Global Policy Forum

Pan-African Grouping Launches

Agence France Presse
May 25, 2004

The African Union, a pan-continental body, launched a new Peace and Security Council which it hopes will become a robust guarantor of stability in Africa, much like the United Nations Security Council.

Heads of state and government from at least eight African countries were attending a ceremony to inaugurate the new PSC at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa. Participants at Tuesday's ceremony included the acting president of the AU, Joaquim Chissano.

Officials have vowed that the new council will act to intervene in African conflicts, setting the two-year-old AU apart from its largely toothless predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity. "The AU has more mandate than before. We are going to start intervening in conflicts in member states and this is prompted by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when the international community did nothing," AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said last month.

The 15-member PSC -- which in fact has been meeting regularly since March -- is empowered to mandate peacekeeping missions in conflict areas where ceasefire accords have been signed and to recommend to the assembly of AU heads of state that troops be deployed uninvited in cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The council has already met on the issue of Darfur, a war-ravaged region in western Sudan where forces allied to the Khartoum government stand widely accused of targeting civilians. Some 10,000 people have died and a million been displaced there since April 2003.

In all, about 10 countries in Africa are in the throes of conflict and there are currently six different UN peacekeeping missions deployed on the continent. By 2010, the African Union hopes to have its own standby rapid reaction force of 15,000 men. Djinnit believes that by ratifying the protocol establishing the PSC, "our leaders are showing and reaffirming their determination and commitment to handle Africa's problems by themselves."

The leaders at Tuesday's official inauguration -- which coincides with Africa Day -- will sign a "declaration of commitment" to take their responsibilities with regard to peace and security seriously. They will then meet behind closed doors to discuss the situations in Darfur, Ivory Coast and Somalia.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Regional Organizations and Peacekeeping


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