Open Debate on Silencing the Guns in Africa
Expected Council Action
In February, under the agenda item “Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organizations”, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the AU initiative on Silencing the Guns in Africa. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea is expected to chair the meeting. Secretary-General António Guterres and Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat are expected to brief. Equatorial Guinea intends to present a draft resolution endorsing the AU initiative, to be adopted during the debate.
According to Equatorial Guinea’s concept note, it aims for the high-level open debate to discuss the challenges of creating a conflict-free Africa through eliminating all wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts, and preventing genocide, as well as how the UN-AU partnership can make tangible progress in this regard.
The AU Heads of State and Government adopted the programme for silencing the guns by 2020 as part of the May 2013 Solemn Declaration marking the AU’s 50th anniversary. Since the declaration’s adoption, the AU has periodically held meetings and workshops on progress. It has also adopted the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns to address implementation. In July 2018, the Council and the AU Peace and Security Council held their third annual informal meeting and discussed how reinforced cooperation could assist in ending conflict.
In its concept note for the open debate, Equatorial Guinea blames continued challenges on governance deficits, the global economic slowdown, commodity prices, high rates of unemployment, mismanagement of ethnic diversity, and competition over power and resources. Equatorial Guinea also attributes the increased risk of relapse in post-conflict countries to weak state institutions.
Equatorial Guinea stresses the importance of establishing ownership of the master roadmap by affected member states through active participation and addressing root causes of conflict. The concept note also says that the AU members need to strengthen all existing preventive diplomacy tools and fully implement the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). It seeks better cooperation at the sub-regional, continental and international level, and urges the Council to mobilise the necessary support.
Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia, as well as South Africa and the AU, held an Arria-formula meeting in October 2018 on silencing the guns. During this meeting, the Permanent Observer of the AU noted that despite great strides in mediation and prevention tools, much remained to be strengthened: coordination and harmonisation of various policies of the AU; systematic involvement of all relevant local, national, regional, and international stakeholders; addressing root causes; and mobilisation of necessary funds.
Council members who spoke at the Arria-formula meeting all welcomed the opportunity for greater cooperation and coordination between the AU and UN, while some stressed the need to support African solutions for African problems. Some called for sustainable and predictable financing for AU operations. Several speakers noted the detrimental impact of small arms and light weapons trafficking and are likely to reiterate during the open debate their desire for common efforts to fight trafficking. Other possible topics may be the need for inclusion, especially of women, in conflict prevention and how some believe the mismanagement and exploitation of natural resources leads to and sustains conflict.
At the October 2018 Arria-formula meeting, Côte d’Ivoire announced that it would present a draft resolution on silencing the guns during Equatorial Guinea’s presidency in February. This idea was supported in statements by other speakers, including Kuwait and incoming member Germany, and may be an outcome option. Negotiations might be difficult, however, because of differences in positions on issues such as financing of AU proposals, inclusion of language related to women’s involvement in peace processes, and the role of the Council in supporting an AU initiative.