- Mandate of the PSC
- Decision making in the PSC
- Meetings of the PSC
- Membership and election to the PSC
The PSC is the standing organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It is a key element of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the umbrella term for the main AU mechanisms for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa.
The PSC is composed of 15 member states, of which 10 are elected for a two-year term and the remaining five for a three-year term.
The PSC was established to be a collective security and ‘early warning’ arrangement with the ability to facilitate timely and efficient responses to conflict and crisis situations. The PSC’s core functions are to conduct early warning and preventive diplomacy, facilitate peace-making, establish peace-support operations and, in certain circumstances, recommend intervention in member states to promote peace, security and stability. The PSC also works in support of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction as well as humanitarian action and disaster management.
The PSC is constituted to be the highest standing decision-making body on matters of peace and security in Africa. With respect to conflict prevention, management and resolution, the PSC has the power: (a) to anticipate and prevent disputes, (b) to undertake peace-making and peace-building initiatives to resolve conflicts and (c) to authorise the mounting and deployment of peace support missions. Since its establishment, the PSC has launched a number of mediation and peace-making efforts, both as a preventive measure and to end conflicts. These include the mediation efforts undertaken in Kenya, Sudan (Darfur), and Sudan and South Sudan. The PSC also deployed a number of peace support (military) operations, including to Darfur, Somalia, the Comoros and in central Africa against the Lord Resistance Army (LRA). Regarding ‘grave circumstances’ identified under Article 4 (h) of the Constitutive Act, the PSC is vested with the power: (a) to anticipate and prevent policies that may lead to genocide and crimes against humanity and(b) to recommend to the AU Assembly intervention in a member state in respect of grave circumstances.
Reflecting the broader conception of security on which the AU peace and security framework is premised, apart from the above, the PSC is conferred with a rich mandate on matters of governance, democracy and human rights. With respect to governance and human rights issues, the PSC accordingly enjoys the power: (a) to institute sanctions whenever an unconstitutional change of government takes place in a member state and (b) to follow up on the progress towards the promotion of democratic practices, good governance, the rule of law, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respect for the sanctity of human life and international humanitarian law by member states.
Other powers that are conferred on the PSC include those relating to its mandate to ‘promote and develop a strong partnership for peace and security between the AU and the United Nations (UN) and its agencies, as well as with other relevant international organizations’ and to ‘develop policies and action required to ensure that any external initiative in the field of peace and security on the continent takes place within the framework of the Union’s objectives and priorities’.