted on the social, institutional and physical infrastructure of the state and the economy shows no abating.

The disregard of conflict parties to the rules of war and their resort to indiscriminate use of violence have rendered Sudan to be the world’s fast growing humanitarian crisis. A statement by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that children are bearing the ‘heaviest brunt of the violence’ with a recorded 3 million children fleeing the violence in search of safety, food, shelter and health care. According to the UN agency, this figure makes Sudan the largest child displacement crisis in the world. UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, warned that War and hunger could destroy Sudan. In a statement he issued on 25 August 2023, Griffiths put the world on notice that the ‘war in Sudan is fuelling a humanitarian emergency of epic proportions’ and ‘now threatens to consume the entire country.’

With RSF deepening its grip in Darfur and Khartoum and the SAF establishing its seat in Port Sudan, the fragmentation of the country similar to what Libya experienced is no longer a future scenario. All of these conditions stand to deepen the involvement of various state and non-state actors in the region and beyond. This entrenching downward spiral entails huge peril for not just Sudan itself but for international peace and security in the wider region as well.

What is most shocking about this war is not simply the geographic space where it is taking place and its implication for Sudan and the region. Nor are the scale of the violence, the mass atrocities and the humanitarian emergency ensuing from it. Indeed, some of these features of this war echoes the atrocious Darfur conflict of two decades earlier.

What is most shocking more than anything else is the absence of the kind of robust regional and international diplomatic mobilization that was on full display during the earlier Darfur war. While not unique to Sudan, today’s brutal war in Sudan epitomizes the colossal consequences of the current breakdown of peace and security diplomacy both continentally and at the international levels.

Notwithstanding the continuing acts of violence being inflicted on the civilian population involving incidents of mass atrocities including acts amounting to those prohibited under Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act, the PSC and the AU in general did not go beyond expression of concern and condemnation of breaches of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

That the AU has been unable to take tangible measures & a functional dedicated mediation structure are exposing it to legitimate charges of falling back to the old politics of indifference to mass atrocities that was characteristic of the now defunct its predecessor the Organization of African Unity. Sudanese and others are thus rightly asking whether the AU is betraying its founding commitment to the principle of non-indifference to the plight of people caught up in atrocious conflicts on the continent.

When the war broke out, the AU took a lead position. The PSC convened a day after the outbreak of the war. The Chairperson of the AU Commission mobilized an international ministerial meeting. AU also established an international platform involving all regional and international actors and a Core Group of major actors. AU’s lead role ended there. The multiplicity of role players, lack of clear leadership and the destruction from other multiple roles of those expected to mobilize sustained engagement hobbled AU’s engagement on this file.

Unable to bridge the widening gulf between peoples’ expectation of it and its actual delivery, AU run into a serious legitimacy crisis in its response to the raging war in Sudan. President Museveni’s proposal for the establishment of a dedicated mechanism taking the form of a high-level facilitator or panel of facilitators, during the PSC summit level meeting on Sudan held on27 May 2023, did not find its way into the outcome document. There was no convening of the Core Group since June. When the US-Saudi led Jeddah process reconvened in late October – early November with expanded participation, AU’s participation was delegated to the Executive Secretary of IGAD, who participated as co-facilitator on behalf also of the AU.

Coming against such a chequered background, the ministerial decision for the establishment of a high-level panel presents the AU with an opportunity to regain credibility and uphold its principle of non-indifference. It allows it to be equipped with a dedicated mechanism that operates on a full-time bases on the search for finding a solution to the war in Sudan. For this, speed in acting on the decision and the credibility, impartiality and gravitas of the members of the high-level panel are crucial. Not any less significant is the identification of members other than those who are not assigned other roles in the AU system and hence can put their full attention and effort on the situation in Sudan.

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’

Insights on Ministerial and High-Level Open Session on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Welfare of Children in Situations of Conflict in Africa

Insights on Ministerial and High-Level Open Session on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Welfare of Children in Situations of Conflict in Africa

Date | 3 December 2023

On December 4 and 5, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will attend the Ministerial and High-Level Open Session on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Welfare of Children in Situations of Conflict in  Africa, to be held in Banjul, The Gambia.

Following the opening remarks of Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia and Chairperson of the AU PSC for the month, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) and Co-chair of the Africa Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (APCAAC), is also expected to deliver a statement. The upcoming 2-day open session aims to gather representatives from AU Member States, members of the Steering Committee of the African Child Protection Architecture and APCAAC, AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Child Representatives, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (UNSRSG) and Head of UNOAU, UNSRSG CAAC, UNICEF representatives, civil society groups, think tanks, international partners and other stakeholders.

The session will focus on assessing the implementation of AU Child protection policies, the efficacy of the existing child protection mechanisms and the level of coordination between these various mechanisms and sharing lessons learned and exchanging ideas on effective strategies for preventing violations of children’s rights in conflict situations across the continent.

As far as policies and normative instruments are concerned, the AU has made some significant strides. At a general level, the founding instrument in this respect is the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which articulates specific provision on the protection of children in conflict situations. While this is the primary legal instrument on protection of children, it is complemented by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The AU also elaborated guidelines on civilian protection in 2010, which although not specific to children, sets the context for their protection.

In addition, the AU has taken steps to ensure that child protection is integrated into all AU-sanctioned peace support operations, with the aim of preventing violations against children in armed conflict and promoting accountability in mission areas. During the 14th Ordinary Session of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) held in Addis Ababa from 9 to 13 May 2022, two important policies were adopted which aimed at safeguarding and improving the well-being of children affected by armed conflict in Africa. These policies include the Policy on Child Protection in African Union Peace Support Operations and the Policy on Mainstreaming Child Protection into the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).

Institutionally speaking, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is the main AU body on the protection of child rights in general. Yet, it also has dedicated focus on children affected by armed conflict (CAAC). It has carried out study on the same theme. A special advisor on CAAC has been deployed since 2013 to the AU Peace and Security Department, before it became PAPS in 2021 with its merger with the previous Political Affairs department. A more recent major development was the establishment of Africa Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (APCAAC). The PSC has also institutionalized and has as a dedicated thematic agenda children in conflict situations since 2014.

Despite these normative and institutional measures, the situation of children in situations of conflict, crisis and emergency has not improved. In recent years, Africa has been experiencing spike in the number and impacts of conflicts. One of the major features of many of these conflicts is the fact that they are conducted without due regard to the rules of international law that govern the conduct of hostilities. As a result, these conflicts have had devastating consequences, on the civilian population, including indiscriminate killings and massacre, other forms of physical violence including rape, forced displacement and hunger and starvation.

Children are among the category of vulnerable groups who experience disproportionately the colossal impacts of today’s conflicts on the continent. Beyond the fact that children on account of their age suffer disproportionately from the violent impacts of conflicts affecting other civilians, six categories of grave violations of child rights in situations of conflicts are identified under international law. These are: Killing and maiming of children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access to children.

These various grave violations are perpetrated in many of the various conflict settings on the continent. For example, during the first half of 2022, a significant increase of 57% was recorded by the UN in grave violations against children as compared to the previous year. Apart from recruitment or use of children and the attacks on schools, the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia also involved denial of humanitarian access of the population in the region, including children. Of the four countries globally where the highest number of recruitment and use of children by parties to conflicts were verified in 2021, three were African countries – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali and Somalia. Attacks against schools is a recurrent form of violence in the conflicts involving terrorist groups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria as well as in Cameroon’s anglophone conflict.

Currently, we observe these various forms of violations and generally the disproportionate impact of conflict playing itself out dramatically in the war in Sudan. According to a recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the conflict in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has resulted in approximately 12 million children being deprived of education since April 2023. The total number of out-of-school children in Sudan has reached 19 million, as reported by Save the Children (SC) and the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF). Moreover, out of the 12 million affected children, 6 million have lost access to schooling due to increased violence and insecurity. This has resulted in the closure of at least 10, 400 schools in conflict-affected areas. UNICEF reported that Sudan has become the world’s largest child displacement crisis, with 3 million of the country’s children forced from their homes due to the war. Conflict settings such as in the Lake Chad Basin involving Boko Haram and in Somalia also featured abduction of children.

Apart from the fact that the situation of children in conflict and crisis situations not showing improvement, the efficacy of the norms and protection infrastructure in effectively monitoring, documenting, reporting and initiating accountability measures leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, protection of children is not systematically mainstreamed not only across the APSA but also in how the AU engages with respect to specific conflict situations and across the conflict cycle from prevention to post-conflict. For example, while the PSC considers the situation of children in conflict as a thematic agenda, often in its consideration of specific country or regional conflict or crisis, the situation of children in such specific settings is rarely considered as an issue deserving particular attention. Additionally, there is no comprehensive systematic analysis and report on the nature, trends and manifestations of violations of children rights in situations of conflict or crisis as well as the challenges and requirements for an effective child protection regime which adequately establishes the need for and how the proposed special rapporteur on children affected by conflict can coordinate with other mechanisms and facilitate protection of children.

Another issue that deserves the attention of the ministerial and open session is follow up of PSC decisions. The communiqué of PSC’s 5 October 2022 1110th session requested the Commission to undertake a study on the specific impact of terrorism on children and to submit the report of the study for consideration by the Council. In addition, the Chairperson of the AU Commission was requested to appoint a Special Envoy for Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa to facilitate the effective implementation of the AU Child Rights Agenda. This echoes the decisions from the previous substantial meeting held by the Council on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa, which was the 1101st PSC meeting held on 18 August 2022.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s meeting is a Communiqué or a Press Statement. Council is likely to commend the Africa Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (AP CAAC) as a platform that works to advocate for the rights of children affected by armed conflicts, promote the implementation of international legal standards on the involvement of children in armed conflict and support efforts to reintegrate and rehabilitate child soldiers. Council is also expected to emphasize the importance of strengthening advocacy efforts to ensure the safety and security of children in conflict zones. In this context, Council is likely to reiterate its call for Member States to endorse, adopt and implement the Safe Schools Declaration, which promotes education for children impacted by armed conflicts in Africa. In the same vein, Council is also expected to reaffirm its call to Member States, who have not yet done so, to sign, ratify and incorporate into domestic law the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and other relevant international instruments. Based on the discussion on the establishment of an architecture for child protection, the PSC may also elaborate the establishment of the architecture. In light of the issues highlighted in the foregoing, the PSC may also request the systematic monitoring, documentation and reporting of the state of protection of children in armed conflict in Africa as critical vehicle for adopting relevant measures informed by such comprehensive data and analysis. The PSC may also request that the protection of children is specifically highlighted in briefings and reports on specific conflict situations in order to facilitate the adoption of measures for enhancing child protection in such specific conflict settings. The PSC may also request that report is presented to it on the institutional and financial implications of the proposed special rapporteur/envoy on children affected by conflict to ensure well informed decision and speeding up the process towards such decision.

The African Union Peace and Security Council Handbook - 2023




The African Union Peace and Security Council Handbook is an initiative of Amani Africa Media and Research Services (Amani Africa) that provides authoritative information and analysis on the PSC and its work. As with the previous three editions of the Handbook, this edition of the Handbook benefited from Amani Africa’s engagement with the key actors in the work of the PSC. I wish to acknowledge members of the PSC, in particular the monthly chairpersons of the PSC, the PSC Secretariat, and members of the Committee of experts for their support towards the preparation of this edition of the Handbook.

I wish to extend special thanks to H.E. Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for the Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) for the Foreword, underscoring the importance of research and analysis in supporting the implementation of the PSC protocol.
Allow me to also recognize with appreciation the usual support of the staff of the PSC Secretariat, particularly Neema Nicholaus Chusi, the Head of the PSC Secretariat.

This edition of the Handbook is a product of Amani Africa’s engagements with the wider staff of the PAPS Department to whom we also extend our gratitude.

We wish to thank the Government of Switzerland that provided partner support for the project on the updating and publication of this new edition of the Handbook.

Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso, on behalf of Amani Africa team

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Discussion on the issue of Private Military and Defence Companies (PMDC) operating in Africa and briefing on the status of the review of the OAU/AU Convention on Mercenaries in Africa

Discussion on the issue of Private Military and Defence Companies (PMDC) operating in Africa and briefing on the status of the review of the OAU/AU Convention on Mercenaries in Africa

Date | 30 November 2023

Tomorrow (1 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1189th session at an ambassadorial level to discuss two agenda items. The first agenda item will focus on the issue of Private Military and Defence Companies (PMDC) operating in Africa and provide a briefing on the status of the review of the OAU/AU Convention for the Elimination of Mercenaries in Africa. The second agenda item will be dedicated to the briefing on the outcome of the 2023 Luanda Biennale.

Following the opening statement by Jainaba Jagne, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of The Gambia and Chairperson of the PSC for December and the Commissioner of the Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a briefing on the status of the revision of the OAU/AU Convention on Mercenaries in Africa.

The presence of Military and Defence Companies (PMDCs) and mercenaries, in Africa is not a recent occurrence. Historically, the nature and involvement of PMDCs and mercenaries in African countries have manifested in different ways, and taken on various forms in regard to their impact on the peace and security situation of the continent. It is not the first time for the PSC to discuss this subject. In its Communique of the 1159th session, the PSC expressed its concern regarding the surge of mercenaries and foreign fighters in Africa. Nonetheless, the topic of PMSCs and mercenaries has yet to be addressed as a distinct agenda item by the PSC.

The session tomorrow marks the first time the PSC will engage in a dedicated discussion on this matter. Despite not being discussed as a standalone agenda item, the involvement of PMSCs as well as mercenaries as potential exacerbators of conflict has been acknowledged by the PSC in the contexts of Libya, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR) and Côte d’Ivoire. In recent years, the involvement of PMDCs and mercenaries in these countries received particular attention.

According to the report of the Panel of Experts on Libya that was released in March 2021, it was alleged that the Russian Wagner Group, three United Arab Emirates Companies, and the Turkey SADAT International Defence Consultancy were involved in the conflict in Libya. Additionally, there are also other PMDCs, including South Africa’s Dyck Advisory Group as well as France’s Secopex that have been employed to fight Al-Shabaab militants in Mozambique and operated in Libya previously.

As the spread of PMDCs across the continent continues, it is believed that France’s Secopex is operating in CAR and Somalia and Russia’s Wagner presence is also not limited to Libya. Wagner has expanded its operations across the continent, including in CAR, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, Mozambique, South Sudan and Sudan. In June 2023, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, officially confirmed that Wagner is working in CAR and Mali, with plans for continued collaboration. While Lavrov stated that Wagner members are serving as instructors in these countries, there are allegations of their involvement in nefarious activities. However, this issue extends beyond the Wagner Group. Allegations were also made on the South Africa PMDC, Dyck Advisory Group of the killing of civilians in Mozambique.

On the other hand, China’s PMDCs have a distinct focus on safeguarding Chinese investments in areas such as mines, transportation corridors, and natural gas projects. Unlike other PMDCs, Chinese PMDCs are established, trained, equipped, and employed directly by the state. However, with regard to their existence in Africa, as a result of the expanding Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects across the continent, their presence have also increased. They are reported to be found in a number of East African and Southern African countries. It is worth noting that the employment of PMDCs for investment protection purposes is not limited to China and is indeed not uncommon among companies in the extractive industries sector.

The PSC is also expected to discuss the issue in relation to thematic topics such as terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government. The concern of PMDCs may be further examined in the context of the worsening terrorism and violent extremism on the continent, which is exacerbated by the influx of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), PMDCs, and mercenaries. In this regard, some argue that the United States’ drone legions operated by PMDCs in the Sahel and Central Africa have adverse consequences, potentially generating more terrorists than those they eliminate at the local, national, and global levels.

In the context of lack of multilateral security support and the ensuing security vacuum, there is also an emerging trend of fragile and conflict-affected countries relying on PMDCs in the face of mounting security threats facing them. Following the coup in Niger in July 2023, the military leaders sought support from Wagner out of fear of potential military intervention by ECOWAS. This shift and tendency to rely on PMDCs not only reflects on the failure of countries to build effective security systems and fragile regimes’ attempts to fend off against real or perceived threats. But it also reflects the inadequacy or failure of regional/AU as well as multilateral security support measures.

The apparent increase in the role or influence of PMDCs in a context where national authorities lack the legislative and regulatory tools for enforcing applicable standards against such bodies presents a plethora of both human and state security challenges. From a human security perspective, there are credible allegations of PMDCs engaging in human rights violations in an environment of impunity. From a state security perspective, there is a risk of these profit motivated entities being susceptible to being bought by anyone for orchestrating influence, domination and even unconstitutional change of government in the country they are deployed in. Recognizing this during the PSC discussions on the situation in Niger (1168th session) and Gabon (1172nd Session), the Council has expressed its rejection of the involvement of any foreign actors in the peace and security affairs of the continent ‘including engagements by private military companies (PMCs)’. This rejection was made in line with the OAU/AU Convention on Mercenaries in Africa. In light of the overall risk that arises from the deployment of PMDCs including their potential subversive use, the PSC may consider proposing that the review of the 1977 OAU/AU Convention on mercenaries should establish a regional framework for providing continental guarantee to member states when they opt for enlisting the support of PMDCs in legitimately defined circumstances. This will also ensure that the engagement of PMDCs is effectively regulated at continental levels and subject to the application of multilateral norms of the AU.

The Convention on mercenaries was adopted in Libreville on 3 July 1977. Although four decades have passed since its adoption, as of 30 November 2023, only thirty-two African Member States have ratified the Convention. However, due to the dynamic changes in the continent’s security situation, the emergence of various PMDCs, poriferous borders that facilitate the influx of foreign fighters, and the presence of non-state armed groups, it has become necessary to revise the convention to address current challenges. In line with this, the AU Commission was directed to revise the Convention by the 12th Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) held in Cairo, Egypt, through the declaration adopted on 19 December 2019. The AU Assembly later endorsed the direction given by the STCDSS in its decision [Assembly/AU//Dec.754(XXXIII)], which was adopted during its 33rd Ordinary Session that was held in February 2020. Additionally, the Assembly requested the Commission to speed up the conclusion of the revision of the Convention during its 16th Extraordinary Session in May 2022 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

In order to implement the decision of the Assembly, the AU Commission, specifically the Governance and Conflict Prevention Directorate of PAPS, engaged consultants to review and revise the OAU Convention on Mercenaries. The main objective was to develop a revised draft of the Convention that focuses on eliminating mercenaries in Africa taking account of the changing security dynamics on the continent, which would then be reviewed by AU policy organs.

The revision process involved various tasks, such as identifying the strengths and shortcomings of the Convention, making recommendations to address current security challenges related to mercenaries as well as PMDCs, examining the connection between weak border management and the facilitation of mercenary movement, investigating potential links between terrorism, foreign fighters, illegal exploitation of natural resources, and acts of terrorism, and identifying areas of alignment between other AU instruments and policies.

To facilitate this revision process, consultative meetings were organized, bringing together the relevant AU organs to consider and strengthen the initial draft of the revised Convention. Therefore, as one of the Policy Organs of the AU, the PSC is expected to consider the status of the revision of the Convention and make suggestions in line with the various considerations that were made in developing the revised Convention.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC is expected to express its concern over the growing number of Private Military and Defence Companies and their impact on the peace and stability of the continent. The PSC is also expected to express concern over the unregulated use of PMDC as an alternative military force across various member states and the associated risk of these entities being used for interfering in the internal affairs of AU member states. In this regard, the PSC may retreat its rejection of any external interference by any actor or any country outside the Continent in the peace and security affairs in Africa including through the use of private military companies in the continent in line with the 1977 OAU Convention for the Elimination of Mercenaries in Africa. The PSC may request the AU Commission to prepare a report on the various adverse impacts of the use of PMDCs in Africa including in terms of the standards and commitments contained in the AU Solemn Declaration on Common African Defence and Security Policy with recommendations on how best to address the risks and threats posed by this development for submission to the PSC. The Council may request for the submission of the revised OAU/AU Convention on Mercenaries in Africa to the Executive Council through the 16th Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security, subsequently to the AU Assembly for validation and endorsement. The PSC may propose that the review of the 1977 OAU/AU Convention on mercenaries should establish a regional framework for providing continental guarantee to member states when they opt for enlisting the support of PMDCs in legitimately defined circumstances. This will also ensure that the engagement of PMDCs is effectively regulated at continental levels and subject to the application of multilateral norms of the AU.

Briefing on the Outcome of the 2023 Luanda Biennale

The second agenda item of tomorrow’s session is dedicated to a briefing on the third edition of the Luanda Biennale. The representative of the Republic of Angola is expected to deliver a briefing.

The Luanda Biennale, also known as the Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace, is a biennial event that takes place in Luanda, Angola. It is part of the implementation of the “Plan of Action for a Culture of Peace in Africa/Make Peace Happen,” which was adopted in March 2013 in Luanda. The main objective of the Luanda Biennale is to facilitate knowledge exchange and dialogue on promoting a culture of peace and engaging in intergenerational conversations as effective methods of preventing violence and resolving conflicts. In this session, the PSC is expected to receive a summary of this year’s forum, which was held from November 22nd to 24th, 2023, with a focus on the theme “Education, Culture of Peace, and African Citizenship as instruments for the sustainable development of the continent.”

Provisional programme of work for the month of December 2023

Provisional programme of work for the month of December 2023

Date | December 2023

In December, the Republic of The Gambia will assume the chairship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) under the leadership of H.E. Ambassador Jainaba Jagne, Permanent Representative of the Republic of The Gambia to the AU. This month’s provisional programme of work includes a total of three substantive sessions, one of which will be held at the ministerial level and chaired by H.E. Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Gambia. In addition to its sessions on thematic and country specific issues, the PSC will also convene its 3rd annual joint retreat with the APRM in Johannesburg, South Africa and conduct the 10th High-Level Seminar, at ministerial level, in Oran Algeria.

On 01 December, the first session of the month, at ambassadorial level, is scheduled to discuss private military and defence companies operating in Africa. The last time the PSC reflected on this topic was during the 1159th Ministerial-level meeting held on 22 June 2023. During that session, the agenda focused on the ‘Status of Implementation of the Common African Defence and Security Policy and other Relevant Defence and Security Instruments on the Continent.’ In its Communique, the PSC expressed its concern regarding the surge of mercenaries and foreign fighters in Africa, inconsistent with the principles outlined in the Solemn Declaration on a Common African Defence and Security Policy (CADSP). Mercenaries were identified in the CADSP as common external threats to continental security in Africa. Consequently, the first session of the month is expected to give an update on the status of the review of the OAU/AU Convention for the Elimination of Mercenaries in Africa, initially adopted on 03 July 1977. It is noted that out of the total 55 countries, only 36 signed the convention and among them, only 32 have ratified it.

Additionally, there will be a briefing on the outcome of the 3rd edition of the Luanda Biennale. The Biennale of Luanda (Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace) is an event which is held every 2 years in Angola’s capital city, Luanda. Its primary objective is to promote experience sharing and dialogue on the promotion of the culture of peace and intergenerational dialogues, as a means of preventing violence and resolving conflicts. During this segment of the session, the PSC is expected to receive a brief on the outcome of this year’s forum under the theme “Education, Culture of Peace and African Citizenship as tools for the sustainable development of the continent” which was held on 22-24 November 2023.

On December 4 and 5, a Ministerial and High-Level Open Session will be held in Banjul, The Gambia. The purpose of this session is to discuss the African Child Protection Architecture and the African Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflict (AP-CAAC). During the last 1101st meeting on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa held on 18 August 2022, the PSC expressed deep concern about persistent violent conflicts undermining the fundamental rights and welfare of children. The PSC praised the AP-CAAC for its efforts to mobilize action to address grave violations against children rights and urged member states and partners to support the platform. The Ministerial high-level session is set to bring together various stakeholders with a view to take stock of the state of children affected by armed conflict on the continent, the various role players in the AU system and articulate measures for advancing effective action and close coordination and synergy among various role players. It also affords the PSC the opportunity to consider how to systematically mainstream the protection of children both across the peace and security architecture and the entire conflict cycle as the AU engages specific conflict situations. Among others, the ministerial meeting may take cue from some of the best practices of the UN in this regard, including most particularly the tracking, monitoring and reporting on trends and dynamics in status of compliance with children rights and protection in various conflict and crisis settings on the continent with a view to inform a more systematic as opposed to ad hoc policy response to the challenges to compliance with protection of children. More concretely, the Ministerial session may also consider the urgent and pressing situation of children caught up in the raging war in Sudan, which is classified by UNICEF as the world’s largest child displacement crisis.

On the same week, December 8 in particular, the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) will convene to prepare for two major annual fora: the 3rd PSC and Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Retreat and the 10th High-level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa. At the 1129th PSC meeting on the consideration of the adoption of the Conclusions of the Second Joint Retreat of the PSC of the AU and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) held on 20 December 2022, a Communique was adopted providing PSC’s decision to hold the Third Joint Retreat in Durban, South Africa, during the third quarter of 2023, at a date to be jointly agreed upon in due course. In that context, the Joint Retreat will take place on December 11 and 12 in Johannesburg, South Africa. This year’s retreat coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the APRM. Building on the theme of the 2nd Joint Retreat held in Durban in November 2022, the upcoming retreat will assess the collaboration between the PSC and APRM in early warning and conflict prevention, as well as the synergy between the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA).

Furthermore, the 10th High-level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa: Assisting African Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) (A3) in preparing to address peace and security issues on the continent, will be held at the Ministerial Level on December 17 and 18. Coined ‘the Oran Process’, this year’s seminar will fall under the theme ‘Celebrating 10 years of progress and cooperation: A decade of transformation and innovation, reaching new heights together’. The meeting, traditionally held in Oran Algeria during December in accordance with the PSC’s Annual Indicative Programme, is expected to address the A3’s practices in setting and prioritizing African issues in the UN Security Council agenda and how to advance support for and close coordination with the A3 by the PSC and the AU in general. Additionally, discussions will focus on how to address the challenges and set strategies for supporting incoming A3 states.

The last session of the month scheduled for 21 December will be an Informal Consultation to provide an updated briefing on the countries in political transition namely Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso. On 26 April 2023, PSC convened for the first time an informal consultation with representatives of member states undergoing political transitions i.e. Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. The consultation served as an opportunity for the PSC to directly engage with the member states suspended from the activities of the AU in relation to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG), in an informal consultation format, which carries no formal outcome. On the same day, the PSC is expected to consider the recently concluded 15th PSC Retreat on the review of its working methods held from 25 to 27 November 2023 and would consider the adoption of the Terms of Reference for the operationalization of the PSC Sub-committee on Sanctions. The programme of work for the month also indicates that the deliberations on the same day will consider the PSC Annual Indicative Programme of Work for 2024.

The footnotes on the programme of work indicate that from 7 to 9 December 2023, the PSC Chairperson (representing West African region) and one PSC Member per region will attend the COP 28.

Amani Africa wishes to express its gratitude to the Australian Embassy in Ethiopia for the support in the production of this Insight on the Monthly Programme of Work of the AU Peace and Security Council

Conflict and fragility turn climate induced extreme weather events into catastrophe: The lesson from the tragedy in Derna Libya for COP28

Conflict and fragility turn climate induced extreme weather events into catastrophe: The lesson from the tragedy in Derna Libya for COP28

Date | 29 November 2023

Tefesehet Hailu
Researcher, Amani Africa

Solomon Ayele Dersso, PhD
Founding Director, Amani Africa

On a fateful night of 11 September, the city of Derna, in eastern Libya, was hit by the deadliest flooding. The heavy rain from Tropical Storm Daniel, combined with the collapse of the two dams in the city of Derna led to flooding that wiped out various parts of the city.

This catastrophic event led to an unprecedented death and destruction of the city of Derna.

In recent years, the world has witnessed the devastating impact of climate change-related disasters. From extreme weather conditions such as flooding, drought and heat waves to desertification and the rise of sea levels, these events have caused immense suffering and destruction.

But what happens when these disasters occur in countries already affected by conflict? The story of the tragedy in Derna is emblematic of how conflicts, governance failures and fragilities turn extreme events into catastrophe.

The unprecedented heavy rainfall induced by tropical storm Daniel overwhelmed the two neglected dams in Derna, leading to their collapse and the release of an estimated 30 million cubic metres of water. The ensuing heavy flood resulted in loss of large number of lives and widespread damage to infrastructure, homes, and livelihoods.

The flooding has also caused the death of more than 5,000 people, with 8,500 reported missing, and has resulted in the displacement of more than 30,000 individuals.

The scale of this disaster is not merely a result of the climate change induced unprecedented levels of heavy rain. It is also significantly affected by the ongoing conflict in the country. The conflict and associated governance failures diverted attention and resources away from the maintenance of critical infrastructure and the provision of early warning to affected communities.

Conflict disrupts essential infrastructures and services, making communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Conflict also results in neglect of maintenance, leaving critical infrastructures vulnerable to be easily overwhelmed by climate induced extreme weather conditions. Additionally, conflict diverts resources and attention away from disaster preparedness and response efforts. This can hinder conflict-affected countries’ effectiveness in addressing potential threats and providing timely assistance.

That is what happened in Derna. Like many parts of Libya, the conflict that unravelled in 2011 following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi diverted resources and political attention away from services in the country including maintenance of critical infrastructure. This left essential systems ill-prepared to handle and respond to the sudden influx of Tropical Storm Daniel.

The situation in Derna highlighted the significant impact of conflict in aggravating climate change-related disasters. However, this incident in Derna is not an isolated case. Other African countries facing prolonged conflicts are also at a high risk of climate change-related disasters.

While the famine in Madagascar was reported as the first climate change induced famine, as an event that happens overtime, its occurrence would not have been possible without governance failure.

Similarly, the herder-farmer violence in parts of West Africa and the Sahel has become increasingly frequent and fatal due to governance failure and conflict. This is occasioned by climate change-induced conflict and the rising depletion of resources including pastureland.

The disaster that befallen Derna, along with other various cases, demonstrates how conflicts and governance failures can engender a lack of preparedness and effective response to climate change. This highlights that the climate-security nexus is not one-directional. Derna is a reminder that fragilities, governance failures and conflict are capable of transforming climate-induced extreme weather conditions into catastrophes.

These events highlight the imperative for inclusion in climate policy making the vulnerabilities that arise from conflict and fragility.  According to a report by the United Nations Development Programme, none of the global climate change instruments, such as the Paris Agreement or the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, address the issues of conflict, fragility, or peace and security.

The ‘Climate Response for Sustaining Peace’ initiative, spearheaded by the COP Presidency of Egypt in 2022 marks the first time that the issue of conflict and peace is brought to the discussion within the framework of COP.

One of the pillars of the ‘Climate Response for Sustaining Peace’ initiative is to enhance the connection between climate adaptation and peacebuilding. Not any less important and deserving of urgent attention is to address the fact that conflict-affected and fragile countries receive the least from global climate finance. While this is also linked to loss and damage (a major outcome of COP27 on which COP28 is expected to institute the fund), climate change as it relates to fragile and conflict-affected countries should not be subsumed under it. This thus underscores the need for close coordination in climate and peace and security policy making.

Over the past three years, African countries received only 16 billion US Dollars in climate finance, while the annual gap from 2020 to 2030 amounts to 1288 billion US Dollars. Fragile countries face even more challenges accessing climate finance compared to non-fragile contexts. Recent reports show that countries in fragile settings receive only 1/80th of per capita climate financing compared to non-fragile countries.

COP28 needs to take this agenda forward with a focus on fragile and conflict affected countries including on the question of how to ease access to climate funding. In the urgent battle against climate change, policy-makers must recognize that discussions like COP, devoid of conversations on peace and security, risk the exclusion of conflict-affected fragile regions, with unintended catastrophic consequences on the lives and livelihoods of people in those regions.

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 post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa

Briefing on the post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa

Date | 29 November 2023

Tomorrow (30 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1188th session to receive a briefing on the post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) activities in Africa.

Following opening remarks by Abdi Mahamoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November 2023, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to deliver a statement. A representative of the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD); representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB); representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt; and representative of the United Nations (UN) Office to the African Union (UNOAU) are also expected to make statements during the session

This session comes within the context of the commemoration of the third edition of PCRD awareness week, which is taking place from 22-30 November 2023 under the theme ‘fostering Africa’s future through sustained peacebuilding’. PCRD awareness week was first launched in November 2021 with the aim to raise awareness on and promote collective action of AU Member States and partners, on the recovery and development needs of post-conflict societies. Subsequently, the Assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)), as well as the PSC (during its 1047th session) endorsed the institutionalization and regularization of the awareness week as an annual event.

The last time PSC received briefing on PCRD was at its 1122nd session, which was held on 28 November 2022. While welcoming the launch of the AU PCRD Policy Framework review process, PSC, in that session, requested its 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 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly that took place in February 2023. As part of the effort to enhance its peacebuilding architecture, PSC also directed the Commission and the AU Development Agency (NEPAD) to establish a PCRD Working Group. Furthermore, it called for the establishment of a Continental Network of National Development and Cooperation Agencies that would support the envisaged Working Group in implementing PCRD activities and programmes on the continent. In tomorrow’s briefing, Bankole is expected to highlight progress made in the implementation of these and other decisions.

The Policy Framework was launched in 2006 with the intention to address the recovery and reconstruction needs of countries and communities emerging from conflict thereby consolidate peace and prevent relapse of violence. Since then, AU’s PCRD interventions has taken different forms, including the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and Peace Strengthening Projects (PSPs) (as in the case of Somalia); the development of Regional Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the Stabilization Strategy for the Sahel; support in the areas of reconciliation and healing (as in the case of South Sudan), supporting in the reform and establishment of state institutions (as in the case of Gambia); and implementation of  disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and security sector reform (SSR) (as in the case of Central African Republic).

Yet, as PSC’s 670th session of March 2017 recognized, PCRD dimension remains the ‘weakest link’ in the implementation of both the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Other challenges added the impetus for a revision of both the PCRD Policy Framework and its implementation. The first challenge stems from the evolving security landscape of the continent, now characterized by the prevalence of terrorism, violent extremism, worsening humanitarian situation and the impact of climate change. Secondly, the persistent recurrence of conflicts in the continent including the relapse of countries back to conflict, despite AU’s PCRD efforts, raises the question of gaps in the Policy Framework and significantly its implementations. The third challenge pertains to financing; with some of AU’s initiatives aimed at addressing this issue either falling short of securing commitments from Member States or remaining unimplemented. Lastly, there is a lack of effective coordination among diverse stakeholders within and outside the AU, coupled with a need for harmonization among the various AU policy frameworks

It is against the above context that both the AU Assembly (at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)]) and PSC (at its 1047th session) reached a conclusion that the 2006 PCRD Policy requires a revision with the view to aligning the policy with the evolving continental security dynamics and ensure its effectiveness in achieving its intended purpose. Accordingly, the AU Commission initiated the revision process, convening a high-level expert engagement in September 2022 in Accra, Ghana. Since Egypt as Champion of PCRD and host of the AU PCRD Centre sought further engagement of the policy review process, the revised policy was not presented to the 36th AU Assembly as envisaged in the decision of the 1122nd session of the PSC. As a follow-up to the first engagement, the second AU workshop on the review of the PCRD Policy was convened in Cairo, Egypt from 30 May to 1 June, 2023. In his tomorrow briefing, Bankole may highlight the key outcomes of the Cairo workshop and outline next steps for the final adoption of the revised Policy Framework.

One aspect of the changes introduced in the revised version of the Policy, as indicated in the outcome of the Cairo workshop, is the broadening of the scope of AU PCRD activities to incorporate peacebuilding dimension and cover the entire conflict cycle– pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict. This is indeed pursuant to the policy guidance provided by the PSC at its 1047th, held on 12 November 2021. The other aspect is that the revised policy underpins an integrated approach to peacebuilding that addresses the interlinked Humanitarian, Peace and Security, Development, and Governance (HDPG quadruple nexus) needs of countries affected by conflict. The inclusion of humanitarian principles as part of the core values that underpin the Policy, and some highlights on PCRD funding as part of the Policy’s section on rationale, as well as the inclusion of youth and environment security as additional pillars of the Policy are also among the important areas of the revision. The other aspect worth highlighting is the proposal to rename the PCRD Policy and related AU Commission organs and mechanisms, including the AU Center for PCRD, to be the AU Policy on ‘Peace Building, Reconstruction and Development (PBRD). The representative of Egypt put forth this proposal during the Cairo Workshop, arguing that replacing ‘Post-Conflict’ with ‘Peace Building’ could address the challenge of the stigma that persists around some countries being labeled as ‘conflict situation’ or ‘post-conflict situation’.

In addition to the revision process, the other major development in terms of strengthening AU’s peacebuilding architecture is the launch of a Working Group on AU PCRD on 15 May in line with PCS’s 1122nd session. Co-chaired by PAPS Commissioner Bankole and AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer Nardos Bekele, the working Group is aimed at developing and operationalizing mechanisms and processes based on the AU PCRD Policy, at the technical and strategic levels. While welcoming the launch of the Working Group, PSC members may wish to follow-up on the status of the implementation of its previous decisions, including the revitalization of the interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD, the reactivation of PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD, and preparation of the terms of reference (ToR) and time frames for the Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee on PCRD is the third awaiting reactivation, alongside the Sub-Committees on sanctions and counter-terrorism. Additionally, PSC members may be interested in receiving updates on the progress made towards achieving full operationalization of the AU Centre for PCRD in Cairo, which was officially inaugurated in December 2021. One significant progress in the operationalization of the Centre is the appointment of substantive head of the Centre. The Centre is expected to have 30 staff members when it becomes fully operational.

It may be of interest for members of the PSC to seek clarity on some aspects of the revised policy. One such aspect is clarity around the core focus of this policy. While welcoming the interlinkages of PCRD to the entire peace continuum established under the revised policy, the identification of its core focus areas is key in distinguishing PCRD from measures initiated by conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanisms of the APSA. Related to this is also the demarcation of roles of PCRD vis-à-vis other AU entities with related responsibilities in order to avoid duplication.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. PSC is expected to welcome the convening of the Cairo Workshop and its outcomes, including the finalization of the review of PCRD Policy Framework. The PSC may decide that the revised Policy Framework is submitted to the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly for its consideration and adoption including the change to the nomenclature of the policy and associated bodies. While commending the Commission and AUDA-NEPAD for the launch of AU PCRD Working Group, PSC may once again urge the Commission and its Committee of Experts to expedite the implementation of agreed-upon decisions, particularly the reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD. The PSC may also affirm the importance of the strategic leadership of the PSC in the implementation and deployment of PCRD interventions. In relation to the AU PCRD Centre, PSC may echo the call of AU Champion on PCRD and urge the Commission to expedite the full activation of the Centre. PSC is also expected to emphasize the imperative of ensuring sustainable and predictable resources for its PCRD activities. In that regard, in addition to the revitalization of African Solidarity Initiative, it may once again stress the importance of engaging the African Development Bank, the African private sector, international financial institutions, and other international partners such as the UN Peacebuilding Commission to mobilize the necessary resources. It may also call upon the Commission to allocate finance for PCRD interventions from the Peace Fund in line with the identified priority activities.