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This study examines the African Union's peacekeeping role in managing African conflicts. Based on a qualitative research methodology, it analyses AU peace operations in Burundi and Somalia, and hybrid peacekeeping in Darfur, in order to identify the lessons learned and suggest how future outcomes may be improved.




The end of the Cold War brought about a new geopolitical setting that allowed the ignition of many armed conflicts in different parts of the world, but especially in Africa. Africa, which during the Cold War was a valued arena for Washington and Moscow in the pursuit of their hegemonic interests, lost its relevance in the superpowers’ political and military calculus in the immediate post-Cold War international system following the collapse of the Soviet behemoth. Immediately after the Cold War, the African security environment was very complicated as well as disturbing because threats to peace and security remained a major problem with deadly consequences as witnessed in Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan (Darfur), Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to mention a few. Armed conflict constituted (and still constitutes) one of the major obstacles to Africa’s socioeconomic development that makes the continent’s future look relatively bleak. At the dawn of the 21st century, the international community saw Africa as a continent in despair due to the persistence of conflict in some African states, the regression of socioeconomic indicators, and poor governance and democratic deficits, which made the continent to miss the path towards sustainable development.
Isiaka A. Badmus

1. Conceptual Framework and Some Background Issues

There is controversy and a lack of consensus among scholars and practitioners about the theory and practice of peacekeeping. Although the concept of peacekeeping as a tool of managing international conflicts evolved in the early years of the UN, its application in the post-Cold War international arena has undergone many changes. Also, peacekeeping activities have been stretched to include many tasks that were not envisaged by its founders. The end of the Cold War and the new context of conflicts char-acterised by the shift from interstate wars to predominantly intrastate ones have occasioned the growing rate of deployment of an increasing number of UN peacekeeping missions across the globe. This new development attests to the international community’s commitment to dealing with threats to peace and security. Peacekeeping missions have increased in size, scope, and strategies with complex mandates. Contemporary peace operations have moved beyond the interposition of forces and ceasefire monitoring and observation to include an increasing number of non-military functions in such places as Cambodia and El Salvador. In spite of the metamorphosis in the nature and practice of peacekeeping, the UN peace operations have not been able to resolve some internal armed conflicts, especially in Africa, on an enduring basis, as with the deadly trilogy of Angola, Rwanda and Somalia in the 1990s.1
Isiaka A. Badmus

2. The Rise of African Union Regionalism

From the end of the Cold War, despite the perceived marginalisation of Africa in the post-Cold War international system, there are two discernible trends in the regionalisation of conflict management in Africa. The first development is the growing partnership between the UN and Africa’s organisations in burden and responsibility sharing in maintaining regional peace and security in Africa. The second development is the emergence of what could be described as assertive regionalism on the African continent.1 These two trends, put together, have had great impact on and have shaped Africa’s political and security landscapes, especially in the area of peace operations. Inquiry into and understanding of both these developments are important to this study. This understanding is possible through an examination of the rise and roles of the leading pan-African organisation — that is, the OAU and its successor, the AU — in addressing African conflicts through regional security frameworks.
Isiaka A. Badmus

3. The African Peace and Security Architecture

In the preceding chapters, I examined the contexts underlying the evolution of the APSA, namely: the nature of African security environment and the inability of the OAU to satisfactorily institutionalise a security mechanism to solve Africa’s manifold security problems and guarantee basic security for African citizens. These appalling situations have, for many years, forced the continent to look for and rely on the broader international community, especially the UN, to solve its conflicts and deal with security. These efforts have not always been successful, as epitomised by the 1994 Rwandan genocide.1 Since the transformation of the unwieldy OAU into an ambitious security regime, the AU, there have been significant developments on the continent with the clear demonstration of Africa’s willingness through its pro-activeness in terms of its leaders’ readiness to tackle the continent’s security quagmires (Aning 2008: 9). Africa’s new zeal for security management has led to first, the establishment of a formal institutional framework for conflict management, the APSA, through the AU’s adoption, in 2002, of the PSC Protocol, which represents a fundamental paradigm shift in Africa’s approach to conflict management, and second, increasing collaborations between the UN and the AU in peace and security matters.2 Thus, the APSA becomes Africa’s first continent-wide regional peace and security system; it represents African efforts to manage African security, for it provides an opportunity for the continent to break away from the age-old practice of overreliance on the international community to solve African conflicts (Kasumba and Debrah 2010: 12).
Isiaka A. Badmus

4. The African Mission in Burundi

The African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) was the first AU-mandated armed peace operation. AMIB’s deployment was authorised in 2003 before the inau-guration of the AU’s Peace and Security Council. The peace mission mirrored the AU’s ambition to intervene in African conflicts where the UN was either not too interested or delayed in responding to a volatile security situation in which there was no comprehensive peace agreement. AMIB highlights how the UN and AU could collaborate with one another in dealing with African peace operations. A number of students of African security and peacekeeping have described AMIB as a successful mission, and AMIB has been recommended as a possible model for future peace operations in Africa (Boshoff, Vrey and Rautenbach 2010; Okumu 2009; Svensson 2008).1 Based on this assertion, I examine AMIB in this chapter in order to assess its achievements and challenges, as well as the lessons that were learned from the mission for improving future peacekeeping operations in Africa. Against the backdrop of the APSA, I address three key questions that emerge from the analysis of AMIB: first, was AMIB truly a successful mission? Second, did AMIB balance the triangular area of tension in African peace operations: namely, the AU’s ambitions, its peacekeeping capacity, and the AU member states’ political will and agendas? Third, were the optimisms embedded in the APSA in terms of its ability to tackle armed conflicts and guarantee African security realised with the AU’s experiences in Burundi?
Isiaka A. Badmus

5. The African Union Mission in Somalia

Since the fall of Siad Barre’s regime in January 1991, political stability and durable peace continue to elude the state and the people of Somalia. The Somali conflict has defied easy resolution due to the interplay of a plethora of endogenous and exogenous dynamics that make third-party peacemaking and peacekeeping interventions daunting. The outbreak of hostilities more than two decades ago and the preceding years of clan- based, armed insurgency that ended Barre’s 21-year dictatorship have meant the deaths of tens of thousands of Somalis, while the number of refugees and IDPs is increasing.1 The war is one of the most protracted in the world, and it has oscillated in terms of its intensity, the nature of belligerents involved, and its dimensions and dynamics (Dersso 2009). Its current phase has pitted the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS)2 against al-Qaeda-affiliated Harakat al-Shabab al Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior Youth) — al-Shabaab, for short3Hizbul Islam (Party of Islam),4 and other Islamist militant groups. Due to the complexity of the Somali war, the UN and Western governments are reluctant to involve troops in any peacekeeping operation in Somalia, partly because of the conflict’s complex nature and partly because of Somali armed groups’ aversion to external intervention forces.
Isiaka A. Badmus

6. The African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur

The conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has been going on for quite some time. However, with respect to the efforts of the AU, the UN, and the broader international community to permanently end the humanitarian catastrophe, the conclusion of the conflict still appears to be far from sight, due to the enormous challenges confronting the peace mission. Since its outbreak in February 2003, the conflict has produced hundreds of thousands of deaths. Furthermore, more than 2 million people are internally displaced (International Crisis Group 2014).1 Because of the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis the conflict has engendered, scholars, analysts and human rights organisations have labelled it genocide (Elsea 2004),2 while others, such as Jan Egeland, the former UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, referred to it as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.3 Darfur has been a site of intermittent low-intensity conflicts for decades, but the current conflict is one of the most complex in the world today. It features a wide range of actors, multiple competing interests, and absolute disregard for international humanitarian law by all the protagonists: the Government of Sudan (GoS) and its proxy Arab militias, the Janjaweed, and the various rebel groups (Badmus 2011; International Crisis Group 2014; Mans 2004). Furthermore, the conflict has deepened mistrust between the people of Darfur and political leaders in Khartoum. The conflict has led to hatred and splitting Darfurian society into a state that is moving towards complete lawlessness, which is being expressed as multiple local conflicts (de Waal 2007a: 1039).
Isiaka A. Badmus

Conclusions: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why?

The overarching objective of this study was to examine the African Union’s peacekeeping role in African conflicts and also to learn from these operations in order to better understand how to build on these lessons to improve the outcomes of AU peace operations in the future. The review of the literature in the field of armed conflicts, peace operations and those international and African institutions designed to manage conflict, formed the basis for developing a framework for the study. Reviewing the literature also assisted with developing the research questions as well as in designing the field research instruments. The field research and the data analysis provided an empirical basis for the study. Moreover, the research questions were addressed by juxtaposing field data with the information gathered from the scholarly literature. This chapter will follow the structure of this book by revisiting the research questions and addressing them in relation to interpreting the results of the study.
Isiaka A. Badmus


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