+++ ECDPM Challenges blog series. Post number four +++
The African Peace and Security Architecture might have a strong track record, but that’s no reason for complacency
Despite improved performance in peace and security matters over recent years, one of the major challenges in 2014 will be to further broaden the dialogue in peace and security beyond the more narrow security dimensions, ensuring the highest-level African-EU political engagement to conflict prevent, conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction.
Africa Is Becoming More Peaceful, but Challenges Lay Ahead
Since the formulation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in 2002, important steps have been taken by African stakeholders and the international community to address peace and security in Africa in a more coordinated and institutionally guided process, building on better informed decisions and more resources.
The 2007 EU-Africa Partnership on Peace and Security was created as part of the wider Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) to support the APSA. The APSA is today seen as the most successful part of the JAES.
This conclusion is good but inadvertently poses a major a challenge for the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit in April 2014. There is a risk of complacency, disregarding uncomfortable lessons from the past and insufficiently adapting to increasing challenges that the evolving peace and security situations in different regions of Africa can pose.
An exponential growth of the African population will remain demographic forces that EU-Africa relations may not be able to control but they can and should adapt to them, in order to attempt to address fragility.
By 2025, more people will be born in African countries collectively than in China and India put together. By 2050 more than 20% of the global population will be living in Africa, as the recently spelled out in the African Futures Paper on the prospects for Africa’s fragile countries.
Fragility, understood as interaction between armed conflicts, interpersonal violence, chronic poverty, high socio-economic inequalities and poor or weak governance, will persist in a substantial number of countries by 2030 despite expected economic growth rates for Africa of 5% to 6% over the coming decades.
Both Sides Need to Pick Up the Bill
Substantial financial investments and human resources were made available by African governments and their international partners to scale up efforts in the domains of security, and these need to be upheld and rebalanced with investments in long-term peacebuilding and statebuilding. It would also be unwise to reduce support for more fragile environments based on the assumption that economic growth in Africa can allow a more narrow focus on the provision of security alone.
There is therefore a need to broaden the content of the dialogue beyond the more narrow security dimension, encompassing conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction. This calls for broad political engagement and dialogue at the highest-level in African-EU relations.
“African solutions to African problems” is the slogan that drives many pan-African processes. To go beyond this rhetoric, a growing number of African stakeholders call on their governments to take more ownership, financing the APSA, its African-led Peace Support Operations, and include new initiatives such as the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI), an AU-led process that supports the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD).
‘Remote Control’ Approaches in Dealing with Fragility Will not Work
Continued external support will be required as fragility persists in a number of countries and long-term processes are needed to achieve more resilience. “Hands-off” approaches, like the recently introduced EC’s Statebuilding Contracts, a form of budget support tailored to the needs of fragile environments, are relevant but need to be embedded in a bottom-up “society building” approach.
To support countries requires in-depth knowledge of the fragilities, supported by conflict assessments and political economy analyses, and the human capacity to deliver. It is particularly relevant at local levels where engagements needs to be deployed in a highly tailored manner, as recent research by the IDS points out.
Intense and long-term investments in difficult environments like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) need to continue while lessons should be drawn from admittedly narrow-focused value-for-money perspectives as expressed in the recently published European Court of Auditors evaluation of the EU’s governance support to DRC.
Various frameworks and initiatives already exist to address post-conflict recovery and transition but synergies and complementarities are not yet fully explored for a more coherent approach. These include the AU’s PCRD policy and its ASI priority areas, poverty reduction strategies, and national development frameworks, and more recently the New Deal.
To illustrate my point, the New Deal has become an internationally agreed conceptual framework but international actors, including the EU, and the 13 African governments that work through the New Deal also support the African-grown PCRD Policy, which itself is built on values and principles that also underpin the New Deal. Using both smartly can reinforce the dialogue on better governance and establish additional linkages with the African Governance Architecture.
The Ever-Changing Nature of Conflict and Terror
The APSA was created at a time when the focus was put on more traditional concepts of armed violence and intrastate conflict. 21st century transnational threats illustrate the need to take into account terrorism and transnational crime and the EU-Africa partnership, in support of the APSA, should work against these new threats with more vigour.
The views expressed here are those of the authors, and may not necessarily represent those of ECDPM.