In sum, as PSOs are becoming increasingly complex due to the changing nature of conflict, there needs to be a greater convergence of understanding between the AU, the RECs and the UN at the decision- making level, in order to enhance multilateral cooperation and create a clearer consensus on PSOs implementation.
On 6 June, IPSS held a Public Lecture on Peace Support Operations in Africa. The guest speaker was Mr. Zinurine Alghali, Senior Policy Officer in the Peace Support Operations Department (PSOD) of the African
Union (AU). Mr Alghali discussed the opportunities and challenges facing contemporary peace support operations in the continent, providing invaluable insight into the internal dynamics of AU operations.
The speaker highlighted new threats posed by unconventional weapons, asymmetric warfare, and the trans-nationalization and trans-regionalization of conflicts. These new conflict dynamics increasingly make AU troops and personnel the targets of attacks, requiring them to be more careful about issues of command and control and use of weapons. Besides, PSO troops face the challenge of fulfilling a multiplicity of mandates, from military operations to civilian protection, while facilitating institution building and creating an enabling environment for political processes.
With limited resources and capacities, PSOs increasingly require a multidimensional and integrated approach to cooperation between the AU, RECs and the UN. However, while collaboration between the UN secretariat and AU commission functions efficiently, there is a lack of strategic convergence at the decision-making level. The main issue comes from a discrepancy of mandates between the UN charter, which gives the UN ultimate authority over regional interventions, and the AU constitutive act, which allows for interventions regardless of UN decisions. It was thus argued that a debate on chapter VIII of the UN
charter, which addresses cooperation with regional organizations, is crucial to bridge the existing gaps in mandates.
Besides, while the AU is replete with frameworks, lessons learned, and principles relative to peace and security, there needs to be a greater convergence of ideas between member states in order to improve peace support operations and develop the African Standby Force (ASF). In this light, the discussion showed that ad-hoc arrangements offer both opportunities and challenges to the operationalization of the ASF: while ad-hoc decisions clarify the ways ASF principles could be implemented on the ground, they also unveil disagreements among member states. Finally, the audience raised important questions relative to the increasing focus of PSOs on the early stages of conflict, and the role played by women in preventing conflict escalation among communities – particularly through FEMWISE-Africa.
“Multilateral organizations are only as good as what Member States let them be.”
“No entity can address the causes of conflicts alone: we need an international framework to respond
to new global threats in the continent.”
In sum, as PSOs are becoming increasingly complex due to the changing nature of conflict, there needs
to be a greater convergence of understanding between the AU, the RECs and the UN at the decisionmaking
level, in order to enhance multilateral cooperation and create a clearer consensus on PSOs