The SPSA launch offered an opportunity to identify the most recent challenges facing peace in Africa, placing governance at the heart of the debate.
On 23 May 2019, IPSS held a session to launch the State of Peace and Security in Africa Report. The session was moderated by Ms. Michelle Ndiaye, Director of the African Peace and Security Programme at IPSS. The speaker was Dr. Dawit Toga, Former Senior Political Analyst at the African Union and co-author of the 2019 State of Peace and Security in Africa Report. Discussants were H.E Ms. Hanna Serwa Tetteh, Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), H.E Amb. Dr. Tekeda Alemu, Former Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United
Nations, and Mr. El Ghassim Wane, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Former Chief of Staff of the African Union Commission.
The presentation of the report overviewed conflicts occurring in 2018 and identified future challenges for peace and security. Institutional weakness, lack of inclusiveness, corruption and other governance issues identified as central causes of conflicts. Discussed were the challenges of unconventional threats (including transnational terrorism), and the harmful role of external actors with competing interests in the continent. Also deliberated on were recent developments, including the peace agreements in South Sudan and CAR, the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and the uprising in Sudan, which enriched the discussion with a wealth of examples.
While multilateralism is under tension due to new dynamics in the global order that favour protectionism, encouraging multilateral cooperation remains crucial for peace in the continent. In particular, the AU, which does not lack adequate instruments for increasing partnerships with the RECs and should focus on improving such collaboration. Beyond institutional reforms, willpower, leadership and adequate implementation were identified as central to enhanced cooperation. Besides, peace and security would benefit from increased cooperation among media, academics, CSOs and professional associations in order to complement government-level leadership, which is currently lacking in many member states. In particular, civil society actors would benefit from increased knowledge of existing AU instruments relevant to governance, which would better equip them to pressure their governments to live up to their commitments. Overall, the discussants agreed that peacemakers should engage with unfolding conflicts
in an innovative and flexible way in order to adapt to specific domestic contexts. However, ad-hoc arrangements should not be institutionalized in order to maintain the integrity of APSA.
“We need to develop the requisite political will and leadership in order to play a more effective role in conflict resolution.”
In conclusion, the SPSA launch offered an opportunity to identify the most recent challenges facing peace in Africa, placing governance at the heart of the debate. While multilateralism is currently threatened by global trends and enhanced institutional cooperation increased engagement with civil society actors and stronger willpower from continental leaders are crucial to address current conflicts in the continent.