1. As part of their joint efforts to address the threat and impact of the activities the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) held a joint meeting of stakeholders working on the LRA issue on Wednesday 29 February 2012, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Headquarters of the African Union (AU).

2. The AU was represented at the meeting by the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the LRA issue and officials from the Peace and Security Department, Political Affairs Department and Office of the Legal Counsel. . The four military officers nominated by Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR) to lead the Regional Task Force Headquarters (RTF?HQ) also took part in the meeting.

3. The Special Representative of the Secretary?General for Central Africa (Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa) and the Special Representative of the Secretary?General to the African Union (Head of the UN Office to the AU) led the UN delegation to the meeting. Participants from the UN included representatives of Departments, Missions, Offices and Agencies of the UN System, namely: the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs, the UN Office to the AU, the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the Congo (MONUSCO), the UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS), the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme and the UN Children’s Fund.

4. The representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, two of the four countries affected by the activities of the LRA, also took part in the meeting. Other stakeholders involved or concerned by the LRA issue including the European Union, the United States, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa were also present at the meeting.

5. In his welcome address, the Director of the AU Peace and Security Department, Mr. El Ghassim Wane, noted that the African Union?led Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA (RCI?LRA) addressed only some of the challenges involved, hence the need to develop a more global strategy to deal with other areas, particularly the humanitarian and development aspects in the affected region.

6. The Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN Office to the AU, Mr. Zachary Muburi?Muita, indicated the readiness of his Office to assist the AU in implementing the RCI?LRA, particularly by providing technical support for the operationalization of the Headquarters of the Regional Task Force in Yambio, South Sudan.

7. The Special Envoy of the AU on the LRA issue, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, reiterated the appeal made in the Decision of the 299th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council to AU Member States and their international partners, to provide logistical, financial and technical support for the speedy operationalization of the RCI?LRA. He also called for support in building the capacity of the defence and security forces of the countries affected by the LRA in order to enable them to mount an effective response. He underscored the importance of developing a clear regional strategy to address the threats and impact of the activities of the LRA.

8. The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Central Africa and Head of
UNOCA, Mr. Abou Moussa, called on stakeholders to agree on a common approach in order to speedily develop a regional LRA strategy. He emphasized the need for swift action, given the current unprecedented interest, goodwill and political commitment to finally resolve the issue.

9. The meeting was informed and updated on the current security and humanitarian
situation in the countries affected by the LRA. The meeting recognised that despite a reduction in the number of reported incidents, the LRA still remained a significant threat to civilian populations and a serious obstacle to socio?economic development.

10. The affected countries reaffirmed their support to the African Union?led Regional
Cooperation Initiative against the LRA (RCI?LRA) and to efforts, led by the United Nations, to develop a regional strategy to address the LRA threat.

11. Partners took note of the progress being made towards the operationalization of the RCI?LRA and expressed their intention to continue to support ongoing regional initiatives against the LRA.

12. The meeting noted the following:
- the need for the AU to convene, as soon as possible, a meeting of military experts at the technical level involving the African Union, United Nations, Regional Task Force
senior military leadership and experts from the affected countries. The experts would develop modalities to address outstanding issues and present their recommendations to the next Regional Ministerial Meeting for consideration;

- the significant challenges affecting the AU?led RCI?LRA, including lack of adequate,
predictable resources to sustain its operations. The meeting urged the AU to identify and outline its resource needs for the effective implementation of the RCILRA and to submit a formal request for support from its partners;

- the need for improved regional coordination among the security forces of the LRAaffected countries, as part of the RCI?LRA, to facilitate early warning and information exchange on LRA activities in order to plan and implement effective
joint operations;

- the need to encourage an integrated approach by enhancing stakeholder coordination through activities such as the strengthening of coordination mechanisms and the convening of regular meetings between military and nonmilitary actors involved in addressing the problems caused by the LRA;

- a range of activities and operations are being undertaken to address the problems
caused by the LRA by actors on the ground, including non?governmental organisations and that a coherent regional approach for the affected areas be further developed;

- the meeting recognized, in particular, the ongoing DDRRR programme and encouraged the finalisation of a regional DDRRR strategy and its implementation
across the affected countries. It further stressed the need to strengthen communications and other infrastructure in order to encourage defections of LRA
combatants and enhance security;

- the need to consider longer?term strategies to promote rehabilitation, stabilisation,
peacebuilding and the consolidation of governance in the affected areas;

- the need to support the implementation of the Decision of the 299th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council held on 22 November 2011 and to rapidly finalise the regional LRA strategy as requested by the UN Security Council in its Presidential
Statement (PRST 2011/21) of 14 November 2011. The meeting noted the need to
fully involve actors at the country level in the development of the strategy that would lay the framework for the implementation of specific programmes of action. For this purpose, it was agreed to convene a technical level meeting as soon as possible.

Posted by Limi Mohammed

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