Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Update on Operationalisation of ASF

Date | 01 December 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Date | 28 November 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Date | 9 November 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Open Session on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa

Date | 3 November 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Development and deradicalization as levers to counter terrorism and violent extremism

Development and deradicalization as levers to counter terrorism and violent extremism

Date | 07 October 2022

Tomorrow (7 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1111th session at a ministerial level. The session is convened under the theme of ‘development and deradicalization as levers to counter terrorism and violent extremism’.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation, and Moroccan Expatriates of the Kingdom of Morocco, Nasser Bourita, is expected to preside over the session as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of October 2022. Following an opening remarks by the chairperson of the month, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, will deliver statement. The Secretary-General of the Rabita Mohammadia of Ulema, Dr. Ahmed Abaddi, is also scheduled to make presentation while Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, is expected to deliver statement.

Tomorrow’s session becomes the 24th session of the Council dedicated to the issue of terrorism and violent extremism, making the item the most discussed thematic issue by the PSC since its operationalization in 2004. Seven of these sessions have been addressed at the ministerial or summit level, also showing the increasing high-level interest on the subject on account of the increase in incidents of terrorist attacks and its geographic expansion. Since the extraordinary summit held in Malabo in May 2022 on terrorism, the PSC met at a ministerial level on 23 September on the sidelines of the 77th session of UN General Assembly with a focus on strengthening the role of RECs/RMs in combating the scourge of terrorism.

The last time Morocco chaired the PSC, the 883rd session held at ministerial level focusing on the nexus between conflicts in general and development, it reaffirmed ‘the essence and fundamentals of human security, in line with the Common African Defense and Security Policy and the AU Policy Framework on Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), as a multidimensional notion of security encompassing socio-economic and political rights.’ As it did during that session, tomorrow’s session is also expected to emphasise ‘the need for the consideration and conception of an integrated, inclusive, holistic and multidimensional approach regarding the interdependence between peace, security and development, aiming at enabling the African Union and the RECs to respond effectively to the challenges imposed by conflict cycles in Africa’, albeit with a particular focus on addressing the scourge of terrorism.

Tomorrow’s session, among others, affords Council the opportunity to exchange views and share best experiences including from the Kingdom of Morocco, which is presented as a success story in the fight against terrorism. The first lesson is the multidimensional nature of Morocco’s counterterrorism strategy. According to Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2022 report, Morocco ranked 76th among countries impacted by terrorist threat globally, making it one of the safest countries in the world. What contributed for Morocco’s positive performance is not because the country is less targeted by terrorists, but because of its blend of counterterrorism efforts often described as ‘tri dimensional counterterrorism strategy’ —largely aimed at addressing terrorism threats through security, socio-economic development policies and religious education—adopted following the 2003 Casablanca bombings. The same report attributes Morocco’s success in fighting terrorism to the ‘country’s understanding of the threat; the interconnectedness of its counterterrorism methods; the application of combined soft and hard measures; the facilitation of information sharing practices; and the promotion of international cooperation as the sine qua non of counterterrorism’.

Indeed, unlike most previous engagements, tomorrow’s session shifts the focus away from the dominant hard security oriented policy approach towards the socio-economic and governance factors that make the emergence and expansion of terrorism and violent extremism possible. As outlined in various Amani Africa works (reports here and here), the dominance of the hard security approach to terrorism has crowded out investment in the political, development and environmental factors. Indeed, as demonstrated in our report, the year-on-year increase in the incident of terrorist attacks and the geographic spread of the threat highlight that it is not possible to win over terrorism by increasing throwing of weapons at it.

While security measures remain critical in addressing the immediate security threat posed by terrorists, it has become evident that no amount of force would fundamentally change the terrorism landscape in Africa without addressing the structural socio-economic and political deficiencies on which terrorism thrives. Amani Africa’s special report made the case that ‘the political and socioeconomic governance pathologies and the grievances and vulnerabilities that such pathologies produce on the part of the affected communities are the core conditions that open the space for the emergence and growth of terrorist groups.’ As such, ‘given the inadequacy of the security heavy approach to countering terrorism, it is of paramount significance that the PSC gives consideration for the AU and RECs to invest as much in the socio-economic, development, governance and humanitarian dimensions of the underlying and driving factors of terrorism as, if not more than, they invest in security-heavy instrument of counter terrorism’.

Taking the passing references in the various PSC outcome documents to socio-economic, political, environmental and humanitarian dimensions of terrorism and the 22 October 2021 report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission that admitted the imperative of moving ‘beyond predominantly military action to include soft approaches, by promoting inclusive good governance, accountability as well as socioeconomic developments’ a step further, our special report provided analysis on how this policy shift can be achieved. First, in territories affected by terrorism, this needs to focus on provision of life saving assistance for the displaced and those facing food insecurity and the creation of conditions including through the implementation of protection measures for the return and rehabilitation of IDPs as well as the provision of psycho-social support that is tailored to and in harmony with the traditions and practices of affected communities. Second, investing in the rehabilitation of and providing support for the expansion of existing sources of livelihoods and making them more economically and ecologically sustainable and productive. Third and fundamentally, the rolling out of legitimate local governance structures along with enabling them in the delivery of key social services including health care, access to water, education and justice. Additionally, it is of particular significance that the AU PSC in its engagement on the theme of terrorism engages bodies such as Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social (HHAS) Development, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). In terms of deradicalisation, attention should be given to the use not only of counter-terrorism narratives and sensitization measures but also political and diplomatic instruments such as negotiation and reconciliation that provide pathways for the reintegration into and peaceful participation political and social life of society by members of society recruited into the ranks of terrorist groups.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Council may reiterate its grave concern over the rising tide of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa. Recognizing the different factors associated with terrorism such as governance deficits, socio-economic challenges, and marginalization, Council may emphasize the need to adopt a multidimensional comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that combines security and law enforcement, socio-economic development policies, and counter-radicalization and de-radicalization programs to tackle the scourge in a holistic and sustainable manner. The PSC may reiterate its request of 883rd session for the AU Commission, to ‘further enhance the collaboration and coordination between the different departments within the AU Commission and AU Specialized Agencies to support the PSC, taking into account the interdependence between peace, security and development, whilst carrying out its mandate.’ In this context, Council may emphasize the need for fully harnessing the role of African governance and developmental institutions such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) AUDA-NEPAD, the AfDB and AU Department of HHAS in addressing the governance and socioeconomic challenges. The PSC may also call for effective implementation of the AU Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) and the mobilization of the role of the PCRD Centre. Finally, Council may take tomorrow’s session as an opportunity to follow up on some of its previous decisions regarding terrorism and violent extremism, notably the development of a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa as well as the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on Counter Terrorism (16th extraordinary summit on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government held in May 2022), the formation of counterterrorism unit within the African Standby Force (PSC 960th session), establishment of a Sub-Committee on Counter-terrorism (PSC 249th session), and the establishment of an AU Special Fund for Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and Violent Extremism (Assembly/AU/Dec.614 (XXVII)).


Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism and Violent Extremism

Date | 23 September 2022

Tomorrow (23 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1107th meeting which will be a ministerial session on “strengthening regional organizations for the maintenance of peace and security in Africa: preventing and fighting terrorism and violent extremism in the continent”. The session is expected to take place in a hybrid format, with the in-person meeting to be held in New York.

The session is expected to have an open and closed segment. In the first, open segment, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana is expected to deliver opening statement as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of September 2022. This will be followed with remarks by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission and a statement by Mr. Vladimir Voronkov Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Office of Counter-Terrorism. In the second, closed segment, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is expected to deliver a presentation on “the impetus of a robust Continental Early Warning System in the context of implementing the May 2022 Malabo Declaration to effectively Counter Terrorism”. This will be followed by interventions from PSC member States and Executive Secretaries/Commissioners of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

While Council decided to institutionalise ‘preventing and combating terrorism and violent extremism’ as a standing annual agenda item at its 957th session of 20 October 2020, the theme has featured more regularly on the agenda of the PSC over the years since at least as far back as 2010. The regularity and the level at which this item is dealt with by the PSC has shown notable rise in recent years. In 2021, Council dedicated three ministerial sessions, demonstrating the increasing recognition of the growing threat that terrorism has come to pose for increasing number of AU member states. Indeed, the ‘Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Continental Efforts in Preventing and Combating of Terrorism in Africa’ to the PSC at its 1040th ministerial session highlighted the very worrying spike in attacks and in the spread of terrorism and violent extremism as well as emerging trends in the manifestation of terrorism on the continent.

In terms of the scale of increase in the threat of terrorism, the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) reported that Africa has witnessed a 400% and 237% rises in attacks and deaths respectively between 2012 and 2020. As pointed out in Amani Africa’s special report, the trend in the growing threat of terrorism witnessed in recent years and the data from the 2022 Global Terrorism Index indicate that Africa has become the epicentre of global terrorism. The region accounts for about 50% of global deaths due to terrorism while four of the ten countries globally to have experienced increase in deaths from terrorism in 2021 are also in Africa, namely Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali and Niger.

The geographic expansion of the threat of terrorism also continues to pose a serious concern. Demonstrating the expansion and spread of terrorism in the continent, Ghana, the only country along the Gulf of Guinea which has for long remained least affected by terrorism, is now feared to be target of the expansion of terrorism from the Sahel to the littoral states of West Africa. Other coastal west African States are already experiencing attacks as the terrorist groups push south wards from the Sahel, particularly via Burkina Faso. For instance, on 11 May, Togo experienced its first deadly jihadist attack perpetrated by the Al-Qaida-affiliated Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) in a town along Togo’s border with Burkina Faso, which killed 8 and wounded 13 Togolese soldiers. Côte d’Ivoire has also been experiencing recurrent cross-border attacks from neighbouring Burkina Faso perpetrated by armed groups linked to Al-Qaida. In addition to its expansion to littoral States of west Africa, the threat of terrorism has also spread to other sub-regions of the continent including the Great Lakes Region, East Africa and Southern Africa.

The terrorism menace in Africa has far reaching social, economic and political consequences that go beyond the security realm. During the past few years, it became a major factor behind the occurrence of military coups. This has been particularly the case in countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso. The humanitarian toll from terrorist attacks also continues to grow. According to the ACSRT’s 2022 Mid-Year Africa Terrorism Trends Analysis, 433 out of the 699 terrorist attacks perpetrated during the first half of 2022 were launched against civilians and out of the 5,412 deaths that were recorded during the period, 3,517 were civilian deaths. In some of the most affected countries such as Burkina Faso, the displacement rate has continued to show an unabating increase. According to the UN, over 19,000 Burkinabe citizens have fled into Côte d’Ivoire in 2021 alone, due to extremist attacks. This has been a 50% increase as compared to the previous year of 2020. In 2022, the situation has shown further deterioration with the multiplication of violent attacks in the country driving more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021. Across the wider Sahel region extending over Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, over 4.8 million people are estimated by the UN to have fled their homes due to violence including jihadist attacks and communal conflicts. In northern Mozambique, after a respite in violence between mid-July to late August, attacks have resumed displacing over 38,000 people according to the latest data.

The threat of terrorism in Africa is expanding at an alarming rate not because the investment for fighting against it and in counter terrorism operation is lacking. Indeed, indications are that the threat is expanding at an exponential rate despite the increase in counter terrorism instruments. As the AU Commission Chairperson noted in his address to the AU summit held in Malabo at the end of May, from Somalia to the Sahel and Mozambique the AU and regional bodies deployed various military operations. Analysis of the policy decisions of the AU both at the level of the AU Assembly and that of the PSC show that between 2010 and 2022, some nine hard security mechanisms have been initiated to deal with terrorism hotspots across the continent. The AU has also established key institutions such as the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL) and ACSRT. There has also been notable increase since 2015 in the deployment of various international multilateral and bilateral security instruments in the Sahel.

As Amani Africa’s special report highlighted and the AUC Chairperson admitted, the threat of terrorism continues to grow despite the increase in the investment in and the use of these and other hard security tools including border control, intelligence exchange, and criminal justice. One explanation, AUC Chair highlighted in his address, is the lack of adequate support to make the use of these hard security instruments effective. Indeed, as Amani Africa’s report also admits, there are gaps that limit the effectiveness of the hard security instruments that are deployed for countering terrorism on the continent. As such policy interventions, including continental and international support instruments, have to be designed and geared towards facilitating the building of not just the fighting capacity of national forces but also importantly their legitimacy and professionalism, including both in terms of strict adherence to human rights and international humanitarian law standards and protection of civilians and their skills and mindsets in assisting local communities in finding ways and means of addressing the issues facing them.

However, it would be of interest for the PSC to take note of the existence of more than enough evidence both from elsewhere in the world and most importantly from the recent experiences from Somalia to the Sahel that no amount of force irrespective of its effectiveness would constitute a recipe for success against terrorism.  Amani Africa’s special report, challenged both the diagnosis of and the policy response measures to the threat of terrorism in Africa. The dominant view about terrorism in Africa is based on a misdiagnosis of the nature of the phenomenon. There are two aspects to the misdiagnosis. The first is that it considers groups identified as terrorists to be the core of the problem. Second, it also erroneously states that these groups are mainly ideologically driven by global jihad. The report showed that terrorist groups, rather than being the core of the problem, are the symptom of the main problem. As our report put it, ‘the political and socio-economic governance pathologies’ and the grievances and vulnerabilities that such pathologies produce on the part of affected communities are the core conditions that open the space for the emergence and growth of terrorist groups.

These two aspects of the misdiagnosis also led to faulty policy responses. Rather than focusing on approaches that prioritize addressing ‘the political and socio-economic pathologies’, the responses focused on eliminating the symptom of the problem. As such, both the policy discourse on and the policy tools often deployed in response to terrorism are predominantly centred around the use of hard security instruments (namely combat operations, law enforcement measures, border control, intelligence cooperation and sharing etc). Given the inadequacy of the security heavy approach to countering terrorism, it is of paramount significance that the PSC gives consideration for the AU and RECs to invest as much in the socio-economic, development, governance and humanitarian dimensions of the underlying and driving factors of terrorism as, if not more than, they invest in security-heavy instruments of counter terrorism. This necessitates that AU and RECs/RMs expand their capacity and develop relevant instruments for initiating and supporting efforts of local communities both for deradicalization, reconciliation, inter-communal dialogue and for implementing measures for addressing the humanitarian and socio-economic needs of affected populations. Not any less important is the role of AU and RECs in supporting the development of governance and development oriented political strategy backed by full commitment of national actors as the basis for countering terrorism. In terms of the mobilization and deployment of resources as well, the AU and RECs/RMs need also to build the capacity to develop strategies for channelling resources for addressing the underlying conditions that facilitate the emergence of terrorism.

In terms of the use of AU and RECs instruments, it is also critical for the PSC that the AU and RECs/RMs bring to the centre their policy response, and add to the security-oriented instruments usually referred to in their policy decisions (such as the ACSRT, the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and AFRIPOL as well as the PSC Sub-committee on Terrorism), their governance and development structures. This means that RECs/RMs and the AU need to harness and bring to the centre of counter terrorism the role of African Governance Architecture (AGA), ACHPR, APRM, the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the African Development Bank etc. Similarly, the AU and RECs can also play a role in initiating and delivering targeted technical support to national security institutions with a focus on enhancing their compliance with human rights and humanitarian laws and on the use by these security institutions of civilian counter terrorism measures including community dialogue, building or rebuilding of local or community governance structures, rehabilitation of the livelihood of communities affected by or vulnerable to violent extremism and terrorism and in facilitating humanitarian assistance and psychosocial support.

Among the key decisions of the Malabo Summit was the development of a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa. Considering the lessons from the experiences thus far, it is of particular significance for tomorrow’s ministerial meeting of the PSC to ensure that the strategic plan is premised on the primacy of politics and the need to invest as much in building and mobilizing relevant policy intervention tools and resources for addressing the governance and socio-economic deficits underlying the emergence and expansion of terrorism as in sustaining the military, rule of law, intelligence instruments for countering terrorism. Such a balanced approach would position the AU and RECs/RMs engagement to be more effective and successful.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council is expected to express grave concern over the growing expansion of terrorism and violent extremism in the continent. It is also expected to underscore the importance of strengthening capacity of and horizontal collaborations among various RECs/RMs in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Apart from highlighting the importance of upscaling the role of RECs in mobilizing coordination among affected countries in responding to the threat of terrorism, the PSC may underscore the importance of AU and RECs focusing their attention on developing and deploying tools for addressing the governance and development deficits that terrorist groups take advantage of. It may also emphasise the need to enhance collaborations among ad-hoc counterterrorism coalitions, RECs/RMs and relevant AU organs. Council may further highlight the importance of developing a strategy for coordination of efforts between the AU and various RECs/RMs on maintenance of peace and security. It may also follow up on the status of implementation of the decisions of the 16th Extraordinary Summit of the AU Assembly conducted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 28 May 2022, particularly on the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on Counter Terrorism and the development of a comprehensive Continental Strategic Plan of Action on countering terrorism in Africa. Council may also take note of the centrality of governance and development deficits as the cause and driver of the growing threat of terrorism and emphasise the importance of advancing the use of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and other AU governance and development instruments and mechanisms in responding to the threat of terrorism in the continent.


Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Briefing on the AU Peace Fund

Date | 16 September 2022

Tomorrow (16 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene a joint-meeting with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) Sub-Committee on Budget Matters along with the Board of Trustees of the AU Peace Fund, to discuss the status of the AU Peace Fund operationalisation.

Apart from the remarks of the Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Amma Adomaa Twum-Amoah, the opening segment of the session is envisaged to feature remarks of the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund and the Chairperson of the AU Committee of (F15). The substantive session is envisaged to involve update on the status of the Peace Fund. In this respect, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, who is a member of the Executive Management Committee of the Peace Fund, will brief the session on the rational for the establishment and operationalizing a high-performing Fund in line with international best practice. This is followed by an update by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) on ‘Evolving consensus on financing AU Peace Support Operations and priority utilization of the Fund’.

The last time Council convened a session to discuss the AU Peace Fund was in October 2021, at its 1036th meeting. At that session, Council deliberated on the utilisation of the Peace Fund on priority areas including support to peace processes in specific conflict and crisis affected member states including Libya, Mali, Somalia and Sudan. Tomorrow’s briefing presents the opportunity for Council to receive updates and reflect on the latest developments regarding operationalisation of the Peace Fund. The session is unique in bringing together all the major stakeholders, thereby presenting an opportunity for achieving consensus on the full operationalization of the Fund including the proposed piloting of the utilization of a specified amount of the Fund.

The major developments since the last session of the PSC include the finalization of the identification of the priority areas for use of funds from the interest accrued to the current contributions to Peace Fund. It is to be recalled that the PSC discussed and agreed on the utilization of the AU Peace Fund through pilot projects from the accrued interest during its 13th retreat on its working methods in the context of AU Institutional Reforms (ref. PSC/Retreat.13 dated 27-29 May 2021) held in Mombasa Kenya.

The AU Commission engaged the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund towards the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund in 2022 through costed and prioritized programmatic activities to address urgent peace and security challenges on the Continent. The representatives of the Executive Committee composed of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and the Commissioner for PAPS, in consultation with the AU High Representative on Financing of the AU and the Peace Fund, have identified priorities for utilisation of the Fund. Within this framework, 21 priority areas were identified.

The Board of Trustees approved for consideration and adoption by the relevant AU policy organs the use of $ 8.4 million from the interest accrued to the Peace Fund to implement pilot projects. During the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, the Executive Council approved an additional $5 million for the Crisis Reserve Fund (CRF). The revolving $5 million for the CRF proposed for the pilot phase is expected to be used for activities that do not exceed one year.

Through CRF the AUC envisages to support startup costs of missions authorized by relevant AU policy organs, emergency situations that exceed the capacity of member states, activities that can be undertaken in a short period and activities that can rapidly bring change in the peace and security situation. The CRF fund allows the PSC and the AUC to respond to emerging crises for which provision could not have been made in the annual regular budget for peace and security.

During the consideration of the report on the CRF in Lusaka, one of the issues raised centered around the extent to which the relevant bodies were consulted and whether due process has been followed as stipulated in the Financial Rules and Regulations (FRR). The concept of implementing a pilot project under the three windows of the Peace Fund has been largely welcomed but the Executive Council could not consider the proposed project for approval. Hence this Joint Briefing session is meant to provide firm clarity on compliance with the FRR and ensure that the relevant AU bodies achieve common understanding. It also serves to pave the way for proposed $8.4 million for the pilot projects that is yet to be approved by the PRC for adoption by AU policy organs.

In addition to reaching agreement on priority areas, the legal, operational and governance mechanisms relevant for the full functioning of the Fund have also been established. This includes finalisation of the process of drawing programmes and costing priority areas for utilisation; establishment and operationalisation of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Management Committee; adoption of modalities for the recruitment of Independent Evaluation Panel and Fund Managers; and commencement of processes for the establishment of the Peace Fund Secretariat. The PAPS Department has also prepared the Monitoring and Evaluation framework for the budget proposal for the pilot utilization of the Peace Fund.

On 30 June 2022, the Board of Trustees held a meeting to review the progress obtained in operationalising the Peace Fund. Key progresses noted at the meeting include the appointment of two external, independent Fund Managers – Old Mutual Investment Group from South Africa and Sanlam Investments East Africa from Kenya. Further to that, the Financial Rules for the Peace Fund have also been adopted as part of the AU’s financial rules and regulations in February 2022.

With respect to the status of contributions of member states to the Peace Fund, as of mid-August 2022, the amount from member states assessed contributions stands at $279,069,008.43. Together with voluntary contributions, interest earned on investment of Peace Fund assets and the transfer of the Legacy Peace Fund to the revitalized Peace Fund, the total amount of the Peace Fund stood at $321,504,709.15 as of mid-August 2022. According to the AU report presented to the 41st Ordinary Session held in Lusaka last July, twenty-two (22) AU member states paid their 2022 Peace Fund assessments in full while five (5) member states had made partial payments as at 30 June 2022. Twenty-eight (28) member states had not made any payment to their 2022 Peace Fund assessments. Apart from collection of assessed contribution of member states, there is also the ongoing process for achieving consensus on the contribution of six member states from the North region and the collection or clearing of arrears by defaulting member states.

On the process for achieving the modalities for contribution to the Peace Fund by the six countries, the Executive Council through its Decision (EX.CL/Dec.1162(XL) of February 2022 directed the Commission to work closely with the F15 and the Office of Legal Counsel to analyze proposals made by the Countries of the Northern Region regarding the assessment of member states to the Peace Fund and the implications thereof and recommend solutions in accordance with the legal frameworks of the African Union. While consultations have accordingly been carried out, breakthrough has as yet to emerge finding a proposal that is satisfactory to all while complying with the legal requirements. In terms of collection or clearing of arrears, the report of the Joint-Sitting of the Ministerial Committee on Scale of Assessment and Contributions and the Committee of Fifteen Ministers of Finance (F15) highlighted that Seychelles had fully implemented its payment plan and cleared all its arrears to the budget of the Union. Somalia and Burundi had not made payments in 2022 in line with their payment plan for clearing arrears. Also, Libya and Sudan have yet to conclude the consultations with the Commission to agree on their respective payment plans.

Such progress in the operationalization of the Peace Fund notwithstanding, also of significance for tomorrow’s session is the need for momentum for finalising the common African position on accessing UN assessed contributions for financing AU peace and security activities. It is to be recalled that after the stalling of the efforts of the African 3 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in 2018 and 2019 to get adoption of a resolution on UN assessed contributions for AU led or authorized peace support operations, the matter was referred back to the AU to provide guidance through a common position.  In this regard, a notable progress attained in 2021 has been the development of a ‘Zero Draft African Consensus on Accessing Sustainable and Predictable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities.’ At the 23rd and 24th PSC Committee of Experts (CoE) meetings, the Zero Draft was considered and the CoE gave inputs for further refinement of the draft. However, the updated draft is as yet to be presented and considered by the PSC before its submission to the AU Assembly for final approval. During tomorrow’s session, one of the issues on which Adeoye could provide update is where this process stands and the next steps for finalizing it and resuming the engagement with the UNSC on accessing assessed contributions.

At the time of going to production, while an outcome document is expected, the form that it will take was unknown. Council and the PRC Sub-Committee on Budget Matters are expected to welcome the commendable progress obtained in the operationalisation of the AU Peace Fund and the steps taken for the utilisation for pilot priority areas. The meeting is expected to endorse the $8.4 million and the additional $5 million of the CRF for adoption by the AU policy organs, so that the utilization of peace fund for the pilot priority projects would fully commence in 2023. The meeting may call on defaulting member states to pay their assessed contributions on time, including those member states expected to finalize the clearing of arrears. It may also urge concerned member states and the AU Commission to fortify efforts towards reaching consensus on contribution of the six countries from the North region to the Peace Fund. The meeting may welcome the progress made in developing the consensus position and encourage the speeding up of the remaining steps for resuming the engagement of the UNSC on accessing UN assessed contributions for AU led peace support operations.


Inaugural Annual PSC and CSO Consultative Meeting

Inaugural Annual PSC and CSO Consultative Meeting

Date | 14 September 2022

Tomorrow (14 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to hold its inaugural annual consultative meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage on the implementation of the Accra Declaration and Malabo Decisions.

Following the opening statement of Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, Bankole Adeoye Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver a presentation. Following his intervention, representatives of the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), Civil Society Organizations and the United Nations are expected to deliver their statements.

The inaugural session is expected to focus both on strengthening the working relations between PSC and CSOs and to fast-track the operationalization of the outcome documents of the Accra Forum and Malabo Extraordinary Summit that took place in March and May 2022 respectively.

The AU Constitutive Act stipulates that one of the objectives of the Union is ‘to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society’ and to promote the ‘participation of the African peoples in the activities of the Union’. The Statutes of the AU ECOSOCC provides a broad description of civil society organizations comprising social, professional groups, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), community-Based Organizations (CBOs), as well as voluntary and cultural organizations. The important role of policy research and knowledge production by academic and research institutions has been recognized in the 2009 Tripoli Declaration.

Similarly, Article 20 of the PSC Protocol states that: ‘the Peace and Security Council shall encourage non-governmental organizations, community-based and other civil society organizations, particularly women’s organizations, to participate actively in the efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in Africa. When required, such organizations may be invited to address the Peace and Security Council.’ Article 8 of the Protocol further stipulates for the PSC to hold ‘informal consultations with…civil society organizations for the discharge of its responsibilities’. This informal consultation envisaged in Article 8 of the PSC has as yet to be operationalized, CSOs are invited to and engage in the open sessions of the PSC at which they present statements on the agenda of the session.

There were various efforts in terms of operationalizing Article 20 of the PSC. The first retreat of the PSC, the Dakar Retreat called for the establishment of a mechanism to manage the engagement between the PSC and CSOs. Building on the 2007 conclusions of the Dakar Retreat, the PSC elaborated the modalities for engaging with such institutions in the Livingstone Formula and the Maseru Retreat Conclusions. The Livingstone Formula identified a number of areas in which CSOs can contribute towards the promotion of peace and security including in conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction as well as the provision of technical support, popularizing the decisions of the PSC.

While these initiatives are encouraging, the partnership has not been institutionalized. PSC engaged with and drew on the work of various institutions on an ad hoc basis. It is hence fundamental making the engagement with think tanks, civil society organizations and policy research organizations more systematic and it’s more beneficial for strengthening the Council’s role in discharging its mandate. This in particular can be achieved by enhancing PSC’s understanding of the role of these institutions and the contributions that they made and by engaging more regularly. Tomorrow’s session will be an important step in consolidating this understanding and implementing the provision identified in the Livingstone Formula which called for an annual meeting between the PSC and CSOs through the ECOSOCC. It is also important to critically reflect and assess the gaps in the implementation of the of the provisions of Council’s retreat conclusions and its norms.

The agenda and the complexity of issues that the PSC has to address have expanded exponentially. The number of meetings of the PSC has increased by almost five-fold since the PSC was inaugurated in 2004. This growing scope requires additional capacity and resources. More particularly the PSC may benefit from expertise and resources of policy and research institutions to cover the wide range of issues that require immediate and continuous attention. The policy analysis that can be provided by policy and research institutions brings a non-state perspective that adds depth to and enriches policy deliberations of the PSC. The Council can tap into the expertise, knowledge and technical resources of non-state actors particularly African policy research organizations, think tanks and civil society organizations. This would allow for the Council to explore and experiment with the range of policy options that it can choose from in its efforts for taking the most optimal policy action for conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa.

As indicated in the concept note the other central objective of tomorrow’s session is to chart a way to deepen the collaboration between the PSC and CSOs in implementing the Accra declaration and Malabo decisions.  It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 1061st session held in January 2022 decided to organize a reflection forum on unconstitutional changes of government after the spike in military coups in Africa. Consequently, the Accra forum was convened from 15 to 17 March. The PSC decided to submit the Accra Declaration to the Malabo Extraordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government, for consideration and adoption, which among other considered the developments related to unconstitutional changes of government.

The consultative meeting will present an opportunity for the PSC and CSOs to enhance their engagement in ‘promoting good governance, democracy, rule of law, constitutionalism and dealing with the emerging menace of unconstitutional changes of government.’ The aim is to enhance synergy on timely governance, peace and security issues which the PSC is seized with while strengthening the broader cooperation as enshrined in the various instruments of the PSC.

The outcome of the session remains unknown. Yet, it is expected that the PSC would recall the commitments enshrined in its Protocol, the Livingstone Formula and Maseru Conclusions. It may recognize the role of CSOs in providing independent analysis, technical support for the PSC in discharging its mandate and the importance of tapping into their expertise. Beyond CSOs participation in PSC sessions, the Council may call for a more enhanced engagement and proactive engagement in the context of field missions, mediation as well as peace support operations. The Council may identify concrete steps in advancing the role of CSOs in the decision and policy making process. The PSC may decide to institutionalize the annual consultation with CSOs to have a more systematic engagement. The Council may underline the critical role of CSOs in advancing inclusive governance, peace and security and in order to reverse the current trend of unconstitutional changes of government that threatens the gains made so far in the continent. PSC may call on CSOs to deepen their engagement with the Council to also further popularize its decision and work at national and local levels.


Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Lessons Learning Session on the Implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratisation

Date | 22 August 2022

Tomorrow (22 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1102nd session on ‘Lessons Learning session on the implementation of the AU Transitional Justice Policy: Impact on National Resilience and Democratization’.

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Jainaba Jagne, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. For the experience sharing, presentations are expected from the representatives of The Gambia, Libya, South Africa, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda.

Tomorrow’s session will be the first time that Council discusses the AU Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) since its adoption in February 2019. However, Council has dedicated several sessions on the theme of ‘peace, justice and reconciliation’ since at least 2013 which in fact contributed great deal in articulating the African conception of transitional justice (TJ) and clarifying the policy options for Member States to undertake TJ process. For instance, during its 383rd meeting held at the ministerial level in Algiers in June 2013, Council highlighted around six elements that could serve as a basis for the conduct of national reconciliation processes in Africa, including the use of traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution and reconciliation and the imperative of a judicious combination of measures relating to truth telling, repentance, justice, healing, forgiveness, solidarity, reparations, reintegration and socio-economic development. These elements are indeed incorporated in the AUTJP, which reflects the contributions of the Council in shaping the Policy. At its 672nd session convened in March 2016, Council recognized that the ‘issue of achieving an equilibrium between reconciliation and justice is work in progress in the continent and that there is no universal approach or model in applying these two concepts on the ground.’ Council also underscored the importance of balancing retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice, further highlighting the intricacies in the idea of sequencing of peace, reconciliation, and justice in Africa. It is also to be recalled that during its 525th session in July 2015, Council agreed to make the theme ‘Peace, Reconciliation and Justice’ a standing item while the 899th session which was held in December 2019 at a ministerial level decided to dedicate annual session aimed at experience sharing and lessons learning on ‘national reconciliation, restoration of peace and rebuilding of cohesion in Africa’.

As indicated in the Concept note prepared for the session, tomorrow’s session is aimed at sharing the experience on the establishment and implementation of the AUTJP at various levels of governance in Africa, as well as sharing of experiences by Member States who have implemented transitional justice processes. Such experience sharing is expected to serve as an inspiration for other Member States who are dealing with violent past. The session also presents a platform to familiarize the AUTJP and its salient features.

The AUTJP is the culmination of a nearly decade-long legislative process, having its root in the 2011 report of the Panel of the Wise titled ‘Non-Impunity, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation’. Building on the June 2006 AU Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) and drawing from the rich experiences of African countries in transitional justice, the Policy provides practical guide to Member States with violent and/or authoritarian legacies to navigate through difficult transition towards sustainable peace, justice, and democratic order. While the Policy takes significant inspiration from international norms and standards on TJ, it offers an alternative perspective to the dominant conception of TJ that is shaped by its own history, political and socio-economic realities. The Policy defines TJ to cover not only the formal mechanisms but also non-formal or traditional justice approaches that recognize the importance of symbolic and dialogic justice and traditional or religious ritual processes, as well as culturally and socially relevant forms of reparations. While the mainstream model prioritizes retributive approach focusing on criminal justice and accountability, the AUTJP tries to balance the demand for retributive criminal justice and the need for society to achieve reconciliation and rapid transition to a shared democratic future. The other saliant feature of the Policy is the emphasis given to national ownership. As highlighted in para. 32 of the Policy, national ownership entails two substantive components. The first is ‘process leadership and decision making’ whereby national stakeholders involving all sides most importantly victims drive the design and implementation of TJ. The second is the ‘primacy of national resources and capacities’ which emphasizes the need to adapt and exhaust all suitable formal and traditional mechanisms that are available at the local level before resorting to foreign sources and capacities.

The AU is one of the actors identified in the AUTJP bestowed with the role of providing the strategic political leadership at the continental level for the successful implementation of the Policy. It is in this framework that the AU Commission developed a Roadmap for the implementation of the Policy in 2020, which serves as the vehicle for coordinating AUC’s activities regarding the implementation of the Policy for the period 2020-2024. In tomorrow’s briefing, the Commission may highlight some of its activities towards the implementation of the AUTJP. The Commission is likely to mention range of technical assistances provided to Member States including the provision of trainings on the application of the Policy (The Gambia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan), support to the development of national transitional justice strategy and policy (DRC and South Sudan), support to the development and implementation of TJ programmes (Libya), and translation of the AUTJP into local languages (such as Ethiopia).

The other aspect of the session is expected to be experience sharing where invited Member States are expected to shed light on their experiences, best practices, and challenges, as well as how they addressed peace versus justice dilemma.

In the case of The Gambia, one of the issues likely to be raised is how the proceedings of the transitional justice process enormously uplifted the political consciousness of the public and provided platform not only to expose the depth of the violations perpetrated by the previous regime but also for public hearing and acknowledgement of the brutalities victims and their families and communities endured. In his recent piece published on 8 June, the former Executive Secretary of The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Baba Galleh Jallow, stated that in a radical departure from previous experiences of truth commissions, ‘the Gambian TRRC created an institutional structure, operational method, and strategic communication processes built on the twin principles of inclusivity and transparency that allowed it to be visibly transformative well before the completion of its work and submission of its final report and recommendations to the Government.’ This is on account of the strong interest that the works of the Commission, particularly its public hearings, evoked among the public, which was previously experienced profoundly during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings as well. In balancing between justice and reconciliation, the Commission combined different modalities including prosecution, amnesty, and reparation. TRRC delivered a final report documenting violations and abuses of human rights from 1994 to 2017 and the government also issued a white paper in May containing its response to the recommendations of the report. While these are steps in the right direction, the success story of The Gambia’s TJ process would remain incomplete without translating those recommendations into action.

Rwanda’s experience reveals the use of combination of customary African values with international and domestic criminal justice to deal with the crime of genocide. International, national, and traditional criminal courts operated together but the traditional Gacaca community justice process remain its key feature. The Gacaca court is lauded for its role in filling in for the formal court system that were decimated during the genocide. It was also instrumental in facilitating truth telling, promote reconciliation, and end impunity. However, forgetting that the Gacaca courts were dealing with extraordinary conditions of mass atrocities that also destroyed formal legal institutions and implicated extraordinarily large number of peoples, some have wrongly sought to hold the processes of the Gacaca courts to standards that are crafted and envisaged for ordinary times.

The TJ process in Sierra Leone was marked by the simultaneous operation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special hybrid court. It allowed the country to pursue both justice and reconciliation, and it is particularly raised in the context of its special attention to the subject of sexual abuses and to the experiences of children within the armed conflict. The simultaneous existence of the truth commission and a hybrid special court however brought about confusion over mandates. The two processes were also constrained by the focus on national level actors and the vertical state-society relations, thereby leaving enormous vacuum for reconciliation & justice at the local level, which the traditional processes used at the local levels tried to fill in, enabling child soldier to be reintegrated back to the community and broken social relationships to start to heal.

In the world of transitional justice, the experience that received world-wide recognition for making truth and reconciliation commissions globally popular is South Africa. The TJ process in South Africa emphasized truth and reconciliation over criminal prosecution. The process has delivered political transformation and democracy to the country. There are today calls for consolidation of the gains achieved through the TRC process by implementation of the recommendations in the TRC Report, notably those relating to reparations, and by instituting process for addressing the socio-economic dimensions of South Africa’s past that continues to imped the structural transformation of the society and the dismantling of pervasive inequalities affecting the historically oppressed majority of South Africans.

In Libya and South Sudan, the TJ process is not only in its nascent stage but also facing enormous challenge. In case of South Sudan, the establishment of the Commission of for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as well as Reparation Commission is a welcome development. For these processes to deliver the justice expectations of victims and survivors of the brutal civil war, it is imperative that they are organized and carried out in full compliance with the standards set in the AUTJP including the inclusive and transparent process of constituting the members of these bodies and ensuring their full independence from political interference and full participation of victims and survivors. Additionally, attention should be paid on how to take advantage of the unique legal and policy resources that the AUTJP  offers for operationalization of the hybrid court in a way that addresses the challenge to balance criminal accountability and reconciliation. In Libya, the process has been stalled as the country continues to reel under political and security crisis. However, the representative may shed light on recent activities including the support provided by AU Commission towards the development of a legitimate TJ programme and National Reconciliation Commission.

Issues of political buy-in from Member States and financial limitations are expected to be highlighted as challenge to the implementation of TJ in the continent. As rightly captured in the AUTJP, it is the primary responsibility of Member States to pursue TJ process and its success ultimately depends on the political commitment, leadership, and capacity of the concerned country. Financial constraint is another factor likely to compromise the level and quality of support that AU could provide to Member States. It was also for lack of funding that the AU ended its Technical Support Team in The Gambia (AUTSTG), one of its success stories in supporting countries in political transition. One important avenue that the Council may consider addressing this challenge is the utilization of the Peace Fund. It is worth recalling that transitional justice mechanisms, truth and reconciliation processes are identified as one of the strategic priorities under Window 2 for the utilization of the Peace Fund.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Among others, Council may recognize the development and adoption of the AUTJP as an important milestone in having a comprehensive policy framework that guides not only Member States in their TJ undertakings but also the AU, RECs/RMs, and non-state actors in their effort to support such undertakings. While acknowledging that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to TJ, it may reiterate some of the key elements of the TJ Policy that should serve as a basis for the implementation of TJ. In this respect, Council may stress the imperative of national ownership of the process, the use of traditional mechanisms, and striking a balance between reconciliation and justice, as well as between retributive, reparative, and distributive types of justice. Council may highlight the importance of popularizing and sensitizing the Policy to ensure greater political buy-in from Member States given that the success of any TJ initiatives as well as the effective implementation of the Policy largely depends on the political will and good faith of the political leadership. It may also commend the AU Commission for the steps it has put in place to promote the implementation of the AUTJP in countries in transition and the need for ensuring that relevant AU organs, such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which contributed to the drafting of the AUTJP and to the TRRC, to contribute to and use their mandate for promoting the implementation of the AUTJP.

Council is expected to re-emphasize the imperative of sharing experiences and lessons learned in promoting TJ and assisting countries that confronted violent past to address their challenges of reconciliation, accountability, social cohesion, and nation-building. In this regard, it may stress on the need to follow up its decisions, at its 899th session, to dedicate annual session on TJ. Regarding the financial constraint, Council may allude to the utilization of the Peace Fund for AU’s TJ activities as the Union moves towards the operationalization and pilot utilization of the Peace Fund. Council may call for enhanced cooperation and coordination between AU and RECs/RMs, as well as international partners in supporting Member States in their TJ initiatives. Council may commend the countries that shared their experiences with initiating and implementing TJ processes. The Council may note that transitional justice is not a one time process but a continuous one that aims at addressing ever more forcefully and increasingly legacies of past wrongs and violations and the inequities that they have created in affected societies. It may call on the states to implement the recommendations of truth commissions and continue the work for achieving increased levels of reconciliation and healing as well as irreversible cohesion through implementing inclusive development policies and deepening democratic and accountable system of political governance.


Experience Sharing Session Between the PSC and AGA Platform Members

Experience Sharing Session Between the PSC and AGA Platform Members

Date | 11 August 2022

Tomorrow (11 August), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1098th session to hold an experience sharing session with the members of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Platform.

The session will start with the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for August, Permanent Representative of the Gambia Jainaba Jagne, followed by remarks of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. The Chairperson for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Rémy Ngoy Lumbu will then deliver a statement as the Chairperson of the African Governance Platform (AGP). Other AGP members and representatives of UN Human Rights Council are also expected participate in the session.

This will be the first session between the PSC and the AGP. Hence the deliberations will aim at creating a deeper understanding of the Platform, the AGA and its synergy with the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The AGP which consists of about 19 human rights organs, bodies that have mandate of promoting and advancing governance, democratization and constitutionalism as well Regional Economic Communities (RECs), serves a coordination framework of various AGA initiatives. In 2021 the ACHPR was elected as a chairperson and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as the vice chairperson of the AGP for a two-year term.

The AGA Platform, as an amalgam of various bodies including even the PSC itself, is a vague construct, with no specific legal raison d’etre. Its value lies in promoting synergy and coordination but as far as delivering substantive mandate is concerned it is a matter that lies in the mandate of each AGA Platform member. In terms of engagement with the PSC, it is worth mentioning that within the framework of Article 19 of the PSC Protocol and taking into account the mandate of the ACHPR in responding to human rights issues in conflict and crisis situations, the PSC and the ACHPR have institutionalized annual consultative meeting. This has been held annually since 2018 culminating in communiques that outlined rich modalities for close working relationship and addressing human rights issues in conflict and crisis situations. Similarly, the PSC has also received briefings from the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). These engagements have proved particularly useful both in terms of implementing specific provisions of the PSC and advancing implementation of the PSC mandate.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to build on, rather than dilute and displace, such existing engagements with individual members with a focus on the AGA Platform as a whole. The statement of the AGA Platform chair may include various elements. First it may provide an overview of the platform and its objectives. Second it is expected that the Chair of the AGP will brief the PSC on progress made on the implementation of joint flagship projects and programs within the AGA including the Youth Engagement Strategy (YES), Women Engagement Strategy (WES) and the annual High-Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance which is convened under the auspices of the AGP.

For members of the PSC of particular significance is how the AGA Platform contributes to  strengthening of its engagement with those that the PSC has established institutionalized working relationship and to facilitate implementation of the outcomes of those engagements for addressing the governance and human rights dimensions of its mandate in conflict prevention, management, resolution, post-conflict reconstruction and in dealing with unconstitutional changes of government.

In this regard the engagement is also very timely to discuss AU norms relating to countering unconstitutional changes of government, their application and their effectiveness in responding to the rising governance challenges. The PSC may recall its recommendations made during the Eight High-Level Seminar on Peace and Security in Africa, held in Oran, Algeria in December 2021, particularly with regards to the need to review the AGA and the 2000 Lomé Declaration on unconstitutional changes of government. The high-level seminar also tasked the AUC to undertake in-depth analysis of the 2000 Lomé Declaration on unconstitutional change of government and the AGA, to assess whether these frameworks and instruments respond appropriately to the challenges that Africa is currently confronted with. The AUC is also expected to submit the reviews to the PSC for consideration. This session may thus serve as an occasion for following up on these pending requests.

To enrich the experience sharing exercise, the PSC may recall the consultation it held with the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) subcommittee on human rights, democracy and governance (HRDG) at its 1095th session on 1 August 2022. It can further reiterate the points highlighted during the session around enhancing partnership on election observation missions, the promotion of democracy on the continent and the provision of technical support to countries emerging from violent conflicts. In this regard, it is also expected that the AGP Chairperson will highlight ways of enhancing synergy with the PSC around conflict prevention through the promotion and sustenance of democracy, governance, and human rights in the continent.

Another key area that is expected to receive attention in tomorrow’s meeting is on exploring ways and means on how the PSC can support the implementation of recommendations made by members of the AGP at the national level and how the PSC can support the efforts of ratification and operationalization of AU Shared Values instruments. A number of decisions are formulated by the various members of the AGP. The session can further reflect on ways to further advance the development of a joint mechanism to follow on implementation of recommendations made by members of the AGP. Particularly, in support of the Platform members with human rights mandate, it would be of interest for tomorrow’s session to reflect on concrete steps towards strengthening human rights compliance framework to also ensure member states fulfill their responsibilities in implementing decisions of the various human rights treaty bodies.

As indicated in the concept note the experience sharing session will also take place in the presence of the two African vice chairpersons of the UN Human Rights Council. It is expected that their contribution will highlight areas of synergy with AGP including the PSC. Their intervention may afford participants to reflect on ways of engaging institutions and actors beyond the ones in the AU policy space and to have a deeper understanding of the experiences of other institutions that operate in a global policy environment.

The outcome of the session remains unknown. It is however expected that the PSC would welcome the work undertaken by the AGP. It may commend the work of the AGP and its members. It may highlight the importance of using the AGP as a useful forum for engaging in deeper reflections on selected issues, such as the dedicated reflection forum that the PSC held in March 2021 on unconstitutional changes of government. The PSC may express its commitment to support the growth of the partnership through joint programs and initiatives that aim at advancing democratic values and the respect and promotion of human rights. Council may further reiterate the importance of collective efforts in advancing these values to also strengthen early response and conflict prevention mechanisms. The PSC may underline the important role of AGP in enhancing synergy between AGA and APSA. It may also underscore the importance of the institutionalized engagement it has established with individual members of the AGP and call on the AGP to facilitate follow up of the outcome of those engagements.