Framework of operation of African Peace and Security Architecture

The evolution of APSA spanned four decades; it can be traced to the period before the formation of OAU. As the preceding historical antecedent has shown, it was born out of sheer desire to fashion out a lasting response and context-specific management mechanism for African states. The proximate background context to the formation of APSA can be traced to the 4th Extraordinary Summit of the OAU. However, the approval of the AU Constitutive Act in July 2000 represents a significant change in the vision, goals and responsibilities entrusted to the new organisations. The act ensured that peace and security become the primary issues on the AU Agenda, and this necessitated the establishment of APSA. The APSA was established by the AU in collaboration with Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in Africa. APSA has five interrelated arms that work together to make the mechanism function effectively. These are: Peace and Security Council (PSC), Panel of the Wise, African Standby Force, AU Peace Fund and Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). The PSC is a standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It is the main decision-making

African Peace and Security Architecture 153 body of APSA. It defines and directs the AU conflict management agenda. According to Article 7 of the PSC Protocol, the PSC is tasked, in consultation with the AU Commission Chairperson, to promote African peace, stability and security; anticipate and prevent conflict; promote and implement peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction activities; and promote democratic practices, good governance, the rule of law, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, among other things (Badmus, 2014, 2015).

The PSC has enormous powers to make decisions on its own on a wide range of security-related issues in Africa, ranging from preventive diplomacy to postconflict peacebuilding. But, in serious crisis situations, such as the ones specified under Article 4 (h) of the Act, or when action is needed in a non-consenting member state, the AU Assembly jointly makes the decisions upon the PSC’s recommendations. The Council is also responsible for facilitating close collaboration with the RECs, regional mechanisms (RMs) and the UN. In terms of composition, 15 countries sit on the council, of which five - one country each per geographical region (Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa) - are elected to serve for a three-year term, while the remaining ten serve for two years (Article 5 [1], PSC Protocol, African Union 2002). This arrangement is to ensure greater flexibility for the AU to make prompt decisions.

The PSC pronouncements, which are binding on all member states, are made by consensus, and, failing that, decisions on procedural matters require a simple majority while those on all other matters need a two-thirds majority vote of its voting members. Another arm of the APSA is the Panel of the Wise (PoW). It is a consultative body of the AU, composed of five members who are selected by the Chairperson of the AU Commission and appointed for three-year terms by the AU Assembly. The PoW is mandated to provide the PSC - and through the PSC also the AU Assembly - with advice on preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. It takes the actions it deems appropriate ‘to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the Chairperson of the Commission for the prevention of conflicts’.

The Panel meets at least three times annually to deliberate on its work programme and identify regions or countries to visit; it also organises annual workshops on issues related to conflict prevention and management, helping to produce a thematic report to be submitted to the Assembly of African Heads of State and Governments for endorsement. The wise are chosen for the north, east, south, west and central regions of the continent. The aim is to select ‘highly-respected African personalities from various segments of society who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of peace, security and development on the continent’. Another aspect of the APSA is AU Peace Fund. It is the financial instrument of APSA; it is intended to finance AU-led peace support operations. Its budget is made up of a contribution from the AU’s regular budget and voluntary contributions from African and international donors. However, the fund is inadequately financed, and African states provided only 2% of the budget for it from 2008 to 2011. Another mechanism to put in place to actualise APSA is the CEWS.

It is aimed at collecting data and analysing potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in Africa. To that end, the system works with the UN and other international partners, academics, research centres and NGOs. It operates an observation and monitoring centre called ‘situation room’ located within the AU’s Conflict Management Division of the AU, where information is actually collected and analysed. Information in the field is collected by the observation and monitoring units of the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution which are connected to the situation room. Furthermore, APSA also has the African Standby Force (ASF), which is an African Peacekeeping Force composed of military, police and civilian contingents. It acts under the direction of the AU and will be deployed in times of crisis in Africa. The HQ of the ASF is in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), while the logistics base is in Douala (Cameroon).

The civilian and military components are designed to be ‘on standby’ in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment at appropriate notice. ASF force elements can be authorised to participate in peace support missions by the PSC, or in interventions authorised by the AU Assembly. The strength and types of the contingents, the required degree of readiness and their general location are determined by standard operating procedures (SOPs) for peace support. These SOPs are themselves to be periodically reviewed, depending on prevailing crisis and conflict situations. In May 2003 the ASF Policy Framework was established. The framework foresaw the development of the ASF in two phases, until summer 2005 and summer 2010, respectively, with about 15,000 soldiers at full operational capability (FOC) in 2010. For the first phase, a strategic-level management capacity was envisaged that would be capable of conducting one or two parallel missions. It was also foreseen that the RECs would establish the following brigade-sized regional standby forces: the North Africa Regional Standby Brigade (NASBRIG), the East Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG), the Force Multinationale de 1’Afrique Centrale (FOMAC), the Southern Africa Standby Brigade (SADCBRIG), the ECOWAS Standby Brigade (ECOBRIG).

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