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.


PSC session on the establishment of a special unit for counter-terrorism as part of the ASF 

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 28 October, 2020

Tomorrow (28 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will hold a discussion on the establishment of the Special Unit for Counter-Terrorism within the framework of the African Standby Force (ASF). The session is envisaged to take place through VTC.

Following the opening statement of the Chairperson of the PSC, the Department of Peace and Security is expected to brief the PSC. Additionally, representatives of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and of the five African Standby Force (ASF) regional brigades are also expected to address the PSC. Others that may provide further input may include the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT).

The theme of this session, put on the agenda of the PSC on the initiative of Egypt, is a follow up to the decision of the 33rd ordinary session of the AU Assembly held in February 2020. Within the framework of the focus of the AU theme of the year for silencing the guns and as part of the response for the rising threat of terrorist attacks and operations on the continent, the AU Assembly through Assembly/AU/Dec.753(XXXIII) requested the PSC to consider the proposed establishment of a special unit for counter terrorism within the ASF and report back to the Assembly with its recommendations during the ordinary session of the Assembly in February 2021.

In the context of the proliferation of groups engaged in acts of terrorism, the expansion in the geographic spread of terrorist operations and the rise in the incidence and scale of terrorist attacks, African states have responded through various mechanisms. It was in this context that, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) changed its defensive approach and assumed a more combative posture in the effort to degrade and weaken Al Shabaab in Somalia. Subsequently, building on the experience of the Regional Task Force against the Lord Resistance Army, ad hoc regional military operations bringing together the coalition of the willing of affected member states have been established in the Lake Chad Basin against Boko Haram and in the Sahel region against various terrorist groups.

Accordingly, the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram comprising Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin and the G5 Sahel Joint Force made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania have come into operation. These ad hoc security arrangements are developed both in response to the pressing needs of the affected regions and to fill the gaps in the existing instruments for countering the kind of asymmetric warfare being undertaken by terrorist groups in various parts of the continent.
The proposal for the establishment of the special unit for counter terrorism is also a manifestation of this trend in putting up more agile and flexible arrangements to respond to urgent and pressing threats from the expansion of terrorist groups on the continent.

The need for reinforcing the effectiveness of responses and for a comprehensive approach to addressing the menace of terrorism in Africa is pressing. This can be gathered from the rise in incidents of terrorist attacks in various parts of the continent. Northern Mozambique has become the latest hot spot terrorist operations, leading to major displacement and destruction in the region. The number of violent incidents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger has increased sharply. According to the UN, it has increased fivefold since 2016 and doubled in 2019 compared to 2018. In geographic scope as well, the violence in the Sahel has during 2019 spread across the region. The human toll of this dramatic spike in violent incidents involving militant armed groups in the Sahel has also skyrocketed, making 2019, according to a major global conflict database, the deadliest in over 20 years.

Tomorrow’s session is not the first time for the idea of the establishment of a special unit for countering terrorism arose in the PSC. The first time this idea was discussed was during the first summit level PSC session held in Nairobi Kenya in September 2014. In tasking the AU Commission to pursue and intensify its efforts, the communique of the 455th session of the PSC, among others, tasked the Commission to support and facilitate ‘regional cooperation initiatives and mechanisms, to address specific transnational threats, building on the RCI-LRA…, including making specific recommendations on the possible establishment of specialized joint counter-terrorism units at the sub-regional and regional levels and within the framework of the African Standby Force.’ Such a unit may be an option for addressing some of the challenges surrounding the operation of the ad hoc coalitions and indeed for ensuring the coherence of the African Peace and Security Architecture as it relates to the role of the ASF.

It is clear that the prevailing security environment does indeed demand the availability of agile, flexible and speedy response tools as part of the range of mechanisms for addressing the threat of terrorism in Africa. At a practical level, there are a number of technical and policy issues that need to be clarified for purposes of the establishment of such unit within the framework of the ASF. The first relates to what the impact of the assignment of a counter terrorism operation for the ASF would be in terms of its role as peace support operations instrument of the AU and the care that should be taken. This also relates directly to the first issue highlighted in the concept note for this session, namely ‘What are the predefined determinants of what qualify for a terrorist threat that may require a country to request the PSC to mandate the ASF to perform counter- terrorism operation’. Indeed, there is a need for clarity on the scenarios for which such unit would be deployed.

Second, there is the question of the relationship of this unit with the Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) of the ASF. Under the ASF concept the RDC is the instrument that is envisaged for deployment in response to urgent emergencies. Third, the legal basis for the establishment of such a specialized instrument. In this respect, the concept note for the session indicates that the ASF ‘can be given additional functions as part of the mandates issued by the PSC in the deployment of peace support operations and intervention pursuant to article 4 (h) and (j) of the Constitutive Act.’ It seems that this special unit is tied specifically to Article 4(j) of the Constitutive Act, which envisages the possibility of a state party seeking intervention by the AU for restoring peace and stability. Fourth, in terms of its mandate and duration of operation, there is the issue of what kind of tasks would it accomplish, for how long and with what exist strategy. The fifth area relates to command and control, accountability and coordination with regional bodies and national authorities. While the concept note identifies the mandating authority and the ASF command and control structure, an issue for further consideration is how this would work in practice from the conception of the operation to force generation, its mandating, deployment and the management of the operation.

The sixth area concerns the technical and logistical as well as the training requirements for the establishment of such a unit and the openness of such unit for participation by all states at the level of the regional brigades which house the unit. The concept note makes reference to ‘the skill sets’ that may be required for a particular counter terrorism operation and ‘the necessary capabilities and equipment, including for example, a battalion, battle group, special forces, intelligence capabilities that must be availed by Member States as part of their pledges to their regional standby force …etc; and while emphasizing the necessity to ensure that such capabilities could be rapidly deployed, and so light weaponry and limited sized of companies would be important elements for such counter terrorism capability.’ Finally, there is the issue of the financing of the establishment and deployment of such unit, including the mechanism for its initial sustenance. IN this respect as well, the concept note states that ‘Taking into consideration that an ASF counter terrorism operations is an integral part of the ASF, the Resources and funding for that special unit will be reflected within the budget of the ASF as stipulated in article 13 of the ASF protocol.’

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may express its concern about the serious threat that terrorism poses in various parts of the continent. It may also underscore the need for a comprehensive approach reiterating the outcome of its 749th session on comprehensive approach to combating the transnational threat of terrorism in Africa. It may also state the need for strengthening the response mechanisms in combating terrorism within the ASF. It is expected that the communique would outline the next steps for the establishment of the specialized unit. Among others, this may entail the PSC tasks the AU Commission to develop proposal in consultation with RECs/RMs and the five regional brigades clarifying both the conceptual and operational details for the establishment of the unit as part of the ASF and submit the same for consideration and adoption within specified timeline.


Discussion on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 23 October, 2020

Tomorrow (23 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its 958th session. This session has two agenda items. The first is the discussion on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) in Africa. This covers consideration of the implementation of PCRD and country specific PCRD work focusing on the Central African Republic, South Sudan and The Gambia.
Following the opening statement of the Chairperson of the PSC, PSC will hear the statement of the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui. This is followed by briefings from the representatives of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and The Gambia.

PCRD is an important dimension of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Despite the adoption in 2006 of the AU PCRD Policy, implementation of the Policy has until recent years been slow. In terms of operationalizing the policy, the establishment of the AU Commission inter-departmental Task Force on PCRD was critical both for pulling the efforts of the AU system together and initiating PCRD interventions. With the membership of the AU Liaison Offices and RECs/RMs, the Task Force carried out joint activities including assessment missions to countries in transition. Another major development in terms of the operationalization of the PCRD policy is the establishment of the PCRD Centre.

The Centre, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, is expected to further enhance the efforts of the Inter-departmental Task Force on PCRD, which ensures that the various departments of the AU Commission coordinate their efforts on PCRD issues in Africa. The Centre is also meant to provide, under the guidance of the AU Policy Organs, technical expertise to improve timeliness, effectiveness, and coherence of activities in post-conflict countries on the Continent.

In an effort to translate the PCRD Policy into operational frameworks for PCRD interventions three key policy documents were developed and launched in November 2018. These are: the Five-year Results-based Framework on PCRD, the Guidelines Note for the Implementation of the African Union Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development Policy and a Policy Brief on African Union’s Quick Impact Project implementation: Lessons learned from Somalia.

Implementation of PCRD is also pursued as part of AU’s support to peace processes in affected countries through the various AU missions and liaison offices. There are AU Missions in Somalia (AMISOM); in South Sudan (AUMISS); in Mali and Sahel (MISAHEL); Liaison Offices in Burundi, CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan, Madagascar and Guinea Bissau as well as a Technical Support Team (AUTSTG) in The Gambia. As pointed in a recent report of the AU Commission Chairperson to the PSC, in these countries, the AU is engaged in a wide range of peacebuilding activities including supporting the implementation of the Somalia Transition Plan (STP); the Revitalized Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan; and the 2015 Algiers Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and the Sahel.

In terms of PSC’s role, it has addressed the issue of PCRD in its sessions in various ways, although this lacks being systematic and comprehensive. The sessions of the PSC on the situations in the Central African Republic (CAR), Darfur, Sudan, Guinea Bissau; the Lake Chad Basin, Mali and the Sahel; South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia often address PCRD processes in these conflict situations. Similarly, the various thematic sessions of the PSC address specific elements of PCRD such as Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration; Security Sector Reforms; Women Peace and Security; Transitional Justice and Reconciliation.

Notwithstanding these various developments for operationalization of the PCRD component of the APSA, challenges still abound. As highlighted in the conclusions of the PSC’s Retreat held in Rabat, Morocco in June 2019, some of the major challenges relating to PCRD include ‘lack of tailored funding for PCRD’ and the imperative of post-conflict countries to enhance their ownership of the process. Coordination has also been highlighted as an important area that requires attention. It has thus been underscored in the context of the 948th meeting of the PSC that ‘the implementation of PCRD since 2006 manifests the need for inclusive consultations between the post-conflict country and the AU, RECs/RMs, as well as with partners in order to create an environment that facilitates coordinated mobilization of political will and commitment, human and financial resources, as well as technical expertise.’ From the perspective of the role of the PSC in providing strategic guidance on PCRD, the constitution and operationalization of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD remain outstanding.

As far as the briefing from the representative of CAR is concerned, it is of major interest for the PSC to hear from Smail Chergui and the CAR representative on the preparations for national elections scheduled for December 2020. One of the major issues for the PSC to address in this respect is determining the technical and logistical needs of the CAR and how the AU could contribute, within the framework of its electoral support to member states, towards meetings the technical, logistical and institutional needs of the CAR. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. At its 884th session, in underscoring the importance of an inclusive and consensual, the PSC deemed the election to be an important process in ‘consolidating the democratic gains and stability in the country’.

Another area of interest for the PSC on PCRD in the CAR is the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of February 2019. In this respect, the session can be informed about the PCRD needs of the CAR based on the update from both Chergui and the representative of the CAR on the status of the peace and reconciliation process within the framework of the African Initiative and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups as well as security sector reform. The AU is providing support for the reinforcement of the capacities of the national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Security Sector Reform (DDR and SSR) Coordination Mechanisms. It is also to be recalled that within its Quick Impact/Peace Strengthening Project Policy framework, the Commission, through its Liaison Offices, provided support for the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.

The impact of the conflict in the CAR on state institution and the already poor socio-economic and political infrastructure is such that the CAR should continue to receive attention and support in order to implement its post-conflict reconstruction activities.

With respect to South Sudan, it is to be recalled that the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) of September 2018 assigns the AU a set of critical PCRD responsibilities. Among these are mobilization of resources and provision of support to governance and security sector reforms, humanitarian assistance, transitional justice, reconciliation and healing. The briefing from the representative of South Sudan is expected to update the Council on the status of implementation of the R-ARCSS. The specific areas of interest for the PSC to receive update on include the establishment of sub-national structures of government, the plan for the constitution of the legislative body of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU), the status of implementation of the permanent ceasefire and the transitional security arrangements, which are all critical for successful PCRD in South Sudan. It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 945th session expressed ‘deep concern over the slow pace in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements leading to reunification and reintegration of the NUF which is undermining efforts towards the full implementation of the R-ARCSS’. Other aspects of PCRD that also require attention include the implementation of the transitional justice institutions under Chapter V of the R-ARCSS.

As far as The Gambia is concerned, it is anticipated that the PSC would hear from the representative of the Gambia about the transition in the Gambia. In this respect, some of the areas expected to be covered during the briefing include the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights, the activities of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, and the reorganization and reform of the defense and security sectors. The issue of the constitutional making process and the implications of the failure of parliament to adopt the new draft constitution for the transitional process and PCRD in the Gambia could also arise in tomorrow’s session.

Also, of interest for the discussion on PCRD in The Gambia is the status of and activities of the African Union Technical Support Team to the Gambia (AUTSTG). It is to be recalled that pursuant to the request of Government to the AU Peace and Security Council in March 2017, and
based on the decision of the PC at its 695th meeting held on 15 June 2017, the AU Commission deployed the first batch of a Ten-member African Union Technical Support Team to the Gambia (AUTSTG) at the end of September 2018. Similarly, on 12 December 2018, the African Union Commission deployed two additional members of the AUTSTG, namely: Senior Rule of Law Expert; and the Human Rights Expert (Human Rights Commission). In August 2020, the mandate of the AUTSTG has been extended until the end of 2020. The representative of The Gambia may request for the continued support of the AUTSTG.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC may urge the need to activate its PCRD Sub-Committee. The Council may welcome the establishment of the PCRD Centre and may encourage the centre working with the Inter-Departmental Task Force on PCRD to develop support areas specific to the PCRD needs of the three countries within the framework of the respective peace agreements and transitional frameworks. The Council may further call for supporting the PCRD and peace building needs and works in these countries working in collaboration with the AU liaison office in CAR and the AU mission in South Sudan, the regional and international actors including the UN Peacebuilding Commission.


Consideration and adoption of the Cairo Roadmap on Enhancing Peacekeeping Operations: From Mandate to Exit

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 14 October, 2020

Tomorrow (15 October) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council is scheduled to convene its 955th meeting to consider and adopt the Cairo Roadmap on Enhancing Peacekeeping Operations: From Mandate to Exit through email exchange. The report and statements for the meeting will be circulated to all PSC Members through emails and the expected outcome will be circulated through silence procedure.

The 12th ordinary meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security held in Cairo on 19 December 2019 has decided to ‘adopt, in principle, the “Cairo Roadmap on enhancing peacekeeping Operations: from mandate to exit”. Moreover, it requested Member States to share their inputs in the subsequent two-month period to the AUC, in order to be presented to the AU Policy Organs.

Subsequently, the 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held in February 2020 adopted the decision of the STC.

The Cairo Roadmap was developed to support the reforms articulated in UN Secretary General Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative that was launched in March 2018. The A4P principally aims at establishing a collective understanding of challenges faced by peacekeeping and to renew political commitment towards peacekeeping operations. The A4P initiative’s major tenets were consolidated through the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations endorsed by UN member states in September 2018. The declaration particularly identified critical areas including the promotion of political solutions to conflict, protection of civilians, safety and security of peacekeepers, performance and accountability of all peacekeeping components, the impact of peacekeeping on sustaining peace, partnership as well as conduct.
The Cairo Roadmap was subsequently developed after a high-level meeting was held in Cairo, Egypt on ‘Enhancing the Performance of Peacekeeping operations’. Building on the A4P and the Declaration of Shared Commitments as well as insights from reviews on UN peace operations and peacebuilding and the inputs from the STC meeting and further subsequent submissions from AU member states, it presented recommended actions that the various role players of UN peacekeeping can take.

The Roadmap is organized along five priority areas. The first priority, which is in line with the Declaration of Shared Commitments on UN Peacekeeping Operations, is around the need to enhance political solution and the importance of political objectives to guide the mandate of peacekeeping missions. In this regard the Cairo Roadmap proposes a ‘quadrilateral consultations’ among the host nations, the UN Security Council, troop/police-contributing countries (TCCs) and the UN Secretariat as well as relevant regional bodies. This process is essential in also enchaining ownership of the political process by the host countries themselves. PSO’s mandate design and implementation have to be anchored on a clear political strategy, informed by the needs of conflict-affected countries.

While the primacy of political strategy is rightly emphasized, complementarity and harmonization of efforts as well as strong support for and consensus on the strategy among various peace and security actors at different levels including UN, AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) are critical factors for the effective implementation of the political strategy and collective and coordinated action. Another issue which is of particular significance for members of the PSC is the degree to which the views of the AU and RECs are given serious hearing and substantive weight in designing and implementing peacekeeping operations.

The second priority aims at increasing the performance of peacekeeping operation through set parameters including clear and focused mandate and objectives of operation as well as adequate resources. In this regard, the Roadmap also indicates issues related to accountability and the need for a framework that systematically tracks performance.

The clear definition of objectives of operation and ensuring an effective performance of peacekeeping mission is intimately related to the quadrilateral consultation that forms part of the first priority area. The coordination of the actors and the development of a common strategic position will have a direct effect on the effectiveness of the mission.

The other key element of this second pillar relates to resources. Ensuring predictable and sustainable financing for PSOs has been a major difficulty especially in the context of protracted conflicts. It would also be of interest for PSC members to share their input on the need to globally scale up efforts to enhance resource mobilization for peacekeeping missions, including for those AU led or mandated operations authorized by the UNSC. In this respect, it is worth recalling the importance of sustaining the agenda of financing AU operations that the African 3 non-permanent members of the UNSC (A3) have championed during the past five years.

The third pillar highlights the need for well-trained and well-equipped uniformed personnel. This includes boosting PSO trainings to increase preparedness and ensuring personnel’s technical and operational requirements set by the UN are fulfilled. Moreover the meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping including by reaching the target of the UN to ensure for women’s participation at 15% in military positions and 20% among police deployments are indicated in the Roadmap. These efforts are expected to be accompanied by the implementation of the UN zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
Given that the Roadmap covers the full cycle of the peacekeeping from mandate to exit, the fourth pillar focuses on the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Currently, this is an issue that is very much alive in the context of Sudan with respect to the joint UN-AU mission in Darfur. Proper planning for and creating conditions for smooth transition is critical both to sustain the gains registered and avoid the emergence of security gaps. Rather than a sequential approach to transition, this may entail a phased approach that facilitates increase in peacebuilding interventions parallel to the drawdown or reconfiguration of the make-up and areas of focus of peacekeeping operations as part of the exit strategy.

Finally, the Roadmap gives recognition to the role of peacekeeping missions in responding to emerging challenges including natural disasters, health and environmental crisis. This is important in expanding the understanding of security by integrating non-traditional security matters including disaster induced humanitarian crisis and health, which have increasingly become major emerging security issues.
In fact the AU through its policy guideline on the role of the African Standby Force in Humanitarian Action and Natural Disaster Support has developed a framework to ensure peacekeeping troops play a broader mandate beyond the standard operational matters. In the context of a pandemic such as COVID19, peace operations can play the critical role of supporting the implementation of public health measures and mitigating the adverse impact of such health or other natural events on peace efforts. In the current realities of a global economy severely battered by the pandemic, there is also the issue of resource constraints which can adversely affect peacekeeping.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to adopt the Cairo Roadmap. It may reiterate the key issues raised in the Roadmap including the importance of sustainable political solutions to conflict, the need to enhance ownership of host countries in political processes, in the design and implementation of peacekeeping missions as well the need to strengthen the capacity of peacekeeping components. The PSC may underline the importance of collective action and global commitment in strengthening the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions through the provision of adequate capacity and financing. The Council may also further reiterate the importance for the UN and various global actors to work closely and in coordination with the regional organizations including the AU as well as RECs/RMs in designing and implementing the mandate of peacekeeping missions. The PSC may further reiterate its previous pronouncements on the need for predictable and sustainable financing of peace support operations including through UN assessed contributions support to AU led or mandated peace support operations authorized by the UNSC, as a collective global public good.


Briefing on conflict prevention, early warning and mediation in Africa

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 12 December, 2019

Tomorrow (13 December) the African Union (AU) Peace and  Security  Council  (PSC)  is  expected  to  receive  a  briefing on conflict prevention, early warning and mediation  in  Africa.  Fred  Ngoga,  Head  of  the  Conflict  Prevention and Early Warning Division (CPEWD) of the AU  Commission  is  expected  to  brief  the  PSC.  Representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs)  and  Regional  Mechanisms  (RMs)  may  also  make  interventions.

The briefing is expected to focus on two main issues. The first  will  be  horizon  scanning  of  threats  to  peace  and  security in Africa. A second possible aspect of the briefing may be an update on the status of development of conflict prevention tools.

One  of  the  key  principles  that  guide  the  operationalization of the PSC mandate is ‘early response to  contain  crisis  situations  to  prevent  them  from  developing into full‐blown conflicts.’ The PSC Protocol highlights  the  Council’s  responsibility  to  ‘anticipate  and  prevent conflicts’ particularly through ‘early warning and preventive  diplomacy’.  Conflict  prevention  and  early  warning is also one of the key objectives of the AU articulated in the Constitutive Act.

However, during the last briefing on early warning, at its 669th  session  the  PSC  has  indicated  its  concern  with regards  to  the  ‘continued  cases  of  denials  to  objective/credible early warning signals of looming crises,  thereby  undermining  the  conflict  prevention  capacity of Council’.

Similarly  at  its  12th  retreat  held  in  June  2019  in  Rabat,  the PSC stressed challenges to conflict prevention including  insufficient  funding  and  resources,  lack  of  political will of member states and sensitiveness around the  categorization  of  looming  crisis.  Towards  enhancing  the capacity of the Council it has ‘decided to increase the regularity  of  briefing  sessions  with  the  AU  Commission,  on issues relating to looming crises with a view to assembling  the  relevant  information  for  appropriate  action’. Tomorrow’s session will also be an opportunity to  deliberate  on  some  of  these  challenges  that  are  preventing the scaling up of early warning mechanisms for early action.

Within this context, the horizon scanning is expected to assess the security situation in the five regions and may identify  the  major  threats  witnessed  across  the  continent. It may particularly look into the broad areas of root  causes,  structural  factors  and  drivers  of  conflict  including terrorism and radicalization, climate change, election, democratization, governance, respect of human rights  and  the  rule  of  law  as  well  socio‐economic  inequalities and marginalization.
As  part  of  its  Border  Program,  CPEWD’s  presentation  may also highlight the tension that may be arising from border demarcation and delimitation disputes.

In  terms  of  country  and  regional  focus,  it  may  pay  particular attention to situations which are experiencing not  only  looming  crisis  but  also  countries  and  regions  that may be experiencing relative stability while confronted  with  risks  of  relapse  to  violence.  In  this  regard, the briefing may shed light on the developments in  various  countries,  which  are  currently  in  political  transition or have recently signed peace agreements or are  in  mediation  processes  including  countries  such  as  Sudan, South Sudan and CAR. It may also pay particular attention  to  close  to  twenty  countries  that  will  be  holding elections in the coming year.

The  briefing  may  also  look  into  the  cross‐border  and  regional aspect of conflict prevention. It may offer an analysis  on  regions  that  are  experiencing  conflicts  and  crisis emanating from intertwined and compounded factors  affecting  multiple  countries.  The  presentation  may also provide an assessment of key trends and analysis  on  changing  dynamics  and  complexities  surrounding the causes of conflicts.

In  the  light  of  the  longstanding  challenges  of  effective  operationalization of the conflict prevention mandate of the PSC, it would be of interest for PSC members to look into  the  modalities  for  a  more  effective  engagement  in  conflict prevention. In this regard, consideration can be given  to  Article  8(11)  of  the  PSC  Protocol  that  provides  for the possibility of the PSC holding informal consultations.  As  a  meeting  format  that  has  not  been  adequately explored, informal consultation particularly at  the  level  of  Committee  of  Experts  of  the  PSC  avails useful avenue for considering early warning briefings and exploring options for preventive action.
After the overall overview of peace and security risks and threats, the presentation in its second part may look into conflict  prevention  tools  and  update  on  their  progress.  This will also be an opportunity to promote and enhance the  utilization  of  continental  and  regional  mechanisms  by policy makers.

Article 2 of the PSC protocol stipulates the need for the Council  to  be  supported  by  the  various  mechanisms  including Continental Early Warning System in fulfilling its  mandate.  CEWS  primarily  consists  of  two  components: (i) the continental observation and monitoring  center,  known  as  “The  Situation  Room”  and  (ii) the observation and monitoring units of the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RMs), which collect and process data and are linked directly to the Situation Room. To this end, it will be critical to deliberate on mechanism that enhance the synergy and close collaboration between the AU and RECs/RMs in providing up‐to‐date and relevant information to the PSC as well for the PSC itself to strengthen its working relations with the regional entities.

Considering the ongoing AU institutional reform process and  increased  PSC  engagement  with  RECs/RMs,  Council  members may wish to recall the commitments made during  PSC’s  12th  retreat  which  tasked  the  PSC  jointly  with RECs/RMs policy organs to establish ‘criteria for assessing  looming  crises  and  emerging  situations…  to  ensure … common understanding of parameters, benchmarks  and  principles  that  define  entry  points  for  interventions’.

The  presentation  by  the  division  may  also  provide  an  update on the activities of Panel of the Wise as a key pillar that is established for preventive diplomacy and in order to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the AUC  Chairperson,  particularly  in  the  area  of  conflict  prevention. The briefing may provide an update on the recently  concluded  annual  statutory  meeting  of  the  Panel of the Wise as well as the AU Special Envoy Representatives.  PSC  members  may  also  follow  up  further on the work of the Special Envoys considering the decision  at  its  12th  retreat  ‘to  hold  each  year  a  PSC  session during which AU Special Representatives/Envoys and AU High Representatives will provide briefings’.

The  presentation  may  also  provide  an  update  on  thematic issues related to Gender, Peace and Security Program  and  the  work  of  FemWise  as  well  as  their  harmonization with other gender centered mechanisms in  the  Commission  including  the  Office  of  the  Special  Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and the Gender Directorate.

As  part  of  the  Youth  for  Peace  program  activities  the  presentation may also raise the developments around the  ‘Study  on  the  Roles  and  Contributions  of  Youth  to  Peace and Security in Africa’, which was recently considered by the PSC.

The  expected  outcome  of  the  session  was  unknown  during the production of this ‘Insight’. The PSC may urge member states to strengthen their efforts at the national level  as  well  as  support  the  efficiency  of  early  warning  and prevention mechanisms at AU and RECs/RM level. Towards operationalizing its mandate, the PSC may also urge  for  the  strengthening  of  the  reporting  tool  of  the  Commission through enhancing of the systematic provision  of  early  warning  reports.  The  PSC  may  also  urge the Commission to provide regular briefings and horizon  scanning  to  equip  members  with  relevant  data  for effective decision‐making. To this end, the PSC may consider  adopting  informal  consultation  as  the  format  for a more regular and systematic consideration of early warning  and  conflict  prevention  sessions  including  through the convening of such informal consultations at the level of Committee of Experts.


Briefing session on the AU Peace Fund

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 17 April, 2019

Today (17 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have a briefing session on ‘Proposals towards Practical Utilization of the AU Peace Fund (in support of Conflict Prevention and Mediation; Capacity Building and AU Peace Support Operations)’. It is expected that Ciru Marwa, the Deputy Head of the AU Institutional Reforms Unit, who also advises Donald Kaberuka, the AU High Representative on the Financing of the African Union (AU) and the Peace Fund, will brief the PSC.

In the briefing, Mrs. Marwa is expected to present to the PSC the current state of the Peace Fund and the next steps including in terms of the criteria and processes for utilizing the funds that have been mobilized from member states as their assessed contributions to the Fund. The briefing also provides an opportunity for providing update on the progress made in the operationalization of the AU Peace Fund.

In terms of the operationalization of the Fund, when the PSC met last time on the Peace Fund, work was still under way in terms of the establishment and operationalization of the structures that ensure transparent and efficient administration of the fund and the running of the day to day operations of the Peace Fund. The first of these structures is the Board of Trustees. This is the body that plays the key role in terms of the financial and administrative oversight of the Fund required to ensure high fiduciary standards and integrity and the provision of strategic coherence. In this respect, perhaps the most notable development has been the appointment of the Board of Trustees of the Fund in November 2018. The Board consists of five individuals representing the five regions of the continent and two institutions. The five individuals are Zainadine Ahmed of Nigeria, Kamel Morjane of Tunisia, Ellen Mekonen of Ethiopia, Tito Mboweni of South Africa and Anicent Dologuele of Central African Republic. The two institutions are the major partner organizations of the AU, namely the United Nations and the European Union.

Following the appointment of the Board members and the first meeting of the Board in the same month, a major milestone was registered with the official launching of the Peace Fund on 17 November 2018 on the sidelines of the 11th Extraordinary Assembly on the AU Reform. With the launch of the Fund, the next steps in the operationalization of the Fund are of paramount importance. In this respect, the first issue to be addressed is the progress in the full institutionalization of the various oversight and management structures of the Fund as well as legal instruments including financial rules governing the fund.

Within the framework of the AU, at strategic level, it is envisaged that the AUC Chairperson assisted by an Executive Management Committee oversees the operations of the Fund. At the operational level for the day to day management of the affairs of the Fund, it is envisaged that the Peace Fund would have its own secretariat. The structural proposal for the establishment of the secretariat is envisaged to be considered as part of the ongoing AU reform process. This is indeed one of the items on which this briefing is expected to shed some light in terms of where the process stands and when the secretariat is expected to be operational.

Political oversight lies with the PSC, with the support of the AU Commission Chairperson. While these structures and their roles are generally known in terms of mandating and decision-making authority, one of the issues of interest for PSC members would be how the PSC interacts with the Peace Fund and the parameters of that interaction. Against this background, an important issue that requires clarification is the decision-making roles of the various structures relating to the Fund.

Another area with respect of which the session is expected to receive update on is the status of contribution to the Fund. In its Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.605(XXVII) on the financing of the Union adopted at its 27th Ordinary Session held in July 2016 in Kigali, the AU Assembly decided to endow the AU Peace Fund with $400m by 2020. Although the expectation has been for the AU to collect at least $120 million as at the end of 2018, the contribution that member states have mobilized as at end of January 2019 is about $90 million. Within this context, one of the issues to be addressed is what the challenges are for making progress to meet the target of endowing the Fund with $400 million by 2020.

It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 30 May 2017 session decided the Peace Fund to have three (3) thematic windows, namely Mediation and Preventive Diplomacy; Institutional Capacity; and Peace Support Operations, as well as the Crisis Reserve facility provided for in Article 21 (4) of the PSC protocol and envisaged to fund rapid response to emergency crisis. Thus far one can only discern some indications of what initiatives would be covered within the framework of each of the windows.

At the time of the launch of the Peace Fund in November, it was noted that the within Window One of the Peace Fund, some of the initiatives that will be expected to draw from the Peace Fund include the Commission and Panel of the Wise peace-making missions, women in conflict prevention and mediation project anchored on FemWise, the Youth for Peace Africa Initiative, African Union Border initiatives, the Continental Conflict Prevention Framework, as well as post conflict reconstruction and development endeavours. While Window three is expected to cover, peace support operations, this will be guided by the AU Common Costs Document. The Document was developed by the Commission as part of its efforts towards efficient and effective utilization of the Peace Fund. This is also envisaged to guide the Commission in facilitating planning, rapid deployment and sustenance of AU Peace Support Operations. The Document was approved by the 10th Meeting of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security on 9 January 2018.

This session is accordingly expected to highlight progress made in organizing the Peace Fund around these three Windows in particular in terms of determining the scope and eligibility criteria for the windows.

Given that the Peace Fund is meant to operate alongside the funding from the UN, another issue expected to feature in tomorrow’s session is the political engagement with the UN Security Council (UNSC). This in particular concerns the adoption by the UNSC of a substantive resolution that establishes the principle that the AU mandated or authorized PSOs authorized by the UNSC should be financed through UN assessed contributions, with decisions on the financing of specific missions to be taken on a case by case basis’. From the side of the AU, AU Common Costs Document is also envisaged to guide the Commission in discussing options and categories of support that will be required from the UN in the event that the UN Security Council authorizes the use of UN Assessed Contributions for AU led Peace Support Operations.

Finally, this briefing session is expected to clarify the next steps, procedures and timelines for starting using the finances from the Peace Fund for funding AU’s peace and security efforts.
There is no expected outcome for this session.


Consideration of the report the MSC on the harmonization of ACIRC in the ASF

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 8 January, 2019

Tomorrow (9 January) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to have a session for consideration of the report of its Military Staff Committee (MSC) on the harmonization of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) within the African Standby Force (ASF).

It is to be recalled that the PSC held a session for consideration of the summary of records of the MSC on 19 November. Following the meeting the PSC requested the MSC to submit to it a report building on the proposals outlined in the summary of records of the meeting of the MSC with inputs from member states.

ACIRC was put in place in 2013 as a gap filling measure for availing the AU a rapid response capability pending the full operationalization of the ASF. ACIRC became a reality in the following years, although it has not been used. Over the years divisions emerged over the role of ACIRC and its relationship with and implications on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in general and the ASF in particular. While countries participating in ACIRC viewed it as availing the AU pragmatic capability for rapid response based on the concept of coalition of the willing organized around a lead nation, others came to view ACIRC as diverting attention from the operationalization of the ASF and carrying the risk of fragmenting or undermining the APSA framework. Some RECs/RMs, such as ECOWAS, ECCAS and EASFCOM, have in particular been critical of ACIRC both for lack of their participation in its establishment and for their exclusion in its operationalization and potential utilization.

The Specialized Technical Committee on Defense, Safety and Security (STCDSS), during its seventh meeting held on 14 January 2014 in Addis Ababa, recommended that both the ACIRC and the ASF RDC concepts should be harmonized to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure that the ACIRC assists in expediting the operationalization process of the RDC. In 2015, the Report of the Independent Panel of Experts’ Assessment of the African Standby Force recommended that the AU Commission ‘takes steps to harmonise and integrate the ACIRC into the ASF model, as an additional tool for further enhancing the AU’s capacity to respond rapidly to Scenario Six-type mass atrocity crimes, and that it be synchronised with the ASF’s national or stand-alone RDC (Rapid Deployment Capacity) model.’

Subsequently, the AU Assembly adopted decision 679 which called on all stakeholders to support the realization of the full operationalization of the ASF, and harmonization of the activities of ACIRC with the Framework of the ASF and enhance cooperation with all ad-hoc coalitions namely, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram terrorist group, Group of Five Sahel Joint Force and the Regional Cooperation Initiative against the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA), and requested the Commission to submit a plan on the harmonization of ACIRC into ASF, including steps to be taken by the AU and the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention (RECs/RMs) to coordinate ad-hoc coalitions, within the context of Articles 13 and 16 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.’

Despite the policy decisions, the actual implementation of the harmonization of ACIRC within the ASF has faced challenging questions of political, legal and resource preconditions. Various institutional, technical, human and financial inputs have been put in place for putting ACIRC in place. An ACIRC Planning Element (PLANELM) within the Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa has been established. Politically, it remains unclear that all ACIRC participating countries are convinced that ACIRC should merge into the ASF RDC. The legal issue pertains to the memorandum of understanding that the AU may need to sign with ACIRC members on the integration and use of their pledged capabilities within the ASF. It is also imperative that the harmonization addresses the question of what happens to the various technical, logistical and institutional resources, including the personnel making up the ACIRC PLANELM, currently servicing the ACIRC.

These were the issues that the 5 October meeting MSC considered with the Defense Attaché of the Congo chairing by virtue of the fact that Congo was the PSC chair of the month. The meeting of the MSC proposed the steps to be taken and the accompanying timeline for implementing the harmonization. The steps to be taken consist broadly of a) letter of appreciation by the AUC to ACIRC countries (for their contributions), and communication to AU member states (urging them to comply with Assembly decisions 679 and 695) and partners (notifying them of the merger of ACIRC and ASF), b) the legal process to be followed (in terms of review of existing legal frameworks between AU and ACIRC countries and reporting to the PSC in May 2019), and c) the approach to the re-deployment of the assets and resources of ACIRC into the ASF, and the measures to be taken at the level of the PSOD, RECs/RMs and finally the AU Assembly.

It has been noted during the 19 November session that the various steps are envisaged to run from November 2018 to February 2020 when the AU Assembly is expected to make final pronouncement. This has now been adjusted to reflect the time that has lapsed since November 2018. The integration of ACIRC into the ASF seems to fit the ongoing AU reform process that seeks to avoid duplication and ensure mainstreaming of efforts.

Yet, some of these issues such as the proposal on integrating the human resources of the ACIRC PLANLEM into PSOD are likely to trigger discussion from the perspective of the human resource regulations of the AU. It is however clear from the report of the MSC that the MSC ‘reached the consensus that the term ‘harmonization’, in the context of Assembly Decisions 679 and 695, means that ACIRC should be integrated within the ASF Framework.’

One of the issues that arose within the PSC has been the proposal from some member states for the ACIRC volunteering countries to put their capabilities at the disposal of the AU for use within the framework of the ASF. The emerging view that seems to be carrying weight in the PSC is that these are capabilities availed voluntarily and could not be made binding without the consent of the volunteering states.
The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC may endorse the proposed steps in the report with a request for the AUC to report periodically on progress.


PSC Briefing on the Harmonization of the ACIRC within the ASF Framework

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 18 September, 2018

Tomorrow  (19  September)  the  Peace  and  Security  Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) will hold a briefing on the harmonization of the African Capacity for Rapid  Intervention  in  Crises  (ACRIC)  within  the  African  Standby Force (ASF) framework. Convened on the request  of  Nigeria,  the  meeting  will  examine  the  conceptual, structural and institutional harmonization of the  ASF  and  ACIRC.  The  session  will  also  evaluate  the  progress made by the two mechanisms since the last briefing  to  the  PSC.  The  meeting  will  receive  a  briefing  from the Peace and Security Department (PSD)’s Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD).

The meeting is held in line with the decision 695 of the AU  Assembly  meeting  in  Nouakchott,  which  requested  quarterly progress update on implementation of decision 679 of the 30th ordinary session of the Assembly.

The  meeting  will  also  receive  updates  from  the  Secretariat of ACRIC in PSOD on the state of the ACIRC, its  relations  with  the  ASF  mechanism  and  recent  developments in the implementation of the Maputo Strategic  Work  Plan  on  the  Enhancement  of  the  ASF  (2016‐2020). The five‐year work plan for the ASF highlighted  the  changing  security  environment  and  threats on the continent. Its recommendation for dynamism  into  the  design  and  structure  of  the  ASF  to  respond to the challenges goes in line with the initiative to  harmonize  the  ASF  with  the  ACIRC.  The  session  will  use the indicators, deliverables and timelines defined by the  five‐year  work  plan  as  a  reference  to  evaluate  the  move towards harmonization of ACRIC with ASF, particularly  its  rapid  deployment  capability  (RDC).  The  training, exercises, airlift and mission support capabilities of  the  regional  forces  and  their  progress  in  articulating  the command structure and control, and logistical capabilities  of  the  ASF  and  ACIRC  will  also  be  discussed  by the session.

The  discussion  and  debate  of  the  meeting  will  focus  on  the complex relationship between the ASF and ACRIC. Divisions still exist among the member states of the AU and  within  the  AU  Commission  on  the  relevance,  role,  interaction and the need for keeping the two as parallel initiatives.  There  is  an  opinion  that  sees  ACIRC  as  a  redundancy, an admission of failure to fully operationalize the ASF, and questions the value addition of  the  ACIRC.  This  view  sees  the  2013  initiative  as  a  project that diverts and distracts the attention, energy, resources  and  political  focus  of  the  continent  and  partners that should have been spent on realizing the ASF.  Those  participating  in  ACRIC  consider  the  mechanism as providing the mechanism for rapid mobilization and more flexibility (compared to the region based and relatively more region approach of the ASF) in cases emergency situations.

Despite  its  success  for  standardization,  training  and  mobilization of peace support mission in Africa, security challenges in the continent have revealed the weakness of the ASF in rapidly deploying troops. Harmonizing the ASF  and  ACIRC  will  primarily  focus  on  addressing  this  structural gap. The conversation on the ASF and ACIRC dynamics is taking place while the continent is witnessing a sweeping trend of relying on ad‐hoc regional coalitions and  deployment  arrangements  and  alliances  as  a  rapid  response mechanism. The meeting is expected to address  these  trend  in  the  context  of  the  effort  for  harmonization of the ASF and ACRIC.

While  peace  support  operations  serve  as  a  vital  tool  of  crisis response, changing security dynamics and trans‐regional nature of emerging security threats demand a more flexible, agile and effective missions. The possibility of an effective transfer of responsibility to local security forces and institutions, and withdrawal of missions with an extended presence and limited effectiveness still look distant.  These  conditions  and  reality  significantly  affected the reputation and effectiveness of the traditional peace support operations in Africa, and called for a revision of the existing practice and arrangements. The  threat  posed  by  transnational  terrorist  groups  and  non‐state actors need a ‘fit for purpose’ and tailor made mandated  approach,  which  is  currently  lacking  in  the  traditional African Union and UN missions in Africa.

Tomorrow’s  meeting  will  examine  the  ASF‐ACRIC  harmonization as a response to the question of effectiveness  and  sustainability  of  peace  support  operations in the continent. Reviewing the design and structure  of  the  ASF  in  a  way  that  enhances  its  deployment capabilities and mission effectiveness including the ACIRC as its component is seen by the AU as a way forward. An important aspect of this session is also  finding  a  balance  between  rapid  and  flexible  regional initiatives and overarching standards and principles developed within the framework of the ASF.
Also  important  for  tomorrow’s  session  is  tailor  made  interventions with greater emphasis on political initiatives underscoring the imperative of the primacy of political  strategy  over  military  or  security  approaches.  These include integrating and enhancing the role of preventive  diplomacy  and  mediation  mechanisms,  the  African Governance Architecture (AGA), Africa’s normative  framework  to  constitutionalism  and  inclusive  governance. Enabling national institutions is critical in the path from conflict to sustained peace, and should be part and parcel of the ASF‐ACIRC harmonization.

The expected outcome of the briefing is a communiqué. The  communiqué  may  stipulate  a  timeline  for  finalizing  the harmonization of ACRIC within the ASF and for all efforts at the levels of the AU and regions to focus on the full  operationalization  of  the  ASF  with  necessary  adjustments for flexible, rapid and effective utilization of ASF in response to emerging crisis.


Consideration of outcome of the MSC meeting on the harmonization of ACIRC and   ASF

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 18 December, 2018

Tomorrow (19 November) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to have a session for considering the summary records of the meeting of its Military Staff Committee (MSC) on the harmonization of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) within the African Standby Force (ASF).

It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 795th session decided that the MSC of the PSC convenes a meeting to ‘identify and propose ways and means of fully implementing Assembly Decisions 679 and 695 and to make appropriate recommendations, including timelines and roadmap, to guide the PSC on how to overcome the challenges facing the harmonization of the ACIRC within the ASF’. Acting on this decision, the MSC held on 5 October 2018the meeting for working on the task the PSC entrusted to it.

Although it has been introduced in 2013 as a gap filling measure for availing the AU a rapid response capability pending the full operationalization of the ASF, in the years that follow divisions emerged over the role of ACIRC and its relationship with and implications on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in general and the ASF in particular. While countries participating in ACIRC viewed it as availing the AU pragmatic capability for rapid response based on the concept of coalition of the willing organized around a lead nation, others came to view ACIRC as diverting attention from the operationalization of the ASF and carrying the risk of fragmenting or undermining the APSA framework. Some RECs/RMs, such as ECOWAS, ECCAS and EASFCOM, have in particular been critical of ACIRC both for lack of their participation in its establishment and for their exclusion in its operationalization and potential utilization. The Specialized Technical Committee on Defense, Safety and Security (STCDSS), during its seventh meeting held on 14 January 2014 in Addis Ababa, recommended that both the ACIRC and the ASF RDC concepts should be harmonized to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure that the ACIRC assists in expediting the operationalization process of the RDC. In 2015, the Report of the Independent Panel of Experts’ Assessment of the African Standby Force recommended that the AU Commission ‘takes steps to harmonise and integrate the ACIRC into the ASF model, as an additional tool for further enhancing the AU’s capacity to respond rapidly to Scenario Six-type mass atrocity crimes, and that it be synchronised with the ASF’s national or stand-alone RDC (Rapid Deployment Capacity) model.’

Subsequently, the AU Assembly adopted decision 679 which called on all stakeholders to support the realization of the full operationalization of the ASF, and harmonization of the activities of ACIRC with the Framework of the ASF and enhance cooperation with all ad-hoc coalitions namely, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram terrorist group, Group of Five Sahel Joint Force and the Regional Cooperation Initiative against the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA), and requested the Commission to submit a plan on the harmonization of ACIRC into ASF, including steps to be taken by the AU and the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention (RECs/RMs) to coordinate ad-hoc the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.’

Despite the policy decisions, the actual implementation of the harmonization of ACIRC within the ASF has faced challenging questions of political, legal and resource preconditions. Various institutional, technical, human and financial inputs have been put in place for putting ACIRC in place. An ACIRC PLANELM within the Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa has been established. Politically, it remains unclear that all ACIRC participating countries are convinced that ACIRC merges into the ASF RDC. The legal issue pertains to the memorandum of understanding that the AU may need to sign with ACIRC members on the integration and use of their pledged capabilities within the ASF. It is also imperative that the harmonization addresses the question of what happens to the various technical, logistical and institutional resources, including the personnel making up the ACIRC PLANELM, currently servicing the ACIRC.

These were the issues that the 5 October meeting MSC considered with the Defense Attaché of the Congo chairing by virtue of the fact that Congo was the PSC chair of the month. Premised on the understanding that harmonization means integration of the ACIRC into the ASF, the meeting of the MSC proposed the steps to be taken and the accompanying timeline for implementing the harmonization. The steps to be taken consist broadly of a) communication by the AUC to ACIRC countries (for their contributions), AU member states (urging them to comply with Assembly decisions 679 and 695) and partners (notifying them of the merger of ACIRC and ASF), b) the legal process to be followed (in terms of review of existing legal frameworks between AU and ACIRC countries and reporting to the PSC in May 2019), the approach to the re-deployment of the assets and resources of ACIRC into the ASF, and the measures to be taken at the level of the PSOD, RECs/RMs and finally the AU Assembly.
These various steps are envisaged to run from November 2018 to February 2020 when the AU Assembly is expected to make final pronouncement. The integration of ACIRC into the ASF seems to fit the ongoing AU reform process that seeks to avoid duplication and ensure mainstreaming of efforts. Yet, some of these issues such as the proposal on integrating the human resources of the ACIRC PLANLEM into PSOD are likely to trigger discussion from the perspective of the human resource regulations of the AU.

The Defense Attaché of Congo is expected to present the summary record of the MSC meeting. The AU Peace and Security Department is also expected to make a statement. The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC may endorse the proposed steps with amendments with a request for the AUC to develop and implement a roadmap based on the steps and timelines set and to report periodically on progress.