Historical background to African Peace and Security Architecture

Africa is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent with a land mass of 30.37 million square kilometres. Africa is a continent well-endowed with natural resources, among them 30% of the world’s mineral reserves and world’s largest arable land mass (African Development Bank, 2015. These riches have, however, not led to concomitant development of the continent, primarily because of the decades of bad governance and civil wars and armed conflicts. There are 54 countries in Africa, which is divided into five regions: North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa. Each of the regions have a regional organisation traditionally established to promote economic development, which over time were empowered or organised to participate in conflict resolution.

However, the most appropriate period for examining the beginning of APSA is the end of the Cold War, and this is because the end of the Cold War brought about two discernible trends in the regionalisation of conflict management in Africa. The first was the growing partnership between the UN and Africa’s organisations in the sharing of responsibility in the maintenance of interventions in peace and security in Africa. The second is the emergence of assertive regionalism in Africa. These two really shaped Africa’s security landscape and the effort to maintain regional security (Badmus, 2015). The post-Cold War era necessitated the emergence of a new regional approach which is rooted in global transformation that involves at least four features:

  • 1 The move from bipolarity towards a multipolar or perhaps tripolar structure, with a new division of power and division of labour;
  • 2 The relative decline of American hegemony in combination with a more permissive attitude on the part of the United States towards regionalism;
  • 3 Erosion of the Westphalian state system and the growth of interdependence and globalisation;

4 The changed attitudes towards (neoliberal) economic development and political systems in the developing countries, as well as in the post-communist countries.

The new regionalism stood in contradistinction to the Westphalian state-centric interpretation of international relations. Although it still sees the state as significant in the whole international system, it does not regard the state as the sole actor. It recognised the formation of alliance and coalition. This necessitated the quest for unity and collective identity that led to the formation of Pan-Africanism as a common socio-political identity for Africa (Esedebe, 1994). From the late 1950s and early 1960s, African states that were formerly under European colonisation began to gain independence from their colonial masters. Pan-Africanism not only transcended its initial role as a mere political weapon for liberation of Africa from colonialism; it also became a vehicle to appropriate solutions to a plethora of security and developmental problems confronting the newly independent African states (Sesay, 2008).

Two conflictive and irreconcilable traditions appeared from Africa which affected Africa’s pan-Africanism. The first tradition is the Casablanca group led by Kwame Nkrumah. This tradition vigorously championed the abolition of the Africa’s colonial boundaries and the regional reintegration of Africa through the establishment of a political union that will coordinate the continent’s economic, military and sociocultural activities in order to guarantee Africa’s future. This idea later led to the establishment of many regional alliances and coalitions which later served as the foundation for the creation of a union for African states. Such alliances include Ghana-Guinea Union in 1959. Mali later joined the union in 1960, and it became the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union. This was later named the Union of African States (UAS). The aim of the organisation was to ensure political, economic and cultural harmony of member states in the international arena. Although this was a lofty goal, given the nature of the international arena, the organisation could not really meet the goal it set for itself. Rather, it was preoccupied more with political, military and diplomatic activities while the economic functions suffered.

This leaning towards security and political issues was even confirmed with the inclusion of the proposal for the establishment of a Joint African High Command (JAHC) in the Charter of the Casablanca Powers. On the other side is the Monrovia, Brazzaville or Lagos group. Although they were not really opposed to the integration of Africa, as proposed by the Casablanca group, they recommended a gradual or functionalist approach to the reintegration in such a way that the boundaries, though they were created by the colonialists, would still be maintained. As Badmus (2015, p. 58) puts the view of the group about Africa’s integration succinctly:

The Monrovia group’s conception of cooperation was that African unity represents nothing more than an agreement among African states to safeguard their newly won political freedom in interstate relations. According to this group, African unity should not be interpreted to mean political integration of independent states within the context of a constitutionally unified continent, but unity of aspirations and of action considered from the point of view of African social solidarity and political identity.

In spite of this difference, the unanimous decision to pursue the end of colonial government and the goal to keep Africa united served as the binding factors among African leaders, which enhanced the zeal to form a continental organisation called Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963. With the formation of OAU, there was high hope that the new pan-African organisation would provide solution to Africa’s problems. This optimism can be discerned from the objectives and mandate of the organisation. Article II of the Charter of OAU clearly articulated the purpose for which OAU was established (OAU, 1963, p. 3):

  • 1 To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;
  • 2 To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the people of Africa;
  • 3 To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
  • 4 To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
  • 5 To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The principles that guided the organisation include (OAU, 1963, p. 4):

  • 1 Sovereign equality of all member States.
  • 2 Non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
  • 3 Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State and for its inalienable right to independent existence.
  • 4 Peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation or arbitration.
  • 5 Unreserved condemnation, in all its forms, of political assassination as well as of subversive activities on the part of neighbouring states or any other states.
  • 6 Absolute dedication to the total emancipation of the African territories which are still dependent.
  • 7 Affirmation of a policy of non-alignment with regards to all blocs.

Certain aspects of the objectives and principles of the OAU are very instructive on peace and security of African states. Promotion of unity and solidarity of African state, which is the first objective of the OAU, was to ensure that harmony is sustained among African states. The second objective, coordinating and intensifying cooperation, and efforts to achieve a better life for the people of Africa, aimed at improving the life of the people of the continent through poverty reduction. The third objective is defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and

African Peace and Security Architecture 149 independence of member states. The colonial creation of African states failed to consider several complex socioeconomic and political realities among numerous ethnic formations in the precolonial period. This failure explains why many states on the continent experienced ethno-religious and ethno-political upheavals in the immediate post-independence period. This is because the glue that bound different ethnic nationalities became fractured, with different segments of the African states questioning the basis of the social contract after independence (Badmus, 2006). This was the case in Nigeria and a couple of other African states where civil wars broke out after political independence from colonial masters. The third objective was thus put in place to address the fragile nature of African states by defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

On the principles of the organisation, while some are adapted from the principles governing the establishment of international societies like the United Nations, especially those dealing with sovereignty, self-determination and nonintervention and were basically meant to inculcate the universal ideals based on the UN Charter in Africa’s international relations within the OAU framework, others were to promote peace and security of Africa. For example, such a principle as the peaceful resolution of disputes was based on the belief that peaceful coexistence among African states was a necessary precondition for any socioeconomic development on the continent. The principle, it is believed, would dampen the fire ofincessant interstate conflicts in Africa (Badmus, 2014). To achieve these objectives, four decision-making and decision-supporting organs of the OAU were created, and their nature, powers and structure were invariably influenced by the organisation’s objectives and principles. These bodies were:

  • 1 The Assembly of African Heads of State and Government
  • 2 The Council of Ministers
  • 3 The General Secretariat and
  • 4 The Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration.

In addition to these organs, specialised commissions to perform specified functions were also created. These include:

  • 1 Economic and Social Commission
  • 2 Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Health Commission and
  • 3 Defence Commission.

The Defence Commission was established to coordinate and harmonise the OAU member states’ general policies in achieving their commitment to cooperation for defence and security (Article II, 1 [c] and 2 [f], OAU Charter 1963). Its establishment was seen as part of the OAU compromise where the majority Monrovia group conceded to the Casablanca Powers’ idea of establishing a form of African Defence cooperation. But, instead ofNkrumah’s idea of a unified defence structure, the Monrovia group favoured a less authoritative Defence Commission (Badmus, 2014).

The establishment of the Defence Commission did not realise the objectives of its creation. The first challenge faced in the realisation of the function related clearly to lack of clear-cut explanation of the function of the Defence Commission in the OAU Charter. The functions of the OAU Specialised Commissions — of which the Defence Commission was a member - were only stated in the Charter as being carried out in ‘accordance with the provisions of the present Charter and of the regulations approved by the Council of Ministers’ (OAU Charter 1963: Article XXII). With these provisions, the Commission was expected to perform the defence functions embodied in Article II, 1 (c) and 2 (f) of the Charter. As the founding OAU Summit failed to define the nature, scope and degree of cooperation that the OAU should adopt in relation to security issues, it was completely left to the Defence Commission to fashion out its own modus operandi to achieve its objectives.

Furthermore, the politics that greeted the formation of the OAU also negatively affected the performance of the Commission in coordinating and harmonising the OAU members-states’ defence policies. This becomes more apparent when one considers the security challenges facing Africa at the time, which the Commission was incapable of acting upon at these critical moments involving Africa’s security quagmires. Also significantly the problems of the continent’s underdevelopment and the existing defence pacts that linked some African states, especially the Francophone countries, to their former colonial powers, and the incessant political upheavals in many African states, negatively affected the Commission in performing its functions and retarded the speed of progress to have some form of defence cooperation in Africa (Imobighe, 1989; Badmus, 2014). The failure of the Defence Commission led to the rejigging of the security architecture and the proposal for the establishment of the African Defence Organisation (ADO).

Under the proposed ADO, every member state of the OAU was expected to keep a reserve of units of their national defence for rapid response operations of the OAU. While the national armed forces earmarked for this would remain in the state and will be maintained at the expense of the country of origin, they would only be mobilised whenever the need arose but mobilisation would be approved by the Council of Ministers. As good as the idea of ADO might have looked, and despite the fact that the subsequent OAU Summit in Accra in September 1965 adopted the Defence Commission’s recommendations on ADO, no concrete efforts were made to implement them. Further proposals for the establishment of a common defence force were mooted in the 1970s, but there were no conspicuous efforts towards bringing them to fruition (Frankie, 2006). This put African security in a precarious state.

Hope began to raise when the first peacekeeping mission to quell Chad conflict in 1981 was deployed. This was regarded as a significant move towards the institutionalisation of responsive African Security Architecture. However, a huge disappointment set in when the operation ended in fiasco with the peacekeepers ending the mission abruptly in June 1982 with bringing peace to Chad. This

African Peace and Security Architecture 151 continued for the entire period of the existence of the OAU. From 1963 when the organisation was created to 2001 when it began to wind down, the OAU tried to manage security challenges on the continent with a relative success. Although African security environment was tumultuous, limited support from member states tremendously contributed to the inability of the organisation to institutionalise a security mechanism that could solve Africa’s many security challenges. This made the organisation fail to solve many political crises and armed conflicts, such as in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Sierra Leone or Liberia. 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. The failure of the OAU led to the transformation of the organisation into another organisation with an ambitious security regime - African Union (AU).

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >