Small Wars Journal

Africans Promoting Stability in Africa? A Reflection of the African Union

Africans Promoting Stability in Africa? A Reflection of the African Union

Henri Boré

26th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, January 2016

When it comes to promoting stability in Africa, Africans have their voice.  It is the African Union (AU) organization.   Today, this body is in the limelight.  A summary look at the long list of current crises and conflicts on the continent raises the question of the effectiveness of the AU to prevent and protect peace and stability in Africa.

Experts are divided when assessing the AU’s capability to implement a unified African approach to solve security issues, and whether it plays a critical role in the regional and international dialogue on conflict resolution in Africa.

The responsibility taken by the organization in the past decade to address conflicts in Somalia, Mali and Central Africa Republic should be lauded.  The outcome met the strategic objective set in 2002 in the Constitutive Act of the AU to mobilize Africans to solve their problems.  This concept still “drives the organization’s contemporary political dynamics and behavior” (Edozie, The African Union’s Africa).   Today, a robust structure is in place within the AU that actively promotes economic development, social stability and peace.   It is the organization’s ambition to be recognized as an undisputed actor and partner for the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, even though it is still financed by the outside world.

The road ahead however remains bumpy.  To become a credible global organization, the AU must improve its ability to effectively implement its policy in Africa.  Indeed, it has been unable so far to overcome the diverging national interests of its 54 member states.  In January 2016, the fallback regarding the current crisis in Burundi clearly demonstrated the limit of the AU’s influence and power among Africans, as already seen in 2015 in central Africa with the failure of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria to cooperate against Boko Haram.

As stated by the newly elected chairman of the AU, the Chadian President Idriss Deby at the 26th AU Summit in January 2016: “We meet too often, we always talk too much, we always write a lot, but we don’t take enough action, and often no action at all.” 

In short, the AU vision of being the leading voice for Africa and the body for promoting peace and stability on the continent remains a dream that has not yet come true.