Peace and Security is the area where the Africa-EU Partnership has produced the most significant results since its inception. Stakeholders widely acknowledge the need for Africa and Europe to continue working actively in that area. But they also believe that the quality of results can still be improved and that more focus should be placed on sustainable solutions and more differentiated responses to security challenges.
The lunch-time seminar organised by the EU (European Commission/DG EuropeAid, and the EEAS/Pan-African Division) through the JAES Support Mechanism on 25 February 2014 provided an insightful debate on possible paths to jointly address new challenges and strengthen the inter-continental partnership on Peace and Security.
The panel of key speakers of this fifth 5th lunch-time seminar on the future of Africa-EU relations was composed of H.E. Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, Ambassador of South African to Belgium, Luxembourg and Head of Mission to the European Union; General Cyrille Ndayirukiye, Director of the Eastern Africa Standby Force Coordination Mechanism (EASFCOM); Dylan Hendrickson, Senior Fellow in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and Member of the African Leadership Centre and General Pierre-Michel Joana, Senior Advisor on Africa-EU Peace and security initiatives. Françoise Moreau, Head of the Pan-African Unit at the European Commission set the tone of the seminar with the opening statement while the concluding remarks were delivered by Jose Costa Pereira, Head of the Pan-African Division in the European External Action Service. The debates were moderated by Dr. Alex Vines, Head of the Africa Programme at Chatham House. More than 80 officials and experts from African Embassies, EU Member States, international organisations, research institutes and civil society organisations participated in the seminar.
The key messages that emerged from the intensive discussions include:
- Africa has made a big leap in terms of more effective conflict prevention, management and resolution through the establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) as embedded in the AU Constitutive Act and the AU Peace and Security Protocol. APSA was launched only ten years ago as a framework for applying the AU principle of non-indifference and ensuring human security. Much has been achieved but there are still important political, institutional and financial constraints to be overcome.
- Long-term capacity and institutional building: the Africa-EU Partnership needs to invest more in long-term capacity building of APSA related institutions. The African Peace Facility has so far provided extensive support to operationalization of the APSA but its effectiveness and sustainability has been hampered due to various factors, such as generic capacity absorption constraints.
- More African ownership and funding of APSA needed: APSA is still too dependent on external funding to be credible and effective. Although support from the Africa-EU Partnership in particular will continue to be critical, there is an urgent need to mobilise more African funding to strengthen peace and security in Africa.
- APSA is a means to an end, not an end in itself: Lessons learnt from pragmatic experience, such as the AMISOM peacekeeping mission, need to be taken into account when reviewing some of the fundamental pillars of the architecture (e.g. the role of the ASF and the RECs).
- Be clear on what is strategic for Africa and for the EU: EU and Africa need to focus on mutual interests, be clear about shared objectives and prioritise their interventions in regions where most impact can be made. To achieve this, the two continents must be more strategic about each other and develop a more constructive partnership. There is a need to avoid long bureaucratic shopping lists and one-size fits all approaches.
- Support in the area of peace and security through the African Peace Facility (APF) has been a game changer in terms of making possible a growing number of African-led responses to political crises on the continent. The cooperation through this successful instrument should therefore be continued and politically reaffirmed.
- Support to the African Stand-by Force (ASF) could be adapted by concentrating efforts and resources where they are most needed as the degree of ASF operationalization differs significantly from region to region.
- The newly established African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), which provides for African led and funded interventions, could be a promising mechanism to respond to crises more rapidly and to reinforce the principle of providing African solutions to African problems but there are still unresolved questions on practical issues (e.g. absence of a UN mandate, the funding of ACIRC after the initial 30 days of operation, how it impacts on the relationship between the AU and the RECs).
- Mediation and peace building need to be given ever bigger attention: Better and more effective initiatives are required to prevent conflicts, including Security Sector Reform on a national level to support failing national security systems and to prevent regional and international spill-overs.
- In some cases “global solutions” to “global problems” are needed: Some problems need more than “African Solutions to African Problems” - they need global solutions to global problems and in this context the Africa-EU Partnership is a framework that can facilitate respective processes;
- Align interventions with strategic priorities and build more coherence and synergy among instruments: There is a call for more systematic efforts to avoid a duplication of efforts through overlapping programmes (e.g. APF vis-à-vis the regional EU programmes) while making sure that they address the linkages of relevant issues (e.g. piracy, trafficking, border management, transnational crime).
- Underline the relevance of the Partnership at the next Summit: It is critical that the commitment taken at the Lisbon Summit is reinforced and that the coming Africa-EU Summit makes a bold statement on how Africa and the EU want to work together in responding to both “conventional threats” and the “new” security challenges, such as trans-boundary crimes and trafficking, that have a negative impact on both continents.
On a different note, it was mentioned that Africa and the EU also share the same vision on peace and justice as enshrined in the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. On the African side the question of universality of the Rome Statute, particularly in relation to the UN Security Council, is an issue of concern. However, it was stipulated that the forthcoming Summit is not the right occasion to address this topic.
The final lunch-time seminar will take place on 6 March 2014. The aim of the seminar is to enable stakeholders of the Africa-EU Partnership to respond to the recommendations delivered by previous lunch-time seminars, which should be taken into account by Africa-EU Heads of States and Governments during the IV Africa-EU Summit in April 2014.
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