Article

Conflict management and prevention under the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) of the African Union


Abstract

Under the umbrella of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have intervened in violent conflicts using a number of non-military tools. In the first section, after unpacking the institutional pillars of the APSA, this article will take a closer look at the non-military tools for conflict management and prevention (including ‘(preventive) diplomacy’ and ‘mediation’), to be distinguished from military tools, such as peace support operations. The article will also explore the linkages between the APSA and the African Governance Architecture (AGA), especially concerning political and election related violence. In a third section, the article will further discuss selected findings of research conducted by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) on the nature and effectiveness of interventions by the AU and RECs under the APSA for the years 2013–2016 and discuss these within a broader political context defined by two key parameters, i.e. the lack of a shared understanding of subsidiarity and the principle of sovereignty as opposed to non-indifference. In conclusion, the article will assess some of the challenges from conflict management and prevention under the APSA in the context of new developments and the recently launched AU institutional reforms process. Despite these challenges, our research findings confirm a general observation by APSA stakeholders and observers that the APSA has been a useful framework to promote peace and security across the African continent.

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