More than fifty senior police and military officers from African countries and partner nations and organizations convened in Accra, Ghana, from October 10th-12th, at the invitation of the the International Peace Institute for a “lessons-learned” seminar on the African Mission in Darfur (AMIS).
The seminar aimed to help shape the way forward for the establishment of the African Standby Force (ASF), the African Union’s flagship program for the development of its peacekeeping capacity.
Reflecting the perspective and experience of the men and women in the field, the seminar focused on the gaps of AMIS in planning and guidance at the strategic level, as well as the challenges in integrating the various components of the mission–military, police, political, humanitarian–at the operational level. Meeting the AU’s peacekeeping ambitions for multidimensional missions, participants concurred, would ultimately require a greater level of support from African policymakers at national level and in giving the AU secretariat the capacity it needs to prepare and support missions.
The role of partners was at the center of many debates, with African actors appreciative of financial and technical support while uncomfortable with the resulting dependence. There was no easy way out of this tension and only an increase in Africa’s own financial efforts would eventually make full “African ownership” of operations possible.
A key conclusion of the seminar was that the AU needs to be clear on its level of ambitions in terms of multidimensional missions. In a first stage, it was suggested, African missions should aim to be ”minimally multidimensional”, including basic military, police and civilian competencies, without requiring the degree of complexity of contemporary UN integrated missions. On the contrary, strategic agreement should be sought with the UN, its agencies, and other multilateral bodies in order to link Africa’s growing capacity to the complementary capabilities of other international actors to fulfill the full spectrum of peace operations tasks.
The seminar was co-organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Africa’s leading center of excellence in training and education for peace operations, and it was generously supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Canada.