Egypt concluded its month-long presidency of the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council, on Saturday.
The baton was handed over by Osama Abdel Khalek, Egypt’s Ambassador to Addis Ababa and the country’s permanent representative to the AU. As he did so, he said that the country’s leadership of the council aimed to implement rapid interaction with various peace and security challenges in the continent.
At the same time, Egypt has focused on reaching tangible results that can continue to be monitored.
Abdel Khalek also said that, during the Egyptian presidency, the council was interested in supporting the Sudanese peace agreement concluded on 3 October. It also looked to address a number of arrangements that would support Sudan during the current transitional phase, especially regarding the lifting of sanctions against it and its supporting economic recovery.
He added that the Egyptian presidency of the Council also witnessed the end of sanctions against Mali, and the restoration of the country’s full AU membership. Undertaking a restoration of stability in Mali would enhance efforts to combat terrorist organisations in Africa’s Sahel region.
Abdel Khalek praised the Peace and Security Council for putting forward an Egyptian initiative at its first session, in which it discussed the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and their impact on peace and security in Africa. During the session, member states were briefed about the danger of this file, and the disturbing threat it poses to stability and peace throughout the continent.
In a related context, the Peace and Security Council has recently begun considering the various aspects of a proposal to form an African counter-terrorism force as part of the African Standby Force.
Abdel Khalek also said that the Council’s handling of peace and security issues extended to new dimensions based on providing an enabling environment to prevent the outbreak of conflicts and prevent them from occurring again. This would take into account the Egyptian president’s leadership in the post-conflict reconstruction and development file at the level of African leaders.
In this regard, the ambassador referred to a session held during Egypt’s presidency to review the progress made in implementing post-conflict reconstruction and development activities on the continent.
Another interactive session took place with the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, during which experiences and lessons learned were exchanged relating to supporting countries that have just emerged from armed conflicts.
Abdel Khalek added that the two sessions witnessed widespread interest in Cairo hosting the African Union Center for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development.
He also highlighted that the Egyptian Presidency of the Council addressed the issue of the human rights situation during armed conflicts, especially relating to women. This also took into account the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325.
The council celebrated the 20th anniversary of its adoption, and called for effective measures to continue expanding the participation of women in building efforts and peacekeeping. This would additionally see the immediate cessation of all forms of violence and violations against women.
He also added that the Council continued a consultative dialogue bringing it together with the European Union Committee for Political and Security Affairs. This year, the dialogue focused on developments in the Sahel region, Somalia and Sudan.
The two sides agreed to issue a joint statement reviewing the convergence of African and European positions on a number of challenges that face peace and security in Africa.
Abdel Khalek concluded his statements by explaining that the efforts made by Egyptian diplomacy in leading one of the most important African decision-making bodies were greatly appreciated and widely praised. This comes particularly in light of the challenges associated with measures to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and its impact on the multilateral work system, including work within the AU.