In 2013, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) launched two new missions to Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), and increased the force strength of its existing mission in Somalia (AMISOM). With troops from African countries making up the full strength of the UN Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa is increasingly resorting to peace support and peace enforcement missions.
These developments have major consequences for African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) partnerships on peace and security. The challenges arising from these developments highlight questions about the division of responsibilities between the AU and UN, when and how the UN should take over operations from the AU, and how to prioritise peacekeeping operations if there are limited resources.
The seminar discussed these issues using the CAR and the prospective African mission in South Sudan as real-time examples.
The speakers at the seminar were Matthew Brubacher from the Political Affairs Section of the UN Office to the AU, and Ardmore Kambudzi, Secretariat of the AU Peace and Security Council.
The first presentation looked at changing trends in peacekeeping operations in Africa, reviewing peacekeeping operations in Africa in the pre- (from 1990) and post-AU periods (since 2002). Since 2002, most of the missions in Africa were initiated and operated chiefly by the AU. Ordinarily, these AU missions were re-hatted into a UN mission after they had established relative peace on the ground. This presentation also highlighted the respective comparative advantages of the AU and the UN.
The second presentation looked at the challenges facing the AU in undertaking peace support operations (PSOs). It noted Africa’s susceptibility to crises and violent conflicts, and the weakness of conflict-prevention structures of the AU and regional economic communities (RECs).
It was noted that the Peace and Security Council (PSC) does not wait until conditions are optimal before deploying troops, and this willingness to deploy – even in the absence of ‘peace to keep’ – is one of the comparative advantages of the AU. The challenges surrounding AU operations needs to be resolved at three levels: first at the AU-RECs level, secondly at the AU-PSC level, and lastly at the UN level. The need for monthly consultation between the PSC and UN Security Council (UNSC) was emphasised.
Solomon A Dersso, Senior Researcher in the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division of the ISS in Addis Ababa acted as the respondent.
The main presentations and responses thereto highlighted recent trends in AU PSOs, noting that the need for such operations often exceeds available funds, logistics and mobility. This necessitates close collaboration between the AU and the UN.
Major issues raised include:
- Whether in undertaking PSOs – particularly when authorised by the UNSC – the AU is not shouldering part of the responsibility of the UNSC in the maintenance of peace and security
- Whether in supporting the AU with predictable funding and logistics, the UN is discharging its responsibilities under the UN Charter rather than being charitable to the AU
- What the best model would be for the UN to support AU PSOs, and what the prospects are for agreement on such a model – while still maintaining flexibility in terms of application
- Whether there is a need for a guideline on AU-UN partnership on PSOs in Africa that articulates principles for clearer division of labour and burden sharing to achieve coherent and complementary engagement
The seminar was chaired by Kasaija Phillip Apuuli, Programme Manager for the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division, ISS Addis Ababa.