Communiqué of the 5th AU-ICRC Common Article 1 Roundtable

Practices and Challenges in African Union Mandated and Authorized Peace Support Operations
Article 18 February 2022

ICRC Delegation to the African Union in collaboration with the AU Political Affairs Peace and Security Department convened the 5th Common Article 1 of the Geneva Convention Roundtable on Tuesday, 15 February 2022. The event was held on the topic 'Practices and Challenges in African Union Mandated and Authorized Peace Support Operations.'

The roundtable drew key speakers and participants; including the Director, Conflict Management Directorate, AU Commission (AUC), Dr. Alhaji Sarjoh Bah; Head of Delegation of the ICRC Delegation to the AU, Mr. Bruce Mokaya Orina; Chief, Policy Development Unit, Conflict Management Directorate, AUC, Zinurine Alghali, Fahad Ahmed, Legal Advisor, AUC and other experts from AU Peace Support Operations, ICRC and the United Nations.

The dialogue served as a platform for Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs), coalitions of States and IOs to discuss how to operationalize their obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL.

The deliberation noted that Peace Support Operations (PSOs), under AU mandate, are carried out in increasingly violent, complex and changing environments and continue to face operational challenges; such as the asymmetric nature of confrontations with armed groups, as well as the handling of persons deprived of their liberty.

The meeting also noted that, compared to the past, most contemporary armed conflicts on the African continent do not follow traditional methods of warfare. The most significant change relates to the modus operandi of armed rebel/insurgent groups and the means and methods of violence.

The discussions appreciated the ongoing AU efforts to enhance its comprehensive framework of compliance with IHL, International Human Rights Law (IHRL) as well as to conduct and discipline obligations and standards for its PSOs as a means of ensuring that appropriate mechanisms of prevention and response to all forms of violations and misconduct exist, at the strategic and mission levels.

The roundtable further stressed that ad-hoc coalitions and operations carried out by RECs/RMs is expected to be consistent with the AU's purposes and principles as set out in the AU Constitutive Act and with its obligations under international law to respect, promote and encourage respect for IHL and human rights law.

It further emphasized AU's responsibility and accountabilities for the behavior of troops and personnel of such ad-hoc coalitions, host state and operations of RECs/RMs and their respect of IHL and human rights norms, which needs to be further clarified.

The discussion called upon coalitions of States as well as International Organizations (IOs to ensure that other actors are involved in an armed conflict respect IHL. The dialogue also recognized the 2019 ICRC policy initiative on "Support Relationships in Armed Conflict Initiative" (SRI) and Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on UN Support to non-UN security Forces (UN HRDDP) as important support modalities of PSO.

The roundtable recommended the need to have centrality and harmony in the compliance and accountability framework of peace support operations. And it further called for harmonization of guidance on pre-deployment and trainings.