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Moussa Faki Mahamat on the timeliness of real African ownership

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The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart,” said Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of post-independence Ghana. On 21 April 2018, His Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat delivered the keynote address at the 7th Tana Forum in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. He is also the first AU Chairperson to attend the annual high-level gathering of decision makers in peace and security in Africa since its establishment in 2012.

 

In his keynote address, he acknowledged the relevance of the Forum’s theme “Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union”, which he attributed to the continent’s ongoing political, institutional and economic awakening through the AU reform, Agenda 2063, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (CfTA) Agreement.

 

The Tana Forum facilitates inclusive and productive dialogue between participants and current and former Heads of State and Government. Reflections from leaders on the security challenges of the day draw from their practice in governing complex environments.

 

Mahamat emphasized that Africa must take ownership of its peace and security agenda in order to move forward. He based this vision on three aspects:

  • Ownership means that African actors must lead the efforts to promote peace and good governance on the continent with the assistance of the international community.
  • Ownership implies that Africans are politically courageous and sophisticated enough to identify and acknowledge our difficulties and, therefore, take the necessary measures to prevent conflicts. In times of crisis, the AU should allow Member States the freedom to deal with these situations as early as possible before leading to violent conflicts and non-African interference.
  • Ownership and the underlying principle of African solutions to African problems imply that Africa, through its appropriate institutions, should thoroughly analyze its challenges. “We must systematize this approach to equip ourselves with the intellectual means to fight for peace. From this point of view, African researchers and academics have a crucial role to play,” Mahamat stated.

 

He further continued that there can be no real ownership if Africa does not have strong institutions with the means to carry out their mandates. The establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) marked a leading milestone in dealing with peace and security issues on the continent. Operations undertaken in Somalia, Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel Region confirm Africa’s determination to tackle the security challenges the continent faces. Africa has taken initiative in conflict prevention and mediation, but more must be done, especially if we are to achieve the ambitious goal of ending conflicts and wars by 2020.

 

In particular to securing funding for our peace efforts, Mahamat commended the ongoing African reform process where more than 20 countries are currently applying the 0.2% levy on eligible imports, which should enable the AU to fund its essential programmes and a significant part of its peace operations in the future. He noted that 13 member states are already levying this tax; meaning $41.6 million has been paid into the Peace Fund with a current target of mobilizing $65 million by end of 2018. “This is the highest level of contribution ever made to the Peace Fund since it was established in 1993.”

 

He added that Africa’s capacity for crisis and conflict prevention, management and resolution depends on the performance of the different components of APSA and the availability of the necessary financial resources.

 

Mahamat committed that the use of the resources of the Peace Fund and the transparency of the accountability mechanisms will reassure everyone about the merits of the new dynamics underway, as well as the process to better articulate the respective roles of the AU and the Regional Mechanisms in the promotion of peace and security.

 

He also commended the conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding on Peace and Security Cooperation between the UN and the AU in April 2017, which paves the way for a clearer sharing of responsibilities and closer coordination of efforts for the sustainable promotion of peace and security on the continent.

 

Mahamat affirmed the continued need for international support, as exemplified by AMISOM in Somalia, the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin and the G5 Sahel Joint Force. It is from this point that at the end of the month of May 2018, the AU intends to sign a Cooperation Agreement on Peace and Security with the European Commission.

 

He also highlighted the challenges of multilateralism in a context marked by the emergence of new hotbeds of tension and new forms of terrorist violence, radicalism and civil wars. For example, the rivalry between those having veto power in the UN Security Council and called for cooperation rather than competition, where Africa plays more than an observer role with a voice and influence. This commitment to multilateralism must be underpinned by scrupulous respect for international law. It cannot be interpreted à la carte, particularly with regard to the use of force, which is the exclusive prerogative of the Security Council. World peace comes at this price.

 

About the AU reform process

The AU reform supervision and implementation are under the leadership of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in collaboration with current and former AU Chairpersons, President Alpha Condé of Guinea and President Idriss Déby Itno of Chad respectively. Its implementation is based on the proposed timeframe from January 2017 to January 2019.

 

As AUC Chairperson, Mahamat is responsible for the implementation and coordination of the day to day activities to be delivered in the reform process.

 

The reform process has five focus areas:

  1. Continental Priorities which include Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Economic Integration and African’s Global Voice.
  2. Institutional Realignment.
  3. Connecting with Africans.
  4. Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency.
  5. Sustainable Financing, which includes the implementation of the 0.2% import levy, the establishment of an AU Reserve Fund and Financial Management and Accountability.

 

To read more about AU reform, visit the website https://au.int/en/financingau.

 

Click here to read Moussa Faki Mahamat’s full keynote address.

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