May 2024 Monthly Forecast


The Role of African States in Global Security and Development Challenges

Expected Council Action

Mozambique will convene a debate on strengthening the role of African states in addressing global security and development challenges as a signature event of its May Council presidency.

Background and Key Recent Developments

For many years, African states have underscored that they are working to address peace and security challenges on their continent through “African solutions to African problems”. On the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity—the AU’s predecessor—in May 2013, African leaders committed themselves to ending violent conflicts in Africa by “silencing the guns” by 2023. This initiative has driven the AU’s efforts to promote peace and security on the continent, but the timeline has now been extended to 2030. In February 2019, the Security Council adopted resolution 2457, endorsing the AU’s “silencing the guns” initiative and expressing its readiness to support these efforts.

The Secretary-General has been updating the Council on the UN’s support for “silencing the guns” as part of his annual report on strengthening the partnership between the UN and the AU on issues of peace and security in Africa, including the work of the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU).

In March 2023, Mozambique convened an open debate in the Council on the impact of development policies in the implementation of the “silencing the guns” initiative. Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Africa Cristina Duarte, AU High Representative for the Silencing the Guns Initiative Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique Mirko Manzoni briefed. (For background, see our What’s in Blue story of 29 March 2023.)

The African peace and security architecture established by the AU in 2002 has been instrumental in responding to conflicts and crises in Africa. The AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), officially launched in 2004, is at the core of this architecture, with a mandate to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts on the continent. The AUPSC marks its 20th anniversary this year, and a colloquium is expected to be held in Addis Ababa on 25 May to take stock of its success and challenges over the past two decades.

In recent years, the peace and security of several African states has been complicated by governance challenges and socioeconomic difficulties. The resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government is testing the principles and values underpinning the African peace and security architecture. Terrorism and other transnational security threats are also posing serious challenges to security and stability in several parts of the continent. Additionally, the peace and security situation in Africa has been further complicated by geopolitical rivalry among major and emerging powers vying for influence on the continent.

Following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, African states tried to draw attention to its economic impact on Africa, particularly regarding access to grain and fertiliser, and how it exacerbated food insecurity across the continent. Former AU Chairperson and President of Senegal Macky Sall visited Russia, accompanied by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, in June 2022 to discuss the situation with President Vladimir Putin. Several African leaders also visited Ukraine and Russia in June 2023, presenting a ten-point peace plan to the leadership of the two countries. It seems the plan did not get much traction.

The AU became the second regional bloc after the EU to secure a permanent seat within the G20 group of major and emerging economies working to address global economic issues and challenges. South Africa remains the only African state member of the group, while other African states and the AU participated in past G20 summits as guests. The Indian presidency of the G20 proposed to make the AU a full member of the group in June 2023; that proposal was endorsed by the G20 summit in New Delhi on 9 September 2023. This decision was welcomed as a milestone for Africa in enhancing its representation and voice on the international stage. The G20 declaration recognised Africa’s important role in the global economy and expressed support for the realisation of the aspirations under Agenda 2063—the AU’s blueprint for Africa’s economic transformation. In February, the AU adopted a decision on the modalities of its participation in the G20 and the priorities it will pursue at the G20 summit to be held in November in Brazil, principally social inclusion, the fight against hunger and poverty, the energy transition, the promotion of sustainable development, and the reform of global governance institutions.

In January, two African states, Egypt and Ethiopia, joined the BRICS, a group of emerging economies established in 2006 to counter the geopolitical and economic dominance of the G7 group of wealthier, advanced nations. The decision to invite these two African states was made at the BRICS summit in South Africa in August 2023 as part of efforts to expand the group’s membership to other developing and emerging economies. Until January, South Africa was the only African member; it joined the group in 2010.

Regarding the UN Summit of the Future to be held in September, the AU has submitted its inputs to the draft Pact for the Future—an outcome document to be adopted at the summit, which is being negotiated by UN member states. The AU has outlined several priorities for the reform of the multilateral system, among other things reiterating Africa’s long-standing quest for two permanent and five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council as encapsulated in the Ezilwini Consensus—the common African position on Security Council reform. The AU underscores the need for a robust counter-terrorism approach that requires a new peace operations doctrine focused on peace enforcement. It also calls for adequate, flexible, predictable, and sustainable financing of continental and regional peace operations through access to the UN-assessed contributions, and welcomes the adoption of resolution 2719 of 21 December 2023 on the financing of AU-led peace support operations.

The AU further highlights the need to implement the peace, security, and development nexus to address the structural and institutional deficiencies faced by several African states. Additionally, it underscores the need for reform of the global financial architecture and calls for a just climate change agenda that meets Africa’s needs for climate financing, capacity-building, and technology transfer to mitigate the impact of climate change and promote sustainable development.

In January, Uganda assumed the chairmanship for 2024 to 2027 of the Non-Aligned Movement, a forum of 120 countries that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. Uganda also took over the 2024 chairmanship of the Group of Seventy-Seven and China (G77+China), a coalition of developing countries promoting the collective economic interests of its members and enhancing their joint negotiating capacity at the UN.

Key Issues and Options

A key issue at the May debate will be how to support African states in enhancing their role in addressing global security and development challenges.

The adoption of resolution 2719, spearheaded by the A3, is considered a landmark achievement that will shape the future of UN-AU cooperation and partnership. Its implementation will be another key issue, with discussions on test cases to be considered by the Council under resolution 2719 likely to pick up over the coming months. In its capacity as the chair of the Security Council Ad-Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, Mozambique convened a meeting on 30 April to facilitate a discussion about the implementation of the resolution and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Also a major issue is how to address the root causes of the most intractable conflicts on the continent, which stem from underlying governance, peace and security, and development challenges. In this context, Mozambique may underscore the need to apply a nexus approach in tackling these complex and interlinked challenges.

Council and Broader Dynamics  

In recent years, the A3 has increasingly become a cohesive bloc, delivering joint statements, negotiating as a group to influence Council decisions on African issues, and proposing Council products to advance African priorities. The A3 is closely consulted by penholders on African files when they intend to call for meetings and facilitate negotiations on peacekeeping mandate renewals and extensions of sanctions regimes. In 2023, African issues constituted 38.24 percent of the Council’s meetings and 51.02 percent of the Council’s decisions. Africa hosts five UN peacekeeping operations and eight special political missions. UN peace operations in Africa have faced particular challenges from host governments and communities, resulting in the closure of the peacekeeping mission in Mali and the special political mission in Sudan last year.

It seems that Mozambique intends to promote a positive African narrative at the debate, arguing for the readiness of African states to play an active role in global affairs and influence global policy on climate change, energy, and reform of multilateral bodies. It may emphasise that the magnitude of contemporary challenges requires a robust African voice in global economic and political governance.

Mozambique may spotlight the role of the three African members (known as the A3) in advancing African issues and priorities in the Security Council as a positive development, giving Africa a permanent voice in the absence of a permanent seat. In the development realm, Mozambique may also draw attention to the rapid expansion of mobile technology and the transition to renewable energy in Africa, which present significant opportunities for economic growth and development.

In the context of the broader global geopolitical dynamics, former colonial powers are losing influence in Africa while other major and emerging powers are gaining ground. China has built strong political, economic, trade, and other ties with Africa over the past 25 years. Russia has also dramatically gained influence in recent years by leveraging military cooperation with African countries, including through the Wagner Group, a Russian private security company that was renamed Africa Corps after the death of its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, last year.

The US and its allies are working to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in Africa. In the face of technological advances, securing critical minerals has also emerged as a major issue in big power rivalry across the continent.

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Security Council Resolutions
21 December 2023S/RES/2719 This was a resolution on the financing of African Union (AU)-led peace support operations (AUPSOs).
Security Council Meeting Records
30 March 2023S/PV.9299 The meeting record was on the impact of development policies on the implementation of the “silencing the guns” initiative in Africa.

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