Coming soon, African security council; At last, the African Union is going ahead with its own security council.
African leaders have approved a plan to create a super peace and security council, bringing together experiences drawn from the UN with specific attention on limiting the number of conflicts on the continent. According to working documents exclusively obtained from the African Union (AU) Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the plans for the expanded African Peace and Security Council are on course.
The elaborate blueprint borrows ideas from the Arab League, the UN Security Council, and the South American group of nations. Jean Ping, the AU Commission chairman, says the security council for Africa would facilitate the flow of funds and experience, in addition to easing the communication gaps which hamper continental action on persistent security threats.
Ping, a former UN civil servant who rose to become deputy prime minister and foreign minister of his native Gabon, says Africa requires the cooperation of the UN and the Arab League to bring conflicts on the continent under complete check.
"We have a problem in Sudan and Somalia. These countries are members of the Arab League and we think the joint peace and Security Council of our regions would assist us in trying to find the political solutions to the problems in those countries," Ping said.
African ambassadors accredited to AU are currently putting final touches to the grand peace body, modelled on the operating mechanisms of the UN Security Council. Talks on the formation of the joint peace council with the Arab League have reached an advanced stage in a fresh approach to integrated conflict management system.
"We need to activate the Arab-Africa relations because African countries form about 70% of the entire population of the Arab world. African states are powerful, by forming the joint security council, we can cool the tempers," Ping said at the AU Summit in Egypt. Africa has proposed to adopt a standardised peacekeeping operations strategy, similar to those applied by the UN Security Council. AU peace experts are still examining the details of such a strategy.
Confidential documents obtained during the AU summit show that African ambassadors have been holding a series of meetings since January this year to discuss the joint security council merger.
Africa's own peace body has proposed to hold joint meetings with the UN Security Council and so far, a series of invitation letters have been written and exchanged between the two independent institutions, regarding conflicts reported within the continent. However, plans for the formation of an African Standby Force, to be supported by the G8, have been delayed, due to the lack of enough resources, although representatives of the G8 states, the AU Commission, AU and the UN have been holding meetings on the African peace support.
The plan seeks to create a permanent peacekeeping force for Africa, which could be deployed on emergency basis, to act as a stabiliser in times of conflict.
This year, the AU helped to root out a militant in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Anjouan in the Comoros Islands from power. The AU chairman, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, sent troops (together with Sudan) to Comoros to uproot the militant leader from illegally taking over power on the island.
So far, talks on Africa's security have tended to focus more on the formation of the Standby Force, which is expected to be operational soon, with each region having its own arm of peacekeepers, but with a central command. The last strategy meeting to plot the formation of the Standby Force was held in Addis Ababa on 13 June, chaired by the Japanese ambassador to Ethiopia, Kinichi Komano (representing the G8) to review the progress so far made.
Details are still sketchy on how the super security council would work, but in the meantime, the AU has given out details about its core peace plan, the African Peace and Security Architecture, which is aimed at offering a platform for addressing conflicts and how to prevent them. The AU is also planning a series of outreach missions to South America. So far, an association has been created with South America, with Brazil as the headman to spearhead talks.
African ambassadors have agreed to form a technical working group with a group of South American states, under the framework of the Africa-South America Cooperative Forum, whose first major meeting was held in Brasilia, Brazil, on 9-11 June.