Peace and Security in Africa

The story of peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict monitoring in the 
African Peace and Security Architecture

This short story sheds light on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and makes reference to the work of ECDPM's SECURE Programme in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict monitoring, in relation to the APSA. It also informs how we connect with other ECDPM work regarding conflict prevention, governance and political economy analysis of regional integration in Africa. The full background of this story can be downloaded here

In this story:  

- Trends in global and African regional conflicts
- Unpacking the African Peace and Security Architecture
- Key challenges for making the African Peace and Security Architecture work
- Connecting Africa regionally and internationally
- Looking ahead                                                                                                       - Background information on our APSA work

Trends in Global and African Regional Conflicts 

Image courtesy of United Nations
Africa, together with the Middle East, remains the most heavily burdened with violent conflict.

According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), 2014 was the most violent year since the end of the Second World War. According to UCDP data, more than 100.000 people were killed in organised violence in the year 2014, making it the highest number in 20 years, as the death count in organised violence has not exceeded 100.000 since 1994 when the Rwandan genocide took place. Research indicates that since 2010, it seems there has been a reversed trend from the initial decrease in war since the early 2000s which had followed a particularly violent post-Cold War period. According to the International Crisis Group, each year since then has seen more conflict, more victims, and more people displaced.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), Africa, together with the Middle East, remains the most heavily burdened with violent conflict. Africa and the Middle East endure the most armed conflict when measured by population size over time. While the majority of Africa is generally at peace, most battle related deaths in Africa have become concentrated in a relatively small number of countries, according to ACLED, including Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia. Another (more recent) trend has been the attempts of leaders to extend constitutional term limits to remain in power, which have led to demonstrations, civil unrest and intra-state conflict. Coups d’état – or attempts thereof – have occurred related to this, in large part as a response to leaders who have sought to remain in power, often through so-called constitutional 'coup d’états'.

The refugee crisis is a global crisis, but has affected the continent very hard in particular. The protracted conflict in South Sudan has pushed the numbers of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) ever higher, to reportedly over 2.2 million. Also, according to UNHCR in a report released in June 2015, worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded, namely 59.5 million (compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago). The African migration crisis is extending beyond Africa’s border over into Europe. 

To read more about our work on migration in the wider development debate, see our Dossier on Linking Migration to Development.

Unpacking the African Peace & Security Architecture 

Image Courtesy of the United Nations
The "[…] possibilities of achieving the objectives we have set will be constrained as long as an atmosphere of lasting peace and stability does not prevail in Africa".

The establishment of the APSA took place within the context of the transformation of the OAU to the AU in 2000. This transformation was the result of both developments in Africa as well as broader changes following the end of the Cold War and external factors

From Non-Interference in the OAU to non-indifference of the African Union

Civil wars on the African continent intensified in the early 1990s, but the nature of conflict changed from primarily interstate conflicts to intra-state conflicts. Already in 1990, the OAU adopted a "Declaration on the Political and Socio-Economic Situations in Africa and the Fundamental Changes Taking Place in the World". It noted that the “[…] possibilities of achieving the objectives we have set will be constrained as long as an atmosphere of lasting peace and stability does not prevail in Africa”. This initiated a new period in the way the OAU aimed to deal with human rights, democracy and peace, and with security and development within Africa. 

Despite the 1990 Declaration, however, the domain of peace and security was still considered to be the exclusive domestic jurisdiction of member states. Whenever the OAU was assumed to intervene in internal disputes or systematic violations of human rights, it declined, insisting on existing principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs (Article III of the OAU Charter). The conflicts in Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the genocide in Rwanda brought these gaps to the forefront. In the transition from the OAU to the African Union in 2000, a normative shift took place from non-interference to non-indifference. 

Complementary information on the normative foundations can be found in Box 1 in the full background note of this story. 

Outlining the pillars of the APSA

Several structures emerged that constitute the institutional dimension of the APSA. The APSA is anchored upon a number of building blocks, which include at the centre the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC). The APSA should not be seen as a monolith, but as a set of institutions and bodies with different mandates, objectives and composition. Besides the Peace and Security Council, the African Union Commission (in particular the Chairperson and the Commissioner for Peace and Security), the Panel of the Wise (PoW), the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the African Standby Force (ASF), the Peace Fund and the regional economic communities are part of the APSA.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) is the AU’s sole decision-making body. It serves as ‘a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa’, constituting 15 Member States on a rotational basis. Article 7 of the Protocol on the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSC Protocol) stipulates the PSC’s mandate, including to anticipate and prevent disputes and conflicts, as well as policies that may lead to genocide and crimes against humanity; undertake peacemaking and peacebuilding functions in order to resolve conflicts where they have occurred; authorise the mounting and deployment of peace support missions; recommend to the assembly intervention in a member state in respect of grave circumstances as provided for in Article 4 (h) of the Constitutive Act; and support and facilitate humanitarian action in situations of armed conflicts or major natural disasters.

The other elements supporting the PSC in its work within the APSA include the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS). The CEWS is to provide timely advice (early warning) on potential conflicts and threats to peace and security in the continent to the AUC Chairperson, to be brought to the attention of the PSC in order to develop an appropriate and timely response. The CEWS coordinates its work with similar structures in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Notably SADC, ECOWAS and IGAD have put in place extensive networks and systems of early warning in their respective regions. There remains room for improvement, however, as sensitive security information is not systematically shared.

The Panel of the Wise (PoW) consists of five prominent personalities (representing the five regions of Africa), with a track record of contributing to peace, security and development on the African continent, and is vested with both peace-making and advisory functions, to advise the PSC and the AUC Chairperson on all issues pertaining to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa. 

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, assisted by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, provides operational support to the PSC, and is responsible for the implementation and follow-up of PSC decisions, to keep the PSC informed on its activities, issue periodic reports and other documents. Notably, our policy research has shown how the current AUC Chairperson has consistently used her position to issues numerous statements on conflict situation or events, or to voice support for decisions taken by RECs and other APSA actors.

The African Standby Force (ASF) is designed to enable the PSC to prevent and manage conflicts by containing their spread or escalation; to support peace processes; to enforce its decisions in cases of grave circumstances; to support peacebuilding activities; and to undertake humanitarian action, disaster management and reconstruction. The ASF is organised in five regional standby forces and is composed of multidisciplinary contingents on standby in their country of origin, raised and maintained by the five RECs or the Regional Mechanisms (RMs).

Lastly, the African Peace Fund is meant to provide necessary financial resources for peace support mission and other operational activities related to peace and security, to be governed by relevant Financial Regulations of the African Union through financial appropriations from AU regular budget, voluntary contributions from Member States, and other sources within Africa, including the private sector, civil society and individuals, and through appropriate fundraising activities.

While not formally a pillar of the APSA, the AU’s policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) should be mentioned in addition. The AU’s policy on PCRD was adopted in 2006. It is intended to support the development of policies and strategies that seek to consolidate peace, prevent relapse to violence and promote sustainable development. The AU’s PCRD policy as such is envisaged to play a pivotal part in the aftermath of conflict and ensure linkages with development policies. The policy seeks to improve timeliness, effectiveness and coordination of activities in post conflict countries and to lay the foundation for social justice and sustainable peace. The PCRD policy further provides opportunities to strengthen linkages between the APSA and the African Governance Architecture (AGA), when the AU Commission’s Peace and Security Department (AU PSD) and Department of Political Affairs (DPA) coordinate efforts to ensure progression from post-conflict to development - as was the case for example in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Key challenges for making the African Peace and Security Architecture work

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Peace and security has become the AU's most demanding work while it is arguably the best funded.

The actors of the APSA, such as the AU Commission, the Peace and Security Council, the RECs and RMs, diplomats, special envoys and mediators have a wide variety of tools at their disposal, ranging from issuing sanctions, calling parties to negotiations, to deploying peace support operations. 

Most often, a combination of tools is used to address conflict situations at varying points in time. Peace and security has become the AU’s most demanding work while it is arguably the best funded. APSA actors are now involved in a wide range of conflicts, ranging from highly volatile and protracted crises as a result of Islamist extremisms, terror, civil and ethnic unrest, to processes of federalisation and unconstitutional changes of government. 

The lion's share of the AU’s peace and security budget is financed by external partners, for more than 90%. The majority of costs for peace operations on the continent have been carried by a range of international partners, including notably the United States, the European Union, China and the United Nations. In terms of financing the various facets of the APSA, the European Union is the most comprehensive and structural partner of the AU. The European Union’s main instrument to support the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms in their peace and security activities is the African Peace Facility (APF). 

The African Peace Facility (APF) was set up in 2004 in the framework of the EU-Africa Partnership on Peace and Security, following the EU-Africa Summit in Maputo in 2003. The APF has its legal basis on the Cotonou Agreement and it is funded through the European Development Fund (EDF). The three main strands of action under the APF are capacity building, peace support operations and the development of an early response mechanism. The direct beneficiaries of the APF are the AU and the RECs/RMs, with a mandate in Peace and Security, and relevant institutions within or related to the APSA. Since its establishment in 2004, the EU has committed more than €1.9 billion through the APF. 

In January 2015, the AU Assembly adopted a proposal by AU finance ministers to increase member states' contributions to the AU’s operational budget to 100%, to the programme budget to 75% and to the peacekeeping budget to 25%. This plan is to be phased in within five years from 2016 onwards. Contributions from AU member states have also been re-assessed "applying the principle of fairness and solidarity".

Related to this, discussions between the African Union and the United Nations regarding the financial aspects of African peace operations, especially those authorised by the United Nations Security Council, are still on-going. The African Union would like to rely on more predictable funding for its peace support operations through UN-assessed contributions, which would cover the remaining 75% of the budget once the African Union is able to raise the envisaged 25%. In January 2016, former African Development Bank director Donald Kaberuka was appointed as the High Representative for the African Peace Fund, with a mandate to mobilize additional resources for AU peace and security-related activities, and finding a solution towards finding sustained, predictable and flexible funding mechanisms to support AU-led peace operations, as expressed in the Common African Position on the Report of UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO). 

The UN’s 2015 HIPPO report noted that the strategic partnership with the African Union should be deepened, "including through more predictable financing, to African Union peace support operations when authorised by the Security Council, even as the African Union builds its own capacity and resources for that purpose." Yet concerns remain whether the appropriate control mechanisms could be put in place should AU missions be financed through the United Nations’ assessed budget, such as United Nations financial and budgetary control mechanism and compliance with United Nations principles of peacekeeping. 

In July 2016, AU Heads of State and Government decided to operationalise the African Peace Fund during the AU Summit, following up on these commitments to finance 25 % of the cost of African Union peace support operations, and based on a proposed conceptualization of the Fund by High Representative Kaberuka. This included the adoption of a 0.2 % levy on eligible imports, a plan is based upon the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET) adopted in 2006. This levy would amount to contributions of USD 65 million per year by each of the continent’s five regions, and was expected to increase to $ 80 million per region by the year 2020. Questions remain whether these new commitments will fulfill the challenging funding needs faced by the AU and its member states. AMISOM’s yearly budget alone amounts to $ 1 billion a year. Other obstacles include the compatibility of the 0.2% levy on imports and international rules. As the report by the High Representative Kaberuka has not been published yet, it remains unclear how and if the AU can unilaterally impose additional import levies in light of existing trade agreement with for example the European Union and the United States. 

The proposal also offers a number of opportunities, not only in terms of working towards more sustainable financing of AU peace support operations but also the AU’s programmes and activities as overall trade with the bloc increase. It will also impact relations between RECs and the AU, which have been tenuous at times. The current proposal was widely welcomed by regions and individual countries, as it bypasses additional requests on regional and member states’ budgets.

African countries and the AU have a strong record and experience in peace support operations. The continent already contributes most of the troops in UN peacekeeping missions and African countries make up more than half of the top 20 global contributors of uniformed personnel. 

The African Standby Force Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) has been notably slow to establish itself, especially in light of the mounting security challenges across the continent. The RDC is intended to provide the AU with the kind of rapid military response that could be deployed to stop or prevent emerging genocides, crimes against humanity, or war crimes by armed rebel forces. The RDC is envisaged to be able to deploy 12 500 trained and equipped military, police and civilian personnel ready for action, anywhere in Africa, within 14 days; followed by a force of up to 5 000 personnel within 90 days, capable of self-sustainment for 30 days.

The African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) was created in 2013 as a temporary measure to overcome the slow operationalisation of the Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) but has been divisive from the start. Observers have noted important diverging opinions between AU Member States regarding the ACIRC and the rapid response force envisaged for the ASF. This has led to a clash of interests between those states supportive of the ACIRC, notably South Africa, and those opposed to the mechanism, such as Nigeria. 

In essence, lack of clarity remains over the function of the ACIRC. While some have argued this mechanism is to replace the ASF’s rapid reaction mechanism, others maintain it serves as a temporary ‘bridging mechanism’ until the ASF’s rapid intervention capacity is fully operational. AMANI AFRICA II, the AU’s continent-wide military exercise to test the operationalisation of the African Standby Force, including its rapid deployment capacity, took place in November 2015 in Lohatlha, South Africa. These exercises (the first one was held in October 2010 in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia) are part of the wider APSA operationalisation process. Although the military exercise was deemed a success, rapid deployment remains a difficult task despite a strong track record of several African states in peacekeeping.

Unconstitutional changes of government have triggered a number of rapidly escalating conflicts in 2014 and 2015, with Burkina Faso and Burundi amongst the more prominent examples. This challenge is expected to extend into 2016. This has put the AU's implementation of the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to a test. The Arab Spring already showed how these tensions could rapidly emerge to the fore, such as the case of Egypt showed. A number of attempts by African Heads of State to run for unconstitutional third bid (or more) are putting additional pressure on the AU and RECs. Currently, these are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, the Republic of Congo and, Burundi all following the example of Uganda where President Museveni who is meanwhile in his fourth term and seeking a fifth term in office. Often, these bids go against the constitutional provisions. 

Going against AU Member States which are challenging the constitutional provisions and thus acting according to the AU’s adopted principles of the AU Constitutive Act and other agreed charters, such as the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, would help shed the impression that the AU holds a protective hand over AU Heads of State and Government. According to observers, the low ratification rate of the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance limits the ability of the AU to respond effectively to crisis situations. While the AU Constitutive Act is signed by all 54 AU Member States, the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance is has been signed by 46 but ratified by only 23 states.

The African Peace and Security Architecture: 
Connecting Africa regionally and internationally

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The challenging relationship between the AU and RECs in the context of the on-going operationalisation of the APSA contributes to a complex playing field

The AU and REC coordinate responses to conflict and crisis under the principle of subsidiarity while the UN Security Council holds primacy in matters of threats to peace and security around the globe. The cooperation in the area of peace and security is cemented in the Memorandum of Understanding between the African Union and the RECs and RMs

As discussed above, the APSA is builds on a number of pillars (see above) at the continental level. In theory, the AU is expected to harmonise and coordinate its actions and decisions with similar bodies in the existing and future RECs. A number of RECs existed before the establishment of the African Union in 2000 and had evolved at various speeds and in different ways. For example, the institutional set up of ECOWAS differs considerable from that of IGAD. There is overlapping membership between various RECs, for example IGAD and the East African Community (EAC), and some countries are member of more than one REC, for example Kenya, member of both EAC and IGAD. In total, there are 8 official RECs and two RMs. There are other regional economic cooperation organisations not officially recognised by the African Union as RECs, such as the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). Others, such as the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), have similar authority but are not necessarily economic cooperation bodies. For example, the ICGLR is a formal partner of the African Union, and was established under the umbrella of the African Union and United Nations in 2003.

Our research indicates that the AU and REC develop models of coordination and cooperation on a case-by-case assessment of the situation and the response needed, leading to huge variety in models of cooperation. These varying models of cooperation are not merely between the AU and RECs, but with external actors and donors too. The juxtaposition of RECs brings to light these important differences and the need to take into account the political economy context in which these RECs were established and have later evolved as is the case when comparing ECOWAS and IGAD. 

Complementary information on this can be found in Box 2 in the full background note of this story. For more information on the political analysis of RECs see ECDPM's Political Economy of Regional Integration in Africa (PERIA) research project.

As our PEA research at ECDPM has indicated, each REC has its own ‘modus operandi’ as a result of historical foundations, geographic location and institutional set-up. Division of labour is decided case-by-case, based on political considerations and informed by a range of factors. This includes the partnership with the United Nations and other external partners, their level of involvement (including funding), the political positions taken by the government and/or warring parties (including in important AU institutions such as the PSC), key characteristics of the conflict, amongst other things. The complex pattern of conflict in Africa combined with a still maturing African Union, and the challenging relationship between the AU and RECs in the context of the on-going operationalisation of the APSA contributes to a complex playing field.

The relationship between the United Nations and the African Union in matters of peace and security is a rapidly evolving one. In 2006, the United Nations “Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the African Union” was established to enhance the capacity of the AU Commission and RECs as partners of the United Nations. In 2011, the creation of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) was another major step forward in the UN-AU relations. Since then, a number of significant developments have taken place. As the Capacity Building Programme is coming to an end in November 2016, questions have emerged on how to strengthen a more robust AU-UN partnership for the coming decades. 

The UN-AU relationships’ main features include a bi-annual meeting at senior level, joint field missions, high-level annual consultations. The UNOAU has supported planning and management of AU peace operations and the facilitation of cooperation between African Union actors and the United Nations. A range of operational partnership models between the UN and the AU have emerged over the past decade, from planned transitions to support packages. Yet significant challenges remain. Both organisations are faced with gaps in capabilities, such as rapid deployment capacities and logistical shortfalls (f.e. lack of aviation capacity for troop and supply transport). 

Observers have noted that efforts to enhance the institutional relationship between the United Nations and the African Union have fallen short of African expectations of more open ended commitments in terms of institutional cooperation and financing, rather than case by case approaches as preferred by some members of the UN Security Council. The financial aspect is discussed above. But also on a more fundamental level, significant differences remain: the United Nations continues to speak about peacekeeping operations, while the AU adopts a far broader notion of “peace support operations” and is willing to deploy troops where there is “no peace to keep” yet. This divergence undermines a unity of vision on strategic deployment and mission mandates and has hampered the re-hatting of AU troops to UN troops and related transition processes from AU mandates to UN mandates under UN Security Council resolutions. A new AU Commission, a new PSC composition and a follow-up to the UN’s capacity building programme (ending in November 2016) provide an opportunity to streamline decision-making processes and see eye to eye on shared responsibilities on the continent. 

Looking ahead

The APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 provides a significant opportunity to achieve a conflict free continent. 

Since its establishment in 2000, the African Union has taken on an challenging peace and security agenda. The African Union’s peace and security agenda is both the best financed as well as the most difficult and most time-consuming to manage. The Peace and Security Council (PSC) has addressed a growing number of thematic issues ranging from climate change, epidemic threats and migration in more than 560 meetings since 2004. Relations between the African Union, RECs and RMs in addressing these continue to evolve.The African Union’s peace and security budget remains largely externally financed, causing tension and frustration between the AU and international actors such as the United Nations and the European Union. While efforts are being made to move towards increasingly “internally” financed peace and security budget, implementation of this decision is expected to be slow. 

Discussions on further external reliable funding, including possibly from the United Nations assessed budget, are so far inconclusive. Further financial strains and donor fatigue amongst donors, including in the European Union which is the APSA’s biggest financial supporter through the African Peace Facility, are expected. This will continue to put a strain on the African Union’s peace and security budget. A global economic slow-down, spurred by a slowing Chinese economy might further shrink African Union’s Member States resource base, delaying prospects of an increasingly African funded peace and security budget from 2016 onwards.

The Peace and Security Council has primarily adopted an emergency-driven approach since its establishment and continues to struggle to adopt a more preventive approach despite mechanisms in place (such as the Panel of the Wise and the Continental Early Warning System amongst others). A number of countries are increasingly protracted with no clear sight of a long-lasting solution, including the Central African Republic, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and South Sudan. These countries are taking up most of the African Union’s (and RECs) time, absorbing precious resources to take effective steps on conflict prevention. These conflicts all have their roots in a crisis of governance and the lack of a solid social contract between the government and its citizens.

Further investments in conflict prevention and governance under the APSA are much-needed yet will take time. In 2014, the African Union and RECs committed to “silence the guns by 2020”, the African Union’s so-called Vision 2020, adopted following a high-level retreat on the theme in late April 2014 in Durban, South Africa. While it seems unlikely that the African Union and its Member States will be able to achieve a conflict-free continent by 2020, wide mobilisation and reinforced efforts to operationalise the APSA are essential.

The APSA Roadmap 2016-2020 provides a significant opportunity to achieve this. Finalised in December 2015 and officially launched in April 2016, the roadmap outlines a set of five strategic priorities and indicators to measure these objectives. The five strategic priorities are: 1. Conflict prevention, 2. Crisis/conflict management, 3. Post-conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding, 4. Strategic Security Issues, and 5. Coordination and Partnerships. Monitoring the results on these strategic priorities as well as the APSA actor's interventions, which ECDPM has been doing since 2013, is a key element of documenting and tracking the APSA’s progress and contribution to peace and security on the continent. For example, the African Union acknowledges that connection between early warning and direct response systems need to be improved. An AU mediation unit is currently being established in the AU Conflict Management Division. Tracking the use of early warning systems and the conflict prevention activities in both individual violent conflicts will enable to systematically identify lessons learned, good practice and areas for improvement. 

Besides conflict prevention, the new APSA Roadmap also provides an opportunity to strengthen efforts with regards to Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) at the continental as well at regional level. PCRD was included as a Strategic Priority in the APSA Roadmap. Given that PCRD has often been overlooked as a result of lacking strategic leadership, this gap was clearly identified and responded to. 

As part of the new APSA Roadmap, a Multidimensional Committee on PCRD will be established in order to interact with international actors on the continent on PCRD. A PSC Standing Committee is to be established in order to monitor actors and provide support to affected countries. Regular briefing sessions of the PSC are expected to assure the political oversight and support to PCRD efforts. At the national level, post-conflict Member States are to be supported in the establishment of ministerial committees on PCRD. Lastly, an interdepartmental taskforce at AU level, involving RECs through their Liaison Offices, will be established and will meet regularly, in order to foster harmonisation and synergies. In the past, the AU Commission’s Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the Department for Political Affairs (DPA) have had challenges to overcome when working together, in particular with regards to governance, conflict prevention and mediation. The APSA provides momentum to strengthen the institutional linkages between the APSA and the AGA, which have been meagre so far; but pertinent given the governance dimension of many of Africa’s current conflicts.

The challenge of AGA's implementation at the regional level has been discussed in the Discussion Paper Series "The regional economic communities and implementation of the African Governance Architecture (AGA)" compiled by ECDPM's Africa Change Dynamics (ACD) programme.

The APSA remains Africa’s pivotal tool and framework that can tackle conflict on the continent. Faced with a complex conflict landscape and a range of institutional and operational challenges, continuous efforts will be needed to contribute to the effective operationalisation of the APSA and a more peaceful continent. 

Read ECDPM's 2016 Challenges Paper, which highlights how the change of leadership at the AU in 2016 may affect Africa.

Background information on our APSA work 

Image Courtesy of the United Nations

Since 2013, ECDPM collaborates with the German Federal Government and GIZ in the yearly APSA Impact Monitoring report, which assesses the interventions by the AU and RECs in conflicts across Africa. Three reports have since then been established, covering the period from 2007-2014. ECDPM’s research has primarily focused on violent conflicts, civil wars and wars as described by the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer, with a focus on the AU’s mandate in peace and security, primarily emanating from the PSC Protocol and the AU Constitutive Act. Our research has focused on diplomatic interventions, mediation efforts and peace support operation activities undertaken in the context of the APSA in more than 50 violent conflicts, civil wars and wars.

More recently, we have started to collaborate on this work with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa in collaboration with GIZ. Information on the methodology used for these reports can be obtained from ECDPM. During the course of our expanding work, we have also built on our regular exchanges and collaboration with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and have made good use of their reports and research on conflict trends in Africa and the challenges for the APSA.

Our work on the APSA was further informed through our contributing research to ECDPM’s Centre-wide project on the Political Economy of Regional Integration in Africa (PERIA). We focused here on the African Union, IGAD and ECOWAS’ peace and security policies, mechanisms and institutions making use of ECDPM’s Political Economy Analysis (PEA) five lens framework

Finally, we are working with ECDPM’s Africa Change Dynamics (ACD) programme on the linkages between the APSA and the African Governance Architecture (AGA). The interconnected issues of conflict prevention, challenges to governance and elections are becoming increasingly salient issues across Africa, and will inform our future work.

For more information, contact Sophie Desmidt ( or Tarila Marclint Ebiede ( 


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