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African Union Liaison Office (AULO)

Highlights

  • Enhanced coordination with the African Union Commission (AUC) on critical humanitarian issues.
  • Improved support to the AUC on policy development and relevant frameworks, notably the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons and in civil-military relations.
  • Effective advocacy in favour of AU humanitarian activities in support of its Member States.
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Establishing the OCHA African Union Liaison Office (AULO) in 2008 helped OCHA’s efforts to streamline collaboration with the AUC. However, the lack of an institutional framework for relations between OCHA and the AUC, notably an MoU, remains a challenge.

In 2009, the AULO’s main priority was strengthening the capacity of the Humanitarian Affairs Division of the AUC, enabling it to play a coordinating role in tackling Africa’s multiple humanitarian problems. AULO ensured a regular, direct exchange of views on humanitarian issues of mutual concern among the ERC, the Chairperson of the AUC and relevant AUC commissioners. This dialogue proved critical in addressing NGOs’ expulsion from Sudan in 2009, and in facilitating the adoption of the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. AULO also represents the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) at high-level AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa meetings in Addis Ababa.

AULO was a conduit between OCHA’s field, regional and global offices, and the AUC and its own Regional Economic Communities on humanitarian issues. Support to the AUC in policy development improved considerably, notably in developing the Commission’s first legally binding instrument on protection and assistance to IDPs, adopted by the AU Special Summit on Refugees, Returnees and IDPs. OCHA provided support to the AUC on advocacy and advised on funding opportunities in support of humanitarian operations in AU Member States. For example, following OCHA’s advice, the AUC funded UN HABITAT in supporting a shelter project in Burkina Faso following the flooding that left thousands of families homeless. The AUC’s access to OCHA’s information and analysis from the field, made available by AULO, enabled the Commission to report more effectively to the AU Executive Council and other bodies on critical humanitarian challenges and trends on the continent.

AULO supported the mainstreaming of humanitarian principles and standards into the operational concepts and plans of the Africa Standby Force and regional standby forces (e.g. the East African Standby Brigade). The AULO also made several presentations to the AU, explaining key elements of humanitarian reform, including the cluster approach. Presentations emphasized the importance of civil-military relations and policies on protection, including protection against sexual exploitation and abuse in complex emergencies.