The Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) is one of the five pillars of the African Peace and Security architecture (APSA). The CEWS is responsible for data collection and analysis and is mandated to collaborate with “the UN, its agencies, other relevant international organizations, research centres, academic institutions and NGOs” with its information to be used by the Chairperson of the Commission” to advise the Peace and Security Council (PSC), on potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in Africa and recommend the best course of action.”
Article 12 of the PSC Protocol provides for the establishment of a Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), in order to facilitate the anticipation and prevention of conflicts in Africa. As stipulated in article 12 (2) of the Protocol, the CEWS consists of;
- an observation and monitoring centre, to be known as “the Situation Room’’, which is located at the Conflict Management Division of the African Union and is responsible for data collection and analysis; and
- the observation and monitoring units of the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, which shall be linked directly through appropriate means of communication to the Situation Room and which shall collect and process data at their level and transmit the same to the Situation Room.
The Governmental Experts meeting on early warning and conflict prevention, held in South Africa in 2006, adopted the Framework for the Operationalization of the CEWS which was subsequently endorsed by the 10th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, held in Addis Ababa, in January 2007. The Council requested the Commission to take all the necessary steps for the timely and full implementation of the Framework, including the mobilization of the financial and technical resources required from both AU Member States and partners, the speedy recruitment of the human resources needed and other relevant steps, within a timeframe of three (3) years, to ensure that the CEWS is fully operational by 2009.
- To anticipate and prevent conflicts on the continent
- To provide timely information on evolving violent conflicts based on specifically developed indicators.
- data collection and analysis;
- engagement with decision makers; and
- Co-ordination and collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs).
CEWS Information Gathering Tools
- Africa Media Monitor: an automated data-gathering software that facilitates the collection of information from a large variety of sources in real time in various languages;
- CEWS Portal: a software used for information sharing with the RECs’ early warning mechanisms;
- Indicators and Profiles Module: a database for the collection and appropriate management of structural information baselines, to enable the development of risk assessments;
- Africa Reporter: an analytical tool tailored to the CEWS indicators and templates to facilitate the submission of incident and situation reports from AU field missions and Liaison Offices;
- Africa Prospectus: a tool designed to forecast risk propensity or vulnerability with respect to structural influences and constraints; and
- Live-Mon: a new software that performs an automatic geo-localization of news items so that events can be displayed on a map