The maiden joint retreat between the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC), the standing decision-making organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), AU’s specialized governance agency, has commenced Sunday at Durban, South Africa.
The joint retreat holding December 19 – 21 is pursuant to the PSC’s decision to provide a platform for APRM peer-reviewed countries to share their experiences and best practices emanating from the Mechanism’s review processes towards enhancing preventive diplomacy and good governance on the continent, in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063. Additionally, the retreat is interrogating various review reports undertaken by APRM in the two previous years.
It would be recalled that the AU Assembly had in 2018 accepted APRM’s desire to position itself as an early warning tool for conflict prevention, working in synergy and harmony with the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). Consequently, the PSC had recognized APRM as “one of the most effective mechanisms for conflict prevention on the continent, particularly those relating to governance.”
In his remarks as co-chair of the joint retreat, Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, the Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia at AU cum chairperson of the PSC for December 2021, said the APRM-PSC retreat would avail the PSC an opportunity to engage and understand the significance of APRM’s country reviews in the two previous years whose lessons he said, would inform the AU’s efforts towards preventive diplomacy in Africa.
“We must continue to encourage the APRM participating states to meet the required commitments to be peer reviewed. I would like to reiterate our commitment to work closely with APRM and support all its efforts including identifying political problems before they develop into political conflicts, in the spirit of providing African solutions to African problems,” said the incumbent PSC chair.
In his response, Ambassador Ombeni Yohana Sefue, chairperson of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, who is the co-chair of the joint retreat said the event represented the maturation of collaborations between APRM and the PSC, noting that the exchange of ideas and experiences on ARPM’s peer reviewed reports would surely enhance early warning strategies and efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of conflicts on the continent.
“APRM is a tool for Early Warning with the aim to promote good governance as a necessary condition for the socio-economic development of Africa. As such, the APRM is willing to work in synergy with other structures of the African Union already operating, like her, as an early warning tool for conflict prevention on the continent,” assured the chair of the APR Panel.
Ambassador therefore Sefue urged the 14 of out of 55 AU member states that were yet to accede to the APRM to do so towards achieving universal accession by 2023, when the Mechanism would be turning 20 years. “I therefore appeal to all those member states that have not acceded to the APRM to consider joining the mechanism so as to accelerate the realisation of an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, described the APRM-PSC retreat as a pioneering event and accordingly, recommended for its institutionalisation as a statutory annual experience-sharing platform for the promotion of inter-linkages between political governance, peace and security as well as mainstreaming political governance in the peace and security endeavours of the AU.
“The Department for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) is ready to strengthen its partnership with APRM on conflict prevention across the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS); Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRAs) and the soon to be established inter-regional knowledge exchange on early warning and conflict prevention. It is therefore necessary for the AU system to build a coalition of institutional champions of governance to make Africa safe for democracy,” the AU commissioner stated.
Ambassador Adeoye also called for greater AGA-APSA synergy asserting that despite the resurgence of unconstitutional change of governments across Africa, the continent’s democratisation agenda must not waver hence the need for the continued consolidation of constitutionalism, rule of law, transitional justice, the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Professor Eddy Maloka, CEO of the APRM Continental Secretariat said they had since 2016 worked tirelessly to revitalise the APRM so as to entrench the promotion of democracy and good governance on the continent. Accordingly, he said the APRM had initiated the process of the establishment of the APRM Governance Support Fund to finance its key activities across APRM participating states as well as efforts towards accelerating the achievement of universal accession of the APRM by 2023.
Key speakers at the first APRM-PSC retreat, which is being organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), were unanimous in the agreement that the joint retreat becomes the AU’s a statutory annual event navigating the intersection of governance and peace and security. Accordingly, the retreat would explore strategies for enhancing APRM’s role in complementing the work of other APSA pillars including the PSC, in line with the provisions of the PSC Protocol. The retreat will also plan for the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the APRM come 2023.
The 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African …