Commemoration of the 23rd Anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 on WPS

Commemoration of the 23rd Anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 on WPS

Date | 16 November 2023

Tomorrow (17 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an open session in commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The session, which will constitute PSC’s 1187th meeting, is expected to focus on women’s participation in peace processes, drawing specifically on the experiences and contributions of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.

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. Bineta Diop, Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on WPS is expected to brief the PSC. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Region (ESARO) and interim Regional Director for West and Central Africa Region (WCARO) will be making a statement. A representative of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU will also be participating in the session. Statements are also expected to be presented by Jeane Rugendabanga Namburo, Coordinator, SOS-Information Juridique Multisectorielle (SOS-IJM), Bukavu, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo; Claudine Tsongo Mbalamya, Coordinator, Dynamique des Femmes Juristes (DFJ), Goma, North Kivu; Ilham Osman, Executive Director of the Sudanese Organisation for Research and Development (SORD); and Samar Abushama, young peacebuilder, gender equality advocate, and a member of the Peace for Sudan platform.

Since institutionalising WPS as part of its annual agenda item in line with the decision of its 223rd session held in 2010, the PSC has regularized the convening of annual meetings to the commemoration of UNSC resolution 1325. In addition to serving as a platform for following up on the status of implementation of resolution 1325 in Africa, these meetings have served the PSC to reflect on a range of issues that affect women in conflict and crisis settings. At its 1144th meeting which was the last time the PSC met to deliberate on the theme, it underscored the imperative for women’s meaningful participation and involvement in peace processes including preventive diplomacy, mediation, conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction and development. Tomorrow’s session, with its focus on women’s engagement in peace processes, offers the chance for the PSC to be briefed on some of the progressive examples from experiences of some member states as well as challenges being faced in realising women’s meaningful involvement in the various stages of conflict management and resolution, in line with resolution 1325.

As UNSC resolution 1325 marks the 23rd year since its adoption in 2000, women continue to experience unique and disproportionate challenges that bar the full realisation of their right to equal participation in matters of relevance to public decision-making and governance. Despite making significant headway in the achievement of the goals of the WPS agenda in Africa including availing women the space to be involved meaningfully in peace processes, the AU, relevant regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) as well as member states are yet to attain the desired level of integration of women representatives in various peacekeeping operations, in peace negotiation and mediation missions and in the appointment of peace envoys.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of AU’s Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). Maputo Protocol, under Article 10 provides for the right of women to participate in the promotion and maintenance of peace and charges states parties to the Protocol with the responsibility of putting in place all the appropriate measures to enable women’s increased participation in decision-making processes including in structures relevant for ‘conflict prevention, management and resolution at local, national, regional, continental and international levels’. Tomorrow’s session hence also affords the opportunity to reflect on the level of implementation of the Maputo Protocol by states parties, with a specific focus on efforts made towards the full realisation of Article 10.

Notwithstanding the considerable challenges, including the lack of gender inclusive formal avenues that present women the opportunity to actively contribute to peace efforts, women in a number of conflict affected African countries have proven to be critical players in the management and resolution of crises. The mobilisation of women movements in Sudan since the outbreak of conflict on 15 April 2023 between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is one of the more recent examples of the important efforts deployed by women’s groups.

Tomorrow’s session will be significant in not only discussing the current state of the WPS agenda at a normative and policy levels but also importantly to interrogate the WPS agenda in the context of specific conflict settings. In this respect, the fact that the session is envisaged to focus on specific cases of Sudan and DRC and most importantly to have grass root women groups share their perspectives based on their lived experiences from these conflict settings is commendable.

At the grassroots level, women groups and women-led movements in Sudan are contributing significantly including through documentation of violations and abuses of human rights and through social media and advocacy campaigns that engage hundreds of women advocates and human rights activists. In addition to increasing global awareness about the intensity of the war in Sudan and amplifying the voice of civilians caught in the crossfires, these women-led initiatives are playing a critical role in the area of monitoring and reporting. For instance, initiatives such as the Ceasefire Initiative in Darfur and the Youth Citizen Observers Network have been noteworthy for de-escalation efforts and ceasefire monitoring. With the massive humanitarian crisis resulting from the war, women movements in Sudan such as the South Red Sea Organization Initiative are also substantially contributing towards mitigating of the humanitarian crisis by providing support and basic assistance to displaced people.

Although there have been some efforts by the AU, through the office of the Special Envoy for WPS and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise) to support Sudanese women’s engagement in ongoing political dialogues, grassroots level women initiatives in Sudan are to a large extent excluded from important negotiation efforts deployed by prominent actors including the United States and Saudi Arabia. On the part of the AU and the PSC in particular, the approach taken on Sudan’s file seems to also have fallen short of actively consulting with and involving women groups that are currently mobilised as first responders, including through invitations to brief the PSC during its dedicated sessions on the situation in Sudan. Regular engagement by the PSC, particularly with a focus on providing the platform for women activists and organizations in particular, would have opened the policy space to Sudanese women and granted the proper recognition to their efforts and contributions to the political process. It would have also enabled the PSC to become the platform for ventilating civilian particularly women voices in addition to enabling it to regularly track developments through constant engagement with these women groups that have direct or indirect presence on the ground.

In the case of the DRC, various local and partner supported initiatives aim to empower women with the objective of advancing their meaningful participation in peace-related decision-making processes. Since DRC’s adoption of a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of UNSC resolution 1325 in 2018, there have also been encouraging progress in the engagement of women in peacebuilding and governance processes. Women-led peace dialogues have in different occasions afforded the stage to promote gender integration and female leadership in politics and to advance active involvement of women in electoral processes.

The AU Special Envoy on WPS also conducted a field peace advocacy mission to the DRC in August 2023, along with the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and the FemWise. Focusing on boosting peace efforts and strengthening approaches for resolution of the conflict in eastern DRC and also having regard to the upcoming general elections, the delegation led by the Special Envoy made a call for an inclusive peace process that ensures women’s participation and leadership.

In both countries – Sudan and DRC – women and girls constitute a prepondering portion of people affected by the ongoing conflicts. Women and girls that are displaced due to the conflicts in these two countries face not only the ordinary impacts of displacement, but also the added risks of and exposure to sexual abuse and violence. In Sudan, reports indicate that as of 02 November 2023, there have been over 50 incidents of sexual violence linked to ongoing hostilities, impacting at least 105 victims, out of which 86 are women and 18 are children (and one man).

In eastern DRC, the surge in conflict continues to drive up incidences of sexual violence against displaced women and girls. Since the conflict with the March 23 Movement (M23) re-emerged in 2022, reports have indicated an average of 70 sexual assault victims visiting clinics in displacement camps nearby Goma, on a daily basis. While Sudan and DRC merely exemplify the realities of women in conflict settings, women caught in crisis in other countries across the continent also continue to face similar fate. Yet, despite the more pronounced impacts of conflicts on women, women remain largely excluded from key conflict resolution efforts and peacebuilding initiatives. The consequence of such approach goes far beyond failure to effectively implement UNSC resolution 1325, as it also carries grave implications for the success and sustainability of peace processes.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is either a Communiqué or a Press Statement. The PSC is expected to welcome efforts made by the AU Commission, through the office of the Special Envoy for WPS, to advance implementation of UNSC resolution 1325, including through the development of the Continental Results Framework (CRF) and close engagement with member states to adopt and implement NAPs. The PSC may commend the AU Special Envoy for WPS as well as the FemWise and AWLN for the efforts deployed in support of women in Sudan and the DRC. It may further take note of and express concern over the increasing victimisation of women and girls in conflict settings, particularly in Sudan and DRC and urge all conflicting parties to respect human rights, abide by relevant international norms on conduct of hostilities and bring perpetrators of sexual violence and abuses to justice. The PSC is also expected to underscore the importance of women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and call on the AU Commission, RECs/RMs and member states to redouble their efforts in this regard. The PSC may commend the women representatives for bringing to the PSC the views and perspectives of women affected by conflict in the specific conflict settings of DRC and Sudan. The PSC may also commend the advocacy work of that the AU Special Envoy and request the Envoy to work on an annual report that documents and provides analysis on WPS in the various conflict and crises situations, including those the PSC is seized with as critical tool for also putting conflict parties on notice about their actions that are being monitored. The PSC may encourage the various peace efforts by the AU and RECs/RMs to ensure that they have not only women representatives but also, they have regular and dedicated engagement with women groups from the conflict setting for which those peace processes are designed.


Briefing on the situation in South Sudan

Briefing on the situation in South Sudan

Date | 15 November 2023

Tomorrow (16 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1186th session to consider the situation in South Sudan and assess political and security developments since its last meeting on the situation in February following its solidarity field mission to the country.

Following opening remarks by Abdi Mahamoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, it is expected that the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will make a statement. The representative of South Sudan is also expected to deliver a statement on behalf of the country concerned. Additionally, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for South Sudan and Head of AU Liaison Office in Joram Mukama Biswaro, Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), Charles Gituai and the Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Nicholas Haysom are also expected to deliver statements during the open segment of the session.

The last time the PSC discussed the situation in South Sudan was at its 1158th meeting held on 15 June 2023 which assessed the situation in the Horn of Africa. The central focus with respect to South Sudan during that session was the status of implementation of outstanding transitional tasks envisaged in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). The key outstanding activities outlined in this respect included the graduation and deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces; the enactment of the National Electoral Commission Act; the reconstitution of the National Electoral Commission and Political Parties Council; and the completion of the permanent constitution making process.

Tomorrow’s meeting is expected to likely focus on the progress in the implementation of the R-ARCSS, with a specific emphasis on the status of the outstanding tasks identified during PSC previous meeting. The session is also expected to particularly follow up on the implementation of the roadmap agreed by the signatories to the R-ARCSS on 4 August 2022 to extend the transitional period by 24 months. Previously, in the communique of its 1141st session held on 28 February 2023, the PSC also urged the signatory parties to complete outstanding tasks within the extended time to avoid any further extensions of the transition period.

Five years have elapsed since the signing of the R-ARCSS, and tomorrow’s meeting offers an opportunity for PSC members to assess the progress and challenges in its implementation. Ambassador Charles Tai Gituai, the Chair of the RJMEC entrusted with overseeing the R-ARCSS implementation, acknowledged some of the accomplishment during the past five years, which include the holding of the ceasefire (despite occasional clashes between government forces and the National Salvation Front (NAS), a faction that remains outside the peace process). Moreover, these five years have witnessed the successful graduation of more than half of the necessary unified forces, the resolution of issues pertaining to the number of states and their boundaries, the integration of the R-ARCSS into the transitional constitution, the establishment of executive and legislative structures within the unity government, and the initiation of legal, judicial, security, institutional, economic, and financial management reform processes.

Gituai, however, noted the lack of progress concerning several outstanding tasks, including the reconstitution of the Political Parties Council responsible for the registration of political parties, the establishment of institutions essential for crafting a permanent constitution, and the deployment of unified forces to ensure the country’s security, which remains plagued by recurrent inter-communal conflicts. He also highlighted the dire humanitarian situation exacerbated by the impact of climate change, the sluggish implementation of economic reforms, and the absence of advancements in establishing transitional justice mechanisms. Furthermore, other ongoing challenges he highlighted include inadequate funding and the lack of political will and trust among the leadership of the signatory parties.

The situation in South Sudan is further compounded by the adverse humanitarian and economic consequences of the ongoing conflict in Sudan. This has led to a massive influx of returnees and refugees, intensifying intercommunal tensions and competition over resources. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 330 thousand individuals, comprising South Sudanese returnees, Sudanese refugees, and third-country nationals, have sought refuge in South Sudan due to the conflict in Sudan. Briefing members of the UN Security Council on the situation in Abyei on 6 November, the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Hanna Tetteh informed them that the ongoing fighting in Sudan is getting closer to the boundary with Abyei and the border with South Sudan and noted that “[t]hese military developments could have adverse consequences for Abyei’s social fabric,” she said, and the already fragile coexistence between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka.

It is against the backdrop of these developments that South Sudan is preparing for elections scheduled to take place in December 2024. The AU, in close collaboration with IGAD and the UN, is engaged in supporting the South Sudanese government in its constitution-making and electoral processes and a joint task force, comprising representatives from these three organizations, has been established in this regard. With a mere 14 months remaining until the elections, Gituai stated during the RJMEC’s monthly meeting on 5 October 2023 that ‘a significant amount of work still lies ahead to address the critical pending tasks necessary for South Sudan’s democratic transition.’ He also stressed the urgency of the South Sudanese government in providing the people of South Sudan with clarity regarding its preparedness for the upcoming elections.

Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the R-ARCSS, the political bureau of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) convened in Juba on 11 September 2023, with the objective of reviewing and assessing the status of the roadmap’s implementation. While shedding light on the current state of the roadmap’s implementation, a press statement issued subsequent to this meeting provided a more detailed assessment of the challenges in implementing the various provisions of the R-ARCSS including failure to establish local government councils aside from the government of Central Equatoria State; failure to ensure reinstatement of civil servants who fled the country during the war; lagged progress in the devolution of powers and resources to lower government levels; and slow advances in the process of national reconciliation and healing. The press statement also identified violations noted during the one year period from the adoption of the roadmap, particularly unilateral dismissals and arbitrary arrests of officials including SPLM-IO members of parliament as well as the delay faced in the formation of county and municipal legislative councils. The SPLM-IO has also been expressing reservations about the upcoming elections, with one of its government ministers recently quoted in the media as stating that the country is not ready for such an electoral process.

In his briefing to the Security Council on 15 September 2023, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UNMISS Nicolas Haysom referred to an independent perception survey commissioned by the mission which showed significant popular demand for elections despite the prevailing challenges. This notwithstanding, he underscored the need for the signatory parties to resolve a number of issues surrounding the elections, including the type of elections to be held, voter registration requirements, how electoral boundaries will be determined, the nature of the participation of refugees and internally displaced persons, the allocation of security responsibilities and how electoral-related disputes will be managed. Haysom particularly emphasized the need to expedite the constitution-making process and highlighted the shared responsibility of the South Sudanese political class in addressing the obstacles to the implementation of the roadmap. He stressed the primary responsibility of the ruling party to fully utilize public resources and decision-making committees to propel the agreement’s implementation.

In response to the growing calls for action on a number of key issues related to the upcoming elections, the South Sudanese government announced on 3 November the adoption of a presidential decree on the commencement of the process to reconstitute the Political Parties Council (PPC), the National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) and the National Elections Commission (NEC). In a joint statement issued on 9 November, IGAD, the AU and the UN commended the government for initiating this important process and called for the allocation of the necessary resources to enable these bodies to carry out their mandates. The three organizations emphasized the need for all the signatory parties to demonstrate greater political will, trust, and pragmatism to agree on key decisions in relation to the upcoming election. Therefore, they called on them to engage in constructive and inclusive dialogue as a matter of urgency to pave the way for the holding of peaceful, credible, and inclusive elections in South Sudan for the first time since the country’s independence.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to commend South Sudanese stakeholders for the progress achieved in the implementation of the R-ARCSS during the past year and may in this regard welcome the adoption of a presidential decree on the commencement of the process to reconstitute the PPC, the NCRC and the NEC. The PSC may also call on the Reconstituted Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to ensure that these bodies are provided with the resources and the capacity to execute their mandate effectively and impartially during the remainder of the transitional period. The PSC may express concern over the delays in meeting the benchmarks agreed under the roadmap for the extended period of the transition adopted in August 2022 and the implications of these delays both for the stability of the country and the convening of peaceful and credible elections. In this regard, the PSC is expected to urge the parties to remain committed and to exert their full efforts for the implementation of pending tasks which are crucial for the success of the transition. The PSC may also call on the R-TGoNU and other relevant actors to create the political and civic space necessary for enabling citizens to participate freely in the electoral processes. It may also take note of the aggravated humanitarian situation in South Sudan and appeal to partners and the international community at large to extend support and assistance to affected communities, including South Sudanese returnees and Sudanese refugees. PSC may call on the AU and others to support South Sudan in its effort to receive large number of returnees and refuges from Sudan with a view to mitigate the adverse impact of the influx on the stability of receiving areas of South Sudan. The PSC may urge national and local actors to promote peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms and encourage local peacebuilding efforts to mitigate and contain intercommunal clashes that pose serious threats to human security in the country.


Ministerial session on the situation in Sudan

Ministerial session on the situation in Sudan

Date | 14 November 2023

Tomorrow (15 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1185th session at the ministerial level to receive update on the situation in Sudan.

Following the opening remark of Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, as the chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Mohamed el Hacen Lebatt, Chief of Staff to the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Spokesperson on Sudan is anticipated to brief the PSC on the situation in Sudan. Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is also expected to deliver statement both on behalf of IGAD as the regional body and as the representative of IGAD and the AU in the most recent talks in Jeddah.

In two days, the war in Sudan will finish its 7th month. Yet, there is no sign of the war slowing down, let alone ending. If anything, much of the worst-case scenarios feared about the war continue to unfold. Apart from the continuing downward spiral of the situation with mass atrocities, blatant and deliberate violations of international humanitarian law and one of the world’s worst displacement and humanitarian crises, the war is also characterized by the lack of progress from any of the multiple and poorly coordinated processes for stopping it.

The last time the PSC met to discuss Sudan was on 20 October. At that session, the PSC reiterated its call for cessation of hostilities and protection of civilians. It emphasized the role of IGAD and Sudan’s neighboring states. The session also underscored the need for AU to coordinate all efforts for peace in Sudan, although it did not specify a mechanism that is able to accomplish this rather than the approach taken thus far which failed to enable the AU to play its role effectively.

There are a number of issues of pressing concern for the PSC regarding the situation in Sudan as it convenes its session tomorrow. The first of this involves the trajectory of the war and the grave consequences of its downward spiral both for Sudan and for regional peace and security. The second aspect concerns the human rights and humanitarian dimensions of the war. The challenge for the PSC in this respect is to go beyond expression of grave concern and condemnation and take concrete action to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of non-indifference, including in the face of the genocidal mass atrocities taking place in Darfur. The third issue for tomorrow’s session concerns developments related to efforts for securing ceasefire and starting a wider and effective political process for resolving the conflict. In this respect as well, it would be of direct concern to the mandate of the PSC to identify what needs to change in the approach to AU’s role in the face of the failure of the path taken for the past seven months.

Since last month, there has been an uptick of violence in Darfur after the paramilitary force launched successive offensives in the region. As global attention shifts to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the seven-month long conflict is taking a turn to the worst. Between 26 October and 4 November, RSF and its allied forces gained ground, claiming to seize control of South Darfur capital Nyala (the second largest city), Central Darfur capital Zalingei, and El Geneina of West Darfur. In a bid to capture all of Darfur, RSF also vowed to advance toward El Fasher of North Darfur. This expansion in the territorial control of RSF and the tightening of its grip on areas under its control speeding up the de facto division of Sudan into two parts.

This downward spiral and the associated risks carry huge ramifications for the stability of not just Sudan itself but the wider region. Among others, the vacuum that it creates would make it possible for attracting terrorist groups and the emergence of organized crimes such as illicit circulation and trading of weapons, illegal exploitation of natural resources and war economies generally. All of these conditions stand to make the conflict protracted and to deepen the involvement of various state and non-state actors in the region and beyond.

The raging war also risks dragging signatories to the JPA, who have thus far maintained neutral, in a potential confrontation. This could exacerbate the ethnic dimension of the conflict. In his final briefing to the UN Security Council in September, Volker Perthes made a stern warning regarding the ongoing ‘tribal mobilization’ and its potential ramification for the regional stability and the unity of the country. He said that ‘[w]hat started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-scale civil war’.

Beyond its impact on the cohesion of Sudan as a state and on the Juba peace agreement, this war’s most dire consequence is the enormous toll it has on the civilian population. Civilians are made to bear much of the brunt of the violence both on account of being subjected to indiscriminate attacks and deliberate violations on the one hand and the socio-economic and humanitarian difficulties that the war precipitated.

RSF’s march towards extending full control over Darfur is accompanied by the perpetration of mass atrocities. These violations echo the genocidal violence the region experienced nearly two decades ago. Ethnically motivated targeting of non-Arab civilians, mainly from the Masalit communities, are surfacing from reports of local organizations and videos of events captured during RSF military campaign in West Darfur in early November. Most recently, on 3 November, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) expressed alarm over reports that ‘women and girls are being abducted’, chained and held in ‘inhuman, degrading slave-like conditions’ in areas controlled by the RSF in Darfur. While the events in Darfur constitute the worst incidents of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, such violations are not limited to Darfur. Nor is the RSF the only one involved in such violations. Both SAF and RSF are implicated in gross violations. UNITAMS documented 655 alleged incidents of human rights violations and abuses between 7 May and 20 August 2023, most of which were reportedly attributable to RSF.

On the humanitarian front, the seven-month long conflict has unleashed ‘one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history’, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s 2 November humanitarian update on Sudan. The conflict claimed more than 10,000 lives (ACLED recorded 10,400 fatalities) while displacing more than 6 million people, which makes Sudan the country with the largest number of displaced people in the world. The conflict also left 25 million, more than half of the population, in need of humanitarian aid. A recent statement by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also 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 UNICEF, this figure makes Sudan the largest child displacement crisis in the world. UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food programme (WFP) also warned that acute food insecurity could worsen from November 2023 to April 2024 in 18 hunger hotspots, with Sudan among those of highest concern.

Despite this, only 33 percent of the $2.6 billion required to help those in need in Sudan this year is funded. Additionally, the nature of the war is also severely hampering humanitarian access as briefings presented to the PSC on 28 September and early in October highlighted. Sudan is suffering from the triple challenges of dire humanitarian crises, utterly inadequate provision of resources for meeting the growing humanitarian needs of the suffering civilian population and lack of humanitarian space.

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 and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. These are exposing the PSC to legitimate charges of falling back to the old politics of indifference to mass atrocities that is characteristic of the now defunct AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. On the other hand, the UN Human Rights Council decided to establish an independent international fact-finding mission for Sudan last month, with a mandate to investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the context of the conflict that erupted in mid-April.

On the peace process front, earlier in May and June, both AU and IGAD rolled out parallel roadmaps for the resolution of the conflict, which they had to eventually harmonize. AU’s Expanded Mechanism – established in April with the aim to bring all relevant stakeholders under one platform has lost steam and exists only in name. IGAD’s decision to assume leadership through the establishment of the quartet, as well as its 12 June action points – including the proposal to facilitate a face-to-face meeting between the leadership of SAF and RSF and initiate inclusive political process within ten days and three weeks, respectively – have also stalled. One of the major factors for this was the rejection by the SAF of Kenya’s role as chairperson of the IGAD quartet. In an encouraging turn of events, 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.

The Jeddah talks focusing on ceasefire was also suspended until the start of this month. The latest round that ended on 7 November fell short of a ceasefire. Instead, the warring parties agreed to participate in a joint humanitarian forum led by OCHA to address impediments to humanitarian access and deliveries of assistance; identify points of contact to assist with movements of humanitarian personnel and assistance; and implement confidence building measures, including the establishment of communication between SAF and RSF leaders. This notwithstanding, the statement from the meeting of Ruto and Burhan criticized the Jeddah process for its slow progress. A major development in the latest round of Jeddah talks is the inclusion of IGAD’s Executive Secretary, also on behalf of AU, as co-facilitator of the talks. This is indeed a step in the right direction, although IGAD’s Executive Secretary’s role could not be a standing arrangement, hence underscoring the need for a high-level standing facilitator or panel of facilitators.

From 23 to 26 October, various Sudanese civilian actors and stakeholders, met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to form a united front for pushing for peace. This meeting led to a decision to form the ‘Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (CCDF)’ headed by former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The CCDF is envisaged to prepare the ground for the envisaged convening of a ‘founding conference’ with more diverse representation from Sudan in eight weeks. In a press statement dated 26 October, the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) welcomed the meeting claiming it as ‘an important step towards the formation of an inclusive and representative pro-democracy civilian front’. Around the same time, South Sudan also convened a consultative meeting with the Sudanese signatories to the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) to ‘evaluate the implementation of the JPA and consult with the parties on peace negotiations between RSF and SAF’.

A major gap in the AU’s engagement, which also accounts for its lackluster performance on the Sudan file is the failure to designate a dedicated high-level mechanism that works on a full-time basis. It has been long overdue for the PSC to heed President Museveni’s proposal when he chaired summit level session of the PSC last May on the establishment of a high-level facilitator or panel of facilitators. Such a mechanism whose sole mandate is to work on the search for finding solution to the war in Sudan (rather than the current arrangement in which officials of the AU handle the file as one responsibility among many other matters that they are responsible for) can be established as a joint standing mechanism of IGAD, the AU and the UN and hence provide the requisite sustained engagement and technical backing for the IGAD quartet.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. PSC is expected to welcome the resumption of the Jeddah talks and the participation of IGAD, also on behalf of the AU, as a co-facilitator of the talks.  While welcoming the commitments agreed to by SAF and RSF to facilitate humanitarian aid and implement confidence building measures, it may echo the regret of the co-facilitators that the warring parties failed to reach on a ceasefire. It may also commend Sudanese civilian actors for the convening of a meeting in Addis Ababa, and in this regard, PSC may express its full support to the envisaged convening of a founding conference as part of the effort to end the ongoing conflict and bring Sudan back on track toward a civilian government. Considering the failure of AU’s approach thus far, the PSC may revisit the proposal that was put on the table during its summit level meeting on Sudan held in May and decide to establish a high-level panel of facilitators (which may be appointed jointly by AU, IGAD and UN) to work on the situation in Sudan on a full-time basis.

The PSC is expected to express its grave concern over an uptick of violence in recent weeks. The PSC may in this regard strongly condemn reported gross human right violations, including ethnic-driven killings, rape, torture, looting, and destruction of civilian facilities. As RSF now targets El Fasher of North Darfur, PSC may join growing calls for the paramilitary and its allied forces to immediately put a halt to its offensive in El Fasher to avert civilian causalities. PSC may further urge both warring parties to honor the 11 May Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan and respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. In the face of the continuing incidents of mass atrocities, the PSC may also express its support to the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to establish an independent international fact-finding mission. Regarding the humanitarian situation, the PSC is expected to welcome the recent outcome of the Jeddah talks in which the warring parties committed to participate in a joint humanitarian forum led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to address impediments to humanitarian access and urge speedy action to implement these commitments. The PSC may also request that a conference for mobilizing support from within the continent and beyond towards contributing to addressing the resource gap for humanitarian assistance.


6th ANNUAL INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE MEETING BETWEEN THE AU PSC AND UN PBC

6th ANNUAL INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE MEETING BETWEEN THE AU PSC AND UN PBC

Date | 12 November 2023

Tomorrow (13 November 2023) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1185th session. The session is dedicated to the 6th annual informal consultative meeting between the PSC and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UN PBC).

The consultative meeting will commence with an opening remark from the chair of the month, Abdi Mahmoud Eyb, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti followed by a remark from the Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations (UN) and Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Ivan Šimonovic. The opening remarks are expected to be followed by statements from three representatives, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the United Nations Office to the AU (UNAOU) and Elizabeth Spehar, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support all stressing the need for enhanced collaboration and coordination between the PSC and the UN PBC given the increasing insecurities across the continent as well as the world.

Over the years, the PSC and the UN PBC have had consultations on various issues in relation to peacebuilding. In the past four consultative meetings, the issues they addressed include African countries undergoing political transitions with peacebuilding tools and more recently climate change and peacebuilding in Africa. Although the AU PSC and the UN PBC have held an annual consecutive session on enhanced cooperation, this particular session comes against the backdrop of the recent Policy Brief ‘Our Common Agenda: A New Agenda for Peace’ released in July of this year by the UN Secretary-General. The New Agenda for Peace (NAP) puts particular emphasis on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The NAP, which also emphasizes support to AU’s role in peace support operations including through the use of UN-assessed contributions, thus serves as an important reference point for this year’s consultation of the PSC with PBC.

One issue that deserves attention during tomorrow’s consultation is the follow-up to the outcomes of previous consultations. Of particular interest in this respect are the operationalization of close working relationship at operational levels in the designing and implementation of peacebuilding interventions and policy coordination in the country and in region-specific engagements including in integrating priority themes identified in earlier consultations

Additionally, tomorrow’s consultation is expected to consider identifying tangible collaborations based on common interests, including jointly classifying countries and regions of mutual interest for enhanced conflict prevention and peacebuilding; sharing of national prevention strategies by AU Member states with the UN based on recommendations provided to the UN on national preventative strategies and lastly the establishment of a “Sustainable Peace Network” of regional actors expressed during the recent UN PBC Ministerial meeting held in September.

Tomorrow’s session also comes at a time when advances have been made in institutional and policy developments pertaining to the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) policy framework. The PCRD center achieved progress in its operationalization with the appointment of its head and ongoing efforts to expand its staffing. During the PSC session dedicated to PCRD last year, the PSC requested for the Commission to work in close coordination with the UN PBC and other UN agencies to establish a common Action Plan to utilize the UN Peacebuilding fund to support PCRD efforts on the continent. At a policy level, a major development that is of interest for tomorrow’s session is key outcome of the Cairo Workshop which conducted a review of the PCRD policy, particularly the aspect on how the UN can support the establishment and full operationalization of the PCRD working groups and PSC Sub Committee. In this context, the other related issue expected to feature in the deliberations concerns joint action plans between the PSC and UN PBC on pathways to ensure adequate and sustainable financing for PCRD efforts in Africa.

Finally, the session will be concluded with closing remarks provided by the Chair of UN PBC, Ambassador Ivan Šimonovic and Ambassador Abdi Mahmoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti and Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council (PSC). Beyond the engagement with the PSC, the PBC is expected to have informal meeting with the wider stakeholders based in Addis Ababa during the week.

The expected outcome of the meeting will be presented in the form of a joint statement by the two entities where the Co-chairs will provide a media briefing at the end. It is expected that the two bodies may welcome the increasing collaboration between the offices particularly recognizing the various efforts by different bodies within the AU and the UN to enhance the joint UN-AU framework for enhanced peace and security. It is expected that they take note of the continued constraints that exist in regard to peace support operations and welcome the efforts by the UN and the AU to create a route for the use of assessed contributions to support the existing efforts of peace support operations on the continent. With regards to Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), they may indicate PSC member’s expectation to revive the revised PCRD Policy Framework for their consideration for the revitalization of the AU PCRD. The parties may also take note of the progress made thus far in mobilizing the PCRD while also calling for the need to create a joint action plan for the further operationalization of the PCRD. In anticipation of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in November and in consideration of the focus of the last consultative meeting on this theme, the PSC and PBC may also call for the need for a concerted effort to address the impact of climate change on conflict with an emphasis on the employment of the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus and the Report of the Chairperson of AUC on the Study on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa.


Briefing on the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus, and the Report of the Chairperson of AUC on the Study on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa

Briefing on the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus, and the Report of the Chairperson of AUC on the Study on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa

6 November 2023

Tomorrow (7 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1184th session at the ambassadorial level. The session involves a briefing on the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus, and the Report of the Chairperson of AUC on the Study on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to start with open segment and proceed to closed segment. Following the opening statement by Abdi Mahamoud Eybe, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti who is also the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, it is expected that the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will deliver his remarks. It is also expected that statements will be delivered by Josefe Leonel Correla Sacko , the AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE)and a representative of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change. An expert from the Office of the Chairperson will then present the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the Study of the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa.

The nexus between climate change, peace and security gained the attention of the PSC since its 585th session on 30 March 2016. Introduced into the agenda of the PSC for the first time at that session under the theme, “Climate Change: State fragility, peace and security,” the issue of climate, peace and security has since received increasing attention in the work of the PSC. In the various communiqués and statements of the PSC adopted on this theme, it has identified climate change as ‘threat multiplier’ to the peace and security situation in the continent and/or potential exacerbator of ‘existing vulnerabilities, tensions and conflicts.’ In order to further deepen its consideration of the subject, the PSC requested the development of the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus and the Report of the Chairperson of AUC on the Study on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa.

It was at its 774th session held on 21 May 2018 that the PSC requested the study on the nexus between climate change, peace and security in Africa. Additionally,  during its 984th session of 9 March, 2021, which was held at the Heads of State and Government level, the PSC expressed its anticipation of the study. Subsequently, the PSC requested the expedited completion of the study during its 1079th session on 21 April, 2022. This urgency was reiterated during the PSC’s 1114th session on 18 October, 2022. It is also recalled that the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government requested the expedited finalization of the climate-related security risk assessment study during its 35th ordinary session on 6 February, 2022. All of these are indicative that the study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security is long overdue.

While the initial request on the study was pending, it was during the 1051st session of the PSC, held on 26 November 2021, that the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report featured in the deliberations of the PSC. Recognizing the urgent need to understand the diverse security implications of climate change across the continent, the PSC requested the AUC to expediate the finalization of the report, consulting with Member States in the process. The PSC, as per the session’s Communique, views the report as a stepping stone towards consolidating a common African position on climate change and security. The risk assessment report is based on the consultative workshop on Climate Security Risk Assessment methodology that was held in March 2023. The findings of this assessment report are expected to be included in the AUC Chairperson’s report on the Study of the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa.

Informed by the risk assessment report, the Chairperson’s report is expected to highlight and expand upon the various concerns previously brought up in the PSC sessions regarding the nexus of climate change, peace and security. These concerns are primarily rooted in the reality that Africa is the region most susceptible to climate change. One issue of particular concern is the impact of climate change in the reduction of available water, pasture and cultivatable land. This heightened scarcity of these natural resources on which large number of people depend for their livelihoods and survival  has led to intensified competition for pastoral land between herders and  farmers as well artisanal fishers in the Sahel and Western Africa, an increase in cattle rustling in Easter Africa and conflict over scarce water resource in Central Africa regions.

Additionally, as climate change alters weather patterns, traditional rainfed agricultural practices are becoming less viable, especially in regions such as the Sahel, Western and Eastern Arica where populations heavily depend on agriculture-based livelihoods. In addition to changing weather patterns, these outcomes are compounded by complex socio-economic, political and governance issues that affect the production and price of food, aggravating the threat of climate change to human security. It has also been observed that in some countries the soaring food price is a catalyst for protests and riots, as it inflates existing grievances.

The Chairperson’s report may also highlight how scarcity of resources and climate change-induced catastrophes inadvertently benefit terrorist and armed groups. Such groups seize upon the desperation and instability caused by environmental crises and the inequitable nature or insufficiency of governments’ response to those disasters to strengthen their numbers. A prime example is Boko Haram in Western Africa. For people whose lives and livelihoods were threatened by the impacts of climate change, they position themselves as a beacon of providers of alternative source of support, livelihood security, promising safety, stability, and access to vital resources for vulnerable communities.

Migration and displacement due to climate change disasters is another concern expected to be reflected in the Chairperson’s report. As droughts, erratic rainfall, and rising sea levels continue to impact communities, more people are forced to leave their homes in search of safer environments. In East Africa, the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR) for Refugees released a report in November 2023 indicating that 2.3 million people had been internally displaced in Ethiopia and Somalia. The UNHCR has also reported  that as of 31 March 2023 there were almost 11.71 million internally displaced persons in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region. While the data is clear that conflicts account for the substantial majority of cases of forced displacement, the contribution of climate change to displacement has over the years been on the rise. With respect to migration, a recent survey of 6,000 people in West and Central Africa found that 49% of the respondents cited environmental issues as a factor in their decision to migrate. For receiving countries and communities, migration and displacement frequently results in competition for resources, strained infrastructure, and social unrest, at times escalating into violence within the communities hosting migrants.

On the contrary, the displacement of communities and the disruption of agriculture and food production in conflict-affected areas can lead to deforestation and land degradation as people rely on natural resources for survival. Hence, the Chairperson’s report is expected to highlight the flip side of the climate-security nexus. The instability caused by ongoing conflicts can hinder efforts to implement sustainable environmental policies and implement mitigation and adaptation measures to the challenges of climate change. This has been observed in incidents, such as the recent collapse of dam in Libya and the ongoing cases of human suffering in South Sudan. Additionally, the exploitation of natural resources, such as oil and minerals, to finance armed conflicts can further exacerbate environmental degradation. This is particularly evident in Central Africa, Sahel and North Africa, as seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the exploitative extraction of the vast resources of the country are fuelling conflicts.

The report may also focus on island nations, as it was requested by the PSC to ‘pay particular attention on the plight of island Member States’ in undertaking the study. These countries, which are often already at a disadvantage due to their small size and remoteness from the global interconnected economic system, face urgent and existential challenges posed by climate change. These challenges include rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification. The environmental changes not only lead to displacement and resource competition but also contribute to maritime insecurity and the depletion of marine resources, threatening human security in these countries.

Additionally, another element expected to be emphasised in the report is the disproportionate impact of climate change and conflict on vulnerable members of society including the poor, children, women and persons with disabilities particularly from marginalized sectors of the population.

The Chairperson’s report is also expected to highlight the climate financing gap for African States. Despite their acute climate-related risks, most African nations struggle to access the necessary funds to implement mitigation and adaptation measures. While African states access to climate funds remains poor, those fragile and conflict affected countries face further access challenges. According to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report, extremely fragile states received an average of $2.1 per person per year in adaptation financing between the years 2010-2017, compared to $161.7 per person for non-fragile states.

Tomorrow’s session may also emphasize the imperative for narrowing down the enormous financing gap for climate action in Africa, as rightly noted by the African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina, a lack of adequate financing for tackling climate change in Africa has become dire and is ‘chocking’ the continent. Apart from exploring new sources of funding, there are two aspects of the financing issue that deserve attention. The first is for the commitments relating to financing adaptation measures in developing countries to be honoured.  The second critical aspect of this requires the easing of the conditions and processes for accessing climate funds.

Moreover, the report is expected to present the relationship between conflict and climate change in Africa as a complex and interlinked issue, with far-reaching consequences for both human security and the environment. Putting this into perspective, the report may highlight on best practices in terms of innovative mechanisms to address climate-related security risks, early warning systems and cross-sectoral cooperation at national and regional levels. It is also expected that the report will provide recommendations pertaining to financing, governance, coordination and partnership.

Building on its decision from its 1114th session and the initiative of the COP27 presidency on having the peace and security dimension into the agenda of the COP processes, the PSC may call for climate and security as one of the thematic areas in COP policy processes and request the AU and its member states to ensure that the security dimension is also fully integrated across the mitigation, adaptation, financing, loss and damage and transition streams of the COP.

The outcome of the session is expected to be a communique. The PSC is expected to commend the chairperson for the Study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security in Africa. The PSC may request that climate sensitive analysis is used for all AU peace and security initiatives across the African Peace and Security Architecture to ensure that such initiatives are tailored to address the implications of climate change. Council may also request the AU Commission to develop a Common African Position (CAP) on the nexus between climate change, peace and security based on the study of the Chairperson for the forthcoming COP 28 in United Arab Emirate (UAE), planned for November 2023. In light of this, The PSC may emphasize the importance of Member States presenting a unified position at global forums, guided by the Committee of African Heads of States and Governments on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN). In this regard, the PSC may also express its support to the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) in advancing Africa’s priorities in climate change negotiations and promoting comprehensive and effective responses to climate change impacts at the national, regional, and continental levels. Additionally, the PSC may underscore the importance of accelerating the implementation of the AU Climate Change and Resilience Development Strategy and Action Plan. The PSC may further underscore the importance for the AU to support the efforts of Member States to enhance their national intervention for climate change resilience, mitigation and adaptation including through building early warning, preparedness and response capacities. The PSC may also draw attention to mobilizing targeted intervention for building resilience for the most vulnerable regions of the continent such as Sahel and Horn of Africa in key social and economic sectors such as agriculture and rural economy.


Discussion on Youth Peace and Security in Africa

Discussion on Youth Peace and Security in Africa

Date | 2 November 2023

Tomorrow (03 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1183rd session focusing on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa.

The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Abdi Mahamoud Eybe will preside over the session followed by statements from AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. The meeting is also expected to be graced by the attendance of, Chido Cleo Mpemba, Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Youth as well as Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. The African Union Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAP) representing the five regions of the AU will also present their statements.

This session is convened as part of the African Youth Month and the annual thematic session of the PSC on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). It is to be recalled that the PSC convened its first session dedicated to YPS in November 2018, which, amongst others, requested for undertaking a study on the role of the youth in promoting peace and security, the appointment of the five AYAPs and decided to ‘institutionalize and regularize an annual open session dedicated to the theme of YPS’. Apart from the institutionalization of YPS as a standing thematic agenda and the establishment of various structures including the AYAP, the AU also designated Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye as the Champion of the YPS agenda.

Both the celebration of Africa Youth Day and Youth Month as well as the dedication of a session on YPS by the PSC, are reflective of the increasing recognition on the part of the AU and its policymakers on the need for creating policy space for and facilitating the engagement of youth as critical avenue for achieving AU’s various priorities including those relating to peace and security.

The last PSC session focusing on youth, peace and security in Africa was held on 3 November 2022 at its 1118th session, under the Chairship of the Republic of Namibia, where a Press Statement was issued after the meeting. On the Press Statement, the Council reiterated its request to the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the status of progress in the implementation of the 10-Year Implementation Plan of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and challenges faced, including through periodic reports and annual briefings. It is against this backdrop that the deliberation is expected to discuss the update on the implementation of the progress of the 10-year implementation plan of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and the outcome document ‘Bujumbura Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa’ submitted to the PSC for consideration post the convening of the Continental Dialogue on YPS.

At the level of the AU Commission, a major step in the implementation of the Continental Framework on Youth Peace and Security and its 10-year implementation involved the operationalization of the Youth for Peace Africa (Y4P) Programme. The Y4P programme anchors the follow-up of both the Continental Framework on Youth Peace and Security and its 10-year implementation and plays a pivotal role in the promotion of the YPS agenda and enhancing the engagement of youth and other stakeholders through, among others, capacity-building programmes. Additionally, the programme implements activities led by the African Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAP) to enhance youth participation in governance, peace, security and sustainable development initiatives at the national and regional levels.

Apart from reviewing the implementation of the YPS agenda through the Y4P programme, tomorrow’s session will also hear from the members of the AYAP about their activities and experience. The 2nd cohort of the AYAP, who assumed their role for a two-year mandate, from February 2022 to February 2024, will be finishing their mandate next February. Apart from the update they may provide on activities undertaken in 2023, it is expected that the AYAP members that will participate in tomorrow’s session will present their respective reflections on activities undertaken in their respective regions such as the promotion of the adoption of national action plans and lessons learned from their engagement in the YPS agenda including on areas of improvement for the effective implementation of the YPS agenda and vis-à-vis the role of AYAP. They will also highlight some of the highlights of their collective actions including the collaboration with Burundi for the adoption of the Bujumbura Declaration and their participation in processes leading to COP27.

This year, Africa Youth Month will be commemorated under the theme of ‘1 million Next Level is Knocking: Youth-led Movement that Transcends Borders’. In relation to this, the Council will be briefed by the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Youth, who may also provide further reflections on the state of youth in peace and security and close working arrangements between the Envoy and the AYAP. During its 1067th session at its annual session on the theme, one of the issues the PSC pointed out was the ‘the imperative of close collaboration between the Special Envoy on Youth and the AYAPs, as well as Youth Focal Points in the RECs/RMs and various youth networks for peace’.  Apart from the AU Youth Envoy, this year’s session is also expected to feature the delivery of a statement by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, signifying the importance of leveraging the roles of both the AU and the UN on the agenda of youth in general.

Another important aspect of tomorrow’s meeting will be the discussion on the progress of the operationalization of the WiseYouth Network. The Network was established as a subsidiary mechanism of the Panel of the Wise, through Assembly Decision [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)] of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2022, to promote a strategic engagement of youth in conflict prevention, mediation and peace processes across the Continent. The AU Commission organized a technical consultative meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 31 August to 01 September 2023 to review the draft operational modalities for the Network and the Terms of Reference. It was agreed that the WiseYouth Network would consist of 26 members, with equal representation of genders. 2 members would be nominated from each of the RECs/RMs, the LCBC and the G5-Sahel. These members would be selected from regional YPS networks involved with these institutions to ensure ownership and establish direct connections between WiseYouth members and regional and continental-led peace process efforts.

Furthermore, recently the AU Commission requested all RECs/RMs, the LCBC and the G5-Sahel to nominate individuals with specific experience and expertise in mediation, to join the 1st Cohort of the WiseYouth Network. The selection process for the WiseYouth Network is expected to be done jointly with the process for selecting the new cohort of the AYAPs, within the month of November. This will allow for the presentation of both groups to the Council in December 2023. It is against this context that tomorrow’s meeting will lay out the progress so far on the ongoing process towards selecting the 3rd Cohort of AYAPs and the 1st Cohort of the WiseYouth, who will start the execution of their mandate in February 2024.

The expected outcome of this deliberation is a communiqué. The Council is expected to welcome the work accomplished by the AU Youth Envoy and the 2nd cohort of the AYAP. Council may also emphasize the need to mainstream the Youth, Peace and Security agenda in Member States and across the AU peace and security processes. In light of the recent challenges facing the Continent including unconstitutional changes of government (UCG), the PSC may underscore the need for the AU Youth Envoy and the AYAP to work together to bring out the perspectives of the youth including from affected countries on the factors precipitating UCG, the apparent support of the public including youth for coups and on how to address these factors. Building on the follow-up to some of the 12 actions identified in the communiqué of the 1067th session particularly the inclusion of AYAP in election observation missions, the PSC may also emphasize the importance of ensuring representation of AYAP and members of the AU WiseYouth network to be represented in AU and RECs/RMs peace initiatives and to this end closer engagement with special envoys, special representatives and other mediation and peacemaking bodies at the AU and RECs/RMs levels. It may also reiterate its call for the domestication of international, continental and regional youth, peace and security policies and legal frameworks. It may also remind states of the need to ensure the meaningful and inclusive representation of young people at different levels of government and decision-making processes as well as resourcing youth-led and youth-focused peace and security initiatives. The PSC may also highlight the need for Member States to increase investment in youth-led initiatives and the importance of providing financial and technical support to these initiatives to ensure their sustainability and impact on the Continent. It is also likely that the Council will emphasize the importance of partnerships and collaboration among governments, the RECs/RMs, regional bodies, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders in addressing youth-related peace and security issues including displacement, climate change and migration. The PSC may welcome the participation of the UN Youth Envoy in the session and encourage close coordination and development and implementation of joint programmes between the AU and the UN including through the youth envoys on issues affecting youth in general and on peace and security in particular.


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

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

Date | September 2023

In September, Cameroon chaired the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC). The PSC had a scheduled program of work that initially consisted of six sessions. However, during the month, only five sessions were convened.

Read Full Document

Provisional programme of work for the month of November 2023

Provisional programme of work for the month of November 2023

Date | November 2023

In November, the Republic of Djibouti will assume the chairship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month, under the leadership of H.E. Ambassador Abdi Mahmoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the AU. This month’s provisional program of work includes a total of seven sessions including on matters specified in the annual indicative program. Six of these sessions will be held at the ambassadorial level, and one at the ministerial level. The meeting at the ministerial level will be chaired by H.E. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Djibouti. In addition to the seven sessions, the PSC will also hold its Retreat on Working Methods in Tunis, Tunisia.

01 November being commemorated annually as the Africa Youth Day, the first convening of the PSC will be held on 3 November. In light of the African Youth Charter adopted in November of 2006, the meeting will be dedicated to addressing youth in regard to peace and security. The last PSC session on Youth, Peace and Security was held on 03 November 2022, constituting PSC’s 1118th session. This month’s convening is expected to discuss the implementation of the progress of the 10-year implementation plan of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and the outcome document ‘Bujumbura Declaration on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa’ submitted to the PSC for consideration post the convening of the Continental Dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security held earlier this year.

The next session of the PSC scheduled for 7 November will focus on Climate Change, Peace and Security. During the last PSC convening on Climate Change Peace and Security held at the Ministerial level in October 2022, the PSC reiterated the need to accelerate the work on two items, the report on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace, and Security in the Continent and the implementation of the AU Climate Change and Resilience Development Strategy and Action Plan. The PSC is expected to receive a briefing on the African Continental Climate Security Risk Assessment Report on Climate Change, Peace and Security Nexus and the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the Nexus between Climate Change, Peace and Security in Africa during this month’s session scheduled to take place on 7 November 2023.

In the second week in November, the PSC will convene four sessions in one week: two thematic, and two country-specific sessions. On 13 November, the first thematic session will be on the annual meeting with the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. The AU PSC and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) had their last convening on 28 November 2022, which was held as an agenda item of PSC’s 1122nd session. Last year’s meeting had a particular focus on the nexus between climate change and peacebuilding. As such, the outcome of that meeting emphasized, among others, how the Peacebuilding Fund can contribute towards the promotion of climate-sensitive programming in Africa.

On 14 November, the Council will convene a session on South Sudan. This session is expected to review progress made in the implementation of the various outstanding transitional tasks and South Sudan’s preparations and readiness for the upcoming elections scheduled to take place in December 2024.  In a report that was presented to the UN Security Council some months back, the Report of the UN Secretary-General noted with ‘concern the slow implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the significant delays in meeting the benchmarks agreed under the roadmap adopted in August 2022’.

The next session scheduled for 15 November is set to involve update on the situation in Sudan. Convened by Djibouti in its capacity as Chairperson of IGAD as well, this will be held at a ministerial level. It is anticipated that the session will review the developments in the war that will mark on the day of the session eight months since its outbreak in April. Despite more than a dozen declarations or announcements for ceasefire of various kinds that we documented, none of them held. The war has continued to rage on with devastating consequences to civilians and the physical and institutional infrastructure of the Sudanese state. Similarly, no meaningful wider political or peace process has emerged despite various initiatives including the AU and IGAD Roadmaps, AU’s Extended Mechanism Core Group, the various convenings by Sudan’s neighbours (Cairo, Ndjamena and Asmara). This session is expected to also discuss recent developments with respect to ceasefire negotiations in Jeddah and civilian actors meeting held in Addis Ababa.

On 17 November, the PSC session will be on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Africa. This forms part of the annual meeting of the PSC within the framework of Resolution 1325 which is usually undertaken in October.

On the third week of the month, the PSC will hold its retreat on its Working Methods. The retreat is expected to take place between 21-28 November in Tunis, Tunisia, commencing at the level of the Committee of Experts the week prior, followed by a retreat at the Ambassadorial level. The discussions of the retreat are expected to cover, among others, the following: the improvement of coordination and decision-making between Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the PSC; enhancement of the capacity of the PSC Secretariat in regard to human resources for the implementation of the adopted structure; identification of the bearer of responsibility for the drafting of the PSC outcome documents and a timeframe for publication of the outcome documents; and the regularization of the presence of a legal advisor from the Office of the AU Legal counsel during PSC session. Other items that may be addressed during the session emanating from the previous PSC Retreat on Working Methods highlight the streamlining of the Annual Indicative Programme (AIP) of Work of the PSC for the purpose of harmonization as well as the inclusion of the African Peace Support Operations into the AIP.

The final session of the month is scheduled to take place on 30 November focusing on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD). The PSC is expected to receive a briefing on the various activities undertaken since the last convening. Based on the outcomes of the previous PSC session on PCRD, the session is expected to address the revitalization of the Council’s Sub Committee on PCRD via the establishment of the terms of reference for the committee. Other key considerations for the PSC during this session include the sustainable financing of the PCRD through increased financial and technical support from member states and the diversification of partnerships among international and nonconventional partners (private sector) for increased financial and technical capacity of the PCRD. In addition to the progress of PCRD, the Council will also consider the Conclusion of the 15th PSC retreat during this session.

In addition to the foregoing, the programme of work encompasses the meeting of the Committee of Experts (CoE). The CoE is scheduled to convene on 9 November. As indicated in the footnotes of the programme of work for November, the PSC will also be considering the provisional programme of work for December 2023 via email.

 

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


Consideration of the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Countering Terrorism in Africa and Related Issues

Consideration of the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Countering Terrorism in Africa and Related Issues

Date | 26 October 2023

Tomorrow (27 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC)  convene its 1182nd session at ambassadorial level to consider the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on counter terrorism.

Following the opening statement by Daniel Owassa, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of October, the Commissioner of the Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver remarks.  Additionally, Lallali Idriss Lakhdar, Acting Director of the Africa Centre for the Research and Study on Terrorism, is expected to give a presentation.

The report of the Chairperson aligns with the decision made by the Assembly (/AU/Dec.311 (XV)) during its 15th Ordinary Session in July 2010. The Assembly requested the Commission to provide regular reports on the progress of counterterrorism efforts and cooperation in Africa. Furthermore, the PSC, in its 249th session in November 2010, urged the AU Commission to submit reports and briefings on the state of terrorism in Africa, as well as the efforts of the AU, Regional Economic Communities/Mechanisms and member States to combat this issue. It is worth noting that the Malabo Summit on Terrorism, held in May 2022, marked the fourth occasion where the issue of terrorism was discussed at the level of Heads of State and Government. This is not surprising considering that conflicts involving terrorist groups continues to grow from strength to strength.

As pointed out in our various research outputs including our landmark special research report, Africa has experienced major spike in not only the proliferation of conflicts involving terrorist groups but also in their impact and geographic spread. According to the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), Africa witnessed a staggering 400% increase in attacks and a 237% rise in deaths between 2012 and 2020. The 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) further reveals that despite a slight decrease in terror attacks from 1,445 in 2021 to 1,332 in 2022, there was an 8% surge in deaths in 2022, making Africa the region with the highest increase in terrorism-related fatalities. Additionally, the ACSRT’s quarterly terrorism bulletin) reported a 12% increase in terrorism attacks during the first quarter (January – March) of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 with 426 recorded attacks and 2,809 deaths. The ACSRT report indicates that  the attacks 226 targeted civilians and 160 targeted military forces.

The report also highlights the alarming geographical spread of terrorism, particularly in the Sahel and the West African coastal states, making the Sahel region the epicentre of terrorism in the world. As indicated in the 2023 GTI report, ‘four out of the ten most impacted countries by terrorism in 2022 were located in the Sahel region’. While Burkina Faso had the highest number of deaths in 2022, the areas near its borders with Niger, Benin, and Mali witnessed the majority of terror attacks, ‘accounting for 71% of all attacks that occurred in 2022’. The border area known as Liptako-Gourma, located between Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, continues to be the most severely affected region.

Additionally, there is also encroachment of terrorism into coastal West African states from the Sahel affecting Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Ghana.

For instance, in Togo, a violent terrorist attack was carried out on 11 May, 2023 by around 60 attackers at a military outpost in Kpinkankandi, near the border with Burkina Faso. It was reported that this attack resulted in the death of eight Togolese soldiers and left 13 others injured. The GTI report further indicates that 17 attacks and 44 deaths occurred in Benin and Togo in 2022. In Ghana, the government expressed concern that an escalation of violence could benefit jihadist groups after ‘criminals’ attempted to bomb a bridge in Bawku, a northern region of Ghana bordering Burkina Faso on 9 February 2023.

Similarly, Boko Haram and its faction the Islamic State in the West African Province (ISWAP) have also expanded their activities to Southern Nigeria and neighbouring countries such as Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The groups’ actions have resulted in the displacement of millions of people and a humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region. In East Africa, al-Shabaab’s operations along the Kenya-Somalia border have been reported to have significantly increased starting from June this year. Recently, on 10 September Kenyan Defence Forces’ Soldiers patrolling along Milimani-Baure Road were killed and injured during a suspected al-Shabaab attack in Lamu County’s Boni Forest.

When it comes to Central Africa, there has been a significant rise in the overall number of attacks due to the activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) in the Great Lakes Region. In the South, the ACSTR recorded 31 attacks by  Ahlussunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), the terrorist group operating in Mozambique.

The other issues that the Chairperson’s report may also highlight is the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and those returning after joining the ISIS in places such as Syria.

Given the rise in the frequency and geographical spread of terrorism, it has become clear that the overreliance on hard security response measures is not delivering the expected outcomes. If anything, it has exacerbated the situation through its adverse impacts including abuses and collateral damages it inflicts on affected communities. This necessitates that the policy repones achieves a shift towards enhancing and focusing on the use of non-security measures targeting the governance, institutional, socio-economic, environmental and development issues that create the conditions for the emergence and expansion of conflicts involving terrorist groups.

It would also be of interest in PSC’s consideration of the Chairperson’s report to discuss the  impact of the constitutional crisis ensuing from military coups particularly in the Sahel on efforts for containing the growing threat of terrorism in the region. The Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S), a subregional arrangement initially composed of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, is gradually losing its strength as a result of member states’ withdrawal. In May 2022, Mali decided to withdraw from the G5 Sahel, including the FC-G5S, due to disagreements among the regional group members regarding the transitional authorities in Mali assuming the rotating presidency of the organization. This withdrawal has caused a profound institutional crisis within the subregional organization, as stated by Eric Tiaré, the Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel, in his address to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Since then, coup d’états have taken place in Burkina Faso and Niger, leading to an alliance between the de facto leaders of Mali and Niger as well as the interim president of Burkina Faso.

On the other side, another development worthy of interest to this session is the signing of a charter that established the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) on 16 September. In his press statement, Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the main focus of the alliance ‘…is the fight against terrorism in the three countries.’

As in the past, one other issue that has increasingly received attention in the Chairperson’s recent reports is the relationship between terrorism and transnational organized criminal networks. Among the terrorist groups operating in West Africa, the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen (JNIM), the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), and the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) are known for taking advantage of such networks including for financing their activities and the recruitment of new members. In areas with predominantly informal economies, limited state resources and presence, and pervasive corruption, terrorist groups find it easy to levying taxes with little opposition from locals. This is particularly observed in territories experiencing the insurgence of JNIM and ISWAP.

The consideration of the Chairperson’s report is also expected to also deliberate on how terrorist groups operating in Africa are increasingly leveraging advanced technologies to mobilize support, recruit and carry out their attacks. Organizations such as al-Shabaab and ISWAP have adapted to the digital era by utilizing a variety of tools and platforms to plan, communicate, and organize their operations. Some terrorist groups, for example in relation to the Lake Chad Basin region, Boko haram, have sought to use drone technology for surveillance and weapon delivery. The ISWAP for instance has increased its use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIED). Attention should also be paid to the risk of such actors employing cyber warfare tactics to disrupt crucial infrastructure and communication networks. Additionally, it is important to address the significant reliance of these groups on small arms and light weapons.

Tomorrow’s session would also serve as an opportunity for reviewing the efforts made by the AU, its Member States, and RECs/RMs to contain the spread of and enhance concerted efforts in the face of the transnational and transregional character of the threat. As it did last time, the Chairperson’s report further emphasizes that the predominant responses have been of a military nature, and ongoing attacks have resulted in increased militarization of states’ reactions. However, it is crucial to devote more attention to comprehending the less evident covert activities, such as the collaboration between terrorists, violent extremists, and illicit actors in recruiting and mobilizing resources. In this respect, the report calls for renewed efforts and provides a list of preventive measures.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to express its concern over the continuing scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, as well as the surge in the influx of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) into Africa and its implications for the peace and security of the continent. Towards strengthening continental mechanisms to counter terrorism, the PSC may recall Decisions, particularly [Assembly/AU/Dec.753.XXXIII] of February 2020, and Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV) of February 2022, on the establishment of a Counter-Terrorism Unit within the African Standby Force (ASF). The PSC may also request member states to enhance the implementation of applicable AU instruments and Decisions, specifically the 1999 Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and the 50th OAU/AU Anniversary Solemn Declaration. Furthermore, the PSC is expected to stress the need for efforts to combat transnational organized crime, especially the proliferation of illicit arms, including through enhanced intelligence sharing mechanisms, border management cooperation, and control. The PSC may also reiterate its previous decision on the need to address the root causes of terrorism, including poverty and marginalization, the weak or absence of presence of the state and legitimate local governance infrastructures, which create the conditions for a breeding ground for terrorism. The PSC is also expected to emphasize the need for increased support for those affected by armed conflict, including children, youth, and women impacted by terrorism, radicalization, and insurgency. Additionally, the PSC may recognize the need to collaborate with Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and AU Organs to build community resilience and promote long-term recovery through post-conflict reconstruction and development programs. Drawing on the recommendation of the report of the Chairperson, the Council may also highlight the need to mainstream counterterrorism and prevention/countering of violent extremism in the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).