Addis Ababa, 12 November 2011: The Commission of the African Union (AU) and a group of international partners (namely, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) signed yesterday, 11 November 2011, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, a Joint Financing Arrangement (JFA) for the funding of the AU Liaison Offices. These Offices operate in a number of AU Member States to support efforts aimed at promoting and sustaining peace, security and stability.

The JFA, which is a follow up to an earlier Arrangement signed in 2009, aims at creating a single, coherent and predictable funding mechanism through which international partners channel their contributions to facilitate the functioning of existing AU Liaison Offices and the opening of new ones where needed. Speaking on the occasion of the signing of the second JFA, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, expressed AU’s gratitude to the partners for their continued support. He seized the opportunity to highlight the key role being played by the AU Liaison Offices. “Every day, on the ground, the AU, through its Liaison Offices, contributes to efforts aimed at furthering peace, by providing support towards the implementation of agreements among conflicting parties, undertaking peace building activities and promoting the structural prevention of conflicts. The Liaison Offices also play an important symbolic role, demonstrating, thanks to their presence on the ground, the AU’s solidarity with Member States striving to overcome a legacy of violence and to build a better future for their people”, he said. On their part, the partners present at the ceremony reiterated their commitment to continue working closely with the AU, including through the provision of financial support for the implementation of the Union’s peace and security agenda. They acknowledged the important contribution being made on the ground by the AU Liaison Offices. They also expressed appreciation for the steps that the AU has taken to enhance the effectiveness of its Liaison Offices. NOTE TO THE EDITORS About the AU’s mandate in the promotion of peace, security and stability: The promotion of peace and security is a key objective of the AU as stipulated in its Constitutive Act. It is against this background that the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) was adopted in July 2002. The Protocol, which entered into force in December 2003, entrusts the PSC with extensive powers for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. As part of its mandate, the AU Commission, through its Peace and Security Department (PSD), provides the support required for the PSC and other organs to effectively discharge their responsibilities. About the AU Liaison Offices: The rationale for the AU Liaison Offices draws from the increasing involvement of the AU in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. In addition, most, if not all, of the peace agreements signed over the past years in Africa provide for the establishment of follow up and monitoring mechanisms, in which the AU is expected to play an active role along with other actors. The daily functioning of these mechanisms requires that the AU establish a presence on the ground. The decision to establish a Liaison Office in a Member State is made by the PSC. Over time, the role of the Liaison Offices has expanded to cover the whole spectrum of crisis management, from prevention and resolution to post conflict reconstruction. More specifically, the Liaison Offices contribute to: • monitoring situations on the ground to ensure that the PSC and Commission are kept fully informed of developments taking place in their host countries and areas of deployment; • participating in follow up mechanisms provided for by peace agreements and support their implementation; • supporting the work of the PSC by generating reports and by monitoring the implementation of PSC decisions at national level; • supporting post?conflict reconstruction and peace building activities and initiatives, by assisting national Governments achieve their various post?conflict agenda; • helping in mainstreaming AU policies on gender and relevant international instruments, including UN resolution 1325, as well as other AU programmes into the efforts towards conflict prevention, management and resolution; and • playing an important representational and public diplomacy role on the ground to enhance the visibility of AU initiatives. There are currently eleven AU Liaison Offices, established in the following countries: Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea?Bissau, Liberia, Republic of Sudan, Republic of South Sudan, and Western Sahara. Mention should also be made of the rear Headquarters of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is currently located in Nairobi. Steps are underway to open a Liaison Office in Tripoli, Libya, following the decision adopted by the PSC at its 297th meeting held on 20 October 2011. The role of this Office will be to assist, in cooperation with the United Nations, the League of Arab States and other stakeholders, in the efforts aimed at stabilizing the situation in Libya, promoting national reconciliation and inclusivity, and facilitating the transition process towards democratic institutions, building on the relevant provisions of the AU Roadmap. The Liaison Offices were reviewed by an independent assessment team in early 2010. The team concluded that the Liaison Offices provide a valuable tool for the AU in its efforts to further peace and consolidate it where it has been achieved. A number of recommendations were made to enhance the effectiveness of the Liaison Offices, including reviewing their tasks to align them with evolving circumstances, especially in light of the need to focus on post?conflict reconstruction; strengthening their human resources; financial and administrative management; gender?mainstreaming; communication and visibility. An interdepartmental task force established at the AU Commission is following up on the implementation of all the aspects of these recommendations. About the Joint Funding Agreement (JFA): The Liaison Offices are funded by resources emanating from the AU Peace Fund and those provided by AU development partners. In order to ensure a sustainable and predictable funding for the Liaison Offices, the AU Commission and a group of partners (Denmark, Norway, UK, and Sweden) concluded a Joint Financing Arrangement (JFA) in 2009. The areas covered by this JFA included recruitment of additional staff, provision of adequate equipment, opening of new offices where needed, and review of the functioning of the Liaison Offices. About 4.9 million US dollars were provided by partners, which came in addition to resources made available from the AU Peace Fund. Although the JFA was not extended for 2010, some partners provided additional funds for that year. The JFA for the year 2011 is a follow?up to the 2009 JFA, in which it was agreed that the AU would prepare and present a multi?year programme to support the Liaison Offices. The EU has joined the partners who were part of the first JFA in 2009.

Posted by Lulit Kebede

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