At the upcoming 30th African Union (AU) summit in January 2018, the AU will elect 10 new members of the 15-member Peace and Security Council (PSC). Thirteen candidates will be vying for the 10 available seats. While some regions have already picked their candidates, in Northern and Eastern Africa it is still an open race.
The PSC remains a vital platform for AU member states to project their foreign policy in the area of peace and security.
The 15-member PSC consists of 10 member states that are elected for a two-year term and five others that are elected for three-year terms, in line with the mechanism set out in the PSC Protocol to ensure the continuity of PSC activities.
On 31 March 2018 the membership of Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo and Uganda, which are all serving two-year terms on the PSC, will expire. They are, however, allowed to be re-elected.
The Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia, which are serving three-year terms, will remain on the PSC until 31 March 2019.
The members of the PSC are elected on the basis of equitable regional representation, as indicated in the table, which shows the number of seats available and the new contenders in the various regions. The list of contenders may still change before the election, as some countries may choose to withdraw or be replaced with others.
Regional arrangements on representation within the PSC
As indicated by the table, Central, Western and Southern Africa have provided the same number of candidates as the number of the seats available for their region. These candidates are therefore most likely to secure the seats, if there are no last-minute changes.
Over the years, Western and Southern Africa have consistently submitted an equal number of candidates for the number of seats available to their region. This is based on internal arrangements within the regional organisations, namely the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
It is also owing to such agreements that Nigeria has maintained a seat on the PSC since 2004, when the PSC was launched, despite the fact that there are neither permanent seats nor veto rights in the PSC configuration.
Competition in Northern and Eastern Africa
The competition will arise when electing the candidates from Northern and Eastern Africa, where more candidates were submitted than the number of seats available. Electing one candidate from the three candidates from North Africa will be particularly challenging.
Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria are vying for the Northern Africa seat, and it is expected that the election will be fiercely contested by historical rivals Algeria and Morocco.
Morocco only recently joined the AU, during the 28th AU summit in January 2017, and is keen on participating actively in AU structures. The PSC seat is an important position for Morocco, which is working to impact on the long-held narratives within the AU on the issue of Western Sahara. Morocco is also keen on making an impact on wider peace and security issues, especially in the area of migration, a portfolio it has held since joining the AU.
Algeria has been a member of the PSC since 2004 (except for 2010–2012). Algeria continues to play a role in AU peace initiatives, especially regarding the issue of countering violent extremism. It has also held the position of commissioner for peace and security since the founding of the AU in 2002.
The election procedure
The candidates require a two-thirds majority vote from the AU Executive Council (consisting of foreign ministers). The elected candidates are then endorsed by the AU Assembly of heads of state and government.
PSC members are expected to meet the requirements set out in Article 5(2) of the PSC Protocol, including respect for constitutional governance, the rule of law and human rights. However, experience shows that these criteria are easily flaunted and do not count in the election process.
Nevertheless, after the votes are counted at the summit the new members of the PSC are expected to play a vital role in achieving the AU’s goal of silencing the guns in Africa by 2020. (Report)