Over the past year, much attention and debate has been focused on the uprisings and subsequent regime changes that swept through North Africa at the beginning of 2011: some perceived the uprisings as popular, people-led revolutions that would only strengthen the consolidation of democracy across the continent; others saw them as unconstitutional regime changes that reflected, in part, foreign involvement and intervention in the affairs of African states.
Probably not surprisingly, then, thematic threads running through the African Security Review (ASR) in 2011 and this, the first issue of 2012, have included foreign involvement and intervention in Africa (both in terms of single country foreign policy and of the various commitments of the United Nations), post-conflict or post-peace process regime change, and the ability of Africa to provide solutions to its own conflicts.
In terms of single-country foreign involvement in Africa, the US`s foreign policy in Africa has come under the spotlight twice in recent issues of the ASR: in the first issue of 2011, Stefan Gà¤nzle tackled the creation of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), one of the objectives of which was ‘to forge closer links between foreign, security and development policies`; that is, to shape collaborative links between the civil and military aspects of US foreign policy in Africa. In his article, Gà¤nzle explains that after coming under fierce criticism for militarising US foreign and development policies in Africa, AFRICOM realigned itself more closely with the traditional model of a military command, thereby losing the innovative inter agency elements first conceived to be integral to the approach of AFRICOM. He sees this adjustment of approach as a reflection of the challenges that cooperation among actors at the interface of development and security often come up against. Gà¤nzle therefore asks the question whether AFRICOM – in its originally conceived form – could have been a model for a joint civil-military approach to US involvement in Africa, or whether, as perceived by its detractors, it was always simply a militarisation of US foreign policy in Africa. In the current issue, Donovan Chau moves us from general US foreign policy in Africa to a specific focus on the strategic relationship between the US and one of Africa`s major players, Kenya. Chau argues that this key bilateral relationship needs to be focussed on shared strategic interest grounded in liberal democracy and international security. With Kenya`s political stability key to the security of the volatile Great Lakes region, Chau contends that it is appropriate for the US to continue to voice concern over respect for human rights and governmental transparency in Kenya. At the same time, Chau maintains that in order for relations between the two to remain relevant, the US must ‘appreciate Kenya`s challenging geopolitical situation and allow Kenya to develop independently as a nation-state`.
The UN`s involvement in Africa, particularly in the realms of peacebuilding and peace- keeping, has also attracted analysis over the last year. The year 2011 saw a special issue of the ASR dedicated to the UN`s peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) – renamed the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo or MONUSCO in July 2010 – is now regarded as the largestand most expensive UN peacekeeping operation in the world. Many of the articles in this issue concentrate on MONUC`s objective, and subsequent failure (for the most part) – owing to a number of factors, both internal and external to the mission – to protect civilians in the arguably unsuccessful transition of the DRC from conflict to peace and democracy. Academic and author Séverine Autesserre leads a lively book symposium on her book The trouble with the Congo, in which she argues that in the DRC ‘a dominant peacebuilding culture shaped the intervention strategy in a way that precluded action on local conflicts, ultimately dooming the international efforts to end the deadliest conflict since World War II`. She attributes UN staff with viewing intervention at the macro level as their only legitimate responsibility, thus undermining peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts in the DRC, which needed intervention and effort focused on local-level conflicts.
The UN`s involvement in the Djibouti peace process – and the reasons why, three years down the line, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia has been unsuccessful in reconstituting a viable Somali nation state – is the topic of Kasaija Phillip Apuuli`s article in issue 3 of last year`s ASR. Apuuli argues that while leading to the exit of the Ethiopians and confirming the international recognition of the TFG, the UN-led peace process failed to pave the way for a stable and functional national government in Somalia.The widespread consequences of the failed state of Somalia are also explored in the same issue: piracy off the Horn of Africa being of particular interest and concern. The continued absence of political order in Somalia has resulted in a significant escalation in the number of pirate attacks taking place off the East Coast of Africa. Somali piracy is now a feature on the international security agenda, with stakeholders calling for an integrated and comprehensive strategy to confront this issue. Two of our authors present different options for containing and ultimately eradicating this threat – one looking outwards for international support and one looking inwards for an African solution. Francois Vreà¿ looks at the possibility of a UN maritime peacekeeping mission to support any landward efforts at peace- building in the affected region. James Tsabora, on the other hand, seeks a regional criminal justice mechanism that would pursue the punishment of crimes of an international nature – such as piracy – committed inland or off the coast of ‘countries in crisis` that lack ‘effec- tive and fully functional social, economic, security and political institutions` to deal with such criminality.
With the track record of international involvement in Africa not exactly a resounding success,it is not surprising that some have turned to regional and continental initiatives within Africa to formulate solutions to Africa`s problems. In the current issue of the ASR, Ole Thonke and Adam Spliid ask what we can expect from regional integration in Africa. With much effort having been spent on developing the integration of peace and security initiatives within Africa over the last decade, attention is now turning towards economic integration. However, as the authors point out, there is ‘considerable scepticism among many observers regarding the value of regional integration in Africa –especially the ability and willingness of African countries and their leadership to deliver on the high and, according to some, unrealistic ambitions and the associated loss of sovereignty` that accompanies regional integration.
It was, however, an integrated regional effort that was responsible for one of Africa`s most recent success stories. Supported by the UN, but mostly through the involvement of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (comprising Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya,Somalia, Sudan and Uganda), the peace process brokered between North and South Sudan culminated last year in the creation of the new state of South Sudan – which now represents some hope for new African states born out of conflict. In ASR 20.3, Kisiangani Emmanuel explores some of the pitfalls and challenges facing the new government of South Sudan, not least of which is making those in power accountable and responsive to the people. Emmanuel sees ‘fair and inclusive participation` in the governance of the country as key. This will entail, at the very least: a decentralisation of power; national dialogue and consensus building strategies to ensure inclusiveness and address conflicts; and the transformation of all government structures and institutions in order that they are more responsive and politically legitimate to their constituencies. Emmanuel stresses that South Sudan should not necessarily look outward for assistance but instead forge its own future, albeit learning from the lessons of other African countries that have succumbed to corruption, dictatorship and internal conflict. However, in the current issue, Kristoffer Tarp and Frederik Rosén walk us through an initiative in South Sudan that requires just that: capacity development assistance from external sources. The ‘Initiative for Capacity Enhancement in South Sudan` seeks to enhance the capacity of the South Sudanese state apparatus by deploying civil servants from neighbouring nations to coach South Sudanese civil servants. The authors explore the initiative in South Sudan as a case study for deducing the efficacy of coaching and mentoring as tools for developing capacity in struggling states.
This brief overview represents only a small portion of the issues raised and debated within the ASR over the past year, let alone the security-related issues and events that have transpired across Africa during this time frame. With such a plethora of topics to be explored, researched, debated and analysed, I would like to encourage all those working in the field of human security in Africa to submit their articles, essays and commentaries to the ASR for consideration in order to ensure that the ASR remains a space for generating knowledge, facilitating dialogue, and disseminating information.
Romi Sigsworth (Editor)