African Union and the establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture

The reasons for the establishment of the AU are explicitly spelt out in the Preamble to the Charter setting up the organisation. The preamble to the charter states that the AU is a practical expression of the dreams of ‘generations of pan-Africanists in their determination to promote unity, solidarity and cooperation amongst the peoples of Africa and African states’ by the desire to tackle the ‘multifaceted challenges that confront our continent and peoples in the light of the social, economic and political changes taking place in the world’ and a consciousness that ‘the scourge of conflicts in Africa constitute a major impediment to the socioeconomic development of the continent and of the need to promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for the implementation of our development and integration agenda’ (African Union, 2000). A core document that defines the principles and objectives of the AU’s security policy is the Constitutive Act of promulgated in 2002. In its preamble, it states that member states are:

Conscious of the fact that the scourge of conflicts in Africa constitutes a major impediment to the socio-economic development of the continent, and [recognises] the need to promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for the implementation of our development and integration agenda.

While the objectives of the AU are much more expansive than that of the defunct OAU, the principles of both are similar. These include the following:

  • 1 Respect for borders existing on achievement of independence;
  • 2 Non-interference by any member state in the internal affairs of another;
  • 3 Prohibition of the use or threat to use force among member states of the Union (AU Constitutive Act, Article 4).

It is true that the Act reiterates the objective of defence of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the member states (Article 3b), and the principle of non-interference by any member state in the internal affairs of another member state (Article 4g), but these do not prevent the AU intervention in internal conflict situations. This is because Article 4(h) gives the AU the right ‘to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity’. This Article represents one of the cornerstones of the credibility of the AU (Badmus, 2015). In addition, other important principles in the Act unequivocally endorsed the AU’s rights of legitimate intervention in domestic conflict situations. These principles include:

  • 1 Peaceful settlement of disputes (Article 4e);
  • 2 The right of member states to request interventions from the Union in order to restore peace and security (Article 4j);
  • 3 Respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance (Article 4m) and
  • 4 Respect for the sanctity of human life (4o).

Thus, the establishment of AU facilitated the development of Africa’s new zeal for security management. The establishment of AU led to the creation of a formal framework for managing conflict known as the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Thus, APSA becomes Africa’s first continent-wide peace and security system. It represents African efforts to manage African security (Kasumba & Debrah, 2010). What then is APSA and how did it originate?

 
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