Reflection meeting on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date |25 April 2022

Tomorrow (25 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1080th session to have a reflection meeting with the African Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAPs) on issues related to Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The meeting will be held in Burundi in a hybrid format.

Following the 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 a statement. The Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AUC on Youth, Chido Cleo Mpemba and the five new AYAPs are also expected to make statements. President of Burundi H.E. Evariste Ndayishimiye will be the guest of honor at tomorrow’s session.

The PSC has held five sessions on Youth, Peace and Security since its inaugural 807th session on the topic held in November 2018 in which it decided to ‘institutionalize and regularize an annual open session dedicated to the theme of Youth, Peace and Security in Africa’. This year the Council held an annual open session on 3rd March 2022 during PSC’s 1067th meeting. Tomorrow’s session is a follow-up on this year’s session and will offer the council to engage with the new cohort of AYAPs, on the status of progress in the implementation of the 10-Year Implementation Plan of the Continental Framework on Youth Peace and Security.  The meeting is also an occasion for the host country and PSC Chair for the month of April, Burundi to showcase its experiences and lessons learned about youth, peace and security. Thus, the session would be beneficial in making the linkage between national-level initiatives and continental efforts.

It is to be recalled that, towards promoting youth efforts in the peace and security agenda AU Youth Envoy was appointed by the AU Chairperson in November 2018. Moreover, the first cohort of AYAPs were appointed in 2019 and 33rd AU Summit endorsed the appointed ambassadors. The AYAPs are mandated to promote meaningful youth participation at all levels of peacebuilding across Africa for two years non-renewable. The mandate of AYAPs is in line with Article 17 of the AU Youth Charter (2006) and the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 (2015). The second cohort of AYAPs who were selected in November 2021 and endorsed by the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government in February 2022. Thus, tomorrow’s session serves as a platform for the AU Youth Envoy and AYAPs to discuss their work and plans for advancing the YPS agenda at various levels.

Tomorrow’s session is preceded by a Continental Youth Dialogue that brought together the AU Youth Envoy, the AYAPs and more than two hundred youth participants across Africa and aimed at strengthening youth engagement in peace and security and enhancing their meaningful participation. The platform allowed various national youth advocates to engage with a wide range of youth leaders operating at the regional and continental levels. The key outcomes of the dialogue are expected to feed into and contribute to the reflection meeting taking place tomorrow.

Since PSC’s inaugural session, major steps have taken place in developing the necessary policy frameworks that laid the foundation for the YPS agenda. The PSC at its 933rd PSC session, considered and adopted the two PSC mandated documents, the ‘Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security (CFYPS)’ 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 subsequent sessions of the PSC have shifted their focus towards the operationalization and implementation of the various policies through the development of National Action Plans (NAPs).

Indeed in this context, the most recent PSC session, the 1067th meeting held on 3 March 2022 among others requested the AUC to submit the final document of the Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of National Action Plans for the AU Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security for its review. It further requested its Committee of Experts (CoE) to comprehensively review the Guidelines and enrich ahead of PSC’s consideration. The session may provide an update on the work that is being undertaken in line with this decision.

It is to be recalled that the PSC has stated its recognition in its several communiques that youth contribution to peace and security across the continent is critical.  Thus, the PSC has played pivotal roles in advancing the YPS agenda and going forward it’s importance to build on these existing steps. The PSC in its 1067th session highlighted, the important role played by the youth at the national, regional and continental levels in the prevention of violence, the promotion of good governance, peace, security, stability and socio- economic development. Similarly, the PSC at its 963rd meeting emphasized the need for regular convening of stakeholders’ meetings to update and plan implementations, as well as facilitate experience sharing, lessons learned and best practices to support the advancement of youth, peace and security agenda. Thus, tomorrow’s session will be an important platform to exchange knowledge and best practices  and further sharpen the YPS agenda.

It would of interest for the meeting to reflect on the persisting gaps and challenges that are hurdles to enhancing the role and agency of youth in peace and security. In this respect, the session may deliberate on some of the issues identified by the AU Continental Framework on YPS including limited technical resources for youth programs; financial constraints for such programs; weak organizational capacities of youth groups; limited coordination among youth groups and networks; limited visibility and adequate documentation and evaluation of their contributions to peace and security and lack of evidence-based approach to programming on youth, peace and security.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The Council may underline the significance of the youth in peace and security and in advancing continental agendas. It may once again welcome the AU Youth Envoy and AYAPs and underline their critical role in realizing the goals and aspirations enshrined in continental peace and security norms and policies. The PSC may also commend the work of the Youth for Peace (Y4P) program in terms of coordinating and facilitating the meaningful participation of youth in all spectrums of peace and security. The PSC may also underscore the need to address the gaps and challenges that hinder youth from actively participating in peace and security issues. The PSC may commend the work undertaken by member states, the AU Commission and the RECs and RMs for their pivotal role in advancing the YPS agenda and their efforts to implement the continental framework on youth, peace and security. The Council may request the AU Commission, in close collaboration with the RECs/RMs, to continue supporting member states to develop NAPs; and may reiterate its request to the AUC to regularly brief the Council on the status of progress in the implementation of the Continental Framework on YPS and its 10-Year Implementation Plan and challenges faced, including through periodic reports and annual briefings. In this regard, the Council may note that given the implementation efforts and programs on YPS agenda are context- specific, it is imperative that there is coordination and synergy among the various stakeholders namely the AU Youth Envoy and the AYAPs, as well as Youth Focal Points in the RECs/RMs and various youth networks for peace.


Open Session On Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 3 March 2022

Tomorrow (3 March) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its fourth open session on ‘Youth, Peace and Security in Africa’. The 1067th session is expected to take place virtually through zoom platform.

Following the opening remark by Mafa Sejanamane, Permanent Representative of Lesotho and Chair of the PSC for the month of March, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. The AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social development, Cessouma Minata Samate and the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Youth Chido Cleo Mpemba are also expected to deliver statements. Representatives from different youth networks and from United Nations Office to the African Union are also scheduled to make presentations.

The PSC has held three annual sessions on Youth, Peace and Security since its descion at its 807th session held on November 2018 to ‘institutionalize and regularize an annual open session dedicated to the theme of “Youth, Peace and Security in Africa.’ The last annual session was held on 12 November 2020 during PSC’s 963rd meeting.

It is to be recalled that , the PSC on its 933rd PSC session, considered and adopted the two PSC mandated documents, the ‘Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security’ (CFYPS) 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. The PSC further reiterated its request to the AU Commission to be regularly briefed on the status of progress in the implementation of the 10-years implementation plan of the CFYPS.

This year’s open session will be convened to follow up on the progress made in the implementation of the CFYPS and its 10-Year Implementation Plan. The PSC on its 963rd annual open session, stressed the necessity of the implementation of this instrument through the close collaboration between the AUC and RECs/RMs and through the support to member states for the domestication of the Framework, including in the development and implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs). Furthermore, it is anticipated that the second cohort of African Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAPs) will officially be presented to the PSC. The AYAPs were selected following a competitive process in November 2021 and endorsed by the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government in February 2022.

The PSC during its second session on YPS in November 2019, 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. The AYAPs are mandated to promote meaningful youth participation at all levels of peacebuilding across Africa for two years non-renewable. On November 2021, the second cohort of AYAPs were selected and endorsed by the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government in February 2022. Thus, on tomorrow’s session, the PSC scheduled to officially welcome the second cohort of AYAPs.

It is worth to note that, since 2018, the YPS agenda has gained momentum and marks a shift in the understanding of the role of youth in peace and security. The Youth for Peace (Y4P) Africa Program continued to advance the YPS agenda through different activities and initiatives. Since the program is initiated, it promoted series of Inter-Generational Dialogues (IGD) to raise awareness on the CFYPS and its 10-Year Implementation Plan as well as co-organized a High-Level Ministerial Conference on YPS for the countries in the Horn of Africa. The Y4P programme also supported the activities of African Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAPs) in Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, Cameroon and Zimbabwe as part of efforts to actualize the Silencing the Guns agenda. In this regard, on tomorrow’s session the above successes  might be cited as areas which can be further consolidated towards the implementation of CFYPS and its 10-years implementation plan.

Of particular interest to the Council could also be the recent programs held in commemoration of the AU Theme of the Year (Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building an Africa We Want). Various programme supported the activities of visual artists to explore the nexus, roles and contributions of arts, culture and heritage to Silencing the Guns. Further, based on a training manual co-developed by the Y4P programme and UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa in collaboration with youth peacebuilders from across the Continent, the programme organized some capacity-building activities to strengthen the capacities of youth leaders to contribute to peacebuilding on the continent.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a press statement. The PSC may commend the progress achieved by member states in the past years to mainstream youth in peace processes. Further, the PSC may reiterate its encouragement to Member States to continue to mainstream and facilitate the participation of the youth in all stages of peace processes and in national development. The PSC may welcome the second group of AYAPs and encourage them to continue to promote peace, security and stability of Member States and regions in line with relevant AU instruments. Further, the PSC may stress the necessity of the implementation of the CFYPS and its 10-year implementation plan, and requested the AU Commission in collaboration with the RECs/RMs, to provide support to member states  for the domestication of the Framework, including through the development and implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs). Further, the PSC may once again reiterate its request to the AU Commission to regularly brief the Council on the status of progress in the implementation of the 10-Year Implementation Plan of the CFYPS, including through periodic reports and annual briefings. It may call on member states to sign and ratify the African Youth Charter.


Disaster Management in Africa: Challenges and Perspectives for Human Security

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 29 October, 2021

Tomorrow (29 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1043rd session on ‘Disaster Management in Africa: challenges and perspectives for human security’ at the level of Heads of State and Government. This session takes place under the chairship of Mozambique, which also hosted a virtual meeting of the Committee of Ministers Responsible for Disaster Risk management from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 26th May 2021 with the aim to review progress on regional Disaster Risk Management programmes and ensure effective coordination at the regional level.

The session is expected to have two segments, an open and a closed session. In the open session invited guests will deliver their statements. Following the opening Statement by Felipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of October, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, is expected to make remarks. Further remarks are expected from the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in his capacity as the AU Champion for Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, as well as President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, in his capacity as the Leader of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSOC). AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira EL Fadil, and AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, are scheduled to deliver presentations.

This session comes on the heels of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is observed on 13 October to raise awareness about disaster risk reduction. This year’s commemoration took place under the theme of ‘international cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses’, the sixth target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The session also takes place ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, which is scheduled for 31 October-12 November 2021. As Africa bears the brunt of climate change but has contributed least to climate emissions, the summit may also present an opportunity to remind commitments around climate finance and adaptation.

This high level engagement on disaster management becomes all too important as Africa continues to face evermore frequent disasters and increasing vulnerability with a devastating repercussion on the lives and livelihoods of its people. According to World Risk Report 2021, Africa has the second highest disaster risk next to Oceania while it is the continent with the highest overall societal vulnerability—12 of the 15 most vulnerable countries in the world are located in Africa. The risk has been evident from multiple disasters that hit the continent in recent years including the volcano eruption on Mount Nyiragongo in the city of Goma in DRC, locust swarms and flooding in Horn of Africa, cyclones and storms that led to heavy rains and flooding in Southern Africa countries such as the Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. 90 percent of the major disasters in Africa have been climate related.

Over the years, the AU has put in place policy and institutional frameworks to effectively respond to the increasing disasters confronting the continent. The African Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ARSDRR), which was adopted by the Assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec.38) during its third ordinary session held in July 2004, guides the continent’s disaster risk reduction efforts. The AUC has further developed the Programme of action (PoA) for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. To address the humanitarian consequences of disasters, the Union also adopted, among others, the Kampala Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa and the Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness that shaped Africa’s new humanitarian architecture.

On the institutional aspect, the African Risk Capacity (ARC)—a specialized agency of the AU established in 2012—comes at the center of Africa’s ‘disaster risk architecture’. The ARC aims to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters by combining the concepts of early warning, disaster risk management, and risk finance. The Special Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF) is also established to support African countries affected by drought and/or famine although it needs to be replenished. The African Humanitarian Agency (AUHA) is also expected to facilitate coordination in humanitarian response. The African Standby Force (ASF) is another mechanism that has the mandate to respond to natural disasters.

While there are notable progress in terms of laying down the necessary structures to address disaster risks in the continent, many challenges remain. One of the significant challenges in this respect is, as captured by Lesley Ndlovu (CEO African Risk Capacity Limited) in her recent remarks on the international day for disaster risk reduction, that ‘disaster response is extremely slow and inefficient and, by the time governments and NGOs have raised enough money to respond meaningfully, the problem has become much worse, and more funding is needed’. In most cases, not only the response is ‘slow and inefficient’ but also it is largely reactive focusing on relief and immediate rehabilitation while ignoring preventive disaster reduction measures.

Hence inadequate early warning system and the gap in translating early warning to early action remain critical hurdles. As captured in the notes prepared for this session, ‘in most countries, early warning systems are sectoral in nature and hardly coordinated’. A positive development in this respect is a recent conference convened this month by the AU Commission to validate a Multi-Hazard Early Warning/Early Action (MHEWS/EA) Framework. The development of the Framework is a step forward in building the resilience of African countries as it ensures a functional early warning system. It is also to be recalled that the Council, at its 864th session held in August 2019, suggested the ‘establishment of command centers which operate on a 24 hour basis to closely monitor and timeously issue early warning alerts on impending natural disasters’, something that the Council find it worth following up in terms of strengthening the early warning system.

Inadequate funding has heavily affected disaster management. Not only there is a huge gap between the needs of people at risk to disasters and the available funding but also most of African countries and the continental mechanisms lack sustainable and predictable funding as they rely largely on external sources. Though there is an Assembly Decision to increase AU Humanitarian Fund from 2% to 4% of member states’ assessed contributions, meant to ensure predictable and sustainable resources for the AU to enable fulfil its humanitarian responsibilities, its practicality and buy-in from member states remain questionable. As indicated in the notes prepared for tomorrow’s PSC session, there is a growing trend of establishing uncoordinated disaster specific funds, and hence there is a need to embrace ‘multi-hazard funding mechanisms’.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. Among others, while commending the existing AU structures that are established to address disaster risks, the PSC may emphasize on the need to operationalize and strengthen the capacity of these structures, and in this respect, there much to be desired from member states in supporting the mechanisms. In addition, the Council may also stress the importance of enhancing coordination among the plethora of AU mechanisms for disaster management to ensure complementarity as well as avoid duplication of efforts. The PSC may underscore the importance of shifting the focus from treating the effects of disasters (reactive measures) towards a proactive approach that is more economical and efficient. On the funding challenge, the Council may stress not only on the need to rely on Africa’s own resources in the spirit of pan-Africanism but also highlight the imperative of diversifying sources of finance, as well ensuring predictable and sustainable funding for the AU to effectively discharge the expected role in addressing disaster risks. In this regard, the Council is likely to explore options to raise funds from non-traditional donors from non-traditional donors including African civil society, private sector and the diaspora, in addition to traditional sources of funding. The Council may further reiterate its support for the upcoming African Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference in Malabo, which is expected to serve as impetus to operationalize the African Humanitarian Agency and mobilize required financial resources to address the ever growing humanitarian needs of the continent. In relation to building effective early warning system and bridging the gaps between early warning and early action, the Council may also urge for the finalization of the Multi-Hazard Early Warning/Early Action (MHEWS/EA) Framework and the development of Continental MHEWS/EA Situation Room, which are pivotal in providing operational guidance on Multi-Agency and Multi-Sectoral coordination and communications at member states, regional and continental level. Finally, the Council may reiterate its 864th session which underscored the need for the ‘Regional Standby Forces to reinforce their engagement in responding to natural disasters’.


Assessment of implementation of the PSC work plans 2020-2021: achievements, challenges and way forward

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 19 October, 2021

Tomorrow (19 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1039th session to assess the implementation of its work plans for 2020 to 2021. The assessment is aimed at reflecting on Council’s achievements, its challenges and ways forward in undertaking its works. In addition, Council may also consider the report of the technical early response mission to Comoros at tomorrow’s session.

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 indicative annual programme of activities for the years 2020 and 2021 would both suggest that while Council has been able to conduct significant number of its planned activities for these years, there is still substantial backlog of undertakings that were not completed within Council’s anticipated timeline or at the predetermined frequency. Tomorrow’s session presents Council the opportunity to reflect on the underlying reasons for the presence of a gap between its plan of activities and their implementation, and to discuss approaches for resolving the challenges faced in that regard.

In terms of sessions that were planned to take place during 2020, most of the country specific ones were successfully convened within the year despite extraordinary circumstances due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and resulting changes to Council’s working methods. On the other hand, there was considerable gap in the convening of thematic sessions that were included in the annual plan of 2020. While some of these thematic sessions were not convened altogether, some did not take place at the planned frequency. For instance, the annual indicative plan included a session dedicated to climate change, which did not take place throughout the year. Similarly, Council planned to have a consultative meeting with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and another one with the Pan-African Parliament, both of which were not convened. A briefing by the Panel of the Wise, to take place twice within the year and every six months was another one of Council’s plans for 2020, which was not implemented.

Regarding the frequency of planned sessions, one example is Council’s plan to receive briefings on elections in Africa every three months, making the projected briefings on the topic four. However, only one briefing session was convened during the year on elections in Africa. Another example is Council’s plan to review post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD) efforts in the Continent, twice within the year, although only one session was dedicated to the theme. Similarly, while Council was planned to receive once every three months, a briefing from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services (CISSA) on terrorism and violent extremism in the continent, two sessions were committed to the theme itself and neither one was a briefing by CISSA. Other thematic topics such as ‘women, peace and security’, ‘children affected by armed conflicts’ and ‘plight of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)’ which form part of Council’s standing agenda items were on the other hand successfully convened at the planned regularity.

In addition to the sessions planned for 2020, Council was also unable to carry out some of its regular activities, principally the induction of new PSC members and carrying out field missions. While four field visits were planned to take place to conflict affected AU member States within the year, only one field mission – to South Sudan – was conducted. It is also to be recalled that Council did not develop programme of work or assign official chairs for the months of August and December 2020.

Council’s annual indicative plan for 2021 has been largely similar to that of 2020’s with a few changes such as the plan to convene two sessions on children affected by armed conflicts (only one session was dedicated for that theme in 2020). So far into the year, Council has been able to convene multiple sessions, which were included in its yearly indicative programme, as well as some, which were introduced in its monthly programmes due to developing changes in the continent’s peace and security landscape. It has also been clear that the current year has shown progress in terms of achieving implementation of Council’s planned activities, as compared to 2020. For example, Council has been able to consider AU Commission Chairperson’s reports on elections in Africa twice already and has also convened a session on the impacts of Covid-19 on elections on the continent. This comes closer to meeting its projected plan of convening a session on that theme once every three months. Moreover, Council has also been able to convene its 13th retreat during the year in addition to conducting field visits to three countries (Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and Sudan) as well as a fact-finding mission to Chad and its evaluation mission to Mali. Predictably, Council’s ability to adopt to its new working mechanisms developed in response to Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to its ability to better implement its planned annual activities in 2021. In addition, Council’s 2020 programme was more or less seized with sessions on the novel Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on peace and security in Africa, making it difficult to maintain the original plan of activities.

While the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has seriously impeded the implementation of Council’s programmes according to plan, there were also other contributing institutional issues which continue to impose challenges to the successful implementation of the Council’s work plans. Among these and perhaps a primary one is the shortage of human, financial and material capacity. Activities such as field missions and visits to conflict affected AU member States as well as the day-to-day activities of the PSC Secretariat and the regular meetings of Council members require considerable resources. Overcoming these challenges will require commitment from member states to make adequate contributions to enable the Council carryout all of its activities.

Another challenge which was also observed in PSC’s 2020 Activities Report – submitted to the AU Assembly’s 33rd Ordinary Session of February 20201 – is the lack of eligible, accredited ambassadors of PSC member States. Despite the requirement under Rule 18 of the PSC Rules of Procedure for each member state of the PSC to be represented at Council meetings by accredited representatives, this hasn’t always been the case. As the 2020 Activities Report indicates, of the fifteen PSC member States, five had no representatives. The appointment of ambassadors at the AU Headquarter to take part in Council’s activities including undertaking the rotational task of chairing the Council and drafting monthly programmes is not only a requirement but also essential for the smooth functioning of the PSC.

The current year has also shown that despite progress obtained in Council’s efforts to address conflict situations on the continent, there have also been cases of regress and outbreak of new conflicts. In relation to that, certain crises and conflict situations did not feature in the Council’s agenda.

On the other hand, the changing landscape of peace and security, mainly the clear resurgence of coups in Africa during 2021 has also meant that Council had to accommodate emerging situations in its work plan. These challenges notwithstanding, Council has been able to manage most of its planned activities for the current year so far. However, the experience has been an opportunity to reflect on the timeliness of early warning and early action. This will assist not only in identifying and averting possibilities of crisis and conflicts, it will also contribute to the PSC’s ability to prepare on how it may respond to such situations more quickly and effectively.

The new structure of the AU Commission particularly the merger of the Peace and Security Department and the Department of Political Affairs, leading to the formation of the new PAPS Department presents a new policy environment. It is therefore important to reflect on such changes and their implication on the mandate and work of the PSC. With the current increased engagement between AU and Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), it is also important to reflect on policy coordination towards more effective response and management to conflicts.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is unknown at the time of drafting this insight. Council may reflect on the challenges including the ones identified above and discuss the practical steps to address such challenges. It may call on AU member states and partners to consolidate their support and collaboration with the PSC. Council may particularly emphasise the importance of strict application of Article 5(h) of the PSC Protocol in the selection of PSC member States in order to ensure that elected members are fully capable of shouldering the responsibilities entailed by membership to the Council. It may call on member states and the AU to support its work. It may also underscore the importance of policy harmonization and coordination of efforts between the PSC and the various AU mechanisms and policy organs, which contribute, to the maintenance of peace and security including the RECs/RMs. Council may also recall and recommit to the agreements listed under section III of the Conclusions of its 13th Retreat (Mombasa Retreat) relating to challenges on compliance to PSC instruments and the ways forward in addressing these.


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.


Peace and Security Council Session on Peace, Security and Development

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 27 January, 2021

Tomorrow (27 January) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have its 975th session on the theme ‘Peace, Security and Development: Taking Security Challenges into Account in Development Financing’.
The PSC Chair of the month, Baye Moctar Diop, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Senegal will be delivering opening remarks. Presentations on the theme are also expected to be delivered by Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa and Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the AU and Head of the UN Office to the AU. Representatives of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Crisis Group are also expected to address the Council.
The last time the PSC had a session on this topic was in 2019, at its 883rd meeting, where it reflected on the interdependence between peace, security and development. It is to be recalled that at that meeting, Council stressed the importance of adopting an integrated and all-inclusive approach regarding peace and security and development. In addition, the contribution of socio-economic development for fully addressing underlying causes of conflicts in Africa was stressed. The PSC has requested the Chair of the Commission to submit annual reports on the coordination between the Commission and AU specialized agencies to support the PSC within the context of peace, security and development. Tomorrow’s meeting will present the PSC an opportunity to follow up on its previous decisions.
As the Chairperson of the PSC for this month, this session represents Senegal’s effort in campaigning for the restructuring of the debt burden particularly of conflict affected countries. It is to be recalled that Senegal has held an international conference in 2019 and it has advocated for the special considerations in debt relief and cancellation for countries in conflict situations including the ones affected by terrorism and violent extremism. The issue of addressing the economic and financial challenges of conflict affected countries has become even more pressing in the context of the COVID19 pandemic. Hence, the session will deliberate on mechanisms for addressing the issue of debt burden of these countries, as part of the comprehensive financing of peace, security and development.
The background to this session is thus the financing challenges that countries on the continent have experienced for meeting the demands of recovery efforts as they come out of conflicts, epidemics, and climate change induced natural disasters. The COVID19 pandemic has compounded the existing financial and economic challenges facing these and many other African countries including those with a higher than 100 % external debt-to-GDP ratio. It is expected that the presentation by Songwe will address the impact of these on the continent. Millions of people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Millions risk falling into extreme poverty. According to UNECA, Africa needs at least $100 billion to resource the health and social safety net responses, and another $100 billion for economic stimulus, including debt restructuring. Now, African countries face the additional challenge of financing access to the COVID19 vaccine. Given the social and security ramifications of the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic, addressing these economic needs is clearly both a development and peace and security imperative.
The focus of tomorrow’s session also has its foundation in the mandate of the PSC both in conflict prevention and in post-conflict reconstruction and development. It is worth noting that the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) envisages under the resource mobilization pillar ‘support PCRD through investment, improved resource flows including official development assistance, debt relief’.
Significant number of conflicts in Africa are either mainly caused by or related to the unequal use of natural resources. Development projects and initiatives which tend to benefit one section of society while failing to meet the needs of other sections not only impose risk to peace and stability, but are also counterproductive to the achievement of sustainable development. The PSC may therefore call on Member States and concerned actors to ensure that all development efforts are designed to equally address the needs of all members of society.
Another issue expected to be addressed during the session is the pressure that security challenges are putting on resources meant to be for development purposes. Due to the increasing rate of terrorism and violent extremism in parts of the continent, governments have progressively channelled resources towards national security, which has consequently diverted focus from financing for development projects. As outlined in the concept note for the session, the PSC is expected to discuss this phenomenon and the best possible approaches for financing peace, security and development, mainly through engaging financing partners and creditors to consider not only debt restructuring but also consider how security challenges and the enhancement of the security capacity of states in development financing.
To this end the session is expected to provide a platform to exchange ideas on foreign debts and development financing in the context of insecurity and to identify ways to boost countries’ capacity in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Among others, this will also be directed at mobilizing support for the implementation of the various regional stabilization and development strategies.
It is to be recalled that in order to combat terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted 2020-2024 Plan of Action at their Extraordinary Summit held on 14 September 2019. The Action Plan aims to mobilise USD 1 billion to fund the training of special units to be deployed in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism, and transnational organised crime including trafficking in humans, arms, and drugs. The PSC is expected to reiterate its support to this Action Plan and call on Africa’s bilateral and multilateral partners and African financial institutions such as the AfDB to mobilize support for the implementation of the Plan.
Having regard to the fundamental nature of the interdependence between the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA), it is important to determine how to better connect the two frameworks throughout their implementation. Development initiatives, particularly PCRD related efforts offer the best opportunity for a well synchronised implementation of these frameworks. Council may emphasise the need for Member States to enhance their socio-economic development through improving accountable and transparent system of governance.
Council may also take tomorrow’s session as an opportunity to urge Member States to make efforts towards fully realising the commitments emphasised under Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063. It is noteworthy that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the aspirations of Agenda 2063 is by far noticed at a lower rate in countries affected by conflicts. Council may therefore stress its call to those Member States experiencing conflicts, to consider peaceful settlements and political dialogue and ensure that they spare no efforts from pursuing implementation of the development objectives of Agenda 2063 and SDGs.
It is also to be recalled that the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has become operational in August 2020, a major step towards the full implementation of the free trade agreement. In a landmark development in the operationalization of the AfCFTA, the start of the trading of the AfCFTA was launched early this month. Having regard to the enormous potential of the AfCFTA in facilitating interstate trade to boost continental development, which contributes to peace and security efforts, Council may welcome the milestones achieved.
Another area that may be considered by the PSC is the close collaboration between the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Peace and Security Department (PSD) which is also essential to ensure that development efforts in Africa are funded in a manner, which takes account of security challenges. Also of significance is the importance of close coordination with the AfDB. Thus, the PSC may call for better coordination between the specialized agency and the relevant departments in the Commission. In light of their important role in both development and peace and security efforts, Council may also call upon the various Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) to strengthen their support to Member States and enhance their capacities in holistically addressing security and development challenges.
The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC, within the framework of the provisions of the AU PCRD policy, is expected to reiterate its appeals from its 918 session to the bilateral and international development partners, including notably the IMF and World Bank, ‘to consider debt cancelation and relief to those African countries with fragile economies, including provision of economic support packages, to enable these countries to regain resilience and commit the required resources to the fight against COVID-19.’ In the context of the critical importance of access to COVID19 vaccine, the PSC may call on international partners to support Africa’s efforts to access the COVID19 vaccine. The PSC may also urge the UNECA, the AfDB and Africa’s bilateral and multilateral international partners to provide dedicated funding for supporting the enhancement of the security capacity of affected countries along with the provision of development support as critical measure for the effectiveness of development efforts. Underscoring the importance of the AGA and the AfCFTA for enhancing peace and stability, PSC is also expected to call for enhanced implementation of the AGA through implementing reform measures that enhance transparent, inclusive and accountable governance and for the adoption by states of the necessary institutional, legislative and financial regulatory measures for the full implementation of the AfCFTA. The PSC may also call on the full implementation of the AU PCRD policy and the AU PCRD Centre to work in collaboration with RECs and specific Member States to address economic and developmental concerns of those countries emerging from conflict situations. The PSC may also reiterate its support to various stabilization and regional security plans including the 2020-2024 ECOWAS Plan of Action for combating terrorism and radicalization in the Lake Chad Basin and call for mobilization of support to implementation of such plans. The PSC may also underscore the key role that various institutions including the AUDA-NEPAD and RECs play in ensuring that funding of development efforts in countries affected by conflict, terrorism and violent extremism adequately integrates the security capacity challenges of those countries.


Open Session on Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflicts

Other Thematic Issues

Date | 18 November, 2020

Tomorrow (19th November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to have an open session on children affected by armed conflicts (CAAC). This is the second open session of the month.

It is expected that following opening remarks by Chairperson of the PSC for November Tesfaye Yilma, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui and the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira El Fadil are set to make statements. Moreover, the Special Rapporteur on CAAC of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), Benyam Dawit Mezmur, will be making a presentation. Remember Miamingi, Child Protection Expert, is also expected to deliver a briefing on behalf of the Peace and Security Department (PSD) focusing on the Policy on integration of child protection into the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The PSC is also expected to receive updates on the state of children in situations of conflict in the continent from respective representatives of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Save the Children.

Tomorrow’s session will be the second session in 2020 focusing on the CAAC theme, the first one having taken place in May 2020 with a specific focus on the impacts of COVID-19 on children during the 924th PSC session. While COVID-19 related realities have lessened much of the attention on the plight of children in conflict situations, there is evidence demonstrating that the condition of children affected by armed conflicts continues to worsen. Tomorrow’s session is anticipated to serve as an opportunity to reflect on the situation of children, which has been further exacerbated due to the impact of COVID-19. It is also to be recalled that at its 924th meeting on the impact of COVID-19 on children, Council stressed that Member States’ responses to the pandemic should prioritise most vulnerable children in conflict situations including refugee and internally displaced children as well as children with disabilities. Tomorrow’s session may follow up on efforts committed in that regard.

The ACERWC has recently adopted a General Comment on children in conflict situations – ‘General Comment on Article 22 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC): Children in Armed Conflict’. The General Comment is mainly aimed at providing guidance to Member States on how to prevent violations of children’s rights in armed conflicts or situations of tension and strife. Among the novel issues addressed in the General Comment are the extraterritorial applicability of rights and duties enshrined under Article 22 of ACRWC, and stipulating the age of 18 as minimum age of recruitment into an army or armed groups. In addition, the General Comment provides direction on how to ensure protection of children in those situations, which may not meet the threshold of armed conflict but nonetheless create conditions for the violation of children’s rights. The PSC is expected to review and adopt a decision relating to this General Comment, in addition to reflecting on some of its features as to determine how it can integrate it as a document informing its works and decision-making.

Tomorrow’s session will also present the opportunity for the PSC to consider and adopt the ‘Policy on Integration of Child Protection into the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)’ and Miamingi’s presentation is expected to highlight the main aspects of the policy. The initiative to ensure integration of child protection within the framework of APSA was initially proposed by Save the Children in 2016, to be carried out as a three years project. The PSC is expected to welcome the final Policy developed by the PSD and reflect on the opportunities and challenges of integrating child protection concerns within APSA, including relevant organs of Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

It is also to be recalled that Assembly/AU/Dec.718 (XXXII) adopted at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly convened on 10-11 February 2019, underscored four strategic resolutions related to child protection. These are: the establishment of an accountability, monitoring and reporting mechanism; the development of a child protection architecture for the AU; the establishment of child focal points in all AU missions; and the establishment of an office of Special Envoy on children in situations of conflict. The PSC may call on all relevant actors to ensure implementation of Assembly/AU/Dec.718 (XXXII) having regard also to its contribution for the successful realisation of the goals of AU’s 2020 theme – Silencing the Guns in Africa – as well as Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 which places the need for a peaceful and secure continent as a prerequisite for the full realisation the entire Agenda.

At its 841st session held in April 2019 on the CAAC theme, the PSC made a request for Specialised Technical Committees (STC) dealing with education and humanitarian issues to propose practical recommendations regarding education of refugee and internally displaced children. Moreover, the AU Commission (AUC) was requested to expedite the preparation of the evaluation report on the implementation of PSC’s previous decisions on women and children in armed conflicts. The PSC may follow up on the status of these decisions at tomorrow’s session.

The updates regarding the situation of children in armed conflicts may be expected to reflect on some of the grave violations faced by children in countries with active conflicts as well as countries affected by terrorism. Various reports throughout 2020 have for instance indicated that children have suffered multiple violations in Boko Haram affected countries, mainly in Nigeria. Fear of stigma, retaliation and detention of children believed to be associated with the terrorist group are some of the main violations experienced in addition to the most common atrocious incidents of abduction and sexual violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. The worrying trend in the denial of humanitarian access to children in conflict zones in countries such as Central African Republic (CAR) is also another concern, which might feature on tomorrow’s briefings. The recent attacks on a school in Kumba, Cameroon, that killed at least six teachers and seven schoolchildren is another manifestation of the grave violations to which children are exposed in conflict situations at times for the simple reason of being at school.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC may adopt the policy on integrating child protection into APSA. It may also welcome the adoption of the General Comment and request the AUC to explore mechanisms to integrate the tool in the deliberation and engagement of the PSC on CAAC. The PSC may express its condemnation of violations targeting civilians and children including the attack on a school in Kumba in Cameroon and urge that measures are taken for safeguarding schools and children from attacks. It may call on concerned Member States and other relevant actors to comply with human rights law and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as well as obligations assumed under various international and regional instruments for the protection of children, by refraining from recruiting child soldiers or otherwise involving children in the crossfires of conflicts. Council may also call upon Member States emerging from armed conflicts to ensure that reintegration of child soldiers is part of their post-conflict reconstruction, stabilisation and development efforts. Member States may also be encouraged to adopt and implement all relevant legal and normative standards aimed at protecting children affected by armed conflicts. It may further urge member States of the AU to take mitigating measures to address the compounding impact of COVID19 for children affected by conflict


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.


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.