Public seminar organised by the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis division of the ISS Addis Ababa Office.
Monday 26 November 2012, 09:00 am - 12:30 pm,
Radisson Blu Hotel
The seminar started with the opening remarks made by Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya, Regional Director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Addis Ababa Office. He introduced the seminar by highlighting the fact that the reviewing of the state of peace and security in Africa in 2012 was timely and key to identifying the successes that have been achieved, the issues that need to be improved and the challenges for the upcoming year. Subsequently, he introduced the first panellist, H.E. Mohamed Fathi Edrees, Ambassador of Egypt to Ethiopia.
Ambassador Fathi Edrees delivered a presentation that was aimed at appraising the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) in 2012 from an insider`s perspective. He started by providing a comprehensive description of the PSC organ from a legal perspective, as the standing decision-making authority of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). He continued by underscoring its progress in deciding on major issues (such as the deployment of troops in Burundi, Comoros, Somalia and Sudan) within a short period. He also emphasised the key role of the PSC in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and fostering a stable scenario for democratic elections, good governance, etc. Nevertheless, besides the successful work of the PSC, that this body was still facing enormous challenges in terms of capacity, effectiveness, and preparation of its member states to assume the responsibilities of their membership to the PSC. He also mentioned the importance of coordinating the work between the PSC and other international forums, and building up synergies between them. He concluded by stating that the PSC`s performance showed the great challenges it faced, as well as its success in dealing with those challenges.
The second speaker was Simon Badza, who said that rather than a presentation he wanted to express a message from the AU`s Peace and Security Department (PSD) on the importance of this initiative for the work of the PSC. He highlighted the significant role of the AU Commission, specifically the PSD, in supporting the PSC in the implementation of its mandate. However, he drew attention to the fact that the Commission faced undeniable challenges that revolve around the inadequate human and financial resources required to exert its responsibility as a supporting organ of the PSC. Finally, he expressed the view of the AU PSD, which he said attached particular importance to the initiative and was keen to receive and follow on the recommendations that would come out of the deliberations and the annual review.
The third speaker, Dr Abdel-Kader Haireche, Head of Political Affairs of United Nations for the AU, presented the view from the UNOAU of the PSC in 2012.. Haireche expressed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General`s (SRSG) apologies for not being able to make the seminar at the very last moment. He started by stating that the PSC was currently involved in each aspect of conflict management, peace building and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa. Thus he posed two questions: firstly, he invited the participants to think whether the PSC had the capacity to be responsible for all aspects that peace and security entails, or if it should prioritise according to its agenda and level of commitment that the decision-making body could provide in each situation. Secondly, he raised the question of resource-capacity of member states: considering the fact that issues were increasingly complex and numerous, were member states prepared to deal with those issues? He underlined the enormous impact that the AUC (African Union Commission) Chairperson could have in setting the agenda of the PSC. He mentioned that, for instance, the current Chairperson of the Commission has identified ambitious objectives for the AU in terms of human security, prevention of conflicts and good governance, but it is still uncertain how those intentions would be adapted in the framework of the PSC agenda. Dr Haireche pointed out some challenge that the AU was facing. For instance, he talked about the need to improve and enhance the coordination between the AU with RECs, between the AUC and the UN Secretary General and between the UNSC and the PSC, as well. He concluded by stating that the way forward for the relationship AU-UN should focus on identifying the aspects in which the AU could offer a regional advantage.
The last panellist was Dr Solomon A. Dersso, Senior Researcher of the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division of the ISS Addis Ababa, who presented a summary of the research findings of the Annual Review of the PSC. He introduced the Annual Review by stressing its importance and value in the framework of the PSC`s work, mainly due to three reasons: firstly, because it reflects an assessment of the state of peace and security in Africa; secondly, because it defines the position of the PSC with regard to those conflicts or tensions; and lastly, because it identifies the trends and issues that should be tackled in the upcoming year. He provided a comprehensive description of the mandate, composition and organisation of the work and decision-making process of the PSC.
He stated that the state of peace and security in 2012 reflected mixed picture and provided a map depicting the regional conflict tendencies. The map indicated that the eastern part of Africa had improved during 2012. Therefore, Somalia and Sudan were considered success cases. The improving situation in North Africa was also important, even though numerous challenges remained, as instabilities were provoked by the arms trade and the spill-over effects of the emergence of rebel movements in the Sahel. He added that the security situation in West Africa had deteriorated. Despite the fact that countries like Liberia, Ghana or Sierra Leone had witnessed positive developments, including the conduct of peaceful elections and the peaceful transfer of power, the two military coups (Guinea-Bissau and Mali), the Tuareg armed rebellion in north Mali and the surge in Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria were matters of concern. As far as Southern Africa was concerned, he characterised it as a region that witnessed no major changes in its peace and security situation.
Finally, he discussed the PSC`s responses to address those conflicts in 2012. He emphasised the importance of the PSC Roadmap to address the Sudan and South Sudan conflict, which he said not only brought the two countries back from the brink of full-blown war but also paved the way for the breakthrough achieved in the negotiations on post-secession issues.
However, the PSC faced enormous challenges in dealing with other conflicts due to multidimensional and divergent approaches between RECs and the AU. As a case in point, the divergence in the way ECOWAS and the PSC approached unconstitutional changes of government in Mali and Guinea-Bissau was mentioned. In this regard, an Ambassador of the PSC/PRC asked what standard of measurement or methodology the PSC employed to determine a country`s return to constitutional order.
The situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received particular attention in Dr Derrso`s presentation, and he argued that the nature of the regional response to the situation was very inadequate. He said that the inadequate attention that the situation received from the PSC was reflected in the number of meetings that it attracted compared to the situation in Mali, which attracted four times more PSC sessions, including three times at the ministerial level.
He cautioned that if it was allowed to fester, this conflict carried a serious risk of expanding into a regional conflict, pitting countries in SADC against those in the Great Lakes region.
The presentations elicited various questions on the work of the PSC and the role of various actors in the PSC processes. Specific situations, most notably Mali and the DRC, also attracted discussion from participants, including notably members of the PSC present in the seminar. Some of the issues raised were whether or not the members of the PSC had the requisite capacity for bearing the entirety of their responsibilities under the PSC Protocol and whether the PSC was consistent in dealing with all situations on its agenda.
The seminar was concluded with closing remarks by Dr Dersso, who extended his appreciation for the level of interest that the event attracted and the reception of the Annual Review, whose advance copy he unveiled during the seminar.
Radisson Blu Hotel
Kazanchis Business District
Ms. Beakal Bisrat
Tel: (+251) 011-515- 6320
Fax (+251) 011-515-6449