Towards predictable and sustainable financing for peace in Africa

pfThe APSTA Peacekeeping This Month is pleased to share with you a report by the Special Representative of the African Union’s Peace Fund titled “Securing Predictable and Sustainable Financing for Peace in Africa”.

On the one hand, the African Union (AU) is credited with tremendous efforts in the management and resolution of contemporary conflicts within the continent, in recognition of the reality that peace is the sine qua non for continued progress and socio-economic transformation within the continent.

This reality informed the so-called landmark declaration adopted by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union (OAU/AU) in May 2013. To recap, the Summit vowed that Africa would “…not bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation” and, in that regard, made a “commitment to end violent conflict on the continent by 2020”. The declaration was subsequently translated into the AU initiative: Silencing the Guns by 2020 and complemented by the AU’s statement of intent to “take financial responsibility for 25% of peace activities by 2020”.

On the other hand, however, the conflict management and conflict resolution efforts of the AU that are contextualised within the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), are hampered by the lack of predictable funding. This is in spite of the fact that the Peace Fund (PF), as one of the five pillars of APSA and as the key financing instrument for the peace and security activities of the OAU, was established as far back as the dawn of Africa’s second-generation peace and security architecture in June 1993. It derives its legal basis from the articulations in Article 21 of the PSC Protocol. In 2011/2012, the then Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Jean Ping, established the High Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing the AU, the Olusegun Obasanjo Panel.

To place the funding challenge in context, the percentage of contribution from the AU regular budget has only managed to reach 7%. The slow pace of funding support is attributable to the high levels of arrears and late payments of Member States’ assessed contributions, coupled with the irregular and unpredictable payments, although some Member States have made additional voluntary contributions to the PF. In a nutshell, the {PF is faced with three key challenges, namely: the limited funding for mediation and preventive diplomacy, the ad hoc and unpredictable nature of financing of AU PSOs, and the equally limited readiness [and capacity] to address and rapidly respond to crises. The result is the donor dependency syndrome, with over 70% of the Union’s budget deriving from external partners.

This therefore underscores the urgency and importance of the report by the Special Representative of the Peace Fund, “Securing Predictable and Sustainable Financing for Peace in Africa”, that was submitted to the Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC) and approved by the 27th AU Summit, or the Kigali Summit, in July 2016.

Against the foregoing backdrop, the report advances the following three broad priority recommendations: 1) enhancing the predictability and sustainability of financing of the Africa PF; 2) full operationalisation of the PF; and 3) consolidation of partnerships.

The APSTA Peacekeeping This Month has learned that the AUC has started the implementation of the report’s recommendations, cognizant of the urgent and strategic imperative of ensuring predictable and sustainable funding, not only in the area of peace and security, but for the Union as a whole. This is consistent with prioritisation of the mobilisation of African resources to finance continental agendas as determined by the AU Assembly in 2013 and again in 2015.

It is pertinent to ask four questions: first, to what extent do the recommendations of the report contribute to predictable and sustainable funding towards the objectives of the APSA and the Agenda for Peace; second, how practicable are the recommendations in terms of the extent to which African Member States would be able to live up to the expectation of self-financing peace and security within the continent; third, is it fair for African Member States to suffer the double jeopardy of contributing to the maintenance of global peace and security through United Nations peace operations and again to AU peace support operations, among other security obligations; and fourth, how fair will the funding mechanism be for regions like the ECOWAS and indeed, several other Member States, that are already levying taxes on a range of goods and services, and may be facing funding challenges in the wake of economic realities?

Gaining independence in funding African peace and security agendas may be a long shot, but taking the first steps towards that goal will be inevitable.

To download and read the full report, click here.


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