Shortly after the inception of the African Union (AU) in 2002, the foundation was laid for the creation of the AU’s African Peace and Security Architecture, APSA. As the accompanying excerpted article from the South African news site The Conversation explains, APSA is guided by the AU’s mandate, which allows intervention in a country under certain circumstances, such as genocide. This was a substantial change from the non-interventionist policy of the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity. According to the article, even with the new policy, the ability of APSA to bring about peace on the continent has had mixed results due to several shortcomings.

Before describing those shortcomings it is necessary to first look at APSA’s structure. It is comprised of five pillars: the Peace and Security Council, which serves as the main decision making body; The Panel of the Wise, which advises the Peace and Security Council; the Continental Early Warning System; the African Standby Force; and the Peace Fund, tasked with funding APSA’s activities. It is the last, the Peace Fund, which may cause the APSA its most significant problems. As the article notes, so far it has raised only $160 million of its $400 million target, thus impeding the ability of the other components to successfully complete their work.

Besides money issues, the author discusses the role politics plays in decision making by the Peace and Security Council and indicates that it can hamper APSA’s response to conflicts or potential conflicts. While the Council was quick to suspend Mali from the AU after the recent coup, it has remained relatively quiet with regards to the escalating conflict in Cameroon.

Another pillar described in this article, the African Standby Force, reflects the difficulties when trying to organize multiple nations for military purposes. Its formation came after a long struggle with issues such as diverse states of readiness among the member nations, as well as their varying degrees of interest in intervention. Though it is reportedly now fully operational, it still has not been deployed, and questions remain regarding its capabilities.

Despite these difficulties, as the article notes, APSA is still a valuable resource for Africa, with its work with regional economic communities and mechanisms in helping to prevent or manage conflict being particularly notable. However, its financial problems, which constrain many of its activities ranging from providing early warnings of potential conflicts to actually paying for troops when necessary, remain a chronic issue.

Overall, the success of the African Peace and Security Architecture is paramount for Africa’s development and human security. Its value in the continent’s peace and security agenda should not be underestimated

Source: Dominique Mystris, “The AU’s peace and security architecture: filling the gaps,” The Conversation (South Africa),” 23 August 2020. https://theconversation.com/the-aus-peace-and-security-architecture-filling-the-gaps-144554

Overall, the success of the African Peace and Security Architecture is paramount for Africa’s development and human security. Its value in the continent’s peace and security agenda should not be underestimated.

The AU’s African Peace and Security Architecture was established when the organization adopted the Protocol on the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council in July 2002. It is guided by the AU’s mandate and its interventionist approach.

The mandate of the Continental Early Warning System is conflict prevention and anticipating events…Both are notoriously difficult. Prevention and anticipation rely on accurate data and political will to act, yet the Peace and Security Council tends to react more to conflicts rather than preempt them.

Composed of contingents from the five regions, the African Standby Force’s job is to implement decisions made by the Peace and Security Council. This includes authorized interventions, conflict and dispute prevention, observation, monitoring and any type of peace support mission, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding.

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