The theme of the 22nd ordinary session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 30-31 January 2014 is ‘Transforming Africa’s agriculture for shared prosperity, through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development’. It is anticipated that pressing issues of peace and security will nevertheless dominate the deliberations. Among others, the summit is expected to consider recent crises, notably South Sudan’s descent into a self-destructive civil war and the continuing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The summit is also likely to consider whether the structures and approaches of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) are capable of responding to current and emerging crises on the continent. Problems experienced in 2013 highlighted the major challenges that Africa faces when responding to crises, including most notably in Mali and CAR.
Major areas of concern included the willingness and ability of AU member states to assume effective ownership of the continent’s peace and security agenda.
The ISS, in collaboration with partner organisations, hosted this pre-summit seminar as part of its regular effort to provide a platform for debating and considering the major peace and security issues facing Africa. The event presented a unique opportunity for representatives of AU member states, regional and international organisations, the diplomatic community and civil society to discuss the key items on the agenda of the 22nd AU Summit.
The seminar was chaired by Hallelujah Lulie, Researcher, ISS Addis Ababa. Speakers included:
- Dr Solomon A Dersso, Senior Researcher, ISS Addis Ababa
- Carnita Ernest, Interim Executive Director, Centre for Citizens Participation on the African Union (CCP-AU)
Solomon Dersso noted that 2013 has been exceptionally difficult for Africa, particularly in terms of the peace and security. He highlighted the situations in countries such as Mali, CAR and South Sudan, emphasising the weaknesses that call for bold action to be taken by leaders.
He questioned whether current mechanisms and institutions are able to address the most pressing human security concerns. The lack of agreement among member states, sub-regional, regional and international mechanisms means that serious consideration must be given to distinguishing the roles of different actors; addressing the failures of the past year and acknowledging current inadequacies.
Dersso emphasised that the real challenge for the summit is going to be whether member states are willing to assume leadership in a way that acts in the best interest of the men and women of the continent. He pointed out that the summit will consider the situation in CAR, South Sudan, the report of the high-level panel on Egypt, the DRC and broader institutional framework on ASF and African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACRIC).
Carnita Ernest covered five key areas from a civil society perspective. These included:
- The need for deeper analysis in terms of broader, integrated regional approaches to security;
- The need to focus on reconciliation and avoiding impunity with respect to the ICC and in terms of conflict situations;
- The need to keep prioritising the free movement of Africans in terms of regional integration;
- Staying focused on the development priorities of the agenda 2063; specifically in terms of poverty and inequality; and
- The role of civil societies in developmental states, and the need to find alternative sources of financing for the AU.
Phone: +25 111 515 6367