Insights on the Peace & Security Council- Open Session on the Plight of Refugees, IDPs and Forced Displacement in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 08 June, 2021

Tomorrow (08 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1002nd session. This virtual open session will be held under the theme ‘plight of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and forced displacement in Africa’. Convened as one of the regular thematic agenda of the PSC, this session comes ahead of the commemoration of the World Refugee Day, which is observed on 20 June under the theme ‘Together we heal, learn and shine’.

Following the opening remark from the PSC Chairperson of the month, Burundi’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Joel Nkurbagaya, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, will make a statement. As a subject that also relates to her portfolio, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, is also expected to brief the PSC. Pursuant to the practice of the PSC, the PSC will also receive briefings from representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP). The chairperson of the Permanent Representatives Committee Sub- Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons is also expected to deliver a statement.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to discuss recent trends about forced displacement leading to the persistence and increase in the scale of IDPs and flow of refugees. With a third of the world’s forcibly displaced persons in Africa, including 7.8 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 19.2 million IDPs, Africa continues to experience alarming trends of displacement. While natural disasters continue to induce forced displacement on the continent, much of the displacements on the continent are due to violence and conflicts.

With more than 21 million forcibly displaced by violence, Africa has experienced the highest number of conflict related displacement in record in 2020. This is on account of both the persistence of existing conflicts, and in some cases, their further deterioration in regions affected by violence and the eruption of new conflicts in previously less affected regions. It is worth noting that the conflict trends leading to forced displacement on the continent include political and electoral violence in politically tense and conflict affected countries, upsurge of violence, including inter-communal violence in countries with protracted conflicts, and the spike in terrorist violence in particular the Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Northern Mozambique.

All parts of the continent are affected by conflict related displacement, although with notable variations of intensity. In East Africa alone, existing and new conflicts have resulted in 8.3 million IDPs and 4.6 million refugees. In West Africa and the Sahel, over 2.9 million people are displaced due to the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region. The rate of internal displacement has particularly been most alarming in Burkina Faso, where by 2021, more than 1 million people have been internally displaced, showing a four-fold increase from the previous year. In the Lake Chad Basin, over 3.2 million people were reported to have been forcefully displaced by the end of 2020. In Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where over 2 million people are already displaced due to widespread violence, was most recently hit by a volcanic eruption which is estimated to displace about 400,000 people. The relatively recent conflict in Mozambique has also resulted in a serious displacement crisis, with the number of displaced people getting to the one million mark. In North Africa, apart from being host to one of the most protracted refugee situation in Tindouf, Algeria, the intensification of the conflict in Libya displaced about 40,000 people in 2020.

Apart from the foregoing, tomorrow’s session is also expected to examine the humanitarian situation of IDPs and refugees and asylum seekers. Of particular concern in this respect is the rise in food insecurity in Africa over the past couple of years. Coupled with on-going and new conflicts, food insecurity is feared to produce dramatic upsurge of displacement. On top of creating new wave of displacement, the existing food insecurity also directly impacts displaced populations already living under dire circumstances. Such is, particularly the case, in regions with pre- existing conditions of food insecurity.

In addition to food insecurity and climate induced displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic has also highly compounded the humanitarian situation of refugee and IDPs across Africa. The inevitable interruption to humanitarian aid in some cases has imposed a major challenge to displaced communities whose survival depends on the timely delivery of assistance. Due to the COVID-19 response measures, there has also been significant drop in opportunities for resettlement.

In discussing the plight of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers, the first issue of concern is ensuring the protection of these category of people. In this respect, it is of paramount importance that conflict actors observe human rights and international humanitarian law rules as well as the principles of OAU Refugee Convention and the Kampala Convention on IDPS including on the imperative for respecting non-refoulement and voluntary return, hence desisting from forced return of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers, as noted by the PSC at its 904th session. It is also of significance that the physical security of IDPs and refugees and asylum seekers is guaranteed and conflict parties, particularly State actors, bear responsibility for creating conditions for ensuring such security. Also of particular importance is the provision of unhindered humanitarian access for humanitarian actors to enable affected people to be provided with humanitarian assistance.

The second issue relate to finding durable solutions to forced displacement. It is of paramount importance in this respect that effective peace making and conflict resolution efforts are deployed. Durable solutions necessitate the resolution of the weak presence of state institutions and public services in conflict affected territories, absence of good governance and democratic inclusion and the perpetration of human rights violations. As conditions of insecurity improve, mechanisms should be created for the safe and voluntary return of IDPs and refugees. There is also a need for designing and implementing programs for the rehabilitation of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers.

Another area of interest in tomorrow’s session is the role and contribution of the AU towards addressing the plight of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers. In this respect, the PSC may receive update on the progress towards the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency (AHA), which, as noted by the PSC at its 921st session, contribute towards efforts being made to address the humanitarian challenges. Tomorrow’s session may also consider how to activate the role of the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) that was endorsed by Assembly/AU/Dec.417(XIX). In this respect, one challenge that may receive attention is the treaty on the establishment of the ARC is yet to enter into force since it hasn’t acquired the required level of ratification.

Additionally, the PSC may also review AU’s challenges in financing humanitarian assistance and reiterate its previous call on member States to commit to the implementation of EX.CL/Dec.567(XVII) which decided to increase member States’ contribution to the ‘Refugees and IDPs Fund’ from 2% to 4%. This challenge also relates to the Special Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF) for Draught and Famine Relief in Africa which can play supportive role for some of the peoples on the continent facing food insecurity. The PSC may also call on the international community to sustain its support for humanitarian assistance, which is the only avenue for sustaining the lives of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers.

The session also presents an opportunity for horizontal coordination. In this respect, the engagement in tomorrow’s session of the Sub- Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, which plays a significant role in providing policy recommendations and solutions with respect to such population groups, is of importance.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC is expected to request the AU Commission to work on the issue of food insecurity among displaced persons, in collaboration with WFP, UNHCR, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other relevant partners. Council may also call on member States to contribute to and replenish the SEAF. In that spirit, Council may encourage member States to participate at the upcoming Continental Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference which is expected to take place in Equatorial Guinea, during November this year. The AU Commission may also be requested to expedite operationalisation of the AHA. PSC may reiterate the request it made at its 921st session, for the AU Commission to mobilise support for member States hosting high number of refugees, IDPs and undocumented migrants and to ensure that part of the AU COVID-19 response fund goes towards provision of humanitarian assistance for these groups of people. It may also urge member States to discharge their responsibilities in ensuring the creation of conditions for the protection of the physical security of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers and for unhindered humanitarian access. The PSC is also expected to call for enhancing efforts in addressing the root-causes of violent conflicts. The PSC may also reiterate the need for host states to ensure utmost respect for non-refoulement and voluntary return, hence desisting from forced return of IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers.


Session on the 17 years journey of the PSC on the occasion of its 1000th session

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 25 May, 2021

Tomorrow (25 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will convene its 1000th session dedicated to an appraisal of the 17 years journey of the Council. While the Council came into operation in March 2004, it was during its 10th session held for first time at the level of Heads of State and Government that the PSC was officially launched on the occasion of the celebration of Africa Day on 25 May 2004.

In marking the 17th years anniversary of the launch of the PSC and its 1000th session during tomorrow’s session, the PSC will conduct the session in a hybrid form combining a physical meeting with participation virtually. For the occasion, the PSC has invited all the former AU Commissioners for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, Ramtane Lamamra & Smail Chergui and Directors of the Peace and Security Department, El-Ghassim wane and Kambudzi Ademore Mupoki.

Highlighting the level of institutionalization of the PSC and its working methods, the number of PSC meetings between 2004 and 2021 shows a fourfold increase from the 21 meetings that the PSC held during its first year of operation. Since 2015, the PSC meets on a monthly basis for an average not less than six times. While its Rules of Procedure came into operation when the PSC became operational and served, together with the PSC Protocol, as the framework for guiding the work of the PSC, the PSC elaborated the specifics of its working methods through the Conclusions of the Dakar Retreat of the PSC held in August 2007. In 2019, the PSC consolidated the Conclusions of the Dakar Retreat and the conclusions of the subsequent 11 retreats on its working methods into the Manual on the Working Methods of the PSC. The PSC Secretariat has become not only the technical arm for the standardized conduct of the business of the PSC but also the custodian of its institutional memory. The two main subsidiary bodies of the PSC, the Committee of Experts and the Military Staff Committee, have achieved full operationalization, availing the PSC useful support despite capacity limitations.

As at the end of December 2020, 52 of the 55 member States of the AU are parties to the PSC Protocol. The three countries that are not yet parties to the Protocol are Cabo Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Following the elections held in February 2020, out of the 52 States Parties to the PSC Protocol, the number of States that served as members of the PSC reached 40. The States Parties to the PSC Protocol that never served on the PSC include the Central African Republic, Comoros, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritius, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Somalia.

Disaggregating the 1000 sessions of the PSC offers useful insights about how the PSC deployed its very finite time and resources over the years. Of the total number of PSC sessions, about 70% have been on country/region specific situations. The PSC used the remaining 30% of its sessions for thematic issues, consultative meetings with other AU organs and institutions, the UN Security Council, the Peacebuilding Commission, the EU, LAS and the ICRC.

Although situations from all parts of the continent featured on the agenda of the PSC, the regional distribution of the sessions of the PSC shows notable variations in terms of PSC engagements across the five regions of the continent. 46% or nearly half of the sessions of the PSC dedicated to county/regional situations dealt with situations in the East Africa region. Much of the focus of these sessions focusing on this region have been on Somalia and the two Sudans. Both Somalia and Sudan have been on the agenda of the PSC since its establishment in 2004. And regardless of progress achieved over the years in relation to the situations in both countries, they continue to face major political and security challenges and are therefore still in the agenda of the Council. South Sudan, which has been on Council’s agenda since 2012 has also been considered at a relatively high frequency, although Mali and Sahel and Guinea Bissua featured more on the agenda of the PSC than other situations in this region.

After East Africa, West Africa featured most regularly on the agenda of the PSC, accounting for more than 25% of the sessions of the PSC. Compared to East Africa, where Somalia and the Sudans account for more than 2/3 of the activities of the PSC in the region, more countries in West Africa were on the agenda of the PSC more regularly. The political instability and ever-increasing terrorist threat in Mali and the Sahel region continue to be one of the major security concerns for the PSC. Central Africa, with 19% of sessions, comes next in place. Central African Republic (CAR), Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have all been on Council’s agenda since the early days of its establishment. CAR and DRC, which make the highest number of PSC’s sessions in the region respectively, are still part of Council’s agenda.

In comparison to the three regions, there are fewer number of PSC sessions on the situations in Northern and Southern Africa. Of the two, northern Africa takes the lead with 9% of the total sessions. From the northern region, the situation that dominates the agenda of the PSC is that of Libya. Other situations that featured on the agenda of the PSC include those of Western Sahara, Egypt and Tunisia. Sothern Africa is the region with the least number of situations on the agenda of the PSC making up only about 1 % of the total country/region specific sessions. Mozambique, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have all at some point been considered by Council although none have continuously featured on its agenda. South Africa has also been addressed by the PSC in the context of the 2019 xenophobic attacks in the country.

Though the peace and security framework of the AU anchored on the PSC is still relatively young, the foregoing shows that it has come a long way both in terms of its institutionalization and in initiating efforts for maintaining peace and security on the continent. Its 17 years of journey make the PSC well positioned to become the leading platform for peace and security decision- making on the continent. As its engagement witnessed huge expansion and acquired increasing, though sometimes challenged, authority, the PSC has come to significantly affect the politics of AU member States, the relations between them and ultimately Africa’s relations with the wider international community and the latter’s engagement on peace and security issues on the continent.

Perhaps more than the successes registered, tomorrow’s session is of particular importance for reflecting on the challenges facing the PSC and the gap between the ambitions of the PSC protocol and the practice of the PSC. Indeed, as the PSC marks its 1000th session, increasing number of questions are emerging on the effectiveness of the work of the PSC and the way it conducts its business and the adequacy of some of its tools. The relapse of countries in transition back to conflict, the persistence of existing conflicts and the eruption of new conflicts and crises as well as the violence and insecurity from the spread of terrorism have put a spotlight on the effectiveness of the PSC conflict prevention, peacebuilding and conflict management and resolution activities.

Despite the decline witnessed in the number and scale of conflicts during 2000s, there has been notable increase in the number and nature of conflicts in the conflict from around 2011. The changes in the nature of conflicts and the challenges arising from emerging security threats call for response mechanisms that are prompt, agile and robust. These raise major questions on a) the security instruments that best fit for responding to changing security challenges, b) the adequacy of the political and institutional frameworks of the AU and c) the provision of the required level of leadership and resources by member States.

Addressing both the persistence of violent conflicts & crises and the enormous gap between the ambitions of the PSC Protocol and the actual practice of the PSC requires that the PSC addresses the various issues undermining its effectiveness.

The first set of challenges relate to the uneven implementation of the mandate of the PSC. This has two dimensions. The first relates to the fact that the level of implementation of the conflict prevention, management, resolution and peacebuilding functions of the PSC. The PSC has predominantly operated like a ‘fire-brigade’. Hence, fire-fighting – dealing with conflicts after they have erupted – has become the dominant feature of the work of the PSC. As a result, other dimensions of the mandate of the PSC, notably conflict prevention, have been poorly implemented. Second, the PSC has not been consistent in its approach of putting conflict situations on its agenda. The PSC faces a charge of applying a double standard by intervening in some conflicts and failing to do so in other conflicts of similar, or even more serious, gravity.

The second set of challenges relate to capacity issues. In terms of diplomatic resources and technical expertise, despite the requirements of the PSC Protocol for member States to be in good standing and to have the capacity to shoulder the responsibilities of membership, a number of states still lack the required staff complement and technical expertise at the AU headquarters and the material capacity to effectively support the implementation of the decisions of the PSC. A number of member States also lack the required technical expertise that provide dedicated analysis for and follow up on the activities of the PSC. Similarly, the size and technical capacity of the AU Commission (AUC) is inadequate to support the PSC in all aspects of its mandate. Additionally, there are several subsidiary bodies of the PSC that are not operationalized. There is also the perennial issue of the mismatch between the diplomatic, logistic, technical and financial resources that the AU and its member States are willing to commit and what the implementation of the decisions of the PSC requires.

The PSC also faces political challenges. Despite the fact that member States of the AU made commitments under various AU instruments including the AU Constitutive Act and the Protocol Establishing the PSC, on various occasions the pursuit of national policy interests in member States engagement on peace and security issues without due regard to AU policy and normative requirements undermined PSC’s efforts and frustrated the emergence of timely and robust response. Recently, this has led to major retrogression when the PSC failed to uphold its zero tolerance policy for military seizure of power, severely denting its credibility as far as the application of AU’s norm banning unconstitutional changes of government is concerned. Additionally, there is a trend of States invoking sovereignty for blocking or resisting the role of the PSC as witnessed during the previous few years and in the course of this year.

The other set of challenges lie in the realm of policy and operational coordination between the PSC and regional economic communities and/or mechanisms (RECs/RMs). The AU and RECs/RMs have experienced increasing interaction punctuated by tension over the leadership of, and division of responsibility in, the management of various crises.

As it did during the 10th anniversary of the PSC, it is anticipated that the PSC will issue a communique. The communique is expected to acknowledge the progress registered in the execution of the mandate of the PSC. It is also expected to set out proposals for addressing the challenges that the PSC faces in dealing with the peace and security challenges of the continent, including those outlined above.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 12 November, 2020

Tomorrow (12 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene an open Session on ‘Youth Peace and Security: Advancing Youth Roles and Capacities for Silencing the Guns in Africa’. This 963rd session of the PSC is expected to take place through VTC.
The Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Cessouma Minata Samate, and Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, Sarah Anyang Agbor, are expected to make statements. The AU Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi and the five AU Youth for Peace Ambassadors (AYAPs) are scheduled to make presentations.

This session is organized as part of the African Youth Month and the annual thematic session of the PSC on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS). As envisaged in the concept note, the objectives of the session include, among others, discussing the contribution of youth to the AU agenda on Silencing the Guns and the provision of technical and financial support to the conflict prevention projects to be undertaken by AYAPs in the five regions of the continent.

It is to be recalled that the PSC convened its first session dedicated to YPS in November 2018, which amongst others requested for undertaking a study on the role of the youth in promoting peace and security, the appointment of the five AYAPs and decided to ‘institutionalize and regularize an annual open session dedicated to the theme of YPS’. During its second session on YPS in November 2019, the PSC appointed the five AYAPs to promote, in collaboration with the youth envoy, the inclusion and participation of the youth across the entire peace and security cycle. The appointment was subsequently endorsed by the Assembly at the 33rd Ordinary Session in February 2020. This is in line with the African Youth Charter, which calls on states parties to strengthen the capacity of young people and youth organizations in peace-building, conflict prevention and conflict resolution through, among others, dialogue.

At its 933rd PSC session, the PSC considered and adopted the two PSC mandated documents, the ‘Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security’ along with the 10-year implementation plan (2020-2029), and the ‘Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth towards Peace and Security in Africa’. The framework was developed in collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) to provide policy guidance for member states and RECs/RMs for the promotion of effective and meaningful participation of the youth in all spectrums of peace, security and development in Africa.

Tomorrow’s PSC session focuses on YPS in relation to the theme of the year 2020: ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conductive Environment for Africa’s Development’. The youth are major actors whose role significantly shapes the agenda of Silencing the Guns in Africa. This is due to, among others, the demographic size of the youth in Africa (comprising over 60 %), the governance and socio-economic challenges affecting majority of youth and the impact of conflicts on youth (one in four young people), particularly on young women and girls. Apart from mobilization of the youth by conflict parties, youth are often caught in the crossfires of conflicts or are deliberately targeted as the recent brutal attack of a school in Cameroon highlighted. A youth-centered approach is thus a peace and security imperative both to understand the challenges for achieving the AU agenda of Silencing the Guns and to gauge the degree of public awareness and engagement on this theme.

As the AU prepares to convene an extraordinary summit on silencing the guns on 5 December 2020, tomorrow’s session serves to enhance ways for mobilizing substantive inputs of youth to the summit including through the planned youth tweet chat.

This session presents an opportunity for the AYAPs to share their experiences and perspectives in relation to their contribution and how best their capacities can be enhanced in the implementation of the STG agenda in the continent. During the intervention of Chebbi, the Council could also identify achievements and positive roles played by young Africans, which can be supported further.

Of particular interest to the Council could be the recent launch of the Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign by the AU’s Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the AU Office of Youth Envoy (OYE) in collaboration with other relevant departments on 24th of July 2020. The main aim of the campaign is to ‘mobilize the development and support of key actions that can be undertaken by youth to fast-track the implementation of the STG agenda in Africa’. The OYE, for instance, rolled out series of regional consultations, dubbed as intergenerational dialogue (IGD). This open session, as part of the campaign, is expected to further strengthen the intergenerational dialogue between the PSC, AU member states, RECs/RMs, international organizations, partners and the youth with the view to ramp up the immense role and positive engagement of African youth towards the actualization of the STG agenda. Also, of interest is the ‘Youth Silencing the Guns Award’, which was established by OYE to recognize and promote young peacebuilders behind innovative and impactful STG initiative.

As indicated in the concept note, one of the objectives of the session is to provide policy guidance to facilitate financial and technical support for the implementation of projects conflict prevention and peacebuilding to be undertaken by the AYAPs. In this regard the PSC may request the AUC to prepare and present options to support the projects.

Another issue that may be of interest to PSC members is update on the outcome of recent events and milestones and planned activities. The UN Resolutions on YPS including notably 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018) and 2535 (2020) offer further support and elaborate meaningful ways of advancing the YPS agenda which are relevant to the AU YPS agenda including notably inclusion and participation and creating the space for youth role through prevention and protection.

The expected outcome is a press statement. The PSC may underscore the critical importance of the contribution of the youth towards the actualization of the STG agenda despite the wide range of challenges. In this respect, the Council may further call for the promotion and creation of awareness regarding the role of African youth in conflict prevention and peacebuilding and the need for recognizing and harnessing the leadership of the youth by the AU, RECs/RMs and States. The PSC may request that AU peace processes pay particular attention to and highlight the youth dimension of conflicts and peace processes in their analysis and work, with a particular focus on young women. In terms of support for the role of the AYAPs, the PSC may call on the AU Commission working in collaboration with RECs and the UN to mobilize technical and financial support. The Council may commend the AUPSD, OYE and other relevant bodies of the AU for the launch of the Youth Silencing the Guns Campaign. The council may further call the Commission, RECs/RMs, member states, and other stakeholders to scale up their efforts for the active and meaningful engagement of the youth geared towards the pursuit of STG and the broader peace and security agenda at continental, regional and national levels.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 23 June, 2020

Tomorrow (23 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to have its 932nd session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The briefing from the Peace and Security Department (PSD) is circulated to the members of the PSC in a written statement, which will be circulated to the members.

It is expected that PSC member states will conduct the session remotely and share their input via email communication. Subsequently, the PSC Secretariat together with the Chairperson are expected to draft a communiqué and circulate for its adoption through silence procedure.

The 807th inaugural PSC meeting on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) was held on 8 November 2018. At the end of the session the PSC decided to institutionalize the agenda by dedicating an annual session on the theme. During the same meeting the PSC requested the Commission to undertake a study on the role of the youth in promoting peace and security in Africa and to finalize the Continental Framework on YPS and appoint the five African Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYPA), who among others, work with the AU Youth Envoy.

The PSC held the second session on YPS on 15 November 2019. The focus of the session was to “review actions undertaken since the inaugural (807th) PSC open session on 8 November 2018”. In addition, the session also received presentation on ‘the Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth to Peace and Security in Africa’. It was also at this session that the five African youth ambassadors for youth were introduced and presented to the PSC. It is to be recalled that subsequently, the 33rd AU Summit endorsed the appointed ambassadors and requested the Commission to institutionalize the Y4P Program within the PSD with a dedicated desk.

Tomorrow’s session is a follow up to the previous year’s open session and will afford the Council with the opportunity to consider the revised drafts of the Continental Framework on YPS and the ‘Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth to Peace and Security in Africa’. Accordingly, the PSD’s briefing is expected to provide an overview on the joint work undertaken by the Commission and the PSC committee of experts in finalizing the continental framework and in providing additional inputs in the study. With regards to the continental framework the briefing may shed light on its objectives and its five priority areas namely: participation, prevention, protection, partnership and coordination as well as disengagement and reintegration.
The central objective of the framework is to ensure the active engagement of the African youth in all aspects of peace and security. The framework also aims at tackling the hindrances to the active participation of the youth including limitation related to financial and technical capacity of youth initiatives and limited role of youth in formal peacebuilding initiatives.

The second part of the briefing is expected to provide update on the progress of the study. The rationale behind the study is to document and adequately portray the active contribution of youth in peace and security in Africa. A similar study conducted by the UN ‘The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth and Peace and Security’ interrogates existing stereotypes related to youth and violence and illustrates the relationship between youth, government and communities and youth’s participation in political, economic and social aspects.

It is of interest for members of the PSC to review persisting challenges limiting the active role of the youth. In this respect, some of the issues affecting the youth include structural limitations and cultural attitudes, requirements for experience for their engagement in institutional activities for peace and the lack of space and access to platforms for peace processes. Consideration of these and related issues affecting youth, particularly young women, is critical to identify the concrete initiatives and measures that member states and the AU should take to support and strengthen the role of youth, including their participation in AU peace processes.

In terms of following up on the 33rd AU Assembly decision on institutionalizing the AU program on youth peace and security in the Department of Peace and Security, an issue of interest for PSC members is the steps taken to implement this decision and how the PSC could support the full implementation of this decision. The briefing from the PSD may call on strengthened financial and technical support for youth led projects.

The briefing from the PSD may also put forward recommendations for the adoption of the two documents. The priority areas of the continental framework are informed by UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015). An important aspect of tomorrow’s session is accordingly to discuss the opportunities for effective inclusion of youth in peace processes. It would also be of interest to the PSC to review and assess the benchmarks under the various pillars of participation, prevention, protection, partnership and coordination and disengagement and reintegration. In the light of concerning trends mainly the spread of radicalization and violent extremism on the continent over the years and its impact on the youth, it would be of interest to the PSC to examine mechanisms to support the youth in regions affected by activities of terrorist operations to help prevent radicalization and their involvement in any actions related to terrorism and violent extremism.
The subsequent UNSC resolution on YPS, 2419 (2018) further called for a more robust youth participation in peace efforts at national, regional and global levels. One particular aspect that is underscored in the resolution, which may also be of interest to the PSC is around gender inequalities that put young women at particular risk. This offers the PSC to also recommit to the empowerment of young women and gender equality and to call on all member states to eliminate all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and to protect young women.

There is a need to streamline policies and programs at the Commission level as well in close collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and member states. The PSC may encourage a closer partnership between RECs and the five regional African Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYAP). It may also urge member states that have not done so to ratify the African Youth Charter and to develop national youth policies in line with the Charter’s Article 12.

Tomorrow’s session is also taking place within the context of COVID19 pandemic. The AU Youth Envoy has noted the unprecedented impact on educational systems and youth employment. It would be critical for the PSC to also assess the adverse consequences of closure of schools and unemployment on youth’s role in peace and security, respect for the rights of young women and in fighting radicalization and extremism.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may recognize the agency and active role of youth in peace efforts. It may also underline the need to address the structural challenges that hinder their active engagement in peace efforts including in formal mediation and prebuilding processes. The PSC may commend the work undertaken by the Commission and for completing the various frameworks requested by the PSC. The PSC may welcome the recommendations put forward by PSD in the briefing note. The Council may decide to adopt the two documents of the continental framework and the study. The PSC may also note the importance of policy harmonization and coordination among the various stakeholders namely the Y4P, Office of the Youth Envoy, the five regional ambassadors and relevant departments in the Commission to ensure that the YPS agenda is implemented in a coherent manner. The PSC could also require that particular attention is given to the gender dimension of the role of youth in order to ensure that issues affecting young women are recognized and addressed.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 15 November, 2019

Tomorrow (5 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to convene an open session on the implementation and commemoration of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325. The session is expected to take place under the theme ‘20 Years of Resolution 1325: An Opportunity to Scale up Women’s Actions for Silencing the Guns in Africa’.

Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is scheduled to make a statement. The PSC is also expected to receive a briefing from the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop and the representative of UN Women. Others expected to address the PSC include the Minister for Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dega Yasin, and the Chairperson of FEMWISE.

This would be the first VTC session to be fully open since the PSC started operating virtually since April 2020. The PSC will receive statements from participants of the session.

Tomorrow’s session serves as an opportunity to take stoke of the 20 years journey of this landmark resolution. The objectives of the session as set out in the concept note are: assess the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa in the 20 years of 1325, analyse the socio-economic and financial impact of COVID19 on women and girls particularly in the context of armed conflict situations, recognize the role of women and women-led organizations in Silencing the Guns and Building Peace in Africa, provide space for African women organizations and women leaders in the area of peace and security to advocate for enhanced delivery on the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda.

Apart from its recognition of the differentiated impact of conflict on women and girls, an important feature of UNSC Resolution 1325 is its emphasis on the vital role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. It underscores the importance of women’s full involvement and equal participation in all efforts made for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. It is expected that presenters will highlight the role of Resolution 1325 in raising the profile of the women, peace and security agenda and serving as catalyst for advocacy and institutional and policy changes. Despite the achievements registered, serious challenges remain. Chief among these are the disproportionate impact of conflicts on women including the deliberate use of abductions and sexual violence against women and the slow pace of progress in the level of representation and participation of women in peace processes.

In this context the session may address the challenges around the limited involvement of women in peace processes, mediation and their absence in leadership positions. As a recent UN Women analysis pointed out, despite two decades of advocacy, analysis and policy measures, women’s inclusion in formal, high-level mediation processes has long been difficult to achieve. Although women’s participation in peace process increases sustainability of peace, in the past 20 years women constituted only 3 per cent of mediators and only 4 per cent of signatories in major peace processes. It is also important to note that beyond increasing the number of women, it is crucial to ensure their active, meaningful and direct engagement in peace process, including in positions of influence. Another issue concerns the provision of effective accountability and legal redress for violations inflicted on women.

One of the mechanisms to track the implementation of Resolution 1325 has been through the adoption of National Action Plans (NAPs) by governments and it may be an issue of major importance that could be noted by the PSC. As indicated by the Special Envoy about 30 African Member States have now adopted NAPs and six Regional Economic Communities have adopted Regional Action Plans. Despite the adoption and wide recognition attributed to Resolution 1325 both globally and in Africa, implementation of its provisions is still lacking. Many Member States are still yet to allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the resolution and NAPs (in case of those countries that have already adopted NAPs).

It is to be recalled that at its 887th session in 2019, the PSC received a report from Diop on the implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa based on the Continental Results Framework (CRF), which was adopted by the PSC in May 2018. It is expected that in her briefing Diop is expected to provide update on the follow up to the outcome of the 887th session of the PSC, which requested her to undertake consultations with member states.

It would be of importance for the PSC to also note that 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of PSC’s decision at its 223rd session to make WPS a standing thematic agenda of its annual program of work. Beyond the commemorative sessions of Resolution 1325 which the PSC usually convenes in October, the Council has been holding regular open sessions on women in armed conflicts since March 2010 following Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.275(XIV). Tomorrow’s session accordingly offers an opportunity for reflecting on the evolution of the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC. In this respect, some of the notable achievements registered include the appointment of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the establishment of the Gender Peace and Security Program and the launch of FemWise.

With regards to the 2020 AU theme and women’s contribution to the full realisation of– “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, those delivering briefings, most notably, Diop are expected to highlight the role that women have played in mobilizing action for conflict prevention, management and resolution in various conflict settings and the contribution of the convenings and solidarity missions that focused on peace processes. Also, of interest in this context is the intervention from Yasin in terms of the concrete experience of women and their role in peace efforts at the national level in the context of the situation in Somalia. It would also be interesting for the PSC to reflect on how the full implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa could advance the achievement of the AU theme of the year.

In light of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, tomorrow’s session may draw attention to the impact of the pandemic on women in conflict situations. Of particular concern is the consequences on women of the adverse impacts of COVID19. Women are disproportionately affected from its negative impacts on peace processes and on social and political stability and from its role in exacerbating existing drivers and causes of conflicts and in disrupting access to protection measures in conflict settings including humanitarian assistance.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC could highlight the various advances made in the implementation of resolution 1325 in enhancing the role of women, introducing policy and institutional measures, the role of women organizations and awareness. It could also expression appreciation to the progress made in institutionalizing the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC and the AU. Despite these, it could also note that there are still critical areas that require further work. It may underscore the critical role of increasing the active and direct role of women in peace processes and decision-making. The PSC could call on Member States to adopt 1325 NAPs and allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the plans. It may call on Member States to strengthen their accountability and justice mechanisms to allow effective investigation and justice for sexual violence committed against women and girls. The PSC may reiterate its previous request to the Commission to prepare the report that evaluates the implementation of its previous decisions to undertake a stocktaking exercise and to assess the level of implementation. In order to consolidate the WPS agenda within the PSC, it may encourage the Special Envoy and the AU Commission to enhance coordination of various AU institutions and programs working on this theme.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open VCT Session on the Implementation and Commemoration of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 5 October, 2020

Tomorrow (5 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to convene an open session on the implementation and commemoration of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325. The session is expected to take place under the theme ‘20 Years of Resolution 1325: An Opportunity to Scale up Women’s Actions for Silencing the Guns in Africa’.

Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, is scheduled to make a statement. The PSC is also expected to receive a briefing from the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop and the representative of UN Women. Others expected to address the PSC include the Minister for Women and Human Rights Development of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dega Yasin, and the Chairperson of FEMWISE.

This would be the first VTC session to be fully open since the PSC started operating virtually since April 2020. The PSC will receive statements from participants of the session.

Tomorrow’s session serves as an opportunity to take stoke of the 20 years journey of this landmark resolution. The objectives of the session as set out in the concept note are: assess the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa in the 20 years of 1325, analyse the socio-economic and financial impact of COVID19 on women and girls particularly in the context of armed conflict situations, recognize the role of women and women-led organizations in Silencing the Guns and Building Peace in Africa, provide space for African women organizations and women leaders in the area of peace and security to advocate for enhanced delivery on the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda.

Apart from its recognition of the differentiated impact of conflict on women and girls, an important feature of UNSC Resolution 1325 is its emphasis on the vital role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. It underscores the importance of women’s full involvement and equal participation in all efforts made for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. It is expected that presenters will highlight the role of Resolution 1325 in raising the profile of the women, peace and security agenda and serving as catalyst for advocacy and institutional and policy changes. Despite the achievements registered, serious challenges remain. Chief among these are the disproportionate impact of conflicts on women including the deliberate use of abductions and sexual violence against women and the slow pace of progress in the level of representation and participation of women in peace processes.

In this context the session may address the challenges around the limited involvement of women in peace processes, mediation and their absence in leadership positions. As a recent UN Women analysis pointed out, despite two decades of advocacy, analysis and policy measures, women’s inclusion in formal, high-level mediation processes has long been difficult to achieve. Although women’s participation in peace process increases sustainability of peace, in the past 20 years women constituted only 3 per cent of mediators and only 4 per cent of signatories in major peace processes. It is also important to note that beyond increasing the number of women, it is crucial to ensure their active, meaningful and direct engagement in peace process, including in positions of influence. Another issue concerns the provision of effective accountability and legal redress for violations inflicted on women.

One of the mechanisms to track the implementation of Resolution 1325 has been through the adoption of National Action Plans (NAPs) by governments and it may be an issue of major importance that could be noted by the PSC. As indicated by the Special Envoy about 30 African Member States have now adopted NAPs and six Regional Economic Communities have adopted Regional Action Plans. Despite the adoption and wide recognition attributed to Resolution 1325 both globally and in Africa, implementation of its provisions is still lacking. Many Member States are still yet to allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the resolution and NAPs (in case of those countries that have already adopted NAPs).

It is to be recalled that at its 887th session in 2019, the PSC received a report from Diop on the implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa based on the Continental Results Framework (CRF), which was adopted by the PSC in May 2018. It is expected that in her briefing Diop is expected to provide update on the follow up to the outcome of the 887th session of the PSC, which requested her to undertake consultations with member states.

It would be of importance for the PSC to also note that 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of PSC’s decision at its 223rd session to make WPS a standing thematic agenda of its annual program of work. Beyond the commemorative sessions of Resolution 1325 which the PSC usually convenes in October, the Council has been holding regular open sessions on women in armed conflicts since March 2010 following Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.275(XIV). Tomorrow’s session accordingly offers an opportunity for reflecting on the evolution of the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC. In this respect, some of the notable achievements registered include the appointment of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the establishment of the Gender Peace and Security Program and the launch of FemWise.

With regards to the 2020 AU theme and women’s contribution to the full realisation of– “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, those delivering briefings, most notably, Diop are expected to highlight the role that women have played in mobilizing action for conflict prevention, management and resolution in various conflict settings and the contribution of the convenings and solidarity missions that focused on peace processes. Also, of interest in this context is the intervention from Yasin in terms of the concrete experience of women and their role in peace efforts at the national level in the context of the situation in Somalia. It would also be interesting for the PSC to reflect on how the full implementation of the WPS agenda in Africa could advance the achievement of the AU theme of the year.

In light of the current global COVID-19 pandemic, tomorrow’s session may draw attention to the impact of the pandemic on women in conflict situations. Of particular concern is the consequences on women of the adverse impacts of COVID19. Women are disproportionately affected from its negative impacts on peace processes and on social and political stability and from its role in exacerbating existing drivers and causes of conflicts and in disrupting access to protection measures in conflict settings including humanitarian assistance.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC could highlight the various advances made in the implementation of resolution 1325 in enhancing the role of women, introducing policy and institutional measures, the role of women organizations and awareness. It could also expression appreciation to the progress made in institutionalizing the WPS agenda in the work of the PSC and the AU. Despite these, it could also note that there are still critical areas that require further work. It may underscore the critical role of increasing the active and direct role of women in peace processes and decision-making. The PSC could call on Member States to adopt 1325 NAPs and allocate sufficient budget for the implementation of the plans. It may call on Member States to strengthen their accountability and justice mechanisms to allow effective investigation and justice for sexual violence committed against women and girls. The PSC may reiterate its previous request to the Commission to prepare the report that evaluates the implementation of its previous decisions to undertake a stocktaking exercise and to assess the level of implementation. In order to consolidate the WPS agenda within the PSC, it may encourage the Special Envoy and the AU Commission to enhance coordination of various AU institutions and programs working on this theme.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open session on the commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Other Thematic Issues

Date | October 17, 2019

Tomorrow (October 17) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold an open session commemorating the 19th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The session is expected to take place under the theme ‘the Role of Women in Social Changes and Peace Building: Time for Recognition – Commemoration of the UNSC Resolution 1325’.

Apart from the remark of Liberia as Chair of the PSC, the Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui is expected to deliver the opening remarks. The AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Bineta Diop is expected to make a presentation. Women representatives from Sudan are also expected to address the PSC. The United Nations Office to the AU (UNOAU) is also expected to participate.

Over the years, the Council has held annual commemorative sessions focusing on a number of issues in line with UNSC resolution 1325. The October 2018 session has paid particular attention to the role of women in conflict prevention and peace building at community level. During this year’s commemoration, the Office of the Special Envoy is expected to submit its first report on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. The report is expected to provide an overall assessment on the level of progress made based on the reports received from member states by utilizing the Continental Results Framework adopted in May 2018.

Resolution 1325 remains a critical instrument to advance the women’s participation and their protection in conflict situation. Despite receiving wide recognition, the implementation of what the resolution envisions remains uneven on the continent. To date, in Africa, twenty-five countries have adopted National Action Plans (NAPs) and five Regional Economic Communities/Mechanisms (REC/REMs) namely the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) have also adopted regional action plans (RAPs). The AU through its Special Envoy office has launched a 10 years Continental Results Framework (CRF) for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa. The Framework aims at ensuring that Members deliver on commitments made through the various instruments that have been adopted.

While these are important milestones in the implementation process, there remain major gaps. Some member states that have adopted national action plans are yet to follow up with sufficient budgetary allocation and dedicated institutional bodies to ensure adequate monitoring structures. Diop is expected to point out that out of the ‘25 Member States that have adopted NAPs on the implementation of Women, Peace and Security Agenda, only eight have achieved the 30% women representation in parliaments.’ Also to be highlighted in the Special Envoy’s presentation to the PSC is the inadequate progress in the representation of women in African peace processes, illustrated by the fact that ‘the proportion of women in AMISOM remains at 3%.’
Following the launch of the of the CRF and in preparation towards the upcoming 20th anniversary of the UNSC resolution 1325 a consultative meeting aimed at enhancing women leadership in peace processes and advancing the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda was organized by the office of the Special Envoy 29 May 2019. The consultation called for the increased number of NAPs possibly to 2/3 of the AU membership by October 2020. It would be of interest to member states of the PSC to know further on the proposed strategy for achieving such target and update on other aspects of the outcome of the meeting.

The presentation by the Special Envoy may also highlight the various engagements held during the course of the year and may brief the Council and participants on the High-Level Solidarity Mission of African Women Leaders to support the Women of Sudan, who played leadership role in the civilian protest process that precipitated the transition in Sudan. Tomorrow’s session is expected to extensively deliberate on the case of Sudan and the role of women’s participation in the transition process and in the long-term political trajectory of the country. The intervention by women representatives from Sudan is expected to provide an in-depth discussion on the role that women played, the gains made and the challenges in their effective participation and role in the political transition and in the wider public life of Sudan.

Women’s participation in consolidating peace processes would be of interest to the PSC particularly in relation to recently brokered and on-going peace processes in South Sudan, CAR and Sudan. In this respect, issues of particular significance include whether and the gender lens is used in conflict analysis, in the planning and implementation of peace processes and in monitoring and reviewing AU’s interventions.

The PSC has held regular sessions on the women, peace and security agenda. In addition to the commemoration of the anniversary of resolution 1325, the PSC has institutionalized women, peace and security as a standing thematic agenda of the PSC since March 2010. Moreover, in addition to the two standing sessions in the course of the year, the PSC in its 862nd meeting in July 2019 held a dedicated session mainly focusing on sexual violence in armed conflicts. The Council ‘agreed to dedicate an annual open session to conflict-related sexual violence, which will serve as an annual forum for taking stock of progress made and challenges faced in the efforts aimed at ending sexual violence in armed conflicts in Africa’.

In assessing progress in respect of Resolution 1325 and the AU women and peace and security agenda, it is of particular importance for the PSC to consider what benchmarks, tools and mechanisms are put in place to systematically integrate gender in its engagements and in AU’s role across the conflict cycle. In terms of the gender architecture of the AU, it would also be of interest for the PSC to know whether and how the various gender related entities and projects within the AU system coordinate, such as in reporting under the Maputo Protocol and the annual report under the CRF of the Special Envoy.

During this month, the Security Council is scheduled to hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security under South Africa’s presidency. The UN Secretary-General is also expected to present his annual report on women, peace and security for 2019.

The 2018 report of the Secretary-General highlighted the underrepresentation of women in peaceful resolution of conflicts, it points out that between 1990 and 2017, women constituted only 2 per cent of mediators and 8 per cent of negotiators. Women also remain underrepresented in disarmament efforts although they are primary victims by violence resulting from illicit possession and circulation of arms. The report addressed issues related to women’s access to basic services, justice and security, which are most of the time disrupted in conflict situations. Challenges around discriminatory laws that prevent women from enjoying their rights and access to justice may also be of interest to PSC members and participants.

The expected outcome is a press statement. The Council may call on member states to adopt NAPs and make the necessary budgetary allocation and put in place robust monitoring mechanisms. Leading up to the milestone marking the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 in 2020, the PSC could request that the women and peace and security agenda receives particular attention in the AU’s theme of the year for 2020 ‘Silencing the Guns’. Also, of importance is the need for enhanced synergy and coordination with the UN system and for giving particular attention to the needs of young women. The PSC could also commend the AU Special Envoy for the consolidated report and may call on all member states for continued reporting on the implementation of 1325 by utilizing the CRF. The PSC could also encourage Sudan to continue its efforts in bringing women to position of leadership throughout the transition period and beyond and may urge other countries to follow the examples of countries that achieved high level of progress by showing high level political will.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on the Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Post Conflict Peace building

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 19 March, 2019

Tomorrow (19 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have an open session on‘The Role of Women in Conflict Prevention and Post Conflict Peace Building: the Contributions of Women Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Returnees’.

During this session, it is expected that Bineta Diop, the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security will brief the PSC. The PSC Chair of the month, Catherine Mwangi Ambassador of Kenya and Smail Chergui, the Commissioner for Peace and Security, are also expected to make a statement. UNHCR representative will also makean intervention. Refugees are expected to share their experiences as well.

The main focus as indicated in the concept note is to highlight the role of women’s participation in prevention, mediation and peace building efforts by particularly focusing on the experiences of displaced and refugee women. The session makes linkage to the annual 2019 AU theme on Refugees, IDPs and Returnees. Over a third of the world’s forcibly displaced persons are found in Africa, including some 6.3 million refugees and 14.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Conflicts account for more than two-third of the humanitarian crises inducing internal displacement and refugee flows.

While it is known that displacement and refugee flows in Africa disproportionately affect women and children, it remains unclear how far policy and humanitarian responses are informed by this fact. Additionally, despite being the primary victims of combined effects of political and humanitarian crises, women continue to be excluded from having effective role in the policy and humanitarian response decision-making processes and in the peace agreement negotiations and mediations.This session offers the opportunity for the effective integration of women in the AU activities on the theme of the year.

The PSC at its 600 meeting highlighted the violence experienced by women and their exclusion from peace efforts by particularly making reference to the ‘low levels of participation of women in a variety of official roles in formal peace processes and political settlements, weak support to women’s economic recovery and empowerment in post-conflict settings’. Hence finding long-term solutions to conflicts requires addressing the multiple obstacles faced by women and facilitating their meaningful participation at all levels of peace processes.

This open session will build on the previous PSC session on women, peace and security held in October 2018. It is to be recalled that at that session the PSC underscored ‘the importance of including women in decision-making positions and in all stages of peace processes.’ There is also the need for supporting grassroots and community centered peacebuilding processes informed by the perspectives and needs of the primary affected populations, which improve ownership and effectiveness of peace processes. Ensuring that voices of displaced populations are considered in decision making will contribute towards a more responsive and sustainable peace process as well as post-conflict reconstruction.

The 2019 focus of the AU theme of the year has presented the opportunity to renew efforts to advocate for the increased respect of displaced women’s rights. Most particularly, it serves as the occasion to raise critical issues around the experience of women and to systematically enhance their participation in peacebuilding processes and in efforts to address the plight of IDPs and refugees.

As indicated in the AUC report ‘Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa’, published by the office of the Special Envoy in 2016, the continent has demonstrated leadership by establishing extensive body of instruments and policies which are relevant to the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda including the Protocol to the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA). And more specifically the AU Commission has put efforts towards opertionalizing the UN Security Council resolution 1325. There is however poor implementation of these standards. To date only 25 countries have developed national action plans of the UNSC resolution 1325. Women’s representation in the legislature, the security sector and peacekeeping keeping forces and mediation remains low.

With the aim of enhancing implementation and monitoring the office of the Special Envoy has developed the Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The CRF was adopted in May 2018 by the PSC and was launched last month.The intervention by the Special Envoy may provide an overview of the framework in line with the pillars of the UNSCR 1325 namely prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery focusing on the conditions of displaced and refugee women.

The concept note indicates that the outcome of the session is to mainstream the experiences of refugee and IDP women and girls in AU’s relevant policy process. In line with this objective the session may examine how the experiences of refugees and IDPs can be used to inform policy making in the AU, including the PSC. In terms of the return or local integration or resettlement of IDPs or refugees, the issues that this session could address include the safety, dignity and consent of displaced women, which should be at the core of any intervention towards durable solutions. The efforts towards sustainable peace and recovery cannot be disassociated from programs geared towards addressing the specific violations experienced by displaced women.
In humanitarian context particularly in protracted crises, displacement is often times cyclical. This exposes the overwhelming majority of displaced women to a continuous state of vulnerability. Hence, prolonged crises necessitate long term intervention that enhances displaced women’s resilience and their role in decision making processes. In line with the objectives of durable solutions, lifesaving assistance and protection should be further complemented by a support that is more empowering and that increases displaced women’s self-sufficiency, which will positively enhance their decision making role.

It is anticipated that the session makes reference to the ongoing commemorative events of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention and the 2009 AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (the Kampala Convention). The discussion may elaborate on how the two instruments and the WPS agenda can mutually reinforce one another in ensuring that peace processes are informed by the needs of refugee and displaced women and explicitly aim at addressing their plights.

The expected outcome is a press statement. The Council may welcome the recently launched CRF and may call on member states and RECs to provide the necessary data and information for the completion of the annual report produced by the office of the Special Envoy. The statement may underscore the importance of UNSCR 1325 national and regional action plans. It may also address issues related to the systematic integration ofthe needs and perspectives of women refugees and IDPs in conflict management and peacebuilding processes as well as humanitarian action. The PSC may call for the use of indicators that ensure the inclusion of women in all these efforts and underscore the need for renewed efforts in removing the obstacles that impede women’s full participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open Session on Sexual Violence in Armed conflicts in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 23 July, 2019

Tomorrow (23 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold the second open session of the month. on sexual violence in armed conflicts in Africa.
During the session, The Special Envoy of the AU Commission Chairperson on Women, Peace and Security Bineta Diop and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SRSG-SVC) Pramila Pattern are expected to deliver their presentations.

It is expected that the briefings will highlight the current state of and patters of acts of sexual violence in armed conflicts in Africa. Also of interest in the briefing by Diop would be the impact of sexual violence on women and girls as principal targets of such violence and on affected families and communities in general. As the issue of ‘conflict related sexual violence’ has been a standing agenda of the UN Security Council (UNSC) since 2010, the SRSG, Pattern, may additionally share the experience of the UN in dealing with sexual violence following its elevation on the UNSC’s agenda to a threat to security and an impediment to the restoration of peace through resolution 1820. The presentation may also address the AU-UN collaboration on response to conflict-related sexual violence that was formally established following the 2014 Framework of Cooperation between the AUC and the Office of the SRSG-SVC.

It is to be recalled that women and peace and security has been a standing agenda of the PSC since March 2010 when PSC held its first session dedicated to women and children in conflict in Africa. At its 223rd session the PSC made a decision to devote an annual open session, to the theme of women and children and other vulnerable groups in armed conflicts.

Since 2010 the PSC has passed a number of decisions on violence against women in conflict however there is still a need for a systematic follow up mechanism. Cognizant of this and in an effort of ensuring the implementation of existing decisions, the PSC at its 757th open session held in 2018 made a request to the ‘AU Commission to prepare evaluation reports on the implementation of its previous decisions on women and children in armed conflicts to enable Council to determine further steps to address any challenges’. The PSC further agreed to dedicate that the subsequent open session on women and children in violent conflict situations taking place in 2019 to ‘be devoted to consideration of the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the status of implementation of its previous decisions on the plight of women and children in violent conflict situations’, although this did not materialize this year.

During the same session the Council has also ‘recommended the convening of an extraordinary AU Summit dedicated to the plight of women and children in armed conflicts, in order to give it the highest level of political attention that it deserves’. Despite the lack of implementation of the very decision that provides steps for strengthened follow up mechanisms; there are also opportunities in taking these commitments forward. The AU has declared 2020 as the year of silencing the guns and it also marks the final year of the AU Decade for Women. The year provides an opportunity to assess and reflect on the decade and to mobilize political support in elevating the issue at the highest level including by targeting the annual open session.
While the agenda on women and peace and security has been a standing agenda of the PSC since 2010, it is for the first time that the PSC focuses on sexual violence in armed conflicts. Such a focus will allow the PSC to adopt appropriate mechanisms for monitoring and responding to the serious violations inflicted on targets of sexual violence.

As documented in the annual reports of the UN Secretary-General on the subject, despite major progress made in terms of norm development and the level of attention given to the issue, sexual violence in armed conflicts remains to be prevalent in a wide range of conflict settings. The 2018 report of the Secretary-General pointed out that the rise or resurgence of conflict and violent extremism, with the ensuing proliferation of arms, mass displacement and collapse of the rule of law, has also triggered patterns of sexual violence. This has been evident in Africa in various conflict settings including in the context of the spread of insecurity to new regions of the Central African Republic, the surge in violence in Ituri, the three Kasai provinces, North and South Kivu and Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in continuing incidents of conflicts in South Sudan in 2017.

Sexual violence is not committed merely as an isolated act of individual combatants. In many of the conflict settings, it is also employed as a tactic of war, terrorism, torture and repression. As documented in the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry for South Sudan, women’s body was made the battle ground for the rival armed groups in the South Sudan civil war. In those cases, to varying degrees, the strategic nature of sexual violence was evident in the selective targeting of victims from specific ethnic, religious or political groups, mirroring the fault lines of the wider conflict or crisis.

Instead of being a mere reflection of the situation of conflict, sexual violence rather manifests existing patters of gender relations in the society and hence mirrors the political, socio-cultural and economic position of women and girls in society. It is thus pointed out in the AUCISS report that sexual violence was also a result of existing discriminatory practices affecting women and girls including in particular harmful customary practices such as patriarchy, child marriages, abduction of girls, bride wealth, polygamy and wife inheritance.

The pervasive nature of sexual violence in armed conflicts in Africa, its strategic use by conflict parties and the grave consequences it entails on targets of such violence and their families require that the AU adopts strategies for the prevention and monitoring of sexual violence in conflicts and for taking remedial measures to cater for victims of violence including the provision of medical and psycho-social services and access to justice for holding perpetrators accountable. Also critical is the participation of women in peace processes and post‐conflict reconstruction and development programmes, which remains utterly inadequate.

The session may also address the role of peacekeeping troops in preventing and responding to sexual violence as part of their role in protection of civilians. Particularly it may look into member states and Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) accountability and adherence to the AU Policy on Conduct and Discipline for AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) and the AU Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for PSOs adopted in December 2018 by the PSC.

The UN has addressed the issue of sexual violence in conflict through the Secretary General annual reports to the UNSC. The 2019 report observes the continued intrumentalization of sexual violence as strategy of conflict targeting women and girls. It is widely used as a tool of repression, control, terror, forced displacement as well as to seize land and other resources. Sexual violence also features prominently in political or election-related violence. The report also makes reference to the concerning linkage between sexual violence, trafficking and terrorism and how sexual violence has been utilized in advancing extremist ideology. Of particular concern noted in the report, which is of interest in the context of the trend of expansion of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, is how radicalization and violent extremism have increasingly contributed to the expansion of discriminatory gender norms that further weaken already vulnerable status of women and girls.

Most recently the UN Security Council has passed resolution 2467 on combatting sexual violence in conflict in April 2019. The UNSC recognized the need for a survivor-centered approach in preventing and responding to sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

As indicated in the concept note the expected outcome of the session is a joint communiqué, although in practice open sessions are followed by press statements. The PSC may task the AU Commission to submit a report on sexual violence in Africa with specific recommendations on the strategies for prevention, monitoring and remedying sexual violence, including its due consideration in the conflict prevention, management, resolution and post-conflict rebuilding initiatives. It may call on member states in conflict situations as well as those emerging from conflict to put in place measures that ensure that security forces do not perpetrate sexual violence and that they are held accountable when found responsible for such violence. It may also urge TCCs and PSOs to adhere to existing policies and normative frameworks in protection of civilians particularly from sexual violence.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Continental Results Framework on Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 15 May, 2018

Tomorrow (16 May) the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold its session on the Continental Results Framework (CRF) for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Africa. In its last two meetings on women, peace and security (in 2017), the PSC called for the finalization and presentation of the CRF for its consideration. It is expected that the first report on this framework will be presented to the PSC.

During this session, Bineta Diop, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU)Commission for Women, Peace and Security, is set to provide the briefing to the PSC on the theme and the report. Smaïl Chergui, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, is expected to make a statement. Others expected to participate in this session include the African members of the UN Security Council (A3), representatives of Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the UN.

The CRF was developed following the Council’s 476th meeting, which urged ‘the AU Commission, through the coordination of the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security to formulate a Continental Results Framework to monitor the implementation by AU Member States and other relevant stakeholders of the various instruments and other commitments on women, peace and security in Africa.’ The presentation of the continental results framework duringtomorrow’s session comes following the 21 November 2017 session of the PSC emphasizing the need for ‘the finalization of the Continental Results Framework for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa for consideration by Council, as soon as possible’.

The objectives of this session, as highlighted in the summary the PSC program of work for this session are ‘to encourage AU member states to renew their commitment and to elaborate national action plans on the implementation of Resolution 1325.’ The session also aims to achieve collaboration with RECs/RMs to harness mechanisms to monitor and report on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, to enhance partnership with CSOs and Centers of Excellence to support the implementation of the CRF, and perhaps importantly to sensitize member states in the derive for monitoring and reporting on the theme.

The statement from Smaïl Chergui is expected to welcome the framework as an important instrument for tracking progress in the women, peace and security agenda. While various measures have been taken over the years as part of the women, peace and security theme, the statement would make particular mention to recent initiatives notably the establishment of the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa). It is also expected to highlight the contribution of PSD to the elaboration of the CRF and how the CRF complements all these existing mechanisms and importantly how it helps in addressing existing gaps and challenges in implementing the women, peace and security agenda.

In her briefing, Diop is expected to inform the PSC on the development of the continental framework and the constituent elements of the framework. As a framework to monitor progress made by member states on their commitments, the CRF avails to member states a set of indicators for reporting on their gender commitments to the various reporting mechanisms. Various stakeholders including states, RECs/RMs, AU bodies and civil society would through this framework have useful tool not only for identifying what is working and the progress being made but also in understanding and targeting existing gaps and challenges in implementing the agenda. Other issues that the briefing might touch on include the important role and contribution that various actors bring in advancing the cause of this agenda, including in the elaboration of the framework. These role players include not only state-centered ones such as regional and continental intergovernmental bodies and national state actors but also non-state actors such as women’s groups and research and training institutions.

Beyond presenting the elaboration of the CRF and introducing the framework itself, the report on the continental results framework would be of interest for understanding how the framework works and how states could use the framework both for assessing their performance and reporting on their progress in implementing their commitments. Through canvasing the progress made in terms of measures adopted at national, regional and continental levels and existing challenges, the report also helps in putting in perspective the CRF. The report would also be useful in drawing attention to the importance of statistical data, analysis and research on measures taken and on the state of women with respect to the various indicators as well as the funding for the women, peace and security agenda.

From the perspective of the PSC, the CRF will be seen through the prism of its role and its follow up on its standing thematic agenda on women, peace and security. Indeed, since its establishment as a standing thematic agenda of the PSC at its 223rd meeting, ‘women, peace and security’ has become institutionalized. As the report and the intervention from PSD would highlight, apart from featuring on the PSC agenda annually, the theme has over the past few years been anchored institutionally around the Office of the Special Envoy of the Chairperson on Women, Peace and Security and the PSD’s Gender and Peace and Security Program. Member states and RECs/RMs would in particular be keen to be informed how the CRF would be used, including the benchmarks for undertaking the assessment and preparation of reports on performance. Also of interest is what expectations and role this framework sets for national, regional and continental actors in terms of assessing their performance and reporting on the implementation of the commitments of states on women, peace and security. PSC members would also like to hear about coordination and collaboration with various relevant actors, such as the Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women and international actors most notably relevant UN bodies.

The expected outcome of this session is a communiqué. PSC is expected to welcome this framework and call on member states, RECs/RMs and civil society to support the use and implementation of the framework in making assessment and preparing national reports on progress made. The PSC would also call on member states to put in place national implementation mechanisms and the institutionalization of gender analysis and mainstreaming in national, regional and continental policies and programs. Other themes to receive attention in the outcome of the PSC session include the strategies to be followed in operationalizing the CRF including the promotion of national measures, coordination between all regional, continental and national processes and the provision of support for states’ assessment and reporting endeavors.