All Africa Conference of Churches
Report from the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union to the AACC Secretariat
30-31 January 2014
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
The 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit was held in Addis Ababa from January 30 to 31, 2014 under the theme: “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture: Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”. The Heads of State as well as heads of delegations of the fifty-five African Union member countries took part in the two days sessions of the Assembly. The opening ceremony was attended by several invited guests including Mr. Laurent Salvador Lamothe, Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), among other invited guests and international delegates.
The Heads of State and Government began the session with a minute of silence in memory of the late former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela of the Republic of South Africa. The Assembly also decided to name the Large Conference Hall of the AU Conference Complex the “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Conference Hall” in honour and memory of Nelson Mandela.
Some notes from the addresses made at the opening of Summit
Referring the theme of the Summit, the outgoing Chairman of AU, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, said that the transformation of agriculture holds the key to the success of Africa’s collective efforts to realize the continental vision. He appreciated African nations for allocating more than 10 percent of their national budget to the agricultural sector and urged them to renew their commitment to do more in the coming years and decades.
According to Mr. Hailemariam, the issue of peace and security had been the major preoccupation in his one year Chairmanship. He noted the progress made in resolving some of conflicts in the continent, however, the emergence of new conflicts which, if not addressed urgently, can be seriously threaten Africa’s collective peace and security and undermine the gains attained in recent years. Referring the unfolding situation in South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Premier stressed the need to find urgent solution to rescue these two sisterly countries from falling into the abyss. Failure to do so will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent. He said parties in South Sudan should demonstrate the necessary leadership to succeed the peace process initiated by IGAD and supported by the African Union, the United Nations and all other international partners. Concerning efforts to restore peace and security in Central African Republic, the Premier said that the international community should remain fully committed to support the Central African Republic in its difficult task of stabilizing itself and organizing elections to ensure a successful political transition.
In his acceptance speech, the new Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz highlighted the urgency of integrated environmental protection and food security measures. He hailed 2014, the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, as the opportune time to continue work towards sustainable environmental and agricultural practices. Transforming the rural economy through modernised irrigation practices as well as transforming the livestock sector will significantly impact economic growth and reduce poverty on the continent. This will, in turn, combat the spread of diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS and improve the general health of Africa’s citizens.
Speaking on issues of peace and security, the Chairman congratulated the Democratic Republic of Congo on the signing of a cease fire agreement and was encouraged by the continuing progress towards peace and stability in Tunisia, and the Central African Republic, which recently elected its interim president.
Chairperson of the Commission AU, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, said the conflicts started at the beginning of the year 2014 in Central African Republic and South Sudan inflict harm to civilians especially women and children who are the main victims of these conflicts. She stressed the importance of working together to ensure lasting peace and security in these countries.
In his remark at the opening of the summit, Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) said there are positive results in resolving crises in countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Somalia. However, the situation in South Sudan needs to be addressed with concerted efforts. He said combined efforts should be extended to protect civilians, prevent gross violations of human rights and facilitate humanitarian assistance. He urged the parties to strictly adhere to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed and to intensify their efforts for reconciliation and domestic peace. The UN warmly commends and supports the mediation efforts of IGAD.
The Assembly also welcomed newly elected president the Republic of Madagascar Mr. Hery M. Rajaonarimampianina Rakotoarimanana.
Some of the decisions and declaration made by the Assembly
The 22nd Ordinary Session of AU Summit concluded on 31 January 2014 with adoption of key decisions by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Hereunder follows a summary of adopted decisions and declaration by the Assembly:
- The Assembly deliberated on the issue of peace and security on the continent. It underscored the need for renewed efforts to tackle the challenges to peace and security that have continued to confront Africa. To this end the Assembly recalled the crucial need for expeditious and comprehensive operationalization of all the components of the African Peace and Security Architecture, as well as the need for more effective action, both operational and structural, in the realm of conflict prevention.
- The Assembly expressed its satisfaction at the continued progress in the consolidation of peace and reconciliation in the Comoros, in Liberia and in Côte d’Ivoire; It welcomed the conclusion of the process of transition and restoration of constitutional order in Madagascar; the conduct of legislative elections in Guinea on 26 September 2013; the positive developments in the situation in Tunisia and the commitment of the various Tunisian stakeholders to foster consensus and dialogue with a view to bringing the on-going transition to a successful conclusion; developments in Mali, particularly the conduct of two rounds of presidential election on 28 July and 11 August 2013; the progress that has continued to be recorded in Somalia; and the advances made in the implementation of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA).
- On Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Assembly expressed satisfaction at the positive developments in the situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the end of the M23 rebellion and the signing in Nairobi on 12 December 2013, of Declarations by the DRC Government and the M23;
- On the Sudan and South Sudan, it noted with satisfaction the continued progress in the relations between the two countries, and this, within the framework of the Cooperation Agreements signed between the two countries in Addis Ababa, in September 2012. It reiterated its support for the High-Level Implementation Panel and encouraged the latter to pursue the implementation of all aspects of its mandate as defined by the PSC, including at its summit level meeting held in New York on 23 September 2013.
- On Somalia, the Assembly welcomed the progress that continued to be recorded and appreciated the measures taken pursuant to the 10 October 2013 PSC communiqué on the AU/United Nations Joint Strategic Review of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the benchmarking exercise and on resolution 2124 (2013) of 10 November 2013, to strengthen AMISOM, mobilize additional support for the Somali national security forces towards successful conclusion of restoration of Somali State authority in areas still under the control of Al-Shabaab and create the conditions for the conduct of the elections scheduled for 2016. The Assembly urged Somali players to persevere in the path of reconciliation and continue to promote an inclusive process.
- On Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Assembly underscored the need for more sustained effort to overcome the difficulties facing the peace process between the two countries, and to normalize the relations between Djibouti and Eritrea. The Assembly requested the Commission to continue to work towards effective implementation of its previous decisions on the two aforementioned situations, including promotion of a global and holistic approach to the challenges to peace and security in the Horn of Africa.
- On South Sudan, the Assembly noted the eruption of violent conflict on 15 December 2013 in the country and the grave consequences inherent in this situation for both the country itself and the region at large. The Assembly urged the concerned players to scrupulously and urgently implement and respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement they concluded on 23 January 2014 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). The Assembly called upon the parties to engage, on the basis of the progress already accomplished, in inclusive dialogue to find a lasting solution to the root causes of the crisis. The Assembly expressed its unalloyed support for the mediation conducted by IGAD, urged members of the international community to continue to back these efforts, appealed for mobilization of increased humanitarian assistance to the effected populations, and expressed its support for the role played by the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) and welcomed the ceasefire agreement in South Sudan and the partial release of detainees.
- On Central African Republic, the Assembly expressed its deep concern at the situation in the Central African Republic and reaffirmed Africa’s determination to spare no effort to re-establish security in that country and facilitate successful conclusion of the transition. The Assembly commended the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) for its decisive action in support of CAR, welcomed the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR) and the efforts it is deploying on the ground with the support of Opération Sangaris, and requested the mobilization of all the resources required by the Mission for effective implementation of its mandate. To this end, the Assembly expressed gratitude to the concerned partners for the support already accorded to (AFISM-CAR) and underscored imperative need for close coordination to ensure that their contributions help in strengthening (AFISM-CAR) and in the effective implementation of its mandate. The Assembly urged Central African Republic players to demonstrate commitment and sense of responsibility so as to facilitate the successful conclusion of the on-going transition.
- On the democratic transition in Tunisia, Assembly expressed its satisfaction with the establishment of a new government of highly qualified technocrats with no affiliation to any political party, mainly tasked with securing the continuation of the democratic process.
- Concerning the implementation of its decisions on the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Assembly expressed its disappointment that the request by Kenya supported by AU, to the United Nations (UN) Security Council to defer the proceedings initiated against the President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya has not yielded the positive result expected; and that the request by the Union to the UN Security Council to defer the proceedings initiated against the President of the Republic of The Sudan has not been acted upon to date; the Assembly, in its discussions on the implementation of decisions on the International Criminal Court decided that:
(i) African states parties should comply with African Union Decisions on the ICC and continue to speak with one voice to ensure that the African proposals for amendments to Articles 16 and 27 of the Rome Statute of the ICC are considered by the ASP working Group on amendments as well as by the forthcoming sessions of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute;
(ii) There is an imperative need for all member states to ensure that they adhere to and articulate commonly agreed positions in line with their obligations under the Constitutive Act of the African Union;
(iii) The group of African states parties in New York and the African members of the bureau of ASP should follow-up on the implementation of various Decisions of the Assembly on ICC, in collaboration with the Commission and ensure that the African proposals and concerns are properly considered/addressed by the ASP and report to the Assembly through the Commission on actions taken regularly.
- In relation to the theme of the Summit, the Assembly appreciated the launch of 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security to mark the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture and Development Programme (CAADP) with focus on Transforming Africa’s Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development. The Assembly welcomed the publication on “Agriculture in Africa - Transformation and Outlook for the next 20 years” by the NPCA at the request of the Chairperson of AU Commission. It requested the Member States, the Commission and NPCA along with stakeholders and development partners to scale up their collaboration towards sustaining of the CAADP momentum by focusing on agro-industry and entrepreneurship, access to land for small-holder farmers, women and youth, linkages between job creation, food security and nutrition, as well as lesson learning on CAADP accomplishment.
- On African development goals especially in the articulation of post 2015 period, the Assembly endorsed the African development goals consistent with the existing continental frameworks and to serve as milestones for tracking and monitoring progress towards Agenda 2063. In addition, Assembly endorsed the organization of an extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Governments on the assessment of progress made in the implementation of the 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on employment and poverty alleviation, proposed to be held in Burkina Faso this year.
Assembly decided that the 23rd session of the Assembly of the African Union will be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from 26-27 June this year, preceded by meetings of the PRC and the Executive Council from 21-21 June and 23-24 June respectively.
Iteffa Gobena Rev.
AACC Ecumenical Envoy to Africa Union.