The APSA report assesses AU and RECS interventions in violent conflicts in the continent.
On 21 May 2019, IPSS held a briefing session to launch the 2017 APSA Impact Report. The session was moderated by Mrs. Michelle Ndiaye, Director of the Africa Peace and Security Programme at IPSS and Head of the Tana Forum Secretariat. The speaker was Ms. Melhik Abebe Bekele, APSA Impact Report Coordinator at IPSS, who overviewed the impact of the intervention by the AU and RECs in 2017, in the frame of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The presentation was followed by a discussion featuring H.E Amb. Bankole Adeoye, Ambassador of Nigeria to Ethiopia, and Dr. Mohamed M. Diatta, Researcher for the Peace and Security Research Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
The APSA report assesses AU and RECS interventions in violent conflicts in the continent. The report noted an overall decline in the quality and effectiveness of interventions since 2016 and pointed to cases of non-intervention in violent conflicts that warranted AU/RECs intervention. Positive interventions were characterised by the use of a coordinated mix of instruments (diplomacy, mediation and Peace and Security Operations (PSOs)), applied under realistic and achievable mandates.
The discussants highlighted that, while the AU is replete with adequate frameworks and instruments to intervene in conflicts, adequate implementation is lacking. Political will and leadership are thus key to implement existing mandates and use APSA instruments to their full potential. In particular, there is a need to bridge the existing gap between early warning and early action for effective conflict prevention. Such early action mechanisms would be focused on governance, which encompasses not only political aspects but also economic and social dimensions. RECs have a key role to play in this process and could benefit from reforms aiming to increase their capacity and cooperation (among themselves and with other actors on the ground).
The main challenges to implement APSA instruments include member states’ concerns about sovereignty, competing geostrategic interests and a lack of political determination and resources. The accountability of external actors, the role of technology, and the economic factors involved in conflict mitigation were also discussed in this regard.
“The AU Peace and Security Council needs to expand its radar to all conflicts in Africa.”
“The problem is not changing the rules but implementing them.”
Possible recommendations emphasized the need for:
- Increased willingness and capacity to engage in structural conflict prevention by addressing the structural causes of conflicts;
- The inclusion of all relevant stakeholders in peace discussions;
- An alignment of the AU reform agenda (including efforts to harmonise AU bodies such as the Department of Political Affairs and Peace and Security Department) with strategies to optimise the use of APSA instruments;
- A theme-based approach to coordinate efforts and share lessons/experiences and resources;
- A careful examination of the strengths of ad-hoc coalitions and the use of their experiences/expertise/resources to improve the ongoing development of the African Standby Force; and
- The revision of UN mandates for regional peace support operations, in order to allow the AU and RECs to intervene more efficiently
In conclusion, while the APSA framework and instruments are adequately designed, mandates are not adequately implemented, notably due to member states’ concerns over sovereignty. In order to get closer to the aspiration of ‘Silencing the Guns in 2020,’ regional leaders should take the responsibility to improve APSA interventions by focusing on early action and good governance.