Ethiopia: AU says conflict mediation efforts face daunting challenges

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The range of conflicts that the African Union (AU) has to mediate and resolve have not only persisted but  have grown in complexity, the organization's Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui said here Tuesday.

Speaking at a two-day seminar on the operationalization of the AU Mediation Support Unit, Chergui said a host of emerging threats to peace and security now influence conflict dynamics and complicate mediation efforts. The seminar is taking place at the AU headquarters.

According to the AU official, these include the proliferation of illicit arms, especially small arms and light weapons; human and drug trafficking; and money laundering, as well as natural resources exploitation and climate change.

"What complicates matters further is the fact that players in a conflict are no longer limited to defined political factions and armed groups with a political agenda, but have exceeded those to rogue elements to which violent conflict represents both the means and ends, such as terrorists and warlords," said Chergui, stressing that these new realities call for the intensification of mediation efforts, and the AU is rising to the challenge of addressing them.

Mediation initiatives launched by the AU, however, have not been without significant challenges, besides involving the appointment of Special Envoys and High-Representatives in the field in conflict and post-conflict countries.

Chergui explained that eminent individuals or groups appointed to lead mediation efforts have the credibility, stature and expertise that enable them bring together a range of parties in a conflict to arrive at implementable agreements that are based on the principles and values of the AU.

But, he noted that liaison offices and field missions on the ground, which also engage in mediation activities, often lacked the required expertise and support.

"These operational challenges cause delays in deployment and tarnish the commitment of the AU to realizing peace. Furthermore, in the absence of a prompt and effective deployment, the situation on the ground is likely to worsen and further complicate the work of the AU," he observed.

Chergui stressed that these challenges, though daunting, have not reversed the progress made nor undermined the comparative strength of the AU in mediation.

"In recent years, the AU has recorded resounding as well as modest successes in its mediation efforts. Nonetheless, the continent, both leaders and people, continue to look to the AU to bring about lasting peace and stability," he stated.

In order to improved and facilitate the work of groups and individuals mandated by the AU to undertake mediation efforts, he said an African Union Mediation Support Unit would be essential just as the need to strengthen international collaboration and partnership.

"The main objectives of the unit is to ensure a systematic approach whereby the experiences and lessons learned in AU mediation efforts serve as a basis for formulating guidance and principles to strengthen the work of current mediators and facilitators as well as contribute to the elaboration of a template to support future and potential mediators and facilitators," he said.

In addition, Chergui mentioned the need to build the AU's internal capacity for mediation and to collaborate with member states, the regional economic communities, the United Nations, the international community as well as civil society and research institutes.  
-0- PANA AR 6Sept2016

06 september 2016 19:27:55

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