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AFRICAN UNION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The history of Africa has been replete with conflicts. Conflicts have ripped through the continent such that in Africa today, conflict in human security has emerged. The resultant effects are increasing internal conflicts, frustrated aspirations and rising social tensions. Other effects are the displacement of people from their societies, value systems as well as loss of governments and institutions. The need to rid the continent from the scourge of conflicts and crises necessitated the birth of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963 (Obasanjo, 2005).
The initial OAU mechanism for conflict management in Africa was the Commission for Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration (CMCA), which came into effect in 1964. However, the post Cold War era brought about a new political stability and social economic development. Thus, the OAU attempted to change its mechanism for conflict management by adopting the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (MCPMR) in 1993 (Lemarchand). This mechanism was found to be deficient in some areas especially, the power to interfere in the internal affairs of member states. This was amongst the reasons for the transformation of the Organization into the African Union (AU) in 2004 (Imobighe, 2003:67). Today, Africa is plagued by conflicts most of which are intra state in nature. Thus, the regional organisation, AU has its hands full of crises requiring resolution. These conflicts and crises which occurred mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa have been protracted, thus posing serious challenges to the AU.
The drift by some African States into unmitigated chaos became a constant source of worry to many leaders in the continent and the international community at large. The series of conferences and summits held across the continent reflected this. It was at an Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2001 that the Constitutive Act of AU was adopted by 53 member states of the OAU in Lome, Togo (Salim, 2002:18). Furthermore, the desire for a stronger organisation that would be capable of handling the numerous conflicts that plagued the continent provided the initiative that paved the way for the birth of the AU. This process began in Sirte, Libya in September 1999 during an extraordinary summit of the OAU (Salim, 2002:23).
The AU, thus aimed at achieving greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and its people, defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states. It was also to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; and promote peace, security and stability on the continent (Constitutive Act of the AU, Article 4).
The Constitutive Act of the Union was then to enter into force 30 days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification by two-thirds of the member states of the OAU. Consequently, the Act entered into force on 26 May 2000 after Nigeria deposited its instrument of ratification with the OAU Secretariat on 26 April 2000; being the thirty-sixth member state to do so (Constitutive Act of the AU, Article 4).
At its inception, the AU in a bid to realise collective security in the continent set out certain principles to guide the union. The principles and values informing the African Collective Security Policy include, inter-alia, the principles contained in Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the AU.
The indivisibility of the security of African States is made such that the security of one African country is inseparably linked to the security of other African countries, and the African continent as a whole. Accordingly, any threat or aggression on one African country is deemed to be a threat or aggression on the others and the continent as a whole. These threats are then brought to the immediate attention of the Assembly of the Union or the Peace and Security Council (PSC) for decision and action as appropriate, in conformity with the AU principles and objectives (Constitutive Act of the AU, Article 4).
Conscious of the inadequacy of the clause of non-interference in the affairs of member states, a new clause in the Constitutive Act of the AU expressed the right of the Union to intervene. This is in pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The clause resulted from experiences gained in previous conflict management attempts in the continent under the OAU.
The AU has been involved in the management of the Sudanese, Ethiopia-Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) crises among others in Africa. However, with the eventual transformation of the OAU into AU, crises management and peace support operations remain a process. This in the opinion of many still requires extra efforts on the part of the organisation. Salim Ahmed Salim, a former Secretary General of OAU succinctly made the point when he declared:
…with the creation of the mechanism for conflict prevention, management in Cairo in 1993, a view and significantly different vision emerged in one continent. The creation of that mechanism signified a change from the position of “don’t interfere” to one “collective concern” for the peace, security and stability of the people of our continent. The doctrine became what happens to my neighbour is my responsibility also”. Since then, the issue of internal conflicts has become a matter of continental concern (Constitutive Act of the AU, Article 4).
The management of conflicts and crises by Africans has thus presented an opportunity on the emergence of the AU. Though the AU is still new, the expectations of Africans in the ability of the organisation to manage conflicts and crises, is indeed very high. It remains to be seen if this optimism can be translated into effective conflict and crises management which would lead to successful conflict resolution.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
The African continent has been synonymous with conflicts even before the formation of the OAU and now AU. This situation cannot be divorced from historical factors surrounding the formation of nation states in Africa prominent among which was the partition of the continent by the European powers at the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885. This conference was to change the course of events in Africa. It brought people with different and antagonistic ideologies together under single states without putting in place mechanisms to ensure harmonious existence among them. This was the starting point of recurrent conflicts and crises in Africa.
In the Post Cold War era, African conflicts and crises have been largely intrastate except the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict and that of the DRC (Salim, 2002:33). They have also been too frequent that the AU appears overwhelmed. The recurrence of conflicts in the continent has become a factor for the assumption that AU mechanisms for conflict management are perhaps deficient in some respects.
If the AU must improve on its mechanisms for conflict management and peace support operations, the challenges confronting the organisation need to be identified with a view to working out a better approach. It is in this context that this research examines the issues and prospects of AU conflict management.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
The following under listed are the objectives of this research:
(1) To discuss the AU mechanisms for conflict and conflict management in Africa.
(2) To discuss the challenges of the current AU conflict management mechanisms.
(3) Examine the prospects of enhancing AU mechanisms for crises management in the continent.
(4) To suggest possible ways on how best to improve the AU mechanisms for crises management.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this study is appreciable in the fact that:
(1) The AU Secretariat staff and policy makers would benefit from it as it presents viable prospects to address issues raised.
(2) It will also contribute to the existing body of knowledge on crises management by the AU in Africa.
(3) It will serve as reference material for further research in the area of crises management.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH
This research covers events in Africa regarding conflicts from 2000 to 2008. This period provides room for assessing the efficiency of AU mechanisms for conflict management from her inception to date.
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH
The study faced with some limitations. This arose from the inability of the researcher to interview key individuals who are stakeholders in conflict management under the auspices of the AU. However, a few interviews of past officials of the AU and some diplomats as well as military personnel who had participated in AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs) assisted in the attainment of the research objectives.
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study answered the following research questions:
(1) Is there any significant relationship between AU mechanisms for conflict management and conflict management in Africa?
(2) Are AU mechanisms for conflict management in Africa effective?
(3) Are there challenges and prospects of AU mechanisms for conflict management in Africa?
(4) Are there other measures that could be adopted by the AU to make its mechanisms for conflict management more effective in the continent?
1.8 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The study tested the following hypotheses:
(1) HO – The AU mechanisms for conflict management is not faced with challenges in managing conflict in Africa.
(2) HA – The AU mechanisms for conflict management is faced with challenges in managing conflict in Africa.
1.9 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The research needs to identify the issues and prospects of AU mechanisms for conflict management. To do this, an authentic and reliable research methodology is needed. This focuses on the steps taken by the researcher in conducting the study. This includes the identification of variables, research design, area of study, population, sample and sampling techniques. The methodology also covers the instruments for data collection, validation and reliability of the instruments, methods of data collection, method of data analysis and weaknesses of the methodology.
1.9.1 Identification of the Variables
The variables in this research are qualitative in nature because they vary in kind rather than in magnitude. The independent variable is conflict management while the dependent variable is AU mechanism. Therefore, the more efficient AU Mechanism is the more effective conflict management in Africa will be.
1.9.2 Research Design
Due to the complex nature of conflict management in Africa, the researcher adopted a combination of historical, descriptive and experimental research methods in this work. The historical method allowed the researcher to determine what led to existing mechanisms for conflict management by the AU while the descriptive method made it possible to determine the nature of existing mechanisms. The descriptive research design includes survey research, case study, developmental studies, correlation studies and causal comparative or ex-post factor studies. However, the survey method was used in this study. This enabled the researcher to administer questionnaires to many respondents concurrently.
The experimental method enabled the researcher to employ both the historical and descriptive values to discover the challenges of AU. It also assisted the researcher to predict the prospect of conflict management by the AU as well as make some recommendations. Furthermore, it enabled the researcher to identify and test the cause and effect relationship between the independent and the dependent variables.
1.9.3 Sample and Sampling Techniques
The sample used in this study included military personnel that participated in AU Peace Support Operations (PSO). Others include diplomats, university lecturers and persons with relevant experience in the field of conflict management. Thus, stratified random sampling technique was used for selection of sample from the population. This was to ensure that relevant characteristics like social status, ranks, participation in AU PSOs and other important factors were considered. The selection also considered educational background of the sample population. This ensured that each category of the sample was proportionally represented. The sampling technique used in this work therefore guaranteed the representation of all relevant interest groups.
1.9.4 Instruments of Data Collection
A combination of researcher-designed questionnaire and unstructured interviews were used for data collection. A sample copy of the questionnaire and the questions asked during the unstructured interviews are at Appendixes II and III respectively. The questionnaire was divided into two sections. The first section contained information on the personal profile of the respondent. The personal profile information included age, occupation, rank, academic qualification and participation in AU PSO. The second section consisted a twenty nine item questionnaire structure, placed in a four point-scale of Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Strongly Disagree (SD) and Disagree (D).
1.9.5 Method of Data Collection
The data used in this work were collected through unstructured interviews, discussions, consultations and administration of questionnaires. The research adopted the structured interview method for two main reasons. Firstly, conflict management is a government policy and therefore a sensitive national and international issue. Hence, a respondent might not likely accept responsibility for some comments that could have emanated from a structured interview. The unstructured interview therefore allowed some of the sources to address the research questions using their words. Secondly, some primary sources due to their busy schedule may lack time to complete the structured questionnaires. Hence, the interview assisted the researcher in obtaining information from busy resource persons.
The structured questionnaires, on the other hand, were used, to permit for easier scientific analysis of the research findings. They also assisted in revealing different view points thereby taking care of likely biases that might be contained in some of the secondary sources. Data for this study were, therefore, obtained from both primary and secondary sources.
Primary data was derived from unstructured interviews with the former Ambassador and Special Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Chief Arthur Mbanefo. The former Nigerian Defence Attache to Ethiopia and member of the AU Military Staff Centre, Brig Gen Ahmad T Jibrin, a former Head of Mission to the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS), Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as well as Capt Aliyu S Aliyu, a onetime Information Analysis Officer of the AU Darfur Integrated Task Force were also interviewed The researcher interviewed these diplomats and official because of the roles they might have played in conflict management while working at the UN and AU. This gave a broad picture of the efforts of AU in conflict management. A focused group discussions with some diplomats and other relevant people were also utilized as a means of acquiring data.
The researcher also administered questionnaires to some lecturers of strategic studies at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna, University of Abuja and National Defence College Abuja. Some questionnaires were also administered to some military personnel in Kaduna, Abuja and Jaji cantonment that had participated in AU PSO. Additionally, the researcher used his personal experience having served as a member of Nigerian Battalion (NIBATT) 10, AMIS from February to July 2006.
Secondary sources were obtained from the libraries at AFCSC Jaji, NDC Abuja, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs Lagos and and the Kaduna State Library. The Internet was also extensively used. Such sources included books, unpublished works, journals, magazines, newspapers, lecture texts and seminar papers. Others included official documents of the AU and some IGO’s.
1.9.6 Methods of Data Analysis
Data collected was analysed graphically using tables and charts. This gave a symbolic representation of the data gathered. Statistical method using Chi-square was also used to test whether the hypotheses were to be accepted or not. One of the weaknesses of the methodology used is that the researcher might not have come in contact with the most appropriate respondents that have the right information during the survey. Secondly, the respondents might be reluctant to disclose their true feelings particularly on sensitive issues, like policies on conflict management. Finally, some respondents might have faked their responses to the research questionnaires just to satisfy the researcher’s need. However, using various instruments for data collection, gaps that might have emanated from any of the instruments used were taken care of. This enhanced the reliability of the methodology adopted in this work.
1. AU mechanisms for conflict resolutions are deficient.
2. The AU like OAU uses the Euro-centric model of conventional security strategy for conflict management.
3. It is time to apply the economic developmental approach or grand strategy as a mechanism for AU’s conflict management.
1.11 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
For the purpose of this study the following terms are defined as follows:
1. Conflict: Conflict is a situation in which 2 or more human beings desire goals which they perceive as being obtainable by one or the other, but not both, each party is mobilizing energy to obtain a goal, a desired object or situation and each party perceives the other as a barrier or threat to the goal.
2. Conflict Prevention: Conflict prevention activities are normal conducted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter. They range from diplomatic initiatives to preventative deployment of forces intended to prevent disputes from escalating into armed conflicts or from spreading. Conflict prevention can also include fact-finding missions, consultation, warnings, inspections and monitoring. Preventive deployment within the framework of conflict prevention is the deployment of operational forces possessing sufficient deterrence capabilities to avoid a conflict.
3. Conflict: Conflict is an extreme situation of conflict which has reached a turning point, where critical decisions have to be taken or else the conflict escalates to a point of extreme violence. It is a degenerated state of conflict, where threats to human security, intense violence, characterized by fighting, death, injury and large scale-displacement of populations among others, occur.
4. Conflict management: Conflict management refers to measures to identify, acquire and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a conflict or the threat of a conflict. It involves measures aimed at de-escalating conflict situation and bringing cessation of violence. The necessary agencies of law and order are therefore used to contain such situations. These include the police and members of the armed force to identify, acquire and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a conflict or the threat of a conflict. The central issue is balance between national strategy, interests and objectives, and actions taken to prevent war.
5. Humanitarian Operations: Humanitarian operations are conducted to relieve human suffering. Military humanitarian activities may accompany, or be in support of humanitarian operations conducted by specialized civilian organizations.
6. Peace: Peace is a process involving activities that are directly or indirectly linked to increasing development and reducing conflict, both within specific societies and in the wider international community.
7. Peace Building: Peace building covers actions which support political, economic, social and military measures as well as structures, aiming to strengthen and solidify political settlement in order to redress the causes of conflict. This includes mechanisms to identify and support structure which tend to consolidate peace, advance a sense of confident and well being, and support economic reconstruction.
8. Peace Enforcement: Peace Enforcement (PE) operations are coercive in nature and undertaken under Chapter VII of UN Charter when the consent of any of the major parties to the conflict is uncertain. They are designed to maintain and re-establish peace or enforce the terms specified in the mandate.
9. Peace Keeping: Peacekeeping (PK) operations are general undertaken under Chapter VI of the UN Charter with consent of all the major parties to a conflict, to monitor and facilitate the implementation of a peace agreement.
10. Peace Making: Peacemaking covers the diplomatic activities conducted after the commencement of a conflict aimed at establishing a cease-fire or a rapid peaceful settlement. They can include the provision of good offices, mediation, conciliation, diplomatic pressure, isolation and sanctions.
11. Peace Support Operations: Peace Support Operations (PSO) are multi-functional operations involving military forces as well as diplomatic and humanitarian agencies. They are designed to achieve humanitarian goals or a long-term political settlement, and are conducted impartially in support of a mandate. These include peacekeeping, peace enforcement, conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace building and humanitarian operations.
12. Preventive Diplomacy: Preventive diplomacy is the attempt to make official policy out of conflict prevention. It is defined as actions taken to prevent disputes arising between parties, to prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflict and to limit the spread of the latter when they occur.
13. Violence: Violence is the detrimental use of legally and morally prohibited force against humanity by humanity. It involves the illegitimate or unauthorized use of force to effect decisions against the will or desires of others.
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