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The Panel of the Wise of the African Union (AU), which is one of the pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) as provided for in the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, held its 18th statutory meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, on 5-6 March 2018, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, former President of the Republic of Namibia, and in the presence of the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smaiuml;l Chergui. In addition, the meeting was attended by Panel of the Wise members, Friends of the Panel of the Wise, as well as partners.
The Panel was granted audience by H.E. the President of the Republic of Namibia, H.E. Hage Geingob.
The opening session of the meeting was marked by addresses by H.E. Nangolo Mbumba, the Vice-President of Namibia, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ambassador Smaiuml;l Chergui and the Chair of the Panel of the Wise, H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba.
The Panel of the Wise began their 18th statutory meeting by reviewing the overall peace and security situation in Africa. They called for renewed efforts to address the number of conflict and crisis situations that are centered around four key geographic areas, namely, the Sahel-Sahara and Libya, the broader Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad Basin. Members of the Panel took note of the key challenges affecting each of these regional conflict clusters in different ways and to varying degrees.
Members of the Panel of the Wise also took note of the AU's multi-pronged approach to election observation and underlined the need for the AU to introduce pre-election observation at a considerably earlier stage.
Members of the Panel emphasized the need to prioritize actions in light of the scarcity of resources and the sheer number of challenges on the ground. They called for more interaction with the African Union Commission (AUC), in particular with the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) to enhance the Panel's on-going activities. Furthermore, Members of the Panel called for increased coordination and collaboration between the AU and the RECs.
During the session dedicated to the Panel's on-going thematic research and horizon scanning, members of the Panel discussed of the preliminary conclusions provided on the theme of Silencing the Guns: Improving the mediation and resolution of natural resource-related conflicts across Africardquo; by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). They also received a brief on Migration and Human Security by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Additionally, Panel of the Wise member Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe provided a review of the conclusions of the 5th PanWise Retreat held in Kampala on 16-17 November 2017, as well as FemWise-Africa's General Assembly held in Constantine in 13-14 December 2017. Members of the Panel thanked the AUC, as well as the co-chairs for their efforts in putting in place Femwise-Africa an important network, which was endorsed and formally established by the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 13 March 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On his part, H.E. Amre Moussa presented the outcomes of the 8th Annual Retreat of the African Union Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability dedicated to multilateralism.
Panel Members were equally briefed on the AU's Continental Structural Prevention Framework (CSCPF), taking careful note of the request for their active support to the CSCPF process. The CSCPF is a tool developed by the AUC to facilitate a Commission wide coordinated approach to structural conflict prevention.
Finally, the Panel of the Wise Members emphasized the need for its members to continue to focus its activities on conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and dialogue as well as the prevention of election related violence and conflict. They reiterated their determination to support FemWise-Africa deployments as well as those in relation to border disputes.
Members of the Panel of the Wise acknowledged the support provided by the AUC and called for the strengthening of the Secretariat of the Panel, including through the mobilization of additional human, material and financial resources.
The Panel agreed that its 19th meeting will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2018.The members of the Panel as well as all participants expressed their gratitude to the people and Government of Namibia for the warm welcome and the excellent facilities provided for the meeting which contributed to its success.
Source: African Union Peace and Security Department.