Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner (AUC) for peace and security, says the African Union (AU) is playing a critical role in mediating conflicts across the continent.
Addressing a seminar on the operationalisation of the African Union Mediation Support Unit, which is currently under way in Addis Ababa, Chergui said the AU’s supportive role covered the spectrum of conflict as it continued to build upon the efforts of its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
This spectrum included mediating conflicts across the continent, whether arising from armed uprisings, constitutional disputes and unconstitutional change of government, electoral crises, secessionist wars and self-determination or border disputes.
“These mediation efforts involve the appointment of eminent individuals or groups with the credibility, stature and expertise that enable them to 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,” said Chergui.
Today, the range of conflict that the AU has to mediate and resolve has not only persisted, but has grown in complexity, explained the AU commissioner. “A host of emerging threats to peace and security now influence conflict dynamics and complicate mediation efforts, such as 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,” said Chergui.
What complicated matters further, according to Chergui, was the fact that those in conflict were no longer limited to defined political factions and armed groups with a political agenda, but had expanded to rogue elements like terrorists and warlords.
These new realities called for the intensification of mediation efforts, and the past five years have seen the AU step-up its mediation efforts. There are currently a number of special envoys active in the field in conflict and post-conflict countries.