13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

13th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 10 June 2022

Tomorrow (10 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 13th annual joint consultative meeting, preceded by the 5th joint retreat taking place today. With AU hosting this year’s round of meetings, the consultative meeting will be taking place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AUPSC and EUPSC have been convening joint consultative meetings since 2008 in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. These meetings mainly serve to discuss thematic and conflict related agendas of common interest to the two counterparts. Within that framework, previous joint consultative meetings have addressed thematic issues such as migration and terrorism and violent extremism as well as country/region focused situations including conflicts and crises in Libya, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and others.

This year’s joint consultative meeting is expected to commence with opening remarks by Chairperson of the AUPSC and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo to the AU, H.E Ambassador Daniel Owassa and the Permanent Chair of the EUPSC, Ambassador Delphine Pronk. The meeting is expected to address four country/region specific situations. These are situations in the Great Lakes Region (GLR), the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) and Sahel Region, Libya, and Somalia. It is to be recalled that the Sahel Region and Somalia were also on the agenda of the previous joint consultative meeting convened on 26 October 2020, along with the situation in Sudan.

In relation to the GLR, Burundi is expected to be the lead speaker on behalf of the AUPSC. Insecurity in the GLR continues to be a matter of grave concern despite positive developments having been recorded in the areas of cooperation, integration and dialogue in the region. Dialogue between Burundi and Rwanda paving the way for reconciliation, and the normalisation of relations between Rwanda and Uganda through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2019 as well as the recent reopening of the Gatuna border are some of the examples of encouraging trends in regional cooperation and integration which may be welcomed. On the other hand, the AUPSC and EUPSC may take note of the recent tensions between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda and call up on all relevant stakeholders including the guarantors of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) for the DRC to engage both sides within the framework of the Nairobi process before the tensions grow any further. In this respect, AUPSC and EUPSC may also welcome the initiative of the AU Assembly that tasked the President of Angola, as Chairperson of the ICGLR, to engage both countries and the initiatives taken by Angola’s President meeting with the leaders of both countries. As a measure of de-escalation, the two bodies may also welcome the report on the release of the two Rwandan soldiers taken from the border with the DRC.

On the security and humanitarian track, the operation of ‘negative forces’ in eastern DRC continues to destabilise the region creating a cycle of forced displacement. Intensified military activities of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group implicated for affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the resumption of military activities by the March 23 (M23) Movement have particularly been major causes for concern in the early months of 2022. In late March, following the resumption of its activities, M23 expanded its operations over North Kivu at an alarming rate leading to the displacement of thousands of people. By the end of May 2022, the number of displaced persons as a result of the recent fighting in North Kivu had reached over 72,000. Operations by the ADF in North Kivu and Ituri provinces have also resulted in widespread violence against civilians including abductions and destruction and pillage of properties. According to data presented by the UN, the number of civilian deaths between June 2021 and March 2022 increased to at least 1,261 from 559 recorded for the period from June 2020 to March 2021, in North Kivu province. In this regard and as necessary measure for containing the crises involving these armed groups, the AUPSC and the EUPSC may also welcome and urge Kenya, as host of Nairobi process initiated to deal with the threat these negative forces present both through a diplomatic track and a security track, to convene the participants of the process towards supporting Rwanda and DRC in the effort to deescalate the growing tension between them and work on achieving political resolution of their disputes.

On the LCB and Sahel region, it is expected that Nigeria will take the lead speaking in representation of the AUPSC while Cameroon will be a supporting speaker on the agenda. The LCB and Sahel region are experiencing deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions. Despite the death of Abubakar Shekau – leader of Boko Haram’s Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JAS) faction – in May 2021, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter Boko Haram faction took the opportunity to expand its operations by taking over former JAS territories and fighters. Taking an approach aimed at establishing itself as a better alternative to State authority, ISWAP’s attacks have mainly been targeted against government forces and infrastructures while it extorts funding from civilian communities in its areas of operation, in exchange for essential services. Fighters from JAS have on the other hand continued attacks against civilian populations. Terrorist insurgency and spread of violent extremism in the Sahel region also continue to frustrate military efforts including operations by the G5 Sahel Joint Force. A recent development worth reflecting on is also the decision of Malian transition authorities to withdraw from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force and its consequent impact on regional security.

Despite some success attained in degrading insurgencies in the region, emerging trends in the means and methods used by terrorist groups have demonstrated the need for a more enhanced focus on non-military approaches that address, what our latest report called, the political and socio-economic pathologies that create grievances enabling the emergence and growth of terrorist insurgencies. The need for prioritising a multipronged political, socio-economic and humanitarian strategy towards whose fulfilment the security instruments are geared cannot be overemphasised. The important role of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the need for enhancing support for the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region (RSS) also remains key.

According to the UN, violence and insecurity across countries in the LCB has severely frustrated basic social services and natural resources leaving about 11 million people depending on humanitarian aid. As of April 2022, 4.1 million people in the region are facing food insecurity with 300,000 children severely malnourished. The insecurity induced humanitarian crisis in Sahel also continues to intensify. Burkina Faso in particular is faced with severe humanitarian condition, with the number of internally displaced persons reaching over nearly 2 million in 2022.

In addition to security challenges, 2021 and early 2022 have seen the Sahel region’s political situation characterised by the upsurge in unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) and prolonged transitions. Coups in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Mali have occupied much of the AUPSC’s deliberations while relevant regional bodies – mainly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – have also been actively engaged in efforts aimed at returning constitutional order in these countries.

With regards to Libya, Morocco will be the lead speaker from AUPSC’s side. The challenging political context, the fragile security situation and the dire condition of migrants are the main areas of concern the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on in relation to the situation in Libya. On the political front, the lack of agreement on the necessary legal framework for the conduct of the general elections which were scheduled to take place on 24 December 2021 have resulted in the postponement of the elections indefinitely. This has led to the challenge against the legitimacy of the interim Prime Minister based in the capital by the east-based House of Representatives which appointed a new Prime Minister, leading to the country’s slide back to having parallel governments. While the rivalry between the two executives has not yet turned into full armed conflict, it has already rekindled economic, political and military disputes. The halt of the unification process of parallel security forces which was already facing significant challenges entails serious concerns to the sustainability of the October 2020 ceasefire agreement. Moreover, Russia has officially recognised the east-based government, reigniting divided foreign support for the two executives and taking the country back to the pre-October 2020 situation.

The challenge for AU and EU is to achieve a shared concern and perception of threat about the continuation of the crisis in Libya. Africa, particularly countries in the Sahel, have born and continue to bear the brunt of the fall out from the military campaign that precipitated the collapse of Libya in 2011. The marginalization of the AU from active role in the effort for resolving the crisis in Libya remains a source of disaffection in Addis Ababa. For the EU, the deterioration of the political situation in Libya creates complications in the context of the confrontation with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. First, it hampers Europe’s plans to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas by resorting to Libya as one of the main hydrocarbon suppliers. Second, the impasse between Libya’s executives and the resulting insecurity will further fuel the migration crisis in the region. According to the International Organisation on Migration (IOM), the number of displaced persons in various parts of Libya had reached 635,051 by the end of January 2022. Given that no one actor can on its own address the complex political and security crisis in Libya, it is of particular significance that the AUPSC and EUPSC affirm the interest of each for the resolution of the crisis and the need for full involvement of the AU in the multilateral effort for achieving political resolution and national reconciliation in Libya.

Regarding Somalia, Djibouti will be lead speaker while Uganda will assume the role of supporting speaker from the side of the AUPSC. In Somalia, the completion of the much delayed parliamentary and presidential elections, with the appointment of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has been a welcome progress. The final reconfiguration of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is another milestone met in 2022 although the funding requirements for the new mission remain unmet. While the EU was a principal funder of AMISOM and has already committed to continue financing AU’s peace support efforts in the spirit of the Joint AU-EU vision for 2030, EU’s proposed funds for financing ATMIS are said to fall short of the required amount. Despite the progress noted in the political situation and AMISOM’s transition, the security situation in Somalia remains volatile with Al-Shabaab sustaining its activities and carrying out intensified attacks throughout the country. The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in its various areas of operation has particularly been a notable trend in Al-Shabaab’s more recent attacks. In addition to civilian causality and humanitarian toll due to insecurity, Somalia is also experiencing an escalating severe drought. According to the latest UN data, 4.8 million people are currently facing severe food insecurity while 4.2 million people are experiencing life-threatening water shortages.

The expected outcome of the meeting is a joint-communiqué. With regards to the GLR, the AUPSC and EUPSC may urge the international community to strengthen support for the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). They may further highlight the importance of exploring parallel non-military approaches aimed at addressing underlying root-causes of conflict and instability in the region and commend countries of the GLR for the formation of the Contact and Coordination Group which is aimed at overseeing non-military measures to assist in the neutralisation of armed groups in eastern DRC. Regarding the LCB, in addition to reaffirming their commitment to support the Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF) and LCBC, the AUPSC and EUPSC may emphasise the importance of sustained support for the implementation of the Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin in order to address the security and humanitarian crisis in the region in a comprehensive manner. Regarding Libya, they may stress the need for sustained efforts between the AU, EU and UN, with active and full participation of the AU, for the adoption of a comprehensive plan providing concreate steps towards resolving the dispute between the two parallel governments and providing the framework for the conduct of elections. They may also call on all relevant stakeholders including the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to sustain the momentum on the implementation of the action plan adopted in October 2021 for the gradual and sequenced withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from the country. With respect to the political situation in the Sahel region, the two Councils may emphasise the importance of addressing the common underlying root causes of coups in the region such as democratic and governance deficits, manipulation of constitutional term limits, damaged state-society relationships and grave violations of human rights and freedoms. They may further stress the instrumentality of addressing root causes for resolving the security challenges in the region including the high rate of terrorist insurgency. On Somalia, the two may welcome the completion of the national elections and congratulate the newly elected President. They may reflect on how sustainable, predictable and sufficient funding for ATMIS can be secured including through contributions through joint mobilisation of resources, including by leveraging the EU Peace Facility, which provides the lions share of financial support for ATMIS.

5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

5th Joint Retreat of the AUPSC and EUPSC

Date | 9 June 2022

Tomorrow (9 June), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the European Union (EU) Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) will convene their 5th informal joint retreat, which will be followed by the 13th annual joint consultative meeting to be convened on 10 June. This year’s joint retreat is expected take place physically, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Starting from 2015, the AUPSC and EUPSC have institutionalised the practice of convening informal joint retreats ahead of their joint annual consultative meetings, with aim of facilitating constructive dialogue through informal engagements. As such, the joint retreats mainly serve the two organs to discuss issues of partnership and exchange views on how to enhance cooperation on various aspects of peace and security. The last time the two convened a joint retreat was in 2018, ahead of the 11th joint consultative meeting, which constituted their 4th joint retreat. In 2020, although the 12th joint consultative meeting between the two bodies took place, the joint retreat was not convened, making this year’s retreat the 5th one.

Two main agenda items are expected to feature at this year’s joint retreat – first the issue of multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy and second, the sustainability of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). From the AUPSC side, there was interest in discussing the issue of humanitarian situation in the continent. However, given that the thematic issue was considered to be beyond the mandate of the EUPSC, the topic was not taken forward in the final agenda for the retreat. On the other hand, the EU proposed to discuss the war in Ukraine as one of the agenda items of the joint retreat. Similar to the EUPSC, it was considered to be beyond the mandate of the PSC for discussing it in the joint retreat. It is however expected that individual members of the EUPSC would in their intervention raise the war in Ukraine.

The first agenda item expected to feature at the 5th joint retreat is envisaged to focus on multilateralism, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. In ways more than one, conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy are in crisis in Africa, as in other parts of the world. As highlighted in our report on Major Peace and Security Issues in Africa, the number and geographic spread of conflicts in Africa has grown exponentially.  Further highlighting the precarious state of peace and security on the continent, Africa witnessed the largest number of coups (five) since AU came into existence in a matter of 10 months period between April 2021 and February 2022. The PSC in the communique of its 1000th session expressed ‘deep concern over the persistence and resurgence of conflict and crisis situations in some parts of the Continent, including the growing threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism and armed groups.’ All these are on account of the persistence or further deterioration and expansion of existing protracted conflicts such as those in Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and the eruption of new conflicts or crisis situations include those in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. AU Commission Chairperson in his opening address to the 35th AU Assembly warned that these trends raise ‘serious questions about the future of our flagship project to silence the guns’.

There are at least three issues that the worrying peace and security trends and the challenges they pose to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy give rise to. The first of this concerns the adequacy and effectiveness of the approach to the management and resolution of existing protracted conflicts. In the face of lack of sustained collective continental and international support and diplomatic attention as well as failure of national actors to assume their responsibilities for achieving peace, both peace support operations and mediation efforts as currently deployed are struggling to deliver. The second issue relates to the effective operation of conflict early warning and early response systems. While information on potential risks of conflicts is ubiquitous, there are questions on the quality of early warning reports and their timely communication for decision-makers. There is also the issue of the formation of common understanding among various decision-making actors both within the AU and between the AU and various security actors including RECs/RMs and multilateral partners such as the EU. The existence of quality early warning without catalyzing such shared understanding would not trigger early action. The third issue that perhaps presents the most serious challenge to conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy is the refusal or reluctance of concerned states to cooperate for actions for conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy. This is due to the pervasive culture of denialism and the increasing use of the defense of sovereignty. As AU Commission Chairperson rightly pointed out, ‘a restrictive, even dogmatic reading of the intangible principle of the sovereignty of the Member States raises an iron wall against any intervention by the continental organization, either as a preventive measure through early warning, or as a remedy when the crisis breaks out.’

In the light of the foregoing and against the background of the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, it is right that the two bodies focus on addressing the challenges facing conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy as part of a commitment for multilateralism and find ways of investing in and enhancing the effective use of conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy in Africa including through enhancing regular interaction, joint analysis and exchange as well as complementary actions for prevention and preventive diplomacy, by among others focusing on channeling resources to social spending and addressing governance and development fragilities and linking the provision of support for transitions to concrete governance reforms and investment in provision and expansion of social services. Equally important is the imperative of the provision of both high-level and sustained diplomatic attention and resources support for preventive diplomacy and mediation or peacemaking processes. Success of the informal retreat on this theme would depend on the specific commitments that the two make for joint action and the mechanisms they put in place for delivering on such specific commitments along the foregoing lines.

The second agenda item to be discussed at the 5th joint retreat is the issue of ensuring sustainability of AU PSOs. An issue which may also be of central focus in the discussion on financing AU PSOs is the end of the EU funding through the Africa Peace Facility (APF) and what it could mean for collective African decision making on peace and security and AU leadership in peace efforts. The shift from APF to the European Peace Facility (EPF) which aims to explore the option of financing African peace efforts through bilateral agreements has been cause for concern among African stakeholders, not only in terms of its implications to multilateral engagement of the two continents, but also with respect to the financing gap it would entail for AU PSOs. With agreement on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs still pending, the funding gap created due to the shift from APF to EPF will surely have a significant impact on the capacity of AU PSOs that previously benefited from the APF scheme.

It is also to be recalled that at the 6th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of AU and EU which took place from 17 to 18 February 2022, the two Unions adopted a joint vision for 2030 which includes commitment to support ongoing discussions on the utilisation of United Nations (UN)-assessed contributions for financing AU PSOs authorised by the UN Security Council (UNSC). The importance of ensuring sustainable and predictable financing for AU-led PSOs including through UN-assessed contributions also remains a key point of discussion at AUPSC-UNSC consultative meetings while the AUPSC continues to dedicate sessions to deliberate on the issue. Despite the weight that has been given to the issue, reaching agreement on a UNSC Resolution on utilising UN assessed contributions to co-finance AU PSOs has proven to be an on-going challenge. While the adoption of a ‘zero-draft African consensus paper on accessing sustainable and predictable financing for AU peace and security activities’ has been a welcome progress, agreement on a final version of the consensus paper is yet to be achieved. At the forthcoming joint retreat, the AUPSC and EUPSC may reflect on the primary responsibility of the UNSC for ensuring global peace and security, including in Africa, which serves as the basis for financing of AU PSOs through UN assessed contributions. In addition, the AUPSC may particularly wish to draw attention to the human cost Africa continues to pay as the most invaluable contribution to international peace and security, whose significance has never been appreciated in discussions on Africa’s contributions.

Briefing on Disarmament and Control of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date | 18 May 2022

Tomorrow (18 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold its 1085th session on “Disarmament and control of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa.”

Following the opening remark by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue-Monon, Permanent Representative of Cameroon and the Chairperson of the PSC for May, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement.

Representatives from the different Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) as well as representatives from the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty and Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) are also expected to participate at the session.

This theme for tomorrow’s session is specifically referenced in the preamble to the PSC Protocol. Most specifically, the Protocol expressed the concern ‘about the impact of the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in threatening peace and security in Africa’. Similarly, the 2004 Solemn Declaration on African Common Defense and Security Policy identifies as one of the factors that engender insecurity in Africa. Addressing the scourge of SALW also forms part of the AU Agenda of Silencing the Guns and is one of the pillars of the Master Roadmap on Silencing the Guns in Africa. In terms of specific instruments, on a continental level, the AU Assembly adopted the 2013 AU Strategy on the Control of Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as a corresponding Action Plan. At the sub-national level, there is the example of the Nairobi Protocol on the Prevention, Control and Reduction of SALW applicable in 15 countries in the Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa and bordering states.

The proliferation of and easy access to Illicit arms and weapons continues to be a major factor in fueling conflicts and making inter-communal clashes increasingly deadly. It remains to be a single critical instrument that enables terrorist groups, armed militias, criminal bandits and vigilante groups in various conflict and crisis settings on the continent. Indeed, this is one of the factors that has made the increase in the number of conflicts and the expansion of the geographic spread of such conflicts, particularly those involving armed terrorist groups. Tomorrow’s session thus provides an opportunity for the PSC to receive updates on patterns and trends in arms and ammunition inflows, illicit circulation and trafficking and gaps in control measures.

The last time the PSC convened a session on illicit proliferation and trafficking of SALW was at its 860th meeting held on 18 July 2019.  During the session, the PSC welcomed the findings of the joint mapping study conducted by the Commission and the Small Arms Survey which was launched in July 2019. The study, published under the title “Weapons Compass: Mapping Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa,” was the first-ever continental study that under the AU sought to map the problem of illicit proliferation of SALW. At the time the study was conducted, it was reported that there were forty-million of such weapons were in possession of civilians. This figure, according to the study, accounted for 80% of arms on the continent. There is little indication to show that this level of circulation of illicit weapons among the civilian population has come down.

In the context of the eruption of new conflicts and the expansion and persistence of existing conflicts as well as inter-communal violence in various parts of the continent, it is logical that the number of illicit weapons circulating on the continent has also increased. According to the 2021 Small Arms Survey research, there is an increase in smuggling and trafficking activities due to growing local demand for illicit goods and firearms. The local demand is fueled by banditry, communities’ need for self-defence, and the reliance in firearms of artisanal and small-scale gold mining operators. As a case in point, the survey specifically assessed the tri-border region, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali.

The other factor for the proliferation and trafficking of illicit SALW is the challenges surrounding the availability of reliable data on stockpiles of member states and the safe keeping of those stockpiles. As the PSC noted in its 860th session the diversion of small arms and light weapons from national stockpiles is a significant factor contributing to the proliferation of SALW. There is thus the issue of auditing of stockpiles in member states and enhancing capacities for the safekeeping of stockpiles. Related to these are contingent owned equipment (COE) that are deployed for use in peace support operations. These weapons diversions are largely due to battlefield loss, mismanagement, theft, and corruption. According to reports, COE loss has occurred in at least 20 peace operations in 18 African countries. Lethal materiel lost in the past 10 years alone has included many millions of rounds of ammunition, thousands of small arms and light weapons, and likely hundreds of heavy weapons systems. Nonlethal materiel, such as unarmed vehicles and motorcycles, uniforms, communications equipment, and fuel, have also consistently been a target.

It is clear that stockpiles become a source of illicit circulation and trafficking in at least two ways. First, the lack of complete data and statistics by member states and the corruption in the armed forces mean that traffickers and armed groups pay for accessing weapons kept in such stockpiles. Second, nonstate armed groups have regularly targeted and overrun peacekeepers and national armed forces to seize lethal and nonlethal materiel. This has also become a significant source of armaments for Africa’s militant groups, fueling instability on the continent.

Illicit circulation of weapons also arises in the context of implementation of disarmament processes. Here a challenge worth mentioning is the lack of effective and complete demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR), noted in the AU Solemn Declaration on Common African Defense and Security Policy. In cases where no effective framework and resources for undertaking DDR as part of peace agreements for settling conflicts are provided for, weapons in the hands of armed groups ends up being traded. Similarly, the poor implementation of DDR including the proper accounting of weapons and arms in the hands of various armed groups in the DDR process would mean that such weapons and arms remain outside of the control of formal institutions.

Furthermore, for widely differing reasons non-African states appear set to increase their supply of lethal materiel to African governments. The PSC in its several communiques including on its 1029th commemorating the 2021 Africa Amnesty Month session condemned non-African states sponsoring and promote the influx of arms into Africa, including in cases of existing armed embargoes, leading to the further escalation of existing conflicts. Indeed, unless COE control measures are strengthened, these arms flows could contribute to greater instability.

Tomorrow’s session also serves as an opportunity for follow up on previous decisions of the PSC. It is to be recalled that the PSC in its 1040th session convened on 22 October 2021, requested the Commission, working closely with Member States and RECs/RMs, to conduct a second phase of the Mapping Study on Small Arms and Light Weapons. The council also requested the RECs/ RMs to continue to submit reports through the AU commission, on the actions taken in line with Africa Amnesty month.

In the current global context, one aspect of the war in Ukraine that may warrant Council’s attention is also the rising risk of the use of foreign fighter and mobilisation of large number of weapons and arms finding their way in the hands of traffickers and ending up in conflict settings in Africa. In the absence of proper tracing and regulation mechanism, the large-scale mobilisation of weapons and arms in the context of this war can have an adverse impact as had been witnessed with the case of spread of weapons and foreign fighters post-Libyan conflict. It is therefore imperative for the AU to take advance note of and imagine preventive measures on how the mobilisation of such weapons and arms in Ukraine without an effective tracing mechanism in place could impact Africa by boosting illicit transfer of arms from the war in Ukraine.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The council may express deep concern over the growing Illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa. The PSC may call for the AU to work with member states to launch a process for auditing of stockpiles with a view to enable states to have up to date data on the quantity and type of weapons and arms in their possession as a basis for ensuring the monitoring and safekeeping of stockpiles. The PSC may also call on member states to undertake measures that enhance the safe keeping and protection of stockpiles important measure for preventing leakages through corruption and vulnerabilities of stockpiles for attacks from armed groups. The PSC may also call for an African Strategy on the implementation of the Armed Trade Treaty at the continental levels as a means of controlling flows of weapons and arms into the continent and the trading of such weapons and arms within the continent. It also might call upon member State and the RECs to enhance cross border security and strengthening their monitoring and controlling mechanisms. Council may also urge member states to implement regional and international instrument to curb illicit flow of SALW. Further the council may reiterate its request to conduct second phase of the Mapping Study on Small Arms and Light Weapons in Africa. The PSC may also urge for effective integration of DDR programs in peace agreements and the proper implementation of such programs.

PSC Session on Living Together in Peace

Thematic Insights

Date | 17 May 2022

Tomorrow (17 May), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1084th session on Living Together in Peace.

Following opening remarks by Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of May, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to make a statement. AU Commission for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Minata Samate Cessouma is scheduled to make presentation. The representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Amani Africa, and the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) are also expected to make statements at tomorrow’s session.

Tomorrow’s open session on Living Together in Peace is convened within the framework of Council’s decision, at its 891st session held on 5 November 2019, to dedicate an annual session to commemorate the International Day of Living Together in Peace, as a forum for continuously raising public awareness and taking stock of efforts undertaken by Member States in upholding the UN General Assembly resolution 72/130. It is to be recalled that the UN General Assembly, on 8 December 2017, adopted resolution 72/130 declaring 16 May as the ‘International Day of Living Together in Peace’. The International Day of Living Together in peace, as highlighted in the resolution, is a means of ‘regularly mobilizing the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity, and to express its attachment to the desire to live and act together, united in differences and diversity, in order to build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony’.

It is worth noting that Algeria played an important role in the adoption of the General Assembly resolution, on the basis of its national experience in deradicalization and the fight against extremism. PSC’s decision to make the theme of Living Together in Peace as one of its standing agenda items was also taken during the chairship of Algeria in November 2019. Council has dedicated three sessions so far, the last being held on 13 May 2021 at its 995th session. Tomorrow’s session will be Council’s fourth dedicated session on Living Together in Peace.

The second dedicated session, which was held on 27 May 2020, had a specific focus on the Covid-19 pandemic and its implication on living together in peace in the continent. On the other hand, the last dedicated session was focused on drawing a linkage between AU’s 2021 theme: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers of The Building of Africa We Want” and living together in peace. Accordingly, the utility of art and culture for the promotion of tolerance, inclusivity and peace was highlighted. As this session comes amid the war in Ukraine and heightened geo-political rivalry, PSC members may take the opportunity to reflect on how the crisis impact multilateralism and the commitment towards living together in peace more broadly. Even in 2020, the Council, at its 928th session on COVID-19 and Living Together in Peace, noted with concern the ‘rise of geo-political rivalry between major powers of the world’ and its impact on multilateralism and Africa’s peace and security landscape.

Apart from the major power rivalry, of interest to the Council is the rising trend of identity-based violence, hate speech, and radicalization and extremism in the continent as highlighted by the Council at its 891st and 989th sessions, among others. Often, the issue of identity-based violence is linked with political exclusions and political manipulation of existing ethnic or religious divisions. Bias and favoritism to a certain ethnic or religious group in the distribution of political power and economic benefits to the exclusion of the ‘others’ create sense of marginalization. This not only widens the rift between the state and society but also fuels inter-communal tension and violence, particularly in a fragile setting. Indeed, the PSC flagged such concerns during its 891st sessions where it highlighted governance deficits such as exclusion, marginalization, mismanagement of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity as some of the root causes of conflicts in the continent. In a context of mineral rich African countries, Council in the same session stressed unequal distribution of proceeds from national resources among the structural causes of violent conflicts. In some cases, gender inequality, ethnic and religious polarization, coupled with the rise of hate speech (both online and offline) and disinformation, is destroying social fabric of communities, thereby triggering inter-communal violence.

Another key issue Council likely to focus on is the deteriorating humanitarian condition of the continent and growing needs for humanitarian assistance. Cessouma’s presentation may also highlight this issue in her presentation, building on the two previous sessions already conducted this month on humanitarian related themes. More than 114 million people in 15 most affected African countries require urgent assistance in 2022, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The number of people facing a critical lack of food has more than tripled where nearly 282 million are undernourished in the continent. Food security crisis in Africa has reached a disaster level, according to the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC). It reported that 346 million people (one in four Africans) are facing severe food insecurity. Despite the alarming trend, the humanitarian response plans have been limited and funding gap remains large. The COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the humanitarian crisis and resulted in a reversal of a hard-won progress on poverty reduction in the continent. A report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) indicates that ‘COVID-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 55 million African into extreme poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction on the continent’.

On the other hand, the continent has been witnessing the phenomenon of youth bulge with almost 60 percent of Africa’s population being under the age of 25, making Africa world’s youngest continent. While this by itself is not a problem (it can even be transformed into a demographic dividend), youth bulge may however risk political instability and exacerbate social tension when coupled with other structural conditions such as high unemployment, marginalization, absence of political space, and social fragmentation.

The expected outcome is a press statement. Council is expected to express concern over the ongoing geo-political rivalry between major powers its impact on multilateralism as well as on the peace and stability of the continent. In this respect, Council may appeal to all states to renew their commitment to multilateralism as international cooperation has become more crucial than ever to address global challenges. It may also re-emphasize the imperative of Africa speaking with one voice in defending and promoting common positions and interests. Council may express its concern over increasing trends of inter-communal violence, hate speech, radicalization and extremism, and in this regard, it may reiterate its 995th session that stressed the importance of ‘adopting inclusive national policies for addressing situations of exclusion and marginalization in society’. Council may urge Member States and RECs to protect, promote and respect human rights principles and standards as well as cultural, ethnic, religious diversity and gender equality. In terms of addressing root causes of conflicts, Council may in addition stress the importance of ensuring inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development, addressing governance deficit, and promoting democracy and rule of law in order to realize the aspiration to Live Together in Peace. Ensuring equal participation of the youth and women in decision making process is also expected to be highlighted in the outcome document.

Food security and conflict in Africa

Food security and conflict in Africa

Date | 9 May 2022

Tomorrow (9 May), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1083rd session to deliberate on food security and conflict in Africa. This would be the first partially open session of the Council for the month of May, accessible only to All AU member States and representatives of RECs/RMs.

Following the opening remark by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon and the Chairperson of the PSC for May, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. Josefa Sacko, the commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) of the AU Commission is scheduled to make a presentation on the theme of the session. Minata Samaté Cessouma, the commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, will also deliver a briefing.  Representatives of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Union are expected to deliver statements.

Although the PSC has addressed itself to the issue of food insecurity and conflicts, its engagement was largely limited to food insecurity in relation to specific conflict settings and how drought contributes to conflicts and food insecurity in the context of natural disasters and climate change vis-à-vis peace and security. At its 660th session, the PSC expressed its concern specifically ‘over the devastating impact of climate change in Africa as manifested through recurrent droughts, which is one of the major triggers of tensions and violence in communities.’ The same line of expression was used in the press statement issued following the 708th meeting of the PSC. But as the experience of Africa in relation to conflict situations show, one of the major consequences of conflict and insecurity is the emergence of hunger and starvation.

Tomorrow’s meeting marks the first session fully dedicated to food security and conflict in the continent, hence received more extended coverage in this edition of Insights on the PSC. This theme is formulated, as envisaged in the program of work for the month, as part and within the framework of the AU theme of the year 2022 ‘Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development’.

During tomorrow’s session, members of the PSC are expected to assess the general food security outlook of the continent, deliberate on the intersection between conflicts and food security, including the factors that drive food insecurity in conflict settings and explore the different measures that need to be taken to address the alarming situation in the continent. The deliberation and outcome of the session may also feed into the upcoming AU Humanitarian Summit and a Pledging Conference, which is scheduled take place on 28 May in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

This session comes at a time when the scale of food insecurity on the continent has become alarming. At the end of 2021, the AU, the Food and Agricultural Agency, the UN Economic Commission for Africa reported that while the hunger situation on the continent has been worsening since 2013, it witnessed the most deterioration during 2019 and 2020. According to the three entities, 281.6 million Africans are undernourished in 2020. They warned that the situation will deteriorate further in 2021. Confirming this warning, early last month, the ICRC announced that the food security crisis in Africa has reached a disaster level that has gone unnoticed. In terms of the magnitude of the problem, the ICRC reported that 346 million people (one in four Africans) are facing severe food insecurity. Indications are that this trend of worsening food insecurity will continue in 2022 as well. Coupled with the fact that Africa is identified one of the two regions in the world that registered the lowest public investment in agriculture, this trend will mean that there is going to be regression in terms of the sustainable development goals target of ending hunger by 2030. According to AU data from the 3rd Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) biennial review unveiled despite progress made by one-third of 51 AU member states, only one is on track to achieve the ending hunger target.

It is also worth noting that the tabling of this theme on the agenda of the PSC also comes amid heightening concerns about the impact of the war in Ukraine. FAO food price index indicated that world food prices jumped nearly 13 percent in March to a new record high as the war in Ukraine continues to rage. Given the already difficult food security situation and the dependence of many countries on imports of agricultural products and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine, Africa is facing to feel the impact of this development disproportionally. Apart from its adverse impact on the already dire food insecurity particularly in conflict settings in Africa, the socio-economic pressure that ensues from rising food prices is feared to create further fertile ground for social tension and instability.

The formulation of tomorrow’s session with particular focus on ‘food security and conflict’ rather than food security in general fits the mandate of the PSC, as a body primarily concerned with peace and security and matters arising in that context. In this regard, it is worth noting that while climate change and the impact of COVID19 are among the factors that drive food insecurity in Africa, conflict continues to be the major factor that leads to and accelerates food insecurity. Certainly, the relationship between conflict and starvation or hunger is non-linear. However, it is now adequately established that conflict is the main driver of hunger and starvation in conflict affected countries. Conflicts produce hunger and starvation both directly and indirectly.

Often the contribution of conflicts to hunger and starvation is indirect. Such is the case where conflict disrupts food production and/or trading of agricultural produce. The insecurity arising from fighting often means that people could not farm nor source food sources from the market as fighting also disrupts flow of goods from conflict free areas. Conflict also indirectly induces hunger and starvation as fighting limits the distribution of humanitarian assistance.

However, increasingly conflicts also directly cause hunger and starvation due to the actions of conflict parties. Indeed, one of the main causes of hunger and starvation in conflict situations is the direct or indirect restriction that conflict parties impose on humanitarian access including through deliberate targeting of humanitarian actors and/or the blockade of humanitarian access. Such cases were reported in relation to the war in South Sudan during 2013-2015 and in the conflict in northern Ethiopia. Conflict also directly contributes to hunger and starvation where conflict parties deliberately target crops, livestock and other food sources on which the civilian population depend for their survival. Similar conditions also emerge where conflict parties use food as weapon of war not only by deliberately destroying food sources and agricultural infrastructure but also by preventing people from producing food and/or from having access to food.

As the data from various sources shows, much of the most severe conditions of food insecurity in Africa, as in other parts of the world, are in territories affected by conflict. The report on ‘Hunger Hotspots’ identifies ‘conflict or organized violence’ as the ‘key drivers of acute food insecurity’ in countries/territories on the continent notably CAR, Central Sahel, eastern DRC, northern Ethiopia, northern Nigeria, northern Mozambique, Somalia, the Sudan, and South Sudan. As highlighted in the graph in the concept note prepared for tomorrow’s session, out of the 15 countries having populations of more than 1.5 million facing acute food insecurity, all except three are countries experiencing conflict. It is therefore little surprise that there is direct convergence between the conflict map of Africa and the map of ‘acute food insecurity hotspots’ on the continent.

The role of conflict as major driver of severe food insecurity becomes particularly clear in its relationship with the emergence of famine conditions. The emergence of famine conditions or risks of famine is mainly attributable to conflicts. Thus, during the past decade the places on the continent where the existence of famine conditions has been declared are all in countries experiencing conflicts in parts of their territory. In 2011, the food insecurity in Somalia was considered to have created famine conditions. Similarly, all of the four famines or near famine situations except one (Yemen) that the UN declared in 2017 were in Africa, all of them countries with territories affected by conflict. These were Somalia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria. According to FAO and WFP, this year as well all of the four countries except one (Yemen) that have the highest alert level and with parts of their populations identified or projected to experience starvation and death are in Africa. In the latest list, Ethiopia, where in its Tigray region UN reported in 2021 the emergence of famine like conditions, is added to two (South Sudan and north-east Nigeria) of the countries identified in the 2017 UN data.

In terms of UN’s engagement on the subject of food security and conflicts, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2417 (2018) on the link between armed conflict and food insecurity, including the threat of famine. Apart from highlighting the link between conflict and hunger and the obligating of conflict parties, the resolution envisages the inclusion of information on the risk of famine and food insecurity in the Secretary-General’s regular country-specific reports and for the Secretary-General to report to the Council, by way of early warning, on risks of conflict induced-famine and widespread food insecurity in the context of armed conflict.

In the light of the grim state of food security in Africa in general, one of the issues that the session should consider is on ways and means of ensuring sustainable financing, mobilization of resources commensurate with the food security gaps, and strengthening AU’s humanitarian architecture as outlined in African Common Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness. While the upcoming AU extraordinary summit is hoped to play its role towards the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency (AUHA) and mobilization of resources, it also remains important to ensure operationalization as well as harnessing in a coordinated form the role of relevant structures such as the Special Emergency Assistance Fund (SEAF), Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) and the PRC Sub-committee on the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine Relief in Africa. There is also the issue of AU member states implementing commitments under the CAADP. It is to be recalled that African countries pledged to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture and rural development, as well as to achieve agricultural growth rates of at least 6 percent per annum. Also worth applauding is the announcement by the African Development Bank (AfDB) of the establishment of the Africa Emergency Food Production Plan designed to support countries to rapidly produce around 38 million tones of food to mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war on food prices.

The other issue worth highlighting in the session is the imperative of ensuring compliance by conflict parties with human rights and humanitarian law standards. The use of starvation as a tactic of war and destruction of agricultural inputs, products and infrastructure in some context of armed conflicts is very concerning and is capable of creating the grave circumstances envisaged in Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the AU. The Geneva Conventions clearly prohibit starvation of civilians as a method of combat. They further prohibit attacking, destroying, removing, or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of civilian population, such as foodstuffs and agricultural areas. Attacking humanitarian actors and blocking or interfering with humanitarian access are also contrary to human rights and humanitarian law standards.

There is also the issue of enhancing AU’s role in humanitarian diplomacy as both a tool for preventing the emergence of conditions that lead to starvation and hunger and in mitigating or averting those conditions once they arise. This would include advocating for mobilization of support for people facing food insecurity and the use of diplomatic missions for facilitating unhindered humanitarian access, securing guarantee from conflict parties for safe, free and voluntary passage for civilians in conflict settings to areas where they can access assistance, respect for and full cooperation with humanitarian actors and compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law standards.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. Council may express its grave concern over the rising level of food insecurity in the continent and the accompanying humanitarian crisis. Council may emphasize the need for implementing AU’s CAADP initiative, including by meeting the target of dedicating a minimum of 10% of their budget to agriculture and rural development. PSC may encourage Member States not only to diversity their sources of agricultural imports, but also and most importantly, to increase their agricultural productivity and enhance intra-continental trade. With respect to exogenous factors such as the impact of the war in Ukraine, Council may call for international cooperation for establishing emergency plans and platforms for financing and facilitating access to agricultural products and inputs. The Council may also welcome the AfDB’s $ 1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Production Plan and call for its global support and effective and timely implementation. In relation to food security and conflict, Council may underscore the role of conflict as the main driver of much of food insecurity in the continent and it being responsible for the most acute forms of food insecurity. In this respect, the PSC could express its concern about attacks on humanitarian actors, the deliberate targeting of agricultural produce and infrastructure and the use of food as an instrument of war. Council could request along the lines of UNSC Resolution 2417 reports on conflict situations on the agenda of the PSC to include analysis on risks of food insecurity and famine. The PSC could also request the AU to include to its existing peace and security tool box as a dedicated tool humanitarian diplomacy and propose as one of the outcomes of the Malabo summit on 28 May the development of strategy for the effective use of humanitarian diplomacy by the AU. The PSC could also stress the need for Member States and all parties to conflict to strictly comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights laws. In light of the magnitude of the problem of food insecurity in the continent and the role of conflict as main driver of such insecurity, Council could decide to have food security and conflicts as a standing thematic agenda of the PSC during which the PSC receives briefings on trends on food security and conflict in Africa.

Briefing on Transnational Organized Crimes and Security in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date | 6 May 2022

Tomorrow (6 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to convene its 1082nd session on Transnational Organized Crime and Security in Africa.

Following the opening remark by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon and the Chairperson of the PSC for May, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement.

Representatives from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), AU Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), the Secretary General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) are also expected to brief the PSC. A representative from the AUC Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development may also deliver a statement.

Tomorrow’s session is the second meeting to be convened by the PSC after it decided on its 845th meeting held on 25th April 2019 to hold an annual session on the theme ‘Transnational Organized Crime and Peace and Security in Africa’. The PSC noted its deep concern over the rise of transnational organized crime in Africa in its several sessions including on thematic sessions that are linked to the issue including terrorism, illicit economy and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

During the 731st meeting held on 8 November 2017, the PSC underlined ‘the direct linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime, particularly in situations where state institutions are weak and lack the necessary capacity to effectively discharge their constitutional mandates’. Among others, organized crime has become a source of finance for terrorist groups and this has contributed to the proliferation of violent extremist groups on the continent.

Similarly, on its 832nd meeting held on 14 March 2019; the PSC received a briefing from the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA) on the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons and its Impact on Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020. The PSC, among others, underlined the link between transnational organized crime, the proliferation of weapons and corruption, illicit financial flows, poaching and illegal exploitation of natural resources. In this regard, the PSC encouraged the Member States to redouble their efforts aimed at promoting good governance, transparency, accountability and a high level of professionalism across all sections of society, including governance of security and defense institutions.

The Organized Crime Index report by INTERPOL ENACT (Enhancing African capacity to respond more effectively to transnational organized crime) in its 2021 report concludes that the majority of Africa’s population almost two-thirds (60.9%) live in countries with high levels of organized crime. The report also stressed that the increasing threat shows no signs of slowing down. In this regard, the PSC on the 845th session, also notes with serious concern ‘over the growing threat posed by organized transnational crime, particularly its increasingly direct linkages and collusion with terrorism and violent extremism, particularly in situations where state institutions are not up to the level of organization, performance and equipment commensurate to this growing threat to peace and security in Africa’.  To tackle the crime, the PSC underscored in its several communiques that, member states have the primary responsibility to fight against transnational organized crimes and terrorism. The council in its 845th session even urges Member States to take necessary steps to domesticate all AU and international instruments regarding the fight against transnational organized crime, including money laundering notably by terrorist groups.

Along with AU member states, the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) plays a critical role in providing systematic and structured cooperation among police agencies in the continent to fight against transnational organized crime.  AFRIPOL was established as a mechanism for police cooperation for Member States of the AU. Its main objective is to establish a framework for police cooperation at the strategic, operational and tactical levels between Member States’ police institutions.

So far, AFRIPOL facilitated enhanced cooperation among the police agencies of AU Member states and 48 Member States have established their AFRIPOL National Liaison Offices as provided for in the AFRIPOL Statute. The AFRIPOL Secretariat has trained the heads of the National Liaison Offices on their roles and responsibilities. As part of the engagement with the AU Policy Organs, the AFRIPOL Secretariat also briefed the PSC at its 845th meeting. The PSC, among others, commended the efforts by AFRIPOL to build and strengthen the capacities of the police agencies of the Member States, and underscored the need to further enhance the capacity of national justice systems, cooperation between and among border police and financial intelligence units, as well as to involve civil society and local communities in efforts aimed at preventing and combating terrorism and organized transnational crime.

However, despite AU institutions and member states effort to fight against Transnational Organized Crimes in Africa, the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on the intensification of transnational organized crime in the continent. Institutional responses to stop the spread of the pandemic caused extensive losses for legitimate businesses and, despite lockdowns and restrictions on movement, actors involved in organized crimes were able to adapt more effectively than legal entities. According to ENACT report, organized crime groups in Africa have adapted their modus operandi to the new COVID-19 realities, finding new routes for illicit trafficking and making more use of cargo shipments. Correspondingly, the report noted the surge in illicit trade with fake COVID-19 cures and vaccines or falsified medicines. In this regard, the INTERPOL report has also underlined the pandemic has made illicit medication markets in Africa even more attractive to organized crime groups. This concerning emerging trend would be of interest to PSC members.

It is also worth to note the interlinkage between active conflict and the upsurge of transnational Organized crime in the continent. According to ENACT assessment, countries scoring highest for organized crime often experience conflict or some form of violence, insurrection, terrorist activity or civil unrest. Conflict also diverts much needed resources from projects that contribute towards social cohesion and also from enhancing security infrastructure that is able to contain organized crime and various security threats.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The Council may express deep concern over the growing rate of transnational organized crime in the continent and its relationship to the rise and expansion of terrorism in the continent. It may underline the need to strengthen member states’ capacities of their national security institutions. It may also call upon member States’ Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to enhance collaborations in securing and managing borders to combat transnational organized crimes. The Council is expected to urge Member States to ratify and sign existing AU and other relevant international instruments on the prevention and combat of terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization and organized transnational crime. The PSC may also stress the need to strengthen the capacity of the specialized agencies including CISSA and AFRIPOL to fulfil their mandates effectively and to enhance their horizontal cooperation to create more synergy.

Briefing on the state of humanitarian actions in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date | 4 May 2022

Tomorrow (04 May), the African Union (AU) Peace Security Council (PSC) is expected to receive a briefing on the state of humanitarian actions in Africa, as one of the agenda items of its 1081st session. The briefing takes place ahead of the AU Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference scheduled to take place within the month, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Following opening remarks by Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of May, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to make a statement. AU Commission for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Minata Samate Cessouma is also expected to make a presentation. President of the International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Representative of the United Nations (UN) High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are also expected to deliver statements at tomorrow’s briefing.

The briefing by Minata Samate Cessouma is expected to present an overview of the humanitarian situation in the continent. It is also expected that the Commissioner will provide an update on the progress around the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency (AUHA). The briefing will also present an update on the preparations undertaken towards the convening of the AU Humanitarian Summit.  The Summit and Pledging Conference is taking place in line with the Executive Council Decision EX.CL/Dec.1076(XXXVI) which forms part of the various deliberations by the Council on the AU theme of 2019 and humanitarian situation in Africa.

Across various regions of the continent, challenges to humanitarian action are increasingly becoming more and more complex with the need for humanitarian assistance rapidly increasing as capacity and access to aid show significant decline. In all of these regions, protracted and violent conflicts, drastic impacts of climate change, high food insecurity and extreme poverty as well as lack of good governance are some of the shared features characterising factors underlying the dire humanitarian crises. Moreover, as emphasised by Council at its previous session on the theme – the 1044th meeting – civilians continue to be overwhelmingly impacted by the challenging context under which humanitarian action is availed in the continent. Tomorrow’s briefing is expected to draw Council’s attention to these challenges and provide key recommendations in addressing them.

According to data provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 61 million people in west and central Africa will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022. In the Sahel region, about 14 million people are facing acute food insecurity with a 30% increase in displacement rate noted in the region throughout 2020 and 2021. In conflict affected countries of the central African region, particularly Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civilians are facing extreme protection crisis with high numbers of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) being reported.

In east Africa, OCHA has recorded 9.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) and 4.7 million refugees and asylum seekers as of 2021. In the region, over 33.8 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure, while 12.8 million children are projected to be acutely malnourished. Ethiopia and South Sudan are particularly facing major food insecurity, with more than 400,000 people in Ethiopia and 100,000 people in South Sudan and experiencing catastrophic food insecurity. SGBV and the use of rape as a weapon of war also remain major concerns in both countries.

Although relatively better, north and southern Africa also face considerable humanitarian challenges. In southern Africa, Tropical Storm Chalane (December 2020), Tropical Cyclone Eloise (January 2021), and Tropical Cyclone Emnati (February 2022) have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Some parts of the region are further affected by severe draught leaving thousands of people faced with catastrophic food insecurity. Moreover, in the restive Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, violent attacks continue to affect civilians fuelling the displacement crisis. According to Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) database, 34 violent events were reported in the province during February 2022, resulting in 77 reported fatalities and spiking the displacement rate.

In north Africa, Libya continues to be the country most affected by humanitarian challenges. Despite some notable decrease in the rate of displaced persons and success obtained in returning some of the IDPs to their areas of origin, access to essential goods and services is still an issue the populations continue to struggle with. In addition, the country continues to host over 500,000 migrants according to data recorded by IOM, a significant number of which are held in detention centres and living under dire circumstances. In that regard, it is worth recalling Council’s call at its 997th session addressing the situation in Libya, for Libyan authorities to ensure all detention centres/camps in the country are dismantled in order to mitigate vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants.

As the continent struggles with an acutely rising humanitarian crisis, national, regional and international response has unfortunately been constrained over the past couple of years, due to the negative socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 pandemic. In African countries where resilience of populations has already been frustrated due to conflicts, economic shocks, natural disasters and weak national public health infrastructure and collapsing social services, the Covid-19 pandemic not only exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis, but also became an impediment to the provision of humanitarian assistance. For instance, studies conducted on in-camp and urban-based refugees in Kenya demonstrate that measures taken to control the spread of the pandemic have had disproportionately negative impacts on employment rates of these refugees, particularly refugee women. With respect to that, Council’s note at its 921st session on the importance of ensuring part of the AU Covid-19 Response Fund is directed towards assisting refugees, IDPs, undocumented migrants and other vulnerable parts of society has been significant.

Another worrying trend in the continent that has been causing much concern among humanitarian actors is the diminishing commitment of belligerents to ensure humanitarian access for conflict affected civilian populations. At the 1022nd session of the PSC where Council was briefed by the ICRC, this issue formed part of the key concerns addressed and Council took note of the limited cooperation by national authorities to ensure access to populations in need of humanitarian assistance. Since that session, not much seems to have improved with civilian populations in various conflict affected countries remaining cut from accessing basic humanitarian assistance including food, medicine and lifesaving healthcare. In addition to reiterating the issue of limited humanitarian access, ICRC’s President, Peter Maurer is expected to highlight in his briefing, the growing trend of attacks on medical personnel and facilities by parties to conflicts, either as a deliberate military strategy or due to lack of understanding of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) norms. It is also to be recalled that the PSC dedicated its 1044th session to the specific issue of “protection of medical facilities and personnel in armed conflict”, where it took note of and condemned the increasing pattern of stigmatization and attacks against medical personnel and healthcare facilities in situations of armed conflict.

The use of unconventional means and methods of warfare, particularly the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has also been a major threat to civilians and their livestock, not only claiming thousands of civilian causalities, but also disrupting the main means of sustaining their livelihoods. Furthermore, the use of IEDs poses a specific challenge to humanitarian workers in the discharge of their duties and becomes a hindrance for the provision of much needed humanitarian services to populations in need.

Worse still, humanitarian response in the continent is likely to show further decline in the near future if the Russia-Ukraine war continues to escalate. Africa being heavily reliant on both of these countries for the import of essential food items including basic cereals and oil, the price shocks and disruptions to supply chains are already being felt. As African governments struggle to meet development and humanitarian needs under such circumstances, they may face further challenges due to cuts in humanitarian and development aids coming from funding partners such as the European Union (EU), who may be cornered towards re-prioritising and pulling humanitarian finances from other crises in order to meet growing needs in Ukraine.

Tomorrow’s briefing serves the Council to reflect on these and other humanitarian challenges in the continent and to discuss ways forward for ensuring effective response and sustainable solutions to Africa’s growing humanitarian needs, despite the existing difficulties. It also presents the opportunity to highlight some of the key areas of action and planning that need to be addressed at the coming AU Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. Council may express deep concern over the escalating rate of humanitarian need in the continent as compared to the constraints and decline in humanitarian action. It may particularly take note of the increasingly limited space for delivering humanitarian assistance to people in need in the context of armed conflicts and urge warring parties to respect their IHL obligations by refraining from imposing sieges against civilian populations. It may emphasise the need for member States as well as the AU through its Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), to anticipate and take preventive measures in order to avert violent conflicts which culminate in dire humanitarian crises. It may also underscore the need for member States to resolve underlying root-causes of humanitarian crises including poor-governance, human rights abuses and poverty.

Council may also appeal to international partners to remain committed and to continue their humanitarian support to affected communities across the continent. Having regard to the increasing threat IEDs pose on civilians, Council may reiterate the call made at its 1072nd session, for the AU Commission to finalize the AU Mine Action and Counter-IED Strategies and submit to Council for consideration. It may also emphasise the importance of AU agency in coordinating and facilitating humanitarian aid in affected member States and accordingly, reiterate its call for the full operationalisation of the AUHA. It may further reiterate the call made at its 1025th session for the AU Commission to ensure regional presence of the AUHA once operationalised, through the formation of “Regional Humanitarian Centres in the five geographical Regions of the AU, to enable close cooperation with AU Member States and RECs/RMs at National and Regional Level”.

Reflection meeting on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Thematic Insights

Date |25 April 2022

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

Following the opening remark by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi and the Chairperson of the PSC for April, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. The Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AUC on Youth, Chido Cleo Mpemba and the five new AYAPs are also expected to make statements. President of Burundi H.E. Evariste Ndayishimiye will be the guest of honor at tomorrow’s session.

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

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

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

Since PSC’s inaugural session, major steps have taken place in developing the necessary policy frameworks that laid the foundation for the YPS agenda. The PSC at its 933rd PSC session, considered and adopted the two PSC mandated documents, the ‘Continental Framework on Youth, Peace and Security (CFYPS)’ along with the 10-year implementation plan (2020-2029), and the ‘Study on the Roles and Contributions of Youth towards Peace and Security in Africa’. The subsequent sessions of the PSC have shifted their focus towards the operationalization and implementation of the various policies through the development of National Action Plans (NAPs).

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

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

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

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

Briefing on the Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook in the Continent

Thematic Insights

Date | 6 April 2022

Tomorrow (6 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1073rd session to receive a briefing on the Continental Early Warning and Security Outlook in the Continent.

Following an opening remark by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi and the Chairperson of the PSC for April, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make statement and provide a horizon scanning on the threats to peace and security in the continent. The Committee of Intelligence and Security Service of Africa (CISSA) is also scheduled to deliver presentation on the emerging and existing security threats. The AU Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and the Africa Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) are also expected to be in attendance.

This session is convened within the framework of the Council’s decision, at its 360th meeting held in March 2013, to review the state of peace and security on the continent, at least biannually, through horizon scanning briefing from the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). Council has dedicated some sessions on the theme since then including the last one, 1014th meeting of the Council that took place on 26 July 2021. It is also to be recalled that at its 1014th session, Council requested CISSA, ACSRT and AFRIPOL to provide quarterly briefings on emerging threats to peace and security on the continent.

From past experience, the horizon scanning briefing focuses on thematic issues such as emerging security threats and root causes of conflicts, but rarely discusses emerging country specific situations. In tomorrow’s session as well, the briefing is expected to shed lights on trends in the threats to peace and security on the continent. As highlighted in Amani Africa’s most recent special research report on major peace and security issues in Africa on the 20th anniversary of the AU, as well as the latest report of the PSC on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa, the ‘rise and rise of terrorism related violence in Africa’; resurgence of military coups d’états and unconstitutional changes of governments (UCG); and ‘complex political transitions’ have dominated the peace and security landscape of the continent.

Africa is becoming the epicenter of terrorism and violent extremism. The intensity and violence of terrorist attacks have significantly increased in the continent. Moreover, the geographic spread of terrorism has been a concerning trend as regions and countries previously considered immune to terrorism have been now targeted. According to a recent report, ‘militant Islamist group violence in Africa climbed 10 percent in 2021 setting a record of over 5,500 reported events linked to these groups’. And, the spike and geographic expansion of terrorism has been nowhere more evident than in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin. This is accompanied by the influx of foreign terrorist fighters and increased activities of private military contractors and mercenaries, as well as growing convergence of terrorism and transnational organized crime, further compounding the peace and security challenges of the continent. The upsurge of terrorist attacks and the expansion of terrorists’ theatre of operation highlights the limits of AU’s peace and security architecture—particularly its securitized approach towards terrorism and violent extremism—despite the strides made in terms of degrading the capability of terrorists over the years.

Regarding the resurgence of military coups, the year 2021 marked the largest number of military coups in Africa since the turn of the century where there were eight coup attempts and five successful coups (Chad, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, and Burkina Faso) in less than a year between April 2021 and February 2022. While complex governance and security challenges are factors behind uptick of UCGs, it also clearly highlights the gaps in the efficacy of AU’s current norms and approaches to coups. In this respect, as Amani Africa’s special report on UCGs pointed out, the response of AU and regional mechanisms to UCGs principally focusing on a templated application of sanction is ‘utterly inadequate’, indicating the need for developing both effective preventive and response measures that go beyond sanction.

The other concern likely to receive attention in tomorrow’s session is complex transitions. Large number of African countries are undergoing a difficult transition including Libya, Somalia, CAR, Sudan and South Sudan. In some countries, the transition may necessitate the implementation of peace agreements or holding elections. In others (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan) major aspect of the transition may relate to restoring constitutional order that requires peaceful transfer of power from military authorities to civilians. Still in others, it involves building a consensus through inclusive dialogue among major political and social forces towards an agreed upon transitional process. Despite the support provided by the AU, the task of steering such countries towards democracy and durable peace has remained a challenge.

In addition to the above, the horizon-scanning may highlight various forms of violent conflict including inter-communal conflicts, armed rebellions, natural disasters, climate induced insecurities, piracy, cyber-crimes, election related violence, and foreign military presence in the continent as trends that would continue to shape the peace and security dynamics of the continent.

The second aspect of the discussion is expected to focus on the implementation of AU early warning tools and progress made towards operationalization of the CEWS. One notable development likely to be mentioned by Bankole in this connection is the development of an Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange Platform (I-RECKE) to facilitate ‘experience sharing and lessons learned on best practices and opportunities for early warning and conflict prevention’. As Bankole pointed out in his statement on the occasion of the AU reflection forum on UCG held in March, this platform would bring together the ‘departments of Political Affairs, Peace & Security of Regional Organizations, sister AU institutions, non-State Actor think tanks and individual experts, to periodically reflect on effective early warning, early response, conflict prevention and synergy building between stakeholders, vertically and horizontally’.

The other development expected to receive attention is the conduct of the inaugural joint retreat of the PSC and the African Peer Review mechanism (APRM) in Durban, South Africa, from 19 to 21 December 2021. Such retreat will go a long way in reenergizing the early warning system and strengthen efforts to position APRM as an early warning tool for conflict prevention. It is worth noting that the mechanism plays an important role in bridging the gap between early warning and early response particularly by identifying areas of vulnerabilities and proposal for addressing them. The appointment of the fifth Panel of the Wise at the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly and the subsequent inaugural meeting in late March (though nomination from the Southern Africa region is still pending) is another development that would give impetus to AU’s early warning system.

The Continental Structural Conflict Prevention Framework (CSCPF) and its tools of the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) and Country Structural Vulnerability Mitigation Strategies (CSVMS) and the steps taken to advance their implementation may also be highlighted in tomorrow’s discussion. This framework aims to strengthen the capacity of Member States to identify and address structural vulnerabilities at an early stage and design mitigation measures.

As highlighted in Amani Africa’s previous ‘insights on the PSC’ on the theme, ensuring effective flow of information between the early warning mechanism and the PSC such as through regular early warning briefings to PSC members; institutionalizing and regularizing different means and modalities available to enhance rapport and close working relationship between the Commission and the Council; as well as strengthening cooperation and collaboration between AU and RECs/RMs and horizontal cooperation between CISSA, ACSRT and AFRIPOL are areas that require further work. There is also a need for reflecting on challenges for effective implementation of the PSC’s mandate for conflict prevention under Article 9 of the PSC Protocol, including the proper implementation of the relevant provisions of the PSC Protocol.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The Council is expected to express its concern over the persistent and emerging threats to the peace and security of the continent, most notably the spike of terrorism and violent extremism and resurgence of military coups. The Council may stress the importance of fully implementing the existing AU instruments and tools including the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) including Article 8(7) of the PSC Protocol which requires that no country may oppose inclusion of any item in the provisional agenda of the PSC. The Council may encourage Member States to increase their efforts in the utilization of the existing tools and instruments that are available to address the structural causes of violent conflicts such as the APRM and CSVRA/CSVMS. In this respect, the Council may reiterate the decision of the Assembly at its 35th Ordinary Session that requested the Commission to establish a ‘Monitoring and Oversight Committee comprising the AUC, RECs/RMs, APRM and Member states to facilitate effective coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation’. The Council may also welcome the inaugural meeting of the fifth Panel of Wise, as well as the inaugural joint retreat of the PSC and the APRM that was held in December 2021. Furthermore, the Council may endorse the Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange Platform (I-RECKE) given its role in enhancing early warning and conflict prevention.

Briefing on Mine Action

Thematic Insights

Date | 1 April 2022

Today (1 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1072nd session to receive a briefing on mine action in Africa. The session will be held in person. This will be the first in person PSC session since the Council made a decision in March 2020 to hold all its meetings virtually due to COVID19 restrictions on physical meetings.

It is envisaged that following the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Burundi to the AU, Willy Nyamitwe, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will make a statement. It is also expected that the representatives of the United Nations Office to the AU (UNOAU), the European Union (EU) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will deliver their statements.

The session is taking place at the margins of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action which is observed on 4 April. The session is expected to shed light on the impact of anti-personnel landmines and underscore the importance of upholding various regional and international normative frameworks towards enhancing mine action and for member states to achieve complete clearance from anti-personnel mines. While the majority of Africa countries are state party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Action Convention, according to the concept note circulated for the session ‘16 AU member states are suspected to be contaminated and/or affected directly by anti-personnel mines.’ And 12 AU member states are yet to identify and destroy anti-personnel mines. This also illustrates the gap in norm implementation and the importance of bridging this gap through concerted and collective action as well as global partnership.

To further promote and advance the Convention various instruments have been adopted including the Declaration of States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Maputo Declaration). Maputo Declaration has been instrumental in mobilizing commitments among member states on the implementation of time-bound obligation of the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines by the year 2025. In addition, in line with the five-year Oslo Action Plan adopted in 2019 state parties to the convention committed to design national responses that accommodate the diverse needs and experiences of people in affected communities. Hence, tomorrow’s session presents an opportunity to reflect around the challenges, prospects and risks in relation to compliance and implementation, particularly as the deadline provided in the Maputo declaration is fast approaching.

Indeed, to support member states in meeting the set deadline, the 1032nd PSC session held on 16 September 2021 has requested the AUC to convene an experience sharing and lesson learning session in mine action. It would be of interest to PSC members to request an update around the session. Such forum will also be important to design long term plans for countries affected armed conflict and those in post-conflict situations as well. Anti-personnel land mines have long term effects and continue to kill and injure people even after cessation of hostilities by warring parties. It is thus imperative for countries to develop comprehensive plans for the various stages of conflict situations.

In the same session the PSC had expressed concern over threats related to anti-personnel land mines particularly in relation to the effects of COVID19 on mine action. It has further requested the AUC to integrate mine action into the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2030 and to finalize the Draft AU Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) Mitigation Strategy and submit for Council’s consideration. In this context the AUC may provide update on these processes.

Similarly, it is to be recalled that the 837th PSC session recognizing the risks associated with IED and their devastating impact on civilians, called on ‘Member States to prevent and counter the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) through integrated and coherent approaches including helping one another, and demand the Commission to continue consultations with Member States to develop the necessary framework in this regard’.

In this regard, the session may highlight the use of IEDs and their serious impact on civilian population. More particularly with the increased level of urbanization coupled with the rise of conflicts in cities, various types of explosive weapons are being used by belligerent parties. The UN Secretary General Report of August 2021 highlighted the complexities around the increased urbanization of conflicts and the catastrophic impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The causalities in these settings are particularly high given population density. According to the report when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 88% of those killed and injured were civilians, compared with 16% when used in other areas. This is a concerning trend that presenters may highlight given the nature and dynamics of current conflicts.

Another area that is expected to be underscored at the session is the importance of strengthened effort in mine action in humanitarian settings. Explosive ordnance continues to spark complex humanitarian emergencies and high rate of displacement. Population fleeing violence and armed conflict have also been confronted with further danger and risks associated with explosive weapons. Anti-personnel mines have also been a major hindrance for the delivery of life saving assistance and humanitarian action. In this respect ICRC’s intervention is expected to highlight the humanitarian aspect and the effects of weapon contamination on civilian population in armed conflict.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC may express concern over the continuing threat of anti-personnel mine and the devastating effects of its use despite the strides made my member states. It may call on member states, in close collaboration and coordination with the AU and Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to enhance and revitalize national response to realize the goal set in Maputo Declaration as well as the Oslo Action Plan. The PSC may urge countries that are yet to remove anti-personnel mines in their territories to do so rapidly and to ensure timely reporting on the clearance and demining activities. It may call on for strengthened international partnership to support the complete clearance of AU member states from anti-personnel mine. The PSC may reiterate its previous call for the AUC to convene an exchange forum around mine action and to expedite the finalization of the Draft AU Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) Mitigation Strategy.