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ECOWAS, AU Discuss Operationalization Of Africa Peace Support Missions

Pso Au Meeting
Pso Au Meeting

The ECOWAS Commission’s Department for Political Affairs, Peace Keeping and Security on Monday, 22nd April 2024, is hosting a high-level delegation from the African Union, UN Human Rights, and EU delegation to the AU, led by the Commissioner for Political Affairs for a 2 day strategic and technical cooperation meeting aimed at integrating and implementing the African Union Accountability and Compliance Framework (AUCF) into peacekeeping missions across the region. The focus is to ensure that there are seamless operations devoid of human rights violations.

This meeting aims to bolster compliance with International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and International Humanitarian Law within Peace Support Operations (PSOs). It underscores the commitment to maintaining the highest standards of conduct, behavior, integrity, and accountability among all civilian, military, and police personnel involved in PSOs. In pursuit of this goal, ECOWAS has developed policies and documents, including the Conduct and Discipline Policy Framework, since 2019, to support these efforts.

During his welcoming address, Dr. Abdul-Fatau Musa, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, expressed gratitude for the esteemed delegation from the AU, EU, and UN. He reiterated ECOWAS’s unwavering dedication to accountability and compliance with human rights standards and best practices in the operations of ECOWAS peace missions, which form the cornerstone of the organization’s establishment.

Dr. Musah emphasized the timeliness of the visit, noting that ECOWAS is currently engaged in discussions to establish a new peace mission in Sierra Leone and the existing missions in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau. He highlighted that the ECOWAS heads of state have adopted a framework for completely eradicating terrorism, which will bolster the operations of the ECOWAS Standby Force. Dr. Musah stressed the critical importance of accountability in operationalizing these peace missions, stating that all troop-contributing and police-contributing countries must adhere strictly to the guidelines outlined in the framework.

Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, underscored the paramount importance of human rights in his remarks, emphasizing its pivotal role in fostering compliance and accountability. He stressed that streamlining human rights compliance and accountability is essential in addressing terrorism effectively. Ambassador Adeoye asserted that to combat terrorism, regional bodies such as the AU and ECOWAS must prioritize human rights, integrating them into their strategies against violent extremism, rebellion, insurrection, and unconstitutional regime changes across Africa.

He highlighted the AU’s plan to extend the compliance framework to all regional bodies, starting with ECOWAS, to ensure adherence to global best practices in human rights. This, he believes, will strengthen international cooperation and contribute to the realization of the AU’s Agenda 2063, aimed at making Africa free from conflict. Ambassador Adeoye called for increased investment in Early Warning Mechanisms to prevent conflicts proactively and appealed for continuous support from the international community in this endeavor.

In her remarks, H.E. Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, emphasized the global challenges in peacekeeping efforts, stressing the need for a systematic approach to addressing conflicts at the strategic level. She expressed appreciation for the meeting and underscored the importance of partnerships and collaborations in implementing compliance measures. Additionally, she highlighted the broader agreement between the AU and UN on human rights, complementing the efforts of the African Union Compliance Framework (AUCF).

H.E. Ambassador Nino Perez, Head of the EU delegation to the AU, represented by Thomas Huyghebaert, Head of Policy and Cooperation, reiterated the EU’s commitment to the AUCF. He noted that the EU has dedicated over 5 billion dollars to peacekeeping-led missions across the continent over the past two decades.

The technical and strategic sessions will continue on April 23rd with the participation of technical experts from all four organizations.

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