Making policies work

African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)

Peace and security continue to be a priority for both the European Union and the African Union (AU). Since the establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which coincided with the transition from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the AU in 2000, a wide range of actors have contributed and supported the APSA, with the objective of managing and preventing (violent) conflicts in Africa more effectively.

Since then, the AU, regional economic communities (RECs) and regional mechanisms for peace and security (RMs) have come a long way with many lessons learned and successes. But serious challenges remain. In 2015, the African Union launched the APSA Roadmap 2016-2020, building on previous roadmaps and review process, and setting out a new course for the operationalisation of the APSA.

The objective of our work is to inform both African and European policymakers about the operationalisation of the APSA, and the extent to which it has contributed to addressing conflict situations throughout the African continent. For example, our work has directly contributed to GIZ’s annual reports on the APSA. ECDPM has presented the results and findings of the reports to the African Union with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in April 2015, and with GIZ and the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in November 2016. (see more below)


Our work


Since 2013, the Security and resilience team has engaged, together with GIZ, in monitoring the activities and the impact of the APSA regarding conflict management, conflict transformation and conflict prevention on the continent.

ECDPM, together with IPSS and the GIZ African Union Office, has presented the core findings of the work in various locations, including Berlin, Brussels, Addis Ababa as well as at the Open Sessions of the AU Peace and Security Council.

In 2017, ECDPM and the IPSS embarked on a two-year project to transfer the impact research on APSA to the IPSS in Addis Ababa. This has been supported by ECDPM staff at the IPSS in Addis Ababa, with a dedicated team of researchers. The first jointly developed 2016 APSA Impact Report was released in November 2017.

The Security and Resilience programme’s work on the APSA continues to inform its dedicated readership on several aspects of the Architecture, including how and when those acting under the APSA engage in conflicts across the whole of Africa. Below is an overview of the key publications.


Our publications


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

This paper focuses on interventions in the areas of diplomacy, mediation and peace support operations (PSOs) under the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The research has brought to surface a number of interesting findings. For instance, the various models of coordination and cooperation between the African Union and regional economic communities/regional mechanisms (REC/RMs) and with international partners show a diverse and broadening cooperation. Yet, there is still room for improvement. The study also addresses the unresolved questions of subsidiarity, comparative advantages and division of labour between the AU and REC/RMs and how these factors impact AU and REC/RM interventions in violent conflicts. This study is rooted in a longer-term engagement of ECDPM through the APSA Impact Analysis project, supported by the German government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and in collaboration with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at the University of Addis Ababa.

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)
This background note, accompanied by a social shorthand, sheds light on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and makes reference to the work of the Security and Resilience programme on peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict monitoring in relation to the APSA. It also informs how we connect with other ECDPM work regarding conflict prevention, governance and political economy analysis of regional integration in Africa.

Other work on the African Peace and Security Architecture

Tackling the triggers of violence-induced displacement: The contribution of the African Peace and Security Architecture and African Governance Architecture
Anna Knoll and Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw, ECDPM paper, September 2018