Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Date | 01 December 2022

Tomorrow (01 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1124th session to receive updates on the status of operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and Regional Standby Forces.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Victor Adekunle Adeleke, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. The various Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also expected to provide updates to the PSC regarding on-going efforts to enhance Regional Standby Brigades.

The last time PSC met to follow up on the operationalisation of the ASF was at its 1069th session held on 10 March 2022. The session served to discuss capacity gaps that continue to constrain the deployment and employment of the ASF which has been declared fully operational by the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) in 2015. Tomorrow’s session serves to reflect on the status of some of the steps necessitated for the full deployment of ASF, particularly finalisation and adoption of key documents including the Five-Year Successor Strategic Work Plan (2021 – 2025) on the ASF and the AU-RECs/RMs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Employment of the ASF.

Following the 1069th PSC session, the STCDSS convened its 14th Ordinary Session on 12 May 2022 where it considered both the 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan and the AU-RECs/RMs MoU. The 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan was developed by the AU Commission, following completion of the implementation period of the 2016 – 2020 Maputo Strategic Five-Year Work Plan. The new work plan which has been developed through a review process of the previous one including achievements and challenges observed in its implementation, aims to align all ASF policies with the AU Doctrine on Peace Support Operations (PSOs) which was adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the STCDSS held on 30 January 2021. Following the STCDSS’s review at its 14th Ordinary Session, the draft 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan was shared with the RECs/RMs for final inputs and validation. One area the PSC could be updated on at tomorrow’s session is therefore the status of validation of the new strategic work plan by RECs/RMs.

Regarding the AU-RECs/RMs MoU on the employment of ASF, a key development has been the finalisation of the draft MoU – which defined the roles and responsibilities of the AU and RECs/RMs in the employment, deployment and post-employment of the ASF composed of regional standby forces – and its clearance by the AU Office of Legal Counsel. Having considered the draft, the STCDSS at its 14th Ordinary Session requested the AU to form a Working Group comprising representatives of AU, RECs/RMs and member States, to undertake further consultations and provide inputs on the MoU. Accordingly, a Working Group meeting was facilitated by the AU Commission from 24 to 26 October 2022 and a consensus document representing additional inputs from member States and RECs/RMs was produced.   The STCDSS Bureau has  tabled the AU-RECs/RMs MoU as an agenda item of its 15th Ordinary meeting scheduled to take place in May or June 2023. Tomorrow’s session also serves for the PSC to be updated of these developments regarding the MoU.

With regards to ASF capacity generation, it is to be recalled that the AU Commission Chairperson’s “Status Report/Roadmap on the Full Operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Continental Logistics Base (CLB)” that was submitted to the 1007th PSC session highlighted ‘hesitancy and reluctance by the RECs/RMs to confirm capabilities pledged and how they are to be made readily available’. Demonstrating the continuation of the challenge, it was noted by the PSC at its 1069th session that only the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) Secretariat provided a verification report upon the request of the AU Commission in July 2021, for RECs/RMs to verify their pledged capabilities using the 2019 ASF Pledged Capabilities Verification Guidelines. In addition to seeking update on the submission of verification reports by any of the other RECs/RMs, PSC may be interested in examining the specific challenges faced by respective RECs/RMs in completing the reports.

The other aspect in the operationalization of the ASF expected to be discussed tomorrow concerns  the development of the Continental Movement Coordination Centre (CMCC) and Strategic Lift capability.  The PSC may take note of initiatives of the AU Commission in assessing the strategic lift assets of AU member states that have pledged air capabilities (Chad, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote D’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea) and the submission of draft MoUs in this regard, to the AU Office of Legal Counsel for clearance. This is expected to pave the way  for the utilisation of the pledged assets whenever the need arises.

Another important aspect of ASF operationalisation that may draw PSC’s attention is the status of utilisation of the Continental Logistics Base (CLB) which was launched in January 2018 and is based in Doula, Cameroon. The CLB, which serves the main purpose facilitating procurement and delivery of equipment as well as accounting for necessary support to the civilian, police and military components of AU PSOs, has been put to use for storing and managing equipment for PSOs including some donated to the South African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and to the Multinational Joint Task Force against the Boko Haram (MNJTF). Despite its important utility, the CLB faces challenges which could seriously hinder its operations. For example, since its inauguration in 2018, the CLB has been functioning through officers seconded by AU member States as there is shortage of funding for recruitment of substantive staff and to cover operating costs. In addition, there is still challenge in ensuring appropriate storage and maintenance facilities as well as comprehensive security to the equipment. On the other hand, the approval of the CLB structure through the AU Executive Council Decision adopted at its 41st Ordinary Session held on 14 July 2022 [EX.CL/Dec.1168(XLI)] has been an important progress.

Coming in the wake of the Inaugural Lessons Learned Forum on AU PSOs and ASF which took place from 01 to 03 November 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria, tomorrow’s session may also serve the PSC to take stock of and reflect on some of the main outcomes of the forum. One important point that formed part of the discussions at the Abuja lessons learned forum was the importance of reconceptualising the ASF as to align its visions of being continentally coordinated, with current practices and realities on the ground, particularly the more proactive role played by RECs/RMs in the deployment and management of PSOs. Despite some encouraging development being obtained in utilising the ASF framework, particularly through the deployment of SAMIM and SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL), the practice of deploying PSOs by RECs/RMs and some ad-hoc security arrangements has largely remained outside of, and mostly without any references to, the ASF framework.

The decision of the 14th Extraordinary Assembly on Silencing the Guns to declare the full operationalisation of ASF and direct its utilisation in mandating and authorising AU PSOs has been significant to address this gap. However, if the recent deployment of East African Community (EAC) Regional Force to Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – which makes no reference to the ASF framework – is to be any indication, the challenge still persists. Further to reconceptualising the ASF in a manner that grasps practices on the ground in the deployment of PSOs, it is thus important to also have clarity on some key strategic and political issues such as mandating deployment, political decision-making, and command and control, issues which will require the conclusion and signing of the AU-RECs/RMs MoU to be fully clarified.

An important point emphasised at the Abuja lessons learned forum was also the critical role that can be played by a well-funded ASF to tackle the growing challenge of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, and the importance of unpacking previous and on-going counterterrorism operations such as AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and MNJTF to draw lessons for the deployment of continental responses to terrorism, through the ASF. Although the decision for the establishment of a Specialised Unit of the ASF on Counterterrorism has been made pursuant to the Communiqués of PSC’s 455th and 960th sessions and decision of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)], its envisaged establishment and utilisation – upon request by the affected member State and RECs/RMs and approval by the PSC – is yet to be realised. Funding being one of the main constraints delaying establishment of the unit, it remains critical to explore all options including utilisation of the AU Peace Fund, which envisages under Window 3, dedication of funds for full operationalisation of ASF.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is unknown at the time of developing this insight. The PSC may welcome the inauguration of a lessons learned forum on AU PSOs and the ASF in Abuja and encourage its periodic and regular convening in the future. It may also welcome developments made since its last session, in the process of fully operationalising the ASF. It may particularly take note of advances made in finalising key documents including the 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan of the ASF and the AU-RECs/RMs MoU and urge the AU Commission to closely follow up on the status of their adoption. It may particularly encourage member States to adopt the draft AU-RECs/RMs MoU taking into account that it represents consensus of the members of the Working Group assigned by the STCDSS. Having regard to the importance of reconceptualising the ASF, the PSC may request the AU Commission to develop a revised ASF Concept that takes full account of RECs/RMs ownership of their respective standby forces, and submit to the 15th Ordinary Meeting of the STCDSS in May/June 2023. It may further request the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly to endorse the CLB structure which has already been approved by the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council. It may urge RECs/RMs that have not yet done so, to submit reports verifying their pledged capabilities. It may further commend RECs/RMs that have attained their full operational capability (FOC) and encourage those RECs/RMs that are yet to achieve FOC, to scale up the capabilities of their Regional Standby Brigades and work towards operationalising their respective Regional Logistic Depots. In this regard, considering also the experience of SADC in terms of non-readiness of the depot for supporting the SADC Mission in Mozambique,the PSC may further request the AU Commission to provide the necessary support to RECs/RMs in their efforts to enhance their capacities.  While commending member States that have pledged strategic lift capabilities for rapid deployment, the PSC may call on the AU Office of Legal Counsel to finalise clearance for ensuring readiness of the legal parameters for utilizing the capabilities. The PSC may also take note of capacity challenges that confront the CLB as well as establishment of the ASF Specialised Unit on Counterterrorism and call on all relevant stakeholders to redouble efforts to obtain the necessary funding as well as other support to address these challenges.


Update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)

Update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)

Date | 28 November 2022

Tomorrow (28 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1122nd session to receive update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD). The update will be one of the two agenda items that the PSC is set to consider during this session.

Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November is expected to make opening remarks. Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is scheduled to introduce the progress report and present an update on the activities implemented during the year.

This session comes within the context of the commemoration of the second edition of PCRD awareness week (24 to 30 November 2022), which is being marked under the theme of ‘towards repositioning Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: greater awareness and sustained peacebuilding’. PCRD awareness week was first launched last year in November 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. It is to be recalled that the Assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)) as well as the PSC during its 1047th session of November 2021 endorsed the institutionalization and regularization of the awareness week as an annual event.

In tomorrow’s session, members of the PSC are expected to discuss on progress and challenges in the implementation of AU PCRD policy since its last dedicated session on PCRD in November last year. PSC’s 670th session of March 2017 recognized that the ‘PCRD dimension remains the weakest link’ within the implementation processes of both the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). However, in recent years the Commission has stepped-up efforts in mainstreaming PCRD in its activities, as well as its support to Member States that are in political transition and post-conflict situations.

Examples that highlight the increasing implementation of PCRD support in member states include: Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and Peace Strengthening Projects (PSPs) in 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 in South Sudan, support in the establishment of Human Rights Commission and in the areas of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) as well as security sector reform (SSR) in Central African Republic; and support in the areas of SSR, rule of law, and transitional justice in the Gambia, where the AU deployed a PCRD mission.

In past, liaison offices were AU’s main tool of channelling its PCRD support to Member States. This is expanded as the example of  the AU Technical Support Team to the Gambia (AUTSTG) shows the deployment of technical mission involving experts tasked to support peacebuilding activities ranging from SSR, transitional justice to establishment of bodies like national human rights commission. In 2021, similar types of missions were initiated for the Comoros and Chad. For example, small team of experts (two international experts on constitutionalism & Rule of Law, and election, and one national expert) are being deployed ahead of the 2024 election in the Comoros.

In terms of progress in the operationalization and strengthening AU’s PCRD policy and its architecture since PSC’s 1047th session, two important developments are likely to be highlighted. The first is the initiation of the revision of AU PCRD Policy Framework, which has been in place since its adoption in 2006. It is to be recalled that the PSC, at its 1047th session, requested for the ‘urgent review of the AU PCRD Policy Framework in order to ensure that it is re-aligned and adaptable to the emerging challenges in the continental peace and security landscape’. The Assembly (AU/Dec.815XXXV of 6 February 2022) made a similar call, further requesting the Commission to submit the revised Policy in the upcoming ordinary session which is expected to happen in February 2023. AU Commission accordingly convened a high-level expert engagement to review the Policy from 9 to 14 September 2022 in Accra, Ghana. In his presentation, Bankole is likely to highlight the major areas of revision, including the addition of two pillars (youth and environmental security) and one principle (humanitarian principles); the definition of human security; and the expansion in scope.

The second major development is the formal launch of the AU PCRD Centre in Cairo, Egypt in December 2021 with the mandate to serve as a hub of operational excellence on peacebuilding efforts on the continent. However, as the AU Champion on PCRD, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, highlighted in his statement issued on 22 November, the full operationalization of the PCRD Centre need to be fast tracked for the Centre to deliver on the critical role that it is envisaged to play.  According to the Commission’s progress report on the AU PCRD policy implementation, the shortlisting of candidates for 11 positions has been undertaken as of November. The Centre is expected to have 30 staff members when it becomes fully operational. Bankole may also highlight ongoing efforts to the formulation of an AU policy on psychosocial support to survivors in post-conflict contexts in line with PSC request at its 593rd session in April 2016.

While AU has made notable strides in creating the necessary normative and institutional frameworks and providing supports to Member States in the areas of PCRD, there are number of challenges and outstanding issues which PSC should consider for the effective implementation of AU’s PCRD policy. In terms of challenge, the most prominent one remains the resource constraint as PSC noted with concern during its 593rd, 670th, and 958th sessions, among others. For example, lack of funding was the main reason why the AU PCRD mission in the Gambia was brought to an end. In various of its sessions on PCRD, PSC considered at least three options to address the resource constraints. The first is revitalization of the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI). The PSC, during its 1047th session, underlined the ‘urgent need’ for the revitalization of this initiative as ‘an important framework for mobilization of in-kind support from within the Continent’. The second is engaging the African Development Bank, African private sector, African stakeholder-organizations, as well as international partners such as World Bank, UN Development Programme, and UN Peace building Commission. The third is the use of AU’s peace fund. Among the priority activities proposed for the utilization of the peace fund under window 2 (institutional capacity) include operationalization and capacity building of the AU PCRD Centre and enhancing Member States’ capacity in the areas of DDR and SSR. Additionally, the PSC sub-committee on PCRD, which was supposed to provide the necessary political leadership and oversight on the implementation of PCRD activities, is also yet to be operationalized despite PSC’s repeated request for its re-activation.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. PSC is expected to welcome the commemoration of the second PCRD awareness week. Echoing the 21 November statement of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, PSC may note the significant achievements made towards the operationalization and implementation of the AU PCRD Policy, including the revision of the PCRD policy framework and formal launch of the Cairo PCRD Centre. PSC may also commend the Commission for the different initiatives and supports to Member States that are aimed at consolidating peace and preventing conflict relapse. On the Cairo PCRD Centre, PSC may reiterate the call of the AU Champion on PCRD, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, for the AU Commission to ‘fast track the operationalization of the work of the Center and to endorse its functional structure’. In relation to the challenges, PSC may call upon the Commission to expedite the pilot utilization of the peace fund in line with the identified priority activities. It may further request the Commission to step-up mobilization of resources, particularly through the revitalization of the ASI and engagement of African private sector and financial institutions, as well as international partners including UN PBC. It may also call upon the UN Security Council to ensure adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for peacebuilding efforts in Africa. PSC may urge the Commission to strengthen mainstreaming PCRD and peacebuilding aspects in all its activities including in the relevant country situations and thematic issues, as well as field visits. It may also request the Commission to expedite the preparation of AU Policy on psychosocial support to survivors in post-conflict contexts.


Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Date | 16 September 2022

Tomorrow (16 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene a joint-meeting with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) Sub-Committee on Budget Matters along with the Board of Trustees of the AU Peace Fund, to discuss the status of the AU Peace Fund operationalisation.

Apart from the remarks of the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma Adomaa Twum-Amoah, the opening segment of the session is envisaged to feature remarks of the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund and the Chairperson of the AU Committee of (F15). The substantive session is envisaged to involve update on the status of the Peace Fund. In this respect, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, who is a member of the Executive Management Committee of the Peace Fund, will brief the session on the rational for the establishment and operationalizing a high-performing Fund in line with international best practice. This is followed by an update by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) on ‘Evolving consensus on financing AU Peace Support Operations and priority utilization of the Fund’.

The last time Council convened a session to discuss the AU Peace Fund was in October 2021, at its 1036th meeting. At that session, Council deliberated on the utilisation of the Peace Fund on priority areas including support to peace processes in specific conflict and crisis affected member states including Libya, Mali, Somalia and Sudan. Tomorrow’s briefing presents the opportunity for Council to receive updates and reflect on the latest developments regarding operationalisation of the Peace Fund. The session is unique in bringing together all the major stakeholders, thereby presenting an opportunity for achieving consensus on the full operationalization of the Fund including the proposed piloting of the utilization of a specified amount of the Fund.

The major developments since the last session of the PSC include the finalization of the identification of the priority areas for use of funds from the interest accrued to the current contributions to Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that the PSC discussed and agreed on the utilization of the AU Peace Fund through pilot projects from the accrued interest during its 13th retreat on its working methods in the context of AU Institutional Reforms (ref. PSC/Retreat.13 dated 27-29 May 2021) held in Mombasa Kenya.

The AU Commission engaged the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund towards the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund in 2022 through costed and prioritized programmatic activities to address urgent peace and security challenges on the Continent. The representatives of the Executive Committee composed of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and the Commissioner for PAPS, in consultation with the AU High Representative on Financing of the AU and the Peace Fund, have identified priorities for utilisation of the Fund. Within this framework, 21 priority areas were identified.

The Board of Trustees approved for consideration and adoption by the relevant AU policy organs the use of $ 8.4 million from the interest accrued to the Peace Fund to implement pilot projects. During the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, the Executive Council approved an additional $5 million for the Crisis Reserve Fund (CRF). The revolving $5 million for the CRF proposed for the pilot phase is expected to be used for activities that do not exceed one year.

Through CRF the AUC envisages to support startup costs of missions authorized by relevant AU policy organs, emergency situations that exceed the capacity of member states, activities that can be undertaken in a short period and activities that can rapidly bring change in the peace and security situation. The CRF fund allows the PSC and the AUC to respond to emerging crises for which provision could not have been made in the annual regular budget for peace and security.

During the consideration of the report on the CRF in Lusaka, one of the issues raised centered around the extent to which the relevant bodies were consulted and whether due process has been followed as stipulated in the Financial Rules and Regulations (FRR). The concept of implementing a pilot project under the three windows of the Peace Fund has been largely welcomed but the Executive Council could not consider the proposed project for approval. Hence this Joint Briefing session is meant to provide firm clarity on compliance with the FRR and ensure that the relevant AU bodies achieve common understanding. It also serves to pave the way for proposed $8.4 million for the pilot projects that is yet to be approved by the PRC for adoption by AU policy organs.

In addition to reaching agreement on priority areas, the legal, operational and governance mechanisms relevant for the full functioning of the Fund have also been established. This includes finalisation of the process of drawing programmes and costing priority areas for utilisation; establishment and operationalisation of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Management Committee; adoption of modalities for the recruitment of Independent Evaluation Panel and Fund Managers; and commencement of processes for the establishment of the Peace Fund Secretariat. The PAPS Department has also prepared the Monitoring and Evaluation framework for the budget proposal for the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund.

On 30 June 2022, the Board of Trustees held a meeting to review the progress obtained in operationalising the Peace Fund. Key progresses noted at the meeting include the appointment of two external, independent Fund Managers – Old Mutual Investment Group from South Africa and Sanlam Investments East Africa from Kenya. Further to that, the Financial Rules for the Peace Fund have also been adopted as part of the AU’s financial rules and regulations in February 2022.

With respect to the status of contributions of member states to the Peace Fund, as of mid-August 2022, the amount from member states assessed contributions stands at $279,069,008.43. Together with voluntary contributions, interest earned on investment of Peace Fund assets and the transfer of the Legacy Peace Fund to the revitalized Peace Fund, the total amount of the Peace Fund stood at $321,504,709.15 as of mid-August 2022. According to the AU report presented to the 41st Ordinary Session held in Lusaka last July, twenty-two (22) AU member states paid their 2022 Peace Fund assessments in full while five (5) member states had made partial payments as at 30 June 2022. Twenty-eight (28) member states had not made any payment to their 2022 Peace Fund assessments. Apart from collection of assessed contribution of member states, there is also the ongoing process for achieving consensus on the contribution of six member states from the North region and the collection or clearing of arrears by defaulting member states.

On the process for achieving the modalities for contribution to the Peace Fund by the six countries, the Executive Council through its Decision (EX.CL/Dec.1162(XL) of February 2022 directed the Commission to work closely with the F15 and the Office of Legal Counsel to analyze proposals made by the Countries of the Northern Region regarding the assessment of member states to the Peace Fund and the implications thereof and recommend solutions in accordance with the legal frameworks of the African Union. While consultations have accordingly been carried out, breakthrough has as yet to emerge finding a proposal that is satisfactory to all while complying with the legal requirements. In terms of collection or clearing of arrears, the report of the Joint-Sitting of the Ministerial Committee on Scale of Assessment and Contributions and the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15) highlighted that Seychelles had fully implemented its payment plan and cleared all its arrears to the budget of the Union. Somalia and Burundi had not made payments in 2022 in line with their payment plan for clearing arrears. Also, Libya and Sudan have yet to conclude the consultations with the Commission to agree on their respective payment plans.

Such progress in the operationalization of the Peace Fund notwithstanding, also of significance for tomorrow’s session is the need for momentum for finalising the common African position on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU peace and security activities. It is to be recalled that after the stalling of the efforts of the African 3 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in 2018 and 2019 to get adoption of a resolution on UN assessed contributions for AU led or authorized peace support operations, the matter was referred back to the AU to provide guidance through a common position.  In this regard, a notable progress attained in 2021 has been the development of a ‘Zero Draft African Consensus on Accessing Sustainable and Predictable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities.’ At the 23rd and 24th PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) meetings, the Zero Draft was considered and the CoE gave inputs for further refinement of the draft. However, the updated draft is as yet to be presented and considered by the PSC before its submission to the AU Assembly for final approval. During tomorrow’s session, one of the issues on which Adeoye could provide update is where this process stands and the next steps for finalizing it and resuming the engagement with the UNSC on accessing assessed contributions.

At the time of going to production, while an outcome document is expected, the form that it will take was unknown. Council and the PRC Sub-Committee on Budget Matters are expected to welcome the commendable progress obtained in the operationalisation of the AU Peace Fund and the steps taken for the utilisation for pilot priority areas. The meeting is expected to endorse the $8.4 million and the additional $5 million of the CRF for adoption by the AU policy organs, so that the utilization of peace fund for the pilot priority projects would fully commence in 2023. The meeting may call on defaulting member states to pay their assessed contributions on time, including those member states expected to finalize the clearing of arrears. It may also urge concerned member states and the AU Commission to fortify efforts towards reaching consensus on contribution of the six countries from the North region to the Peace Fund. The meeting may welcome the progress made in developing the consensus position and encourage the speeding up of the remaining steps for resuming the engagement of the UNSC on accessing UN assessed contributions for AU led peace support operations.


Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Date | 22 August 2022

Tomorrow (22 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1102nd session on ‘Lessons Learning session on the implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratization’.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. For the experience sharing, presentations are expected from the representatives of The Gambia, Libya, South Africa, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda.

Tomorrow’s session will be the first time that Council discusses the AU Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) since its adoption in February 2019. However, Council has dedicated several sessions on the theme of ‘peace, justice and reconciliation’ since at least 2013 which in fact contributed great deal in articulating the African conception of transitional justice (TJ) and clarifying the policy options for Member States to undertake TJ process. For instance, during its 383rd meeting held at the ministerial level in Algiers in June 2013, Council highlighted around six elements that could serve as a basis for the conduct of national reconciliation processes in Africa, including the use of traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution and reconciliation and the imperative of a judicious combination of measures relating to truth telling, repentance, justice, healing, forgiveness, solidarity, reparations, reintegration and socio-economic development. These elements are indeed incorporated in the AUTJP, which reflects the contributions of the Council in shaping the Policy. At its 672nd session convened in March 2016, Council recognized that the ‘issue of achieving an equilibrium between reconciliation and justice is work in progress in the continent and that there is no universal approach or model in applying these two concepts on the ground.’ Council also underscored the importance of balancing retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice, further highlighting the intricacies in the idea of sequencing of peace, reconciliation, and justice in Africa. It is also to be recalled that during its 525th session in July 2015, Council agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item while the 899th session which was held in December 2019 at a ministerial level decided to dedicate annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on ‘national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa’.

As indicated in the Concept note prepared for the session, tomorrow’s session is aimed at sharing the experience on the establishment and implementation of the AUTJP at various levels of governance in Africa, as well as sharing of experiences by Member States who have implemented transitional justice processes. Such experience sharing is expected to serve as an inspiration for other Member States who are dealing with violent past. The session also presents a platform to familiarize the AUTJP and its salient features.

The AUTJP is the culmination of a nearly decade-long legislative process, having its root in the 2011 report of the Panel of the Wise titled ‘Non-Impunity, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation’. Building on the June 2006 AU Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) and drawing from the rich experiences of African countries in transitional justice, the Policy provides practical guide to Member States with violent and/or authoritarian legacies to navigate through difficult transition towards sustainable peace, justice, and democratic order. While the Policy takes significant inspiration from international norms and standards on TJ, it offers an alternative perspective to the dominant conception of TJ that is shaped by its own history, political and socio-economic realities. The Policy defines TJ to cover not only the formal mechanisms but also non-formal or traditional justice approaches that recognize the importance of symbolic and dialogic justice and traditional or religious ritual processes, as well as culturally and socially relevant forms of reparations. While the mainstream model prioritizes retributive approach focusing on criminal justice and accountability, the AUTJP tries to balance the demand for retributive criminal justice and the need for society to achieve reconciliation and rapid transition to a shared democratic future. The other saliant feature of the Policy is the emphasis given to national ownership. As highlighted in para. 32 of the Policy, national ownership entails two substantive components. The first is ‘process leadership and decision making’ whereby national stakeholders involving all sides most importantly victims drive the design and implementation of TJ. The second is the ‘primacy of national resources and capacities’ which emphasizes the need to adapt and exhaust all suitable formal and traditional mechanisms that are available at the local level before resorting to foreign sources and capacities.

The AU is one of the actors identified in the AUTJP bestowed with the role of providing the strategic political leadership at the continental level for the successful implementation of the Policy. It is in this framework that the AU Commission developed a Roadmap for the implementation of the Policy in 2020, which serves as the vehicle for coordinating AUC’s activities regarding the implementation of the Policy for the period 2020-2024. In tomorrow’s briefing, the Commission may highlight some of its activities towards the implementation of the AUTJP. The Commission is likely to mention range of technical assistances provided to Member States including the provision of trainings on the application of the Policy (The Gambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan), support to the development of national transitional justice strategy and policy (DRC and South Sudan), support to the development and implementation of TJ programmes (Libya), and translation of the AUTJP into local languages (such as Ethiopia).

The other aspect of the session is expected to be experience sharing where invited Member States are expected to shed light on their experiences, best practices, and challenges, as well as how they addressed peace versus justice dilemma.

In the case of The Gambia, one of the issues likely to be raised is how the proceedings of the transitional justice process enormously uplifted the political consciousness of the public and provided platform not only to expose the depth of the violations perpetrated by the previous regime but also for public hearing and acknowledgement of the brutalities victims and their families and communities endured. In his recent piece published on 8 June, the former Executive Secretary of The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Baba Galleh Jallow, stated that in a radical departure from previous experiences of truth commissions, ‘the Gambian TRRC created an institutional structure, operational method, and strategic communication processes built on the twin principles of inclusivity and transparency that allowed it to be visibly transformative well before the completion of its work and submission of its final report and recommendations to the Government.’ This is on account of the strong interest that the works of the Commission, particularly its public hearings, evoked among the public, which was previously experienced profoundly during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings as well. In balancing between justice and reconciliation, the Commission combined different modalities including prosecution, amnesty, and reparation. TRRC delivered a final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights from 1994 to 2017 and the government also issued a white paper in May containing its response to the recommendations of the report. While these are steps in the right direction, the success story of The Gambia’s TJ process would remain incomplete without translating those recommendations into action.

Rwanda’s experience reveals the use of combination of customary African values with international and domestic criminal justice to deal with the crime of genocide. International, national, and traditional criminal courts operated together but the traditional Gacaca community justice process remain its key feature. The Gacaca court is lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide. It was also instrumental in facilitating truth telling, promote reconciliation, and end impunity. However, forgetting that the Gacaca courts were dealing with extraordinary conditions of mass atrocities that also destroyed formal legal institutions and implicated extraordinarily large number of peoples, some have wrongly sought to hold the processes of the Gacaca courts to standards that are crafted and envisaged for ordinary times.

The TJ process in Sierra Leone was marked by the simultaneous operation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special hybrid court. It allowed the country to pursue both justice and reconciliation, and it is particularly raised in the context of its special attention to the subject of sexual abuses and to the experiences of children within the armed conflict. The simultaneous existence of the truth commission and a hybrid special court however brought about confusion over mandates. The two processes were also constrained by the focus on national level actors and the vertical state-society relations, thereby leaving enormous vacuum for reconciliation & justice at the local level, which the traditional processes used at the local levels tried to fill in, enabling child soldier to be reintegrated back to the community and broken social relationships to start to heal.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The TJ process in South Africa emphasized truth and reconciliation over criminal prosecution. The process has delivered political transformation and democracy to the country. There are today calls for consolidation of the gains achieved through the TRC process by implementation of the recommendations in the TRC Report, notably those relating to reparations, and by instituting process for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to imped the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In Libya and South Sudan, the TJ process is not only in its nascent stage but also facing enormous challenge. In case of South Sudan, the establishment of the Commission of for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as well as Reparation Commission is a welcome development. For these processes to deliver the justice expectations of victims and survivors of the brutal civil war, it is imperative that they are organized and carried out in full compliance with the standards set in the AUTJP including the inclusive and transparent process of constituting the members of these bodies and ensuring their full independence from political interference and full participation of victims and survivors. Additionally, attention should be paid on how to take advantage of the unique legal and policy resources that the AUTJP  offers for operationalization of the hybrid court in a way that addresses the challenge to balance criminal accountability and reconciliation. In Libya, the process has been stalled as the country continues to reel under political and security crisis. However, the representative may shed light on recent activities including the support provided by AU Commission towards the development of a legitimate TJ programme and National Reconciliation Commission.

Issues of political buy-in from Member States and financial limitations are expected to be highlighted as challenge to the implementation of TJ in the continent. As rightly captured in the AUTJP, it is the primary responsibility of Member States to pursue TJ process and its success ultimately depends on the political commitment, leadership, and capacity of the concerned country. Financial constraint is another factor likely to compromise the level and quality of support that AU could provide to Member States. It was also for lack of funding that the AU ended its Technical Support Team in The Gambia (AUTSTG), one of its success stories in supporting countries in political transition. One important avenue that the Council may consider addressing this challenge is the utilization of the Peace Fund. It is worth recalling that transitional justice mechanisms, truth and reconciliation processes are identified as one of the strategic priorities under Window 2 for the utilization of the Peace Fund.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council may recognize the development and adoption of the AUTJP as an important milestone in having a comprehensive policy framework that guides not only Member States in their TJ undertakings but also the AU, RECs/RMs, and non-state actors in their effort to support such undertakings. While acknowledging that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to TJ, it may reiterate some of the key elements of the TJ Policy that should serve as a basis for the implementation of TJ. In this respect, Council may stress the imperative of national ownership of the process, the use of traditional mechanisms, and striking a balance between reconciliation and justice, as well as between retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice. Council may highlight the importance of popularizing and sensitizing the Policy to ensure greater political buy-in from Member States given that the success of any TJ initiatives as well as the effective implementation of the Policy largely depends on the political will and good faith of the political leadership. It may also commend the AU Commission for the steps it has put in place to promote the implementation of the AUTJP in countries in transition and the need for ensuring that relevant AU organs, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which contributed to the drafting of the AUTJP and to the TRRC, to contribute to and use their mandate for promoting the implementation of the AUTJP.

Council is expected to re-emphasize the imperative of sharing experiences and lessons learned in promoting TJ and assisting countries that confronted violent past to address their challenges of reconciliation, accountability, social cohesion, and nation-building. In this regard, it may stress on the need to follow up its decisions, at its 899th session, to dedicate annual session on TJ. Regarding the financial constraint, Council may allude to the utilization of the Peace Fund for AU’s TJ activities as the Union moves towards the operationalization and pilot utilization of the Peace Fund. Council may call for enhanced cooperation and coordination between AU and RECs/RMs, as well as international partners in supporting Member States in their TJ initiatives. Council may commend the countries that shared their experiences with initiating and implementing TJ processes. The Council may note that transitional justice is not a one time process but a continuous one that aims at addressing ever more forcefully and increasingly legacies of past wrongs and violations and the inequities that they have created in affected societies. It may call on the states to implement the recommendations of truth commissions and continue the work for achieving increased levels of reconciliation and healing as well as irreversible cohesion through implementing inclusive development policies and deepening democratic and accountable system of political governance.


Briefing on the Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook in the Continent

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 6 April 2022

Tomorrow (6 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1073rd session to receive a briefing on the Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook in the Continent.

Following an opening remark by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi and the Chairperson of the PSC for April, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make statement and provide a horizon scanning on the threats to peace and security in the continent. The Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA) is also scheduled to deliver presentation on the emerging and existing security threats. The AU Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and the Africa Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) are also expected to be in attendance.

This session is convened within the framework of the Council’s decision, at its 360th meeting held in March 2013, to review the state of peace and security on the continent, at least biannually, through horizon scanning briefing from the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). Council has dedicated some sessions on the theme since then including the last one, 1014th meeting of the Council that took place on 26 July 2021. It is also to be recalled that at its 1014th session, Council requested CISSA, ACSRT and AFRIPOL to provide quarterly briefings on emerging threats to peace and security on the continent.

From past experience, the horizon scanning briefing focuses on thematic issues such as emerging security threats and root causes of conflicts, but rarely discusses emerging country specific situations. In tomorrow’s session as well, the briefing is expected to shed lights on trends in the threats to peace and security on the continent. As highlighted in Amani Africa’s most recent special research report on major peace and security issues in Africa on the 20th anniversary of the AU, as well as the latest report of the PSC on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa, the ‘rise and rise of terrorism related violence in Africa’; resurgence of military coups d’états and unconstitutional changes of governments (UCG); and ‘complex political transitions’ have dominated the peace and security landscape of the continent.

Africa is becoming the epicenter of terrorism and violent extremism. The intensity and violence of terrorist attacks have significantly increased in the continent. Moreover, the geographic spread of terrorism has been a concerning trend as regions and countries previously considered immune to terrorism have been now targeted. According to a recent report, ‘militant Islamist group violence in Africa climbed 10 percent in 2021 setting a record of over 5,500 reported events linked to these groups’. And, the spike and geographic expansion of terrorism has been nowhere more evident than in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin. This is accompanied by the influx of foreign terrorist fighters and increased activities of private military contractors and mercenaries, as well as growing convergence of terrorism and transnational organized crime, further compounding the peace and security challenges of the continent. The upsurge of terrorist attacks and the expansion of terrorists’ theatre of operation highlights the limits of AU’s peace and security architecture—particularly its securitized approach towards terrorism and violent extremism—despite the strides made in terms of degrading the capability of terrorists over the years.

Regarding the resurgence of military coups, the year 2021 marked the largest number of military coups in Africa since the turn of the century where there were eight coup attempts and five successful coups (Chad, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, and Burkina Faso) in less than a year between April 2021 and February 2022. While complex governance and security challenges are factors behind uptick of UCGs, it also clearly highlights the gaps in the efficacy of AU’s current norms and approaches to coups. In this respect, as Amani Africa’s special report on UCGs pointed out, the response of AU and regional mechanisms to UCGs principally focusing on a templated application of sanction is ‘utterly inadequate’, indicating the need for developing both effective preventive and response measures that go beyond sanction.

The other concern likely to receive attention in tomorrow’s session is complex transitions. Large number of African countries are undergoing a difficult transition including Libya, Somalia, CAR, Sudan and South Sudan. In some countries, the transition may necessitate the implementation of peace agreements or holding elections. In others (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan) major aspect of the transition may relate to restoring constitutional order that requires peaceful transfer of power from military authorities to civilians. Still in others, it involves building a consensus through inclusive dialogue among major political and social forces towards an agreed upon transitional process. Despite the support provided by the AU, the task of steering such countries towards democracy and durable peace has remained a challenge.

In addition to the above, the horizon-scanning may highlight various forms of violent conflict including inter-communal conflicts, armed rebellions, natural disasters, climate induced insecurities, piracy, cyber-crimes, election related violence, and foreign military presence in the continent as trends that would continue to shape the peace and security dynamics of the continent.

The second aspect of the discussion is expected to focus on the implementation of AU early warning tools and progress made towards operationalization of the CEWS. One notable development likely to be mentioned by Bankole in this connection is the development of an Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange Platform (I-RECKE) to facilitate ‘experience sharing and lessons learned on best practices and opportunities for early warning and conflict prevention’. As Bankole pointed out in his statement on the occasion of the AU reflection forum on UCG held in March, this platform would bring together the ‘departments of Political Affairs, Peace & Security of Regional Organizations, sister AU institutions, non-State Actor think tanks and individual experts, to periodically reflect on effective early warning, early response, conflict prevention and synergy building between stakeholders, vertically and horizontally’.

The other development expected to receive attention is the conduct of the inaugural joint retreat of the PSC and the African Peer Review mechanism (APRM) in Durban, South Africa, from 19 to 21 December 2021. Such retreat will go a long way in reenergizing the early warning system and strengthen efforts to position APRM as an early warning tool for conflict prevention. It is worth noting that the mechanism plays an important role in bridging the gap between early warning and early response particularly by identifying areas of vulnerabilities and proposal for addressing them. The appointment of the fifth Panel of the Wise at the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly and the subsequent inaugural meeting in late March (though nomination from the Southern Africa region is still pending) is another development that would give impetus to AU’s early warning system.

The Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS) and the steps taken to advance their implementation may also be highlighted in tomorrow’s discussion. This framework aims to strengthen the capacity of Member States to identify and address structural vulnerabilities at an early stage and design mitigation measures.

As highlighted in Amani Africa’s previous ‘insights on the PSC’ on the theme, ensuring effective flow of information between the early warning mechanism and the PSC such as through regular early warning briefings to PSC members; institutionalizing and regularizing different means and modalities available to enhance rapport and close working relationship between the Commission and the Council; as well as strengthening cooperation and collaboration between AU and RECs/RMs and horizontal cooperation between CISSA, ACSRT and AFRIPOL are areas that require further work. There is also a need for reflecting on challenges for effective implementation of the PSC’s mandate for conflict prevention under Article 9 of the PSC Protocol, including the proper implementation of the relevant provisions of the PSC Protocol.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The Council is expected to express its concern over the persistent and emerging threats to the peace and security of the continent, most notably the spike of terrorism and violent extremism and resurgence of military coups. The Council may stress the importance of fully implementing the existing AU instruments and tools including the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) including Article 8(7) of the PSC Protocol which requires that no country may oppose inclusion of any item in the provisional agenda of the PSC. The Council may encourage Member States to increase their efforts in the utilization of the existing tools and instruments that are available to address the structural causes of violent conflicts such as the APRM and CSVRA/CSVMS. In this respect, the Council may reiterate the decision of the Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session that requested the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee comprising the AUC, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member states to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation’. The Council may also welcome the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of Wise, as well as the inaugural joint retreat of the PSC and the APRM that was held in December 2021. Furthermore, the Council may endorse the Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange Platform (I-RECKE) given its role in enhancing early warning and conflict prevention.


Update on Operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF)

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 10 March 2022

Tomorrow (10 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1069th session to receive update on the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF).

Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of March, Mafa M. Sejanamane, is expected to make opening remarks. AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is also scheduled to deliver a presentation. Representatives for each of the regional standby forces, namely East Africa Standby Force (EASF), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Standby Force, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Standby Force, North African Regional Capability (NARC) Standby Force, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force, are also expected to make statements.

It is to be recalled that the 14th Extraordinary Assembly on Silencing the Guns convened on 6 December 2020 declared the full operationalization of the ASF and directed the PSC to utilize its framework in mandating and authorizing AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). The last time Council received update on the status of the operationalization of the ASF was at its 1007th session that took place on 8 July 2021. In that session, Council welcomed the strides made by the AU and RECs/RMs towards the full operationalization of ASF notably in the areas of training, exercise, force generation, pledged capabilities, AU Doctrine on PSOs, AU compliance and accountability framework, strategic support groups, strategic lift, command and control, communication and information systems (ASF C3IS), and the ASF Continental Logistics Base (CLB) in Doula, Cameroon.

This session is convened within the context of Council’s decision, during its last session on ASF, to remain periodically seized of matters related to the implementation of the ASF on a quarterly basis with the view to harmonizing decision-making and reinforcing synergies to effectively and expeditiously respond to security threats in the continent. Accordingly, in tomorrow’s session, the Commission as well as RECs/RMs are expected to update members of the Council on major developments undertaken towards the operationalization of the ASF since the 1007th session.

Members of the Council would be also keen to hear from the Commission about progress made in the implementation of some of its specific demands made at its 1007th session. It is to be recalled that the Council requested the Commission to, among others, finalize and submit the 2021-2026 Comprehensive Roadmap on the Enhancement of the ASF; finalize the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Deployment and Employment of the ASF; and immediately set up a ‘multi-agency strategic working group chaired by the AU Commission, to coordinate efforts amongst all the relevant stakeholders on the full operationalization of the ASF’. The status of the establishment of a counter-terrorism unit within the ASF as decided by the Council during its 960th session held on 28 October 2020 is another issue of interest to the Council given the changing nature of security threats to the continent marked by upsurge of terrorist attacks and geographic spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the continent.

Recent times have witnessed growing interest among the AU and RECs/RMs to deploy forces within ASF framework to address the spiraling security threats emerging in the continent. SADC deployed forces in Mozambique (SAMIM) in mid-July last year to combat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado within the framework of ASF. ECOWAS, at its 4th extraordinary summit convened on 9 January 2022, decided to ‘activate immediately the ECOWAS Standby Force, to enhance its preparedness, should the need arise’ following inability of Malian authorities to conduct election within the agreed timeframe of 18 months. One of the four options proposed by the Independent Assessment Team on the AU’s engagement in and with Somalia post-2021 has been also the deployment of EASF though AU opted for other options.

Despite such encouraging developments in terms of actualizing ASF and progress made over the years towards its operationalization, there are still areas of concern that require Council’s continued engagement to resolve those issues. One area of concern is the lack of clarity among AU, RECs/RMs and Member States on some of the strategic and political issues such as political decision making, mandating deployment, and command and control of the forces. In this connection, the conclusion and signing of the MoU between AU and RECs/RMs on the deployment and employment of ASF would be vital in clarifying existing confusion on the above and other related issues.

As highlighted in the 1007th session, the ‘low level of support to the continued operationalization of the ASF’ particularly due to lack of resources including the absence of predictable and sustainable financing remains major impediment hindering full realization of the ASF. Securing predictable and sustainable funding for AU PSOs through the use of UN assessed contribution has been on the top of the agenda of the Union in its interaction with the UN; no breakthrough has been made yet to address the issue. In relation to the Peace Fund, despite significant achievements made in terms of laying out the required legal, operational and governance mechanism, the Peace Fund (which stands at USD 240 million as of September 2021) is still far away from the USD 400 million target. The other concern, as noted by the report of the Chairperson on the ‘Status Report/Roadmap on the Full Operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Continental Logistics Base (CLB)’ that was submitted to the 1007th session, is the ‘hesitancy and reluctance by the RECs/RMs to confirm capabilities pledged and how they are to be made readily available’. It is to be recalled that PSC’s last session on ASF urged the Commission, together with RECs/RMs, to ‘facilitate the development of ASF Military and Police pledged capability roster to ensure efficient planning within the given ASF deployment timelines’.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council may reaffirm the imperative of the full operationalization of the ASF to enable rapid deployment and timeous intervention, and it may welcome the progress made by RECs/RMs and Member States in this respect. It may further call upon on all stakeholders including AU, RECs/RMs, and Member States to scale up efforts that would strengthen the Regional Brigades of the ASF and availing the required support necessary to the full operationalization of the force. In light of the rising threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the continent, Council may urge the Commission to take concrete steps and finalize all actions required to set up a special counter-terrorism unit within the ASF, which would be deployed upon request by the affected Member State and RECs/RMs upon approval by the Council. On the resource challenges facing the ASF, Council is likely to reiterate its 1007th session that requested the Commission to ‘explore practical ways and means of resolving these challenges’. Council may also re-emphasize the importance of enhancing coordination and consultation between the Commission and other ASF stakeholders notably RECs/RMs and Member States with the view to harmonizing political decision-making and mandate process for the deployment of the ASF.


Briefing on the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 12 November, 2021

Tomorrow (12 November), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1047th session on AU’s efforts on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) in Africa.

Following the opening remarks of Permanent Representative of Egypt and PSC Chairperson of the month, Mohamed Omar Gad, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. Representatives of selected Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) as well as countries in political transition and post-conflict situations may also make statements.

This session is convened as part of the maiden PCRD awareness week on 7-13 November 2021, which is launched with the aim to increase awareness about AU projects, policies, mechanisms and achievements on post-conflict recovery and reconstruction efforts. The session also comes on the heels of other events of the awareness week such as the African Defence Attachés Forum to celebrate the first Annual African Flag Day and a virtual High-Level Seminar on PCRD in Africa to review the AU PCRD Policy framework and its implementation over the last 15 years.

As the session coincides with the 15th anniversary of the PCRD Policy Framework, it provides the Council a unique opportunity to take stock of progress in the implementation of the Policy since its adoption in 2006 and reflect on the challenges and implementation gaps.

Despite AU PCRD forms part of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA), PSC’s 670th session noted that the PCRD aspect remains the ‘weakest link’ within the implementation of these frameworks. Since recently, there has been a deliberate effort by the Council in mainstreaming the PCRD in the context of its consideration of countries in political transition and post-conflict situations.

The PCRD Policy Framework was adopted in Banjul, The Gambia, in 2006 to serve as a guide for the development of comprehensive policies and strategies that seek to consolidate peace, promote sustainable development and prevent relapse of violence. The Policy Framework is anchored on six pillars upon which all PCRD efforts should be developed and sustained. These are: security; humanitarian/emergency assistance; political governance and transition; socio-economic reconstruction and development; human rights, justice and reconciliation; and women, gender and youth.

While the Policy Framework has proved to be an authoritative document in providing strategic guidance to address the needs of communities emerging from conflicts, there is a question of its adaptability to the new security dynamics in Africa as marked by the emergency of new threats notably climate change, environmental degradation and public health emergencies. This issue was particularly highlighted during the Council’s 1017th meeting where the Council requested the Chairperson of the Commission to review the policy framework in a manner that ‘it is adaptable to the contemporary dynamics in Member States in political transition and post-conflict situations’.

One of the issues likely to be highlighted in tomorrow’s session is progress made towards the operationalization of the policy framework over the last 15 years. In this respect, the establishment of an inter-departmental Task Force on PCRD in May 2016 is worth noting given its role as a platform for coordination and synergies in the work of the AU and the RECs/RMs in the implementation of the PCRD Policy. Though the Council agreed to establish PSC sub-committee on PCRD at its 230th session with the envisaged role of providing political leadership and oversight on the implementation of the Policy, this has not materialized as of yet. However, the establishment of the PCRD Centre, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, pursuant to the decision of the Assembly (Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.351 (XVI)) is expected to be a breakthrough in the operationalization of the Policy Framework. It is to be recalled that the PAPS Department of the Commission held an assessment mission to Cairo in August this year with the objective of preparing for the official launch of the Centre as well as to enhance its operational tasks and capacities.

The briefing is also likely to provide a review of AU’s PCRD interventions and mechanisms deployed in support of countries that are in political transition and post-conflict situations. While political missions, peace support operations (PSOs), and AU Liaison Offices (AULOS) remain main modalities of AU’s engagement in such countries, the practice of establishing support mechanisms has also emerged over the years. Notable in this regard is AU Technical Support Team to The Gambia (AUTSTG) and most recently, the AU-led Support Mechanism (AUSM) for Chad to support the reform process in these countries through the deployment of multidisciplinary technical experts. In relation to AULOS, there is a clear trend of increasing emphasis by the Council on the need to enhance institutional capacity of the Liaison Offices in recognition of the critical role they could play in the areas of PCRD. Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and Peace Strengthening Projects (PSPs) in Somalia; the development of Regional Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the Stabilization Strategy for the Sahel; and AU’s support in the areas of reconciliation and healing (e.g. South Sudan), Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), as well as Security Sector Reform (SSR) as in the case of CAR can be cited as some of the best practices in terms of AU’s PCRD interventions.

The AU has made significant strides in its PCRD undertakings, but the persistence of some conflicts and conflict relapse in other cases still highlight the remaining challenges. Resource constraint remains one of the most critical challenges in this regard. In a number of its meetings (e.g. 958th, 670th, and 593rd sessions), the PSC not only flagged up the resource challenge but also underscored the importance of ensuring sustainable and predictable funding for an effective PCRD response. Range of options have been explored to address the resource challenge that include the launch of African Solidarity Initiative (ASI); the establishment of an African PCRD Fund (this was considered by the Council during its 528th meeting); and dedicating a percentage of the AU Peace Fund for PCRD activities as suggested by the Council at its 593rd and 958th sessions. Despite the initiatives, the aspiration for creating self-reliant mechanism to mobilize adequate, sustainable and predictable funding for AU’s PCRD activities remains a long way off.

As noted in Amani Africa’s previous ‘insights on the PSC’, the other challenge relates to the prevalence of political fluidity in countries that are in political transition and conflict situations, as well as absence of nationally owned or led coherent strategy that limit effective delivery of PCRD related support. The third challenge is ensuring coordination and complementarity among the diverse actors involved in the field of PCRD, notably the AU, RECs/RMs, the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (UNPBC).

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communiqué. Among others, the Council may commend the progress made in the operationalization of the PCRD Policy Framework since its adoption in 2006. While taking note of the establishment of the PCRD Centre and its significant contribution in reinforcing the implementation of the PCRD Policy, the Council may reiterate the call for the activation of the sub-committee on PCRD. In relation to mobilization of resources, the Council may once again urge for the revitalization of the African Solidarity Initiative further underscoring the need for tapping into and enhancing the engagement of actors such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), international financial institutions, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and the private sector. In addition, the Council may consider providing capacity building in terms of PCRD within the framework of window 2 of the Peace Fund as agreed during the latest PSC Retreat held in Mombasa in May 2021. Furthermore, the Council may highlight the imperative of strong coordination and policy coherence between the AU and RECs/RMs as well as other stakeholders to ensure complementarity and avoid duplication of efforts. Given the central role of national stakeholders including women and youth for PCRD efforts to succeed, the Council may also stress the importance of inclusivity and national ownership.


PSC meeting on the AU Peace Fund and the financing of AU led peace support operations

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 05 October, 2021

Tomorrow (5 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1036th session to consider the strategic priorities for the utilisation of the AU Peace Fund and the consensus paper on financing of AU led peace support operations using UN assessed contributions.

Following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Mozambique to the AU, Alfredo Nuvunga, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. The Chairperson of the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) for the month of August 2021, Jean Djounkeng, is expected to present the outcome of the meetings of the CoE on both the strategic priorities for utilising the AU Peace Fund and the consensus paper on using UN assessed contributions to finance AU led peace support operations. The AU High Representative for the Peace Fund, Dr Donald Kaberuka may also address the PSC.

The AU Peace Fund was established to finance the organization’s peace and security activities, including in mediation and preventive diplomacy, institutional capacity and peace support operations. In 2016, the AU Assembly at its 27th Ordinary Session held in July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, decided to revitalize the Peace Fund. Accordingly in its decision Assembly/AU/Dec.605 (XXVII) on the financing of the Union adopted member states agreed to endow the AU Peace Fund with $400m. Since 2017, fifty-four (54) AU Member States have contributed to the AU Peace Fund and a total of $217m has been collected. The $400 million amount that member states agreed to mobilize for the Peace Fund would cover the three windows covering various streams of activities a) preventive diplomacy, mediation activities (Window 1 of the Peace Fund), b) building of critical APSA capabilities (Window 2) and c) peace support operations (Window 3) as well as a crisis reserve facility (with an amount of no less than 50 million USD) for funding rapid response to emergency crisis.

As part of the effort for the full operationalize of the Fund, the AU has been working to put in place the necessary oversight and administrative structures. The Chairperson of the Commission appointed five African members of the Board of Trustees representing the five regions of the continent. Representatives of the UN and the EU also seat at the Board representing international partners. The AU has also been in the process of recruiting management and staff who will serve in the secretariat. The AU policy organs have decided that ‘the AU Peace Fund should not be utilised until all the governance and management structures are fully established.’

With specific reference to the utilization of the Fund, a High-Level Retreat on the operationalisation of the peace fund was also held with the participation of the AU PSC, the Bureau of the Permanent Representatives Committee, the Board of Trustees and Executive Management Committee of the AU Peace Fund, the Chair of the Sub-committee on General Supervision Budget and Administrative, the AU High Representative for Financing the Union and the Peace Fund, the Chairperson of the Committee of Fifteen Finance Ministers (F15) and the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Audit Matters. It is to be recalled that the PSC held the high-level retreat on 11 January 2020. The retreat agreed to implement, among others, the development of the Peace Fund Workflow processes and Strategic Priorities to be funded from the Peace Fund.

Subsequently, the AU PSC during its retreat in Mombasa in May 2021 considered the presentation of the AU Commission on the strategic priorities for the AU Peace Fund. As a follow up of the discussions in the Mombasa retreat and for presenting the specific proposals on priorities of the three windows of the AU Peace Fund, the Committee of Experts held its 23rd and 24th meetings on 9 and 23rd August 2021 respectively. The two meetings of the CoE focused on both the identification of the priorities for the three windows and the zero draft African Consensus on Accessing Sustainable and Predictable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities. It is the outcome of these meetings that the Chairperson of the CoE for August is expected to present to the PSC.

With respect to the utilization of the Peace Fund, the CoE have agreed that it is only the interest accrued to the Peace Fund endowment that will be made available for supporting priorities in the three windows of the Fund. With respect to Window 1, the priority activities which have been identified for inclusion at the end of the meeting of CoE include peace mediation efforts in ongoing crisis namely the political impasse in Somalia, situation in Cabo Delgado, Sudan and South Sudan, the transitions in CAR, Chad, Libya, and Mali and deployment of special envoys. Instead of the proposed inclusion in Window 1 of the dialogue in Ethiopia and the GERD negotiations, the CoE proposed the inclusion of the reactivation of the Role of the AU Special Envoy for Western Sahara and his/her deployment pursuant to PSC Communique [PSC/AHG/COMM.2(CMLXXXIV)] adopted by the PSC’s summit level 984th session. For Window 2, the priorities identified include strengthening the capacity of the AU Liaison Offices, particularly in Early Warning, Mediation, and Preventive Diplomacy, training of mediation and dialogue experts and development of a roaster of mediation experts, strengthening of RECs/RMs capacities on AU Human Rights and IHL compliance standards, and operationalization of the PCRD Centre.

For Window 3, the proposed priority activities include deployment of Gender Experts and Child Protection Officers in AU Peace Support Operations; Supporting pre-deployment assessment missions and regular monitoring and evaluation of existing missions; Supporting strategic lift of troops, equipment and weapons to conflict/crisis zones; Fully operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF); and Strategic planning for Human Resources and Military Observers.

In spite of the progress made in revitalizing the AU Peace Fund, from the very beginning of the process as set out in the June 2015 decision of the AU Assembly, 75 % of peace and security activities will be supported through international financing its peace operations on the continent. This year, the African members of the Security Council have been trying to advance the issue in the context of the discussions and negotiations on the mandate renewal of AMISOM. However, their proposal was not incorporated into resolution 2568 (2021) that renewed the mandate of the mission. They have also been trying to advance discussions on the Secretary-General’s proposal for a UN support Office to the G-5 Sahel joint force but it was opposed by UK and the US which do not support using UN assessed contributions for such forces and instead favor bilateral arrangements to provide support.

This notwithstanding, efforts are underway to revive the broader discussion on the financing of AU-led peace support operations through UN assessed contribution. In July, the AU PAPS Commissioner, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye briefed the Council on the work that is being done by the Commission to elaborate a common African position on the matter. The AU PSC Committee of Experts have been working on the draft zero consensus paper and it is expected to be considered by the PSC during its meeting on Tuesday. In his latest annual report to the Security Council on strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the UN Office to the African Union, the Secretary-General supported the efforts ‘to reinvigorate discussions between the two Councils on financing African Union peace support operations through United Nations assessed contributions’. He also noted that ‘the issue of a common African position on the funding of peace support operations is being considered by the African Union Peace and Security Council and the outcome of those discussions is awaited’.

The development of a common African position on the financing issue is indeed a step in the right direction. It is expected to facilitate a clear decision by the AU policy organs, which will then pave the way for the African members of the UNSC to resuscitate the discussion on the issue with a view to eventually securing a concrete commitment from the Security Council.

At the time of finalizing this ‘Insight’, the expected outcome of tomorrow’s session was unknown. PSC may commend the AU Commission and the CoE and with some amendments endorse the priority areas identified for the three windows of the Peace Fund. PSC may also welcome the “Zero Draft African Consensus on Accessing Sustainable and Predictable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities” and draw attention to the areas that will need further concretising. The PSC may also give guidance on the process for holding consultations with relevant stakeholders before finalizing the draft consensus position, including constructively engage with the UN Secretariat to reach agreement on the proposals identified in the draft.


Briefing on Early Warning and Continental Security Outlook

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 26 July, 2021

Tomorrow (26 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1013th session to receive briefing on early warning and continental security outlook.

The session starts with the opening remarks of the Chairperson of the PSC for July, Victor Adekunle Adeleke. This is followed by a briefing that AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye presents to the Council on the agenda of the session.

Since the adoption of its decision at its 360th meeting held in March 2013 to review (at least biannually) the state of peace and security on the continent, using horizon scanning briefing from the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the Council has dedicated some sessions on this theme, with the most recent being the 901st meeting held in December 2019. The discussion in tomorrow’s session is likely to proceed in two segments.

The first segment of the discussion is expected to focus on the continental early warning system with particular emphasis on the role of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA) within the context of enhancing the conflict prevention capacity of the AU Commission and the PSC. It is to be recalled that the AU Assembly Decision 62 of June 2005 endorsed the establishment of CISSA and directed that the Committee collaborate with AU and all its organs notably the Commission and the PSC.

The major value of CISSA in early warning and understanding the security outlook of the continent is the fact that it brings intelligence-based data with the potential of bolstering the information and analysis from the CEWS. However, the extent to which this potential of CISSA will enhance better understanding of threats and early response depends on intelligence sharing among CISSA members and availability of reliable way of relaying intelligence-based data for AU decision-making on peace and security. While it may not be feasible to rely on intelligence for country specific situations relating to governance related security challenges, CISSA’s intelligence based assessment can be particularly useful with respect to transnational threats involving terrorism and organized crimes.

Apart from the role of CISSA, a broader discussion is expected on the role of the CEWS in providing systematic monitoring and analysis of peace and security threats in the continent. The tracking and analysis of relevant governance and peace and security trends by CEWS is used to regularly provide tailor made updates to concerned AU Commission structures. This helps to inform whether, how and what kind of early warning the AU Commission initiates.

Despite progress made in the institutional operationalisation of the CEWS, there remain various challenges limiting its effectiveness. At the operational and institutional level, one such challenge is the disconnect between early warning and early response. At the root of the creation of the early warning system is to enable decision-makers take early measures against a looming crisis before it evolves into a full-blown conflict. Practice over the years reveals the serous limitation in translating early warning information and policy recommendations into effective early action by AU. Two main challenges can be raised in this regard.

One of the main challenges comes from member states themselves. As member states often invoke their sovereignty or deny brewing crisis, the political space is shrinking for the Council to engage at the early stage of the crisis. During its 669th meeting held on 21 March 2017, the Council expressed its ‘concern over the continued cases of denials to objective/credible early warning signals of looming crisis, thereby undermining the conflict prevention capacity of the Council’. If this challenge is left unattended, not only it compromises the mandate of the Council but also puts its credibility on the line.

The second challenge is lack of effective flow of information between the early warning mechanism and the PSC. CEWS produces variety of outputs to facilitate anticipation and prevention of conflicts and enable decision makers to develop appropriate strategies to prevent or contain conflicts. Yet, most of the outputs including the early warning report rarely reaches members of PSC. As a recent PSC document notes the Council ‘has not always worked closely with PAPS department in getting up-to-date early warning data’. In light of this challenge, the AU master roadmap calls for regular early warning briefings ‘strictly to the PSC members’ as one modality to establish a clear channel of communication on early warning reports to the PSC. In this context, building both formal and informal communication channel between CEWS and the Council that would facilitate a direct and regular engagement remains extremely important. In addition, as emphasized by the Conclusions of the Cairo Retreat of the PSC, the call for regular meetings/briefings between the PSC and the Chairperson of the Commission and the Commissioner for PAPS deserves attention. Moreover, institutionalizing the breakfast briefings and luncheons for members of the Council could be another avenue to enhance rapport and close working relationship between the Commission and the Council, which is key for facilitating conflict prevention measures.

There are also other sources of early warning and preventive action whose role stands to enhance effective early warning and response. Apart from the AU Commission Chairperson, those that the PSC Protocol contemplates to play role in this respect include the RECs/RMs, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Panel of the Wise and civil society organizations. It is imperative to strengthen cooperation and information sharing not only with these actors specified in the PSC Protocol but also with the CISSA and the African Peer Review Mechanism, whose roles in this regard the PSC has recognized over the years.

The other issue of interest to the Council is the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS). Endorsed by the Council in 2015, the framework and its tools aim to strengthen the capacity of member states to identify and address structural vulnerabilities at an early stage and design mitigation measures. As a voluntary mechanism, it is critical that political buy-in of member states is enhanced so that more member states undertake the assessment. In this respect, the close working relationship between the CEWS and the APRM, which is assigned in facilitating conflict early warning, would be useful.

The second segment of tomorrow’s PSC session involves the reactivation of the horizon scanning briefing that presents updates on the continental security outlook. The idea behind the horizon-scanning briefing is to bridge the gap between early warning and early response by providing the Council with required periodic information and analysis for preventive measures. The horizon scanning briefing can present the overall trends in threats to peace and security on the continent and specific country situations exhibiting risks of eruption into major conflicts. The overall trends worth paying attention to include, among others, the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, deterioration in democratic governance involving election violence and unconstitutional changes of government, rising incidence of protests and riots and intercommunal violence particularly involving herders and farmers. In terms of effective use of the horizon scanning briefing, it is critical that there is clarity on how it highlights specific country situations requiring conflict prevention intervention. Previous experiences of the Council indicate that the briefing focuses on thematic issues such as emerging security threats and root causes of conflicts, but rarely discusses emerging country specific situations.

Given persisting political sensitivity and reluctance for country specific focus, it will be of interest to members of the PSC to achieve common understanding on the methodology and criteria to be used, the threshold to be met and the imperative for consistency. As custodian of the AU norms including the PSC Protocol with a responsibility for ensuring their implementation, it is also critical that the AU Commission guides PSC members in the Council’s consideration of country specific situations based on objective and verifiable analysis.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The Council is expected to commend the Commission for the positive steps taken towards strengthening the continental early warning system and its collaboration with RECs/RMs as well as the role of CISSA. In connection with RECs/RMs, the Council may further follow up on the AU Assembly decision during its 33rd Ordinary Session held in February 2020, which requested the PSC to take appropriate action and put in place a ‘format of interaction’ to address early warning and early response issues. On CISSA, the Council is likely to stress the importance of enhancing coordination and collaboration between CISSA and the Council, as well as between and among the national intelligence services of member states, with the view to facilitate well informed and intelligence-driven early action by the Council. In relation to early warning and early response in general, the Council may reiterate its call for the implementation of its previous decisions in bridging the huge gap between early warning and early response including through the conduct of early warning and horizon-scanning briefing at least once every six months. In addition, the Council may request the Commission to institutionalise and/or strengthen communication channels between the Commission and the Council through in particular sharing of early warning reports, Breakfast and Luncheons briefings, and regularizing the meeting between the Chairperson of the Commission, Commissioner for PAPS, and the PSC in line with article 10 of the PSC protocol. On denialism and political will of member states, the Council is likely to echo its 901st meeting where it encouraged member states to ‘guard against denialism to credible early warning signs of looming crisis’ and cooperate with the PSC and RECs/RMs in their endeavor to discharge their mandate of conflict prevention and peace making. Apart from this, the Council is also likely to call up on the Commission to operationalize the different decisions including those relating to the role of the ACHPR and the APRM as highlighted in the communiques of the 866th and 953rd sessions of the PSC. Following up on the Conclusions of the Cairo retreat, the Council may further request the Commission to ‘elaborate the mechanism and indicators for consideration by the PSC’ within the context of operationalization of the CEWS. The Council may encourage the engagement of CSOs on the basis of Article 20 of the PSC protocol and the Maseru Retreat of the PSC. The Council is likely to encourage member states to make use of the available tools of the CEWS most particularly the CSVRA and CSVMS and close coordination between CEWS and APRM in implementing CSVRA.


Status report on the full operationalization of ASF and CLB

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 08 July, 2021

Tomorrow (08 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene a session to consider report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the full operationalisation of the Africa Standby Force (ASF) and the AU Continental Logistics Base (CLB). The convening of this session under Nigeria’s chairship of the PSC is indicative of the importance that Nigeria attaches to and draws on its earlier engagements for achieving the utilization of the ASF in deploying PSOs.

Following the opening remarks of the Chairperson of the PSC for July, Victor Adekunle Adeleke, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. The PSOD and the Chief of Staff of the ASF may also provide update to the Council. Council may also receive briefing from representatives of Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) on the status of their respective Regional Standby Forces.

It is to be recalled that the ASF was declared to be fully operational by the AU Assembly at its 14th Extra Ordinary Session convened in December 2020. The Assembly in this decision directed the PSC to utilise the framework in mandating and authorizing AU peace support operations (PSOs). At the strategic and political levels, an issue worth addressing for the deployment of PSOs using the ASF is agreement between Member States, the REC/RMs and the AU on the processes from mandating deployment to the identification and preparation of the capabilities by RECs/RMs and the release by Member States of the capabilities they pledged as part of the regional standby force and the actual deployment of the forces to the theatre of operation.

At the institutional levels, there is also the issue of clarity on the role of strategic level ASF planning element at the level of the AU and staffing capacity of the AU ASF planning element. In this regard, the PSC may wish to discuss how its decision authorizing or mandating the deployment of a PSO is followed up by the AU ASF planning element for implementation in coordination with RECs/RMs.

One of the challenges in the utilisation of the ASF framework for mandating and authorising AU PSOs is the lack of clarity between the AU and RECs/RMs regarding the command and control of regional forces. Since the first ASF exercise in 2010, one of the outstanding questions is the respective roles of the AU and the RECs/RMs in the decision-making process for the deployment of the ASF. At Council’s first joint- consultative meeting with RECs/RMs which was convened on 24 May 2019, it was agreed that RECs/RMs shall forward to the PSC, proposals for a practical way forward in relation with the deployment of ASF.

Although the drafting of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the AU and RECs/RMs on the ASF replacing the 2008 MoU has been finalized, the MoU has as yet to be signed by the AU Commission and RECs/RMs. This MoU is expected to clarify the respective roles of the AU and RECs/RMs in mandating and deploying ASF. In tomorrow’s session, this is one of the issues in respect of which Member States of the PSC may seek clarity on what needs to be done for the signing of the MoU by the AU and the RECs/RMs.

The session also presents the opportunity for Council to be updated on the status of readiness of Regional Standby Forces. As noted by Council at its 767th session, the different RECs/RMs have shown progress in operationalising their respective standby forces. While the East African Standby Force (EASF), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) seem to continue taking advances, the North Africa Regional Capability (NARC) still lags behind.

Accordingly, one of the issues necessary to address is the standardization of the state of readiness of the various Standby Forces which is also critical for interoperability. While efforts have been made in developing standard for verifying the pledged capabilities of the various regional standby forces, the verification of pledged capabilities has as yet to get the buy in of the RECs/RMs.

It may also interest Council to reflect on the importance of updating the ASF to effectively respond to new and emerging threats in the continent. This principally includes the increasing proliferation of terrorism and extremist violence, outbreak and spread of health pandemics including Ebola and Covid-19, as well as natural disasters and humanitarian crises, such as climate change induced insecurity and the growing rate of forced displacement. With respect to responding to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism within the framework of ASF, it is to be recalled that Council convened a session on the establishment of a special unit on counter- terrorism within the framework of ASF at its 960th meeting. At the session, the AU Commission was requested to provide technical guidance and submit concreate proposals on the technical aspects regarding establishment of this special unit and to seek inputs from the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) in this regard.

Tomorrow’s session will also discuss the status of the CLB. The CLB which is based in Douala, Cameroon and forms part of the setup of the ASF serves the main purpose of ensuring the presence of policies and procedures for procuring, delivering and accounting for necessary support to all military, police and civilian components of AU PSOs. It is to be recalled that the CLB was inaugurated on 05 January 2018, by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and the Prime Minister of Cameroon. The update on the CLB is expected to cover staffing, use of the resources stored at the CLB, relationship of the CLB with regional logistic bases and infrastructure development including addressing the challenge of safe storage materials that partners donated and currently housed at the CLB.

As highlighted in the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission submitted at the 13th Ordinary Meeting of African Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Safety and Security and the 12th Ordinary Meeting of the STCDSS, there is need to ensure storage and security of the CLB. Moreover, the need for Member States to support the CLB through the secondment of personnel at their own cost was emphasised at the 13th Ordinary Meeting of the STCDSS. During tomorrow’s session, it is expected that the PSC will receive update on the measures taken for the safe keeping and storage of equipment that partners including Turkey and China donated. With respect to staffing, the Chairperson’s report for the session highlights that as of 9 April 2021 nine (9) military officers are deployed at the CLB seconded at own cost by AU Member States namely; Cameroon (7), Niger (1) and Morocco (1) and Nigeria (1). It also indicates that one (1) training officer from Zambia is expected to deploy soon.

The other issue expected to be discussed in relation to the CLB is the distribution from the current stock of supplies to the regional logistics bases and the use of the supplies for purposes of supporting ongoing missions. As highlighted in the Chairperson’s report, the 13th meeting of the STCDSS meeting held in November 2020 urged RECs/RMs and /or identified Member States to commit to receive and preposition ASF equipment in their Regional Logistics Depots (RLD) to facilitate future rapid deployment. It is indicated that the various RECs/RMs are at various stages in the identification and establishment of RLD with NARC, ECOWAS and EASF having RLD at various stages of operationalization and ECCAS and SADC being at stage of identification of sites for establishing respective RLD.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to outline concrete steps in the process of fully operationalising and deploying the ASF and properly utilising the framework for planning and rapid deployment of PSOs to conflicts and crises in Africa. It may follow up on the proposals it requested to be submitted by RECs/RMs for a practical way forward in relation with the deployment of ASF, at its first annual joint consultative meeting with RECs/RMs. It may also call for enhancing the capacity of the ASF Planning Element at the AU. With respect to the status of signature of the 2018 MoU between AU and RECs/RMs on ASF, the PSC may call for immediate steps being taken for finalization of the signing of the MoU. In terms of the CLB, the PSC may call on RECs/RMs to work closely with the AU to speed up the establishment and operationalization of respective RLD and start receiving equipment from the CLB as part of the effort to prevent equipment from deterioration due to storage issues and lack of use. Council may commend Member States’ efforts made towards supporting the capacity of the CLB by seconding staff at their own cost and call for permanent solution for the staffing of the CLB through approved structure and budget.