Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa

Date | 03 March 2023

Tomorrow (03 March), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session, at ministerial level, to receive a briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa.

Following opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for the month of March, Tanzania’s minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a statement. Domitien Ndayizeye, Chairperson of the Panel of Wise is also expected to brief the PSC.

The last time the PSC received a briefing on the activities of the Panel of the Wise was in March 2017, at its 665th session. In 2022, a session was planned to be dedicated to a briefing by the Panel of the Wise, during June, under the chairship of the Republic of Congo. However, the session was postponed, delaying the planned updates on the activities of the Panel. It is to be recalled that at the 665th session, the PSC decided that the ‘Panel of the Wise shall make quarterly briefings to the PSC, in order to enhance the conflict prevention capacity, early warning and timely decision-making processes of the Council’. Similar calls have been made by the PSC including at its 568th session, towards having more regular engagements. This is in line with the mandate of the Panel of the Wise recognized in PSC Protocol which outlines the Panel’s role in supporting the work of the PSC in conflict prevention.

Although the Panel of the Wise is expected to regularly brief and advise the PSC, the meetings have been rare particularly in the past few years and are yet to be fully institutionalised. This has affected the harmonisation and collaboration between the two organs around the role of the Panel on conflict prevention, including preventive diplomacy.

Tomorrow’s session will provide an important platform to brief the PSC on a number of developments that have taken place since the last briefing session. One key development has been the appointment of new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The new members were appointed for a three-year term by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)]. The fifth Panel includes the following eminent persons: Domitien Ndayizeye, former President of Burundi (Central Africa Region) and chair of the Panel, Amre Moussa, former Foreign Minister of Egypt and former Secretary General of the League of Arab States (Northern Africa Region), Effie Owuor (Eastern Africa Region), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Southern Africa Region) and Babacar Kante (Western Africa Region).

Following the appointment of the members, the Panel held its inaugural meeting on 28-29 March 2022 in Addis Ababa. The meeting served, among other purposes, for the Panel to be briefed by the AU Commission on the work of its subsidiary bodies and to receive a horizon scanning briefing on issues related to peace, security and governance. The meeting was also critical to allow the Panel of the Wise to deliberate on and outline the thematic issues and country situations that need to be prioritised. Accordingly, the Panel committed to work in support of specific countries namely Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Somalia. More particularly, on the situation in South Sudan, the Panel called for the operationalisation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS). In this context, an issue that may be of interest for PSC members is how these efforts by the Panel will and can contribute to the PSC’s ongoing engagement in these countries and the work of the various mechanisms of the AU dealing with these country situations.

Taking into consideration various developments and the current peace and security trends, in the first year of its mandate the Panel decided to focus supporting member states holding elections, those experiencing political transitions and countries that need support around constitutionalism and promotion of consensus building, including through national dialogue, reconciliation and transitional justice issues, and climate and security. These are also areas which the PSC has deliberated on in its various sessions.

With regards to transitional justice it would be of interest for the PSC and the Panel to coordinate around further popularising the AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework adopted in February 2019. The policy framework which was developed based on the recommendation by the Panel may support its work in particular in peacebuilding, reconciliation and consensus building. Moreover, the PSC and the Panel of the Wise can reflect on ways through which the Panel can contribute to AU’s role of supporting countries experiencing complex transitions. The Panel can also contribute to the implementation of PSC’s previous decisions, including at its 383rd and 525th sessions, to dedicate regular sessions on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The resurgence of military coups in multiple countries across the continent was also one of the key issues that was highlighted with grave concern in the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise. The issue also took centre stage in the discussions of the inaugural joint retreat of the African Pear Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons and the AU Panel of the Wise, which took place on 13 November 2022, in line with the 819th PSC session which encouraged the two organs to work in close collaboration, particularly in the area of preventive diplomacy. The 7th retreat of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise) which was held on 20-21October 2022 also drew attention to the growing concern of governance related peace and security challenges in its section dedicated to horizon scanning reflections. Having regard to the need for timely responding to underlying socio-economic and political grievances, governance deficits and constitutional crises that culminate in coups, the Panel of the Wise, in collaboration with the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, can play a significant role in the deployment of preventive diplomacy at the earliest warning signs of governance challenges, to avert impending military takeover of power and maintain constitutional rule in affected member states.

The briefing also comes at a high time where there is mounting political and security tension in the Great Lakes Region. The rising confrontation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) calls for an immediate continental intervention and response in deescalating the crisis. Although regional efforts are underway, it would be critical for the Panel of the Wise, as key mandate holder in preventive diplomacy, to play its role in support of the ongoing efforts for de-escalating the tension for restoring stability in the region and to ensure that the gains made so far are not reversed.

The session also serves as an opportunity for the PSC and Panel of the Wise to reflect on how the Panel can contribute to address the existing gap between early warning and early action that hampered the effective engagement in deescalating crises before they transform into full blown armed conflicts. To address these gaps, PSC’s previous decisions calling for more regular briefings from the Panel were also echoed in the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel. In this context, the Panel decided ‘to prioritize regular horizon scanning (briefing) to the PSC to inform relevant options for response and rapid interventions in conflict situations with the aim of preventing and managing potential violent situations,’ although the Panel’s role is and should be on response to early warning rather than engaging in early warning.

Another issue which may be discussed in tomorrow’s briefing is how to create more institutional synergy with newly formed subsidiary bodies of the Panel. In addition to PanWise and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), a new subsidiary body has been endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022, the Network of African Youth on Conflict Prevention and Mediation (WiseYouth). It would be of interest for the PSC to inquire and seek clarity on the newly established WiseYouth and how it complements and coordinates with existing mechanisms including AU Youth Peace Ambassadors (AYAPs), the second cohort of which was selected in November 2021 and endorsed by the AU Assembly in February 2022 at its 35th Ordinary Session and welcomed by the PSC at its 1067th session.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communique. The PSC may welcome the new members of the fifth Panel of the Wise appointed by the AU Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session. It may also welcome the establishment of WiseYouth. The PSC may take note of the outcome and priorities set during the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of the Wise convened from 28 to 29 March 2022. It may welcome the outcomes of the inaugural joint retreat of the Panel of the Wise and the APR Panel of Eminent Persons. Council may underline the importance of reinvigorating early warning and conflict prevention by working closely with the Panel. It may underline the importance of enhancing coordination with the Panel in supporting complex transitions, sustaining peace in fragile contexts and ensuring early action to deescalate looming crises. To this end the PSC may reiterate its previous decision and call for the institutionalisation of conflict prevention and preventive deployment briefing by the Panel.

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Consideration of the Status Report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework

Date | 01 March 2023

Tomorrow (01 March), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1142nd session to consider a status report on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework: Country Structural Vulnerability Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS).

The Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the AU and Chair of the PSC for the month of March, Innocent Shiyo, will deliver opening remarks while the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to provide a status update on the implementation of the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework.

One of the side events at the recently concluded 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly was a High-Level meeting on ‘early warning within the framework of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA)’, which was hosted by President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. In that side event, the representative of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called on Member States to ‘embrace’ the CSCPF and its tools, the CSVRA/CSVMS, as part of the efforts to strengthen continental early warning system. The tools were devised with the hope to address structural causes of conflicts and achieve sustainable peace in the continent, but the political buy-in so far remains far from satisfactory as evident from the fact only three African countries were part of this process since the launch of the CSCPF.

Tomorrow’s session is an opportunity for the PSC to take stock of the implementation of the CSCPF and its tools -CSVRA/CSVMS – and provide strategic guidance on how to revitalize the process for effective conflict prevention, which is one of the main objectives of the PSC.

The CSVRA/CSVMS came within the framework of continental early warning system and as a follow-up to PSC’s 360th session, held in March 2013, a session that stressed the need for a strategic focus on addressing the structural/root causes of conflicts. During its 463rd session that took place in October 2014, PSC commended the Commission for its efforts to finalize the elaboration of the CSCPF as well as to develop a Structural Vulnerability Assessment tool and further requested the Commission to expedite the process. PSC’s 502nd session, convened in April 2015, adopted the CSVRA/CSVMS tools, and requested the Commission, in collaboration with the RECs, to avail all the necessary assistance to Member States and popularize the tools while encouraging Member States to fully take advantage of these tools in their efforts towards the structural prevention of conflict.

Recently, the Assembly, during its 35th ordinary session, held in February 2022, encouraged Member States to ‘utilize the opportunities afforded by the Commission and RECs/RMs to address structural causes of violent conflict through the implementation of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment/Country Structural Vulnerability and Mitigation Strategies (CSVRA/CSVMS) processes.’ In that summit, the Assembly went on requesting the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee’ comprising the AU Commission, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member States to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In tomorrow’s session, PSC may follow-up on progress made towards the implementation of this decision.

As highlighted in the 502nd session of the PSC, the CSCPF has been developed to facilitate a Commission-wide and coordinated approach to structural conflict prevention with the aim to identify and address structural weaknesses that have the potential to cause violent conflicts if left unaddressed. In operationalizing the CSCPF, the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division (CPEWD) of the Peace and Security Department developed the CSVRA/CSVMS tools with the former designed to facilitate the identification of a country’s structural vulnerability to conflict at an early stage while the later to focus on strategic and medium to long-term measures aimed at mitigating the country’s structural vulnerabilities and build resilience.

The CSVRA/CSVMS are voluntary processes and hence should be implemented by Member States through a request simultaneously addressed to the AU Commission and the concerned REC. The request may come at the initiation of the AU. Following the request, a team of experts composed of an expert nominated by the Member States, the CEWS staff, representatives of relevant AUC departments, representative from the concerned REC, as well as representatives from other stakeholders will be formed to work on CSVRA report, which is envisaged to be finalized within three months. Once the report is finalized, the next phase will be for the concerned state, in coordination with the AUC and the relevant REC, to start working on the CSVMS in coordination between the Member State.

Indeed, the status of implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS leaves a lot to be desired, highlighting the need for revitalizing these important tools. In that context, there are at least three points that the PSC may consider in tomorrow’s deliberation.

First, as a voluntary process, the ideals of CSVRA/CSVMS cannot be achieved without securing greater political buy-in of Member States. The fact that only three Member States have acceded to the process thus far clearly tells not only the low buy-in but also the Commission’s limitation to effectively sell these tools and the benefits they avail to Member States. It is recalled that Ghana was the first to initiate the structural vulnerability assessment in 2017, followed by Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia in 2019 and 2020, respectively. It is encouraging that few other countries – such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius – have reportedly shown interest to engage in the process, but additional effort is required on the side of the Commission to bring more countries on board. This may also require addressing concerns about the framing of the exercise as vulnerability assessment. Additionally, structurally there is a need for aligning this exercise with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose review also involves such structural vulnerability analysis of countries under review.

Second, despite the rhetoric, conflict prevention and early warning system in general and the CSVRA/CSVMS tools in particular have received little attention as much of the focus seems on activities related to conflict management. This has been for instance reflected in the new PAPS structure, which, unlike the previous structure, does not have a dedicated division to conflict prevention and early warning. There is in particular a need for the member states to provide resources for the AU Commission in order for it to have a dedicated capacity, which, working with the APRM, promotes the full and active operationalization of these tools.

Third, there is a high need to clarify the relation with other AU tools particularly the APRM. The PSC should provide policy guidance on how these two mechanisms complement each other so that there is no confusion on their respective purposes and objectives.

The expected outcome is a communique. PSC may underline the critical importance of CSVRA/CSVMS tools to the structural prevention of conflict and consolidation of peace and stability in the continent. Considering the benefits that the CSVRA/CSVMS tools offer particularly in identifying and addressing the structural vulnerabilities of member states that may evolve into violent conflicts, the PSC is expected to encourage Member States to fully take advantage of these tools. It may also request the Commission to provide all the required support to Member States. It may further request the Commission to develop strategy to better popularize these tools and ensure greater buy-in of Member States so that more countries undertake the assessment. PSC may also request the Commission to enhance its working relationship with the RECs/RMs in the implementation of the CSVRA/CSVMS, as well as to better clarify the relationship between these tools and the APRM. In the light of the fact that the institutional reform had left the CSCPF without a structure for its effective operationalization, the PSC may call for a dedicated capacity within PAPS for taking responsibility in promoting and implementing CSVRA/CSVMS.

Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Briefing by CISSA on the Peace and Security Outlook on the Continent for the Year 2023

Date | 8 February 2023

Tomorrow (8 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold its 1138th session to receive a briefing on the peace and security outlook on the continent for the year 2023.

The session commences with the opening remark of Edward Xolisa Edward, Permanent Representative of South Africa and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to make statement presenting reflections from the PAPS department on the peace and security outlook of the continent. The main briefing on the theme of the session is expected to be delivered by a representative of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA).

Tomorrow’s session is taking place in line with PSC’s decision adopted at its 1073rd session held on 6 April 2022 that requested the Commission to facilitate quarterly briefings to enhance conflict prevention. In line with this decision, the PSC in its annual indicative program of activities for 2023 has scheduled to receive such briefings in February, June, October and December.

When the PSC convened its 1073rd session on the same theme, it expressed grave concern over the ‘persistence of a myriad of threat to peace, security and stability and socio-economic development on the continent.’ In the session, a number of security threats were highlighted including political instability and electoral disputes, unconstitutional changes of government, human rights violation, violent extremism and terrorism and cybercrime.

During tomorrow’s session, the briefing by CISSA may highlight the continuation or worsening of the security threats that were witnessed in 2022. The first of such threat that is sure to receive particular attention is the persistence of conflicts involving terrorist groups and the threat of their expansion into new areas. In terms of the persistence of conflicts involving terrorism, various parts of the continent experienced more incidents of violence in 2022. Out of the 699 terrorist attacks that the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) documented for the first half of 2022, the Sahel region recorded 179 attacks that resulted in 1,909 deaths while the Lake Chad Basin recorded 153 attacks that caused 1,229 deaths. On the other hand, the Great Lakes region accounted for 96 attacks and 1,013 deaths, and Horn of Africa region accounted for 71 attacks that resulted in 504 deaths during the period. According to the latest report from United Nations (UN) Development Programme (UNDP) on the spread of terrorism, human rights violations and abuses have become triggers of instability including in relation to the emergence and expansion of conflicts involving terrorism.

In terms of the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorist groups, the most worrying is the threat of expansion of conflicts involving terrorism from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. In this respect, Ghana’s President warned in a meeting last November that the ‘worsening situation …threatens to engulf the entire West Africa’.

The other major source of threat to peace and security on the continent is the worsening of democratic governance deficit on the continent and the discontent and grievances this continues to breed. In countries that have not experienced change of leadership or have been dominated by one party for a long period of time, the worsening of the democratic governance deficit in the context of expanding socio-economic challenges is sure to become a fertile ground for political instability. These may take various forms including mass protests, riots and in worst case scenario, the emergence of armed militias or insurgent groups.

On the socio-economic sources of threat in 2023, attention may be drawn to the fact that the vast majority of the 50 countries in the world that are at risk of debt crisis are in Africa. This debt crisis is compounded by high levels of inflation and fast-growing rise in the price of consumer goods, including basic necessities, with the IMF reporting that consumer prices have increased in Africa by more than 20 percent on average in 2022. These severe economic pressures can have dire consequences in terms of stability not only for fragile and conflict affected countries on the continent but also for those less fragile and not affected by conflict. Accordingly, one aspect of the peace and security outlook of the continent for 2023 that requires proactive policy action relate to the threats of instability that arises from these dire socio-economic trends.

Another site of threat to stability and peace in Africa in 2023, as in the past years, involves elections. Close to twenty countries will be holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 2023. Some of the countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Guinea Bissau, will be holding their elections in fragile political and security contexts. In others countries, such as Madagascar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, trust deficit in electoral institutions and processes combined with disinformation and rising cost of living and food insecurity could create flashpoints for electoral dispute and violence taking various forms including political protests, mass demonstrations, strikes and riots which are met with heavy-handed responses by security forces.

Source: Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EiSA) and Amani Africa Tracking


Developments in 2022 also suggest that the management of complex political transitions, peace processes and conflict hot spots will continue to be sites of geopolitical rivalry that in some cases may lead to reversal of progress towards resolution. As the influence and meddling of external actors on the continent intensifies in 2023, existing geopolitical rivalries over transitions and conflict settings such as in Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Libya and Sudan are expected to persist and such rivalries could become prominent in others such as the DRC. An important consideration for the PSC in the attempt to prevent relapse of transitions into conflict or crisis or further deterioration of existing conflicts due to the impact of geopolitical rivalries, is the question of the measures that should be devised and implemented to mitigate to the minimum possible, the adverse impact of such deepening geopolitical rivalry on Africa.

Aside from the impact of geopolitical rivalry, tomorrow’s session may focus on the challenges around protracted and complex political transitions and the difficult path towards the restoration of constitutional order in these countries and the way forward. Other complex transitions are related to the slow implementation of peace agreements as witnessed in the case of South Sudan, CAR and Libya.

The threat of coups or attempted coups and other forms of unconstitutional changes of government is also expected to continue to loom large on the peace and security landscape of the continent. This may affect, as witnessed in 2022, countries that are in political transition induced by military coups, and other countries facing political, socio-economic and security challenges.

Tomorrow’s PSC session also comes after the conclusion of the 18th ordinary session of CISSA held between 29 January and 4 February under the theme ‘Food security, conflict and peace in Africa’. Hence one aspect that CISSA will likely highlight in its briefing is the link between conflict and hunger. There has been a concerning trend witnessed in the various conflicts in the continent of the use of starvation and the destruction of agricultural products and infrastructure as a tactic of war. On the other hand, the impact of drought on food and nutrition has also been devastating. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, an estimated of 22 million people are now acutely food insecure because of drought.

The mismatch between humanitarian needs and assistance is expected to exacerbate the dire situation. While there is an expected reduction in humanitarian assistance in Somalia starting from the second quarter of 2023, more than eight million people across Somalia are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity outcomes between April and June 2023. This is due to the five consecutive seasons of reduced rainfall, a possible sixth season of below-average rainfall from March to June 2023, and exceptionally high food prices, further exacerbated by insecurity. Similarly, the number of people affected by hunger in West and Central Africa is projected to reach an all-time high of 48 million people (including 9 million children) in 2023.

A related challenge that will be particularly relevant for tomorrow’s briefing is the interplay between climate change and insecurity. Various parts of the continent particularly the Sahel and Horn of Africa have been susceptible to climate shocks including recurrent droughts and floods. Extreme whether events operate as risk multipliers in conflict affected countries. Fierce inter-communal competition and violence over depleting resources have led to deadly clashes.  Climate change induced displacement has also created tension between host and displaced communities.

Tomorrow’s session may also serve as an opportunity to follow up on the status of the requests made to the AU Commission by the PSC, including on the need to convene a meeting between the AU Commission and PSC Committee of Experts on early warning, provision of support to member states, establishment of clear communication channel with the PSC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and elaboration of trigger mechanism.

The PSC may also reflect on how to ensure effective use of available early warning and response tools in the Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigations Strategies (CSVMS) which are critical to enhance the early warning role of the PSC. There is also the issue of more effective use of other pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) particularly the Panel of the Wise, notably for enhancing preventive diplomacy.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may welcome the briefing presented by CISSA. The PSC may express concern over the deteriorating peace and security, governance and humanitarian landscape of the continent. It may underline the importance of receiving regular and institutionalized briefings on peace and security outlook to enhance its early warning capacity. The PSC may express its readiness to continue and enhance its engagement with the various bodies including the Panel of the Wise for a strengthened preventive diplomacy and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to address the structural governance challenges that continue to drive insecurity in the continent. Given the concerning trends witnessed in the continent, the PSC may underline the importance of deliberating on all countries that require PSC’s attention without facing opposition on the inclusion of any item in the agenda of the PSC. The PSC may also consider to have dedicated deliberation on how to address the issue of denialism by member states on the existence of risks and the invocation of sovereignty.

Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Inauguration of ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’

Date | 31 January 2023

Tomorrow (31 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1135th session for the inaugural commemoration of the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’ in line with the Declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU. The open session is expected to take place in a hybrid format where AU Member States and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) attend the meeting in-person while other participants join remotely.

The Permanent Representative of Uganda and Stand-in Chairperson of the PSC for January, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, will deliver opening remarks to the session which is expected to proceed in two segments. During the open segment of the session, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat is expected to make the lead statement while President of Angola and AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, is scheduled to provide the inaugural keynote statement for the launch of the Africa Day of peace and reconciliation. Representatives of four Member States, namely The Gambia, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Africa, are expected to share the experience of their respective countries on how they pursued the reconciliation processes. In addition, Chairperson of the AU Panel of the Wise and former President of Burundi, Domitien Ndayizeye, and Co-Chair of FemWise-Africa and former President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, are anticipated to deliver statements while presentations on the Peace Dividends from National Reconciliation, Dialogue and Social Cohesion could be made by an African female/Child affected by armed conflict.

This session is convened in accordance with the declaration of the 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government in Africa held last May in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which decided to institute 31 January of each year as the ‘Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation’. In that Summit, the Assembly further appointed Angola’s President, João Manuel Gonçalves LOURENÇO, as AU Champion for peace and Reconciliation in Africa. It is to be recalled that the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec.501(XXII)] of February 2022 declared 2014-2024 as the ‘Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa’. On the other hand, the PSC, at its 525th session held in July 2015, agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item on its indicative annual programme of activities. On 5 December 2019, during its 899th session, PSC also agreed to dedicate an annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa.

The PSC has dedicated several stand-alone sessions since 2013 to discuss the theme of peace and reconciliation. For instance, during its 383rd session, held in June 2013 at the ministerial level, PSC highlighted the critical role of national reconciliation to achieve lasting peace by overcoming divisions arising from conflict and restoring social cohesion. It was also at this ministerial session that the PSC first proposed the idea of developing an AU Framework on national reconciliation and justice, but that initiative seem to have fallen through the cracks.

PSC’s 525th session of July 2015 urged Member States to ‘show greater sense of responsibility and strong commitment to national reconciliation processes’ as part of the efforts to achieve a peaceful, integrated, and prosperous continent. The 672nd session, convened in March 2016, drew attention on the need to invest in institutions and reconciliation processes while embarking on post-conflict reconstruction. The 899th session of December 2019, convened at the initiation of Angola, then Chairperson of the PSC, took several decisions to step-up efforts in the promotion of national reconciliation in the continent, including the decision to dedicate annual session on experience sharing on national reconciliation, and develop an implementation and monitoring mechanism to take forward the various aspects of national reconciliation in post-conflict situations. Most recently in August 2022, PSC also convened lessons learning session broadly on the implementation of AU Transitional Justice Policy, though not specific to the issue of reconciliation.

The commemoration of Africa Day will complement and builds on these existing AU efforts that are aimed at raising awareness about and mobilize support for reconciliation as a vital tool to achieve lasting peace in the continent.

The continent has rich experience of national reconciliations that offer good lessons to Member States that are pursuing or intend to pursue reconciliation. As such, part of tomorrow’s program will be lessons learnt and experience sharing by three of PSC Member States (The Gambia, Burundi, South Africa), as well as Rwanda.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The reconciliation process has successfully transformed South Africa from an Apartheid system to a constitutional democracy, but there is a growing call for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to impede the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In the case of The Gambia, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which was established in December 2017 with the mandate to investigate and establish an impartial historical record of human rights violations from July 1994 to January 2017, has received international prominence for its achievements in uplifting the political consciousness of the public and the high level of public interest it evoked in giving a hearing for victims and the public an opportunity for acknowledging the violations. It is to be recalled that the TRRC delivered its final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights and the government issued a white paper in May 2022 accepting almost all the TRRC’s 265 recommendations. The next critical step for The Gambia, therefore, remains the full implementation of the recommendations outlined in the TRRC report.

Burundi also pursued the reconciliation process by creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is born out of the Arusha Agreement of 2000 for peace and reconciliation in Burundi, in 2014 and extended for four years in 2018. The Commission has made some progress in conducting investigations and identifying mass graves as well as exhuming victims. At the same time, the composition, mandate, and activities of the Commission has been subject of controversy as critics raise question about the impartiality of the Commission in interrogating acts of violence involving all conflict actors, not excluding members of the ruling party.

Rwanda’s experience on the other hand reveals the use of traditional mechanisms, the community based Gacaca courts, as a home-grown solution to achieve the twin goals of retribution and reconciliation. The Gacaca courts are lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide and played instrumental role towards achieving unity and reconciliation. Reintegration of genocide convicts, unresolved cases of compensation to genocide survivors, persistence of genocide ideology and denials remain challenges for Rwanda.

Beyond exchanging best practices from these experiences to identify lessons learned, this day can also be instrumental for reflecting on existing conflicts and peace processes on the continent. Indeed, this first anniversary of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation comes at a time when Africa is in very dire security situation. The number of conflicts has spiked in recent years. Apart from conflicts that take the form of civil wars, many countries in various parts of the continent also suffer from conflicts involving terrorist violence. The factors for the emergence and continuation of many of these conflicts involve political, socio-cultural, and developmental governance deficits exacerbated by a winner takes all approach to political power and repressive and authoritarian exercise of government power and violent response to opposition and dissent.

Indeed, the litmus test of the material contribution or value of this day as well as that of the AU flagship project of Silencing the Guns lies in how this day helps to put a spotlight on and mobilizes targeted intervention for the mitigation, if not resolution of existing conflicts from the Great Lakes Region, where the armed conflict involving armed rebel groups such as the M23 and Allied Democratic Forces is raging with the mounting tension between Rwanda and DRC reaching yet another high point last week, to the Sahel where conflicts involving terrorist violence continues to expand unabated and to the Horn of Africa battered by existing and new wars and violence. In this regard, the day may serve as an occasion for mobilising and reaffirming support for, among others, the Luanda and Nairobi processes on the conflict in Eastern DRC while calling for maximum restraint by DRC & Rwanda, the full implementation of the Pretoria peace agreement between Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the accompanying Nairobi Declaration, the peace process in Libya, implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan within the newly extended timetable and the negotiations towards civilian led transitional process in Sudan being facilitated by the Trilateral Mechanism.

The expected outcome of the session is not clear at the time of finalizing this insight. However, the outcome document is expected to welcome the inaugural commemoration of the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation. It may highlight the important role of national reconciliation towards achieving AU’s noble goal of Silencing the Guns by 2030 considering the critical role that reconciliation plays in preventing conflict relapse and laying strong foundation for sustainable peace in countries emerging from violent conflicts. In that regard, PSC may urge the Commission and other stakeholders to pay due attention to the reconciliation component while brokering peace between parties to a conflict. PSC may also reiterate those key elements of credible reconciliation process as outlined in the 383rd session and may further emphasize the importance of ensuring the participation of key stakeholders such as women and youth in the process. The PSC may also call on conflict parties to implement cessation of hostilities as good will for the Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation and opportunity for resolving the conflict through mediation and negotiation. The PSC may also urge those involved in peace processes (in Eastern DRC, Libya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan) in various conflict settings to collaborate with and actively engage in the processes and take the necessary measures for implementation of commitments they made for resolving conflicts and active reconciliation.

Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Consideration of the Revised/Updated Policy Framework on PCRD

Date | 24 January 2023

Tomorrow (24 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1133rd session to consider the revised AU Policy Framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD).

Following opening statement by the month’s stand-in Chairperson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the AU, Rebecca Amuge Otengo, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement.

At its last briefing on PCRD efforts in Africa which took place at its 1122nd session, the PSC welcomed the initiation of the review process of the 2006 AU Policy Framework on PCRD, in line with the decision of the 35th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)] and the Communiqué of the 1047th PSC session [PSC/PR/COMM.1047(2021)], in order to ensure that the policy is adaptable to emerging peace and security challenges in the continent. One of the key outcomes of the 1122nd session was the request made for the PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) to conduct an urgent review of the draft revised policy and submit to the PSC for its consideration ahead of the Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly scheduled to take place in February 2023. Tomorrow’s session is being convened in the context of this previous decision of the PSC.

It is to be recalled that the process of revising the AU Policy Framework on PCRD was initiated through a convening of experts which took place in Accra, Ghana, from 09 to 14 September 2022. Further to enabling the consideration and reflection of new peace and security challenges that confront the continent such as terrorism, pandemics and unconstitutional changes of government within the revised PCRD Policy Framework, the review process allowed to identify best approaches for the implementation of the policy in relevant areas ranging from conflict prevention to stabilisation, early recovery and periods of transition.

In terms of substantive changes introduced in the revised version of the policy, one important aspect is the inclusion of some highlights on PCRD funding as part of the policy’s section on rationale. This is a significant addition considering that resource constraint and absence of sufficient financing has been one of the main factors that continues to challenge implementation of PCRD efforts in the continent. Introducing a paragraph on PCRD funding within the policy framework could be considered as an important step towards clarifying the need to channel available means of financing towards PCRD efforts. One such channel is the utilisation of the AU Peace Fund which envisages under its pillar for building institutional capacity (Window 2), the operationalisation and capacity building of the AU PCRD Centre and enhancement of member States’ capacity in the areas of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). In addition to this and other existing means for financing PCRD works in Africa – such as the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) which as noted by the PSC at its 1047th session needs to be urgently revitalised –, it is also important to look into more innovative funding approaches, including, as highlighted by the PSC at its 1122nd session, through smart partnerships between the AU and private sector ‘to ensure adequate, predictable, and sustainable financing for PCRD efforts in the continent’.

Another important substantive addition to the revised policy framework is the inclusion of humanitarian principles as part of the core values that underpin the policy. Humanitarian principles which pertain to humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence are critical not only to carryout humanitarian action during armed conflicts, but also in the post-conflict phase and need to be well integrated in all peacebuilding activities. Further to that, the emphasis drawn to the importance of strengthening the link between PCRD and humanitarian response at the 15th Extraordinary AU Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference plays a significant role in creating some clarity around the contributions of humanitarian action in transition or post-conflict situations, which hasn’t always been well-defined. While the shift in the nature of interventions is expected to change from one of life-saving to that of sustaining and stabilising, the continued engagement of humanitarian action during the post-conflict phase is fundamental to ensure ‘ability of state institutions to protect civilians and deliver adequate social services, supporting the return and reintegration of displaced populations, and helping resuscitate socio-economic activities’ as underscored in the decision of the 15th AU Extraordinary Summit [Ext/Assembly/AU/Decl.(XV)].

In addition to the review of the Policy Framework on PCRD, the AU Commission has also been engaged in efforts aimed at revitalising the overall AU Peacebuilding Architecture. Perhaps the most critical element for the effective operationalization of PCRD is the existence of the requisite level of staff complement able to design innovative PCRD interventions. Linked to this is the on-going efforts to fully operationalise the Cairo based AU PCRD Centre which was officially launched in December 2021 and forms a principal part of these efforts. But lack of resources and slow pace of recruitment of staff for the Centre mean that full operationalization of the Centre is not yet realised.

Further to seeking updates regarding the full operationalisation of the Centre since the briefing it received at its previous session, tomorrow’s session also presents the PSC the opportunity to emphasise the need to strengthen the Centre’s capacity to undertake activities aimed at addressing the psychosocial needs of trauma survivors in post-conflict settings, particularly vulnerable parts of society including children, women, elderly and people with disabilities.

The experience in AU’s PCRD work such as in the Gambia highlight the need for tailoring and deploying PCRD interventions on the basis of the transitional needs and priorities that countries in transition identified. Efficient PCRD interventions also necessitate the leveraging of the role of various entities including AU liaison offices currently crippled by staffing and other resource constraints and others with the expertise and experience of working on matters relevant to PCRD including humanitarian actors and the African Development Bank. The other lesson from AU’s engagement in peace and security including through peace support operations and mediation and peace making is the need for planning and integrating PCRD support into AU peace support operations, the mandate and expertise of AU political offices and liaison offices and its mediation and peace-making works.

In terms of making PCRD efforts more responsive to contemporary challenges to peace, security and development in the continent, the PSC may also reflect on the impacts of climate change on peacebuilding efforts in Africa. An issue which formed the central focus of the discussions between the PSC and the United Nations (UN) Peace Building Commission (UNPBC) at their 5th Annual Consultative Meeting which took place on 28 November 2022, the adverse impacts of climate change have proven to be disruptive to peace, security and development in multiple ways. In the post-conflict situations where States are only emerging from crisis and have very weak and fragile institutions as well as economic capacity to respond to climate induced disasters, there is a high likelihood for peacebuilding efforts to be easily reversed. Considering climate-sensitive planning and ensuring climate-responsive financing should therefore form part of all peacebuilding efforts implemented in the continent.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to welcome the finalisation of the Revised Policy Framework on PCRD ahead of its submission to the upcoming AU Summit and commend the CoE for its efforts in this regard. It may call on the AU Commission to diversify its partnerships in order to address the gaps and challenges faced in financing PCRD efforts. It may emphasise the importance of ensuring humanitarian financing to respond to humanitarian concerns that persist during post-conflict phase and contribute to recovery and peacebuilding challenges. It may reiterate its call for the AU Commission to develop a Policy on Psycho-Social Support to survivors of violent conflicts. Echoing the key outcomes of its 5th Annual Consultative Meeting with the UNPBC, the PSC may also emphasise the importance of predictable climate-responsive financing for peacebuilding efforts in Africa and draw attention to the importance of adopting a common African position on the nexus between climate and peace and security.  The PSC may also reiterate some of the important decisions of its previous session including its request for the AU Commission to establish a PCRD Working Group, in collaboration with the AU Development Agency (AUDA/NEPAD). It may further follow up on its calls for the urgent reactivation of the PSC Sub-Committee on PCRD and revitalisation of the Interdepartmental Task Force on PCRD. With respect to the full operationalization of the PCRD Centre, the PSC may request for a plan on the finalization of the staffing requirements of the Centre for it to start effectively delivering on its work. The PSC may also call for the planning and integration of PCRD support tasks into the design and mandates of AU peace support operations, political offices, liaison offices and mediation and peace-making processes.

Briefing on the activities of the AFCONE and CTBTO

Briefing on the activities of the AFCONE and CTBTO

Date | 16 December 2022

Tomorrow (16 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1127th session to receive briefing on the activities of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Victor Adekunle Adeleke, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Representatives of AFCONE and CTBTO are expected to brief the PSC. Representatives of the United Nations (UN) Office to the AU (UNOAU) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may also make statement in the opening segment of the session.

The last time PSC convened to discuss updates regarding the activities of AFCONE and implementation of the African Nuclear-Weapon Free-Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) was in March 2022, at its 1071st session. As expressed in the Communiqué of the session, recent developments geopolitical developments indicative of possible use of nuclear weapons have triggered the PSC’s concern over the impact of such developments on peace, security and humanitarian efforts, globally and in Africa in particular. One of the important outcomes of the session was the PSC’s call for joint action between relevant international and regional actors including AFCONE, IAEA, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and CTBTO in undertaking implementation efforts for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Tomorrow’s session is expected to follow up on-going efforts including collaborations among relevant actors towards ensuring nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

One area of update the PSC may be briefed on at tomorrow’s session is the discussions of the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which took place from 1 to 26 August 2022, in New York. Although the conference came to an end without the adoption of any concreate outcome document due to Russia’s opposition to the draft tabled by the presidency, the occasion did serve to renew commitments made in the treaty to ‘prevent the spread of nuclear weapons’ and to ‘promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy’. Representing the AU Commission and AU States Parties to NTP, AFCONE submitted a statement to the Tenth Review Conference of NTP which among other points, emphasised the importance of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZ) and encouraged the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) to ‘prioritize efforts towards ratification of all the applicable protocols of all the NWFZ Treaties.’

Regarding implementation of Pelindaba Treaty – one of the five global NWFZ Treaties –   AFCONE may update the PSC about ongoing efforts to ensure ratification of the treaty by all AU member States in order to boost its implementation. As indicated in Amani Africa’s previous insight on PSC’s 1071st session, 11 AU member States are yet to ratify the Pelindaba Treaty. Further to contributing towards global non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and creating conditions for sustaining peace and security, the full implementation of the Pelindaba Treaty would also significantly advance socio-economic development in Africa, through promoting cooperation on the use and application of nuclear energy in critical fields such as power generation, agriculture and various industrial endeavours. The treaty could serve as an essential step for member States to forge a common goal and establish the necessary mechanisms for advancing nuclear science and technology. As noted by the AFCONE in its reflections on the Tenth Review Conference of the NPT, the peaceful application of nuclear power and technology could ‘meaningfully contribute to the achievement of a country’s socio-economic development goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063’.

Regarding the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the CTBTO may update the PSC on the significant increase achieved in the signature and ratification of the treaty in Africa. Currently, 51 African States have signed the CTBT while 50 of these have ratified it. Within the framework of international nuclear arms control and disarmament and having regard to the fact that nuclear testing is a key step in the development of nuclear weapons, the CTBT bans the testing and explosion of nuclear weapons globally, be it above ground, under water and/or underground. The treaty is however yet to enter into force as ratification by eight States is still pending (these are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States). The CTBT’s entry into force wold be critical both for enhancing implementation of the NPT and to contain threats and use of nuclear weapons that have currently become causes for serious concern.

In its efforts to detect nuclear explosions around the world, the CTBTO has also mobilised 38 monitoring facilities in 24 African countries within the framework of its International Monitoring System. While these have been commendable steps, it is important to ensure that better collaboration and coordination exists between the CTBTO and AFCONE in order to have a coherent approach for nuclear weapons non-proliferation and disarmament in Africa.

In addition, while the CTBT would considerably contribute towards the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons both in Africa and the world, it is important to ensure clarity on the difference between efforts aimed at peaceful use of nuclear energy on the one hand and nuclear testing for the purposes of developing nuclear weapons on the other. As emphasised in AFCONE’s reflections on the Tenth Review Conference of NTP, it is essential to ‘guard against attempts to deny technology, especially to developing countries, under the guise of non-proliferation or nuclear security measures’ and that States Parties should ‘guard against any reinterpretation of, or restrictions on, the inalienable right of States to pursue the peaceful uses of nuclear technology’.

Another critical aspect the PSC may wish to reflect on is the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. The destructive impact of nuclear weapons on human life and livelihood – including aspects related to environment, health and development – is an already well-established factor. However, recalling past experiences such as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings as well as the Chernobyl nuclear incident and the devastating humanitarian impacts they entailed is critical in order to keep relevant global actors from engaging in a destructive nuclear discourse.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. The PSC is expected to commend AFCONE and the CTBTO for their continued efforts to ensure non-proliferation of nuclear weapons both in Africa and globally. It may welcome the conclusion of the Tenth Review Conference of NPT and commend AFCONE for contributing to the review on behalf of the AU Commission and African States Parties. It may express regret however, over the lack of consensus faced in adopting an outcome document at the Tenth Review Conference, which makes it second time in a row, following the Ninth Review Conference of 2015 which also unfortunately came to an end without agreement on a substantive final declaration. The PSC may also call on AFCONE, CTBTO and IAEA to better coordinate their efforts. It may also reiterate its call to AFCONE, working in collaboration with the AU Commission and other relevant stakeholders including the IAEA, to mobilise resources and technical expertise to member States to advance and promote use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful and developmental purposes.

Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Date | 01 December 2022

Tomorrow (01 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1124th session to receive updates on the status of operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and Regional Standby Forces.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Victor Adekunle Adeleke, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. The various Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also expected to provide updates to the PSC regarding on-going efforts to enhance Regional Standby Brigades.

The last time PSC met to follow up on the operationalisation of the ASF was at its 1069th session held on 10 March 2022. The session served to discuss capacity gaps that continue to constrain the deployment and employment of the ASF which has been declared fully operational by the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) in 2015. Tomorrow’s session serves to reflect on the status of some of the steps necessitated for the full deployment of ASF, particularly finalisation and adoption of key documents including the Five-Year Successor Strategic Work Plan (2021 – 2025) on the ASF and the AU-RECs/RMs Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Employment of the ASF.

Following the 1069th PSC session, the STCDSS convened its 14th Ordinary Session on 12 May 2022 where it considered both the 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan and the AU-RECs/RMs MoU. The 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan was developed by the AU Commission, following completion of the implementation period of the 2016 – 2020 Maputo Strategic Five-Year Work Plan. The new work plan which has been developed through a review process of the previous one including achievements and challenges observed in its implementation, aims to align all ASF policies with the AU Doctrine on Peace Support Operations (PSOs) which was adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Meeting of the STCDSS held on 30 January 2021. Following the STCDSS’s review at its 14th Ordinary Session, the draft 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan was shared with the RECs/RMs for final inputs and validation. One area the PSC could be updated on at tomorrow’s session is therefore the status of validation of the new strategic work plan by RECs/RMs.

Regarding the AU-RECs/RMs MoU on the employment of ASF, a key development has been the finalisation of the draft MoU – which defined the roles and responsibilities of the AU and RECs/RMs in the employment, deployment and post-employment of the ASF composed of regional standby forces – and its clearance by the AU Office of Legal Counsel. Having considered the draft, the STCDSS at its 14th Ordinary Session requested the AU to form a Working Group comprising representatives of AU, RECs/RMs and member States, to undertake further consultations and provide inputs on the MoU. Accordingly, a Working Group meeting was facilitated by the AU Commission from 24 to 26 October 2022 and a consensus document representing additional inputs from member States and RECs/RMs was produced.   The STCDSS Bureau has  tabled the AU-RECs/RMs MoU as an agenda item of its 15th Ordinary meeting scheduled to take place in May or June 2023. Tomorrow’s session also serves for the PSC to be updated of these developments regarding the MoU.

With regards to ASF capacity generation, it is to be recalled that the AU Commission Chairperson’s “Status Report/Roadmap on the Full Operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Continental Logistics Base (CLB)” that was submitted to the 1007th PSC session highlighted ‘hesitancy and reluctance by the RECs/RMs to confirm capabilities pledged and how they are to be made readily available’. Demonstrating the continuation of the challenge, it was noted by the PSC at its 1069th session that only the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) Secretariat provided a verification report upon the request of the AU Commission in July 2021, for RECs/RMs to verify their pledged capabilities using the 2019 ASF Pledged Capabilities Verification Guidelines. In addition to seeking update on the submission of verification reports by any of the other RECs/RMs, PSC may be interested in examining the specific challenges faced by respective RECs/RMs in completing the reports.

The other aspect in the operationalization of the ASF expected to be discussed tomorrow concerns  the development of the Continental Movement Coordination Centre (CMCC) and Strategic Lift capability.  The PSC may take note of initiatives of the AU Commission in assessing the strategic lift assets of AU member states that have pledged air capabilities (Chad, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote D’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea) and the submission of draft MoUs in this regard, to the AU Office of Legal Counsel for clearance. This is expected to pave the way  for the utilisation of the pledged assets whenever the need arises.

Another important aspect of ASF operationalisation that may draw PSC’s attention is the status of utilisation of the Continental Logistics Base (CLB) which was launched in January 2018 and is based in Doula, Cameroon. The CLB, which serves the main purpose facilitating procurement and delivery of equipment as well as accounting for necessary support to the civilian, police and military components of AU PSOs, has been put to use for storing and managing equipment for PSOs including some donated to the South African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and to the Multinational Joint Task Force against the Boko Haram (MNJTF). Despite its important utility, the CLB faces challenges which could seriously hinder its operations. For example, since its inauguration in 2018, the CLB has been functioning through officers seconded by AU member States as there is shortage of funding for recruitment of substantive staff and to cover operating costs. In addition, there is still challenge in ensuring appropriate storage and maintenance facilities as well as comprehensive security to the equipment. On the other hand, the approval of the CLB structure through the AU Executive Council Decision adopted at its 41st Ordinary Session held on 14 July 2022 [EX.CL/Dec.1168(XLI)] has been an important progress.

Coming in the wake of the Inaugural Lessons Learned Forum on AU PSOs and ASF which took place from 01 to 03 November 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria, tomorrow’s session may also serve the PSC to take stock of and reflect on some of the main outcomes of the forum. One important point that formed part of the discussions at the Abuja lessons learned forum was the importance of reconceptualising the ASF as to align its visions of being continentally coordinated, with current practices and realities on the ground, particularly the more proactive role played by RECs/RMs in the deployment and management of PSOs. Despite some encouraging development being obtained in utilising the ASF framework, particularly through the deployment of SAMIM and SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL), the practice of deploying PSOs by RECs/RMs and some ad-hoc security arrangements has largely remained outside of, and mostly without any references to, the ASF framework.

The decision of the 14th Extraordinary Assembly on Silencing the Guns to declare the full operationalisation of ASF and direct its utilisation in mandating and authorising AU PSOs has been significant to address this gap. However, if the recent deployment of East African Community (EAC) Regional Force to Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – which makes no reference to the ASF framework – is to be any indication, the challenge still persists. Further to reconceptualising the ASF in a manner that grasps practices on the ground in the deployment of PSOs, it is thus important to also have clarity on some key strategic and political issues such as mandating deployment, political decision-making, and command and control, issues which will require the conclusion and signing of the AU-RECs/RMs MoU to be fully clarified.

An important point emphasised at the Abuja lessons learned forum was also the critical role that can be played by a well-funded ASF to tackle the growing challenge of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, and the importance of unpacking previous and on-going counterterrorism operations such as AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and MNJTF to draw lessons for the deployment of continental responses to terrorism, through the ASF. Although the decision for the establishment of a Specialised Unit of the ASF on Counterterrorism has been made pursuant to the Communiqués of PSC’s 455th and 960th sessions and decision of the AU Assembly [Assembly/AU/Dec.815(XXXV)], its envisaged establishment and utilisation – upon request by the affected member State and RECs/RMs and approval by the PSC – is yet to be realised. Funding being one of the main constraints delaying establishment of the unit, it remains critical to explore all options including utilisation of the AU Peace Fund, which envisages under Window 3, dedication of funds for full operationalisation of ASF.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is unknown at the time of developing this insight. The PSC may welcome the inauguration of a lessons learned forum on AU PSOs and the ASF in Abuja and encourage its periodic and regular convening in the future. It may also welcome developments made since its last session, in the process of fully operationalising the ASF. It may particularly take note of advances made in finalising key documents including the 2021 – 2025 Strategic Work Plan of the ASF and the AU-RECs/RMs MoU and urge the AU Commission to closely follow up on the status of their adoption. It may particularly encourage member States to adopt the draft AU-RECs/RMs MoU taking into account that it represents consensus of the members of the Working Group assigned by the STCDSS. Having regard to the importance of reconceptualising the ASF, the PSC may request the AU Commission to develop a revised ASF Concept that takes full account of RECs/RMs ownership of their respective standby forces, and submit to the 15th Ordinary Meeting of the STCDSS in May/June 2023. It may further request the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly to endorse the CLB structure which has already been approved by the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council. It may urge RECs/RMs that have not yet done so, to submit reports verifying their pledged capabilities. It may further commend RECs/RMs that have attained their full operational capability (FOC) and encourage those RECs/RMs that are yet to achieve FOC, to scale up the capabilities of their Regional Standby Brigades and work towards operationalising their respective Regional Logistic Depots. In this regard, considering also the experience of SADC in terms of non-readiness of the depot for supporting the SADC Mission in Mozambique,the PSC may further request the AU Commission to provide the necessary support to RECs/RMs in their efforts to enhance their capacities.  While commending member States that have pledged strategic lift capabilities for rapid deployment, the PSC may call on the AU Office of Legal Counsel to finalise clearance for ensuring readiness of the legal parameters for utilizing the capabilities. The PSC may also take note of capacity challenges that confront the CLB as well as establishment of the ASF Specialised Unit on Counterterrorism and call on all relevant stakeholders to redouble efforts to obtain the necessary funding as well as other support to address these challenges.

Update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)

Update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)

Date | 28 November 2022

Tomorrow (28 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1122nd session to receive update on AU Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD). The update will be one of the two agenda items that the PSC is set to consider during this session.

Emilia Ndinelao Mkusa, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November is expected to make opening remarks. Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is scheduled to introduce the progress report and present an update on the activities implemented during the year.

This session comes within the context of the commemoration of the second edition of PCRD awareness week (24 to 30 November 2022), which is being marked under the theme of ‘towards repositioning Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: greater awareness and sustained peacebuilding’. PCRD awareness week was first launched last year in November with the aim to raise awareness on and promote collective action of AU Member States and partners, on the recovery and development needs of post-conflict societies. It is to be recalled that the Assembly (Assembly/AU/Dec. 815(XXXV)) as well as the PSC during its 1047th session of November 2021 endorsed the institutionalization and regularization of the awareness week as an annual event.

In tomorrow’s session, members of the PSC are expected to discuss on progress and challenges in the implementation of AU PCRD policy since its last dedicated session on PCRD in November last year. PSC’s 670th session of March 2017 recognized that the ‘PCRD dimension remains the weakest link’ within the implementation processes of both the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). However, in recent years the Commission has stepped-up efforts in mainstreaming PCRD in its activities, as well as its support to Member States that are in political transition and post-conflict situations.

Examples that highlight the increasing implementation of PCRD support in member states include: Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) and Peace Strengthening Projects (PSPs) in Somalia; the development of Regional Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the Stabilization Strategy for the Sahel; support in the areas of reconciliation and healing in South Sudan, support in the establishment of Human Rights Commission and in the areas of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) as well as security sector reform (SSR) in Central African Republic; and support in the areas of SSR, rule of law, and transitional justice in the Gambia, where the AU deployed a PCRD mission.

In past, liaison offices were AU’s main tool of channelling its PCRD support to Member States. This is expanded as the example of  the AU Technical Support Team to the Gambia (AUTSTG) shows the deployment of technical mission involving experts tasked to support peacebuilding activities ranging from SSR, transitional justice to establishment of bodies like national human rights commission. In 2021, similar types of missions were initiated for the Comoros and Chad. For example, small team of experts (two international experts on constitutionalism & Rule of Law, and election, and one national expert) are being deployed ahead of the 2024 election in the Comoros.

In terms of progress in the operationalization and strengthening AU’s PCRD policy and its architecture since PSC’s 1047th session, two important developments are likely to be highlighted. The first is the initiation of the revision of AU PCRD Policy Framework, which has been in place since its adoption in 2006. It is to be recalled that the PSC, at its 1047th session, requested for the ‘urgent review of the AU PCRD Policy Framework in order to ensure that it is re-aligned and adaptable to the emerging challenges in the continental peace and security landscape’. The Assembly (AU/Dec.815XXXV of 6 February 2022) made a similar call, further requesting the Commission to submit the revised Policy in the upcoming ordinary session which is expected to happen in February 2023. AU Commission accordingly convened a high-level expert engagement to review the Policy from 9 to 14 September 2022 in Accra, Ghana. In his presentation, Bankole is likely to highlight the major areas of revision, including the addition of two pillars (youth and environmental security) and one principle (humanitarian principles); the definition of human security; and the expansion in scope.

The second major development is the formal launch of the AU PCRD Centre in Cairo, Egypt in December 2021 with the mandate to serve as a hub of operational excellence on peacebuilding efforts on the continent. However, as the AU Champion on PCRD, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, highlighted in his statement issued on 22 November, the full operationalization of the PCRD Centre need to be fast tracked for the Centre to deliver on the critical role that it is envisaged to play.  According to the Commission’s progress report on the AU PCRD policy implementation, the shortlisting of candidates for 11 positions has been undertaken as of November. The Centre is expected to have 30 staff members when it becomes fully operational. Bankole may also highlight ongoing efforts to the formulation of an AU policy on psychosocial support to survivors in post-conflict contexts in line with PSC request at its 593rd session in April 2016.

While AU has made notable strides in creating the necessary normative and institutional frameworks and providing supports to Member States in the areas of PCRD, there are number of challenges and outstanding issues which PSC should consider for the effective implementation of AU’s PCRD policy. In terms of challenge, the most prominent one remains the resource constraint as PSC noted with concern during its 593rd, 670th, and 958th sessions, among others. For example, lack of funding was the main reason why the AU PCRD mission in the Gambia was brought to an end. In various of its sessions on PCRD, PSC considered at least three options to address the resource constraints. The first is revitalization of the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI). The PSC, during its 1047th session, underlined the ‘urgent need’ for the revitalization of this initiative as ‘an important framework for mobilization of in-kind support from within the Continent’. The second is engaging the African Development Bank, African private sector, African stakeholder-organizations, as well as international partners such as World Bank, UN Development Programme, and UN Peace building Commission. The third is the use of AU’s peace fund. Among the priority activities proposed for the utilization of the peace fund under window 2 (institutional capacity) include operationalization and capacity building of the AU PCRD Centre and enhancing Member States’ capacity in the areas of DDR and SSR. Additionally, the PSC sub-committee on PCRD, which was supposed to provide the necessary political leadership and oversight on the implementation of PCRD activities, is also yet to be operationalized despite PSC’s repeated request for its re-activation.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. PSC is expected to welcome the commemoration of the second PCRD awareness week. Echoing the 21 November statement of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, PSC may note the significant achievements made towards the operationalization and implementation of the AU PCRD Policy, including the revision of the PCRD policy framework and formal launch of the Cairo PCRD Centre. PSC may also commend the Commission for the different initiatives and supports to Member States that are aimed at consolidating peace and preventing conflict relapse. On the Cairo PCRD Centre, PSC may reiterate the call of the AU Champion on PCRD, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, for the AU Commission to ‘fast track the operationalization of the work of the Center and to endorse its functional structure’. In relation to the challenges, PSC may call upon the Commission to expedite the pilot utilization of the peace fund in line with the identified priority activities. It may further request the Commission to step-up mobilization of resources, particularly through the revitalization of the ASI and engagement of African private sector and financial institutions, as well as international partners including UN PBC. It may also call upon the UN Security Council to ensure adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for peacebuilding efforts in Africa. PSC may urge the Commission to strengthen mainstreaming PCRD and peacebuilding aspects in all its activities including in the relevant country situations and thematic issues, as well as field visits. It may also request the Commission to expedite the preparation of AU Policy on psychosocial support to survivors in post-conflict contexts.

Engagement between the PSC and the AU Commission on International Law (AUCIL) on international law and cyberspace

Engagement between the PSC and the AU Commission on International Law (AUCIL) on international law and cyberspace

Date | 9 November 2022

Tomorrow (9 November), the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1120th session to engage with the AU Commission on International Law (AUCIL) and discuss the issue of international law and cyberspace.

Permanent Representative of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of November, Emilia Ndinealo Mkusa, is expected to make opening remarks, followed by a statement from AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. Guy Fleury Ntwari, the AU Legal Counsel, will make a presentation touching on the role of international law in the advancement of peace and security and the importance of the role of the AU in shaping international law rules governing peace and security in cyberspace. The PSC also expects presentations on the thematic focus of the session from Hajer Gueldich, Chairperson of AUCIL, and Mohamed Helal, Special Rapporteur on Cyberspace and International Law and a member of the AUCIL.

Tomorrow’s session, during which the PSC will interact for the first time with the AUCIL in relation to its mandate, is expected to provide an opportunity for the PSC and the AUCIL to harness their respective mandate for the articulation of an African position on the formulation of international law rules governing cyberspace with a particular focus on the making of international law rules and peace and security in the cyberspace. The AUCIL is an 11 members independent advisory organ established in 2009 in line with article 5(2) of the AU Constitutive Act. As envisaged under article 4 of AUCIL Statute, the Commission is envisaged to undertake activities related to codification and progressive development of international law in Africa, with particular attention to the laws of the AU; propose draft framework agreements and model regulations; assist in the revision of existing treaties and identify areas in which new treaties are required; conduct studies on legal matters of interest to the AU and its Member States; encourage the teaching, study, publication and dissemination of literature on international law, specifically the laws of the AU.

The nature of the mandate of the AUCIL is such that it can also advise the AU and contribute to the crafting of African positions on the development of international law rules for the governing of global matters that affect peace and security in Africa. Tomorrow’s session falls within this category of the mandate and work of the AUCIL.

The technological advance particularly in information and communication technologies (ICT) is a double-edged sword, offering both benefits and risks. Despite the enormous benefits that ICTs continue to produce in the social, economic, political spheres, State and non-state actors are increasingly using the cyberspace to carry out cyber-attacks on critical national infrastructure and democratic institutions, steal and launder money, illegally transfer funds, propagate hate speech, and incite violence. A worrying trend has been also emerging in the continent with the increasing use of the cyber space by terrorist groups who often exploit the platform for radicalization, lure recruits into their ranks, mobilize fundings and logistics, as well as train individuals, incite and stage violent attacks. Furthermore, it has been used to influence domestic political outcomes that would destabilize governments of another state.

The PSC has addressed itself to the issue of cyber security and the need for addressing the deficit in the rules regulating cyberspace in earlier sessions. In this context, PSC’s 627th session of September 2016 noted that ‘cybersecurity concerns are broader than national security and that they can become a planetary emergency with the potential of amplifying the traditional security threats that include terrorism and violent extremism’. In the absence of regulation, the cyberspace therefore poses a serious risk to the national, regional, and international peace and stability. The 627th session recognized ‘a safe and secure cyber space’ as a ‘necessary condition for reaping the benefits of the digital transformation of Africa and for ensuring the positive impact of ICTs on human and economic development throughout the continent’. Furthermore, Council, in the same session, stressed the importance of ‘regional and global frameworks for promoting security and stability in the cyberspace’.

The AU has taken steps in developing framework to govern the cyber space at a continental level with the adoption of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention), but such kind of tailor-made frameworks for regulating cyberspace at a global level are still missing. Yet, efforts are underway to clarify and develop a normative architecture for cyberspace. Such effort of developing normative architecture is happening within the UN with the establishment of two working groups with the mandate to study how international law applies to states’ operations in cyberspace. The two groups are: UN Group of Governmental Experts (UN GGE) and an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). While the GGE is comprised of approximately 25 states, the OEWG is envisaged to be more inclusive, accepting participation of any interested state. Round of talks under these separate and independent processes indeed reveal consensus on variety of norms of general behavior in cyberspace including the applicability of international law in cyberspace, but the issue of how international law applies in this space remains contested. Some countries are of the view that there is no need for new rules regulating cyber activities. Others favor agreed non-binding norms that complement existing international law, while others have questioned whether existing international law as it stands is capable of regulating states’ cyber interactions hence call for the development of new rules.

There is also contention over the application of some of the core principles and rules of international law such as sovereignty, intervention, state responsibility, legal response options to malicious cyber activity, as well as the rules governing the use of force (jus ad bellum) and international humanitarian law (jus in bello) within the context of cyberspace. On sovereignty, one of the controversial issues remains the question of whether cyber operations affecting networks in another state’s territory would amount to a violation of state’s sovereignty. Regarding intervention, while there could be common understanding that the principle of non-intervention applies to state conduct in cyberspace within the context of the fulfillment of two conditions that the action constitutes coercive interference and falls into the domaine réservé of a state. Yet, there is no clarity on the threshold of the coercion element as well as which specific acts falls within the domaine réservé of a State. For instance, it is not clear whether cyber operations to manipulate electoral results of another state could constitute as a breach to the international obligation of non-intervention. Again, on the prohibition of use of force, there is unclarity on which specific cyber operations could constitute the use of force (armed attack) against another state and therefore trigger the right to self-defence. On due diligence, while states are under obligation not to allow knowingly their territory to be used for acts contrary to the rights of other states under international law, there is a need for clarifying how far this obligation applies in the cyberspace. With respect to state responsibility, the main confusion concerns the technical aspect of the application of the attribution standard to cyberspace given the anonymity, interconnectedness, transboundary nature, and the use of proxies in cyberattacks. On legitimate response to cyber attacks, while there seems to be agreement among some states about the availability of at least three options (retorsion, countermeasures, and the plea of necessity), there is unclarity on whether collective countermeasures are permitted, whether there is a duty of prior notification of the response options, and whether states are allowed to take non-cyber-based countermeasures for cyberattacks. The other uncertainty is on the extent of the application of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) to cyberspace.

Despite the growing importance of the cyberspace to the life of individuals, communities and societies on the continent and the grave threat that cyber attacks pose to the peace and stability of Africa, the discourse on the making of the international law rules for governing peace and security in the cyberspace is dominated by the global north. In this respect, countries such as Germany, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States have released their comprehensive positions on the application of international law in cyberspace. There should be similar efforts from the continent of Africa in developing and publishing its views and perspectives on how international law applies to cyberspace so that African voices are taken onboard in the ongoing effort towards developing rules of international law governing cyberspace in general and peace and security in cyberspace in particular. Tomorrow’s PSC engagement with the AUCIL therefore comes within this framework of developing African common position on the issue.

The expected outcome from tomorrow’s engagement is a communique.  Among others, Council may express its concern over acts of violence in the cyber security, which constitute serious threats to national, regional, and international peace and security. While highlighting the need to harness the potentially of information and communication technologies for enhancing democratic governance and socio-economic advancement, Council may also reiterate its concern over their increasing use by state and non-state actors of cyberspace for malicious activities, including the spread of misinformation and disinformation, propagation of hate, cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, manipulation of elections, and incite violence. It may encourage all Member States, which have not yet done so, to expedite the signature and ratification of the Malabo Convention. The PSC may welcome the engagement with the AUCIL on the issue of international law and peace and security in the cyberspace. Cognizant of the role that Africa should play in the development of rules of international law in the area of cyberspace, Council may emphasize the importance of having Africa’s common position on the application of international law to cyberspace. In this respect, it may request the Commission, together with the AUCIL, to prepare the common position and submit for its consideration within a specified timeframe. While preparing the common position, Council may direct the Commission to engage Member States with the view to getting their respective national perspectives on the issue of the application of international law in cyberspace and their positions on contested issues.

Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Date | 3 November 2022

Tomorrow (03 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene a virtual, open session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The session will form Council’s 1118th meeting.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Emilia Ndinealo Mkusa, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Chido Cleopatra Mpemba, AU Youth Envoy and the African Youth Ambassadors for Peace (AYAPs) are expected to make presentations. Sharonice Busch, Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Namibia and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth are also expected to make statements.

The last time Council convened a meeting on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa was at its 1080th session held on 25 April 2022. Tomorrow’s session constitutes the third meeting convened on the theme during 2022, reflecting growing interest among PSC members on the theme of youth, peace and security in Africa. Ensuring implementation of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security in line with its 10-Year Implementation Plan has been one of the critical points of Council’s focus since the finalisation of the Framework in 2020, which Council welcomed at its 933rd session. Further to assessing latest developments relevant to the agenda, tomorrow’s session may serve as an occasion for Council to be updated on progress made in implementing the Continental Framework through the development of National Actions Plans (NAPs), in line with the request of its 1080th session. Council may particularly follow up on the request made at its 1067th session convened on 03 March 2022, for the AU Commission to submit ‘Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of National Action Plans (NAPs) for the AU Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security’.

With the purpose of advancing the role of young people in promoting peace and security in the continent, the AU has taken various measures from the adoption of relevant normative instruments such as the 2006 African Youth Charter to the articulation of youth contributions in key AU documents including the AU Constitutive Act, the PSC Protocol and the Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns (STG) in Africa (Lusaka Roadmap). In addition to integrating issues affecting youth in peace and security at the normative level, the AU has also launched initiatives and structures on youth, peace and security. The AU, for example adopted, the Youth for Peace (Y4P) Programme. Within its overall purpose of effectively involving African youth in the promotion of peace and security, the YP4 programme has for instance spearheaded the Youth STG Campaign, a campaign aimed at meaningful mobilisation and engagement of youth agency in realising the STG goals. It has also facilitated the development of the study on the roles and contributions of youth to peace and security and the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security, which the PSC considered and adopted in May 2020.

In terms of initiatives, one key initiative is the commemoration of ‘Africa Youth Day’ on the first of November each year and the designation of the month of November as ‘Africa Youth Month’ which affords the opportunity to undertake various activities that aim to strengthen intercultural exchanges among the youth and promote commitment of relevant stakeholders to invest on African youth. This year’s Africa Youth Day/Month is being celebrated under the theme “Breaking the Barriers to Meaningful Youth Participation and Inclusion in Advocacy”. Tomorrow’s session is accordingly convened as part of the annual ‘Africa Youth Day’.

To advance the message of this year’s Africa Youth Day/Month, Council may deliberate on some of the challenges impeding meaningful youth participation in the maintenance of peace and security in the continent and reflect on effective approaches that can address these challenges. Limitation of financial resources and technical expertise committed to youth initiatives, limited role and space for youth in formal peacebuilding programmes, poor coordination and lack of inclusivity among youth groups and limited awareness among young people of the contributions they can make are some of the constraints to meaningful youth engagement and participation that have been highlighted in the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security. Addressing these challenges primarily requires serious regard by governments and political leaders that take youth as serious and critical partners in promoting peace and security rather than viewing them as either victims or perpetrators of threats to peace and security or merely as actors to just be talked to.

Of particular significance in addressing these issues and creating avenues for realising the policy commitments is the establishment of the national youth, peace and security action plan by member states. It is worth recalling that the continental strategy has the ambition of having 40% of AU member states adopting the national action plan by 2029. The members of the PSC may seek to reflect on the progress made towards achieving this and the strategy the AU is deploying towards this end.

Not only does over 60% of Africa’s population consist of young people, the continent also has the youngest, largest and fastest growing population globally. This youth population is one of Africa’s key resources which if harnessed well, could play a fundamental role in achieving the continent’s developmental aspirations and goals. It is in that spirit that AU’s Agenda 2063 recognises the potential and important role of Africa’s youth in achieving the aspiration of a prosperous Africa. Ensuring meaningful participation and engagement of the youth in Africa’s peace and security agenda is an essential component of harnessing the capacity of this significant portion of the continent’s population. It is hence important to take deliberate steps to ensure that African youth are well engaged in the various efforts for conflict prevention, including in the promotion of a culture of peace, conflict management and resolution measures. This in turn requires that the issues affecting youth and the role of youth are factored in from the early stages of the designing and planning of conflict prevention, preventive diplomacy, mediation, peace making, and other conflict management and resolution processes to the process of implementation of the same.

In terms of translating the various policy commitments and initiatives on youth, peace and security, it may be of interest to the PSC to have a targeted approach that takes account of the variabilities of issues relating to youth, peace and security across counties and different youth groups. For example, it is critical that AU’s work on youth, peace and security prioritises the needs and role of youth in context of situations of conflict and political crisis. Attention should be given not only to ensure the integration of youth in initiatives to address such situations but also to promote the development and implementation of programs dedicated to supporting and rehabilitating youth with particular attention to female youth affected by violence in such situations of conflict and political crisis. With respect to conflict prevention, early warning and conflict analysis work of the AU need also to incorporate youth specific indicators for enabling responses that enhance the role of youth and address the issues affecting youth, including those specific to female youth.

Further to noting the importance of active involvement of the youth in efforts along the lines highlighted above and the various advocacy and promotional work of the AU Youth, Peace and Security Program, the Youth Envoy and the AYAPs undertake in pursuit of the agenda of youth, peace and security in Africa, it may also interest the Council to reflect on some of the socio-economic and political conditions that create insecurity for youth. Corrupt government practices, marginalisation, unemployment, exploitative youth employment and violations of human rights and freedoms can be mentioned as few examples of governance related issues that make Africa’s young population susceptible to insecurity, including being lured into organized crimes, militia groups and radicalisation by terrorist groups. Addressing governance deficits is therefore key aspect of preventing the continent’s young population from being victims and participants of various conditions of threats to peace and security. As such, it is critical for the AYAPs, the AU Youth Envoy and other relevant actors to promote the initiation and implementation of political and socio-economic governance reforms, including by harnessing the recommendations and decisions of AU governance and human rights institutions such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Press Statement. Council may take note of progress made in implementing the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security and encourage member States to strengthen efforts aimed at adopting NAPs. It may commend the continued efforts and contributions of the AU Youth Envoy and AYAPs towards the full realisation of the Continental Framework and other relevant AU norms and policies on peace and security. It may emphasise the need for meaningful involvement of the youth in peace efforts and encourage member States to take deliberate measures to create space for youth participation in various aspects of peace processes including decision-making roles. Council may further underscore the importance of strengthening trust between governments and their young populations for the sustainability of peace and development and for attaining the aspiration of a prosperous Africa. It may also call on the AU Commission to strengthen its collaborations with Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) in supporting member States’ efforts to develop NAPs for the implementation of the Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security. The PSC may also call for a more targeted approach to the implementation of the youth, peace and security agenda with a focus on youth in situations of conflict and political crisis, with particular attention to female youth and request in this respect that the AU Commission develops strategy which prioritizes situations of conflict and political crisis. The PSC may also underscore the need to mainstream the youth, peace and security theme in all the peace and security and governance work of the AU from prevention to post-conflict reconstruction and development by deploying youth centred analytical lens in conflict analysis and policy response proposals and initiatives.