The month of May has been a busy and important month for the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), with consideration given to emerging and sustained conflicts on the continent, which tests the efficacy of the Council.
South Africa was afforded the honour and responsibility of chairing the Council, putting South Africa in the driving seat in attempts to resolve these pertinent concerns. In line with the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the chairpersonship is held in turn by the Members of the Council with each member chairing for a period of one month.
The PSC was established as the standing decision-making organ of the African Union (AU) for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, which is intended to be a “collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa”.
During the month of May there was a positive evolution in the post election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire with the swearing in of President Alassane Ouattara, a situation that South Africa has been actively engaged with through bilateral engagements and as a member of the African Union High Level Panel for the Resolution of the Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.
The South African Chairmanship had to navigate two critical engagements with African Union partners, through the annual joint consultations with the European Union Political and Security Committee (EUPSC), and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). These meetings provided an opportunity to the AUPSC to articulate its positions on the situations in Libya, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan and consider ways and means of strengthening the engagements of the AUPSC with these bodies.
By far the most contentious issue, however, was the crisis in Libya, which dominated the engagements with the EUPSC and UNSC. Under the stewardship of Ambassador Lungile Christian Pepani, the Council deliberated on the developments in Libya as well as other issues with diligence and due attention ensuring that the focus remained on the leadership of Africa in finding a peaceful solution to the crises in line with the AU Roadmap.
The Roadmap is the central pillar of Africa’s efforts to find a solution to the crisis in Libya, which called for (a) immediate cessation of hostilities; (b) facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian assistance; (c) protection of foreign and African immigrants; (d) the establishment and management of an inclusive transitional period, and (e) the adoption and implementation of political reforms to meet the aspiration of the Libyan people for democracy, justice, peace and security.
In its consultations with the United Nations Security Council, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, much common ground was established between the two Councils, and there were deep substantial debates on most of the issues under consideration apart from the conflicting views on Libya, which focused around the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1973 (2011). Nevertheless, it was clear that Brazil, Russia, and India were strongly supportive of the AU views, resulting in their abstention during the voting on the Resolution. Much work still needs to be done in line with South Africa’s broader policy to bring these two bodies into closer cooperation, with Africa taking ownership on African issues.
The PSC also considered the situation in the Sudan, with particular emphasis on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The meeting reiterated its support to the leaders of the Sudan and Southern Sudan to work together towards the establishment of two viable states following the independence of Southern Sudan on 9 July 2011. The Council considered the outstanding issues relating to the implementation of the CPA, including the elections in Southern Kordofan, popular consultations in Blue Nile, the finalisation of the border demarcation and most importantly the unresolved impasse in Abyei.
The Council held an open session with wider participation by Member States of the African Union which evaluated the efforts of the African Union Commission in developing guidelines for the protection of civilians.
The AUPSC now moves forward in its efforts to deal with the issue of peace and security on the continent, with continued vigour and resolve having been led by South Africa during a critical month. The South African chairmanship culminated in much praise from the members of the Permanent Representative Council, building on the credibility of the country’s efforts and sincerity in resolving these fundamental concerns plaguing the continent.
Clayson Monyela (Spokesperson for DIRCO)
Cell: 082 884 5974
Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation
8 Jun 2011