The African Union (AU), with the support of ACCORD and the Government of Finland, organised the 9th AU High Level Retreat on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa. Held within the theme, ‘Strengthening the African Union’s Conflict Prevention and Peacemaking Efforts’; the Retreat took place from 25-26 October in Accra, Ghana, and was attended by AU Special Envoys and High Representatives, including the United Nations (UN) Special Envoys and Representatives of the Secretary General, the European Union; representatives of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs), academia, civil society organisations and mediation experts, amongst others.
The Retreat aimed at reviewing the AU’s existing instruments, partnerships and practices to determine their suitability to effectively prevent and manage current and future conflicts on the continent. This comes at a time when the current conflict landscape has become increasingly complex, evidenced by multiplicity of conflict types, actors and dynamics. The AU has made significant progress throughout the years towards addressing and managing these complexities by means of various mechanisms and structures, but the time has come for reflection and examination of these efforts.
Thus, the discussions focused on themes that reflected on: Africa today; Africa in a global changing context-Africa Tomorrow; Examining when conflict prevention is successful; Improving the cooperation, collaboration and partnerships between the UN, AU and RECs/RMs on conflict prevention and peacemaking; Building capacity for mediation; looking at what can be done to improve the African conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict response mechanisms; and Action for Peacekeeping Initiative.
The discussions therefore enabled scrutiny and examination of the existing mechanisms and enabled recommendations from the highly experienced participants that included but not limited to: unifying mechanisms and collaborative approaches by means of strengthened partnerships; promoting and enhancing the integration of joint peace support operations; promoting engagement with civil society; utilising the role of the network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), which has become a very effective tool in the promotion of women in mediation practices; and learning from previous conflict responses.
An eventful part of the Retreat was the recognition of distinguished individuals who have worked towards peace and security in Africa. Thus posthumous awards were presented to Kofi Annan and Margaret Vogt to acknowledge and appreciate the work they have done for the continent.
The discussions at the retreat have become a valuable contribution to the work of the AU, as the AU continuously strive towards improving their conflict prevention approaches and efforts for effective prevention and resolution of conflicts in the continent.
In addition to the Declaration that was put forward at the conclusion of the Retreat, a report based on the Retreat will be published.
ACCORD’s continued support to the AU is in line with the objectives of the organisation on strengthening the capacity of institutions that work to achieve sustainable peace on the African continent. Thus, ACCORD will continue to provide the substantive and technical support towards strengthening the capacities of the AU.