Joint peacekeeping in Africa

Workshop 15-16 December

Are hybrid peacekeeping operations the way forward for handling conflicts on the African continent? A workshop in Uppsala 15-16 December will bring together high level officials from the African Union and the United Nations, international scholars and military experts to discuss the challenges of AU- UN joint missions.

The first AU-UN Hybrid Peacekeeping Mission for Darfur (UNAMID) was authorized in 2007 and represented a way for the AU and the UN to jointly respond to Africa’s complex peacekeeping demands. The UN support office to the AU Mission in Somalia (UNSOA) has set another example. This support model was established in Nairobi in 2009 and provides mission support via the UN’s assessed contribution funding.

– We hope that the workshop can foster a common understanding of the possibilities and problems involving different support models. This debate forms an important part of efforts to improve ways in which the international community undertakes peacekeeping , says Linnéa Gelot, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and one of the organizers. The event is co-organized by the Nordic Africa Institute, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation (DHF).

Why are joint missions seen as one solution to conflicts in Africa?
– The UN encourages the AU to take on peacekeeping roles, not least because UN military capabilities are scarce. The UN has over 119,000 deployed personnel across 15 missions around the world. The diversity of mission mandates stretches the UN’s capacity to meet the expectations on it. The budget has soared to over 7 billion US dollars a year. The joint missions could bring important benefits for both parties. For example, the AU can lend political credibility to UN peacekeeping in Africa. However, among the obstacles are significant authority and ownership issues.

What are the principle positions of the AU and UN on joint peacekeeping?
– The AU position seems to be in support of the hybrid model for the future. From the AU perspective, the biggest advantage of the hybrid model is that it is a way of using the assessed contribution funding system to pay for African peacekeeping. In general, the AU is committed to respond quickly to conflicts in Africa, but asks for the UN to consult it on the continent’s peace and security issues and to support it financially and logistically. However, the UN prefers a flexible approach to support models: which one to use will depend on the situation.

What are the weaknesses of the hybrid model for peacekeeping in Africa?
– UNAMID is currently the UN’s largest and most expensive mission, yet many commentators are unsatisfied with its contribution to protection and security. Factors behind the weaknesses include confusion over AU-UN authority issues – joint ownership is a challenging idea – political support from donors, need for a shared AU/UN Darfur strategy, the consent of the Sudanese government and capacity.

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