Morocco chaired the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in September 2019, with a focus on strengthened relations between the PSC and the African Union Commission (AUC), climate change and a number of conflict issues. Ambassador Mohamed Arrouchi, permanent representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa, told the PSC Report about the outcomes of these meetings and how Morocco sees the AU’s role in resolving conflicts in Africa.
What are the main results of the PSC during the month of September, chaired by the Kingdom of Morocco?
I would like to thank the Institute for Security Studies for its commitment towards peace and security in Africa and for providing Morocco with this opportunity.
The Kingdom of Morocco chaired the PSC for the first time since it has returned to the AU. Indeed, the chairmanship of the Kingdom of Morocco has been guided by a sense of responsibility and the principles of neutrality and objectivity, while prioritising the interests of Africa.
During September, the PSC, as a collective decision-making organ, organised, for the first time, a session dedicated to an interaction between the PSC members and the AUC, with the objective of strengthening coordination between both organs. It was agreed to hold such an interaction on a regular basis.
The PSC also scheduled, for the first time, a meeting on the theme ‘The interdependence between peace, security and development’, at the ministerial level, which requested that the chairperson of the AUC further enhance collaboration and coordination between the different AUC departments, to fully support the PSC, taking into account the interdependence between peace, security and development. In this regard, the AUC chairperson will submit, once a year, a report on the measures taken to this end.
Meanwhile, the PSC met during an open session with AU partners to discuss, for the first time, the issue of climate change with a focus on Africa’s small island developing states. This meeting was a unique occasion within the AU to understand the specificities of these countries, which are the most affected by the existential threat of climate change.
Indeed, the Kingdom of Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, attaches strategic importance to the issue of climate change on our continent, which we perceive as the most vulnerable to and a victim of a global climate injustice.
This meeting stressed the need to enhance support to the small island developing states of Africa and urged the AUC chairperson to appoint a special envoy for climate change and security. It also ‘called for the operationalisation of the PRC sub-committee on the environment’, which could become an important institutional tool to enable the AU to address all the issues related to the effects of climate change on African countries.
The PSC has also underscored the importance of prioritising early warning systems, prevention mechanisms and disaster risk reduction strategies. It stressed the need to guarantee greater coordination between African initiatives such as the African Adaptation Initiative (AAI), the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) and the Initiative for Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA). It also called for the urgent operationalisation of the Commission dedicated to Island States, which is the initiative emanating from the first African Summit for Action, held in Marrakech on 16 November 2016.
During this month the PSC also considered various situations and conflicts in Africa, notably the lifting of the suspension of Sudan after a historical agreement signed between Sudanese stakeholders. It also considered the maritime boundary dispute between Somalia and Kenya.
Finally, the council, at the level of ministers, considered the situation in Libya. It reiterated its deep concern about the seriousness of the situation prevailing in Libya and its dangerous repercussions for the security and stability of the region and the continent as a whole. The council also supported the decision of the AU High Level Committee on Libya, taken at its meeting of 8 July 2019, on the appointment of a joint AU/UN envoy for Libya.
The council requested the AUC chairperson to play his role and take necessary and concrete measures, in close consultation with the UN, to ensure the effective involvement of the AU, with a view to resolving the Libyan crisis.
How should the AU PSC manage its relationship with the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the EUPSC)?
First of all, the UNSC has the primary responsibility for maintaining and promoting international peace and security, notably in Africa, which still is the continent most affected by armed conflict. This primary responsibility comes with obligations towards the African continent.
Meanwhile, the AU is playing a key role in many crises and has, through the PSC and other organs, contributed to finding political and lasting solutions to some situations.
The relationship between the two bodies, under chapter VIII of the UN Charter and article 17 of the PSC Protocol, should be reinforced, through more coordination and the harmonisation of approaches, on the basis of comparative advantages.
At the end of October the two councils will hold the 13th Join Annual Consultative Meeting, which will focus on the situations in Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Sahel region. This meeting’s main goal is to ensure common understanding of the security challenges on our continent.
The partnership with the EUPSC, which is not a decision-making organ, is quite different. However, it should also be reinforced, as the EU is a major actor of peace and security in Africa, especially through its efforts in Somalia, the CAR and the Sahel region. The EUPSC is called on to assist African countries in building their own capacities, notably through the transfer of know-how in different areas such as security sector reform, border governance, countering terrorism and transnational criminality, and cybersecurity.
The partnership with the EU, one of the major actors of development in the world, should be oriented through a holistic approach, which rests on two main pillars, namely security and sustainable development.
How can the working relationship between the PSC and the AUC be improved?
One of the top priorities when Morocco chaired the PSC in September was strengthening the working methods of the PSC, in full compliance with the results of the PSC retreats on its working methods, including the last one recently hosted by Morocco.
The Kingdom of Morocco has worked jointly with other member states to strengthen the efficiency of the PSC, by empowering the council with a real intergovernmental dimension and ownership.
These retreats have often stressed the need for more coordination between the PSC and the AUC. In this regard, the PSC scheduled the above-mentioned interactive session with top officials of the AUC. Such an initiative proved to be pertinent, as member states stressed the urgent need for more effective implementation of AU policy organs’ decisions.
Indeed, this interaction was the first of its kind in that it assembled AUC officials at a frank, clear and open debate on means and ways to reinforce cooperation and coordination between the departments of the AUC and the PSC. The AUC chairperson is very enthusiastic and supportive of regular interactions between the PSC and the commission.
How can the PSC respond more effectively to emerging and existing conflicts in Africa?
It is apparent that the AU mechanisms of early warning and early response must still be reinforced.
We need to urgently proceed to the reconfiguration of our early warning system, which should operate and proceed with clear indicators of risk evaluation.
In this regard, we need to work more effectively on mediation and conflict prevention in order to deal with the first signs of crises on the horizon and address them before they become conflicts and eventually armed conflicts.
The ministerial meeting of the PSC held on 27 September 2019 on the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly recalled the imperative to deploy all available preventive diplomatic tools and mechanisms at the national, regional, continental and global level to enable the continent to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.
The Kingdom of Morocco has always put its wide experience in peacekeeping operations, mediation, peacebuilding, the fight against terrorism and violent extremism and the mitigation of climate change at the disposal of African countries. It is very important to share experiences and best practices between African countries.
With regard to the lifting of sanctions on Sudan, have the steps undertaken thus far satisfied all the concerns of the PSC? And how can the AU continue to maintain pressure in order to ensure full implementation of the transitional process?
The PSC should not adopt an approach that operates within the logic of pressure. The new government of Sudan should be accompanied, notably at the economic level and through institutional capacity building, in order to satisfy the legitimate needs of the people of Sudan.
Morocco as PSC chair for September was glad to see Sudan coming back to its institutional family very quickly. This decision was taken unanimously by the same 15 member states that took the decision of suspension, and it reflects, certainly, the trust of the PSC in the historical agreement that has been signed by the Sudanese stakeholders.
In this regard, the PSC has highly commended the efforts of the chairperson of the AUC and his team on the ground, as well as IGAD’s [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] efforts, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, which have launched a successful transitional phase.
Furthermore, the transitional government of Sudan has set as a main priority restoring peace and long-term stability in the whole of the Sudanese territory, including the Darfur region. In this regard, the withdrawal of UNAMID [UN–AU Mission in Darfur] from the Sudanese territory should also be a priority, in order to allow a successful transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, notably after the dialogue opened recently between the transitional government of Sudan, under the leadership of HE Mr Abdalla Hamdok, and different armed groups in Darfur.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, through the person of Dr Ahmed, who has been awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. His efforts have clearly demonstrated to the rest of the continent that where there is a will, there is a way.