Although, the Police and Civilian components work alongside the military to promote peace, security and stability, Peace Support Operations (PSOs) continue to mistakenly be considered solely as the responsibility of the military. Hence, different African Union (AU) reports have recommended a clearly articulated role and increased involvement of civilians in AU PSOs particularly in high-intensity operations.
The AU, in collaboration with ACCORD/TfP and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), held the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Civilian Strategic Support Group (CSSG) from 19-20 September 2017 under the theme: “The role of Civilians in AU Peace Support Operations: Operating in High-intensity Contexts” In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The CSSG was established as a coordination structure to enhance the operational effectiveness of the civilian component in AU PSOs. It seeks to promote a common understanding of the roles, functions and responsibilities of civilian personnel in AU missions.
Participants were experts drawn from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Training Centres of Excellences (TCEs), the United Nations (UN) and AU missions, Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) and other departments within the African Union Commission (AUC). The participants defined the roles, functions and responsibilities of civilians in AU PSOs while also sharing their experiences on how civilians functioned in their respective missions such as the African Union Mission in Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL), African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
The participants agreed on a number of recommendations that would help improve the work of the CSSG in its efforts to contribute to improving the mission environment were civilians would be deployed. The participants emphasised the need for improved integration among component starting with the planning to the implementation of mandates.