The African Union (AU) Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) co-hosted a collaborative dialogue with the AU Commission's Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Department (PAPS) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on the pivotal role of the European Union Fourth African Peace and Security Architecture (EU APSA IV) Program in advancing peace and security across Africa. The dialogue took place from 11-12 October 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
EU APSA IV: A Commitment to African Stability
In February 2020, the EU APSA IV was initiated with a substantial commitment of 40.5 million euros over a four-year period (2020-2024). This financial commitment aimed to bolster the capacity and coordination of APSA components, enabling them to adapt to emerging security challenges in the continent.
Purpose of the Dialogue
The primary objective of the dialogue was to conduct a retrospective review of the EU APSA IV Programme, providing insights to inform the development of future EU APSA programs. The meeting brought attention to the collaborative efforts of the AU, ECOSOCC, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the European Union (EU), and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in promoting peace and security across Africa.
Key Discussions and Recommendations from The Opening Ceremony
CSO's Multi-Faceted Role: Mr. Khalid Boudali, ECOSOCC Presiding Officer, emphasized the multi-faceted role of Civil Society Organizations in peace and security in Africa. Their engagement was seen as crucial, and the visibility of APSA was highlighted as a key factor for its continued success.
Evolution of Conflict: Mr. Josephat Barugahare, representing the African Union Commission, noted the evolution of conflict in Africa, shifting from typical civil wars and genocide to a more complex mix of radicalization, organized crime, political crises, governance deficits, and climate-induced conflict.
EU's Commitment: Mr. Thomas Huyghebaert from the European Union Delegation to the African Union reiterated the EU's commitment to supporting African initiatives. The importance of honest reflection on the program's achievements and proposing effective solutions for future endeavors was underscored.
Addressing Current Trends: Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Head of Governance, Peace and Security, Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) APSA Project Coordinator, Baboloki Koloi emphasized the need to address current trends in Africa, including unconstitutional changes of government, democratic-related issues, climate change, and conflicts arising from diminishing resources.
Strategic Objectives of EU APSA IV
The EU APSA IV program focuses on three strategic objectives:
Conflict Cycle Management: Emphasizing early warning systems and the African Standby Force to better respond to conflicts.
Effective Coordination and Partnership: Strengthening coordination and partnerships within the APSA, including engagement with Civil Society Organizations.
Youth and Children Inclusion: Actively involving youth in promoting peace and security and protecting the rights of children affected by armed conflict.
The meeting achieved several outcomes, including increased awareness of APSA's role in achieving peace and security in Africa, enhanced understanding of achievements and challenges, consensus on recommendations for future programs, and the identification of best practices to inform the APSA Continental Framework.
As the EU APSA IV program approaches its conclusion in 2024, the collaborative dialogue provided a platform for critical reflections, ensuring that the lessons learned and successes achieved contribute to the development of future EU APSA programs. The engagement of various stakeholders, including CSOs, showcased the importance of collective efforts in building a more secure and prosperous Africa. The outcomes of this meeting are integral to shaping the future of the APSA and reinforcing the commitment to peace and security on the continent.