Durban, South Africa, 21 December 2021. The First Joint Retreat of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was held from 19 to 21 December 2021 at Durban, eThekwini, Republic of South Africa. The PSC is a standing decision-making organ of the African Union (AU) for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and a security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations on the continent. The APRM is an African-owned and African-led platform for self-assessment, peer-learning, and experience-sharing in democracy and good governance.The Retreat was organized by the APRM Secretariat and the AU Commission with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). The Retreat was arrangement pursuant to the decision of the PSC taken at its 914th Meeting held on 5 March 2020 (PSC/PR/COMM.(CMXIV) and affirmed at its 962nd Meeting held on 5 November 2020, (PSC/PR/COMM.(CMLXII).
The aim of the retreat was to create a platform where the PSC could thoroughly engage and interrogate various APRM peer reviewed reports undertaken in the past two (2) years in order to enhance early warning strategies and efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of conflicts on the continent.
Furthermore, the objective of the retreat was to afford an opportunity for APRM peer-reviewed countries to share their experiences and best practices emanating from the review processes so as to enhance efforts towards preventive diplomacy and good governance aimed at achieving the ‘Africa We Want’ in line with the AU Agenda 2063.
The Joint Retreat was anchored towards the realisation of the AU Agenda 2063: Aspiration 3: an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law and Aspiration 4: a peaceful and secure Africa as guided by the AU Master Roadmap on Practical Steps in Silencing the Guns by the Year 2030.
The Joint Retreat was attended by Permanent Representatives of Member States of the PSC, representatives of the APR Committee of Focal Points (Troika), representative of the Bureau of the AU Permanent Representatives’ Committee Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Democracy and Governance, Members of the APR Panel of Eminent, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security, Chief Executive Officer of the APRM Continental Secretariat, Members of the Bureau of the APRM Continental Consultative Committee of National Governing Councils, representatives of APRM National Governing Councils, representatives of the APRM National Secretariats, representatives of the Pan African Network of the Wise, representatives of the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise), representatives of the Members of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Platform, AU Youth Ambassador for Peace for Southern Africa, AU Commission Staff, APRM Continental Secretariat Staff. Partners, namely UNDP and ACCORD participated during the open sessions of the Retreat.
The Retreat was co-chaired by H.E Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma Sabo, the Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the AU, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of December 2021, and H.E Ambassador Ombeni Yohana Sefue, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the African Peer Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons.
Honourable Ravi Pillay, Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Economic Development and Tourism of the KwaZulu Natal Province, Republic of South Africa delivered a welcome statement on behalf of Hon Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, Minister of Public Service and Administration of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the Committee of Focal Points. The following delivered remarks: H.E Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security, Adv. Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director of the African Center for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) on behalf of H.E Madam Graca Machel, Co-Chair of the Elders and Chairperson of ACCORD of Trustees, and H.E Prof. Eddy Maloka, APRM Continental Secretariat CEO.
H.E. Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma Sabo and H.E. Ambassador Ombeni Yohana Sefue delivered the opening statements. Ambassador Yilma Sabo said the APRM-PSC retreat availed the PSC an opportunity to engage and understand the significance of APRM’s country reviews in the two previous years whose lessons he said, would inform the AU’s efforts towards preventive diplomacy in Africa. “I would like to reiterate our commitment to work closely with APRM and support all its efforts including identifying political problems before they develop into political conflicts, in the spirit of providing African solutions to African problems.” He said.
Ambassador Sefue asserted the retreat represented the maturation of the collaboration between APRM and the PSC and the entrenchment of their relationship. He noted that the exchange of ideas and experiences on APRM’s peer reviewed reports would surely enhance early warning strategies and efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of conflicts in the continent. “The APRM is willing to work in synergy with other structures of the African Union already operating, like her, as an early warning tool for conflict prevention on the continent,” assured the chair of the APR Panel, Amb. Sefue.
Following the comprehensive presentations and discussion the Joint Retreat adopted conclusions on: conflict prevention, democracy, human rights, good governance and development; support to AU Member States in Political Transition; Nexus between gender, youth governance and peacebuilding; enhancing cooperation and coordination between PSC and the APRM and; Other Activities undertaken by the APRM and the AU Commission in conflict prevention, promotion of democracy and good governance.
During the Closing Ceremony Ms Cynthia Chigwenya, African Union Youth Ambassador for Peace delivered a vote of thanks on behalf of all participants. H.E Prof Eddy Maloka; APRM Continental Secretariat CEO, H.E Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma Sabo; the Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the AU, Chairperson of the PSC for the month of December 2021 and H.E Ambassador Ombeni Yohana Sefue; Chairperson of the African Peer Review (APR) Panel of Eminent Persons delivered closing remarks.
Honourable Sihle Zikalala, Premier of the Province of KwaZulu Natal Province delivered a message of appreciation on behalf of the Government of Republic of South Africa in which he appealed to both the APRM and the PSC to ensure that the Joint Retreat becomes institutionalized as the AU’s flagship event of the intersection of governance and peace and security. He revealed the availability of the Province of KwaZulu Natal and Durban in particular to host the next Joint Retreat of the APRM and the PSC.
Hon Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration of the Republic of South Africa on behalf of the Chairperson of the APRM Committee of Focal Person, Hon Ayanda Dlodlo, Minister of Public Service and Administration of the Republic of South Africa delivered the Closing Statement.