Understanding the APSA

The African Union leads policy making and implementation of decisions aimed at ensuring that Africa achieves Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 which aspires for “ A peaceful and secure Africa” through the use of mechanisms that promote a dialogue-centred approach to conflict prevention and resolution of conflicts and establishing of a culture of peace and tolerance nurtured in Africa’s children and youth through peace education. The Agenda 2063 flagship initiative of Silencing the Guns by 2020 ( is at the core of activities being put in place to ensure Africa is a more peaceful and stable continent.

A fundamental change that have come about with the transformation of the OAU into the AU is the establishment of a comprehensive peace and Security regime. The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) is institutionalized within the framework of the AU Constitutive Act and the Protocol on the Peace and Security Council (PSC). The AU Member States established APSA in 2002 as a long-term structural response to the peace and security challenges on the African continent. Through the APSA, the AU and mandated sub-regional organisations (SROs) have access to tools which help them to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.

APSA is a key mechanism for implementing the vision, objectives and principles of the AU. The AU has a vision of peace, integration and prosperity and APSA stands to benefit positively from this pan-African vision through preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa effectively.

Against this background, AU Watch, through our media work, research, publications and events seeks to describe and analyse the importance and place of the APSA towards the Union Government of Africa and the challenges facing it as one of the most important mechanisms for the AU strategic response to conflicts and as a base ground for the Union Government of Africa.

In line with the Solemn Declaration on the 50th Anniversary of the O/AU Heads of State and Government, that was adopted at the meeting of the AU Assembly on 25 May 2013, and in order to substantially contribute to achieving the goals of the AU initiative on “Silencing of the Guns: Pre-requisites for realising a conflict-free Africa by the year 2020”, the “APSA Roadmap 2016-2020” is a strategic document, which builds on the achievements and challenges resulting from the implementation of the previous APSA Roadmap (2011-2013). The Roadmap is the result of an inclusive and participatory process involving different departments at the AUC and at the RECs/RMs. 

The APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 provides a shared understanding of the results to be achieved by all APSA stakeholders, it articulates a shared understanding of the roles and functions each stakeholder involved in APSA is expected to play; it highlights a shared understanding of the need to increased collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders involved in APSA; and finally the roadmap is the most relevant tool to communicate APSA project plans and expected results to Member States, partners and other external actors.

With a focus on concrete activities and strategic objectives, this Roadmap aims at mapping out a way forward to enable the consolidation of gains made, and address the most pressing challenges, so as to make the African Peace and Security Architecture fully functional and operational, and in this way contribute effectively to the maintenance and preservation of peace and security in Africa.

The APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 details the AUC and RECs/RMs joint aims in five strategic priority areas: Conflict prevention (incl. early warning and preventive diplomacy), crisis/conflict management (incl. ASF and mediation), post-conflict reconstruction and peace building, strategic security issues (such as illegal flows of SALW, IEDs, WMD disarmament, counter-terrorism, illicit financial flows as well as transnational organised crime and cyber-crime) and coordination and partnerships. In addition, cross-cutting issues are covered by the Roadmap.

Download the APSA Roadmap 2016 – 2020 document here.

Promoting Peace and Security on the Continent

The key AU Organ for promoting peace and security on the continent is the Peace & Security Council (PSC) which is the standing decision-making organ of the AU for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It is a collective security and early warning arrangement intended to facilitate timely and efficient responses to conflict and crisis situations in Africa. It is also the key pillar of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which is the framework for promoting peace, security and stability in Africa.

The Department of Peace and Security of the African Union Commission (AUC)  supports the PSC in carrying out its responsibilities under the PSC Protocol and leads the AUC activities related to peace, security and stability across the continent. The Department supports various peace and security offices and missions and works with special representatives appointed by the AUC Chairperson in the area of peace and security.

The Department oversees the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism and also advocates for the signing and ratification by member states of the various AU treaties in the areas of peace and security
Find out more about the work of the AU on conflict resolution and maintaining peace on the continent by visiting Peace & Security Department