The following article and picture materials have been provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Angola in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
By Ambassador Francisco José da Cruz
1. Africa continues to face complex and multidimensional challenges, including the spread of terrorism and violent extremism; unconstitutional changes of government; intricate, undefined, and/or inconclusive political transitions; increased external interference; illicit arms trafficking; corruption and inequitable distribution of resources; and transnational organized crimes.
2. It should also be noted the public health security problems represented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreaks of other epidemics, the insecurity induced by climate change, as well as the strategic risks arising from the slow process of ratifying African Union (AU) instruments and implementing the decisions of its Peace and Security Council (PSC).
3. The continental organization has attached increasing importance to conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa, conscious of the need to ensure the continued implementation of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), as well as the Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), as part of efforts to create enabling conditions for the achievement of Agenda 2063.
II. ANGOLA'S STRATEGIC ROLE IN THE CONTINENT
4. Angola has sought to exercise an increasingly assertive and dynamic diplomatic role in regional, continental and international organizations with a view to consolidating peace and security in Africa, taking into account its experience in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
5. In the last decade, the country has been involved in several initiatives for peace and stability in the world, and was elected in 2014, for the second time, Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council for the biennium 2015-2016 ¹
6. During its mandate, Angola was committed to:
a. Promote dialogue among civilizations, as it constitutes an essential factor for the promotion of a culture of peace, respect for the difference among peoples and the resolution and prevention of conflicts;
b. Offer a strong and credible regional voice that could help the Security Council cooperate more closely with regional and sub-regional organizations;
c. Ensured the promotion of the African agenda and contribution in achieving peace and security in Africa and other parts of the World; and
d. Support the work of the United Nations and the initiatives of regional and sub-regional organizations in combating transnational organized crime and international terrorism, strengthening international mechanisms for conflict prevention and mediation.
7. At the regional level, its diplomacy continued to play a strategically important role in seeking responses to situations of conflict and political crises for the consolidation of peace and stability on the continent. In this regard, it chaired the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) for the first time from 2014 to 2017, and prioritized initiatives to:
¹ Angola was elected for the first time in 2002 Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2003-2004 biennium.
a. Not allow the territories of Member States to be used to carry out rebel and illegal actions in the region; and
b. Ensure respect for sovereignty, full safeguarding of human rights and strengthening of good neighborly ties.
8. Angola assumed a second mandate in 2020, committed to promoting greater collaboration and cooperation among Member States and improving their capacities to strengthen democratic institutions and competent institutions to mitigate the operations of negative forces in the region².
9. The Angolan Executive has also actively participated in the mobilization and dialogue with all stakeholders in strengthening national, regional, and continental initiatives in response to maritime security threats on the Atlantic coast, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.
10. In this context, Angola chaired the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) from 2008 to 2013, this regional cooperation body based in Angola whose mission is to defend the common interests and the promotion of peace and socioeconomic development of the riparian states concerned, based on dialogue and political consultation.
11. Angola has always been available and interested in playing a relevant role in the development of an integrated strategy for the management of the African Maritime Domain. It was in this context that in partnership with the USA and Italy, organized in October 2015 the International Conference on Maritime and Energy Security (CISME) to encourage greater complementarity between the various States committed to safeguarding their national interests, ensuring territorial integrity and protecting their natural resources.
² Preface to the ICGLR Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 by H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola and President of the ICGLR
12. Since the operationalization of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) in 2004, Angola has been elected three (3) times as a member of it, the first for a three (3) year term (2007-2010) and the others for two (2) years (2012-2014 and 2018-2020)³. The PSC is a permanent decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution and a collective security and early warning structure to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situation in Africa.
13. Angola has twice assumed the rotating chairmanship of the PSC during its last mandate, having organized a ministerial meeting in New York, USA, in September 2018, on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, on the theme "The State of Peace and Security in Africa and Steps Taken in Promoting African Solutions to African Problems," and the other in Luanda, Angola, in December 2019, in which "National Reconciliation, Restoration of Peace, Security and Rebuilding Cohesion in Africa" was discussed.
III. EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT ON TERRORISM AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES OF GOVERNMENT IN AFRICA
14. For Angola, peace, security and stability are essential conditions for socio-economic development and regional integration. For this reason, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from February 9 to 10, 2020, H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of Angola, expressed concern over the expansion of terrorism and violent extremism in regions such as the Sahel, Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique.
³ The PSC shall consist of fifteen (15) members elected taking into account the geographical representation of the five regions of the AU (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Central and Western) and the principle of rotation (ten members elected for a period of two years; five members elected for a period of three years to ensure continuity.
15. As this situation poses a serious threat to peace and stability in Africa and therefore requires a response from the International Community in general and the AU in particular, suggested that an Extraordinary Summit be held to examine the impact of terrorism and violent extremism on the continent and identify new strategies and a comprehensive, pragmatic and sustainable plan of action to combat them.
16. The Assembly decided "to organize an Extraordinary Summit dedicated to the challenges of terrorism and violent extremism, with a view to urgently take the necessary measures to support countries facing the serious effects of terrorism."
17. Furthermore, it requested the AU Commission to "in coordination with the Acting Chairperson of the Union, undertake the necessary consultations for holding the Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or another Member State."
18. Meanwhile, concerned about the increasing number of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa, with recourse to military force, in September 2021 the Angolan Head of State advocated the need for the International Community to adopt stronger measures to discourage such actions, as well as holding their perpetrators accountable.⁴
19. In this context, it suggested that the Extraordinary Summit proposed in February 2020 - and so far not yet held because of the COVID19 pandemic - should also discuss the problem of unconstitutional changes of government in Africa.
20. After all, the latest coups d'état had taken place in countries faced with terrorist and violent extremist actions, thus demonstrating the link between these two serious challenges to peace and stability in Africa.
⁴ Meeting with AU Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamta on the margins of the 3rd ICGLR Mini-summit held in Luanda on September 17, 2021, to discuss and update the political and security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).
21. The 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 5-6 February 2022, decided that the said event should take place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, one day after the Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Donors' Conference scheduled for 27 May 2022.
IV. UA CHAMPION FOR PEACE AND RECONCILIATION
22. The 16th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 28 May 2022, expressed concern about "the latest developments on the common border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Rwanda and, within the principle of complementarity and subsidiarity, mandates the Chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, to maintain contacts with the parties involved and report on the diplomatic efforts he has undertaken for the immediate silencing of arms in the region and the rapid re-establishment of the mechanisms for dialogue between the two Member States".
23. On the other hand, it was decided to name the Angolan Head of State an "AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa", due to his engagement in the search for increasingly participatory and inclusive forms of governance that contribute to the dissemination of a national culture of peace and pacification on the continent, especially in the framework of his chairmanship of the ICGLR.
24. The Heads of State and Government stressed in their Declaration that "We are fully aware of the utmost importance of building resilient societies, social cohesion, national unity and regional cooperation as a foundation for lasting peace, and in the spirit of the Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade for Reconciliation in Africa; to establish 31 January of each year as "Africa Day of Peace and Reconciliation" ; and to this end, to appoint H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço as AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa".
25. It was in this capacity that during the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 17 to 18 February 2023, the Angolan Head of State presented his first report on the diplomatic commitments made and the interventions undertaken for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in various regions of the continent in 2022.
26. It should be noted that on January 31, 2023, the inaugural commemoration of the African Peace and Reconciliation Day was launched with a message in which:
a. Considered trust and unity in the diversity of the peoples of Africa as the way forward for the continent to achieve peace and reconciliation, as well as manage and resolve conflicts;
b. Reaffirmed that the achievement of peace in Africa is indeed a shared responsibility that requires all African citizens, young and old, men and women, to contribute to the maintenance of social cohesion and unity and to appreciate, value and encourage peace in their individual and collective capacities and environments.
27. In the DRC, in accordance with Angola's responsibilities as a mediator, the National Assembly (AN) approved on March 17, 2023 the request for authorization from the President of the Republic to send 450 military personnel from the Contingent of Support to Peacekeeping Operations of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) in the DRC, in order to ensure the cantonment process of the M23 military forces and to protect the members of the Ad Hoc Verification Mechanism in the East of this country.
28. The objective of the Angolan mission will be to accelerate the effective implementation of the Luanda Process, in coordination with the Nairobi Process, for the resolution of the security crisis in Eastern DRC and the normalization of political and diplomatic relations between this country and Rwanda.
29. As AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation, H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, has the responsibility to lead the mobilization of political support and cooperation from Member States at sub-regional, regional and continental levels, as well as galvanize international support to prioritize conflict prevention, management and resolution on the continent.
V. HIGH LEVEL DIALOGUE ON DEMOCRACY, GOVERNANCE, HUMAN RIGHTS, TRENDS, CHALLENGES AND PERSPECTIVES OF THE AU
30. The AU recognizes and values the strategic importance that Angola attaches to the issues of peace, democracy and the rule of law. Accordingly, the continental organization has decided to hold its 12th Edition of the High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Governance, Human Rights, Trends, Challenges and Prospects in Luanda in the second half of 2023.
31. This is an initiative of the African Governance Platform (AGP), an institutional and interactive mechanism of the AGA whose mandate is to operationalize and coordinate programs related to democracy, elections, constitutionalism, rule of law, public service and administration, decentralization, anti-corruption, human rights, and transitional justice.
32. The High Level Dialogue (HLD) aims to:
a. Assess the state of governance, peace and security; and
b. Identify the progress made and the main obstacles and challenges in promoting democracy and the rule of law on the continent.
33. As in previous editions, this year's program is expected to feature eminent guests such as current and former African Heads of State and Government, including AU Theme Champions, representatives of organs and institutions of the continental organization, regional economic communities, UN agencies and the private sector. The participation of leaders of civil society organizations, including youth and women's networks, artists and other social and development partners is also planned.
34. This event will be an opportunity for the Angolan Head of State to lead discussions on democracy, governance and human rights issues on the continent and share his strategy and agenda as AU Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa.
VI. PAN-AFRICAN FORUM FOR THE CULTURE OF PEACE IN AFRICA – BIENNALE OF LUANDA
35. Angola is also engaged in promoting a culture of peace and national reconciliation by holding the Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace in Africa – Biennale of Luanda, in partnership with the AU and UNESCO. The first edition took place in September 2019, the second in October 2021 and third is scheduled for October 2023.
36. The Biennale of Luanda aims to promote, in a permanent and sustainable way, a culture of peace that contributes to the strengthening of national unity and implies an unequivocal rejection, individually and collectively, of the divisions and violence that have affected, with serious political, economic and social consequences, many countries in Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes Region, even calling into question the AU's strategic objective of silencing the weapons on the continent.
37. Its mission is to strengthen a Pan-African movement for a culture of peace and non-violence, notably through the establishment of a multilateral partnership between governments, civil society, the artistic and scientific community, the private sector and international organizations.
38. The next Biennale of Luanda will be dedicated to "Education; Culture of Peace and African Citizenship as Tools for the Continent's Sustainable Development", thus being aligned with the AU theme for 2024 which will focus on Education.
VII. POLITICAL INFLUENCE AND STRATEGIC EXPECTATIONS
39. For Angola, states must know how to defend their national interests and preserve their sovereignty and independence, privileging peaceful and inclusive ways to settle conflicts and overcome eventual disagreements, within the respect for the law and human rights.
40. Having lived through decades of violence and destruction before achieving peace and national reconciliation, Angola has a long and painful experience in conflict prevention, management, and resolution that is increasingly being recognized and strategically needed as a reference for achieving peace, stability, and development in Africa.
41. The exchange of experiences and information on national reconciliation initiatives contributes to the achievement of the AU's strategic objective of silencing arms on the continent. For this reason, the continental expectation is that Angola:
a. Continue to complement the diplomatic initiatives of the Great Lakes Region leaders in conflict resolution, in coordination with regional organizations such as the ICGLR, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the East African Community (EAC);
b. Work with the AU Commission in advocating its key initiatives for the consolidation of peace and reconciliation across the Continent. This will entail working closely with the Panel of the Wise and similar regional mechanisms in their peacemaking initiatives to ensure the advancement of democracy, respect for human rights and good governance;
c. Promote active engagement with relevant stakeholders for support and compliance with agreements reached after peace processes and national dialogues resulting from complex political transitions and continue to encourage citizen participation and economic and social inclusion;
d. Advocate for greater engagement of regional and international stakeholders to ensure that countries in post-conflict contexts receive the financial and technical assistance needed to implement commitments made in the framework of reintegration of ex-combatants;
e. Address issues related to human rights violations to avoid impunity and ensure accountability, thereby contributing to the building of a lasting and inclusive peace in Africa.
42. The AU hopes that H.E. João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola and Champion for Peace and Reconciliation in Africa, will continue to lead the mobilization of political, technical and financial support for conflict prevention, management and resolution on the continent and contribute to the strengthening of a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence that promotes social cohesion, political inclusion and democratic participation in Africa.