Consideration of the Midyear Report of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Elections in Africa (January - June 2021)

Thematic Insights

Date | 23 September, 2021

Tomorrow (23 September) African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1034th session to consider the midyear report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the elections in Africa.

Following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to present the midyear report on elections held in the continent. Representatives of member States that organized elections during the period from January to June 2021 may deliver statements.

The midyear briefing is based on PSC’s request, at its 424th meeting held in March 2014, to receive quarterly briefings on national elections in Africa as part of AU efforts towards conflict prevention on the continent. Since then, the Council has been briefed by the AUC on a regular basis. This briefing follows the previous one, which took place during the 982nd meeting in February, to highlight the outcome of elections organized between January and June 2021 and provides an outlook of the elections set to take place between July and December of this year. Apart from providing reviews and outlooks of the elections, the bi-annual briefing is also expected to shed light on key trends in governance, patterns emerged in the conduct of elections, the electoral support and interventions made by the Commission, as well as policy recommendations.

From the 17 presidential and parliamentary elections on the AU calendar for 2021, 11 presidential and parliamentary elections, namely Uganda, Niger (runoff), Cote d’Ivoire, CAR, Congo, Djibouti, Benin, Chad, Cape Verde (parliamentary), Algeria, and Ethiopia) were conducted between January and June 2021. For the second half of the year, seven elections are organized or are expected to take place, which includes Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, Morocco, Somalia, Cape Verde (presidential), The Gambia and Libya.

In relation to the governance issues in the continent, the midyear report captures four key trends: the increasing appeal for democratic dividends around the continent; the “choiceless” nature of electoral politics; voter apathy; and the persistent challenge of the concentration of power at the centre. These worrying governance trends are further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the quality of elections in the continent. The resurgence of unconstitutional change of government in Africa, which witnessed three military seizure of power this year alone, is also a clear indication of the ‘deepening democratic deficit’ that the continent is facing.

One of the positive developments witnessed in the reporting period likely to be highlighted in the report is Niger’s first-ever democratic power transfer since its independence in 1960, although the attempted coup few days before the presidential inauguration signals the fragility of the democratic gains. The other positive trend is member states ability and will to stick to their electoral calendars despite the enormous challenge posed by COVID-19 pandemic and other political and security issues. Given that the PSC (for instance during its 982nd and 713th meetings) emphasized the importance of mobilizing funds from within the continent with the view to reducing external manipulation and influence, there are encouraging trends in this regard as well. The report indicates that four of the member states that conducted elections during the reporting period ‘primarily financed’ their elections by national funds. The increasing participation of women and youth in the electoral process is another area of positive development though there are still limitations in the participation of the same as candidates.

Despite electoral progress in some member states, challenges to elections in Africa have persisted in the reporting period. Volatile security atmosphere not only dented the credibility of some of the elections but also affected voter turn out. Security threats, political tension, shrinking political space, opposition boycott, and low voter turnout have continued to be worrying trends affecting the elections in some member states. It is worth noting that elections conducted amid intense political climate and high opposition boycott are clear indications of deep-seated divides, highlighting the imperative of political dialogue to accompany elections.

Some elections including the April presidential election in Benin exhibited continued challenge of voter apathy. There is a need to address the factors behind this problem given that voter participation is one key element of credible election. It is to be recalled that the PSC, at its 713th session in August 2017, ‘urged member states to make deliberate efforts towards ensuring and promoting participation in democratic process’.

In relation to the elections that happened in third quarter of the year (covers Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia, and Morocco), of particular interest to the Council is the general elections in Zambia held last month where power has been transferred peacefully to an opposition leader after incumbent Edgar Lungu conceded defeat. The successful transfer of power is a testament to the effective electoral support provided by the AU, which deployed election observation mission to Zambia led by former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.

The PSC may also wish to discuss those elections scheduled to take place during the fourth quarter of the year, particularly in Somalia, The Gambia, and Libya. The power tussle between the Prime Minister and the President in Somalia not only risks escalation into an open conflict but also threatened to derail the Presidential election slatted for next month. In Libya, uncertainties are looming on whether the conduct of the parliamentary and presidential elections is feasible within the agreed timeline of 24 December as some of the contested issues (such as the types of elections to hold in December, a referendum on a draft constitution and qualifications to stand as candidate) remains yet unresolved. Given its history of engagement in supporting the transition in Somalia, The Gambia and Libya and the high stakes involved, it is a high time for the AU to utilize all the available tools to keep the electoral process on track.

With respect to the practice and methodology of election observation, AU has deployed short-term election observation and technical missions to all countries that organized elections during the reporting period except for Cape Verde and Algeria (on account of logistical reasons). As highlighted in the Chairperson’s report, in case of Ethiopia, AU deployed a long-term election observation mission in addition to short-term AU Election Observation Missions (AUEOMs). While positive measures have been taken to make AU observation missions more effective and efficient, one important issue worth following up for the PSC is its decision, at its 713th meeting (2017), for the establishment of monitoring and follow-up mechanisms for the implementation of the recommendations of the observation missions. The other issue is on the progress in terms of building synergies with regional mechanisms, particularly through deploying Joint High Level Political Mission (JHLPMs) and championing joint election observation missions, as stressed by the Council during its 653rd session in 2017. The joint deployment of JHLPM in The Gambia and Ghana, as well as AU and ECOWAS co-leading pre-election mission in Niger in 2020 are some of previous experiences for the Commission to build on in this regard.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would congratulate those member states who successfully conducted their elections during the reporting period. The Council may welcome the growing positive trend of peaceful transfers of power in some member states, notably in Niger and Zambia. However, the Council is also likely to express concerns over persisting challenges of elections including tense political climate, insecurity, opposition boycott, and low voter turnout. In this respect, the Council may encourage member states to take all the necessary steps to create conducive conditions for conducting credible, peaceful and democratic elections. On AU election observation mission, the Council is likely to echo the communique of its 713th meeting in stressing the importance for member states to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of AUEOM.

The Council may also encourage the Commission to build more synergies with regional mechanisms on election related matters, particularly through the deployment of JHLPMs as well as joint election observation missions. In relation to the upcoming elections in Somalia, the Gambia and Libya, the Council may request the Commission to use all the available tools at its disposal to support the election process in these countries, particularly through the deployment of strategic technical support to the electoral management bodies (EMBs) as well as preventive diplomacy and mediation interventions. As elections continue to be conducted within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council may reiterate its call for member states to ‘expedite the adoption, and there after the implementation of AU Guidelines on Elections in Africa in the Context of COVID-19 pandemic and other Public Health Emergencies’ with the view to ensuring safety and security of people.


Open session on the Commemoration of the International Day of Peace

Thematic Insights

Date | 21 September, 2021

Tomorrow (21 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1033rd session, which will be an open session dedicated to the commemoration of international day of peace. Council will receive briefing on the second edition of the Luanda biennale “pan-African forum for the culture of peace” at the session.

Following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement. It is also expected that Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development will be making remarks. Representatives of the Republic of Angola, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as well as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are also expected to make presentations. A statement is also expected to be delivered by Solomon Dersso Founding Director of Amani Africa. All AU member States and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are envisaged to participate in the session.

A joint initiative of the AU, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Government of Angola, the Pan-African Biennale was held for the first time in September 2019, in Luanda, where it was agreed that the forum shall be convened every two years. The first edition of the forum served to highlight the importance of strategic partnerships to scale up projects for sustainable peace in Africa, the value of disseminating good practices for the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the need to showcase cultural diversity in Africa and demonstrate the resilience of the people in the face of conflicts. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to elaborate the main contents of the second edition of the biennale which is planned to take place on 4 October, under the theme “Strengthening the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence: Towards a Global Partnership”.

As indicated in the concept note for the biennale, one of the thematic areas of focus expected to feature at the event is “the contribution of arts, culture and heritage to peace”, in line with AU’s theme for the year 2021. As emphasised by the PSC at its 995th meeting commemorating “International Day of Living Together in Peace”, respect for history, heritage and religious and cultural diversity are fundamental for maintaining peace. Similarly, at its 928th session committed to the same theme, Council underscored the need to address the underlying root-causes of conflicts in the continent including “inequalities, exclusion, marginalization, as well as mismanagement of ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity”. As demonstrated in different crises throughout Africa, intolerance for religious and cultural diversity is among the main factors instigating and exacerbating conflicts and violence. In connection with that, tomorrow’s briefing may address the growing concern over terrorism and violent extremism in the continent, which are largely the results of fundamentalism that is based on intolerance of diversity. Promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogues therefore needs to be emphasised as a critical means of countering intolerance, a major underlying root-cause for conflicts as well as the increasing incidence of terrorism and extremism in Africa. AU’s 2021 theme also presents the best opportunity to demonstrate through various arts, Africa’s rich heritage as well as the diverse history, culture and religion of its people as a way of promoting better appreciation and respect for varied identities, thereby strengthening the culture of peace.

In addition to intolerance of diversities, deeply entrenched inequalities also contribute immensely to the outbreak and exacerbation of violence and conflicts in Africa. Ethnic, religious and other minorities, indigenous people and other marginalised groups are particularly most impacted as a result of legal norms or State practices which result in unequal treatment among citizens. Exclusion of specific sects of society, principally women, from participation and decision-making in peace processes and other State affairs is also another adverse impact of inequality on nurturing sustainable peace and development. Most importantly, the dominance of power and consequently, access to wealth and resource resting in the hands of very few, while an overwhelming majority of the continent’s population lives under poverty lines is a principal reason for the creation of social divides in Africa. This is further complicated by either perceived or manifest ethnic dimensions to such class divides which have in multiple cases led to the creation of interethnic and clan based tensions culminating in political crises and armed conflicts. Violation of civil and political rights, lack of good governance and corruption also form part of factors which contribute to the creation and furthering of socio-economic inequalities. Tomorrow’s briefing may reflect on how governments, civil society and the people at large could better utilise existing AU norms and frameworks on equality, human rights and democracy, to effectively fight against socio-economic inequalities.

Another topic that may feature at tomorrow’s briefing is the contribution and importance of Africa’s youth for the sustainability of peace and stability on the continent. One of the thematic areas of focus at the upcoming biennale, youth engagement in peace processes throughout the phases of conflict prevention, management and resolution is paramount to ensuring that peace efforts will have lasting impact. Also taking into account that Africa’s youth constitutes almost 60% of the continent’s population, it is important to take advantage of this and work towards building a generation that advances and champions peaceful settlement of disputes. It is also to be recalled that at its 933rd session on “Youth, Peace and Security”, Council emphasised the importance of increasing youth involvement in peace and security efforts and recognising the youth as resourceful agents for peace and security as well as for socio-economic development, and particularly, their role in the realisation of the Silencing the Guns agenda. In light of that, Council highlighted the importance of ensuring full implementation of the various relevant instruments including the African Youth Charter, Aspiration number four of Agenda 2063, as well as the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and its 10-year implementation plan. At tomorrow’s session, Council may reiterate its request for the AU Commission to collaborate with the regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) towards the popularisation and implementation of the Continental Framework and its 10-year implementation plan.

The last theme which will be addressed at this year’s Luanda biennale is the potential of Africa’s maritime domain for fostering peace and development. The importance of Africa’s blue economy for the continent’s sustainable development and integration, and therefore the need to ensure its effective management was among the key concerns stressed by the PSC at its 834th session. At a more recent session convened on maritime security (Council’s 1012th meeting), emphasis was given to the need for concerted efforts, particularly among littoral States, to address maritime insecurity and its root-causes, including through adoption of security and military measures. One of the more contemporary concerns around the African maritime sector is also the vulnerability and exposure of sea traders to cyber attack. Hence, in addition to the traditional threats such as piracy and other crimes committed at sea, there is need for addressing cyber security concerns within the maritime domain, mainly through incorporating cyber security measures in instruments and frameworks dealing with Africa’s maritime security. Tomorrow’s briefing may capture the major challenges to Africa’s effective utilisation of its maritime domain and reflect on the available normative standards for addressing these challenges.

The expected outcome of the session is a Press Statement. Council may underscore the importance of the Luanda biennale for strengthening African unity and solidarity and for fostering the culture of peace. In light of that, it may reiterate the call made by the AU Assembly in Assembly/AU/Dec.796(XXXIV), for all AU member States to support and participate in the 2nd Luanda Biennale. It may call on member States and all other relevant stakeholders to take all necessary measures against intolerance of diversities, including through formal and informal education and awareness creation. It may also urge member States to address existing inequalities in their societies and to work towards building social cohesion based on equal rights and opportunities. Council may encourage the meaningful participation of youth, women and other marginalised groups in peace processes, as well as the instrumentality of indigenous approaches to prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It may call on member States to ensure ratification and implementation of relevant instruments relating to maritime domain, including the Lomé Charter as well as Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and its Action Plan.


Briefing on Continental and Regional activities in the area of Mine Action in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date | 16 September, 2021

Tomorrow (16 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1032nd session on activities in the area of mine action in the continent.

It is envisaged that following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Chad to the AU, Mahamat Ali Hassan, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will make a statement. It is also expected that the representative of the United Nations Mine Actions Services (UNMAS) will make a presentation. Others expected to make statements include the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the representative of the European Union (EU).

Council emphasized at its 837th session on International Disarmament that antipersonnel mines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continue to impose serious risk to the lives, safety and health of civilian populations. As highlighted in the Statement of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) to the AU at the commemoration of 2021’s International Day for Mine Awareness, there were 30,000 deaths caused due to the use of explosive weapons recorded in 2019 only, out of which 66% were civilian deaths. In addition to the immediate risk to the life and safety of individuals, mines and ERW also impede social and economic development and stand as serious hindrance to humanitarian action. On the impact for humanitarian work, United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/80 of December 2019 (A/RES/74/80) stated that the presence of mines and ERW in humanitarian settings impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance, thereby impacting the lives and livelihoods of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other members of civilian populations who are dependent on humanitarian aid.

Africa hosts majority of the world’s countries that are highly affected by mines and ERW. While encouraging steps have been taken by multiple African States in ratifying and taking some steps towards implementation of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) and other relevant instruments, there is still much that remains to be done. Notably, the number of AU States parties to the APMBC suspected to be contaminated with or affected by anti-personnel mines and ERW has decreased from 30 to 16 States. However, the remaining 16 States are yet to fully meet their obligations related to demining. For instance, according to data presented by the Mine Action Review of 2020, out of eight States parties to the APMBC with regards to which no clearance of anti-personnel mines was recorded for the year 2019, seven were African countries. The same review also indicates that of the nine States parties to the APMBC, which failed to submit their reports on its implementation for the year 2020, seven are African States. In addition, in countries like Mali that confront struggles against armed non-State actors, increased threat from improvised anti-personnel mines has been recorded. This has invoked reasonable concerns over re-proliferation of mines in conflict affected African countries. One of the issues for PSC during tomorrow’s session is how to address these gaps and ensure that States renew their commitments towards full implementation of the APMBC.

Another relevant instrument is the Declaration of States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Maputo Declaration). The Maputo Declaration has been instrumental in highlighting the need to expedite demining efforts around the world, thereby setting the year 2025 as a deadline by which member States shall ensure that there are no new mine victims in areas under their jurisdiction or control and that survivors are fully assisted and included in societies on equal basis with others. As the deadline for the implementation of the Maputo Declaration quickly approaches, it is essential for member States of the AU through the leadership of the PSC to reflect on how far they have been able to meet their commitments and how they can strengthen efforts towards meeting the 2025 deadline. Indeed, silencing anti-personnel mines and freeing African countries from landmines should form part of the AU flagship project on Silencing the Guns.

In addition to demining efforts, it is also important to emphasise the importance of taking actions against the production, export and proliferation of landmines and other excessively dangerous weapons. Particularly in light of the rise in illicit proliferation of arms in Africa, it is important for member States to remain cautious and take additional institutional and legal measures against the infiltration of excessively hazardous weapons into their territories. Although some IEDs that are remotely operated are not considered as mines, it is equally as important for States to take all necessary measures to ban the use of these devices and restrict the availability of the chemicals and elements, which are used to locally manufacture them. States also need to abide by their obligations under the APMBC to destroy their mine stockpiles, which impose serious risks including the possibility of diversion and use by unauthorized non-state actors. As experience in some African States, exemplified most recently by the experience of Libya, has indicated in the past, the lack of strict and proper regulation of the flow of arms and importantly their proper stockpiling and management has enabled non-state groups and separatists to obtain mines in black markets at very low prices, in some cases, serving as catalyst for outbreak of conflicts.

Another issue of interest for tomorrow’s session related to the proliferation of mines is the issue of porous borders. In addition to taking measures against production, transfer and storing of mines within their territories, States need to strengthen border security cooperation among them in order to thwart attempts by criminal and terrorist groups to traffic mines and other arms and weapons. In order to protect civilian populations and spare them from the impacts of mines and ERW, States also need to engage in awareness creation campaigns and consider incorporating lessons in their education curriculum, targeting particularly rural communities and refugees and IDPs who are at heightened exposure and risk of mines and ERW.

One of the major constraints that has lagged AU States parties to the APMBC from implementing their commitment under Article 5 to conduct mine clearance activities is the lack of sufficient resources and the decline in donor funding for mine action programmes. This has become particularly more challenging in the context of Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced concerned States to divert most of their resources towards efforts aimed at responding to the pandemic. The AU Mine Action Strategic Framework launched by the AU Commission is aimed at, among others, supporting concerned member States transition to national ownership and financing of their demining efforts. One of the avenues the AU Commission aims to explore in this regard is through providing capacity building trainings for AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) on management and clearance of explosive hazards. It is important to explore similar approaches and options in order to address the resource barrier faced by concerned member States.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a press statement. Council may emphasise the serious victimisation of civilians as a result of mines and other dangerous weapons and call on States and other relevant actors to take necessary measures against production, use and transfer of such weapons. The PSC may decide that the monitoring and promotion of the efforts of member states in the clearance of mines and the banning of the production, circulation and use of mines in Africa should be include in the AU Roadmap on Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa as silencing mines on the ground that threaten the lives and personal security of people is as important as silencing other forms of arms. It may encourage Members States, who haven’t yet done so, to sign, ratify and implement the APMBC as well as the Maputo Declaration. It may urge States who are already parties to the APMBC to take all necessary measures to clear mined areas, assist victims of landmines and ensure timely reporting on their clearance and demining activities in line with Article 7 of the Convention. Member States may also be urged to sign, ratify and implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in order to ensure that survivors of exploded mines are fully assisted. Council may also appeal to international partners to continue their support for States in their mine clearance activities as well as efforts aimed at strengthening border control and weapons regulations. In light of the importance of enhancing cross-border coordination and cooperation to control transfer of mines as well as their use in border areas, Council may call on Member States, who have not yet done so, to accede to and ratify the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention). The various RECs/RMs may also be requested to enhance their regional strategies on management of cross-border threats. The AU Commission may be requested to mobilise support, including technical and financial resources, in collaboration with its partners.


Second Annual Consultative meeting between the PSC and the Peace and Security Organs of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms

Thematic Insights

Date | 26 August, 2021

Tomorrow (26 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene the second annual consultative meeting between the PSC and the Peace and Security organs of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

The session on the consultative meeting is expected to start with the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono. Thereafter, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make a statement on the state of AU-RECs/RMs relationship. The representatives of the Policy Organs of the RECs/RMs and the RECs/RMs, namely the East African Community (EAC), East African Standby Force (EASF), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), North African Regional Capability (NARC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) are expected to make presentation on their respective relationship and engagement since the inaugural meeting with the PSC and the AU.

This session is convened as a follow up to the decision taken at the inaugural consultative meeting of the PSC and the policy-making organs of the RECs/RMs in 2019 to hold the consultative meeting on annual basis. The consultative meeting is also in line with Article 16 of the PSC Protocol on close working relations and policy coordination with RECs/RMs, and the conclusions of the various retreats of the PSC which called for a mechanism to strengthen harmonization and coordination through a periodic engagement between the PSC and the policy bodies of RECs/RMs.

This year’s consultative meeting affords the Council the opportunity to follow up on the decisions of the inaugural consultative meeting and the communiqué of 870th PSC session, particularly those relating to the modalities to harmonize decision-making processes and strengthen coordination as well as institutionalize their relationship. In this regard, it is worth recalling that paragraph 18 of the communique of the inaugural meeting stipulates that, the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs agree to institutionalize their relationship, in particular through the following:

i. holding of annual joint consultative meetings, between the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs on peace and security issues, alternately in Addis Ababa and in the headquarters of the RECs/RMs, in rotation. In this context, the joint consultative meeting should be convened ahead of the mid-year coordination summit between the AU and RECs/RMs;

ii. swiftly communicate decisions on peace and security issues to each other for enhancing subsidiarity and complementarity, while ensuring coherence in decision- making process;

iii. regular interaction between the PSC and the RECs/RMs Chairpersons of the policy organs and/or equivalent relevant structures on peace and security matters, on issues of common concern, including through the use of the video-teleconferencing;

iv. joint field missions to assess situations of common concern and identify further joint action as may be needed;

v. holding of joint retreats/brainstorming sessions to reflect on priorities on peace and security issues of the PSC and the RECs/RMs and develop appropriate common response strategies; and

vi. organizing staff exchange visits.

Among others, tomorrow’s session helps in considering whether and how much progress has been made in implementing the foregoing modalities and the challenges faced in pursuing policy coordination and mobilizing a more synchronized collective action by the PSC and policy organs of RECs/RMs. Best practices, if any, and gaps in coordinated policy-making as well as emerging issues affecting coordination between the PSC and RECs/RMs are also expected to be highlighted in this meeting.

From the available evidence, little seems to have moved forward in terms of translating the commitments made in the joint communique into action. Notwithstanding the framework articulated in the joint communique, policy coordination between the PSC and the RECs/RMs depends on convenience and has as yet to be institutionalized. For example, the representation of PSC and its active participation in meetings of the policy organs of RECs/RMs where decisions on matters that concern its mandate leaves a lot to be desired. Though such engagement is extremely important to coordinate responses and harmonize decisions, there is the issue of whether RECs/RMs have recognized the importance of regularly inviting and ensuring the participation of the PSC, through its Chairperson as envisaged in the Conclusions of the Abuja retreat of the PSC. On the other hand, while the practice of joint field missions and joint retreats is taking hold with other institutions, notably the European Union Political and Security Committee (EU PSC), the same kind of engagement between the PSC and RECs/RMs is yet to develop.

Tomorrow’s session may also follow up on its previous decision to establish a team of focal points from all RECs/RMs and the PSC Secretariat, a mechanism devised to facilitate a ‘well-coordinated network for regular meetings/consultations’, particularly on issues that are in the agendas of both the PSC and RECs/RMs.

The consultative meeting may also reflect on trends affecting harmonization of decision-making and strong coordination between PSC and RECs/RMs. One such issue is the divergence of norms between RECs/RMs and the AU system that may lead to diverging policy approach. This has been more visible in relation to contestations on elections and events involving unconstitutional changes of government. The SADC and AU were not on the same page in terms of the policy responses they respectively adopted initially to the unconstitutional change of government in Madagascar in 2009. The recent military seizure of power in Mali and Chad not only illustrates the divergence of norms among RECs but also shows how this could lead to the PSC taking divergent policy approaches to military coups.

The other major issue is the lack of clarity about the principle of subsidiarity and its application vis-à-vis the envisaged primary role of the PSC in the maintenance of peace and security in the continent. First, there is the issue of how the PSC may discharge its mandate as provided for in the PSC Protocol when a conflict situation arises within a particular REC/RM. The expectation from the mandate entrusted to the PSC under the PSC Protocol is that at the very least the PSC plays the role of accompanying and contributing to the policy response of the concerned REC/RM while ensuring that the applicable AU norms are duly respected. Where the REC/RM concerned is not seized with the issue despite the need for regional and continental engagement, the PSC faces the issue of discharging its mandate by being seized with the situation while coordinating with the concerned REC(s)/RM(s).

The trans-regional nature of some situations such as the security threat posed by Boko Haram and overlapping membership in regional mechanisms is another emerging challenge for policy coordination. On the trans-regional nature of some security situations, while this offers the opportunity for horizontal coordination among RECs/RMs, the experience towards such practice remains limited. It is to be recalled that the PSC underscored the importance of horizontal coordination in the Communiqué of its 870th session. Most recently, at its 1010th session held in July 2021, the PSC also stressed the importance of strengthening institutional collaboration between ECCAS and ECOWAS in the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas of Lake Chad Basin. On conflict/crisis situation that erupts in a country with multiple membership to RECs and RMs, not only the issue of who takes the lead in resolving the situation remains controversial but also harmonizing and coordinating actions can become even more challenging.

The latest deployment of the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) along with Rwandan troops is another development of interest to the Council. It is to be recalled that the inaugural consultative meeting stressed the importance of ‘prior consultations and coordination, particularly, during the planning and deployment phases of peace support operations’ and further emphasized the importance of undertaking the deployment of African Standby Force within a ‘partnership between the PSC and the RECs/RMs policy organs.’ However, indications are that the deployment of SAMIM did not take place within this framework. Close coordination and consultation between the PSC and the policy organ of the concerned REC was lacking.

The expected outcome of the annual consultative meeting is a joint communique. It is expected that the communique would welcome the convening of the joint consultative meeting and the presentations that the various RECs/RMs made. It may also reiterate the importance of the close working relationship between the PSC and the Policy organs of the RECs/RMs and the need for implementation of the modalities for policy coordination and close working relationship between the two outlined in the joint communique of the first consultative meeting. The PSC and the representatives of the Policy Organs of the RECs/RMs may follow up on its decision at its 870th session to convene a “meeting of the Technical Working Group of Experts to develop a matrix outlining concreate practical steps to be undertaken, assign responsibilities with specific timelines, as well as a roadmap with clearly defined modalities and timeframes for consideration by the Council”. They may also urge the need for close consultation and invitation for participation of each in decisions relating to conflict situations of which the other is interested. They may also underscore the importance of the need for applying the principle of subsidiarity without it inhibiting the need for active participation and engagement of the PSC within the framework of the mandate entrusted to it under the PSC Protocol for taking conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development measures guided by the demands of the situation concerned while coordinating with the concerned REC/RM. In this respect, the communiqué may reiterate the decision of the PSC from its 870th session for “convening of a joint retreat of the PSC and RECs/RMs to brainstorm and reflect on ‘Decision-making, Harmonisation and Coordination between the AUPSC and RECs/RMs on the promotion of peace and security’ and develop report on appropriate common response strategies”. They may also emphasise the need for horizontal coordination between RECs/RMs affected by shared security issues including with the facilitation of the PSC.


Consideration of proposed finalisation and operationalisation of the AU Humanitarian Agency

Thematic Insights

Date | 24 August, 2021

Tomorrow (24 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene a virtual session to consider the proposed finalisation and operationalisation of the AU Humanitarian Agency (AUHA).

Following the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a remark. The AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Amira El Fadil is also expected to brief Council on the status of finalisation and operationalisation of the AUHA.

It is to be recalled that Council last convened a session on the AUHA at its 843rd session where it was briefed on the status of the AUHA, however there was no outcome document. At its 762nd meeting held in April 2018 the PSC called on the AU Commission to expedite the development of modalities for operationalising the agency, outlining the legal, financial and structural implications. In addition to reflecting on the importance of the AUHA to contribute towards resolving the current humanitarian crisis in the continent, tomorrow’s session may follow up on the progress obtained in the process of operationalising the agency.

A study on the operationalisation of the AUHA was conducted and its preliminary findings were evaluated among member states and independent experts in 2019. The study which details the options for operationalisation, proposes the structure of the agency and highlights its legal and financial implications was validated at an Extra-ordinary session of the Special Technical Committee (STC) on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (MR&IDPS-STC) and adopted with couple amendments at a meeting of member state experts which took place in June 2020. In the same year, the AU Commission finalised the draft AUHA Statute as directed at the 3rd Ordinary Session of the MR&IDPS-STC. It is expected that the 4th Ordinary Session of the MR&IDPS-STC, planned for November this year will consider and validate the draft Statute of the AUHA, which will be one of the considerations that will determine when the agency will become fully operational. Tomorrow’s briefing by the Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development may provide more highlights in this regard.

The increasing rate of humanitarian crises in Africa and the intensifying nature of exacerbating factors such as climate change and outbreak of pandemics like Covid-19 are more than ever making it mandatory to find ways to respond to the situation in an organised and better coordinated manner. While AU has already mechanised various structures to respond to crises and disasters (such as the Special Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF), the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) and Africa Risk Capacity (ARC)), there is limited coordination among these structures in addition to the slow implementation of normative standards such as the African Humanitarian Policy Framework, the OAU Refugee Convention and the Kampala Convention. One of the key roles the AUHA aims to undertake is coordination of humanitarian action, as emphasised in the 2016 Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness, which was adopted by Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI). The AUHA would thus be instrumental to fill the existing gap in effectively coordinating action among existing operational mechanisms which are fundamental for addressing humanitarian challenges in the continent.

While both the AU and its predecessor – the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – have for long sought ways to deal with humanitarian crises on the continent, solid steps towards the establishment of the AUHA were initiated following the adoption of AU Assembly Decision of 30 January 2016 (Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI)). As emphasised in Assembly/AU/Dec.604 (XXVI), the AUHA is aimed to be “anchored on regional and national mechanisms and funded through African resources”. The purpose behind fully financing the AUHA through African resources is to ensure full African ownership of the agency and the establishment of the agency has already obtained the support of all 55 member states of the AU. In this context it is also important to consider the potential challenges that may be encountered in the process of establishing the agency.

The first challenge is around the mechanisms in which member states mobilize financial resources to effectively and sustainably finance the agency. As primary responders to humanitarian crises within their territories, member states – some more than others – have already strained capacities. Hence, they may find it difficult to consistently finance the AUHA to ensure that it can effectively manage humanitarian crisis in the continent. It is therefore important to compliment member states’ contributions through building strong partnerships with global actors who can contribute to the successful formation and functioning of the AUHA, while the agency maintains its foundation in existing continental policy and legal frameworks.

The second issue relates to collaboration and coordination with other humanitarian actors. It is important to have clarity on the added value of the AUHA in the presence of a number of aid agencies and international humanitarian organizations in various humanitarian situations in the continent. To prevent any duplication of efforts and resources it would be useful to also identify the exact gap that the AUHA is expected to fill.

It would be of interest for Council members to also consider how the PSC may collaborate with the agency. As enshrined in the PSC Protocol, the Council is among the various AU organs assuming responsibility to respond to humanitarian issues. Art.6(f) of the Protocol for instance stipulates humanitarian action and disaster management among the functions of the Council. Art.7 mandates the PSC to facilitate and support humanitarian action in the context of both natural disasters and armed conflicts. Another relevant provision is Art.13(3)(f), which mandates the African Standby Force (ASF) to provide humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilians in conflict situations and to support efforts in cases of major natural disasters. The PSC and the AUHA – once operationalised – will thus need to work in collaboration and complement each other’s mandates. In addition to coordination and collaboration with the relevant AU organs, it is also important for the AUHA to work together with international humanitarian actors and UN agencies that already have presence on the ground and extensive experience in dealing with humanitarian challenges in the continent.

The outcome of the session is expected to be a press statement. Council may express concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the continent, particularly the growing rate of displacement and the plight of migrants, refugees and IDPs. It may urge the Commission and member states to further expedite the full operationalization and establishment of the AUHA. It may call on member states to honour their commitments to finance the AUHA and to ensure implementation of Executive Council decision EX.CL/Dec.567(XVII) which called for the increase of AU humanitarian fund from 2% to 4% of member states’ assessed contributions.


PSC Ministerial on Implementation of Aspects of Peace and Security related to the AU Border Governance Strategy

Thematic Insights

Date | 19 August, 2021

Tomorrow (19 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold a ministerial meeting on the ‘Implementation of Aspects of Peace and Security related to the AU Border Governance Strategy’.

Following the opening remark by MBELLA MBELLA, Minister of External Relations of Republic of Cameroon and Chairperson of the PSC for August, a statement will be delivered by Christophe Lutundula, Vice-Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also expected that the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will make a presentation.

Tomorrow’s ministerial session will deliberate on the Continental Strategy for Better Integrated Border Governance. It is to be recalled that the strategy was initially adopted in 2019 by the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Defence, Safety and Security and further endorsed by the 33rd ordinary session of the AU Assembly in February 2020. The AU Border Program (AUBP) has launched the strategy in March 2021 to popularize the instrument and ‘to enhance peace and security initiatives, bilateral cooperation as well as borderland development between and among neighbouring countries’.

The strategy is anchored in five pillars including development of capabilities for border governance; conflict prevention and resolution, border security and transnational threats; mobility, migration and trade facilitation; cooperative border management and borderland development and community engagement. The session may be utilized to build ownership and sensitize member states on the continental strategy. Moreover, in line with the theme of the ministerial session, the deliberations are expected to particularly focus on the security pillar of the strategy. In this context the session may highlight the importance of dialogue, negotiation and reconciliation for peaceful settlement of border disputes, best practices of handling emerging border disputes and effective border management. It may further underline the importance of utilizing judicial actions only after exhausting options related to negotiation and dialogue.

As indicated in the strategy the security threats due to borders mainly emanate from two sources. The first is related to boundary disputes between states or communities. Currently, only one third of Africa’s 170,000 km inter-state borders have been demarcated and this has been a major security challenge. The AU is currently seized with 27 cases of border disputes. While the AUBP provides technical support to member states, the resolution of these cases primarily requires political will of disputing parities. This also implies that both disputing parties have to agree to involve the AU and submit joint request in order for the AU to offer support.

The second form of border insecurity is caused due to crimes and security threats along borderlands, which then have effects on the stability of countries and more broadly on regions. Poor border governance and porous borders have been particularly linked to security threats including transnational organized crimes, flow of illicit weapons and violent extremism and terrorism. Non-states actors have exploited the limited control along borders to intensify their operations as witnessed in various conflict hotspots in the Lake Chad, Sahel and Horn of Africa regions.

In addition to land borders, maritime boundary dispute has also become a concerning security area. The PSC during its 873rd session has considered the maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya. Although the case was being considered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the PSC has called on both parties to find amicable and sustainable solution.

In terms of the roll out and implementation of the strategy the session offers an opportunity to reflect on the role of various actors including the AUC, member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanism (RMs). RECs/RMs may play a significant role in bringing closer members states and the AU. To leverage from such coordination it is imperative to ensure policy harmonization and coordination between member states and RECs towards the realization of the continental border strategy. In this regard the PSC may reiterate its previous call made during its 930th session, which requested the ‘AUC to develop an AU training curricula on border governance and to convene regional training programs’.

Although not articulated in the strategy, the session may also deliberate on the impact of COVID19 on border management and cross border cooperation. The fight against the pandemic has limited cooperation between communities across borders and it also affected diplomatic initiatives that aimed at resolving border disputes. On the other hand poor border governance may also be a risk in the spread of public health threats such as COVID19.

In previous PSC sessions on border management, the AUBP has presented the report of its activities. However for tomorrow’s session the intervention from the Commission is prepared along three main objectives. The first is to seek extension of the deadline for the completion of the delimitation and demarcation of all African inter-state borders, which will expire in 2022. The Commission is set to request additional five years and extend the deadline to 2027. It is to be recalled that in 2016 during PSC’s 603rd session the Commission has made a similar request to extend the deadline from 2017 to 2022. It would be of interest of PSC members to also seek clarification on the factors that continue to impede the realization of this goal. It would also be important to see how the extension will also fit into new timeframe for Silencing the Guns by 2030.

Given that the session is the first one after the official launch of the new AUC structure, the second main objective of the briefing is expected to explore mechanisms on how to integrate the AUBP in the new PAPS Department as a standalone program. The AUBP report presented during PSC’s 930th session has indeed expressed concern over the fate of the program within the new structure. Hence the session will offer an opportunity to address this institutional challenge and based on the mandate and scope of the program may provide guidance on the program’s position in the new structure. Beyond this, the sustainability of the program also requires boosting its capacity so that the program can effectively respond to requests from member states and discharge its mandate.

The third objective is to call for more member states to ratify the AU Convention on Cross Border Cooperation (the Niamey Convention). With Guinea being the latest country to ratify the Convention, a total of six member states have ratified it so far including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo. For the instrument to enter into force it requires the ratification by at least fifteen member states.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may call on the AUC to further promote and popularize the Continental Border Governance Strategy. It may urge member states and RECs/RM to develop national and regional border policies based on the AU Border Governance Strategy. The PSC may reiterate the importance of negotiation and reconciliation in settling border disputes. It may underline the importance of border management in the fight against transnational crime, violent extremism and terrorism. The PSC may state the importance of keeping the AUBP as a standalone unit within PAPS. It may extend the deadline for the completion of the delimitation and demarcation of African inter-state borders to 2027. It may call on member states to ratify, domesticate and implement all relevant instruments including the Niamey Convention and the African Charter on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa (Lome Charter).


Briefing by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on its activities in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date | 17 August, 2021

Tomorrow (17 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene its 1021st session virtually. The PSC is expected to receive a briefing from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with regards to its activities in Africa.

The session forms part of ICRC’s regular briefings to Council which have been taking place since 2007. ICRC’s President, Mr Peter Maurer will be presenting tomorrow’s briefing.

Throughout the years, ICRC’s regular briefings with Council have served to reflect on pertinent thematic concerns of significance at the time of the briefing. These ranged from protection of civilians to compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL), to examining the humanitarian toll of armed conflicts on the continent. Council’s 904th session held on 16 January 2020 where it was last briefed by the ICRC addressed thematic concerns including the plight of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and children as well as victims of sexual violence in the context of armed conflicts. In addition, the experiences of ICRC in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia were also discussed at that session, based on Mr Maurer’s visits to these countries. As in the past, tomorrow’s briefing is expected to focus on some of the most pressing humanitarian contemporary concerns in conflict and crisis situations in Africa, based on ICRC’s operational experience.

The first of the issues that Maurer is expected to highlight is the shrinking humanitarian space in conflict situations. The diminishing cooperation of conflict parties with humanitarian actors is eroding humanitarian access and the humanitarian space for conflict affected civilian populations. The imposition of direct or indirect severe restrictions that humanitarian actors face in some conflict situations is not only making the delivery of humanitarian assistance for affected civilians untenable but also creating conditions for violation of the IHL obligations and basic principles of human rights. There is a need for conflict parties to ensure that they balance the pursuit of military and security objectives their obligations as far as the protection and provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians is concerned.

We have also gathered from ICRC’s preparatory work that the briefing may further highlight on the issue of humanitarian access the negative impacts of sanctions regimes and counter-terrorism measures on humanitarian relief operations. Most sanctions regimes rarely contain exemptions for humanitarian action, which in turn delays or in some cases, blocks much needed aid and assistance from reaching civilians caught in the middle of conflicts. Similarly, where certain counter terrorism measures, such as designation of certain groups as terrorist and the concomitant criminalization of engagement with such groups, are imposed without humanitarian exemptions, they make humanitarian organisations’ access to civilians in territories under the effective control of such groups legally and logistically challenging. There is also the issue of safeguarding impartiality of humanitarian organisations such as the ICRC as a condition for the safety of their personnel and humanitarian relief efforts. Having regard to the growing rate of attacks against humanitarian workers including medical facilities, it is necessary to ensure that aid workers are allowed to function in an environment that can be perceived as neutral by all conflicting parties.

The second area of concern ICRC is expected to draw the attention of the PSC is the issue of missing persons. As recent data recorded by the ICRC demonstrates, there are about 48,000 cases of missing persons in Africa, as of 2021. Out of these, 45% account for persons under the age of 18. In addition to calling attention to the issue, tomorrow’s briefing may also open discussions on how the PSC could advance the importance of addressing the fate of missing persons through peacebuilding and transitional justice initiatives in post-conflict countries and countries in transition. It may also emphasise the responsibilities of state and non-state actors including those in conflict situations to take all necessary measures to prevent people from going missing.

Our research for this ‘Insight’ also indicates that Covid-19 and access to equitable vaccination is another pressing issue the briefing could be addressing. As countries across the world forge ahead with their Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, most African States are left behind, still unable to vaccinate substantial amount of their populations. The worst fate however continues to be faced among vulnerable groups in Africa including refugees, IDPs and migrants. Not only do these population groups live in contexts which heighten their exposure to Covid-19 infection, they also face the risk of exclusion from vaccine roll out. In his briefing, Maurer is expected to call on States to ensure that they ensure that vulnerable groups are included in their vaccine allocation and roll out policies. In addition, he may also emphasise the importance for States to invest more on strengthening their public health strategies in order to be better prepared to respond to public health emergencies that may arise in any immediate or distant future.

The next area of concern that could feature in tomorrow’s briefing is the changing nature of armed conflicts, involving the emergence of new trends in how parties engage in combat and the resulting questions cast on the continued validity of IHL and the Geneva Conventions. Current warfare has shown the growing use of unconventional means and methods, particularly in the context of counter-terrorism operations. This is the case for example in the context of terrorist attacks which continue to increasingly target civilians and civilian infrastructures, and the use of unmanned armed vehicles (UAVs). Despite questions that may be raised on whether IHL rules are well-tailored to address such evolving nature of warfare, tomorrow’s briefing will underscore the timeless nature of the core principles of IHL whose applicability cannot be limited by changes in the dynamics of contemporary conflicts. The PSC will be called on, in the light of the explicit commitment in the PSC Protocol to IHL, to emphasize the continuing relevance and the need for compliance with IHL, among others, for limiting the impact of conflicts on civilians. The briefing may also draw attention to the importance of documenting good practices on IHL implementation and encouraging States to develop the culture of voluntary recording and reporting on their IHL compliance.

The last theme expected to feature during the briefing is the instrumental role that can be played by neutral and impartial entities such as the ICRC in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution efforts. The first advantage of this is that such entities have better acceptability among conflicting sides due to their neutrality and lack of political affiliation and can therefore mediate and facilitate dialogues effectively. Another added value of involving organisation like the ICRC in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution is that they can play a vital role in bringing the human aspect of situations to light since such processes are usually dominated by political concerns and may unintentionally neglect the humanitarian concerns.

In addition to these key areas, the briefing may also provide overview on the general deteriorating humanitarian situation in the continent, including the worsening displacement crisis; the increasing level of food insecurity and people living in fragile contexts; the increased use of improvised explosive devices and proliferation of arms and weapons; and the devastating impact of natural disasters on communities that are already massively impacted by armed conflicts and political crises. The growing concern over climate change and its humanitarian implications, particularly how it interplays with conflicts and exacerbates vulnerabilities, may also be highlighted.

The expected outcome of the session is a Press Statement. Council may welcome the briefing. It may call on member States to renew their commitments towards implementation of IHL and human rights law as provided for in the PSC Protocol irrespective of the nature of the conflict situation. The PSC may also underscore the importance of all actors respecting and ensuring humanitarian access including by providing for humanitarian exemptions when they impose restrictions while urging the need for humanitarian actors to keep their neutrality. The PSC may also note the need for paying attention to missing persons in peace processes and transitions. It may also welcome the call for equitable access to the COVID19 pandemic to enable African states to administer vaccines and protect vulnerable groups including IDPs, refugees and asylum seekers.


Annual consultative meeting between the PSC and ACHPR

Thematic Insights

Date | 10 August, 2021

Tomorrow (10 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its annual consultative meeting with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) (Banjul Commission). The session will be the third consultative meeting between the PSC and the ACHPR since the inaugural meeting convened in August 2019. The session is envisioned to be held via video teleconference.

Following the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a remark. It is expected that the Chairperson of the ACHPR and the Focal Point of the ACHPR on Human Rights in Conflict Situations will deliver a presentation.

The consultative meeting is established within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. The inaugural consultative meeting held during the 866th session of the PSC articulated the modalities and tools for the operationalization of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol. The second consultative meeting was held in October 2020 during PSC’s 953rd meeting taking the outcome of the first consultative meeting forward. The consultative meeting presents an opportunity for taking stock of the follow up to the outcomes of the two previous consultative meetings.

Tomorrow’s session coming at the time of the merger of Political Affairs and Peace and Security under PAPS can serve as an occasion for achieving the ambition set in the 953rd session of the PSC, namely the mainstreaming of human rights into all aspects of the conflict prevention, management, resolutions and post-conflict reconstruction. More specifically the PSC may recall its previous request to the AUC and ACHPR secretariat to develop a ‘modality for the establishment of a coordinated early warning mechanism on human rights related issues’ in Africa between the two bodies.

The consultation is also expected to provide an update on human rights in conflict situations and the work undertaken by the ACHPR since the last consultative meeting in 2020. The presentation may highlight major trends in the protection of human rights in conflict situations. In this context, a resolution that may be of interest to the PSC is the Commission’s 467th resolution on the needs for ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa based on human and peoples’ rights’ adopted at its 67th session. With regards to the resolution the Commission may further highlight its request to the PSC on the development of ‘a comprehensive continental legal and institutional framework…to address the scourge of illicit arms and weapons in Africa’. The resolution further requested the ACHPR focal point on human rights in conflict situations to support relevant AU bodies in developing such instrument. Hence the ACHPR representative may provide an update on this activity. The session offers an opportunity for Council members to reflect on mechanisms to initiate the process and seek advice from the focal point as well.

With regards to illicit arms, the PSC may make reference to its 860th session and the study endorsed during the session, which presented a continental mapping on illicit arms flows. The study may be an input to the proposed legal and institutional instrument on curbing the flow of illicit arms and weapons. The legal instrument may complement existing policies and guidelines in providing effective measures to prevent illicit flow and the diversion of stockpile to unauthorized non-state actors.

The ACHPR representative may also highlight resolutions on human right violations in specific emerging conflict situations released by the Commission during its 67th and 68th ordinary sessions as well as 32nd extraordinary session, which may be of particular interest to the members of the Council.

The other aspect of the update may also include the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the protection of human rights. Similarly, the adverse socio-economic impact of COVID19 has exacerbated vulnerabilities and widened disparities within societies as well as globally. Hence beyond managing the public health threat it will also be important to address such inequalities so as they do not pose threats to security and stability. Moreover, efforts should be accompanied by ensuring equitable access of vaccines by African countries with a particular focus on the inclusion and protection of vulnerable groups.

It would be of interest to members of the PSC to receive an update on the implementation of AU Transitional Justice Policy adopted in February 2019. The briefing from the department of PAPS may address this particular process. Given that the consultative meeting is the first one after the official launch of the PAPS department, it offers an opportunity to also highlight the synergy between APSA and AGA in protecting and promoting human rights in conflict situations. The institutional harmonization that brings more coordination between the two architectures will be an added value in providing a comprehensive briefing on transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations.

One major issue worth addressing during tomorrow’s session is the effective and practical operationalization of the modalities of close working relationship articulated in the communiqués of the 866th and 953rd sessions of the PSC. This requires engagements in between the annual consultative meetings including finding ways of using the input of the ACHPR for addressing the human rights dimensions of the situations on the agenda of the PSC and of integrating human rights in the peace and security work of the AU generally.

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. It is expected that the PSC would welcome the human rights update from the ACHPR and the continued cooperation with the Commission through the annual consultative meeting within the framework of Article 19. Beyond this the PSC may further call for the modalities to operationalize Article 19 to be put in place including more regular exchanges between the two organs around early warning, the establishment of a thematic agenda on human rights and peace and security as well as undertaking joint field visits. The PSC may also welcome resolution 467 and the Commission’s decision to develop a general comment on Article 23 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to advance the right to peace and security. The PSC may call on the focal point on human rights in conflict situations to brief the Council on the development of the general comment. The PSC may also welcome the Commission’s request for the development of a legal and institutional framework to illicit arms and weapons. It may reiterate its previous call to the AUC to include human rights standards and principles in its conflict prevention, management and post-conflict reconstruction programs. It may urge Member States to strengthen their support to the Commission in delivering on its mandate. It may also express its wish for the subsequent consultative meeting.


Briefing on AU Support to Member States in Transition and Post- Conflict Situations

Thematic Insights

Date | 05 August, 2021

Tomorrow (5 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to convene its 1017th session to receive briefing on AU support to member States in transition and post-conflict situations.

Following the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to deliver a briefing on AU’s experience in supporting countries in transition and post-conflict situations. It is also expected that representatives of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs) will share experiences in AU support to countries in transition and post-conflict situations.

Tomorrow’s session presents an opportunity both to take stock of AU’s experience in supporting countries in transition and post-conflict situation and to examine the challenges in AU’s role in supporting countries in transition and post-conflict situations. The AU has developed a plethora of instruments that guide and facilitate the effort to mobilize action towards supporting countries in transition and post-conflict situations.

The first of these instruments are the Protocol establishing the PSC (PSC Protocol) and the Solemn Declaration on Common African Defence and Security Policy (CADSP). Both outline the tools and mechanisms necessary for supporting countries in transition and in post-conflict situations. The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) avail to the AU the institutions and structures as well as the tools developed and used over the years in providing support.

In terms of specific instruments, while the full operationalization of the PCRD has been slow, the AU has nonetheless provided support to countries in transition and post-conflict situations. In addition to AU’s policy on PCRD, the Five-year Results-based Framework on PCRD; the Guidelines Note for the Implementation of the African Union PCRD Policy; and the Policy Brief on AU’s Quick Impact Project implementation are also relevant policy documents adopted with the purpose of translating the PCRD policy into operational frameworks. The AU SSR Policy Framework and its three years Strategy from 2021 to 2023 is another document of relevance to AU’s support to states in transition and post-conflict situations.

The support provided within the PCRD framework include supporting the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) processes of such countries as well as implementation of peace supporting or quick impact projects. The AU also assists states in undertaking institutional and policy reforms including constitutional reforms.

The other instrument is the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance of 2007 and the electoral assistance unit. Within this framework the AU supports the electoral processes of countries in transition including through capacity building and sharing of experiences for national election bodies and their stakeholders and contributes to efforts for restoration of constitutional order in countries that experienced unconstitutional changes of government.

In supporting states, the AU now additionally has the AU Transitional Justice policy adopted in 2019. This policy has the central objective of setting standards for holistic and transformational transitional justice in Africa and offering guidelines and practical suggestions for the design, implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of transitional justice processes in States of concern.

When it comes to implementation, AU has been providing various types of support in different post-conflict countries and countries in transition including Burundi, Comoros, Madagascar, and Sudan. For example, the PSC noted, at its 138th session, on its support to Comoros ‘the success of the operation ‘Democracy in Comoros’, which enabled the government to re-establish its authority in Anjouan’ and the holding of elections which made it possible to democratically elect the new president of the Island of Anjouan. As highlighted in the 2020 AU Commission annual report on the activities of the AU and its organs, the AU has provided technical assistance to member States including Mali, Somalia, Madagascar, the Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Central African Republic (CAR) in areas such as DDR and SSR. In addition, AU also continues the implementation of its PCRD efforts through its various missions such as the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and AU Military Observers Mission to Central African Republic (CAR) (MOUACA), AU Support Mission to Mali and Sahel (MISAHL) as well as its liaison offices in countries such as Burundi, CAR, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote D’Ivoire, Sudan, Madagascar and Guinea Bissau. The AU Technical Support Team to the Gambia (AUTSTG) has also been active in supporting the reform and post-conflict reconstruction efforts in The Gambia through, among others, revising the defence and security policy of the country and the strategy for reform of security institutions. The AUTSTG model shows the possibility of delivering tangible results (such as supporting the government in the areas of SSR) with limited number of experts and without deploying larger mission or establishing Liaison Offices.

The AU, in partnership with RECs/RMs and partners, assists states through the deployment of peace support operations. The most notable of AU’s experience in this respect is its Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which has provided a wide range of support ranging from protection of the federal institutions to the expansion of the authority of the state and supporting the building and reform of security institutions of Somalia. Among the various best lessons from AU’s role in Somalia is the implementation of quick impact or peace strengthening projects, which shows what is possible to achieve with small funds through catering for the immediate needs of the affected community. In terms of supporting South Sudan, the areas that the PSC identified in its 990th session include ‘the drafting of the new constitution for the country and providing the required capacity building support to the national election management body and other relevant institutions, with a view to facilitating a successful completion of the transition process.’

The complementarity between the AU and SADC based on their comparative advantages is also one of the lessons that can be drawn from AU’s engagement in Lesotho from South Africa. It is to be recalled that AU mobilized financial support to SADC Preventive Measure in Lesotho (SAPMIL), contributing to the capacity of the mission to effectively discharge its mandate in supporting the stabilization and institutional reform and national reconciliation efforts of Lesotho.

In the Central African Region, AU’s mediation support to the CAR contributed towards the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation (PAPR-CAR). Though the agreement is facing enormous challenges, strides have been made in operationalizing joint special security units and facilitating the DDR process. In order to bolster the implementation of the PARP-CAR and the stabilization process, the AU has deployed a Military Observers Mission to the CAR (MOUACA).

Despite AU’s limited leverage on the conflict actors and their foreign backers, AU’s engagement in Libya through the deployment of range of tools is also a testament to its commitment in finding a durable solution to the crisis in Libya. To concretise the support of the AU, the PSC at its 997th session requested the AU Commission ‘to continue supporting the Libyan transitional process and the Libyan parties through the provision of technical assistance, expertise and capacity building in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR), ceasefire monitoring mechanism, the electoral process, transitional justice, national reconciliation process, among other required actions.’

In West Africa, it has established a political mission that played key role in supporting the peace process in Mali. In the Lake Chad Basin region, the AU supported the development of the regional stabilization strategy and is contributing towards its implementation. It is interesting to note that the PSC in the communiqué of its 1010th session requested ‘the AU Commission to accelerate the development of a standard operating procedure on stabilization as an effective tool using the LCBC model to inform the design and development of similar mechanisms for stabilization operations on the continent’.

Despite the wide range of experiences and the richness of lessons, there remain various challenges in AU’s support to countries in transition and post-conflict situation. The first of such challenges is lack of political consensus in countries in transition and post-conflict situations as has been the experience in Somalia, Mali, Libya or South Sudan. The prevalence of political fluidity and absence of nationally owned or led coherent strategy limits effective delivery of support. No support can succeed without effective national ownership and collaboration.

The other issue is coordination and policy coherence between the AU and various actors including RECs/RMs involved in countries in transition and post-conflict situation. There is also the slow pace of full operationalization of relevant AU instruments such as the PCRD and lack of effective follow up, supported by strategy and funds, of proposed areas of support for countries in transition such as those identified for South Sudan and Libya in PSC’s communiques.

There is also the issue of resources and limited capacity. In this respect, apart from the support it delivers AU is best positioned in mobilizing and channeling the role and contribution of actors that have the resources and technical capacity for post-conflict reconstruction and development support. Apart from harnessing the mandate of the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Africa Capacity Building Commission, this attests to the significance of building close working relationship and strategy in mobilizing the role of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations (UN) Peace Building Commission (UNPBC), and UN Development Programme (UNDP) in addition to coordination with respective RECs/RMs of countries emerging from conflict situations. Another initiative which can be important for PCRD related resource mobilisation and allocation is the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI), whose role can be institutionalized and amplified to mobilize the contribution of individual member states towards implementing the support of the AU for countries in transition and post-conflict.

Another important area Council could focus on is the importance of youth engagement and participation of women in peacebuilding efforts in post-conflict countries and countries in transition. AU support should accordingly leverage and facilitate programmes and initiatives led by women and youth as critical elements in building community infrastructure and base for sustaining and enhancing peace efforts.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a communiqué. Council may reflect on the importance of strengthened collaboration among relevant national, regional and international actors in order to support the transition of States emerging from conflict situations. In line with the request made at its 958th session, Council may follow up on its request to the AU Commission, to develop PCRD programmes and implementation mechanisms as well as to submit a report to Council, detailing the activities of AU PCRD and highlighting progress, opportunities, challenges, and lessons obtained from efforts carried out in post-conflict countries. The PSC may reiterate the communiqué of its 463rd session encouraging the AU Commission in line with the ASI and in collaboration with the Member States, the RECs and other relevant African institutions, to intensify its efforts aimed at mobilizing in kind and capacity building support, as well as financial contributions, to support post-conflict reconstruction and development activities in the countries emerging from conflict. The PSC may also encourage the AU Commission to institute processes for harnessing and leveraging the expertise and role of all AU institutions in delivering support. The PSC may also call for close coordination and policy coherence between the AU, RECs/RMs and others engaged in supporting countries in transition and post-conflict. The PSC may also request the AU Commission to put in place a process for identifying the support needs of countries in transition and for systematically mobilising and deploying its support according to the need and context of each.


Briefing on Early Warning and Continental Security Outlook

Thematic Insights

Date | 26 July, 2021

Tomorrow (26 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1013th session to receive briefing on early warning and continental security outlook.

The session starts with the opening remarks of the Chairperson of the PSC for July, Victor Adekunle Adeleke. This is followed by a briefing that AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye presents to the Council on the agenda of the session.

Since the adoption of its decision at its 360th meeting held in March 2013 to review (at least biannually) the state of peace and security on the continent, using horizon scanning briefing from the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the Council has dedicated some sessions on this theme, with the most recent being the 901st meeting held in December 2019. The discussion in tomorrow’s session is likely to proceed in two segments.

The first segment of the discussion is expected to focus on the continental early warning system with particular emphasis on the role of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA) within the context of enhancing the conflict prevention capacity of the AU Commission and the PSC. It is to be recalled that the AU Assembly Decision 62 of June 2005 endorsed the establishment of CISSA and directed that the Committee collaborate with AU and all its organs notably the Commission and the PSC.

The major value of CISSA in early warning and understanding the security outlook of the continent is the fact that it brings intelligence-based data with the potential of bolstering the information and analysis from the CEWS. However, the extent to which this potential of CISSA will enhance better understanding of threats and early response depends on intelligence sharing among CISSA members and availability of reliable way of relaying intelligence-based data for AU decision-making on peace and security. While it may not be feasible to rely on intelligence for country specific situations relating to governance related security challenges, CISSA’s intelligence based assessment can be particularly useful with respect to transnational threats involving terrorism and organized crimes.

Apart from the role of CISSA, a broader discussion is expected on the role of the CEWS in providing systematic monitoring and analysis of peace and security threats in the continent. The tracking and analysis of relevant governance and peace and security trends by CEWS is used to regularly provide tailor made updates to concerned AU Commission structures. This helps to inform whether, how and what kind of early warning the AU Commission initiates.

Despite progress made in the institutional operationalisation of the CEWS, there remain various challenges limiting its effectiveness. At the operational and institutional level, one such challenge is the disconnect between early warning and early response. At the root of the creation of the early warning system is to enable decision-makers take early measures against a looming crisis before it evolves into a full-blown conflict. Practice over the years reveals the serous limitation in translating early warning information and policy recommendations into effective early action by AU. Two main challenges can be raised in this regard.

One of the main challenges comes from member states themselves. As member states often invoke their sovereignty or deny brewing crisis, the political space is shrinking for the Council to engage at the early stage of the crisis. During its 669th meeting held on 21 March 2017, the Council expressed its ‘concern over the continued cases of denials to objective/credible early warning signals of looming crisis, thereby undermining the conflict prevention capacity of the Council’. If this challenge is left unattended, not only it compromises the mandate of the Council but also puts its credibility on the line.

The second challenge is lack of effective flow of information between the early warning mechanism and the PSC. CEWS produces variety of outputs to facilitate anticipation and prevention of conflicts and enable decision makers to develop appropriate strategies to prevent or contain conflicts. Yet, most of the outputs including the early warning report rarely reaches members of PSC. As a recent PSC document notes the Council ‘has not always worked closely with PAPS department in getting up-to-date early warning data’. In light of this challenge, the AU master roadmap calls for regular early warning briefings ‘strictly to the PSC members’ as one modality to establish a clear channel of communication on early warning reports to the PSC. In this context, building both formal and informal communication channel between CEWS and the Council that would facilitate a direct and regular engagement remains extremely important. In addition, as emphasized by the Conclusions of the Cairo Retreat of the PSC, the call for regular meetings/briefings between the PSC and the Chairperson of the Commission and the Commissioner for PAPS deserves attention. Moreover, institutionalizing the breakfast briefings and luncheons for members of the Council could be another avenue to enhance rapport and close working relationship between the Commission and the Council, which is key for facilitating conflict prevention measures.

There are also other sources of early warning and preventive action whose role stands to enhance effective early warning and response. Apart from the AU Commission Chairperson, those that the PSC Protocol contemplates to play role in this respect include the RECs/RMs, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Panel of the Wise and civil society organizations. It is imperative to strengthen cooperation and information sharing not only with these actors specified in the PSC Protocol but also with the CISSA and the African Peer Review Mechanism, whose roles in this regard the PSC has recognized over the years.

The other issue of interest to the Council is the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS). Endorsed by the Council in 2015, the framework and its tools aim to strengthen the capacity of member states to identify and address structural vulnerabilities at an early stage and design mitigation measures. As a voluntary mechanism, it is critical that political buy-in of member states is enhanced so that more member states undertake the assessment. In this respect, the close working relationship between the CEWS and the APRM, which is assigned in facilitating conflict early warning, would be useful.

The second segment of tomorrow’s PSC session involves the reactivation of the horizon scanning briefing that presents updates on the continental security outlook. The idea behind the horizon-scanning briefing is to bridge the gap between early warning and early response by providing the Council with required periodic information and analysis for preventive measures. The horizon scanning briefing can present the overall trends in threats to peace and security on the continent and specific country situations exhibiting risks of eruption into major conflicts. The overall trends worth paying attention to include, among others, the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, deterioration in democratic governance involving election violence and unconstitutional changes of government, rising incidence of protests and riots and intercommunal violence particularly involving herders and farmers. In terms of effective use of the horizon scanning briefing, it is critical that there is clarity on how it highlights specific country situations requiring conflict prevention intervention. Previous experiences of the Council indicate that the briefing focuses on thematic issues such as emerging security threats and root causes of conflicts, but rarely discusses emerging country specific situations.

Given persisting political sensitivity and reluctance for country specific focus, it will be of interest to members of the PSC to achieve common understanding on the methodology and criteria to be used, the threshold to be met and the imperative for consistency. As custodian of the AU norms including the PSC Protocol with a responsibility for ensuring their implementation, it is also critical that the AU Commission guides PSC members in the Council’s consideration of country specific situations based on objective and verifiable analysis.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The Council is expected to commend the Commission for the positive steps taken towards strengthening the continental early warning system and its collaboration with RECs/RMs as well as the role of CISSA. In connection with RECs/RMs, the Council may further follow up on the AU Assembly decision during its 33rd Ordinary Session held in February 2020, which requested the PSC to take appropriate action and put in place a ‘format of interaction’ to address early warning and early response issues. On CISSA, the Council is likely to stress the importance of enhancing coordination and collaboration between CISSA and the Council, as well as between and among the national intelligence services of member states, with the view to facilitate well informed and intelligence-driven early action by the Council. In relation to early warning and early response in general, the Council may reiterate its call for the implementation of its previous decisions in bridging the huge gap between early warning and early response including through the conduct of early warning and horizon-scanning briefing at least once every six months. In addition, the Council may request the Commission to institutionalise and/or strengthen communication channels between the Commission and the Council through in particular sharing of early warning reports, Breakfast and Luncheons briefings, and regularizing the meeting between the Chairperson of the Commission, Commissioner for PAPS, and the PSC in line with article 10 of the PSC protocol. On denialism and political will of member states, the Council is likely to echo its 901st meeting where it encouraged member states to ‘guard against denialism to credible early warning signs of looming crisis’ and cooperate with the PSC and RECs/RMs in their endeavor to discharge their mandate of conflict prevention and peace making. Apart from this, the Council is also likely to call up on the Commission to operationalize the different decisions including those relating to the role of the ACHPR and the APRM as highlighted in the communiques of the 866th and 953rd sessions of the PSC. Following up on the Conclusions of the Cairo retreat, the Council may further request the Commission to ‘elaborate the mechanism and indicators for consideration by the PSC’ within the context of operationalization of the CEWS. The Council may encourage the engagement of CSOs on the basis of Article 20 of the PSC protocol and the Maseru Retreat of the PSC. The Council is likely to encourage member states to make use of the available tools of the CEWS most particularly the CSVRA and CSVMS and close coordination between CEWS and APRM in implementing CSVRA.