At IPI’s 2010 West Point seminar, African and UN practitioners and academics presented a wide range of insights on African institutions in a changing regional and global security environment.
The seminar, in which over forty members of UN Missions and the UN Secretariat participated, examined security issues on the African continent eight years after the establishment of the African Union and three years into the UN’s Ten Year Capacity Building Plan to assist the AU to respond more effectively to continuing and potential conflicts.
The seminar highlighted the transition from the Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) approach of non-interference in the internal affairs of states to the African Union’s endorsement of the principle of non-indifference reflected in AU peacekeeping interventions in Burundi, Sudan and Somalia.
Speakers highlighted the notable reality that the AU’s Constitutive Act of 2000 presaged the key concepts of the Responsibility To Protect adopted by world leaders at the General Assembly in 2005, committing the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to the prevention of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Against this backdrop presentations by Ambassador Téte António, Permanent Observer of the African Union Mission and Anthony Okara, Deputy Chief of Staff of the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, highlighted the ongoing evolution of the AU’s African Peace and Security Architecture.
The seminar also discussed ongoing UN efforts to support the development of the African Standby Force and to strengthen post conflict peacebulding as well as the broader challenges of dealing with issues of governance, corruption and transnational organized crime.
Overall, the seminar emphasized the importance of long term, sustained and reliable engagement in the evolving partnerships between African institutions and international donors and supporters. While aware of the complex security and development challenges still facing the Continent, there was also recognition of the significant progress which the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities have made in the past decade in strengthening their institutional frameworks, developing new connections to civil society and the African diaspora, and seeking to promote human rights and good governance.