Between August and October this year, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) held meetings on Libya, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Darfur and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Very few new initiatives, however, were launched. In some cases, such as Burundi, the PSC again called for action by the region – in this instance, the East African Community (EAC) – and in others, such as the CAR, it expressed support for the African Union (AU) initiative in the country. The PSC also called on international actors not to ignore the various efforts by the AU special representatives and the AU high-level committee on Libya.
In several cases the PSC tasked the AU Commission (AUC) with further investigating the various conflicts and develop future strategies.
The PSC also discussed broad thematic issues, including child marriage, Africa’s security priorities, democracy, Africa Amnesty month, the African Standby Force (ASF) and the state of peace and security on the continent.
Emphasising the AU’s ‘pivotal role’ in Libya
On 17 October the PSC met to discuss the ‘prevailing volatile situation’ in Libya and received a briefing from the special representative of the AU chairperson in the country. It condemned the ongoing fighting in Libya and expressed grave concern at what it calls ‘external interferences’ in the country. The PSC would like to see recognition of the important role the AU plays in Libya – a conflict situation that has been the focus of efforts by the United Nations (UN) and other actors since 2011.
Mobilising resources for Lesotho
The PSC discussed the situation in Lesotho on 10 October, following its field mission to the country in August this year. It commended the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for trying to stabilise the political situation in the country and for sending troops. The PSC sees this as an example of a successful deployment of the SADC standby brigade as part of the ASF and encouraged other regions to take note. The PSC also thanked the AUC for its efforts to get funding for the SADC force and offered additional AU help to SADC if need be.
What future for the ASF and ACIRC?
The ASF was on the PSC agenda a few weeks prior to the Lesotho discussion, during a meeting on 20 September. The PSC asked the AUC to submit a plan on the harmonisation of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) and the ASF, including steps to be taken by the AU and the regional economic communities/regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to coordinate ad-hoc coalitions. The council also urged the AUC to urgently organise a meeting of the PSC Military Staff Committee to propose a roadmap and timelines on how to overcome the challenges facing the harmonisation of ACIRC and the ASF.
Eliminating the LRA
On the same day the PSC held its 795th meeting on the initiative to eliminate the LRA. Despite the withdrawal of the Ugandan contingent and the United States Special Forces, the AU decided to maintain the regional cooperation initiative against the LRA (RCI-LRA) to avoid leaving a security vacuum in the region. It also asked the AUC to develop an exit strategy for the RCI-LRA with realistic timelines and concrete alternatives. In addition, the AUC was asked to consult the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on establishing the modalities of alternative security arrangements, within the framework of the ASF, to be led by ECCAS with a view to successfully concluding the fight against the LRA. The AUC was tasked with developing a regional strategy for the stabilisation of LRA-affected areas, basing on lessons learnt from the regional strategy for the stabilisation of Boko Haram-affected areas in the Lake Chad Basin region.
Fewer observers for Burundi
Burundi was the topic of the PSC’s meeting on 19 September. The PSC reiterated its support for the mediation efforts led by the EAC. It asked the AUC to provide support to Burundi to convene an all-inclusive dialogue on strengthening democracy and respecting human rights. The PSC decided to reduce the number of human rights observers and military experts, without indicating the level of reduction. It also asked the AUC to continue engaging Burundi to sign the memorandum of understanding for the operation of the human rights observers and military experts. In addition, it called on the European Union to lift the sanctions imposed on Burundi, with a view to facilitating socio-economic recovery in the country.
Supporting the AU initiative in the CAR
The 19 September meeting of the PSC also included a separate meeting on the situation in the CAR. The PSC noted that the facilitation panel of the African initiative had handed a list of 14 armed groups’ grievances and demands to the president of the CAR, Faustin-Archange Touadera. The PSC asked the AUC chairperson to intensify AU support for the implementation of the African initiative, including budgetary support to convene a national dialogue.
Africa Amnesty Month
On 4 September the PSC commemorated Africa Amnesty Month for the collection of illegal weapons. The PSC asked the AUC to finalise technical and operational guidelines on how national and regional actors could observe the month – one of the main innovations led by the PSC in its efforts to ‘Silence the guns by 2020’. This included a request to the AUC to finalise the production of a compendium of African experiences and good practices in implementing voluntary disarmament programmes.
Is the AU Charter on Democracy good enough?
On 22 August the PSC examined the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The PSC asked the AUC to develop guidelines for amending national constitutions that will be universally applicable to all member states. Parallel to a similar decision in 2014, the PSC asked the AUC to collect the constitutions of all AU member states for referencing and studying, to identify inconsistencies with good governance and standard constitutionalism.
Migration observatory centres envisaged
Africa’s security priorities were the theme of the PSC’s 16 August meeting. The PSC raised concerns about various security threats, including the illegal exploitation of resources, corruption, money laundering and illicit financial flows. It also expressed concern over migration, human trafficking, terrorism and organised criminal networks on the continent.
The PSC asked the AUC to expedite the establishment of migration observatory centres in all five geographical regions of Africa.
It also asked the AUC to finalise the comprehensive study on the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture and to submit the report of the study for consideration by the council to the AU Extra-Ordinary Summit scheduled for 17 and 18 November 2018.
The AUC is also requested to finalise evaluation and monitoring mechanisms that are part of the AU Roadmap to Silence the Guns by 2020.
This includes a request that the AUC organise consultation processes on issues relating to the division of labour between the AU and subregional organisations.
Ending child marriage
The PSC held a meeting on 14 August on ending child marriage in Africa. The 2018 UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) statistics show that ‘sub-Saharan Africa currently has the highest levels of child marriage globally, having overtaken South Asia, and that about 4 out of every 10 girls in Africa are married before the age of 18’. The PSC asked the AUC to expedite the development of a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism to gauge member states’ progress in implementing existing legal frameworks on ending child marriage.