How Tanzania faired as African Union Peace and Security Council Chair

THROUGHOUT the March this year the United Republic of Tanzania will held the Chairmanship of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC), and accomplished a lot in that role.

PSC is the standing decision-making organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It is a collective security and early warning arrangement intended to facilitate timely and efficient responses to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.

It is also the key pillar of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the framework for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa.

The Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council was adopted on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, and entered into force in December 2003. The PSC became fully operational in early 2004. The PSC Protocol, together with the PSC Rules of Procedure, the AU Constitutive Act and the conclusions of various PSC retreats, provide operational guidance to PSC activities.

Programme of the Council during the said month will included a number of items that were geared towards the promotion of peace and security in Africa, with a focus on conflict prevention, enhancing the capacity of the Council to undertake its mandate and proactive engagement on questions that the Council is seized with.

Tanzania Ambassador to Ethiopia and the Permanent Representative to the AU and Chairman of the PSC for the month of March, Mr Innocent Shiyo, says on third March 2023, the Council held a meeting at ministerial level to receive a briefing by the Panel of the Wise on its activities in Africa.

“This was the first briefing of the 5th Panel of the Wise to the Council and offered a unique opportunity for engagement between the PSC and the Panel of the Wise focussed on early warning and enhancing the role of the Panel.

“On 7th March 2023, the Council held a session at Ambassadorial level to consider the situation in Somalia and the operations of ATMIS. This meeting highlighted the gains made in the efforts to restore stability in Somalia, and reemphasized the need for redoubled effort on the way forward in implementing the Somali Transition Plan,” says Ambassador Shiyo.

As March serves as International Women’s Month, on 14th March 2023, the Council held an Open Session on Women, Peace and Security in Africa. In line with the theme of the Year of the African Union, the focus during this session was on integrating the women, peace and security agenda in the implementation of the AfCFTA, a focus on women in cross-border trade in conflict and post-conflict situations.

From 20th to 23rd March 2023, the Council will undertake a Field Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This will serve as an opportunity to express solidarity with the People and Government of the DRC as well as to follow up and get updates on previous Council decisions, including following the PSC meeting held on 17th February 2023 at Heads of State and Government level.

On 31st March 2023, the Council held a session to receive an Updated briefing on the situation in Mozambique and Operations of the SAMIM and will consider the outcomes of the Field Mission to the DRC.

The month witnessed key activities by the subsidiary bodies of the PSC. On 11th and 12th March 2023, the Committee of Experts of the PSC of the AU took part in a reflection session aimed at finalizing the Africa Governance Report 2023.

The report which focuses on Unconstitutional Changes of Government will doubtlessly present timely recommendations on the question of UCGs owing to their resurgence in recent years.

Additionally, on 15th to 18th March 2023, the Military Staff Committee of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union undertook an induction workshop focused on enhancing the advisory role of the Committee to the Council.

Discharging Tanzania chairmanship role in the said month, and addressing the 1,144th virtual meeting: Open Session on Women, Peace and Security on 14th March. Ambassador Shiyo said it was with great honour that his country, Tanzania was presiding over the session on that particular important agenda in the month that the world was marking the International Women’s Day.

“I, therefore, take the occasion to convey warm greetings from Her Excellency Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania to all women on commemoration of this year International Women’s Day. Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan also wishes this meeting fruitful deliberation,” he remarked.

On the same note, he commended the African Union Commission for advancing the agenda of Women, Peace and Security. In particular, he saluted Madam Bineta Diop, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Women, Peace and Security for her work since assuming office.

Similarly, he thanked and commended the distinguished partners and stakeholders who joined the meeting on that day for their continued support.

“As you are all certainly aware, the African Union Peace and Security Council is seized with a standing thematic Agenda on Women, Peace and Security. Indeed, it was in 2010 that the PSC took a decision to have women, peace and security theme as its standing thematic agenda. In this respect, I am sure you will agree with me that for all these years, the consideration of this agenda item mainly and understandably so, centred on two dimensions,” he said.

The first and key dimension concerns the question of protection. That is premised on the recognition of the gendered nature of conflicts and its impact on women and girls.

The second dimension relates to the place of women in peace processes. That is the concern about women’s participation and leadership role in decision-making on peace and security and in peace processes.

“In this respect, while these two dimensions remain relevant, it was decided that the consideration of this agenda item this year focuses on ‘Integrating Women Peace and Security Agenda in the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area with a focus on Women in Cross-Border Trade in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations’,” he said.

Not only this decision is in line with African Union’s 2023 Theme of the Year on ‘Accelerating Implementation of AfCFTA Agreement’, but it is also based on the ground that women play key role in promoting trade as well as socio-economic development of our continent.

“Indeed, statistics show that women comprise 70 per cent of informal cross-border traders and contribute up to 60 per cent of the GDP of many of our countries. In this respect, is our earnest hope that our deliberations today will serve to highlight the challenges women face while seeking to fulfil their socio-economic needs in cross border trade, especially those in conflict and post conflict situations.

“It is also our desire that these deliberations will identify action points and pathways that are critical to addressing the peace and security related challenges that women undertaking cross border trade are confronted with,” he said.

More broadly, Ambassador Shiyo said, it was his hope that their reflections on the agenda would also contribute to the ongoing deliberations of the AfCFTA in development of the Protocol on Women and Youth which aims to put in place a framework for effective participation of women in trade under AfCFTA.

“Indeed, it is imperative that this Protocol take into account measures that address security challenges limiting the participation of Women in trade. In this respect, I would like to seize the occasion to reiterate the commitment of Her Excellency Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Champion of Women and Youth in Trade under AfCFTA in advancing the agenda on women in trade on the continent,” it was his remark.

As for intervention during the PSC meeting to consider and adopt the report of the PSC field mission to DRC, Ambassador Shiyo said that as witnessed during a field visit, especially when they travelled to Goma, the situation in the Eastern DRC remains a matter of serious concern.

“The situation presents a risk to peace and security in the region due to the activities perpetrated by the negative forces, especially M23, FDLR, ADF, CODECO, RED Tabara and other militia groups. Indeed, these terrorist and armed groups have continued to inflict unspeakable suffering to innocent people. Therefore, this Council’s continued leadership on this matter remains critical,” said the diplomat.

The Council called for the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo; expressed its concern over the continued reports of deteriorating situation in the Eastern DRC and continued fighting despite the ceasefire agreement and condemned in the strongest possible terms attacks carried out by the armed groups, including M23, FDLR, ADF, CODECO, RED Tabara and other militia groups, on civilians, DRC Armed Forces and MONUSCO and

It called upon all Congolese and foreign armed groups to unconditionally lay down their arms, disarm and withdraw from their occupied territories; encouraged the countries of the region to embrace the spirit of good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation and called for the seizing of all external support to M23 and other armed groups.

It underscored the importance of all local armed actors to support and join the Nairobi dialogue processes; reiterated its endorsement of the Luanda and Nairobi processes and encourage close coordination and harmonisation of efforts to maximize resources and ensure effective and timely implementation of commitments.

The Council also expressed support to the EAC Regional Forces; commend troops contributing countries; and welcome the engagement between the AUC and the East African Community on the funding of the EAC Regional Force through the Peace Fund, as directed by the 1140th PSC Communique.

On 31st March, during closure of the 1,145th session, being the last day of his chairmanship as the month came to an end, Ambassador Shiyo thanked his colleagues, permanent representatives of the PSC member states for their indulgence and cooperation, notably considering the unforeseeable situation.

“My special thanks go to His Excellency Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Burundi for agreeing to lead the Council on the Field Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to appreciate his leadership during the field visit but also during our meeting.

“ I thank you so much my dear brother. We highly appreciate this gesture of friendship and cooperation. In this connection, I cannot fail also to express my appreciation to all the Permanent Representatives of this Council for the support and cooperation you extended to His Excellency Ambassador Nyamwite, as stand-in Chair of this august body, during my absence,” he remarked.

The powers of the PSC, in conjunction with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, include to anticipate and prevent disputes and conflicts, as well as policies, which may lead to genocide and crimes against humanity and undertake peace-making and peace building functions to resolve conflicts where they have occurred.

PSC also has powers to authorise the mounting and deployment of peace support missions, and lay down general guidelines for the conduct of such missions including the mandate.

It recommends to the Assembly, pursuant to article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act, intervention, on behalf of the Union, in a Member State in respect of grave circumstances, namely, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity as defined in relevant international instruments.

The Council has powers to institute sanctions whenever an unconstitutional change of government takes place in a member state, implement the AU’s common defence policy, ensure implementation of key conventions and instruments to combat international terrorism.

It is under its mandate as well to promote harmonisation and coordination of efforts between the regional mechanisms and the AU in the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa.

It makes follow-up promotion of democratic practices, good governance, the rule of law, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respect for the sanctity of human life and international humanitarian law.

It has powers to promote and encourage the implementation of conventions and treaties on arms control and disarmament, examine and take action in situations where the national independence and sovereignty of a member state is threatened by acts of aggression, including by mercenaries, supports and facilitates humanitarian action in situations of armed conflicts or major natural disasters.

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