The African Peace and Security Architecture as a Tool for the Maintenance of Peace and Security. Part 1


This study critically explores the extent to which the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) (such as the African Standby Force (ASF), the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), Panel of the Wise (PoW) and the Peace Fund (PF)) have been successful in achieving their institutional objectives, as well as the degree to which they are able to contribute to the work of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC). The AU PSC as a key pillar of the APSA is the main decision-making body regarding issues of peace and security. In order to achieve its responsibility, the AU PSC shall be supported by the African Standby Force, the Continental Early Warning System, Panel of the Wise and the Peace Fund. APSA is the umbrella term for the key African Union (AU) mechanisms for promoting peace, security and stability in the African continent. More specifically, it is an operational structure for the effective implementation of the decisions taken in the areas of conflict prevention, peace-making, peace support operations and intervention, as well as peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. APSA is envisioned as a means by which Africa can take a greater role in managing peace and security on the continent, with the objective of offering “African solutions to African problems”.

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Introduction This study relies on the synthesis of the rich body of literature and more importantly based on personal interview with those relevant officials and experts pertinent to the issue under investigation. The study helps to understand whether the African security architecture is any closer to realize the mantra of “African solutions to African problems” or not. The first section of this chapter explores the operational capability of the African Standby Force and critically examines whether this Standby Force is any closer to be deployed in its originally designed form or not. The section highlighted that deployment politics, lack of predictable funding and other related factors are the main variables that matter a lot for the future deployment of ASF. The second section of the study examines the status of Continental Early Warning System and the decision-makers (PSC) and identified that early response to early warning signals is very weak. It is underscored that the early response mechanisms continue to be constrained by low capacity and a debilitating lack of political will. The third section of the study discusses the common confusion and misapprehension about the mandate and responsibility of the Panel. More importantly, the section closely explores whether the Panel of the Wise can make a difference in the African peace and security architecture or not. The section noted that the success of the Panel depends on when issues around its mandate, membership, and institutional design are carefully addressed. The last section of the study examines the capacity of the Peace Fund and highlighted that it is doubtful for the Peace Fund at least in the short term to reliably and predictably fund peace and security activities in Africa. African Standby Force: The Long-awaited Tool for the Maintenance of Peace and Security In line with the Protocol relating to the establishment of the AU PSC and in order to enable the Peace and Security Council perform its responsibilities with respect to the deployment of peace support operations and intervention pursuant to article 4 (h) and (j) of the Constitutive Act, an African Standby Force was established. The Force is to be composed of standby multidisciplinary contingents, with civilian and military components in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment at appropriate notice. For that purpose, the Member States under the provisions has to take steps to establish standby contingents for participation in peace support missions decided on by the Peace and Security Council or intervention authorized by the General Assembly. The strength and types of such contingents, their degree of readiness and general location would be determined in accordance with established African Union Peace Support Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which are to be subject to periodic reviews depending on prevailing crisis and conflict situations (PSC Protocol, Art. 3 (1 and 2)) [1] . This standby force is intended to enable the AU to respond to a wide range of contingencies from observation and monitoring missions, to preventive deployments, humanitarian assistance missions, peace building operations, and intervention in a member state in grave circumstances (PSC Protocol, Art. 13 (3)) [1]. The ASF is not a monolithic African army but a set of sub-regional standby arrangements that are established through member states’ pledges and along with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs). The ASF has five regional standby forces: the East African Standby Force (EASF); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Standby Force (ESF); the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Standby Force; the North African Regional Capability (NARC) Standby Force; and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force (SSF) [2. P. 14]. Each state in the sub-region should establish a contingent of the ASF and all standby forces in the sub-regions can be used for operations across sub-regions as it is suggested that if member states of that sub-regions lack such capacity “encouragement be given to potential lead nations to form coalition of the willing as a stop-gap arrangement pending the establishment of regional standby forces arrangement”. Each sub-region is also expected to establish as an entry point standby force at brigade level with 5000 troops per sub-region making the overall number of the ASF troops about 25,000. In quick response to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity it is suggested that potential lead nations should be identified “with standing deployable Headquarters capacity of greater than brigade level, and with forces that are capable of seizing points of entry, ideally using airborne or airmobile assets” [3. P. 17]. Initially the ASF was planned to be ready for peace support operations after two phases (phase 1 from its establishment to 30 June 2005 and phase 2 from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2010). However, inability to make ASF fully operational as it planned to be by 2010 justifies its third phase to be extended till 2015 [4. P. 452]. Fourteen years after the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council provided for the establishment of an African Standby Force (ASF), the ASF was declared to have attained full operational readiness on January 15, 2016 (AU, para. 4 (a): 2) [5]. This declaration has been re-affirmed on (4 June 2016) by the 9th Ordinary Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defense, Safety and Security, which was organized to assess the operational capability of the ASF (AU, para 4 (c): 1) [5]. Originally the regional standby forces were intended to deploy outside their respective regions, however, the contemporary thinking appears to be the exact opposite: there is a high possibility that regional standby forces would be deployed exclusively within the jurisdiction of their respective RECs [6. P. 16]. This section is mainly devoted to investigating whether the ASF has attained full operational capability or not. It is important to note that for long AU has underlined that the decision of the PSC and the desire to implement the mantra of “African solutions to African problems” would not be a reality without this force as this organ is believed to be one of those basic pillars of African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). It is good to remind that the African Standby Force is a central organ which is expected to assist the PSC in matters relating to conflict management. The Peace and Security Council (PSC) is the AU’s main decision-making body with regard to issues of peace and security. Hence, it is paramount to critically investigate the extent to which the African Standby Force has been successful in achieving its strategic objectives, as well as the degree to which it is able to contribute to the work of the PSC. Since 2003, significant efforts have been made towards the attainment of the operational capability of African Standby Force [7. P. 93]. According to a senior official working in AU Commission (M) it is an important achievement for the continent that African leaders have improved the capacity of the ASF through relevant trainings1. The official noted that to evaluate the operational readiness of the ASF continental exercise was conducted for example in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Lohatla, South Africa. The first (AMANI AFRICA I) continental exercise to evaluate the operational readiness of the ASF was conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2010 and the second (AMANI AFRICA II) field training exercise was launched in Lohatla, South Africa in October 2015. ‘AMANI’ AFRICA as is a Kiswahili name to mean Peace in Africa. It is believed that this field training would play a significant role in evaluating the readiness of the ASF. De Coning [8. P. 122] noted that while considerable progress has been achieved since the ASF Framework was first approved in 2003; the operationalization of the ASF has been slower than anticipated. Even after it was declared operationally ready in 2016, the African Standby Force (ASF) has not been deployed in its originally designed form [9. P. 472]. This is despite the AU’s extensive experience with peace support operations in countries like Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Mali and many more cases. The rationale behind why the ASF was not deployed in peace support operations is not the lack of opportunities. There have been a lot of chances and cases on the continent where the ASF could have been deployed to restore peace and security at least as there are ongoing peace operations where Sudan (Darfur) and Somalia are the glaring examples. For Ani [10. P. 1] the fact that the ASF has not been deployed in its originally designed form and current capacity, however the AU is continuing its efforts to see the force deployed in crisis situations, and some progress has been seen recently in getting the ASF ready. For example, some representatives from defense and police forces of member states have took a field training exercise in south Africa (from 18 October - 5 November 2015) aimed at testing the operational readiness of the ASF and its Rapid Deployment Capability. The field exercise is part of a process and not an end in itself. The AU has carried out command-post training and exercises to boost the military, police and civilian components of the multi-dimensional ASF. Furthermore, the inauguration of the first ASF continental logistics base in Cameroon (on 5 January 2018) was also a significant progress. The base is set to boost the AU’s capacity to provide logistical support to peace support operations. However, there are some scholars that fear and doubt that ASF may never be deployed on the continent in support of peace operations as desired in its originally designed form and current capacity. The argument of these scholars is based on the claim that the current structure and processes provided by the ASF can be rather utilized in varied forms to address the peace and security challenges on the continent. For them the previous Africa-led peace support operations and practical lessons from AU’s deployments in countries such as Sudan (Darfur), Somalia, Burundi and among others show that despite the rhetoric of collective security, member states are much more inclined to invest resources in the maintenance of peace and security in their own regions [4. P. 453], de Coning [8. P. 125] and Darkwa [9. P. 478]. According to an expert in ISS (K) the political will of AU member states is very paramount for the deployment of the ASF[2]. Despite the good track record of AU’s peace support operations on the continent some observers continue to claim that the ASF did not take root because its standing readiness model has not yet been utilized as envisaged in the original policy framework, i.e. the ASF has not yet deployed one of its regional rapid deployment battle groups or its standby brigades. However, this is not to mean that the AU has not led or coordinated several peace operations. Here the main concern is that the emerging pattern of African-led peace operations is all about that AU’s previous deployments have not been framed in terms of or deployed as ASF operations. In other words, there have been parallel approaches in terms of the ambition to achieve FOC of the ASF and the establishment, management and liquidation of African peace operations. Yet, there has not been any structured or institutionalized pattern of relationship between the ASF and recent/current African-led peace operations [7. P. 97]. Is the African Standby Force any closer to Peace Support Operations? In view of the fact that the AU special technical committee on defense, safety and security has already declared the full operational readiness of the ASF, this section critically investigates whether the AFS is any closer to being deployed and hence ready to realize the “African solutions to African problems” objective or not. In the earlier discussion it is briefly highlighted that the ASF has not been deployed in its originally designed form, hence one may raise reasonable questions such as what has the ASF been hindered by? Or is it because the ASF had no opportunities as there were no cases on the continent that require its deployment? According to Darkwa [9. P. 476] this is not for the lack of opportunities or absence of cases (countries) that require the intervention of ASF but rather a demonstration of the power of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs): Africa’s sub-regional security structures: over matters of peace and security. Experience gathered from its short existence suggests that the ASF may never be deployed in its originally designed and current form. It may instead evolve into a robust framework, adaptable mainly by the RECs/RMs, for addressing varied security challenges. Despite the general effort to establish the ASF has contributed significantly to the capacity of the AU and RECs/RMs, however, the standing readiness dimension of the ASF concept that is, the idea of specific pre-identified military being prepared and verified so that it can be deployed rapidly when called upon to do so has not been used, and is unlikely to be used, as assumed in the design of the ASF. As noted by De Coning, when the contributing countries plan to engage in a particular peace support operation the lack of political will and consensus between the states will be a critical hindrance to the deployment of the ASF and all other such standby arrangements. For De Coning, agreeing to participate in a standby arrangement is one thing, but agreeing to participate in a specific peace support operation is a separate decision altogether [8. P. 127, 128]. In chapter six it has been underlined that one of the main hindrances to peace support operations in Africa in general and in the selected case studies in particular has to do with deployment politics i.e. lack of political consensus among AU member states over intervention. On the other hand, one of the requirements for successful peace support operations is the degree of political support and consensus that it receives or commands from the mandating authority and AU member states. Scholars fear that the ASF may not be deployed in its originally designed form, hence, hindered by deployment politics and other critical issues (see for example, Beza [4. P. 453], Wambua [11. P. 36], Albuquerque [6. P. 18], De Coning [8. P. 127] and Darkwa [9. P. 472]. Taking lesson from the previous peace support operations that were conducted in different parts of the world, Koops and Varwick [12. P. 23] are pessimistic about the likely deployment of any multi-national brigade especially in its full and originally designed capacity. A senior political analyst at AU (L) underscored that the long-awaited African dream to implement African solutions to African security challenges would be far from reality if AU member states fail to deploy the ASF in its originally designed form[3]. De Coning [8. P. 127] also shares the view of Koops and Varwick and claims that there are no international examples where the preformed standby brigade concept has been used successfully to date. For De Coning standby arrangements such as the UN Standby High-Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) initiative[4], the EU Battle Group concept[5] and the ASF share these same vulnerabilities. De Coning underlines that the SHIRBRIG initiative has already been abandoned, and it is unlikely that the EU Battle Group and the ASF’s standing readiness capacity will be used as envisaged. De Coning’s basic assumption is that each crisis is unique, and it is unlikely that a generic standby capacity can sufficiently match the needs, in terms of both the political coalition and the operational capabilities, posed by the specific challenge. For Darkwa [9. P. 472] despite the clearly articulated structure, including the mandating process of the ASF in relevant documents, the political consensus from member states of AU in general and Regional Economic Communities/Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) in particular is absolutely critical for the deployment of the ASF. Regarding the significance of political consensus, Albuquerque [6. P. 18] emphasizes that since regional standby brigades that comprise the ASF are provided and maintained by RECs and RMs, political support from these brigades is very crucial for the deployment of ASF. In the view of Albuquerque, lessons learned reveal that it remains highly unlikely that a regional standby brigade would be deployed by the AU if the REC in question opposes the mission. In other words, on a practical level, deployment of individual ASF brigades would most likely require political consensus between the AU and the RECs/RMs. According to De Coning [8. P. 127] experiences show that the coming together of states that have political consensus (political interest) is determinant for the deployment of multinational brigades and for the effectiveness of a particular peace support operations, or states that have an interest in being part of that particular mission. For De Coning, countries with varied political position in a given crisis is unlikely to agree to its capabilities being deployed in a high-intensity and high-risk operation, just because they agreed to be part of a regional standby arrangement. In his view, this goes a long way to explaining why the ASF has not yet been utilized in the way envisaged. There is also another closely related difficult scenario that may hinder the likely deployment of ASF in the way it was planned and envisaged. The regional standby brigades are not in fact comprised of stand-by forces, but of troops pledged by member states from their own national armies and which may be engaged elsewhere at any given time. Consequently, pledged troops may not necessarily be available whenever the need arises. This dilemma could be illustrated by the following example. Nigeria is one of the major troops contributing countries to the ECOWAS Standby Force. Given the majority of the Nigerian military is currently engaged in fighting Boko Haram, it is unlikely that Nigeria would be able, or indeed willing, to divert troops to an ECOWAS/ASF mission. Hence, this case in point is an indication that despite troop pledges, ASF troop availability ultimately remains dependent on the national security situation of individual member states and on the political will to divert troops to a particular ASF peace support mission [6. P. 18]. In addition to the above hurdles, as repeatedly highlighted in the previous chapters there is also a clear and obvious concern that in the absence of predictable funding, the AU will not be able to deploy the ASF. If the AU member states are unable to shoulder the financial responsibilities of peace support operations, how will they ever deploy the ambitious ASF within the prescribed timelines? As well stated by Darkwa [9. P. 479] the fact that the ASF enjoys widespread legitimacy but lacks the requisite resources to deploy its multinational brigades in the way envisaged. What we can thus conclude from the foregoing discussion is that the general effort to establish the ASF has contributed significantly to the capacity of the AU and RECs/RMs, however, still the ASF’s potential as a tool for the maintenance of peace and security on the continent depends on various interrelated issues. These include political consensus between AU member states and RECs/RMs and predictable sources of financing. The Continental Early Warning System (CEWS): From Conceptual to Operational? As indicated in the previous sections the Peace and Security Council (PSC) is the AU’s main decision-making body with regard to issues of peace and security. One of the main institutions devoted to assisting the PSC in matters relating to conflict prevention: a theme identified as the main strategic priority in the AU’s APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 document is the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). The following section critically investigates the extent to which the Continental Early Warning System has been successful in achieving its strategic objectives, as well as the degree to which it is able to contribute to the work of the PSC. The CEWS is established as one of the key supporting structure of the AUPSC within Article 12 of the PSC Protocol. The Chair of the Commission of the AU is supposed to use information gathered by the system to advise the PSC on potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in Africa and to recommend the best course of action. The system collects data from a variety of open and privileged sources, including independent media, the AU’s Liaison Offices and Field Missions located in crisis countries, and, to an increasing degree, from the sub-regional organizations. The CEWS is also expected to collaborate with the United Nations and its agencies along with other relevant institutions, such as international organizations, research centers, academic bodies, and NGOs in order to gather information. This information would be sent to the Chairperson of the Commission, who uses the data to advise the PSC about potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in the continent. Based on the early warning module’s indicators, this information is used by the Chairperson of the Commission, alongside with the PSC, to determine the best course of action (PSC Protocol, Art. 12) [1]. It is important to note that Early Warning System is not limited to continental level; there are also Early Warning Systems that are established at regional levels. The Continental Early Warning system (CEWS) at Union level, regional early warning systems of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD: CEWARN), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS: ECOWARN), the East African Community (EAC: EACWARN), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA: COMWARN), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS: MARAC). The Southern African Development Community (SADC) early warning system is intelligence based. This indicates that the early warning systems have been established to provide decision makers at continental level (PSC, the Chairperson, Commissioner and Director of Peace and Security) and at regional level with timely information, analysis and response options [13. P. 15]. The Continental Early Warning System in Action: Fair Progress but Gaps Remain Though the fact that there are criticisms from scholars, the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) at the African Union (AU) and Early Warning Systems at the regional level have recently made significant progress in their capacity to monitor, analyze, and provide warning of impending conflict situations in Africa (Franke and Gänzle [14. P. 3], Williams [15. P. 9], AU Commission [13. P. 15], Berhe and de Waal [16. P. 17], Odote [17. P. 151], de Albuquerque [6. P. 13]. The CEWS and RECs have made considerable progress in terms of putting the necessary infrastructure, methodology and systems in place. Williams [15. P. 9] observes that with assistance from the UN’s situation center in New York and external donors, the essential ingredients of the CEWS are falling into place. The above observation is re-affirmed by the 2015 APSA impact report that the CEWS is technically functional. The situation room has software programmes granting access to a range of sources of information at its disposal. The report stated that the system provides the following products: regular distribution of information such as daily news highlights i.e. twice daily news clipping service; daily reports i.e. five days a week, weekly wrap-up i.e. one day a week and SMS alert service. Moreover, the system is also providing analysis of and recommendations on countries and their current conflict situations such as flash reports: short information on concrete conflict situations, SMS alerts on current conflicts: need-dependent, only for AUC, PSC and PoW, situation update reports: conflict analysis including policy recommendations (classified due to their political sensitivity), early warning reports: timely information on potential crises/ violent conflicts (part of the situation updates) [13. P. 18-19]. As noted by Williams [15. P. 9] due to the significant support from external actors now the AU’s situation room is providing continent-wide coverage of conflict dynamics as well as producing a range of reporting mechanisms, including daily news summaries and more substantial updates on emerging issues. CEWS continuously monitors and gathers information through its Situation Room, producing various reports, including early warning reports, situation updates, flash reports and weekly updates. The CEWS is making efforts to enhance coordination with AUC Peace and Security Department (AU PSD) Divisions and programmes [13. P. 15]. Berhe and de Waal [16. P. 17] share the report of the AU Commission and note that the AU PSD has conflict analyst staffs that routinely produce analysis of impending and actual conflicts. Compared to the previous times, now they have a good record of strong analysis. An expert at AU CEWS (J) stresses that the several and relevant early warning signals has been provided for the decision-making organs (AU PSC). The expert noted that it is the responsibility of the decision-making body to respond to these early warning signals[6]. There are promising reports from the AU Commission that CEWS and the RECs/RMs are in constant communication through other means, including the CEWS online portal. The report indicated that progress has also been made in the RECs/RMs-to-RECs/RMs cooperation, particularly between CEWARN, EACWARN and COMWARN. It is also encouraging that the EWS of the Union and the RECs/RMs have developed methodological systems of monitoring to help establish a baseline for conflict analysis. The level of harmonization and coordination between the AU and RECs/RMs has made good progress and expected to be maintained and strengthened. As the regional early warning systems are also helpful the individual EWS of most RECs/RMs have made major advances [13. P. 15]. Despite the significant progress of CEWS outlined above, the study revealed the following persisting gaps and hurdles. There is uneven development of regional early warning systems: some of them are progressing well while some others are lagging behind, thus limiting the system’s ability to obtain information related to key conflict variables across the continent [18. P. 12], Wondemagegnehu [19. P. 45], Williams [15. P. 9], Brett [20. P. 10], AU Commission [13. P. 16], Aniche and Egbuchulam [21. P. 11], de Albuquerque [6. P. 13], Arthur [20. P. 13] and Engel [21. P. 122]. The scholars underlined that the various RECs are at different levels of progress in terms of implementing their early warning and conflict analysis mechanisms. For the above scholars such unequal progress is a great concern as the regional early warning systems are considered as the building block mechanisms for the overall continental effort of AU. If all RECs with early warning systems are not connected with CEWS through real time data links, the CEWS analysts are expected to apply extra resources to collect and analyze data so that decision-makers are adequately informed. This indicates that due to the slow and uneven development of some regional early warning systems, their offices are not delivering reports of sufficient quality and timeliness. As noted earlier the regional early warning systems are expected to be an important source of data for CEWS. In other words, their slow progress would be a constraint for AU’s conflict prevention and early response. The other and perhaps more importantly, there is a disconnect between early warning and early response. Bridging the gap between early warning and early response remains a major challenge. Affa’a-Mindzie [24. P. 7] noted that moving from early warning to a response that concretely prevents conflict that is, making a situation on the ground inspire action is particularly difficult in the context of limited human and material resources. There are reports that CEWS staffs claim that they gave an early warning about the likely outbreak of conflict and possible humanitarian crisis in different countries at different times, but that the political organs of RECs/RMs and PSC of AU nevertheless decided not to take any preventative action based on this information. The reason for failing to act in these cases was allegedly related to a lack of political will to intervene in the internal matters of member states and the PSC’s preference for reaching decisions by consensus (Affa’a-Mindzie [24. P. 7], AU Commission [13. P. 16], de Albuquerque [6. P. 13] and Aniche [21. P. 11]. It is important to remind that the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at its 601st meeting held on 30 May 2016, has also acknowledged the persistent gap between early warning and early response and reaffirmed its commitment to ensure effective implementation of its decisions on conflict prevention, including the strengthening of the linkage between early warning and early response[7]. Berhe and de Waal [16. P. 17] also state that while the office of CEWS has a good record of strong analysis, the challenge is translating their analysis into action. They emphasize that the CEWS staffs have presented good early analysis of the deepening crisis of different countries, however, this early warning was not utilized by the decision-making organs mainly (AU PSC). This indicates that there is a lack of closer organic link between analysis and policy action. In other words, the conflicts analysis and early warning to be channeled to the political decision-making organs is missing. At its most basic, one of the fundamental stages to any good early warning system is making good analysis of the gathered information/raw data. However, it should be noted that good analysis needs to be acted on: which is where the PSC comes in. A major part of the CEWS’s mandate is to advise the PSC, on potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in Africa. As reports clearly indicated the quality of communication between the CEWS and the PSC is poor, meaning that the PSC does not sufficiently act on the information it is given [25]. Noyes and Yarwood [26. P. 256] rightly articulated that no matter how technically robust the AU’s early warning system, limited capacity and the political nature of the early response side of the AU’s Peace and Security Architecture is likely to continue to constrain the rapid deployment of effective conflict prevention initiatives in the future. What is ultimately lacking appears not to be the early warning signals and information needed to identify emerging conflicts and crisis, although this is certainly a secondary issue, but rather early response (political will) to act on such information [6. P. 14]. One of the critical areas that the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 aims to tackle is the issue of weak linkage between early warning and early response by decision-makers. The 2015 APSA assessment report identified that the early warning-early response gap was taken as a major problem and the report recommended that this challenge to be vigorously addressed and taken into consideration by the 2016-2020 APSA Roadmap [13. P. 16]. With regard to early response, Anning [18. P. 13] maintains that across Africa response capacities to early warning signals are at best weak, non-existent or subjected to political tinkering. Wulf and Debie [27. P. 526] also underscore that the link between early warning and early response remains weak. Early response is often lacking, despite clear warning signals. The current humanitarian crisis in Darfur, for example, was not acted on in a timely fashion, but not because of a lack of information on the emergence of the conflict. For Wulf and Debie all the indications of a major conflict were known. In the view of researcher (P) in many of cases what is missing is the early response mechanism to the early warning signals[8]. In addition to the above gaps, Scholarly and internal AU reports have commented CEWS for its insufficient coordination and Information-sharing with the early warning arrangements of the RECs/RMs. Evidences show that the channels of communication between CEWS, the early warning efforts of the RECs, and within the AU peace and security architecture are piecemeal, frequently based on uncoordinated ways, and yet to be effectively institutionalized in a systematic manner [20. P. 10; 26. P. 255]. The 2015 APSA impact report has also pointed that the connectivity between the CEWS and the EWS of the RECs is very low. The report has recommended such low connectivity to be vigorously addressed by the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 [13. P. 16]. All in all, The AU’s continent-wide conflict early warning system (CEWS) has made considerable progress in the past several years regarding its capacity to monitor, collect and analyze information from a variety of sources, and provide warning of imminent and escalating conflict situations in Africa. Despite progress, CEWS continues to suffer from the variation of levels of operationalization of various EWS at the level of the RECs/RMs. As noted earlier the APSA Roadmap points to the need to address the varying levels of functionality of the regional early warning systems. Furthermore, early response mechanisms continue to be constrained by low capacity and a debilitating lack of political will. As highlighted earlier, early response to early warning systems is the most important part of the APSA for the realization of the “African solutions to African problems” mantra. Finally, it is highlighted that the channels of communication and Information-sharing between the CEWS and EWS of the RECs/RMs is insufficient. The Panel of the Wise: Preventive Diplomacy or Mediatory Role? One of the main institutions devoted to assist the AU PSC and the AU Chairperson of the Commission on matters relating to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability on the continent is the Panel of the Wise (PoW). The Panel was established under Article 11 of the AU PSC Protocol. As per Article 11 (1) [1], the Panel is expected to add value and support the efforts of AU (PSC and Chairperson of the Commission), particularly in the area of conflict prevention. The Panel is composed of five highly respected African personalities from various segments of society who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of peace, security and development on the continent. The selection of members is based on regional representation and is the responsibility of the Chairperson of the Commission, after consultation with the Member States concerned. Members of the Panel are appointed by the Assembly to serve for a period of three years (AU PSC Protocol, 2002: Art.11 (1and 2) [1]. Members may be re-elected for a second term. The modalities for their appointment specify that Members of the Panel cannot hold active political office in their various countries[9]. There is an assumption that this clause would give them the autonomy to carry out their mandate in a free and fair manner. Members of the Panel can also freely interact with whomever they so wish to in the discharge of their duties. The idea of something along the lines of the panel was conceived during the era of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), but it never materialized. However, in the late years of the OAU, the concept was subsequently embraced when the OAU established the Council of the Wise as part of the Central Organ of its Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, the precursor to the current Panel. The PSC Protocol also recommends the establishment of similar structures of the Panel of the Wise in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs/RMs) [1]. It is believed that drawing on Africa’s rich tradition of bestowing peacemaking efforts on the elders because of their wisdom, the Panel of the Wise was established by AU as one of the key pillars of its peace and security architecture [28. P. 53]. Indigenous wisdoms from different settings in Africa are cited as a window of insight and corroborated with practices which vest wisdom for conflict prevention and resolution in the elderly and, in more recent times, on distinguished African personalities. In most parts of indigenous Africa, the concept of the wise is embodied in the belief that holds the elderly as custodians of wisdom for conflict prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes. It is indicated that in introducing the Panel into the AU peace and security architecture, the African leadership is guided by the African world view on the concept of the wise. Most importantly, it is guided by the thought that distinguished and respected African personalities can be engaged in proffering solutions to African problems relating to peace and security. Hence, the creation of the Panel is consistent with the African concept of the wise and reflects the long-held notion of an “African solution to African problems” [29. P. 411-416]. There is a common misapprehension about the mandate and responsibility of the Panel taking it as a mediating body. The main role of the Panel is instead to bring emerging issues relating to conflict prevention to the attention of the PSC [6. P. 11]. Hence, it is important to reiterate the PSC Protocol’s clear enumeration of the panel’s advisory role as well as its more operational role, which relates very specifically to matters of conflict prevention and not mediation in strict sense. The 2007 panel modalities reiterate, in line with the provisions of the PSC Protocol, its primary occupation to be that of advising the PSC and the chairperson of the AU Commission [30. P. 184]. Its mandate clearly states that it does not have a mediation role, but it can assist and advise mediation teams engaged in formal negotiations[10]. The following section critically explores the extent to which the Panel has been successful in achieving its strategic objectives, as well as the degree to which the Panel is able to contribute to the work of the PSC. Conclusion This study has looked critically at the extent to which the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) support structures (such as the African Standby Force, the Continental Early Warning System, Panel of the Wise and the Peace Fund have been successful in achieving their institutional objectives, as well as the degree to which they are able to contribute to the work of the AU PSC. In the second part of an article The Panel of the Wise and The AU Peace Fund will be analyzed, with some cases and comparative analysis and the final conclusions will be done.

About the authors

Bewuketu Dires Gardachew

Bahir Dar University

PhD Candidate at the Department of Political Science and International Studies 79, Bahir Dar, Amhara, Ethiopia


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