The FES-AU Cooperation Office in partnership with Crisis Action (CA), Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), Amani Africa, Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), Life and Peace Institute (LPI), Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Humanity United and Oxfam, hosted the second annual CSOs-AUPAPS convening from 4 to 5 April 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting with AUPAPS took place as one of the avenues the AUPAPS department has opened up in the past year for engaging with CSOs regularly.
CSOs, which encompass African think tanks, academic and research institutions, as well as advocacy and Pan-African organizations, have been proving their support to the initiatives of the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities and Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) in preventing, resolving and managing conflicts in Africa. Nevertheless, there have been limited avenues for CSOs to collaborate with the AU and its regional mechanisms, in harmonizing and reinforcing efforts in the search for peace and security on the continent.
In this regard, the meeting was organized following the initial retreat between CSOs and AUPAPS' proposal to have an institutionalized CSO-AUPAPS convening once a year and to identify areas of collaboration and create alignment between CSOs and the AUPAPS department on their respective priority areas of work. The forum is also organized to enable CSOs to determine what they can contribute to the AU PAPS department's efforts in addressing governance, peace, and security challenges on the continent.
More than 40 participants representing CSOs from African think tanks, academic and research institutions, advocacy, and pan-African organizations working on various dimensions of regional and continental peace and security issues, as well as significant officials from AUPAPS and AU ECOSOCC were in attendance. The represented CSOs gathered first exclusively and took stock of CSOs' engagement with the AUPAPS in 2022 as well as with AU ECOSOCC and consolidated priority action plans in support of the AUPAPS. The joint AUPAPS and CSOs convening helped CSOs to get an overview of AUPAPS priority areas of work for the year, to exchange hopes and aspirations of CSOs' engagement with the AUPAPS, and to put a motion forward on priority engagement areas between CSOs and AUPAPS particularly on regional responses to the Sahel and Africa’s evolving geopolitical context and for the creation of a joint working group. Moreover, African CSOs that have been engaging with AUPAPS have given identity and named their coalition the “Pan-African Civil Society Network on Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PANPAPS)". The network may provide strong support to the AU towards preventing, resolving, and addressing conflicts in the continent, as well as enhancing synergy among the CSOs and their engagement with the AUPSC.