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African Peace and Security Annual Conference (APSACO) : Mediation in African Internal Conflicts

     

African Peace and Security Annual Conference (APSACO) - 8th Edition : Mediation in African Internal Conflicts



The Policy Center for the New South is organizing the 8th edition of the African Peace and Security Annual Conference (APSACO), which will be held at the Policy Center for the New South, Rabat. APSACO brings together experts from different parts of the world, fields, and professions—from the military and political world to academia and civil society—to promote high-level conversations on peace and security in Africa. This annual conference provides a platform for the analysis of Africa’s peace and security structures and institutions, focusing on the continent’s assets, history, and its ability to overcome current and emerging challenges and gain global competitive advantage.

Africa’s geopolitical landscape is characterized by the persistence of conflict hotspots, despite the efforts of various African, regional, and continental organizations, and the constant alerts from the international community. Most conflict-affected countries are in an area spanning from West Africa's Sahel to the Horn of Africa, encompassing the Lake Chad Basin and the Great Lakes region. The occurrence of these conflicts primarily stems from internal dynamics related to the difficulties of political transition (constitutional crises or political rivalries), which often escalate into civil war or internal crisis. In some cases, conflicts regionalize because of armed rebellions against a state, or the emergence of new actors, such as terrorist networks and mercenaries.

Collective security actors (states, international organizations, NGOs) try to mediate in these conflicts. The African Union (AU) has established a mediation framework that, while aligning with the mediation standards of the United Nations (UN), draws inspiration from African traditions and achievements. Relations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are institutionalized around the principle of subsidiarity.

However, the current dynamics of some mediation processes show that civil society is still insufficiently included as a facilitating actor. Moreover, the complex geopolitics of internal conflicts, both in terms of the nature and number of actors involved, and the ambiguity of their preferences, explains the importance and utility of the UN.

Despite some success stories, governance of mediation in Africa (AU, RECs) faces political and institutional challenges, mainly because of leadership fragmentation and lack of consensus among the various state and organic actors of the AU. The diversity of national interests within the AU often leads to divergences and rivalries, making it difficult to adopt collective positions. Additionally, there’s the question of how to make the engagement of the AU and RECs more cooperative and less competitive, based on the principle of subsidiarity. RECs may have divergent approaches depending on their national priorities; this complicates coordination and coherence in mediation efforts. To avoid duplication and unnecessary competition between the AU and RECs, the principle of subsidiarity, aimed at transferring responsibility to the appropriate level, must be implemented more effectively.

Furthermore, mediation and ceasefires, which, respectively, remain exclusively political and military processes, would become more efficient if the voices of civilian actors were taken into account in the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements.

Lastly, the strategic partnership between the UN and AU, based on the dual principle of complementarity and relative advantages, doesn’t seem to leverage effectively the respective strengths of each organization. It is crucial to identify specific areas in which each organization can make a notable commitment, thus maximizing the comparative advantages of each partner.

The eighth African Peace and Security Annual Conference (APSACO), scheduled for June 10-11, 2024, will address the ongoing need for evolution and continuous improvement in mediating internal conflicts in Africa. To achieve this, discussions will be structured around five panels:

Panel 1. Mechanisms and Approaches to Mediation in Internal Conflicts in Africa

This panel will explore innovative strategies and specific mediation mechanisms for internal conflicts in Africa, seeking to understand and resolve complex challenges. Emphasis will be placed on solutions tailored to the African context and on promoting sustainable peace, drawing on the achievements and limitations of institutional mechanisms, and ongoing or completed mediation processes. What are the institutional and political challenges confronting mediation in Africa? How can the effectiveness of African actors in mediation be improved? What are some new African mediation practices?

Panel 2. Innovation for Better Coordination of Local, National, Regional, and International Processes

This panel calls for reflections on the innovations needed to strengthen coordination between local, national, regional, and UN levels, aiming to enhance the effectiveness of mediation processes. The objective is to develop more integrated approaches for more effective, coordinated, and non-competitive conflict management. What avenues exist for better integrating AU, REC, and UN mediation approaches? How can traditional norms be consolidated in the mediation process? What synergies can be found between AU leadership, REC primacy, the utility of civil society, and the sovereignty of conflict-affected states?

Panel 3. Regional Perspectives on Internal Crises in the Sahelo-Saharan Region

The main objective of this panel will be to analyze the challenges posed to mediation in Sahelo-Saharan internal crises and in the Horn of Africa, drawing on regional perspectives and joint initiatives of ECOWAS and IGAD (the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa). The debate could explore options and necessary conditions for peace and stability in Sudan and the Sahel (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso). What lessons can be learned from crisis situations in Sudan and the Sahel? What mediation strategies can prevent the fragmentation of the Sahel and Sudan?

Panel 4. African Civil Society and Strengthening Ceasefires

This panel will explore the crucial role of African civil society in ceasefire processes, focusing on its proactive role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Participants will discuss the value of inclusive peace processes at different stages of ceasefire negotiations and implementation. What formal means can boost the participation of political parties, NGOs, women, and young people in ceasefire and peace negotiation processes?

Panel 5. Valuing African Skills and Expertise for a Common Mediation Approach

This panel will highlight African skills and expertise in mediation, aiming to develop a common and collaborative approach. Emphasis will be placed on enhancing and valuing regional skills to strengthen mediation capacities in Africa. Concrete recommendations for a training program could emerge from this panel, to be further developed among the AU, RECs, and think tanks. Why and how should the African knowledge community (think tanks, research centers, universities) strengthen and pool their knowledge and training capacities in mediation?




الخميس 21 مارس 2024

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