The SADC region was privileged to host the 5th African Standby Capacity (ASC) Roster Annual Coordination Meeting at the Avani Hotel in Gaborone, Botswana from 1 to 3 March 2017. Since 2013, the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs) organise an annual meeting in an effort to align and coordinate approaches relating to capacity generation and development for the African Standby Force civilian component.
In his opening remarks, on behalf of the Executive Secretary, the Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Mr. Jorge C. Cardoso highlighted that since African Standby Capacity (ASC) official launch in Addis Ababa in June 2015, there has been some encouraging progress in its operationalization despite the challenges encountered. He further noted that, the AUC in collaboration with the Training Centers have been assisting the RECs and RMs to take deliberate action to expedite the process of populating the ASC Roster and reiterated that, more needs to be done if RECs and RMs want to achieve the target of at least 300 civilian specialists in respective regional rosters, by 2017.
Participants had an opportunity to discuss outreach strategies, duty of care for the deployed civilians in the PSOs and the envisaged priorities for enhancement of the ASC Roster and its processes in 2017. The meeting however, noted that inadequate funding remained a common challenge amongst the RECs and RMs to support the implementation of activities. They also observed that, some RECs focused only on recruiting civil servants and excluded non-state actors. This challenge amongst others contribute significantly to the slow progress in the population of the ASC Roster with qualified and experienced experts.
At the conclusion the meeting adopted a joint work plan with priority areas for 2017 and RECs/RMs committed to continue with a vigorous population of the roster by recruiting at least 50 new experts in their respective rosters. The meeting further agreed on the need to enhance collaboration between RECs/RMs, PSOD and the Training Centers of Excellence and undertake benchmark visits to share best practices and conduct awareness raising activities in order to reach out targeted experts, beyond civil servants.
The meeting was attended by different ASC stakeholders and representatives from the African Union, the African Union (AU), Eastern Africa Standby Force Secretariat (EASF Secretariat), Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Training Centers, Donor partners such as GIZ, Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF), and African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).