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Southern African states conclude annual review and planning of joint boundary reaffirmation in Dar Es Salaam

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Official delegates from Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique have concluded their annual review and planning meeting for the reaffirmation of their international boundaries. The annual meeting, which took place from 1 to 5 December 2014, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania also witnessed a successful exchange of best practices between the participants from Great Lakes and West Africa.

The three countries, which have been engaged with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) since 2008, were each represented by five members from relevant ministries dedicated to border issues.

Speaking during the Opening Session, the Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania's Ministry of Lands, Alphayo Kidata emphasised the importance of implementing the Border Programme effectively in order to secure sustainable peace and development. “To ensure the safety and security of future generations and in order to shift our focus more towards the development agenda, it is incumbent upon us to resolve our border disputes through greater cooperation and dialogue, “ said Mr Kidata.

The meeting reflected on the advancements achieved by Southern African Member States, in border delimitation and demarcation throughout the year. Beyond review and planning, the meeting provided a platform for the participating Member States to exchange experiences and lessons learnt arising from their joint border management activities.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the official handover of data from an aerial survey (LiDAR survey), which was carried out along the western Malawi-Mozambique boundary to the respective Heads of Delegations. The 420,000 USD survey to determine the watershed line between the two countries, was financed by the German Federal Foreign Office via GIZ. The line forms the basis of delimitation and demarcation of the border between the two countries and will enable them to proceed with demarcation in 2015.

Representatives from neighbouring Burundi, DRC and Uganda participated as observers and explored opportunities for future cooperation. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the AUBP and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

-Note to the Editors-

About the AU Border Programme (AUBP): The AUBP was launched by the first Conference of African Ministers in charge of Border Issues, held in Addis Ababa, on 7 June 2007. The AUBP aims to: facilitate the delimitation and demarcation of African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place; promote cross-border cooperation; strengthen African capacity for border management; and develop partnerships and mobilize resources in support of the efforts of the African States. Two other Conferences of African Ministers in charge of Border Issues were organized subsequently: in Addis Ababa, on 25 March 2009; and in Niamey, Niger, on 17 May 2012. The fourth Ministerial Conference on the AUBP is scheduled to take place in 2015.

The AUBP was launched as part of the efforts of African States to meet the challenges related to the management of the borders inherited from colonial times, driven as they were by the conviction that the achievement of greater unity and solidarity among African countries and people requires the attenuation of the burden of the borders separating them. Transcending borders as barriers and promoting them as bridges linking one State to another will enable Africa to boost the ongoing efforts to integrate the continent, strengthen its unity and promote peace, security and stability. It is in this context that the OAU/AU has adopted a number of political and legal instruments to guide the efforts of the Member States in the management of border issues, including the principle of the respect of borders existing on achievement of independence, agreed to in Cairo in July 1964; the principle of negotiated settlement of border disputes, affirmed by the 44th Ordinary Session of the OAU Council of Ministers, held in Addis Ababa in July 1986; and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA), adopted by the OAU Summit held in Durban, in July 2002, which committed Member States to complete the delimitation and demarcation of all African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place by 2012.

About the progress made in the implementation of the AUBP:

(i) Delimitation and Demarcation

Since its launch, the AUBP has given particular attention to the delimitation and demarcation of African borders. Indeed, the lacking demarcation of borders can be a source of misunderstandings, while at the same time impeding the acceleration of the integration process (for example, it is impossible to put in place joint border customs posts to facilitate trade if the border line is not clearly known). The AU Summit held in Malabo, in July 2011, decided to extend the deadline for the completion of the delimitation and demarcation of African borders where such an exercise has not yet taken place until 2017.

In this respect, the following initiatives have been taken:

- the launch, since 2008, of a Pan-African survey of the borders, through a questionnaire sent to all Member States on the status of their borders. To date, the Commission has received 31 answers, on the basis of which it is endeavoring to establish a Boundary Information System, which will make it possible to have a comprehensive and updated view of the status of African borders;

- support for the demarcation of the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, which was completed in 2010. The AUBP assisted in accelerating the completion of the demarcation of the remaining 413 kms. The 1,303 kms common land border is now fully demarcated;

- support for the delimitation of maritime boundaries between the Comoros, Mozambique, Tanzania and the Seychelles, which culminated in the signing of a Delimitation Treaty on 17 February 2012;

- support for the densification of boundary pillars along the 330 kms of border between Mozambique and Zambia in 2012, as well as along the border between Zambia and Malawi (804 kms). A similar process is underway for the land borders between Mozambique, on the one hand, Tanzania (671 kms) and Malawi (888 kms), on the other hand;

- support for the ongoing delimitation and demarcation exercises between Senegal and Mali (362 kms), Senegal and The Gambia (740 kms) and Senegal and Guinea (330 kms);

- support for the launch of delimitation and demarcation exercises between other countries, particularly between Rwanda and Uganda, as well as between Burkina Faso and Niger. Other requests for assistance are currently being considered; and

- assistance to the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan and South Sudan regarding the delimitation and demarcation of the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

On the basis of the responses to the questionnaire on the status of borders, approximately 35.8 per cent of the total length of the African borders (excluding maritime borders) can be regarded as having been delimitated, demarcated and reaffirmed. 13,000 km of borders are currently being reaffirmed. Once this exercise is completed, the cap of 50 % of the length of the continental borders will have been crossed.

In addition, the AUBP has received, from Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Italy and Portugal, the colonial archives relating to African borders. The availability of these archives will help expedite the delimitation and demarcation exercises on the continent.

(ii) Cross-border Cooperation

In addition to the adoption of the Niamey Convention, a number of initiatives have been taken with regard to the promotion of cross-border cooperation. After the demarcation of the last segment of the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, the AU, with the support of the GIZ, facilitated the construction of the Ouarokuy - Wanian Cross-Border Health Centre, which serves the rural communities of Madiakuy and Mafoune (Mali) and Djibasso (Burkina Faso).

Furthermore, technical support has been provided for the establishment of a women's cross-border co-operative for harvesting, processing and marketing mangoes in the sector of Sikasso (Mali), Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso) and Khorogho (Ivory Coast). Similarly, the AUBP has technically supported the establishment of community radios in West Africa to help in the promotion of cross-border cooperation.

(iii) Capacity-building

The AUBP has also recorded important achievements with regard to capacity-building. Assistance has been extended to some Member States, in particular, as regards the establishment of National Boundary Commissions.

Another fundamental achievement of AUBP relates to the publication, in 2013 and 2014, of five practical Guidebooks whose objective is to disseminate best practices in specific areas, for use by different actors concerned in order to accelerate the implementation of the Programme. These practical Guidebooks are accessible through the following link:

Http://www.aubis.peaceau.org/guide-books-and-documents-african-borders

(iv) Partnership and resource mobilization

In their successive statements on the AUBP, the Ministers responsible for border issues have particularly called on the Commission to initiate a campaign of mobilization of resources and to develop partnerships for the implementation of the Program.

As a follow-up, the Commission has developed a close partnership with the Federal Republic of Germany, which provides a significant technical and financial support to the AUBP, through the GIZ. In addition, and in consultation with the Commission, the GIZ provides direct support to Member States in the areas of border delimitation and demarcation, cross-border cooperation and capacity-building. The support provided by Germany from 2008 to 2014 amounts to 23.7 million Euros. The United Kingdom and Denmark have also provided financial support to the AUBP.

The Commission has also developed partnerships with other countries and organizations. Cooperation has been developed with the European Union (EU), to take advantage of its experience in the field of cross-border cooperation, and the United Nations, through its Cartographic Section. Cooperation has also been developed with other institutions, including the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), in Nairobi, and the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE), as well as with the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).

(v) Outreach and Awareness-raising

In 2011 and 2014, the AUBP produced two documentary films on the results achieved so far. These documentaries are accessible to the public under the following link:

Http://www.aubis.peaceau.org/guide-books-and-documents-african-borders

In addition, in 2010, the Ministers in charge of Border Issues agreed to declare 7 June as the African Border Day. The AU Executive Council endorsed this recommendation, which aims at raising awareness, of all the actors concerned, on the importance of the AUBP. The AEBR has launched an initiative for 7 June to be proclaimed as "International Day of Integration Beyond National Borders" by the United Nations.