In the last decade, the gradual but steady transformation of Africa’s security landscape has encouraged a variety of new responses and initiatives aimed at addressing the new security challenges. As demonstrated by the crises in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the nature, context and drivers for peace support operations are continuously changing and adapting to new realities, leaving planners facing a number of complex situations. What are the key factors that will drive peace support operations in the future? What roles will Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union (AU) play? Is the current international division of labour between the UN Security Council, AU and RECs effective?
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU, the ISS hosted a breakfast briefing on 23 May on the fringes of the 21st AU Summit in Addis Ababa, to discuss these issues. Held in the Radisson Blu Hotel, the event provided a unique opportunity to reflect on past experiences and assess possible future developments in the field of peace and security in Africa. At a time when the AU, RECs and the UN are trying to find the right mechanisms to address new threats to stability, the high-level participation at the briefing indicated the topicality of an issue that continues to dominate the UN Security Council agenda.
Panelists included Sivuyile Bam, Head of the AU Peace and Security Department; Colin Stewart, Deputy Head of Mission, UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU); and Annette Leijenaar, Head of the Conflict Management and Peacebuilding Division, ISS Pretoria. The high quality presentations and in-depth exchange that ensued raised a number of issues that need further attention from policy makers and researchers. Among others, it appears that the notion of subsidiarity seems to be diversely understood between the UN, the AU and the RECs when it comes to decision making on intervention. Diverging interpretations of the UN Charter and the role of each actor reveal major structural deficits within the international architecture for conflict prevention, management and post-conflict reconstruction.
The crucial question of African capabilities was raised several times in the context of the French intervention in Mali. Although political will has markedly improved in the last decade, poor equipment and lack of adequate training still hamper effective African military interventions. Although not yet adopted by the AU at the time that the seminar was held, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) was discussed and its chances of success assessed. The idea behind ACIRC dates back to January 2013 and should be understood against the backdrop of deficiencies in current structures to respond to the situation in Mali. However, the management of complex African crises will not be reduced to a single instrument that has not been tested yet. Efforts to refine the African Peace and Security Architecture indicate that the architecture is an evolving structure, able to adapt to the ever-changing environment of African peace and security.
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