Security challenges and African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)

Jude A. Adomodu and Saheed Bahajide Owonikoko


After several decades of colonisation of the African continent by the European powers, fortunately, the various colonies within the continent began to gain independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s from their European masters, and were able to form their own government. This brought a glimmer of hope to the people of Africa that their newly independent states will witness rapid socioeconomic and political development owing to the fact that Africans will now be in the driving seat of the political governance of their own states. However, contrary to the expectation of the African people, peace and stability that are essential for the creation of an enabling environment that will usher in the desired transformation of the continent became undermined by deadly civil wars and armed conflicts. A case in point was the south of the Sahara, which soon began to experience civil wars and armed conflicts that shook the foundations of the newly independent states.

These deadly civil wars and armed conflicts were not only protracted but also led to the death and displacement of several thousands of Africans. For instance, one of the most intense civil wars in Africa was the Liberian Civil Wars. The First Liberian Civil War took place from 1989 until 1997 killing 250,000 people. Although peace agreement was signed to end the conflict, two years after the war, the Second Liberian Civil War broke out. The Sierra Leone Civil War lasted for 11 years between 1991 and 2002 leaving over 50,000 people dead. The Rwandan Civil War was the worst. It led to the death of between 800,000 and 1 million people and so many other civil wars that ravaged African states. The protracted armed conflicts and the many coups d’état which ravaged many postcolonial African states also led to the disruption of political governance with incessant regime changes, with its concomitant negative effects on the quest for the rapid socioeconomic and political development of postcolonial African states.

However, the root causes of the deadly civil wars and armed conflicts can be traced to factors such as extreme poverty of the majority of the population; marginalisation of the young people; unequal sharing of resources; social and economic disparities; denial of freedom of expression; and lack of participation and democratic structures (UNESCO, 1998), including bad governance and ethnic and religious polarisation of communities. The economic costs of violent conflicts on the development of African countries are huge as Oxfam (2007) estimated that Africa loses about US$18 billion a year because of conflict and armed violence. In order to frontally address this dangerous trajectory that the continent has been grappling with for decades, an African solution was needed. This necessitated the launching of an institutional framework in 2002, called the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), with the sole aim of conferring the responsibility of Africa to protect itself, which is rooted in the principle of the responsibility to protect (R2P). It is in the light of the foregoing background that this chapter critically examines the contributions of the APSA towards addressing the security challenges of postcolonial African states as well as specifically looking at how well APSA constitutes effective response to peace and security of Africa.

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