AU, G8 meeting underlines capacity building for African peace architecture

Within the framework of the Joint Africa/G8 Plan to Enhance African Capabilities to Undertake Peace Support Operations, the Annual Consultation between the Commission of the African Union (AU), members of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, representatives of the G8 member countries, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and other partners took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 13 June 2008.

According to a communiqué released by the AU Commission, some partners of the AU encountered difficulties in providing funds to the Peace and Security Department as a result of the lack of adequate capacity. The meeting noted that progress had been made in the resolution of the conflicts facing the continent, and agreed on the need for continued and sustained efforts to consolidate peace where it has been restored, as well as to prevent and resolve emerging conflicts.

“In this respect, the Consultation meeting recognised the key role being played by the Peace and Security Council (PSC of the AU) and the increasing interaction between this organ and the UN Security Council, as shown by the now yearly meetings between these two organs,” said the communiqué. Thus, the meeting emphasised the need to enhance the overall capacity of the Commission, including improvement and streamlining of procedures, to enhance the financial and management capacity of the AU.

“While recognising the progress made so far by establishing the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) that includes many components, such as early warning system, the Panel of the Wise and standby brigades, we cannot be complacent with the present situation,” said Kinichi Komano, Ambassador of Japan in Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU. Komano, who co-chaired the meeting as representative of the Chair of the G8, told PANA that APSA was yet to be completed in terms of smooth functioning. “Therefore, the challenge is still huge. We need to focus more on capacity building of the AU peace and security department, donor coordination to avoid duplication and creating synergy of so many donors whose number is increasing,” he added.

Though the AU has put in place a number of programmes for peace building and conflict prevention in Africa, its number one constraint is the funding for these initiatives through awareness creation and sensitisation of the international community.

“Once you create awareness of what you are doing, awareness of the programmes and the future challenges, then you are more of less marketing your activities and your programmes make those who are conscious of promoting peace in the world to provide the necessary funding,” said Nigerian Ambassador Obioma Philip Oparah. Oparah, who co-chaired the Consultation as chairperson of the PSC for June 2008, told PANA that – once convinced that Africans are doing the right thing and that there are important challenges that may threaten international peace and security – donors would increase funding. “Let’s appreciate the fact that they (donors) are making some effort. Those efforts definitely are not enough.

The AU Commission and the African heads of state are also putting the donors under pressure to increase their funding of African peacekeeping operations,” he explained. According to the Ambassador, the funding arrangement demands that the donors be briefed regularly on how their funding is being utilised. “We keep them updated on the activities of the PSC. We have too many crisis points in Africa. If we leave all this to African countries alone, definitely we can n ot maintain the peace. That’s why it was thought necessary by our leaders to invite the assistance of our partners,” Oparah said.

Meanwhile, the AU partners have pledged their support for the operationalisation of the ASF and the building of the required capability, including the police and civilian components, by 2010. The Consultation welcomed Germany’s decision to fund up to 20 million euros for a new building for the Peace and Security Department to accommodate additional personnel and provide the requisite facilities for the effective discharge of its mandate. Several AU partners extended financial, technical and logistical support for peace operations and capacity development. These include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA, as well the European Union and the UN and its agencies.

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