APSA Roadmap 2016-2020: Is the end in sight for the operational utilization of the ASF?

The APSTA Peacekeeping This Month is pleased to share with you the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) Roadmap 2016-2020 that was published by the African Union Commission in May 2016. The Roadmap is the result of an inclusive and participatory process involving different departments at the AU Commission and at the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).

As a strategic document, the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 seeks to build on the achievements and challenges resulting from the implementation of the previous APSA Roadmap (2011-2013), keeping in sight the Solemn Declaration on the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union (OAU/AU) that was adopted at the meeting of the AU Assembly on 25 May 2013.

The APSA implementation roadmap for 2011-2013 was elaborated APSA following two exter¬nal reviews in 2010 –Moving Forward Africa, the Fisher report—which recognised progress particularly by the ASF and CEWS, although challenges remained with regard to the vertical integration of the APSA between the Union and the RECs/RMs; the limited levels of coordination between other pillars; the need for increased horizontal integration within the AUC itself; the limited level of horizontal coordination; the different pace at which various components were developing; and additional challenges with regard to APSA’s sustainability and subsidiarity.

Against this background, the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 aims to substantially contribute to achieving the goals of the AU initiative on “Silencing of the Guns: Pre-requisites for realising a conflict-free Africa by the year 2020”. The Roadmap also:

 Provides a shared understanding of the results to be achieved by all APSA stakeholders, and the roles and functions to be played by each stakeholder involved in APSA
 Highlights a shared understanding of the need to increase collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders involved in APSA
 Serves as the most relevant tool to communicate APSA project plans and expected results to Member States, Partners and other external actors

In practical terms, this Roadmap in particular aims at mapping out a way forward to enable the consolidation of gains made, address the most pressing challenges so as to make the APSA fully functional and operational and, in this way, contribute effectively to the maintenance and preservation of peace and security in Africa, by focusing on concrete activities and strategic objectives. In these regards, the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 details the joint aims of the AUC and RECs/RMs in five strategic priority areas, namely:

 Strategic Priority 1: Conflict Prevention (including early warning and preventive diplomacy)
•  Strategic Priority 2: Crisis/Conflict Management—including the African Standby Force (ASF) and mediation
•  Strategic Priority 3: Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding
• Strategic Priority 4: Strategic security issues—such as illegal flows of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) disarmament, counter-terrorism, illicit financial flows as well as transnational organised crime and cyber crime
•  Strategic Priority 5: Coordination and Partnerships
 Additional cross-cutting issues

Realising the strategic objectives of the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 will obviously require a great deal of carefully coordinated coherent action plans and programmes. One of the key tests of the achievement of the Roadmap will be a functional and operational ASF as the key instrument for executing the decisions of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), in crisis situations where prevention fails. It is imperative that the full architecture of the ASF should be functional and operational early during the 5-year period in order to avoid the possibility that in 2020, after 18 years of establishing the policy framework in 2003 and the considerable investments, the ASF would still be a conceptual framework.

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