What's In Blue

Posted Wed 22 May 2024

The Role of African States in Addressing Global Security and Development Challenges: Open Debate and Adoption of a Presidential Statement

Tomorrow (23 May), Mozambique will convene an open debate on strengthening the role of African states in addressing global security and development challenges as a signature event of its May Council presidency. Briefings are expected from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye, and Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Ambassador Sérgio França Danese (Brazil).

A presidential statement proposed by Mozambique is expected to be adopted at tomorrow’s meeting.

Open Debate

In its concept note for the open debate (S/2024/327/Rev.1), Mozambique situates tomorrow’s meeting as part of the Security Council’s broader efforts to deepen its understanding of “the intricate and complex dynamics between peace and development worldwide, particularly on the African continent, a nexus that has defined the United Nations from the very start”. The concept note says that the meeting aims to offer a platform for discussion on ways to strengthen the capacities of African states and institutions to address the interconnected challenges of peace, security, and development, arguing that doing so can have a positive ripple effect that could increase worldwide stability and security. (For more background and information on the open debate, see our brief in the May 2024 Monthly Forecast.)

The concept note poses several questions to help guide the discussion at tomorrow’s meeting, including:

  • What opportunities are available for African states to form significant global partnerships, including strategies to enhance their representation, such as the recent inclusion of the AU in major international forums like the G20?
  • What underlying factors make African states vulnerable to geopolitical headwinds and proxy conflicts, and how can African nations effectively counter these influences?
  • The Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace calls for robust regional frameworks and organisations, particularly in regions where long-standing security architectures are collapsing or have never been built. How can the African Union’s experience help inform efforts towards that end in other regions?

Draft Presidential Statement

Mozambique circulated a zero draft of the presidential statement to Council members on 15 May, and negotiations were conducted via email exchange. After receiving comments from Council members, the penholder circulated a revised version of the text on Sunday (19 May) for another round of comments. Mozambique subsequently placed a second revised version under silence until this morning (22 May), which passed.

The negotiations on the draft text went smoothly, as Council members apparently did not raise any difficult issues during the discussions. The penholder appears to have incorporated most of the inputs and comments sent by Council members, including on the role of the PBC, the participation of women and youth in conflict prevention and resolution and in peacebuilding efforts, and the importance of supporting socioeconomic development in sustaining peace in Africa.

It seems that Mozambique intends, at tomorrow’s open debate, to promote a positive narrative about the potential contribution of African states to addressing global challenges, arguing for their readiness to play an active role in global affairs and influence policies on climate change, energy, and reform of multilateral bodies. Mozambique’s advocacy for Africa’s global role seems to rest on the assumption of the continent’s interconnectedness with broader global dynamics. In this regard, the agreed presidential statement “commends the contribution made by African States, the African Union (AU), and sub-regional organizations, in addressing complex security challenges in Africa and beyond” and “expresses support for progress in enhancing the role and representation of African States in global governance and decision-making processes”.

Mozambique also sought to highlight the 20th anniversary of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), which was officially launched in 2004 and has been at the core of the AU’s efforts in preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts on the continent. The AUPSC will hold a colloquium on 25 May to take stock of its successes and challenges over the past two decades. The agreed text recognises the AUPSC’s contributions to maintaining peace and security on the continent and enabling effective global governance through the implementation of the AU Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the AU Governance Architecture (AGA).

Mozambique is apparently particularly interested in spotlighting the positive role of the UN Security Council’s three African members (known as the A3) in advancing African issues and priorities in the Council. The draft presidential statement references resolution 2719 of 21 December 2023 on the financing of AU-led peace support operations (AUPSOs) which was spearheaded by the A3 (then Gabon, Ghana, and Mozambique). The agreed text reiterates the Council’s readiness to support the role of the AU and sub-regional organisations in promoting peace and security on the continent, including through the implementation of resolution 2719. In this regard, it calls on the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to expedite the development of planning guidelines for the implementation of resolution 2719.

At the time of writing, a UN delegation comprised of relevant UN departments was traveling to Addis Ababa, the home of the AU headquarters, to meet with AU counterparts and discuss the implementation of the resolution. Eventually, these discussions are expected to lead to the development of a joint roadmap and planning guidance, which, if agreed, could be adopted during the next UN-AU Annual High-Level Conference. Major General Mamadou Gaye, who most recently served as Force Commander of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), is leading the UN delegation to Addis Ababa. It seems that the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO) has been designated as the focal point for the implementation of resolution 2719. Gaye is also assigned to coordinate the work of the relevant UN departments on this issue.

As the chair of the Security Council’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, Mozambique convened a meeting in April to facilitate a discussion on the implementation of resolution 2719 and to identify challenges and opportunities in this regard. There seems to be a lack of clarity on how to proceed with implementing the resolution, however, and Council members were cautious in their comments and interventions at the meeting. Some Council members, such as France and the US, have apparently produced non-papers to explain their position as discussions pick up on possible test cases to be presented for the Council’s consideration under resolution 2719. One example is the ongoing discussion regarding future arrangements following the departure of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in December to sustain the security gains in Somalia.

At the same time, during the working group’s April meeting, Council members agreed on the need to place the issue of the implementation of resolution 2719 on the agenda at the next joint annual consultative meeting between the UN Security Council and the AUPSC. This meeting rotates between New York and Addis Ababa; this year, it will be held in New York in October. Therefore, the agreed presidential statement requests the Secretary-General to provide his update on progress regarding the implementation of the resolution ahead of the joint annual consultative meeting, thereby moving up the December deadline originally stipulated in resolution 2719.

The other issue that Mozambique seeks to highlight is the peace, security and development nexus in addressing the root causes of conflict in Africa. In this regard, the draft presidential statement, among other matters, underscores the relationship between implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU’s Agenda 2063—the AU’s blueprint for Africa’s economic transformation. It also reiterates the Council’s support for silencing the guns in Africa—the AU flagship initiative to end violent conflicts on the continent by 2030. Additionally, the agreed text underlines the importance of supporting socioeconomic development and respect for the rule of law in sustaining peace in Africa and notes the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development, which was adopted in 2006.

As part of the discussions on the draft Pact for the Future—an outcome document to be adopted at the UN Summit of the Future in September—African countries have been underscoring the need for reform of the global financial architecture. In this regard, the draft presidential statement calls on the international community “to honour their respective commitments regarding financing for development and support the strengthening of the capabilities of African States to seize the opportunities for a proactive engagement with the wider world and advance African ownership of international peace, security and development efforts”.

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