AU Commissioner on the state of Peace and Security in Africa

AU At the 275th AU Peace and Security Council Ministerial Meeting devoted to a debate on the state of peace and security in Africa Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, made the following statement today:

On behalf of Chairperson Ping and the whole A.U Commission, I am pleased to present introductory remarks to this important gathering, which is going to discuss a very important matter concerning our Continent ‐ the State of Peace and Security in Africa. The meeting is being held at an opportune moment, as it is taking place against the background of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and of the uprisings in North Africa, which have far reaching implications for the Continent. These uprisings offer important lessons that we must seriously reflect upon and devise appropriate responses in the light of the AU’s twined mission of promoting peace and security and fostering democracy continent‐wide.

The AU vision is to build an integrated, prosperous and conflict‐free Africa, which is a noble goal in itself. It is an achievable goal, as the continent is equipped with the requisite human and natural resources. In addition, there is sufficient political will for the drive required to realize that objective.

The achievement of that noble goal, through the realization of Africa’s vast potential, is severely hampered by the persistence of crises and conflicts on the Continent. Instead of enjoying the fruits of higher levels of socio‐economic development, too many African peoples continue to live in conditions of violence, poverty, misery and underdevelopment. These same conditions are largely responsible for the continuation of conflicts on our Continent.

Allow me to remind ourselves that the AU has adopted a number of instruments on human rights, governance, democracy, disarmament, terrorism, and good neighbourliness, which represent a consolidated framework of norms and principles, whose observance would considerably reduce the risk of conflict and violence on the Continent. The upholding of these instruments would contribute towards creating conditions conducive for socio‐economic development that the African people have been, and are yelling for. Unfortunately, the slow implementation of the provisions in the relevant AU instruments, particularly those relating to the promotion of democracy, good governance, free and fair elections, human rights and justice, remains a major cause of concern.

Chairperson, Excellencies, Indeed, we should salute the gains being made in the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which provides the Continent with a guiding framework for preventing, managing and resolving conflicts, as well as for pursuing post‐conflict reconstruction and development. However, additional efforts are urgently needed to ensure the development of APSA to its full capacity, especially with regard to the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). Both components, within the overall framework of APSA, are meant to play a major role in AU peace efforts. The need for African funding for this process cannot be over‐emphasized.

Furthermore, achievements have been made in such countries as Burundi, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Niger, Republic of Guinea and Sudan ‐ in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). But these achievements remain incomplete as long as there are crises and conflicts that challenge the fabric of peace, security and stability elsewhere in Africa.

Certainly, Cote d’Ivoire has started moving into a new and hopeful phase of its history. The elected President, H.E. Alassane Dramane Ouattara, has assumed the power of the State. Fighting has come to a halt, except for isolated incidents, and normalcy is gradually returning to the country. However, many challenges lie ahead in the Ivorian quest for peace, security, stability and development. To ensure that the country puts an end to the vicious cycle of conflict from which it is emerging, these challenges must be addressed with urgency. Among the key challenges are the following:
‐    The formation of a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation;
‐ The implementation of the outstanding issues within the framework of the
Ouagadougou Political Agreement and its Supplementary Agreements;
‐    The design, implementation and monitoring of post‐conflict recovery programmes, such as:
o Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR), and,
o Security Sector Reform (SSR).
‐    Arresting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons; ‐    The management of the humanitarian situation, in order to reduce the suffering of
refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs);
‐    The investigation of human rights violations.

Chairperson, Excellencies,
One cannot overemphasize the fact that the epicentre of African conflicts has recently shifted to North Africa, with serious consequences for the region and Africa as a whole. Anti‐ government protests first erupted in Tunisia in December 2010, culminating in the departure of President Ben Ali in January 2011, among other effects. Subsequently, similar protests erupted in Egypt, also leading to the departure of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Both countries are now conducting transitions, with initiatives aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of their peoples.

Contrastingly, what began as a peaceful protest in eastern Libya in mid‐February 2011, quickly spread to the rest of the country, and evolved into an armed confrontation between Government forces and protestors. Since then, fighting has been continuing in different parts of the country, especially in the cities along the coast. The fighting in Libya has far‐reaching consequences, especially given the important role that the country has been playing in the implementation of the African agenda.

The imposition of a no‐fly zone over Libya and aerial bombardment by the Coalition, and now by NATO, have not brought a solution to the crisis. In fact, the military situation on the ground seems to be sliding into a stalemate.

From the beginning of the crisis, the AU has remained seized with the Libyan issue, with important initiatives underway. I wish to recall that the PSC met on 23 February 2011, to consider the situation in Libya and, on 10 March 2011, expressed its conviction that the situation called for an urgent African action for:
(i)    the immediate cessation of all hostilities;
(ii) the cooperation of the competent Libyan authorities to facilitate the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy populations;
(iii) the protection of foreign nationals, including the African migrants living in Libya; and
(iv) the adoption and implementation of the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis.

The PSC further decided, at the level of Heads of State and Government on 10 March 2011, and among other things, decided to establish an AU High‐Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, comprising five Heads of State and Government, as well as the Chairperson of the Commission, with the mandate to:
(i)    engage with all parties in Libya and continuously assess the evolution of the situation on the ground;
(ii)    facilitate an inclusive dialogue among the Libyan parties on the appropriate reforms; and
(iii)    engage AU’s partners, in particular the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), to facilitate coordination of efforts and seek their support for the early resolution of the crisis.

I would like to point out that the pursuit of other agendas in Libya, by non‐African actors, has had an impact on the implementation of the AU Roadmap. Attempts have been made to marginalise an African solution to the crisis, specifically the timely implementation of the AU Roadmap in a way that is fully consistent with and complementary to UNSC resolutions 1970 and 1973.

In pursuit of its mandate, the Ad Hoc Committee held meetings in Nouakchott on 19 March 2011 and in Addis Ababa on 25 March 2011, and again in Nouakchott on 9 April 2011. Furthermore, the Committee undertook a mission to Libya, to discuss the AU Roadmap. In this regard, it first held consultations with the Libyan authorities in Tripoli, on 10 April 2011. Thereafter, the Committee traveled to Benghazi, where it held consultations with the Transitional National Council (TNC), on 11 April 2011. An interim report presenting the actions undertaken by the Ad hoc Committee and the Commission is submitted to Council for its consideration at this ministerial meeting.

As for Somalia, it remains a challenge to the AU, IGAD and the rest of the international community. The AU, through AMISOM, has made a significant contribution towards the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia. AMISOM has contributed to the stabilization of Mogadishu, and some parts of central Somalia, among other gains. However, wrangling among the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) remains a major impediment, more so as the country approaches the end of the transitional period in August 2011. Note should also be taken of the problems of illegal fishing, dumping of toxic wastes and piracy off the coast of Somalia.

In Sudan, there have been positive strides in achieving peace and stability, particularly in view of the successful conduct of the Referendum in South Sudan, last January, in the implementation of the CPA. However, there are important CPA outstanding issues that need to be addressed by the Sudanese Parties, especially:

The North‐South border demarcation, The Referendum of the Abyei Region, Popular consultations in the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States. Moreover, there are other Post‐Referendum Arrangements (PRA) that are yet to be finalized, particularly those relating to citizenship, security, economic and natural resources, international treaties and legal issues. The African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP) is facilitating discussions on these outstanding issues, as well as on PRA matters. It is most unlikely that discussions on all those issues will have been completed by 9 July 2011, when the two Sudan states emerge. It is a good gesture that the Parties have agreed to continue discussions after the independence of South Sudan.

It should be recalled that both the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the Sudan Consultative Forum endorsed the need for a three track strategy on Darfur, namely the Doha peace talks, the Darfur Political Process (DPP) and early recovery and development. In this regard, the African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), together with the AUHIP, have been preparing for the DPP. A DPP Secretariat, consisting of UNAMID and AUHIP staff, has been established in El Fasher and has been working on an implementation plan and budget. The Government of Sudan has committed itself to securing an enabling environment that would allow all Darfurians to participate in the DPP without fear. Efforts should be exerted to implement the decision of the PSC to ensure that the DPP is conducted and concluded on time in order to speedily address the Darfur conflict in a much more inclusive manner.

Regarding the problem of unconstitutional changes of government, it is worth noting that the Republics of Guinea and Niger have since returned to constitutional order. Inversely, Madagascar remains an outstanding case. SADC and the AU continue to deploy coordinated efforts to help resolve the crisis in that country.

At this juncture, I need to express satisfaction at the ever‐growing partnerships, in the area of peace and security, which are actively being developed with both bilateral and multilateral partners, including the League of Arab States, the European Union and the United Nations. In this spirit, a special mention should be made of the necessity for our partners to respond promptly and positively to the AU requests regarding situations relating to the misuse of the principle of the universal jurisdiction as well as to the granting of the legal effects of Article 16 of the ICC Rome Statement in the cases of Sudan and Kenya as to give a chance to both countries and to the AU to pursue their endeavor aimed at promoting peace, democracy and justice.

Chairperson, Excellencies,
That crises and conflicts persist on our continent is self‐evident. Undoubtedly, this is a tragedy that we cannot pass on to subsequent generations. Accordingly, it is imperative that we make renewed efforts to address the root causes of conflict in a holistic manner. In doing so, we must scrupulously implement the existing instruments, particularly those relating to democracy, elections, governance, rule of law, human rights and justice. At the same time, we must keep in mind that poverty, misery and underdevelopment, which affect most of our countries, lay at the taproot of the persistence of conflicts on the Continent. Hence, the need to speed up and strengthen our socio‐economic policies in order for them to produce outcomes that are responsive to the needs of the people.

In addition, Africa’s population continues to grow fast beyond the one billion reached in 2010, with the attendant pressure on limited resources and services, as well as cumulative demands for employment, more income and better living conditions. Thus, it is vital that African countries redouble their efforts in addressing the major socio‐economic issues at hand, in order to avoid the risk of social unrest and uprisings.

Chairperson, Excellencies,
I cannot conclude my remarks without reiterating some key points for emphasis:

  • Regarding the deployment of AU peace efforts, wherever circumstances demand it on the Continent, there is an imperative to inject more African funding. Africa needs to be assertive and to make its solutions work on the ground. This is one practical way of ensuring the effectiveness of African solutions to African problems. Recently, we have witnessed partners fatigue manifestations and even attempts by some to marginalize African efforts to resolve African conflicts.
  • Regarding democratization and the building of good governance, we need to spare no efforts at all, as failure to uphold democracy and good governance brings big dangers to our continent. The Continent is witnessing an increase in election‐related and governance‐linked crises. This trend must be arrested before it reaches unmanageable proportions. The deepening of democracy and improving political and economic governance could significantly contribute to our efforts to prevent conflicts on the Continent.
  • Last, but not least, it is urgent that we invest in employment‐generating economic policies that would provide jobs and better incomes for the population, especially the youth, and contribute to elevating standards of living across the Continent. Indeed, this is one way of preventing future uprisings, like those we are witnessing in North Africa.

Having laid emphasis on these points, I would also like to draw the attention of this august house to some thought provoking issues, particularly the following:
‐    How do we mobilise the required political will to accelerate the ratification and domestication of AU instruments and frameworks by Member States, for those who have not yet done so?
‐    How do we strengthen measures against non‐compliance with AU instruments and frameworks?
‐    How do we foster more action‐oriented synergies with our Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms?
‐    How, within the frameworks of existing partnerships, could Africa prevent the marginalisation of African solutions to African problems?
‐    How do we address the challenge of reducing external dependence in funding African peace efforts; otherwise stated, how do we mobilise additional African funding for our peace efforts?

Notably, at the end of the day, it is a fact that African peoples are striving for bread and butter, and for other basic needs. They also desire freedom and its opportunities, as well as justice and its protections. Among other courses of action, it is through the fruition of these principles that the African continent can achieve peace, security, stability and sustainable development. This is one of the strongest messages from the North African uprisings.

This is the spirit in which the Commission prepared a Concept Note, which was dispatched to the Member States, earlier on, to inspire your deliberations.

It is my hope that this meeting’s deliberations will go a long way in placing our Continent on a track of renewed momentum and more vigorous initiatives aimed at preventing, managing and resolving crises and conflicts. This would help in re‐energizing the efforts of our Organisation that has involved itself in the various crises and conflicts on the Continent, in search for lasting solutions. That would also add an additional push to the ongoing post‐ conflict reconstruction and development efforts in various parts of the Continent.

I thank you.

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