The State of Peace and Security in Africa: Successes and challenges in tackling violent conflicts
The abrupt increase in worldwide refugee and migration flows has led to a stronger interest in examining the root-causes. Violent conflict has been identified as one of the most significant and immediate triggers for forced migration and displacement. The African continent is particularly conflict-prone and has hosted more than one fourth of global violent conflicts in the last years. Yet, while this worrying development has contributed to one of the most severe refugee crises in recent history, it is important to shed light on the increasing engagement of African actors in tackling security threats on the continent.
These challenges but also successes in securing peace were in the focus of the Capacity4Change (C4C) event on 21 March 2018 at the GIZ Representation Brussels. Background of the discussion was the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) Impact Report as well as a study on the response to triggers of violence-induced displacement. Since 2009 the GIZ supports the operationalization of the APSA.
Michelle Ndiaye Ntab, Director of the Africa Peace and Security Programme at IPSS and Melhik Bekele, Research project coordinator, presented the core findings of the APSA Impact Report 2016. While 28 out of 67 conflicts were addressed by the APSA, the report shows that the African Union and Regional Economic Communities where more likely to intervene in high-intensity conflicts. 78% of interventions were deemed successful or partly successful. The report also states that the African Union and Regional Economic Communities have become effective, indispensable actors in maintaining peace and security in Africa but that there are still significant challenges. Some of the recommendations include the strong need for greater inclusion of civil society, especially youth and women in order to have a comprehensive approach. Others focus on the strengthening of regional integration and a clear division of roles and responsibilities of the APSA.
ECDPM´s (European Centre for Development Policy Management) Lidet Tadesse and GIZ’s Stefanie Deubler highlighted the correlation between violence and displacement. One of the key messages was that APSA interventions to counter triggers of displacement do not automatically mean less displacement figures on the ground. The effect is rather influenced by the surrounding context and violence is just one of the many drivers of displacement.
Informing the European policy debate
During the subsequent round table, Philip Bob Jusu, Permanent Mission of the African Union to the EU and ACP Group, Hans Christian Stausboll, European Commission, DG DEVCO, Martin Weiss, GIZ Director of the Horn of Africa Division and Michelle Ndiaye discussed the challenges of peace and security in Africa and looked at the Africa EU cooperation in this regard. The exchange brought implementation experiences and the current policy debate together, and integrated questions of the audience. One important take-away: While significant challenges and capacities on the continent on tackling security threats need to be improved, the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities have made great advancements in recent years and are on the right track. The EU, international and national actors should continue and strengthen their cooperation with the AU, the RECs and African states as equal partners.