Insights on the Peace & Security Council - PSC VTC Session on Silencing the Guns in Africa

STG Initiative

Date | 17, November 2019

Tomorrow (17 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold its session to discuss the status of implementation of the “AU Master Roadmap for Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020” and the “AU Theme of the Year 2020: Silencing the Guns in Africa – Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. The session is scheduled to be held through VTC.

The Director for the Department of Peace and Security, Admore Kambudzi, is expected to present a briefing on the session’s agenda. This is expected to share the review of the implementation of the Master Roadmap and the progress made, if any, and challenges relating to the theme of the year on silencing the guns in Africa. Tomorrow’s session serves as an occasion for taking stock of the theme of the year and to reflect on the revision of the Master Roadmap, as 2020 is coming to an end. It is also to be recalled that preparations are underway for the convening of an extraordinary summit dedicated to the theme of the year in December. For PSC members, this is a session for preparing for and reflecting on the issues that will inform the extraordinary summit.

Silencing the Guns is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 of the AU. It provides the overarching objective guiding the efforts of the organization in ensuring a peaceful and secure Africa which is the foundation for the implementation of Agenda 2063. It is to be recalled that AU member states made a solemn commitment as part of the Solemn Declaration of the 50th Anniversary of the O/AU, “to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa, to make peace a reality for all our people and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts and to prevent genocide.”

They further pledged “not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars by 2020.” The AUPSC had submitted a Master Roadmap of practical steps to Silencing the Guns by 2020, which was endorsed by the Assembly in January 2017. In relation to the AU theme of the year for 2020, series of multistakeholder virtual engagements have been organized by the Peace and Security Department focusing on thematic issues related to silencing the guns. These engagements aimed at not only mobilizing public awareness and engagement but also to address some of the key developments and challenges in implementing the theme of the year, in the wake of COVID-19. The outcomes of these engagements are expected to feed into the upcoming extraordinary summit next month.

In recent years, progress has been made in resolving some of the most intractable conflicts in Africa. However, by the AU’s own admission, some of the limited progresses achieved thus far in places such as Sudan, South Sudan and Central African Republic are a far cry compared to the lofty goals and objectives set out in the AU Master Roadmap for silencing the guns in Africa or compared to the recent trends in the deterioration of the peace and security conditions of the continent. Africa no doubt continues to face serious threats to its peace and stability.

Some parts of Africa remain mired in conflict and new challenges to peace and security have emerged. Governance deficits continue to present fertile conditions for the persistence and emergence of wide range of security issues including conflicts, terrorism, organized crime and armed insurgencies. Short of that, the worsening of governance issues coupled with the global economic slowdown and its attendant impact on commodity prices as well as the youth bulge and high rates of unemployment have made many African countries vulnerable to political upheavals.

Most notably, the mismanagement of diversity and zerosum competition over power and resources have also contributed to fueling conflicts in some parts of the continent. In other parts, state fragility and weak state institutions have increased the risk of those countries that have emerged out of conflict relapsing into yet another cycle of conflict and violence. The situation in many fragile countries in Africa has been further complicated by the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemics, which has overwhelmed weak health systems, shattered economies, and caused political instability and crisis.

Clearly, Africa is far from the AU’s ambition of silencing the guns. A lot remains to be done and it has to be done differently. All indications are that, the goal of silencing the guns cannot be achieved in a business as usual approach to the management of the affairs of the countries of the continent and indeed peace and security in Africa. AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa Ramtane Lamamra stressed “the need to review and adjust our conflict prevention and resolution tools in order to effectively and efficiently respond to the everchanging nature of conflict, violence and criminality on the continent”. He also underscored the need to “reduce the gap between strategic political and military efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts, on one hand, and investment in economic and social development, on the other hand”. Furthermore, he emphasized the need to build a culture of peace and tolerance.

Within the framework of the amnesty month for the surrender and collection of illegal weapons which is held every September, tomorrow’s session also serves to receive update on the PSC’s request from its 943rd session that ‘a lessons-learned study, that covers the experiences of the conduct and commemoration of the Africa Amnesty Month, implementation of various national programs that were implemented outside the Amnesty Month, and submit to the PSC in the course of 2020’. It is also notable as highlighted in the communiqué of the 943rd session, the challenges of illicit arms and weapons goes beyond collection of weapons and requires addressing plethora of issues. This should continue to receive particular attention.

Considering the new global geo-political dynamics, enhancing the role of the African Union and its regional mechanisms in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa is not an option. It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 868th meeting, the PSC strongly condemned external interference into African peace and security issues.

The institutional reforms underway will be critical, this is particularly the case in terms of strengthening the governance and security architectures as well as the synergies between them to accelerate efforts towards silencing the guns in Africa. Within the reform process, ensuring greater coordination and synergy between the African Union and its regional mechanisms is also vital. Furthermore, the revitalization of the African Union Peace Fund will contribute to addressing the financing needs of the African Union in its prevention and peacemaking efforts.

At a time when there is donor fatigue, enhancing greater ownership of the AU’s programmatic activities and enhancing the contribution of member State to the Peace Fund has become all the more indispensable. This should be driven by the conviction that building a conflict free Africa is in the first instance the responsibility of the AU and its Member States, their people, and their institutions, including civil society.

This effort towards mobilizing intra-African resources for financing peace and security has to be done with due recognition of the fact that peace and security in Africa is a global public good and hence required the support and partnership of the international community. Accordingly, partnership with UN and other international partners remains crucial. The adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2457 (2019) on silencing the guns in Africa is indeed a step in the right direction but that has to be translated into concrete action through practical cooperation between the UN and the AU to silence the guns in different parts of the continent. It also behooves the UNSC to respond positively to the longstanding request by the AU for access to financial support for AU peace support operations authorized by the UNSC from the UN assessed contributions.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC will propose to the AU Assembly that the focus on silencing the guns is extended beyond 2020 as part of the first ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063 running from 2013 to 2023. The PSC, while welcoming some of the limited progress made in some of the conflict situations such as CAR, South Sudan and Sudan, may also urge that efforts for sustaining progress registered in these situations are redoubled to prevent any slide back to conflict. Against the background of the lessons from the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap during the past three years and the deterioration of the security situation on the continent, it may also propose that the Master Roadmap is updated to ensure that a more effective approach is mobilized for addressing the peace and security challenges on thecontinent.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Briefing on Silencing the Guns in Africa

STG Initiative

Date | 10, December 2019

Tomorrow (10 December) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will consider the draft report on the implementation of the AU Roadmap on Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020, which will be presented to the next ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa in February next year.

Silencing the Guns is a flagship initiative of the African Union to promote prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa. It provides the overarching strategy guiding the efforts of the organization in ensuring a peaceful and secure Africa and laying a solid foundation for the
implementation of Agenda 2063. As part of the Solemn Declaration of the 50th Anniversary of the African Union, African states committed “to achieve the goal of a conflict‐free Africa, to make peace a reality for all our people and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts and to prevent genocide.” They further pledged “not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars by 2020.”

The AUPSC submitted a Master Roadmap of practical steps to Silencing the Guns by 2020, which was endorsed by the Assembly in January 2017. In view of the impending deadline, the upcoming AU Summit in February next year is expected to take stock of the progress made and the challenges encountered in the efforts made towards achieving the objective of silencing the guns in Africa. In this context, the 32nd ordinary session of the Assembly requested the PSC, with the support of the Commission, to take steps for the elaboration of a comprehensive report on the status of implementation of the AU Master Roadmap.

Therefore, the AUPSC will consider the draft report before its submission to the Assembly. A decision has already been made that the AU theme of the year for 2020 would be “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

For PSC member states, some of the issues of interest include the degree of progress made and the remaining challenges as well as the measures to be taken for addressing the challenges towards increased progress for silencing the guns in Africa. Although fragile, some progress has been made towards resolving some of the most intractable conflicts in Africa. The signing of the revitalized peace agreement in South Sudan had revived hope for restoring peace. The guns have by and large been silent but without implementing the letter and spirit of the agreement, there is a serious risk of reversal. Ensuring accelerated progress in the extended pre‐transition period of 100 days will be very critical in this regard. The signing of the peace agreement in Central African Republic also rescued the country from falling into the abyss but
challenges still abound. Furthermore, the signing of the power‐sharing deal by the Sudanese stakeholders with the support of the AU and Ethiopia has set a very good example in the search for African solutions to African problems.

The normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea also ended long standing stalemate that impeded stability in the Horn of Africa. However, without resolving some of the outstanding issues, sustaining the peace will be a challenge. Progress has also been made in recent years in strengthening governance including in holding peaceful elections in Africa. This said, strengthening institutions of governance, promoting inclusive politics, responding to the needs and aspiration of the people remains a daunting challenge.

By AU’s own admission, some of the limited progresses achieved thus far are a far cry compared to the lofty goals and objectives set out in the AU Master Roadmap for silencing the guns in Africa and the scale of remaining challenges. The continent no doubt continues to face serious threats to its peace and stability. Parts of Africa remain mired in conflict and new challenges to peace and security have emerged.

Governance deficits coupled with the global economic slowdown and its attendant impact on commodity prices as well as the youth bulge and high rates of unemployment have made many African countries vulnerable to instability and conflict. Together with this, the mismanagement of diversity and competition over power and resources have also contributed to fueling conflicts in some parts of the continent. In other parts, state fragility and weak state institutions have increased the risk of those countries that have emerged out of conflict relapsing into yet another cycle of conflict and violence.

Therefore, that a lot remains to be done towards silencing the guns in Africa is all the more evident and, hence, the need to redouble efforts to fasttrack implementation. There is a recognition of this fact and a dedicated Unit under the Bureau of the AU Commission Chairperson has been established.

Considering the new global geo‐political dynamics, enhancing the role of the AU and regional mechanisms in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa is not an option. The institutional reforms underway will be critical in strengthening the governance and security architectures of the AU to accelerate efforts towards silencing the guns in Africa. Ensuring greater coordination and synergy between the AU and regional mechanisms is also vital. Furthermore, the revitalization of the AU Peace Fund will contribute to addressing the financing needs of the AU in its prevention and peacemaking efforts. At a time when there is donor fatigue, enhancing greater ownership of the AU’s programmatic activities and enhancing the contribution of member State to the Peace Fund has become all the more indispensable. This should be driven by the conviction that building a conflict free Africa is essentially the responsibility of the AU and its Member States, their people and their institutions, including civil society.

Although no outcome by way of statement or communique is expected, the AUPSC is expected to endorse the draft report with revisions and recommend it for adoption by the Assembly. It may express appreciation to the AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa and recommend that a plan is put in place for addressing challenges faced in the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap.

The PSC may also welcome the adoption of resolution 2457 (2019) and commend the role of Equatorial Guinea and other members of the A3 for their important contribution in facilitating its adoption. It may also reiterate the need for all AU Member States to submit their reports on their implementation of the AU Master Roadmap.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council - Exchange of views with the High Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson on Silencing the Guns

STG Initiative

Date | 05, February 2019

Tomorrow (5 February) the PSC is scheduled to have a session for ‘Exchange of views between the PSC and the AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns’. The format of the session is assigned to be open but only to African Union (AU) member states. AU’s agenda on silencing the guns was developed within the framework of the 50th anniversary of the O/AU in May 2013 and the adoption of Agenda 2063. One of the most ambitious targets that the Heads of State and Government of the AU Assembly set for Africa in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration was the pledge ‘not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans’ and ‘to end all wars in Africa by 2020’.

Following its open session under the theme “Silencing the Guns: pre-requisites for realizing a conflict-free Africa by the year 2020” at 430th meeting, the PSC in its press statement PSC/PR/BR (CDXXX) requested the AUC to prepare a roadmap to underpin the actions necessary for the attainment of the goal of a conflict free Africa by 2020. Subsequently, the AU within the framework of the PSC developed the Master Roadmap of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 as part of the flagship projects and
programmes of Agenda 2063, Africa’s blueprint for its long-term socio-economic and integrative transformation.

The 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in Addis Ababa, on 30 and 31 January 2017, adopted through decision Assembly/AU/Dec/630 (XXVIII) the AU Master Roadmap. As a key step for mobilizing action towards the ambition of silencing the guns, in October 2017, the AU Commission Chairperson appointed Ramtane Lamamra, of Algeria, as his High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa. In this Capacity, Mr Lamamra was assigned the task of assisting the Commission to galvanize support towards ending violence and sustaining peace on the continent. Tomorrow’s session presents an opportunity for the High Representative, Ramtane Lamamra, to inform the PSC of the efforts he made since assuming the responsibility and update member states on the progress made and challenges faced in the effort to realize the ambition of silencing the guns by 2020.

In terms of Lamamra’s role, it is of interest for PSC members to learn about his program of activities visà- vis the AU Master Roadmap and actions uncertaken within that framework. In this respect, Lamamra is expected to highlight the High-Level Workshop organized through his office on 11 and 12 October on the steps that should be taken for speeding up the implementation of the AU’s Agenda 2063 peace and security flagship project of silencing the guns. Of particular importance would be the insights he would share from the workshop including the emphasis that participants put on the imperative of prioritizing prevention of violent conflicts by addressing root causes and strengthening AU’s efforts towards structural prevention of conflicts.

In terms of interventions in current or emerging situations in his role as High-Representative, PSC members would be interested about the opportunity that his office avails to the AU for sustained engagement in the effort to resolve specific conflict situations. In this respect, his briefing is expected to highlight the contribution of his engagement to the peace process in Madagascar and Comoros. Given that the time left for achieving the silencing of the guns is fast approaching, this briefing also serves for assessing the progress made, the challenges faced and the adjustments required in pursuing the ambition of silencing the guns. The progress being registered would be highlighted in terms of the measures taken for resolving on-going conflicts in various settings: the Central African Republic CAR– (through the AU Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), between Ethiopia and Eritrea, between Djibouti and Eritrea, Darfur (Sudan), The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and the South Sudan peace process, among others.

Other areas that would also be highlighted include the efforts made for mobilizing the role of regional organizations and international actors. Of particular interest in this respect would be the concerted effort for addressing the problem of the illicit proliferation, circulation and use of small arms and light weapons including the development of the Silencing the Guns Continental Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the development of the Draft AU Policy for the Management of Recovered Arms and Ammunition in PSOs.

With respect to the implementation of the Master Roadmap, it has by now become
apparent that the objective of silencing the guns would not be realized by 2020 in the current peace and security context and trends of the continent. In terms of the role of the AU in conflict prevention, as the PSC pointed out in its reports on silencing the guns, one of the major challenges for implementation of the agenda of silencing the guns is the problem of denialism, which significantly undermines AU’s role to work out and facilitate early responses. As pointed out, failure to acknowledge and take corrective action upon receipt of early warning information on looming crises or on aggravation of an existing crisis tends to multiply conditions that push some of the political actors to arm themselves and use violence to pursue political objectives.

Another challenge relates to the degree of domestication of and commitment to the priorities set in the Master Roadmap by member states. As the PSC did during its 430th session, the importance of the responsibility of individual member state in protecting their citizens by addressing the root causes of conflicts should be underscored. In this regard, particular attention should be given to the deepening of the culture of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, popular participation and inclusivity and addressing the problem of youth unemployment and regional or social inequality that create the conditions for conflicts.

Also of importance for the PSC and indeed AU member states for whom tomorrow’s session is open is review of the Master Roadmap and the approach of the AU for silencing the guns. In this respect of particular importance is the imperative of focusing on mobilization of targeted intervention on priority peace and security challenges. It would be good in this regard to examine whether it would be worth to task relevant organs and institutions to initiate and mobilize action in respect to the pervasive and increasing governance challenges on the continent, terrorism and violent extremism etc.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement, although a communiqué with substantive decisions would also be fitting. While taking note of the measure of progress registered, this could underscore the responsibility of states and the particular importance of national level measures. In terms of regional and continental interventions, it could provide for adjusting the Master Roadmap paying particular attention to the mobilization of discreet targeted policy intervention measures both to prevent the eruption into full-scale conflict of high impact emerging crisis situations and/or to achieve resolution of some of the major existing conflicts. The role of the High Representative (including in terms of providing his office with resources and elevating its work for catalysing the required actions) is also worth emphasizing. The PSC could also stipulate to hold quarterly session to assess progress on the basis of an updated Master Roadmap and specific plans of action developed within the framework of the Master Roadmap.