The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises: The Decision and the Implications –PART II

By Samgba Gyafla

In order to facilitate the implementation of this huge undertaking, the Summit requests the Chair and the Chairperson of the Commission to take appropriate steps to build the broadest possible support and adherence to the implementation of the decision. The current Chair of the African Union, Ethiopia, will, therefore, have to work closely with Chairperson Zuma to garner support and resources across the continent in a relatively short time in order to convince the skeptics that this is a doable project. Since the Summit in May, however, one is yet to see concrete evidence to actualize this joint endeavor.

The African Union Commission is facing a dichotomy of building the ASF/RDC simultaneously with the ACIRC. This is indeed a tall order but the reality and the fierce urgency of the African situation require desperate and unconventional measures. These measures need to be drastic, flexible, creative and adaptable to the current realities and very different from ‘business as usual.’ The inadequate resources, ill-equipped troops, underpaid soldiers and the chronic inflexible and unpredictable funding should be things of the past. This may first require Africans to provide their own resources locally and then embark on creative and enhanced partnership with AU’s traditional partners to generate additional capabilities and funding. It would be useful for the AU to have some answers to these nagging but critical questions by the next meeting of the SCTDSS in the last quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, pursuant to the Summit Decision, the AU PSC meeting at the ministerial level on 29 July 2013 requested the AU Commission to work out and submit practical modalities for the operationalization of the ACIRC to the 7th meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS), scheduled to take place during the last quarter of 2013. It is worth noting that not all AU member states were happy with the way the ACIRC idea was formulated. Gabon, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland and Zambia, expressed serious concern for a lack of a proper consultation process and requested additional information particularly regarding mandates and coordination; institutional capacity building; command and control; logistics; training and funding. In this context, the AU Commission has recently initiated a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the challenges encountered in the operationalization of the ASF and its RDC, including to (i) ascertain the level of progress made in the operationalization of the ASF including the RDC (as per the Policy Framework and other approved ASF provisions); (ii) identify key challenges encountered in this regard; (iii) consider timeframes for the actual operationalization of all the ASF components; (iv) and make appropriate recommendations as to the way forward within the context of APSA. The report of the evaluation exercise would provide AU policy organs and key partners with the state of readiness of the African Security Architecture.

The PSC also requested that attention be focused on the acceleration of the operationalization of the ASF, which should become functional by 2015 and encouraged all Member States to provide requisite financial, logistical and technical capacities towards the establishment of the Continental Logistic Base and its functioning. Thus, the AUPSC envisages a dual approach to addressing the security issues in Africa.

On her part, the Chairperson of the AU, Dr Zuma, recently addressed a letter to all Heads of State and Governments of the AU Member States and requested willing Member States to urgently confirm their commitment to pledge military and/or police capabilities to the ACIRC. We understand that the Commission is already working on the requirements of the ACIRC (i.e. forces, force enablers and multipliers, equipment and other assets, as well as financial resources) as well as developing all conceptual and legal guidelines and plans to organize a pledging conference in October.

Meanwhile on financing the AU, the summit commended former Obasanjo and his panel for a job well done and agreed that the AU should be provided with adequate and predictable resources to fund its programs and reduce dependency on external sources. The summit approved the report in principle and committed to self-reliance on the mobilization of resources in the financing of its programs. It referred the report to the Committee of Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning for their consideration and options for concrete proposals, including possible increase in assessed contributions and other proposals from member states by the next summit in January 2014. It would be important for the Ministers recommendation to be guided by the fierce urgency of operationalizing the ACIRC in the immediate term. Meanwhile, the Summit committed itself to increase substantially contribution of the member states to the Peace Fund, for Africa to truly own and promote security safety and stability on the continent. The Summit would therefore expect to see a concrete proposal on the statutory transfer from the AU regular budget to the Peace Fund.

In order to ensure that the operationalization of the ASF does not suffer unduly as a result of the parallel efforts to stand up the ACIRC, the Summit also used the Golden jubilee celebration to recommit itself to full operationalization of the APSA, including refinement, where necessary, of existing provisions to facilitate their implementation. To this end, the Summit called for improved relations between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities/ Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Resolution and Management (RECs/RMs) through the effective implementation of the relevant provisions of the PSC Protocol and the Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and the RECs, bearing in mind AU’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in Africa. The relationship between the AU and the APSA regions was fully tested during the planning, deployment and management of AFISMA in Mali. In addition, challenges in the ongoing consultations between ECCAS and the AU regarding the transition of MICOPAX into MISCA reinforce the pressing need for the AU and the regions to agree on the issue of subsidiarity and its modalities.   A conference/workshop between the AU and the RECs to discuss the MoU in this regard could not be timely.

The Summit also undertook to make renewed efforts to address the root causes of conflicts on the continent in a holistic and systematic manner, including implementing existing instruments in the areas of human rights, rule of law, democracy, good governance and elections, as well as programs related to cooperation, human development youth and employment. It is important to note that some member states have still not become parties to these instruments, throwing into doubt the prospects for its implementation.

Given the t bitter experience of the AU/ECOWAS in Mali, the Summit stressed the need to develop a flexible, action-oriented and balanced partnership with international partners, notably the United Nations, to ensure that Africa’s concerns and positions are taken into account by the Security Council when making decisions on matters fundamental to Africa. For this reason, there is a request for the Summit to convene a meeting with the Security Council, at the Heads of State level, in order to review the partnership in light of challenges encountered recently on the situation in Mali and other issues related to peace and security on the continent. There is no indication yet on when the meeting will take place, but all this will have no significant impact until some of fundamental issues at the UN Secretariat are addressed, not least the fair geographic representation at the appropriate levels, including ensuring that Africa has its fair share in the so-called Africa Divisions in the Departments of Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations.

The role of the civil society in promoting peace, security and stability is critical. So also is the role of security institutions, staff colleges, politicians and the youth, women and children. Thus, Africa will not know peace until its entire people recognize that they are all involved in making the continent peaceful, safe and secure.

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About africapeacesupport

Former Representative of the United Nations SecretaryGeneral in Guinea-Bissau and Head of UNOGBIS.
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