Annual Informal Joint Seminar and Annual Joint Consultative Meeting between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council

Annual Informal Joint Seminar and Annual Joint Consultative Meeting between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council

Date | 13 October 2022

Members of the AUPSC will be travelling to New York this week to take part in the 16th joint annual consultative meeting between the Security Council and the AUPSC which will be held on 14 October 2022. The annual meeting rotates between Addis Ababa and New York, and this year New York will be hosting the meeting in-person. Because of the COVID situation, the meeting was held via video teleconference for the last two years.

7th Informal Seminar

The annual consultative meeting between the two Councils will be preceded by the seventh informal joint seminar which will be held on 13 October 2022. The joint seminar will allow the two Councils to reflect on how they can enhance cooperation in peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa. One of the items for discussion during the informal session is the perennial issue of working methods. The issue of the modalities for implementing their decision to undertake joint field missions, follow up on the conclusions of the consultative meeting and the status of the joint communique are among the various working methods issues. The informal seminar will also discuss on developing an African common agenda between the two Councils. Other issues of common interest expected to receive attention include strengthening AU and UN peace support operations and promotion of peacebuilding in Africa.

Ahead of the annual meeting, the Security Council is also expected to hold its annual debate on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations, focusing on the partnership with the African Union on 11 October 2022. The UN Secretary-General’s annual report on “Strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including on the work of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU)”, which was published on 25 August, will be the basis for discussion at the debate. In addition, the Gabon Security Council Presidency wants to highlight the 20th anniversary of the African Union during the meeting and facilitate a discussion on how to strengthen the partnership between the UN and the AU in support of ‘a constructive multilateral world’. Lately, there has been renewed momentum in the discussion on UN Security Council reform in New York. Therefore, Gabon intends to capitalize on this and foster discussion on this issue with a view to advancing Africa’s longstanding position as encapsulated in the Ezilwini consensus.

16th Annual Consultative Meeting

The consultative meeting will be held the following day on 14 October. After consultations through exchange of letters, the two Councils have agreed on the agenda items for their annual consultative meeting. Accordingly, they are expected to discuss the situations in West Africa and the Sahel and in the Great Lakes region, the application of sanctions in conflict situations in Africa and the strengthening of AU and UN peace support operations in Africa.

On West Africa and the Sahel, the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism as well as unconstitutional changes of government will likely attract the attention of the two Councils. It is to be recalled that the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) have jointly launched an Independent High-Level Panel on Security, Governance and Development in the Sahel in September to provide recommendations on how to effectively respond to the challenges facing the region. The High-Level Panel is chaired by the former President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou and its report, due to come out early next year, will likely inform future discussions and how coordinated action by these organizations to address the multiple and complex challenges facing west Africa and the Sahel can be mobilized.

In terms of the situation in the Great Lakes region, the two Councils will have focused discussion on developments in DRC and the Central African Republic.  The resurgence of the M23 Movement in eastern DRC and the subsequent tension between DRC and Rwanda has been a major preoccupation in recent months. The PSC held a session on the situation in August. The two Councils may discuss the ongoing regional initiatives through the Nairobi process under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC) and the Luanda mediation initiative under the leadership of the Angolan President João Lourenço Angolan President João Lourenço, current Chair of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). In the context of the Nairobi process, the EAC Heads of State have been trying to address the security challenge in eastern DRC in two tracks through the facilitation of political dialogue between the DRC and armed groups and the deployment of a regional force to fight armed groups which refuse to engage in the dialogue process. The EAC regional force is expected to be deployed for an initial period of six months. Burundi has already deployed a battalion in eastern DRC as part of the regional force and Kenya is expected to follow in the near future. On 6 July, President Lourenço hosted Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Luanda for talks which culminated with the adoption of a roadmap outlining steps to be taken by the two countries and the region to address the security situation in eastern DRC.

In Central African Republic, the implementation of the 2019 political agreement and the Luanda roadmap adopted by the ICGLR remains critical. The republican dialogue promised by President Faustin Touadera following his reelection took place in March 2022 but it was boycotted by several opposition parties and civil society groups. One of the controversial issues during the republican dialogue was a proposal for revising the constitution which was rejected by opposition parties and civil society representatives. However, the government has been organizing public demonstrations in support of amending the constitution through a referendum. This led to the formation of a committee to draft a new constitution but opposition parties and civil society groups continue to oppose this move. Subsequently, the initiative was also challenged before the Constitutional Court, which rejected proposals seeking to extend term limits as unconstitutional. Local elections are expected to take place early next year for the first time in several decades but funding has been a major constraint. The security situation in the country also remains very fragile and reports about gross violations of human rights and conflict related sexual violence are a major concern. These issues are likely to elicit discussion at the annual consultative meeting.

Regarding the application of sanctions, the AUPSC and the African regional mechanisms have been calling on the Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed on some African countries. Examples in this respect include the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Accordingly, the three African members of the Security Council (Gabon, Ghana and Kenya) have been raising this issue. This has impacted recent negotiations on extending sanctions regimes resulting in the abstention of African members on votes renewing the sanctions on some African countries. For example, last May, Gabon and Kenya abstained the resolution renewing the arms embargo and travel and financial sanctions on targeted individuals. This is expected to be a controversial topic during the annual meeting. While some Council members support the African members on this issue, several others do not necessarily share the same view.

Recently, there has been renewed interest regarding the financing of AU led peace support operations in both Councils. It is to be recalled that African members of the Security Council had proposed a draft resolution in December 2018 to advance the issue but the US threatened to block it using its veto power. In 2019, South Africa tried to facilitate progress but the AUPSC called for suspension of this effort until it comes up with a common position on the matter. Since then, a draft common position paper has been in the works but there seems to be an urgent need to finalize it in light of the 31 August Security Council presidential statement. This is going to be critical as efforts continue to push for a concrete outcome following the upcoming report of the Secretary-General in April. Unlike 2018, there appears to be an interest on the part of the Biden administration to make progress on this issue.

Baring major disagreement, it is expected that the two Councils will adopt a joint communique building on last year’s annual consultative meeting that succeeded in issuing the joint communique promptly. The AUPSC Committee of Experts, who already travelled to New York in preparation for the annual meeting, are expected to hold consultations with their Security Council counterparts on 11 October 2022 to finalize the draft which covers the above-mentioned topics.

Annual Informal Joint Seminar and Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the PSC and the UNSC

PSC meetings with UNSC

Date | 16 December, 2021

On 16 and 17 December, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC) will convene their 6th annual informal joint seminar and 15th annual joint consultative meeting, respectively. Both meetings are expected to take place virtually.

While the idea of convening an informal joint seminar is relatively new and was first introduced in 2016, the two Councils have been convening a yearly joint consultative meeting since 2007. The informal joint seminar is held ahead of the joint consultative meeting and mainly serves to address issues of partnership between the two Councils. The consultative meeting on the other hand is dedicated to discussing country/region specific peace and security concerns in Africa. As per previous practice, technical experts of the two Councils held informal consultations in New York, during the week of 22 November, ahead of the upcoming informal seminar and consultative meeting. In addition to these consultations, the PSC has also conducted various preparatory meetings.

6th Annual Informal Joint Seminar

The 6th annual informal seminar is expected to start by the opening statement of the PSC Chairperson, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia and UNSC President, Permanent Representative of Niger. It is also expected that Bankole Adeoye AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Representative of the UN will deliver introductory remarks.

It is to be recalled that the main agenda items addressed at the 5th annual informal joint seminar included reflection on progress made in the implementation of AU’s Master Roadmap for Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020 and UNSC Resolution 2457 as well as the continued implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in Africa, in line with UNSC Resolution 1325. The focus on WPS was also in light of commemoration of the 20th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325.

This year’s informal joint seminar will focus on two agenda items. The first one will be predictable and sustainable financing for AU-led Peace Support Operations (PSOs). From the PSC side the lead speaker is expected to be Nigeria. The effectiveness of AU-led PSOs faces serious challenges due to the lack of sustainable and predictable funding. This has been an issue addressed by the PSC at various occasions including a number of its sessions. The AUPSC and UNSC have also deliberated on this topic at previous joint consultative meetings, most recently at the 12th annual joint consultative meeting convened in 2018. At that meeting, the importance of UNSC Resolutions 2320(2016) and 2378(2017) which emphasise the need of enhancing flexibility, predictability and sustainability of AU-led PSOs authorised by the UNSC in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter was underscored. Particularly in terms of flexibility of these funds, the need to consider and accommodate fitting responses to the changing nature of security threats in the continent may be highlighted.

The development of a zero draft AU consensus paper on financing of AU-led PSOs using UN assessed contributions may also be welcomed by the two Councils. It is to be recalled that the issue of financing AU-led PSOs was on the draft agenda of the 4th joint informal seminar but removed at the proposal of the AUPSC which opted for the agenda to be considered after the development of an African common position on financing. In line with this decision the PSC has considered the consensus paper on financing of AU-ed peace support operations using UN assessed contributions in October 2021, although no outcome document was adopted after the session.

The second topic to be discussed at the informal joint seminar is enhancing cooperation between the AUPSC and the UNSC, with a focus on working methods of the two Councils. The lead speakers from the PSC side may be Kenya and Egypt. One of the issues that may be noted in this regard is the importance of synchronising the monthly programmes of work of the AUPSC and UNSC on agenda items of common interest. The role of the African members of the UNSC (A3) is particularly important in enhancing coordination between the two Councils and in informing UNSC deliberation on African files.

Another issue that may feature is the need to reach agreement on modalities for joint-field missions of the Councils. This is an issue that has been addressed at previous consultative meetings although agreement is yet to be reached on the formulation of a workable mechanism for the two Councils to conduct joint visits. Doctrinal differences between the two Councils and the inability to agree on a joint approach has affected the conduct of joint filed missions. More particularly the difference that seems to be delaying agreement in this regard is the preference of UNSC member States to engage in such visits as members of the UNSC as opposed to engaging as a unit. The PSC on the other hand prefers engagement of both itself and the UNSC in their capacities as Councils.

15th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting

The 15th annual consultative meeting is expected to start by the opening statement of the PSC Chairperson, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia and UNSC President, Permanent Representative of Niger. It is also expected that Bankole Adeoye AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Representative of the UN will deliver introductory remarks.

Last year’s joint consultative meeting focused on two country/region specific security situations in Africa. These were the situations in Somalia and the Sahel region. This year’s meeting will also address these two situations in addition to two other agenda items – one being combating terrorism and violent extremism in Africa and the other one focusing on support to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM).

The first agenda item to be discussed is AMISOM post-2021. From the PSC side Kenya is expected to be lead speaker. Egypt and Ethiopia are also expected to speak on this specific agenda item. The two Councils are expected to deliberate on the nature of AMISOM after the expiry of the current mandate. There has been a continuous consultation and negotiation between the two Councils on the outcome of the meeting and one of the points of disagreement is around language related to Somalia and the issue of predictable and sustainable financing of AMISOM.

It is to be recalled that the UN Independent Assessment team recommended a reconfigured AMISOM. On the other hand, the AU Independent Assessment team recommended the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia. Although this recommended option was rejected by the Government of Somalia over concerns that it lacked adequate consultation with the government and that it deviates from the terms of the Somalia Transitional Plan (STP), it was however endorsed by the PSC at its 1037th session. Moreover, the PSC, during its 1042nd session has reiterated its previous call for consultation on modalities for transitioning to an AU-UN joint mission and it mandated the AUC to ‘elaborate the framework of the AU understanding of the Concept of the Hybrid Mission and submit to Council’.

During PSC’s field visit in November, representatives of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and other international partners have expressed their disagreement to the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia. In order to address the stalemate and towards building consensus there was a proposal of holding technical discussions to identify possible alternative options. The field mission report was considered by the PSC at its 1053rd meeting where the PSC while underscoring that Option 1 previously endorsed at its 1037th session remains the best option to ensure predictable and sustainable financing for the mission, it however recognized the preference of FGS, the UN as well as international partners. To this end, it required AUC’s continued consultations with the UN on the Joint Report and Concept of Operations for AMISOM post-2021 follow on mission. This decision is expected to inform and guide the consultative meeting.

As these differences persist, the deadline for AMISOM’s mandate is fast approaching. In line with that, the PSC has requested at its 1037th for the UNSC to consider a technical roll-over of the mission’s mandate, while consultations between the AU, the FGS and other relevant actors to reach mutually agreeable position on the future of AMISOM continue.

In addition to AMISOM’s future, the continued deterioration of the country’s security with upsurge in Al-Shabaab insurgency and the fragility of the political situation are also expected to feature as points of discussion.

On the Sahel region, from the PSC members Algeria is expected to be the lead speaker and Kenya is also expected to speak. The Councils are expected to deliberate on the concerning continuity of instability in the region. As Chad and Niger continue to deal with Boko Haram threats, the border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger also remains the focal area of terrorist activities. Over the past few months, Burkina Faso has been experiencing the deadliest jihadist attacks in the country’s six years long fight against extremist militants. The attacks have so far claimed the lives of civilians and members of the country’s security forces. In addition to insecurity brought by terrorism and violent extremism, political instabilities have also had serious implications against the security of particular States in the region as well as the Sahel at large. Mali and Chad, both currently undergoing political transitions, have recently experienced coups which have raised serious condemnation from the international community.

France’s announced drawdown of Operation Barkhane from 5,100 troops to about 2,500 troops following Mali’s coup – a second one in less than a year after the August 2020 coup – and its potential implication to the security and stability of the region has in particular been cause for concern. Chad has also recalled 600 of the 1,200 forces it contributed to the G5 Sahel Joint Force earlier in the year, intensifying these concerns. Having regard to the dire security situation in the region, the two Councils may call on the international community to redouble its support to the G5 Sahel Joint Force as well as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). They may also draw attention to the insecurity-induced humanitarian situation in the region and urge the international community to strengthen its support to affected communities.

The third agenda item will be focusing on combatting terrorism and violent extremism. From PSC members Egypt is expected to be the lead speaker. Algeria and Cameroon are also expected to speak. The thematic agenda on terrorism has received increased attention of the PSC over recent years. So far, the theme has been addressed at the summit level three times (at PSC’s 455th, 571st, and 749th meetings), making it a theme most addressed at summit level. In 2021, the PSC has convened two sessions on the topic, both of which were convened at the ministerial level. As the findings of the AU Commission Chairperson’s report on ‘Continental Efforts in Preventing and Combating of Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa’ presented at PSC’s 1040th session demonstrate, there is a concerning spread in terrorism as well as extremist ideologies in the continent, warranting the increased attention by the PSC. The two Councils will thus likely emphasise the importance of addressing underlying root-causes of extremism which is conducive for terrorism. They may also address factors facilitating terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, including terrorism financing and the link between terrorism and transnational organised crimes, as well as the spill over effect of terrorism in the middle-east and its contribution to the prevalence of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in Africa, particularly Libya. As the deadline for withdrawal of foreign fighters from Libya in line with the October 2020 Ceasefire Agreement approached, the impact of such withdrawal on the rest of the continent, mainly the Sahel region imposed a serious concern leading to discussions both by the PSC and UNSC.

While the PSC committed its 1035th ministerial session to address this concern, the UNSC also convened an Arria-formula meeting on 18 June on the same topic. In that regard, the Councils may welcome the signing of a Plan of Action on 08 October 2021 to ensure a “gradual, balanced, and sequenced” withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya and urge all relevant actors to ensure its timely and proper implementation. With regards to terrorism financing in Africa, the two Councils may discuss ways of stemming financial sources of terrorists, including transnational criminal organisations, through coordination and collaboration among organs such as AFRIPOL and INTERPOL. Measures highlighted in the Communiqué of PSC’s 1040th session including the expedited development of African list of persons and entities associated with terrorism and the development of an African Arrest warrant are also crucial measures that will require the collaboration of the international community, including the UNSC.

The last agenda item will focus on SAMIM and Lesotho is expected to be the lead speaker from the PSC members. The Councils are likely to focus on identifying areas of support and engagement with the mission. Since its mandating and deployment by SADC in mid-July 2021, SAMIM has been able to register important milestones in its fight against terrorists in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, including the recapture of key villages and dislodging of terrorist bases. Nonetheless, studies indicate that the force faces various complex challenges ranging from limited understanding of the landscape, to major intelligence deficits.

The most pressing challenge however relates to limitations in funding. The mission’s deployment was financed through SADC contingency funds and member States’ contributions for the initial three months period of its mandate. Following SADC’s renewal of the mission’s mandate for another three months as of early October, there have been concerns that external funding will be required for its continued operation provided that the funds availed for the initial three months were already insufficient. In light of that, the Councils may explore ways of collaborating with SADC in proving technical and financial support to SAMIM and also call on the international community and SADC partners to provide assistance in this regard, particularly in the area of SAMIM’s mandate to collaborate with humanitarian organisations in the provision of humanitarian relief to populations affected by terrorist activities.

Based on previous practice, it is expected that the Councils will issue a joint-communiqué highlighting the main points of their deliberation. The draft communiqué has been under negotiation and it is expected to be adopted at the end of the annual consultative meeting. It is however worth noting that last year’s joint-communiqué has been rather brief as compared to those issued in previous years, which provided more details of issues discussed. Negotiations regarding the contents of the joint-communiqués have also at times been challenging, resulting in considerable delays including the ones for the annual consultation in 2016 and 2017. In other instances, the two Councils were not able to adopt the communiqué in 2019.

Annual Informal Seminar and Joint Consultative Meeting Between the PSC and the UN SC

PSC meetings with UNSC

Date | 29 September, 2020

On 29 and 30 September the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will have their 5th informal seminar and 14th joint annual consultation.

The annual consultative meeting of the two Councils has been held since 2007, alternating between Addis Ababa and New York. In 2019 the session was held in Addis Ababa, however this year members would not be able to have in person meeting in New York given the travel and physical meeting restrictions due to COVID19. Hence both the annual informal seminar and the consultative meeting are expected to take place through VTC.

As previous practices demonstrate the consultative meeting used to address both conflict situations and thematic issues together. However, in recent years particularly from 2016 onwards the annual consultative meeting focused on country/region specific conflict situations. Whereas the informal joint seminar, which precedes, the annual consultative meeting, serves as a platform for discussing issues or themes of interest for the partnership between the PSC and the UNSC. It is to be recalled that in 2019 the informal seminar addressed issues related to Silencing the Guns and on modalities for conducting joint field missions. While the annual consultative meeting deliberated on the situation in Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Sahel region.

In preparation for this year’s meeting, a number of preparatory meetings and consultations have been held. In the course of this month, the PSC held two meeting. The first meeting was held on 8 September and the preparatory consultation involved the A3 and the Head of the AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN. The second meeting was held on 18 September at the 947th session and the PSC agreed on its approach to the thematic and country specific agenda items. It has selected speakers from its members on the respective agenda items. In order to harmonize the views of member states and agree on the contents of the joint communique, the Committee of Experts of the PSC also held a meeting on 28 September.

In terms of outcome document, there were efforts made in adopting a joint communiqué at the end of the meetings and indeed the two Councils were successful in 2018. However this did not materialize in 2019. Hence the two Councils never adopted the draft communiqué from the previous year. Given that the meetings are taking place virtually this might pose an additional challenge in adopting the joint communiqué swiftly this year as well.

5th Informal Joint Seminar

The 5th informal joint annual seminar, taking place on 29 September is expected to address two agenda items: strengthening co-operation between the PSC and UNSC and on Silencing the Guns in Africa.

Djibouti, PSC Chairperson for the month of September and Niger UNSC President of the month are expected to deliver opening remarks. It is also expected that AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui makes introductory remarks.

The first agenda item of the informal seminar is scheduled to take place under the theme ‘The UN at 75 and AU at 57: Strengthening cooperation between the UNSC and the AUPSC – focusing on improving working methods’. This segment of the seminar is also expected to include reflection around joint field missions, which is a follow up to the discussion held in 2019 during the informal seminar.

For this topic on cooperation from the PSC side Kenya is selected to be the lead speaker and Egypt will play the supporting speaking role. From the UNSC side Niger and Russia will have the lead and support speaking role respectively.

A number of issues may feature around working methods. The role of the A3 is particularly essential in enhancing synergy between the two Councils. Strengthening their role in the UNSC particularly on agendas pertaining to Africa is critical to ensure that Africa’s position is well reflected in the deliberation and decision-making process of the UNSC.

Beyond the annual seminar and consultative meeting it is also important to ensure that there is a constant flow of information and consistent communication throughout the year between PSC and UNSC on agendas of mutual interest. The Council members may also reflect on joint activities that can further enhance the cooperation including briefing sessions, joint reports and field missions.

Regarding joint field missions, there is agreement between the two Councils on the importance of undertaking such joint visits to get first-hand information and to develop common understanding of the conflict situation as well as to formulate harmonized positions.

Since 2015, the joint communiqué issued following the annual consultative meeting expressed the interest of the two Councils to consider joint visits to conflict situations in Africa.

However, the discussion on the specific modalities is still ongoing. It is to be recalled from last year’s annual informal consultative seminar that despite discussions on various options for undertaking joint field missions the two Councils were unable to arrive at an agreed formula. Last year’s exchanges show that the two sides presented their respective proposals. While the lack of progress may be a reflection of doctrinal differences between the two sides, it can also be a result of the lack of a joint approach for developing joint proposals. For this year, an additional factor that may inform the discussion on the modalities for joint field missions is the COVID19 pandemic.

On the agenda item regarding Silencing the Guns in Africa Senegal is selected as the lead speaker and Burundi will assume the support speaking role. From the UNSC side, South Africa as the lead speaker and China as support speaker are also expected to deliver statements.

The year 2020 under the AU theme ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development’ has been considered as critical year in advancing and consolidating support for the peace and security agenda in the continent. However, after the advent of COVID19, much of the attention has focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and monitoring its impact in the Continent. Yet, the agenda of Silencing the Guns remains more pressing and important. It is expected that the two Councils will take stock of measures taken within the framework of the AU Master Roadmap on Silencing the Guns and Resolution 2475 and explore how to implement targeted measures in pursuit of Silencing the Guns including in the areas of ridding the continent of illicit arms and weapons.

14th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting

The 14th annual joint consultative meeting will take place on 30 September. The meeting is expected to start with opening remarks by Under-Secretary General, Rosemary DiCarlo and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui. Unlike the previous years where four country specific agenda items were tabled, for this year the consultative meeting will be addressing two issues: the situation in Mali/Sahel and Somalia. These offer specific conflict situations for pursuing the agenda of Silencing the Guns with targeted measures.

On the situation in Mali/Sahel, Algeria will be the lead speaker whereas Ghana and Egypt will be supporting speakers. Some of the issues expected to be highlighted include the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement of Mali and the need to ensure stable and inclusive process during the transition. France, as the lead speaker and Tunisia and Dominican Republic as support speakers are expected to deliver their statements from the UNSC side.

The evolving political situation in Mali and its impact in the broader security context in the Sahel and in the fight against terrorist groups in the region are some of the key issues expected to feature prominently. On 25 September former defence minister Bah Ndaw and coup leader Assimi Goita have been sworn in as interim president and vice-president respectively for the transitional period that is expected to extend for maximum of 18 months. Ndaw seems to enjoy acceptance from the opposition and domestic political forces. ECOWAS’s Special Envoy Goodluck Jonathan after meeting with Ndaw has also stated of the possibilities for ECOWAS’s sanctions to be lifted with appointment of a civilian prime minister which is expected to be announced by the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo Chairperson of ECOWAS.

However addressing the existential threats related to the deep-rooted socio-economic vulnerabilities as well as security and governance challenges remain a critical task. There is still uncertainty whether the current transitional administration is in fact capable of responding to such urgent and complex matters that have pushed the people to protest President Keita’s leadership.

The overall security situation in the Sahel remains volatile. In this regard the two Councils are also expected to discuss about the operation of G5 Sahel force and the deployment of the additional 3000 AU troops in the region, which is pending upon the approval of the CONOPS by the PSC.

On the second agenda item relating to the situation in Somalia, Ethiopia is selected as a lead speaker and Lesotho and Mozambique will be support speakers. From the side of the UNSC, the United Kingdom, which is the pen-holder on Somalia, is expected to be the lead speaker whereas St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Belgium are scheduled to be the support speakers.

The newly agreed upon election modalities as well as the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan leading to 2021 are expected to feature prominently under the agenda item on Somalia. The independent comprehensive assessment of the security environment that will be developed by the AU, UN and the Government of Somalia to guide the two Councils on partners’ engagement in the post-2021 period may also be addressed. Most notably, the discussion is also expected to address the critical role of AMISOM and the need for its support as well as the modalities of AMISOM’s handover of responsibilities to Somalia Security Forces and its drawdown.

It is expected that a draft joint communiqué will be adopted at the end of the annual consultation. On the 2020 AU theme on Silencing the Guns the Councils may highlight on the need to keep the momentum beyond 2020. The Councils may also underline the importance of multilateral cooperation in defeating the spread of COVID19 and mitigating its impact on conflict hotspots. On the cooperation between the PSC and UNSC the communiqué may underline the need for a more systematic cooperation, which goes beyond the annual consultative meeting. On joint field missions, the Councils may agree on a mechanism for developing joint proposals on the modality for undertaking joint missions. On Mali/Sahel the two Councils may commend ECOWAS’s leadership in managing the situation in Mali. They may take note of the developments in Mali and underline the necessity for the transitional authorities to respect the transitional charter to ensure the restoration of constitutional order in the country and uphold the Mali peace process and existing security partnerships. They may also urge that the developments in Mali should not undermine the fight against terrorism in the region. The Councils may also agree that the fight against terrorism should also address the root causes of conflict. On Somalia, Council members may welcome the agreement between Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States on election modalities. They may call for the rapid completion of the revision of the Somalia Transitional Plan to allow proper planning for the post 2021 period. They may also call for the conduct of the independent comprehensive assessment of the security environment giving due attention to broader and comprehensive stabilization and security requirements, with a view to presenting options for consideration to the PSC and UN Security Council on the role of the AU, UN and international partners in Somalia post-2021.

Joint annual consultative meeting of the PSC and the UNSC

PSC meetings with UNSC

Date | 21 October, 2019

On 21 and 22 October the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will have their 4th informal seminar and 13th joint annual consultation in Addis Ababa. Originally, the meetings were scheduled for 23rd and 24th of October. But this initial schedule had to be adjusted upon the request of South Sudan to enable the UNSC delegation visiting South Sudan ahead of its visit to Addis Ababa engage President Salva Kiir before his scheduled travel to Sochi for the first Russia-Africa Summit starting on 23rd October.

The annual consultative meeting of the members of the two Councils have been held since 2007, alternating between the Addis Ababa and New York. While the consultative meeting in previous years addressed both conflict situations and thematic issues together, in more recent years the two Councils deal with conflict situations and thematic issues separately. Since 2016, the annual consultative meeting focused on specific conflict situations. For example, the last meeting of the two Councils held in New York covered the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. The informal joint seminar, which precedes, the annual consultative meeting, has become the framework for discussing issues or themes of interest for the partnership between the PSC and the UNSC.

It has become an established practice that the two Councils will adopt a joint communique at the end of their meetings.

In preparation for the seminar and the consultative meetings, the two Councils held various informal consultations. Following the successful experience of 2018, the AU Committee of Experts traveled to New York during the week of 30 October to discuss the agenda and negotiate on the communique. The PSC also convened a number of preparatory sessions.

Joint informal seminar of the AUPSC and the UNSC

The annual informal joint seminar, happening for the fourth time, is scheduled to take place on the 21st of October.

Although initially there were three issues on the agenda of the informal seminar, it is now expected to take up only two of these important issues – silencing the Guns in Africa and exchange views on modalities for conducting joint field missions in Africa. The AU has already decided that its theme of the year for 2020 would be “Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development”. Under the Equatorial Guinea Presidency earlier this year, the UNSC adopted resolution 2457 (2019) on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security with focus on silencing the guns in Africa. Equatorial Guinea plans to host a ministerial Conference dedicated to this theme with a view to following up implementation. Apart from reviewing the various measures envisaged in resolution 2457, major issues expected to feature during the informal seminar include the status of implementation of the AU’s project on silencing the guns by 2020 and the follow up to this plan after 2020.
Modalities for joint PSC-UNSC field missions is the second agenda of the informal seminar. The two Councils have agreed in principle to have joint field missions. Despite efforts by African members of the UNSC to push for its implementation, the idea of a joint field mission has not so far materialized. During the last joint annual consultation, the two Councils agreed that the modalities of such visits will be discussed and agreed upon on a case-by-case basis by the two Councils. Therefore, the African members of the UNSC have been trying to develop modalities to help facilitate the discussion on this issue. Within the PSC, in preparation for this agenda, various options have been put forward and the PSC has been reviewing them. One such option is using the troika format involving the past, current and future chairs. Another is to have one representative each for the joint session from the regional groupings on the basis of which election of members is organized. It is expected that the exchange of views on this issue will help facilitate progress.

The issue of financing of AU led peace support operation was on the draft agenda for the joint informal seminar. However, the AUPSC proposed the removal of the item on the financing of AU-led Peace Support Operations from the agenda of the joint informal seminar. At its 881st meeting held on 19 September 2019, the AUPSC had considered the draft resolution proposed by the African members of the UNSC and decided to postpone the submission of the proposed draft resolution. The AUPSC is of the view that the issue should be considered at the next AU Summit in January to have what it called “a better articulated and African owned common position” before a draft resolution is tabled for consideration by the UNSC.

Signaling the wish of the UNSC to keep financing on the agenda, a letter addressed to the Chair of the PSC has been sent from the President of the UNSC. The African three members of the UNSC (A3), particularly current President of the UNSC South Africa, which has been working on this issue as one of its big-ticket issue under its tenure, has strong resolve to build on the momentum build over the years and push ahead with the discussion on this theme. Indeed, acting on the call of the PSC on the A3 to continue spearheading the African common position on predictable and sustainable financing through UN assessed contributions, the A3 has in the past four years been working hard to achieve this objective taking forward the progress achieved through the adoption of resolutions 2320 and 2378. Accordingly, the A3 initiated a draft resolution on financing to be adopted in December 2018 under the Cote d’Ivoire Presidency of the Security Council. However, the US threatened to Veto the resolution. Following the introduction of a so-called compromise text to accommodate the US, the vote on the A3 draft resolution was postponed (Please refer to the Amani insight on this issue).

Even though there was expectation that the resolution could have been tabled under the Equatorial Guinea Presidency of the Security Council, it did not materialize. South Africa who initially brought the issue of financing to the Security Council in its previous membership took over from Ethiopia in advancing the agenda and it made the issue one of the priorities of its Presidency this month. Work started in advance in the A3 format to build the necessary momentum for the draft resolution. The A3 Permanent Representatives also went to Washington, D.C. to engage with the United States, including the Congress, White House and the Department of State. The two draft texts that were put in blue in December 2019 were withdrawn and a new and slightly updated text was introduced by the A3. The A3 had sent the draft to Addis Ababa to get input and guidance from the AUPSC before negotiations over the draft commenced. The new draft was circulated to members of the UNSC and expert level negotiation also started to receive preliminary reaction on the draft. When the PSC finally reviewed the matter, it felt that the latest updated draft did not adequately reflect AU interests. The PSC opted for deferring the consideration of the draft text by the UNSC pending the holding of adequate consultation at the level of the African Union. The letter from South Africa has been discussed as part of the preparation for the joint seminar and annual consultation. Indications are that the PSC did not deem it wise to discuss this issue officially before internal AU discussions are finalized, and is hence unable to proceed with South Africa’s proposal.

There is recognition that the momentum generated by the draft A3 text should not be lost and it is vital that the two Councils address the financing issue to unlock the full potential of the UN-AU strategic partnership in the area of peace and security. A clear guidance and unequivocal support from the PSC to A3 will certainly go a long way in moving the discussions forward but there is also need for a clear strategy on how to engage the current US Administration not only at the level of the A3 PRs but also at the level of leadership of the A3 and of the African Union Commission. The unity of the A3 and the wider membership of the Africa Group is vital to ensure progress on the financing issue.

13th annual consultative meeting

During the annual consultative meeting, the two Councils are scheduled to take up four important and pressing peace and security situations on the continent. These are the situations in Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Sahel region.

On Libya, the two Councils may express concern over the situation in the country and call for a return to the political process based on the Libyan Political Agreement. In this context, they may call for an all-inclusive Libyan national reconciliation conferences to be co-organized by the UN and the AU, within the framework of the plan proposed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salame. With the AU seeking increasing role in Libya, one issue expected to be a point of contention is the push from the AU for the appointment of a joint AU-UN special representative for Libya.

On South Sudan, the major issue is a follow up to the face to face meeting between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riekh Machar during the visit of the UNSC to Juba at end of the week. The PSC in the communique of its 886th session of 15 October called on the UNSC to impress on the parties on the need to form a revitalized and inclusive transitional government of national unity by the end of the pre-transitional period on 12 November 2019. The two Councils are also expected to review the progress made thus far in the implementation of the R-ARCSS and to urge the signatories to expedite implementation of the outstanding issues, including the security arrangements and the number and boundaries of states. They may also call armed movements that have not yet signed the Agreement to join the peace process. For these, they draw on recent outcomes of the respective meetings of the two Councils. The PSC following its 886th session of 15 October issued a communique on the situation in South Sudan envisaging a working visit by the AU High-level ad hoc Committee for South Sudan to press the parties to proceed with the formation of a unity government by 12 November. It is to be recalled that the UNSC also issued a Presidential Statement on 8 October 2019, under the South African Presidency, focusing on the implementation of the R-ARCSS.

On Central African Republic, the two Councils may welcome the ongoing efforts to stabilize the country, particularly the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation. The two Councils are thus expected to focus on ensuring that the government and armed groups create the conditions for the implementation of the Agreement and honor their commitments, including the cessation of hostilities and all acts of violence, notably those targeting civilians. They may also call for concrete support by the countries of the region, notably Chad and Sudan, and international partners to ensure the successful implementation of the peace agreement. There is also a need to underscore the importance of the guarantors and facilitators of the Peace Agreement to intensity their efforts to create the conditions conducive to its full implementation.

On the Sahel, the two councils are sure to discuss the continuing fragility of the security situation, including most notably the spread of terrorist networks and attacks particularly in Burkina Faso, and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region. Also of interest for the two Councils will be the steps taken by the G5 Sahel States towards the full and effective operationalization of the joint force of the G-5 Sahel (FC-G5S). They may call on the international community to continue to support the G5 Sahel Joint Force and the MNJTF to strengthen capacity to confront terrorism and extremism in the Sahel region. Equally important is the need to support efforts to tackle the underlying drivers of conflict and instability through comprehensive development initiatives, including the establishment of legitimate and representative local government structures and infrastructure for provision of public services.

A joint draft communique has been under negotiation. The hope and expectation is that the Joint Communique will be adopted at the end of the annual consultation. In the past, it used to take a long time for the two councils to agree on their joint communique but last year they were able to adopt it at the conclusion of their annual consultation. Meeting of the experts of the two councils helped in facilitating the adoption of the Joint Communique at the end of last year’s consultation held in New York. It remains to be seen if the meetings of the experts of the two Councils held earlier in the month would lead to a repeat of last year’s success in adopting the joint communiqué by the end of the consultative meeting.