The Panel of the Wise (PoW), is one of the critical pillars of the Peace and Security Architecture of the African Union (APSA). Article 11 of the Protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council (PSC), sets up a five-person panel of “highly respected African personalities from various segments of society who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of peace, security and development on the continent” with a task “to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the Chairperson of the Commission, particularly in the area of conflict prevention.”


Background

The first Panel was appointed in December 2007 and composed of Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, who served as chair, Salim Ahmed Salim of Tanzania, Elisabeth K. Pognon of Benin, Miguel Trovoada of Sao Tome and Principe, and Brigalia Bam of South Africa. At the July 2010 Summit in Kampala, Ben Bella and Ahmed Salim were reappointed for another term ending in December 2013 and three new members were appointed: Mary Chinery Hesse of Ghana; Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia; and Marie Madeleine Kalala-Ngoy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Panel has produced some thematic reports on issues relevant to peace and security such as non-impunity, women and children in armed conflicts and electoral disputes.

Methods of Work

The PoW reports to the PSC and through it, to the Assembly. Members are selected by the Chairperson of the AU Commission and appointed through a decision of the Assembly for three year renewable once terms. The Protocol states that the Panel, at the request of the PSC or its own initiative “shall undertake such action deemed appropriate to support the efforts of the PSC and those of the Chairperson of the Commission for the prevention of conflicts”.

The Panel meets at least three times annually to deliberate on its work program and to identify regions or countries to visit; it furthermore organizes annual workshops on issues related to conflict prevention and management to assist in producing a thematic report to be submitted to the Assembly of African Heads of State and Governments for endorsement.

Mandate

1. Support and advise the effort of the chairperson of the commission and the AU PSC, in the area of conflict prevention;
2.  Advise both the Commission and the Council  on   issues that are necessarily considered by the policy organs of the AU such as the issues of impunity, justice and reconciliation as well as, women and children in arms conflicts and its  impact on the most vulnerable ones;
3. Use its good offices to carry out conflict mediation and broker peace agreements between warring parties; and
4. Help the AU Commission in mapping out threats to peace and security by providing regular advice and analysis and requesting the Commission to deploy fact-finding or mediation teams to specific countries.

Current Panel Members (2018 – 2022)

               

    H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba was President of the Republic of Namibia from 2005 to 2015. Since Namibia’s independence in 1990, he served as the Minister of Home Affairs; Fisheries and Lands; Resettlement, and Rehabilitation. In these capacities, he has promoted gender equality in politics, increased spending on education and housing, and initiated land redistribution efforts. In 2014, he led a mediation effort in a crisis between conflicting political parties in Lesotho. He won the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2015, which hailed his efforts in forging national cohesion and reconciliation to consolidate Namibia’s democracy.

     H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected as the President of Liberia in 2006, becoming the first democratically elected woman head of state in Africa. She has worked extensively to promote peace, reconciliation and social and economic development in Liberia, also establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2006. She won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work". In 2016, she led the mediation in Gambia between the ex-President Yahya Jammeh and the then president-elect Adama barrow and brought about a quick resolution to the crisis.


             

    Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, the first female African Vice-President (1994-2003), served as a distinguished UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Dr Speciosa  was also Minister of Gender and Community Development, Deputy Minister of Industry and has extensively worked with the AU and the UN to promote women’s participation in peace and development processes, including through the African Women Committee on Peace and Development that she founded in 1998. Having served as a member of the third Panel of the Wise (2014-2017), this is Dr. Speciosa’s second tenure as Member of the Panel of the Wise.