At the end of each year, the African Union (AU) Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) and the African Standby Capacity (ASC) Partners [Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Center for International Peace Operation (ZIF) and ACCORD meet with the Regional Economic Communities/ Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to assess the progress made on set milestones, to address challenges being faced by the RECs/RMs and to recommend solutions to the challenges in implementing the requirements of the ASC. These discussions take into consideration the rotation and change-over of rostering officers at the regional level, as this necessitates the planning of either refresher or induction training for the new personnel on the ASC Roster. The meetings also serve as a platform for planning activities for the following year.
The AU PSOD and the ASC implementation partners held an end of year consultation meeting with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Standby Force on 3 December 2020, and with the East African Community Standby Force (EASF) on 8 December 2020. In these meetings, the ASC implementation partners addressed the handover of technical implementation partner roles from ZIF to ACCORD, presented the second edition of the Selection Guidelines Manual to the RECs and discussed the enhancement of the ASC database and set benchmarks for 2021. The RECs presented their 2020 roster activities, shared the current number of roster members on their regional rosters and discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their ASC activities. One of the main challenges raised by EASF was that of the loss of institutional memory. There is a lack of documentation of lessons learned and best practices between focal points after the three-year rotation and this has led to new roster focal points having to commence their roles without any information to make reference to from the past. Another challenge raised was that roster members are losing interest as they wait for deployment. There were only two deployment opportunities since last ASC Coordination Meeting in 2019 and these were election observation missions with 10 civilians to Seychelles in 2020 and to Comoros in 2019.
Following the impact COVID-19 has had on ASC activities in 2020, a proposed new working order that will continue to enhance the generation and deployment of civilian capacities was that the AU PSOD, the ASC implementation partners and the RECs should have regular consultation meetings on a quarterly basis.
The ECCAS and EASF meetings were attended by the AU PSOD, ZIF, GIZ, ACCORD and the Head of the Civilian Dimension of the consulted REC. ACCORD was represented by Miss Rumbidzaishe Matambo and Mr Wandile Langa. ACCORD’s support to the ASC is through the TfP Programme. The TfP Programme at ACCORD is an initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.