Council Conclusions on the Horn of Africa

Council of the European Union At the 3124th FOREIGN AFFAIRS Council meeting in Brussels, 14 November 2011, the Council adopted the following conclusions:

1.    “Underlining the importance attached by the EU to its relations with the Horn of Africa, the Council has adopted today a Strategic Framework to guide the EU’s engagement in the region. It welcomes the High Representative’s proposal to appoint an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the Horn of Africa, focusing in the first instance on Somalia, the regional dimension of the conflict and piracy, and looks forward to the development of action plans to support implementation of the Strategic Framework.

2.    The EU’s long-term commitment to the Horn of Africa is rooted in the region’s geo-strategic importance, the EU’s desire to support the welfare of the people of the Horn and to help lift them from poverty into self-sustaining economic growth. Instability in the region poses a growing challenge not only to the security of its peoples but also to the rest of the world. Continued EU engagement will be in support of both regional efforts, including through the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU), and national efforts to achieve lasting peace, security and justice, good governance based on the democratic principles of inclusion, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The Strategic Framework also recognises the need to protect European citizens from the threats that emanate from some parts of the region, including terrorism, piracy and the proliferation of the arms. It also identifies a number of common challenges such as climate change and migration.

3.    The EU remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis affecting several countries in the Horn of Africa. Building on existing support provided to date (over € 760 million), the EU will continue to provide neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations and calls for increased assistance from and coordination of all donors. The Council calls on all parties to ensure safe and unhindered access by humanitarian actors in accordance with international humanitarian principles.

4.    The Council highlights the need to address the underlying causes of the current humanitarian
crisis in particular structural food insecurity, recurrent drought and conflict. The EU will
continue to support the countries of the region in strengthening their national capacities
through disaster risk reduction strategies and long-term development cooperation programmes
in the areas of drought-preparedness, agriculture, rural development and food security. The
effectiveness of such support is, however, dependent upon local ownership and the political
commitment of the countries of the region to put structural policies in place to support
sustainable agricultural and livestock production, including cross-border movements, natural
resource management, in particular water resources, as well as trade and regional integration.

5.    Piracy off the coast of Somalia continues to negatively impact on international maritime
security and regional and international economic activities. The Council remains committed
to the commendable work of the EU naval counter-piracy operation, EUNAVFOR Atalanta,
which provides protection to World Food Programme and AMISOM shipping, and
contributes to deterring piracy and protecting vulnerable shipping. The EU will advance work
to enhance the capacity of Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region to fight piracy,
including through further strengthening of maritime capacities as well as prosecution and
detention capacities. The EU will continue to work towards the tracking of financial flows
from piracy. The EUSR for the Horn of Africa will contribute to developing and
implementing a coherent, effective and balanced EU approach to piracy, encompassing all
strands of EU action.

6.    The Strategic Framework, in Annex, sets out the way in which the EU will pursue its strategic approach, working in partnership with the region itself and key international partners.


Executive Summary

The political evolution of the Horn of Africa over the past 50 years has been unusually turbulent. The objective of the European Union is therefore to support the people of the region in achieving greater peace, stability, security, prosperity and accountable government.

The EU’s engagement in the Horn will be supportive of a regional and country-level environment conducive to peace, security and justice, of good governance based on the democratic principles of inclusion, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and of socio-economic development based on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with due consideration to equity, climate change and sustainable livelihoods.

The EU’s interests in the Horn of Africa are defined by the region’s geo-strategic importance, the EU’s historic engagement with the countries of the region, its desire to support the welfare of the people and help lift them from poverty into self-sustaining economic growth, and the need for the EU to protect its own citizens from the threats that emanate from some parts of the region and address common challenges.

To achieve its objective of peace, stability, security, prosperity and accountable government, the EU will
1)    Assist all countries in the region to build robust and accountable political structures, including civil and civic institutions, allowing the people of the Horn to express their legitimate political aspirations and ensure that their basic human rights and freedoms are respected;
2)    Work with the countries of the region and with international organisations (especially the United Nations and African Union) to resolve current conflicts, particularly in Somalia and Sudan, and avoid future potential conflicts between or within countries;
3)    Ensure that, until that is achieved, the insecurity in the region does not threaten the security of others beyond its borders, e.g. through piracy, terrorism or irregular migration;2
4)    Support efforts to promote the economic growth of all countries and people in the region, to enable them to reduce poverty, increase prosperity and enjoy not suffer from the benefits globalisation can bring;
5)    Support political and economic regional cooperation and bolster the role of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to tap into positive trends and developments across national borders;

To enhance the coherence, quality, impact and visibility of the EU’s multifaceted action in the region, an EU Special Representative (EUSR), in close consultation with the EUSR for Sudan and South Sudan, will contribute to the EU’s regional approach to the interrelated challenges facing the Horn.

The Framework proposes a number of ways the EU can pursue this strategic approach that will enable it to do so in partnership with the region itself and key partners. It identifies areas for action, but specific actions, in the form of sub-strategies and action plans, will be subject to subsequent decisions by the Commission, Council and Member States.

The High Representative and the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EUSR, EU Delegations in the region, the European Commission and Member States will work together to implement this Framework.


1.    Context and challenges

The Horn of Africa is an area of great diversity. Many of its countries have been through or are currently experiencing periods of violent civil conflict, the legacy of which impacts directly on both politics and society. Despite its diversity, the problems of the region are inextricably intertwined – what happens in one country can have a profound impact on the others, and the problems of one can often only be solved with the involvement of the others. There is therefore a logic to dealing with the region as a whole.

The EU recognises that to render its future engagement more effective it must pursue a comprehensive approach that will address the region’s interlocked challenges outlined below. Through this approach, the EU will pay special attention to root causes and drivers of conflict, and to lagging development.

Unaccountable governance and/or corruption mixed with societal tensions or grievance have been violently manifested in some parts of the Horn. In others, the absence of the rule of law or an administrative vacuum has permitted e.g. piracy and terrorism to flourish in Somalia, and armed groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to subsist in remote border areas. The latter affect the local population, but the former have now reached a scale where they threaten international security and, directly, the interests of EU Member States.

Inter-state rivalry, often over disputed borders, use of water resources or as a result of forced movements of people, also risks breaking into conflict between states as well as within them. The frozen border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea has a particular significance as it has influenced regional politics e.g. through proxy interventions in the Somali conflict.

Persistent poverty, often the result of conflict, destroys the stability on which economic growth and investment depend, has denied many of the people of the region the hope of the better future that they deserve.

Climate change poses an additional challenge to all countries in the region. It exacerbates the pressures on scarce resources already stretched by population growth, but the countries of the Horn have little direct control over it. The livelihoods of large numbers of people affected by extreme poverty and food insecurity in the Horn is made worse by erratic rainfall and crop yields, a mix of the effects of climate change and inadequate policy interventions.

Migration, resulting from dwindling resources, growing population pressure from high birth rates, and refugee flows in response to political unrest, as well as traditional nomadism across modern borders is a challenge strongly felt in the region and beyond.

Small arms proliferation, resulting from conflicts within the region and beyond makes previous disputes over resources (including cattle) more violent and more difficult to mediate by peaceful means.

The region lacks a regional organisation effective enough to mediate disputes and foster cooperation. As a building block of the African Peace and Security Architecture, the Inter- Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) has been slowly building its capacity, but it must continue to develop the capacities of its Secretariat to resolve political problems and regional conflict.

The result of these challenges has been a chronic instability in some parts of the region – especially Somalia, but also Sudan, South Sudan and parts of other states. As elsewhere in Africa, this has reflected weak or ineffective state institutions, and the absence or weakness of the rule of law, making it hard to combat organised crime, terrorism and armed groups. The lack of employment opportunities for young people as a consequence of continuing conflict and poverty can encourage radicalisation or mobilisation by political forces that find it convenient to blame external targets for internal woes. Or it can lead simply to criminal activity, such as piracy, on a scale that threatens economic activity not just in the region but world-wide.

The striking experience of the neighbouring countries in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula highlights the need for a valid opposition as a necessary outlet for the expression of diverse political views and the settling of differences of opinion. These events could bear a political impact on the Horn itself or on regional cooperation. The EU will engage in supporting peaceful and prosperous relations for the mutual benefit of countries in the broader Horn region. As this analysis indicates, the challenges of development are closely linked to those of security, and of finding a political structure that is both robust and representative. Circumstances need to be taken into account. Given the scale of the EU’s engagement in the region, in terms of development assistance, trade and links between our peoples, the EU will ensure continuity and coherence of the different strands of its policies, through more effective engagement. The volatile situation on the ground merits flexibility and the ability to rapidly adapt the EU’s approach and instruments.

2.    EU Engagement

The EU is heavily engaged in the region, with involvement focused around five main areas: the development partnership, the political dialogue, the response to crises, the management of crises and the trade relationship.

The institutional foundation of the EU’s relationship with most countries of the region is the Cotonou Agreement. This provides for:

a)    a development partnership with financial support through the European Development Fund (EDF) for the individual countries in the form of national and regional financial allocations. The 10th EDF, currently under implementation, provides a total of €2 billion through bilateral support to the Horn countries4 and through a share of €645 million available to four regional organisations including IGAD5 for regional projects. National indicative programmes are negotiated with each individual country and include support to rural development and agriculture, infrastructure, governance, education, non-state actors, trade, private sector development and macro-economic support. Implementation challenges include governance issues (e.g. corruption), absorption capacity constraints related to the co-management of funds, state fragility and constraints on the operation of civil society;

b)    political dialogue not only with the countries of the Horn but also with the region (IGAD).

EU development assistance has been linked strongly to the MDGs and implemented in accordance with the Aid Effectiveness provisions adopted in the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008).

Trade relations between IGAD countries and the EU are governed mainly by the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) provisions of Everything But Arms which provides duty free access to EU markets for almost all products from Least Developed Countries (i.e. all but Kenya). The EU negotiates Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the IGAD countries6 through the East African Community (EAC)7 and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).

Political dialogue is provided for in Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, but the EU’s political engagement with countries of the Horn goes further than formal dialogue, as foreseen elsewhere in the Agreement. In Somalia, the EU has firmly guided the Somaliland region towards a sounder democratic process, while in South Central Somalia, the EU has played a key role in encouraging a path towards constitutional rule. The EU has regularly provided support to the electoral processes in countries of the Horn, through assistance to Electoral Commissions, and through Election Observation Missions, as well as providing technical and training support to the institutional framework of the state – courts, justice, administration, financial management and governance. The need to bolster the rule of law, a long term objective of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES), is a key element of political dialogue with the region and this concern also underpins the recognition in the Cotonou Agreement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is an integral part of the international framework for building peace and justice. The EU firmly believes that the ICC has an integral part to play in encouraging international norms of behaviour in conflict and a key role in encouraging conflict avoidance.

In humanitarian response the EU is providing needs based humanitarian assistance to the people suffering from drought and conflict, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, fully in line with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence. The scale of humanitarian assistance is currently running at over € 760 million for the region as a whole.

Crisis response and management has been the fastest growing area of EU engagement. It is conducted through the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), through the Instrument for Stability (IfS) for e.g. negotiations, mediation efforts, strengthening of rule of law, direct support to referenda, delivery of peace dividends, and in support of RECs’ own crisis response and management capacities to make the African Peace and Security Architecture effective.

This is the case in Somalia at present. In addition to humanitarian support from ECHO, the EU provides funding for the Transitional Federal Institutions through cooperation activities in the governance sector managed by the UN and civil society, for the African Union (AU) mission (AMISOM) through the African Peace Facility, and carries out two CSDP military actions – naval operation ATALANTA which contributes to containing piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and the EU Training Mission (EUTM Somalia) in Uganda which supports the training of Somali National Security Forces in partnership with Uganda and the US.

Similarly, in Sudan and South Sudan, the EU has been providing relief support, as well as accompanying the political process that gave rise to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Sudan and South Sudan in particular has been working in support of the implementation of the CPA and for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur. The EU has provided financial support through the African Peace Facility to the AU Military Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and it also contributed to security and stabilisation in Darfur through its CSDP operation, EUFOR Tchad/RCA8. In South Sudan has become independent, the EU is mobilising its resources in common, and in cooperation with other key donors, to ensure that international support is as coherent and effective in supporting the new state as possible.

To complement and support counter-piracy operations, the EU agreed the transfer of suspected pirates captured by operation Atalanta with third states (Kenya, Seychelles and, since 16 July 2011, Mauritius). The EU provides support through its IfS to prosecution, court, police and prison services in the three countries. The High Representative sought to promote ownership and fair burden sharing within the region itself and was pivotal in brokering an East and Southern Africa/Indian Ocean (ESA/IO) regional strategy for maritime security and against piracy, agreed in Mauritius in October 2010. Support to maritime security is also provided through the EDF.

In countering terrorism, the EU is actively engaged in dialogue with key partners and is involved in setting up a multilateral Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) that includes a Horn of Africa working group.

Cooperation with the Horn countries to address the adverse effects of climate change has taken place in the framework of the JAES (partnership 6) through a continued political dialogue and exchange on tangible measures of adaptation and mitigation.

In response to migration, the EU provides support to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Regional Protection Programme (RPP) in Kenya, Djibouti and Yemen. The RPP aims to strengthen the protection and enhance assistance to refugee and asylum seekers, as well as providing border security and protection from trafficking. Significant EU support is also provided to Dadaab in Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world. The EU also holds a dialogue with the region to step up cooperation on migration, in the framework of article 13 of the Cotonou Agreement.

The EU launched the Horn of Africa Initiative (HoAI) in 2007 to foster regional cooperation by assisting the countries of the Horn in working together to jointly address their common development challenges that are at the root of many conflicts. In its first phase, the HoAI consists of inter-connectivity infrastructure programmes in energy, transport and water resource management.

Building on this engagement and exploiting the opportunities provided for with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the appointment of a High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU aims to become both more visible and more effective through a comprehensive approach towards the Horn that will bring together all EU policy strands.

3.    Future directions

The EU will seek to make its engagement in the Horn more effective through consistent, coherent and complementary use of its instruments, reinforcement of its political coordination, and by focusing more clearly on the underlying challenges of the region. Guided by the overarching objectives of the 2003 European Security Strategy and its implementation report, the eight partnerships of the JAES and the 2009 EU Policy on the Horn of Africa, the EU’s response will be underpinned by the principles of regional ownership and mutual responsibility, and of supporting the added value of regional cooperation for peaceful coexistence, conflict prevention and resolution and economic integration for country level growth.

In implementing future action, the EU will draw on its array of means: development cooperation through the European Development Fund (EDF) and Member States’ bilateral programmes, through joint programming in the Horn countries where appropriate, relevant EU budget lines, trade instruments, conflict prevention and crisis response, including the CSDP, diplomacy, EU Special Representatives (EUSRs), cooperation and dialogue through the Cotonou Agreement. An EUSR for the Horn of Africa will contribute to the enhanced coherence, quality, impact and visibility of the EU’s action in the region, working in close consultation with the EUSR for Sudan and South Sudan, as well as with regional and international partners on issues with broader regional implications.

The EU will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations in accordance with humanitarian principles.

In view of the large Horn diaspora living in Europe, its significant economic role in the flow of capital into the region, but also its socio-political links with the region, the EU will seek to involve the diaspora, where possible, as a potential positive resource in achieving its objective.

The EU acknowledges that there are risk factors which may affect its future action or even impede the achievement of its objective, namely renewed conflict; drought and humanitarian disaster; and a deterioration of governance.

To address interlocked challenges and to achieve the objective of peace, security, development and accountable government in the Horn, the EU will work in the following areas:
1)    Democratic and accountable state structures
The development of democratic processes and institutions that contribute to human security and empowerment will be supported through:

  • promoting respect for constitutional norms, the rule of law, human rights, and gender equality through cooperation and dialogue with Horn partners;
  • support to security sector reform and the establishment of civilian oversight bodies for accountable security institutions in the Horn countries;
  • implementing the EU human rights policy in the region;
  • monitoring the follow-up of Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) recommendations and providing support for their implementation where relevant;
  • drawing and regularly reviewing Governance Action Plans of Country Strategies that support the essential elements of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement;
  • combating corruption by supporting public finance management reforms;
  • reinforcing political dialogue at country and regional level, and continuing to raise issues of human rights, including wherever appropriate, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and the fight against impunity;
  • supporting an independent civil society that is able to express social agendas.

2)   Peace, security, conflict prevention and resolution
Insecurity in the region and threats to peace stemming from violent conflict in Somalia, conflict in parts of Sudan, including Darfur, and in South Sudan, and latent conflict between countries such as Ethiopia and Eritrea or, even, within countries often due to a culture of impunity, or to ethnic, clan or regional grievance and/or access to power require:

  • working with the region itself and with international partners to tackle the underlying causes of conflict;
  • support to local, regional or international mediation efforts to resolve ongoing conflicts, particularly in Somalia and Sudan;
  • assisting the establishment of the security in Somalia and South Sudan;
  • continued support to the implementation of the Djibouti Peace Agreement and its post-transition arrangements, including of the roadmap agreed by key Somali leaders in Mogadishu in September 2011, to build legitimate, representative and credible Somali institutions;
  • working with partners to create peaceful good neighbourly relations in support of the AU Border Programme;
  • encouraging cooperation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and supporting the full implementation of the Algiers Agreement;
  • monitoring arms smuggling in the region, particularly into Somalia, Sudan and South, and supporting the UN arms embargo monitoring group on Eritrea and Somalia in line with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2002;
  • fighting small arms accumulation through support to the Nairobi-based Regional Centre on Small Arms, and promoting coordinated arms control and management programmes for nomadic tribes across borders;
  • promoting inter-ethnic understanding and/or reconciliation;
  • combating impunity through support to transitional justice institutions and civil society organisations;
  • promoting the participation of women in peace processes and mediation efforts,
  • contributing to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security and of UNSCR 1820 in addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

3)    Mitigation of the effects of insecurity in the region

Addressing the adverse effects of piracy through the range of relevant instruments and of other forms of organised crime (e.g. trafficking of humans, weapons and drugs), of terrorism but also the effects of irregular migration – all offshoots of poverty and insecurity in the region – requires:

  • support to the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct; active support to regional maritime and judiciary capacity building;
  • regional engagement and coordination with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to make operational the ESA/IO counter-piracy strategy and action plan; conclusion of transfer agreements with third countries willing to accept the transfer of piracy suspects captured by Operation Atalanta;
  • contributing to the implementation of UNSCR 1976, particularly with a view to finding a permanent solution to the judicial treatment of piracy suspects and investigating the financial flows of piracy profits that will lead to the identification of the instigators of piracy;
  • coordinating with partners through the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) on capacity building measures and counter-radicalisation in Somalia and Yemen, and on regional counter-terrorism measures (law enforcement, rule of law, criminal justice, counter-radicalisation and terrorist financing) in Kenya and Uganda; developing the link between the external and internal aspects of the EU’s security in seeking to implement its Internal Security Strategy, contributing to global security and promoting the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

4)   Poverty reduction, economic growth and prosperity

Supporting better, transparent and accountable institutions, and the development and implementation of suitable policies can benefit the Horn populations through:

  • streamlining Commission-managed and Member States’ country-level programming of aid;
  • contributing to alternative livelihoods by job creation and education (including of long- term refugees in camps);
  • strengthening resilience to disasters, linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD) for a long-term perspective;
  • integrating climate change into development strategies in sectors to support adaptation – assistance and technical cooperation in food security, drought preparedness and water management, promotion of pastoral livelihood activities in the drylands, research in the development of drought resistant and high-yielding crops and livestock, support to appropriate renewable energy sources;
  • mobilising new resources of financing and revenue (e.g. tax revenue systems) and public-private partnerships;
  • supporting telecommunications/information technology; enhancing trade capacities and making trade conducive to overall development objectives.

5)    Regional cooperation

An environment conducive to cooperation that can equally benefit from existing informal crossing of borders as from ethnic and cultural similarities is an important aspect of preventive diplomacy at the regional level. Seeking to foster regional integration, integration of the region into the global economy and regional cooperation to address common development constraints, the EU will:

  • coordinate national and regional dialogues across the Horn countries so that they are mutually reinforcing;
  • work with IGAD, the Community for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)11 and EAC to promote their initiative for a ‘tripartite’ political and trade integration process with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and support regional integration and growth through EPAs;
  • reinforce the RECs’ institutional link with the AU and with the Eastern African Standby Force Coordination Mechanism (EASFCOM) for peace and security cooperation;
  • co-host a donors’/investors’ conference to implement HoAI interconnectivity programmes, e.g. the Berbera Corridor;
  • seek to expand the HoAI to other areas of cross-border cooperation (e.g. expanding IGAD’s Early Warning Mechanism from detecting cross-border pastoralist conflicts to including counter-terrorism and trafficking);
  • use the HoAI’s regional water platform to promote cooperation in the management of the Nile waters, and promote cooperation in hydropower investment and irrigation of the riparian countries;
  • continue to assist IGAD’s Secretariat perform its role in promoting regional integration and development.

4. Partnerships

The EU will pursue its objectives in the region through strengthening a series of existing partnerships and through building new partnerships

  • with the countries of the region and civil society, through the Cotonou Agreement, trade, the CSDP and mediation, for the ownership, better understanding and sustainability of processes and developments in the region, but also with the countries of the Arabian peninsula, in particular Yemen whose proximity and historical ties with the Horn region mean that developments and challenges spill out across the Bab-el- Mandeb strait;
  • with third countries in capacity building on the rule of law, criminal justice, counter-radicalisation, terrorist financing in the region and conflict resolution;
  • with regional and international organisations, especially the AU and the UN, but also with COMESA, EAC and IGAD on regional cooperation e.g. in trade, conflict prevention and other areas of mutual concern, the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat on resource management, and the League of Arab States (LAS), with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund  plus the African Development Bank and NGOs on development and peacebuilding issues, with the IMO, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL), the European Police Office (EUROPOL), the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and, where appropriate, NATO on counter-piracy and rule of law cooperation.

5. Monitoring and follow-up

The implementation of our Strategic Framework should be the object of regular review by the relevant Council bodies. Such a review will be initiated one year after the Framework has been adopted through a report to be submitted to the PSC.”

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