Protocol relating to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union: briefing

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Defence and Military Veterans

01 April 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

1 April 2003

Ms T R Modise (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Powerpoint presentation on the Protocol
Explanatory Memorandum: Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union

The Department of Defence briefed the Committee on the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union. The delegation explained how the PSC would be established and how it would function. The Committee was concerned about the effectiveness of the PSC. They were especially concerned about the power that the PSC would have against member states should they transgress. From experience in the United Nations, Members were concerned that the AU PSC could also be undermined. The Department gave assurances that the Protocol covered most concerns. The Committee recommended that the Protocol be ratified by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Chair explained that South Africa was still to ratify the Protocol for the establishment of the PSC. The Department of Foreign Affairs was on the verge of signing it and they had therefore asked the Department of Defence to take them through the Protocol.

Mr T Matumi, Chief of Policy and Planning, Defence Secretariat, addressed the Committee on the Protocol.

A positive outcome of the first ordinary session of the African Union was the adoption of the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. The establishment of the Council is pursuant to Article 5(2) of the Constitutive Act. It will be a standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It would also be a collective security and early warning arrangement, which would facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.

In terms of funding for the Council: a peace fund would be established. States who contribute contingents would bear the cost of their participation for the first three months while the AU would refund any expenses incurred after a period of six months. (Please refer to the attached presentation)

Mr A Blaas (NNP) referred to the funding of the African Standby Force (ASF). He noted that member states were to bear the cost of operations of its force for the first three months and would only be refunded after six months. He wanted to know if the first three months would be refunded as well.

Mr Matumi said that members would be refunded for the whole time that they were deployed.

Mr N Gogotya (ANC) wanted to know how the ASF would be comprised and where it would be based, how it would be activated and where its headquarters would be.

Mr Matumi said that the ASF had no headquarters per se. Countries would contribute troops and they would be put together as needed.

Mr Seko, Director of Foreign Relations Policy, said that the ASF was not a physical entity. Member states should build ASF units into their defence forces, which would be ready to be deployed at any time when needed.

Mr Gogotya asked whether the PSC would be able to prevent terrorism. He asked what the AU's understanding and description of terrorism was.

Brigadier General L Rudman: Director, Military Strategy, explained that in 1999 at the Algiers Convention on Terror, terrorism and terror acts were defined. These definitions were built into the Protocols.

The Chair added that that Africa had been the first to define terror acts at the Convention of Algiers.

Mr Gogotya wanted to know when the PSC would have the right to intervene in a member state.

Mr Matumi said that this was based on the judgment of the AU. Interventions would take place when genocide took place or when a member state requested intervention.

Adv H Schmidt (DA) asked whether the AU mission in Burundi was being funded by the AU, the EU or the UN. Mr Matumi explained that it was being funded by the AU itself. Member states were contributing but other donors could also contribute. The UN had not given any funds yet as it was waiting for the ceasefire to be signed first.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked whether member states and those who had not ratified the Protocol, would be treated the same and whether the PSC had the power to apply sanctions against member states.

Mr Matumi said that the powers were covered in the Protocol. He referred the Committee to Article 7 (g) of the Protocol, which explained that the PSC could apply sanctions when an unconstitutional change of government takes place.

The Chairperson asked whether there was any provision to prevent the PSC from being undermined as the UN Security Council had been.

Mr Seko said that provisions had been made for this in Article 22. A simple majority of the member states would bring the Protocol into force to which member states would have to abide. It remained a possibility, though, that the PSC could be undermined by the practice of states.

Mr N Middleton (IFP) asked whether the AU had jurisdiction over non-member states.

Mr Seko said that it was expected that the behaviour of states be in line with the principles of the AU. If there was any violation of these principles, a simple majority was needed to apply sanctions, even against non-members. The chair pointed out that the AU was working on a defence policy that would give clear direction as far as sanctions were concerned.

Mr G Oosthuizen (ANC) wanted to know where the Early Warning System, the observation and monitoring centre mentioned in the presentation, would be situated.

Mr Seko said that the Early Warning System was covered in Article 12 of the Protocol and would be based in Addis Ababa. This system would also use other regional mechanisms such as SADC.

Mr J Sithole (ANC) pointed out that the AU Constitutive Act was ratified by all states and the principles in the Act was therefore binding on all members. The AU had also inherited funding problems from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Payments to the ASF were therefore still a problem. He asked how the Department viewed South Africa's commitment to fund the ASF and whether there was any chance of that funding being recovered.

Mr Matumi replied that it was a difficult question and that the initial start up would have to be carried by South Africa.

Mr Seko said that since 1994, South Africa had been welcomed into the community of nations with a measure of responsibility. To be a serious player, it would have to contribute to the establishment of the ASF.

The Chair said that it was in South Africa's interest to contribute. She suggested that an office be established to recover money spent. All the African countries were not equal economically and therefore one could not expect all states to contribute equally. The costs, however, were not only monetary, but also in terms of preparation work. For example, South African troops should learn to speak Swahili if they were going to be sent to East Africa. The cost of operations and equipment should also be absorbed for the sake of peace. Such responsibility and benefits should be explained to all South Africans. Referring to regional mechanisms, the Chairperson was critical of those in SADC. In West Africa, however, something was being done. There was, therefore, a need to invigorate these regional mechanisms.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) asked what measures there were to control mercenaries that were involved in conflicts.

Mr Matumi replied that Article 7 (o) stated that the PSC could act in such circumstances. Mr Seko said that the Mutual Defence Act would have an article on this as well. It was hoped that this Act would be signed at the end of 2003.

Mr Gogotya asked what the role of private security companies is.

Mr Matumi said that this had not been addressed.

Mr Ntuli wanted to know what action could be taken against a country should it enter another country unilaterally on the pretext of protecting the citizens of that country. Mr Matumi said that the heads of state of the region and the AU would decide on action to be taken against such a state.

Mr M Booi (ANC) wanted to know how self-interest was defined. This was important because states could use this to defend their actions.

Mr Matumi replied that there was no particular definition but that the intent was in the Protocol and this will have to be thrashed out.

The Chair said that it was important for common definitions to be formulated so that certain practices could be outlawed. Mr Matumi added that this was the direction the AU wanted to work towards, but it took time. The EU had taken approximately 50 years to reach the place that it was at today.

The Chair said that she had noted that all states in the PSC had equal votes and that no provision was made for a state to have veto power. Why was this so?

Mr Seko said that the AU wanted to follow an all inclusive approach and functioned on a consensus basis. There were differences among member states, for example economically, but the AU sought to make all states equal.

The Chairperson felt that lessons had to be learnt from elsewhere. It was her personal opinion that for some states to have veto power was not necessarily bad. There could, however, be disguised veto powers since the Protocol did not mention anything about re-election onto the PSC. If a country was re-elected for some time, it might develop a sort of veto power. Mr Seko pointed out that the chairpersonship of the PSC rotated. The chair would be rotated each month in alphabetical order.

Mr Sithole (ANC) pointed out that some members had wanted permanency on the PSC, but that it was not agreed to as lessons had been learnt from the UN. Members of the PSC would be reviewed regularly. Other instruments, together with the Protocol, to ensure action against members who abused their position.

Mr Fihla (ANC) noted that when the UN was formed, the former USSR had suggested a veto power for certain countries. At the time it had felt threatened. Countries in Africa also had different powers and this had to be considered.

Mr Booi (ANC) said that the presentation was based on all states agreeing. He was concerned that there did not seem to be any punishment if any member transgressed. Mr Matumi said that there was punishment, but that it was on the extreme of the scale. After all avenues had been exhausted, sanctions were applied.

Mr Gogotya asked what provisions were in place should decisions by the AU be in conflict with decisions taken by the Arab League. Some African countries were members of both.

Mr Seko referred the member to Articles 16,17,18,19 and 20, which addressed the PSC's relationship with other regional bodies.

At this point the Chair recommended that the Protocol be ratified and asked whether any Member objected. All Members agreed that with the recommendation.

The meeting was adjourned.


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