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The AU and its toxic phenomena of unconstitutional government changes

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Picture: Stock image – The situation in the Sahel continues to point to the need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to prevent its current potential to connect with the challenges in the Lake Chad region and/or expand into West Africa, writes the author.

By Moussa Faki Mahamat

Let me welcome you all to this meeting of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) on “Financing AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) convened at the Ministerial level. Having this meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly signifies the urgency and critical importance for us to make a bold statement and call on the UN Security Council that the time for this long standing issue of financing AU PSOs to be addressed is now, not tomorrow.

We cannot wait any longer for logistics and financial support to AU PSOs to be predictable, adequate and sustainable, using UN assessed contributions to enable robust actions to address the current complex, transnational and regional security challenges on our continent.

This meeting is convened at a time when the need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to address the complex challenges in the Sahel is urgent. It is also at a time when the gains made in Somalia, Mozambique, and in the Lake Chad Basin need to be consolidated and sustained, as well as when we need to ensure that the guns remain silent in Ethiopia and pathways to address the crisis in Libya and Sudan are created.

It is, therefore, crucial that as this meeting considers the potential gaps that may be created as and when some UN Peace Operations are liquidated.

It should also urge the UN Security Council to take bold and concrete action on the use of UN Assessed Contribution to support AU-led PSOs. It is urgent that AU PSOs become robust enough to confront current widespread asymmetric threats.

It is important to outline that our request is entirely consistent with Chapter 8 of the UN Charter and is a contribution to the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

For instance, as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is facilitating its withdrawal, we saw twin attacks on a Malian military base and a passenger boat on the Niger river in northern Mali. The situation in the Sahel continues to point to the need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to prevent its current potential to connect with the challenges in the Lake Chad region and/or expand into West Africa.

In this regard, it is important that this meeting provides clear direction regarding the use of UN Assessed Contributions for AU-led PSOs to prevent the huge security threats on the continent. Today, we are facing the extreme gravity of the development of the toxic phenomena of non-constitutional changes of government. Seven countries are affected, and the potential of contagion exists. A new alliance of non-constitutional change of governments has been proclaimed. It presents a new dimension which we must also take into account in our new strategy.

As we continue our efforts in addressing this growing challenge of insecurity on the continent, we also do not lose sight of our commitments regarding continuous enhancement of human rights compliance as an iterative process and the revitalisation of the Peace Fund to achieve the AU’s goal to finance and own its peace and security priorities. It is in the same light that the AU has achieved (most of) the required milestones contained in UN Security Council resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 towards enabling the use of UN Assessed Contributions to support AU led PSOs.

As a demonstration of the AU’s commitment to burden-sharing, I approved $2 million each from the Peace Fund’s Crisis Reserve Facility (CRF) to bridge the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) funding gap and support operations of the East African Community (EAC) Regional Force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) respectively.

$1 million is also available for support to the Ethiopia and Sudan peace processes, with approval by the Executive Council for the increase of the 2023 allocation from $5 million to $7 million, with $10 million already approved for 2024.

Additionally, the AU also continues to increase its logistics support to AU-Led PSOs, including equipment donations from the Continental Logistics Base in Douala, Cameroon, to the AU Transition Mission in Somalia, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram Terrorist Group, the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), G-5 Sahel countries is a laudable milestone. These steps are necessary to enhance AU’s ownership of its peace and security priorities and to enable peace enforcement operations that are less costly and more effective in addressing current asymmetric threats that UN peacekeeping operations are not able to undertake.

It is in light of the above, and to complement the AU’s efforts, that the 36th Assembly of the Union adopted the Consensus Paper on Predictable, Adequate and Sustainable Financing for AU Peace and Security Activities” which reiterates the AU’s calls for the use of UN Assessed Contributions, through the proposed three models of funding:

UN Assessed Contribution for the Hybrid Mission Model, which will promote and further enhance the AU-UN partnership building on previous experiences, such as the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and also taking note of the experiences of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the DRC.

UN Assessed Contributions through an Enhanced UN Support Office Model, which is a preferred financing option for the provision of UN Logistics Support Package (LSP) financed through UN Assessed Contributions, building from the experience in Somalia since 2009 to support African Union Mission in Somalia (now ATMIS). This model has the benefit of clear accountability for the management of United Nations resources, with coordination at all levels to ensure the overall coherence and coordination of the support.

UN Assessed Contribution in Support of Sub-Regional Peace Support Operations, is also critical for the provision of much-needed non-lethal logistics support to enhance the effectiveness and mandate delivery of operations like MNJTF, G-5 Sahel and SAMIM for instance, that requires more robust responses to stabilise conflict situations and prevent further escalations.

Within this context, the AU Commission is ready to support the PSC and the A3 in developing a draft UN Security Council resolution and officially commence negotiations towards generating common understanding, consensus and possible agreed text that should be tabled for consideration by the UN Security Council by December 2023. As a result, your decision on this pertinent issue will be critical towards our achievement of such a UN Security Council resolution that will be instructive and guide the negotiations, including on the planning, oversight, reporting and accountability modalities and mechanisms through which predictable, adequate and sustainable funding and resources for AU-Led PSOs will be achieved.

The AU is ready to work with the members of the UN Security Council.

*Moussa Faki Mahamat is chairperson of the African Union Commission. (This is an edited version of Mahamat’s statement to the United Nations Peace and Security Council Meeting).