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.


Peacekeeping in Africa: Emerging Challenges and Critical Lessons for Sustainable Peacekeeping Operations

APSA Tools and Pillars

Date | 18 March, 2021

Tomorrow (18 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 988th session on ‘Peacekeeping in Africa: Emerging Challenges and Critical Lessons for Sustainable Peacekeeping Operations’. This session will be held at the Ministerial level, which is the first since the last ministerial session in December 2019.

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, Raychelle Omamo, is set to make the opening remark as PSC chairperson for the month of March. Kenya, apart from being a major Troop Contributing Country (TCC) to AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), is a member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is also expected to deliver a statement. The main presentation for the session is expected from the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Kenya, Monica Juma. Also expected to make statements during the partially open segment of the session are representatives of the UN and the European Union (EU). The representatives of ongoing peace support operations including AMISOM and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in the Lake Chad Basin will also participate.

Coming against the background of ongoing discussions about AMISOM, tomorrow’s session will address not only the issues affecting AMISOM, by far AU’s largest peace support operation, but also emerging trends and dynamics affecting peace operations on the continent including ad hoc missions like MNJTF. This is not the first time for the PSC to discuss issues affecting peace support operations in Africa. It is to be recalled that the 851st session of the PSC held on 22 May 2019 was to consider the AU Commission’s report on the challenges faced by AU led Peace Support Operations (PSOs).

The AU has mandated about a dozen PSOs since coming into operation in 2002. Until its end on 31 December 2020, the AU was running jointly with the UN the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). AU further authorized and provided political and technical support for three ad hoc regional security coalitions including the MNJTF and the G5 Sahel Joint Force. AU’s nearly two decades of experience has shown that peace support operations face various issues resulting from the changes in both the peace and security landscape of the continent and international relations.

One of the major challenges likely to gain PSC’s attention is funding. Despite the willingness that the AU has shown over the years for deploying missions in conflict situations where there is no peace to keep and thereby contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security, its missions suffer from lack of predictable and sustainable funding. In recent years, efforts have been underway to address this challenge by trying to identify various funding arrangements including via AU’s major step for mobilizing funds from within the continent. Yet, financial arrangements for African peace support operations remain neither sustainable nor predictable, thereby significantly affecting their effectiveness. In deliberating on this perennial issue, it would be of interest for the PSC to reflect on the status of operationalization of the Peace Fund, the implications of the new financial tool of the EU that came in to operation early this year replacing the Africa Peace Facility and on the preparatory work and next steps that should be undertaken on the part of the AU for reactivating the draft UNSC resolution on AU peace support operations through UN assessed contributions.

Also of interest to PSC members is emerging security threats and their implication to peacekeeping in Africa. Africa witnessed some 1,878 terrorist attacks and over 8,200 death toll in 2020, with incidents of such attacks showing worrying persistence and rise in the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, Somalia and Northern Mozambique. Other features of the security landscape that present further challenge to peace operations include porous borders, transnational criminal networks, human and drug trafficking, proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, climate change, and most recently by public health emergencies such as COVID-19. Characterized by asymmetric warfare and proliferation in particular of local identity militias, non-traditional security threats have increased in scale, intensity and complexity, a development that makes PSOs extremely challenging, with peacekeepers suffering increasing fatalities as witnessed in Mali and CAR in 2020.

There is a growing call for a robust mandate to peace support missions for them to deal with changing security dynamics. As the various experiences including AMISOM and the plethora of security operations in the Sahel show, relative success of peace support operations with robust mandate depends not only on gains made in the security sphere through degrading the capacity of groups such as Al Shabaab but also and importantly in the progress achieved in the political process on which the political end state of such operations has to be anchored. This underscores the ‘primacy of politics’, in that the use of political process is the primary means for the resolution of conflicts, with robust peace operations playing supporting role. This principle of the ‘primacy of politics’ is recognized as one of the nine core principles of the AU Doctrine on Peace Support Operations, adopted by the 3rd extraordinary meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defense, Safety and Security in January 2021, described as referring to ‘the principle and commitment by the AU to ensure that all AU PSOs are deployed with the primary objective to facilitate a political end state as set out in its mandate’.

Gaps in the cooperation and coordination among various stakeholders notably AU, UN, RECs, TCCs, and host government is the other issue affecting PSOs that also deserves attention during tomorrow’s session. Countries that contribute uniformed personnel; those that provide financial, technical and logistical support; and those that authorize the mission are often different. Not each of these actors exert equal influence in making some strategic decisions, which from time to time negatively affects the role of PSOs on the continent. The recent experience of AMISOM highlights some of these challenges. It is to be recalled that in its 978th session on Somalia and AMISOM, the PSC expressed its regret over UN Security Council for conducting an independent review of AMISOM despite PSC’s call for an AU-UN joint leadership in undertaking the independent assessment. Subsequently, further tensions emerged in relation to the negotiation over Resolution 2568(2021). The representative of Niger speaking on behalf of the ‘A3+1’ expressed his disappointment over the manner in which the proposal of the A3+1 to include a reference to the UN assessed contributions as a possibility to be examined with the view to enhance the predictability and sustainability of AMISOM’s financing was rejected without ‘any convincing explanation’.

Experiences in Africa also show the multiplicity of peace operations actors in the continent, with some of the operations taking the form of ad hoc coalitions. This also underscores the imperative not only for harmonization of decision-making between AU and RECs/RMS but also for strategic coordination to avoid reversal of the gains made including in ensuring compliance with AU standards and norms.

Challenges related to troop drawdown, transition and eventual exit of peacekeeping missions may also feature in tomorrow’s session as another issue affecting peace support operations in Africa. Although it did not show the pitfalls of previous transitions such as in Mali and CAR, this remains an issue particularly in light of recent developments in relation to the exist of UNAMID. The imperative for consensus and coordination between national, regional, continental and international actors including affected population on troop drawdown, transition and exit has been highlighted by protests held in Darfur against UNAMID’s withdrawal and the sharp uptick of violence in Darfur just weeks after UNAMID’s closure of operation in December 2020. All these developments underscore the painstaking venture of winding up missions which requires striking the right balance between undertaking transfer of responsibility for national governments and maintaining security gains.

The other critical lesson likely to interest the PSC is the importance of ensuring full and meaningful involvement of women and the youth in Africa’s peace support missions as well as mainstreaming the women and youth in the peace and security agenda. Given the gender and age specific consequences of conflict, there is an urgent need for the inclusion of women and the youth in the planning, deployment and running of peace support operations. In this regard, there is a need for translating into strategic and operational plans the pronouncements of the PSC on the importance of mainstreaming and increasing the involvement of women and youth in all stages of peace process ranging from conflict prevention to peacebuilding as exemplified by the AU PSOs Doctrine.

The expected outcome is a communique. As part of the effort to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for AU’s peace initiatives, the PSC is likely to urge member states to redouble their support and commitment to the scale of assessment for contribution to the Peace Fund pursuant to the consensus reached by the Executive Council through Decision EX.CL DEC./1100(XXXVII) on 14 October 2020. The PSC is also likely to follow up on the Assembly’s request, at its 14th extra ordinary session on Silencing the Guns held on 6 December 2020, for the PSC to articulate a common African position on financing PSOs in Africa with the view to guide the A3 members in the UN Security Council ‘for adoption of a resolution that will enable Africa to access UN assessed contribution for peace support operations in the continent’. PSC may also stress the importance of strategic coordination among plethora of stakeholders in peace keeping operations in Africa, particularly among the AU, UN, RECs, and other international partners as well as national actors. It may further emphasize the importance of consultation with the AU before the UNSC makes strategic decisions on peacekeeping missions in the continent. PSC may also make reference to the recently adopted AU Doctrine on PSOs and may underscore that all AU PSOs shall be guided by the fundamental values and standards incorporated in the doctrine.


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.