The Training for Peace in Africa Programme at ACCORD (TfP/ACCORD) was requested by the African Union (AU) to attend the Consultative Workshop on the African Union Draft Aide-Mémoire for the Consideration of Issues Pertaining to the Protection of Civilians on 8 July 2013, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Department of Peace and Security and the Department of Political Affairs organised the workshop, with the support of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the auspices of the strategic partnership between the AU Commission (AUC) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, hosted the workshop to review the draft Aide-Mémoire on the Protection of Civilians (PoC).
The consultative workshop was attended by international partners such as The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Office to African Union (UNOAU), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNOHCHR), as well as representatives of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and gathered several divisions and departments of the AUC. The Programme was represented by Ms. Seun Abiola – Peacekeeping Unit Senior Programme Officer.
The objective of the consultative workshop was to review the draft Aide-Mémoire which is a policy document intended to facilitate the efforts of relevant organs of the AU, when seized with matters pertaining to the maintenance of peace and security in Africa, to establish appropriate mechanisms to ensure the protection of civilians affected by violence. It is also a decision-making tool for identifying key PoC concerns, and based on examples of past practice, sets out specific actions which can be taken to respond to these concerns. The workshop concluded by recognizing the need for such a document which addresses the important issue of PoC on the African continent. The workshop recommended that further amendments be undertaken before the endorsement of the document which would be the first of its kind by the leadership of the AUC in August this year.
The engagement is part of the Programme's joint work with the AU PSOD to support the Policy Development Unit (PDU) in PSOD on the PoC project, the goal of which is the advancement of the PoC agenda in the AU, which will result in an enhanced mainstreaming of PoC in the AU's responses to conflict situations. The PoC project aims to contribute to and reinvigorate discussions on PoC in the African context, inform the AU decision-makers, and ensure that PoC decisions and policy documents are more effectively implemented at the operational levels. As part of this project, the Programme will continue to support PDU in the development of the AU PoC Lessons Learned Report, as well as the African Standby Force (ASF) PoC Training Guidelines. The objectives of the PoC project are in line with the Programme's wider contribution to the development of the UN PoC Strategic Framework, the Draft African Union (AU) PoC Guidelines, and the mainstreaming of these guidelines into current AU and UN operations on the continent respectively.