22 March 2018

Africa: What It Takes for AU to End Conflicts

African Union has come up with several initiatives to ensure sustainable stability in the continent in the foreseeable future and entirely focus on development agendas. But some doubt the institutional capacity and availability of fertile ground to achieve these lofty goals.

The AU attributes the relative improvement in security to its initiatives, peace and security scholars doubt its ability to influence member states stability.

In its peace and security blueprint, the AU has put an objective of ending all wars and silencing of the gun by 2020. However, facts on the ground indicate that issues of peace and security continue to pose challenge to the continental bloc in its quest to realize shared prosperity and well-being.

Across the continent, there have been civil conflicts as in South Sudan and Somalia; potentials for boarder conflicts as in between Ethiopia and Eritrea; post election violence and failed elections as in some East African countries and the DRC respectively; sectarian violence in CAR; terrorist threats by Boko Haram in Nigeria and a rebellion, a coup and an extremist insurgency in Mali, and a failing state in Libya, to mention but a few.

"More than 80 percent of the conflicts, 75 percent of refugees and almost similar percent of internal displacements in the world are in Africa," says Dr. Admore Mupoki Kambudzi, Secretary of African Union Peace and Security Council. "Africa has to take care of all these conflicts using its [AU's] blueprint."

As a blueprint, the Continental bloc has come up with African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) but the challenges are still on the ground.

Kambudzi says that in May 2013, the AU has adopted the solemn declaration aiming at ending all wars and fighting in Africa by 2020. However, nothing was done between 2013 and 2015 to implement the declaration. Then, the master roadmap of silencing of the gun was adopted in 2016.

Here, AU has come up with certain steps that should take place in each member including; peaceful transition of power, fighting corruption, human and drug trafficking as well as illicit migrations, as the Secretary illustrates.

Illegal arms trafficking is another factor that intensify conflicts by availing arms to non-state actors, criminals, and terrorists.

Besides other initiatives, September which is the African Amnesty Month could serve the purpose of giving amnesty for those who will surrender weapons to the governments voluntarily until 2020, adds the Secretary.

"It is possible to silence the gun, but what is required is, whenever problems occur, it is necessary to understand their nature and come up with solutions to solve contradictions."

"The peace and security interventions by the AU, I can say are understand their nature and come up with solutions to solve contradictions."

"The peace and security interventions by the AU, I can say are successful" he commends because there were around 28 conflicts in Africa in 2004, today in 2018 there are far less than seven major conflicts.

The progress that Africa has made is much better than its challenges, he stresses adding the development and democratization process should be sustained.

Dr. Mellese Madda is Assistant Prof. of Social Anthropology at Hawassa University and published various articles on peace and security. He tells The Ethiopian Herald that the AU's objectives are too ambitious, thus need strong commitment of member states.

The crisis in Africa can be analyzed as having pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial roots. During the times of colonialism, the pre-colonial conflicts were transformed into new conflicts. There are also new conflicts emerging, Dr. Mellese says.

[Considering] the nature of African conflicts, the power of the AU is questionable to end all conflicts, he says adding "Member states are also more powerful than the Union."

Regional blocs which are supposed to serve as conduit for the Continental body lack cohesion among themselves and with the Union, Dr. Mellese, who is also Research and Postgraduate Coordinator at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, underlines.

African conflicts are also either sourced or aggravated by external forces during the ages of neoliberalism. Africans need to understand all these phenomenon and should come together to solve their real problems on the ground, as to Dr. Mellese.

To overcome political, economic and social challenges, member states of AU must work in collaboration, says Aksum University Lecturer of Peace and Security Gebrehiwot Hailemariam. Member state need to be [equally committed] and must contribute finance to the organization proportionally.

Predominantly, it is the political crisis that has severely affected continental peace and security. The structures of AU like African Solution for African Problems (AfSoL), the Continental Early Warning System and Peace Fund must work independently.

Member states should participate in fighting common challenges and trans-boundary problems than accusing and destabilizing each other, Gebrehiwot adds.

All member states should also make among their primary activities the pursuant of economic cooperation and integration.

Kambudzi underscores that Southern Africa is enjoying relative peace and stability, but not the rest of the continents. And the culture of peace nurtured in Southern Africa should be replicated in all other regions.

"Most countries in the Southern Africa region has come up with internal solutions to their problems, but, the rest of Africa could not continue like this" he says adding that "ending all conflicts is a must, African countries must apply this."

As the continent is vast and divided into different regions, regional blocs such as IGAD need to be stronger than ever to serve the ambitions of the continental bloc.

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