AU Political Affairs Peace and Security, ECOSOCC discuss CSOs’ engagement on peace and security

By PAC Correspondent

Early July, the African Union Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) convened a coordination meeting between African Union Political Affairs Peace and Security (AU PAPS) and ECOSOCC on Civil Society Organizations engagement in the European Union support program for the (EU APSA IV).

The meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya from the 6th to the 8th July 2023.

The meeting was meant to facilitate discussion on progress of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) implementation and establish future objectives for enhancing CSOs’ participation.

This included determining and implementing modalities and operational approaches for the 2023-2024 period, ensuring the sustained and active engagement of CSOs in the peace and security activities of the African Union Commission (AUC) and Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (REC/RMs).

Additionally, the meeting addressed broader aspects of project implementation, recognized distinctive mandates of ECOSOCC as the civil society policy organ and the AU’s PAPS department as the entity responsible for political affairs, peace and security.

AU-ECOSOCC Deputy Presiding Officer for Southern Africa, Malawi’s Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Executive Director, Robert Phiri, shared this view on CSO coordination in programs on peace and security.

“As new members and office bearers in ECOSOCC, we are discovering each other and figuring out how best we can contribute to the strategic plan of ECOSOCC. Therefore, such events help to build capacity in our members in the field of peace and security, noting that the latter is intertwined to the global developmental discourse. Peace is a stepping stone to economic development,” she said.

Deputy Head of Mission, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya to Ethiopia and the African Union, Ambassador George Kwanya made the opening statement to the event whereas Head of the AGA/APSA Secretariat, Ambassador Salah Hammad and PMT Programs Officer Kankemwa Zakariya and the Team Lead, M & E Project manager also made speeches on the day.

In his remarks, Ambassador Kwanya encouraged participants to holistically deliberate the potential synergies between ECOSOCC and other AU organs such as the pan African parliament, AUC and Recs, in the promotion of peace and security within the framework of APSA.

Participants to the meeting reviewed present participation of CSOs in the APSA with focus on examining gaps and overlaps in CSOs’ engagement, as well as challenges and opportunities they encounter in peace and security initiatives. The aim was to identify areas for improvement and explore effective strategies to enhance CSOs’ contributions to peace and security.

Another session covered a panel of CSO representatives with direct experience engaging with the APSA and other peace and security initiatives. The panelists provided insight into involvement, challenges encountered, successes achieved and lessons learnt from their organization’s involvement with the APSA.

The panelists also highlighted CSO contributions to conflict prevention, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, aside discussing strategies for effectively addressing identified challenges.

The conference also discussed various capacity-building opportunities and training programs for CSOs and identified specific needs and ways to enhance their effectiveness within the framework of the APSA.

“(This meant) to foster constructive exchanges of ideas and perspectives among participants, ultimately improving the planning and implementation of tailored capacity- building initiatives. The focus (was) on areas such as policy analysis, advocacy skills, conflict resolution, and bolstering CSOs’ knowledge, skills, and resources,” reads a statement issued.

There were also discussions targeting strengthening partnerships and collaboration, mapping the role of CSOs in future APSA, action planning to improve planning and delivery, ensuring effective collaboration among CSOs and implementing partners

On mapping the role of CSOs, experts stressed on the importance of collaboration among CSOs and implementing partners and stakeholders highlighting strategies, best practices and case studies that demonstrate successful collaboration in peace and security initiatives, including practical approaches.

The participants also brainstormed on exploring the role of CSOs in future initiatives within APSA, identifying mechanisms for on-going CSO engagement in the APSA IV framework, discussed specific capacity-building needs, multi-level engagement priorities and defined objectives and responsible parties.

The meeting was jointly organized by the AU-ECOSOCC and the PAPS department, in collaboration with implementing institutions of the Fourth European Union Support Program to the APSA (EU APSA IV).

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