The African Union Commission (AUC) at a consultative meeting of civil society organisations (CSOs) and research institutes held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 16 April 2014 designated ACCORD, ISS, OXFAM and WANEP to organise regional consultations of non-state actors as a platform for developing concrete recommendations on how to enhance the relationship between stakeholders and the AU in the promotion of peace and security on the continent in the next decade.
In line with Article 20 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), the PSC has taken steps to ‘… encourage non-governmental organizations to participate actively in the efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in Africa’. It is against this backdrop that the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, the Tripoli Declaration, the Tripoli Plan of Action, the Maseru Conclusions and the Livingstone Formula are instructive.
In view of interactions with the PSC and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) over the past 10 years, the regional consultations provided an avenue for non-state actors to share their perceptions and perspectives of the PSC and AU in an all-inclusive process. It was specifically to give a voice to non-state AU stakeholders, create awareness and understanding of the work of the PSC/APSA and enable CSOs to contribute to and review the mechanisms and normative frameworks of the Commission.
The consultative meeting that took place from the 21st to the 22nd of May was aimed at compiling the regional outcomes into a report that was going to be presented to the AUC and at the Peace and Security Council’s 10th year anniversary and the celebrations of the Africa day held in Addis Ababa on the 25th of May. The report included an analysis of the Peace and Security Council’s operations since its establishment, the context of peace and security on the continent, and challenges and recommendations that CSO’s gathered from the regional consultation meetings.
The key objectives of these consultations were to assess the PSC in its first 10 years of operation, and to establish how the relationship between the PSC and non-state actors can be enhanced in order to promote peace, security and stability in Africa. The report also reflected on the Peace and Security Council 10 years ago and whether it has managed to fulfill its obligations. Although everyone acknowledged what the PSC has managed to do on the continent to preserve peace, its operations have been marred by a number of challenges. Some of the challenges identified include funding constraints, inadequate logistical support for peace support operations, weak coordination between relevant stakeholders and insufficient communication and accessibility around the work of the PSC amongst others.
However, in light of these challenges, non-state actors identified some key recommendations to improve the work of the PSC. Some of the recommendations made were that with regard to funding constraints, there is need for African ownership of African peace and security initiatives, and hence peace and security should be prioritised for funding. In this regard, pressure needs to be put on member states to make greater financial contributions to the Peace Fund. However, sanctions should be considered for countries that are not contributing. With regard to weak coordination, complementarity and subsidiarity should be practised with the view of avoiding duplication and overlap of efforts and fostering efficient task –sharing between the UN and the AUC/PSC on the one hand and the RECs/RMs and the AUC/PSC on the other. This would in turn allow coordination between the different organs and allow for CSOs to observe and monitor their (non-) compliance.
However, non-state actors also made some commitments to the PSC and AUC. Given the lack of knowledge of the breadth of CSOs on the continent, and hence limited interaction with the PSC, non-state actors pledge to contribute to the mapping of authentic and active CSOs working across the continent as per the Maseru conclusions and in line with Article 20 of the PSC Protocol. This report will be submitted to the AUC for inclusion in their databases.
Consultations revealed that non-state actors had limited knowledge on some of the issues and thus had the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the width and breadth of PSC interventions. Going forward, non-state actors commit to educate themselves on the work, structures and procedures of the PSC and to engage more and also contribute to the dissemination of evidence-based research, as well as outreach and capacity building initiatives to African citizens and their formations on AU peace and security related issues. A first specific commitment has been made to host a training workshop in Tunisia on addressing the knowledge gap.
The report was presented to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) on the 25th of May where it marked and celebrated its Tenth Anniversary of its launching, with the participation of all AU Member States, AU Organs, Representatives of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), bilateral and multilateral partners, African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), think tanks and academic institutions.The celebration provided an excellent opportunity for the Council to take stock of the achievements made and the challenges encountered over the past decade in the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa with a view to achieving the fundamental objective of creating a conflict-free Africa, in line with the letter and spirit of the Solemn Declaration adopted by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 26 May 2013.
Participants appreciated the opportunity given by the AUC to non-state actors to input into the strategic planning of the PSC. To build on the momentum created by this process, participants encourage an annual review and coordination between the AUC, and PSC in particular, and non-state actors.