The challenge of violent conflicts and its impact on socio-economic development in Africa has remained a daunting task. The African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have put enormous efforts in the facilitation of negotiations for peaceful resolution of existing conflicts and the effective implementation of peace agreements, as witnessed in, among others, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and Somalia.  It was in this context that the AU saw the necessity to ensure that peace agreements are effectively complemented by sustained post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts, with a view to addressing the root causes underlying their outbreak. It is in this respect that the Executive Council urged the Commission to develop an AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction based on the relevant provisions of the Peace and Security Council Protocol and the experience gained so far in the years of managing peace processes in Africa, dating as far back as the former Organisation for African Unity (OAU) years. A good number of consultations took place and in July 2006, the AU Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Policy was finally adopted. 

The AU policy on PCRD is intended to serve as a guide for the development of comprehensive policies and strategies that elaborate measures that seek to consolidate peace and prevent relapse to violence, promote sustainable development and pave the way for growth and regeneration in countries and regions emerging from conflict. Given the peculiarities of each conflict situation, this policy is conceived as a flexible template that can be adapted to, and assist, affected regions and countries, in their endeavours towards reconstruction, security and development.

Rationale and Objective

Experience has shown that in the early phases of transition (from conflict to peace), peace processes remain fragile and the risk of resumption of violence high. This is because countries emerging from conflict are characterized by weakened or nonexistent capacity at all levels, destroyed institutions, and the absence of a democratic culture, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as underlying poverty. Furthermore, responses to post-conflict situations have, in the past, remained fragmented and largely ineffectual. This policy framework goes beyond such limited interventions, noting that PCRD activities do not stop with stabilization but seek to achieve long-term sustainable development as underpinned by the African vision of regeneration and growth.

For these reasons, the AU is focusing more attention on measures that consolidate peace and pave the way for economic growth and regeneration. These AU efforts are informed by past practice of the OAU in reconstruction efforts, and all relevant OAU/AU mandates and decisions, including: Article 5(2) of the Constitutive Act, on the basis of which the PSC was established? and the OAU/AU decision to establish a ministerial committee for the reconstruction of the Sudan. More specifically, is the mandate proffered by the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the PSC, which was created to inter alia, promote and implement peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction activities and to consolidate peace and prevent the resurgence of violence (Articles 3a, 6). Thus, peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction, humanitarian action and disaster management constitute core activities of the PSC.

The objective of the AU PCRD policy is to improve timeliness, effectiveness and coordination of activities in post conflict countries and to lay the foundation for social justice and sustainable peace, in line with Africa’s vision of renewal and growth. The policy is thus a tool to: a) consolidate peace and prevent relapse of violence? b) help address the root causes of conflict? c) encourage and fast-track planning and implementation of reconstruction activities? and d) enhance complementarities and coordination between and among diverse actors engaged in PCRD processes.

Core Principles and Scope

The AU PCRD policy is underpinned by five core principles, which constitute the basic minimum values and standards that inform action across all PCRD activities and programmes. These principles include: African leadership, national and local ownership, inclusiveness, equity and non-discrimination, cooperation and cohesion, and capacity building for sustainability.

The policy has six indicative elements, that are both self-standing and cross-cutting and that represent the pillars upon which all PCRD efforts should be developed and sustained across the different phases of action, taking into account that the basic objective is to address and resolve the root causes of conflict. The indicative elements are: a) security? b) humanitarian/ emergency assistance? c) political governance and transition? d) socio-economic reconstruction and development? e) human rights, justice and reconciliation? and f) women and gender.

The magnitude and complexity of challenges of PCRD, weak capacity and shortage of resources limit the ability of local and national authorities and other actors to respond to the full spectrum of needs. This necessitates the mobilization of financial, material, human and technical resources at the national, regional, continental and international levels. In order to effectively meet this challenge, countries emerging from conflict need to have a comprehensive resource mobilization strategy.

PCRD accomplishments 

Africa has been undertaking post-conflict reconstruction activities since the time of the OAU, long before the PCRD Policy was adopted in Banjul in 2006. A key specific area of AU support to the reconstruction efforts has been in the Sudan, throughout the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) since 2005. The AU Commission, through its Executive Council, established the Ministerial Committee for PCRD for Sudan in July 2003 in anticipation of the signing of the peace agreement. The mandate of the Committee was to: assess, in consultation with the Government of Sudan and the Southern Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), the needs and magnitude of the post-conflict situation in the Sudan; mobilize as much as possible, African support for countries emerging from conflict, in the form of strengthening their capacity to enable them meet challenges of post-conflict reconstruction and developmental needs; and sensitize the international community, other stakeholders and friendly donors on post-conflict and reconstruction needs of the Sudan.

Meanwhile, the AU has undertaken multidisciplinary missions to countries emerging from conflict (Central African Republic-CAR (2006), Liberia, Sierra Leone (2009), Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC, and Burundi (2010), and the Sudan (2011) in order to assess and ascertain the magnitude of post-conflict needs and priorities. The AU has been working to ensure support towards the full implementation of the recommendations of these missions. Key activities/areas of focus have been the envisaged deployment of African expertise in needy post-conflict countries (including technical capacity, and civil servants to assist the countries concerned). This demands a massive mobilization of technical and financial resources.

In this regard, the AU has also raised funds to support Quick Impact Projects (QUIPs) in countries emerging from conflict, including Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, the Comoros, and South Sudan, to lay foundation for long term sustainable development. The importance of QUIPs lies in the fact that it has allowed the communities to benefit directly from the AU’s efforts and helps to give visibility to the AU at the grassroots level.

As a follow-up to the 67th meeting of the AU PSC, the AU Commission organized the first African Solidarity Conference on 17 October 2007, to mobilize support for post-conflict reconstruction in the CAR from Member States. A round table of development partners was held in Brussels in October of same year to mobilize development assistance. In addition, the AU Commission has established functional Liaison Offices in countries emerging from conflict to serve as proximity avenues of interaction with countries concerned in areas of peace and security in general and post-conflict reconstruction in particular.