The PSC Report spoke to Mozambique’s permanent representative to the African Union (AU) and chair of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) for October 2021.
What were Mozambique’s priorities as PSC chair in October?
Our objectives aligned with our mandate, namely promoting peace, security, and political stability in Africa through respect for shared values and AU legal instruments. These instruments are the Constitutive Act, the PSC Protocol, the African Peace and Security Architecture, the African Governance Architecture, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Also included are the 2000 Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Change of Government and Ezulwini Framework for Enhanced Implementation of AU Measures in Situations of Unconstitutional Change of Government (2009). Finally, there is the Organisation of African Unity Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
These were the general objectives pursued by Mozambique during its chairmanship. From these, two priorities were singled out – risk disaster management and human security, and prevention and combating terrorism and violent extremism on the continent.
The threat of terrorism and violent extremism has been growing, reaching alarming proportions that are hindering the quest of Africans for the safe and prosperous continent envisaged by Agenda 2063. We see it in the Sahel, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Central and Southern Africa. Because of its global nature and network, combating it requires countries to expand and strengthen cooperation beyond their individual national interests and areas of operations.
Africa, in particular, is witnessing increasing numbers of natural and manmade disasters, which impede and undermine continental development and stability. Managing the risk of disaster is a global concern that requires action and assertiveness individually by countries, regions, continents and the world. Mozambique deemed it relevant and timely to share experiences in these two pivotal areas, to create an enabling environment for the successful implementation of Agenda 2063.
Until August 2021, Mozambique chaired the South African Development Community (SADC) and defined as priorities building peace and security, and promoting development and resilience in the face of global challenges. These are being tackled nationally and regionally in the belief that success will enable us to bring peace and prosperity to the continent and the world. As candidate for the United Nations Security Council non-permanent seat for 2023-2024, Mozambique hopes to scale up the focus on these issues, which we believe are of concern to the world at large.
What is Mozambique’s biggest achievement as chair of the PSC?
We achieved concrete results, with follow-up activities that brought structural impact to our strategy as mandated by the council. These results stem from the collective action of the council and individual member states, with the support of the secretariat. We understand the secretariat’s human resources and funding limitations, but it has shown dedication, professionalism and excellence in its performance, discharging all its duties for the good of the continent.
The opportunity to chair the PSC was an honour and privilege for Mozambique. I believe the biggest achievement lies in the deliberations of heads of state and government on risk disaster management in Africa and on challenges and perspectives for human security. To combat natural disasters requires use of modern technologies that detect and predict as accurately as possible, allowing monitoring and mitigation through early warning mechanisms to reduce impact.
I would like to underline some decisions and recommendations from the communique of the 1043rd session of the PSC of heads of state and government:
Implementing these decisions will enhance the disaster management efficacy and efficiency of member states, the AU and international cooperating partners, minimising the human security damage of disasters.
What major decisions emerged from the October PSC ministerial and heads of states and governments meetings?
The two sessions showed that the collective wisdom of African leaders prevails. Leaders renewed their commitment to fighting terrorism and climate change to create a better future for coming African generations. They recognise that terrorism and violent extremism, and climate change are international threats with continued negative impacts on the daily livelihoods of Africans. They agree that to combat them will require all African nations to join hands, and that the international community must be called on to assist.
The heads of state and government at their meeting recognised that regardless of the causes of any disaster, be it natural or manmade, the human security consequences are similar, demanding our commitment in addressing their impact.
The ministerial meeting discussed continental efforts to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism in Africa. The PSC decided to encourage the terrorism-combating capacity of the AU and of individual member states. Thus, it mandated the AU Commission to develop comprehensive counter-terrorism train-the-trainer programmes and manuals, and to organise regional exercises on counter-terrorism and transnational organised crime. The Commission will also develop and integrate counter-terrorism modules in peace support operations pre-deployment training.
The council also asked the Commission to expedite the establishment of an African counter-terrorism coordination task force in the office of the AU Special Representative for Counterterrorism Cooperation. This would improve cooperation and coordination in counter-terrorism. It would also promote the Commission’s prevention of violent extremism work, enabling it to respond to pressing counter-terrorism situations, and strengthen support and assistance to member states, including capacity building.
What is the major lesson learnt by the PSC in responding to this year’s unconstitutional changes of government in Mali, Guinea, Chad and Sudan?
The many unconstitutional changes in our continent are a very unfortunate trend and, no matter their cause, are unacceptable. They contravene principles embedded in the constitutions of individual countries and subscribed to by the AU through Article 4 of the Constitutive Act and the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council, in Articles 3 (f), 4 (c) and 7 (g).
In all the cases cited in the question, the PSC’s immediate reaction was to boldly and firmly condemn and demand the unconditional restoration of constitutional order to ensure that the democratic processes are consolidated rather than derailed.
As per the relevant AU provisions, there is no prescribed recipe as to how the restoration of the constitutional order should be pursued in terms of its time frame. Although, in practice, the AU preference is for a period of six months, it could take a considerable amount of time, depending on the assessment of the circumstances in the given situation. Indeed, since the unconstitutional change and the restoration of the constitutional order is a sensitive matter, it requires wisdom and discretion of the PSC in the application of the relevant AU provisions.
Occasionally, dealing with the process of restoring the constitutional order has posed a dilemma, because in some instances the challenge is how to treat the actors responsible for the unconstitutional change in the transition and post-transition periods.
From these experiences, the PSC may have learnt that the AU legal framework on combating unconstitutional changes of government need to be reviewed to ensure an adequate and timely response to the emerging trends. Ultimately, the bottom line is the need to ensure the respect and observance of the relevant AU provisions.
In this process, all AU structures interacting with regional mechanisms should be seized. Above all, AU intervention has to go beyond the mere restoration of the constitutional, in so doing addressing the root causes of unconstitutional changes of government.
Based on Mozambique’s experience, how should Africa respond to terrorism and violent extremism?
Mozambique has been affected by terrorism and violent extremism since 5 October 2017. The government’s three-pronged response to the evolving situation has been clear from the beginning, namely a military and defence offensive, a social and economic developmental approach, and a humanitarian element.
The first-mentioned approach entails not only combating the terrorists on the battlefield, but stepping up cooperation with regional, continental and international actors to yield better results. Terrorism is an international phenomenon with cross-border elements. Therefore, Mozambique first assessed the nature and character of the threat nationally, then framed policies in response and finally, involved regional and international actors.
Given the international nature of terrorism, Mozambique invited SADC to deploy the SADC Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM) to support the defence and security forces in combating terrorism in Cabo Delgado. In the same vein, the country invited support from Rwanda. It has also forged partnerships with other international partners in areas such as training and logistics.
In addition, Mozambique has introduced the Agency for the Integrated Development of the North, which is aimed at implementing development projects in close collaboration with local communities. The agency works across government departments to boost economic development in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula provinces under four pillars: economic development, humanitarian assistance, community resilience and communication.
From the humanitarian perspective, local people have been doubly hit, as they are having to deal with terrorism when they are still recovering from the Idai and Kenneth tropical cyclones. More than 800 000 internally displaced people (IDPs) require humanitarian aid, including 12 tons of food a day. The government has been integrating all IDPs into local communities in the areas surrounding the IDPs centre to enable them to become productive and resilient. Mozambique’s three-dimensional approach promotes sustainable and effective ownership of a capacity building in combating terrorism.