Fresh report calls for civilian leadership in peace operations

African peace operations must consider the civilian and political components in a far greater extent in the future. That is one recommendation in a new report released just in time for the meeting between the African Union and UN in Addis Ababa, starting Monday February 9.

The recommendations strengthen the position of the African Union in the negotiations with the UN and other partners.

“We are going to make sure the delegates have access to this report and we hope some will read it and use for the meeting”, says Linnéa Gelot, researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and one of three report writers. Download the report here.

The report emphasizes the importance of more planning and more cooperation between all partners involved in African peace operations. That includes regional African organisations, the African Union, UN, EU, other regional actors, and donor countries.

Since the first AU peace operation to Burundi ten years ago, nine more operations have been implemented. They have used military force for stabilisation purposes, unlike most of the subsequent UN missions’ focus on monitoring. The suggested new form of planning must include the political and civilian actors in greater extent, according to report writers who also point out the importance of the police in peace operations.

“It’s crucial for all African peace operations to have a civilian leadership and not a military one. The goal and the purpose of these operations are always political and they must aim at setting a solid foundation for a political and social order that can handle the risks for outbreaks of conflicts and violence”, says Linnéa Gelot.

The concrete recommendations to improve African peace operations in the report are the outcome of a seminar in Cape Town in December 2014, arranged by the Nordic Africa Institute and the network Training for Peace. The participants at the seminar discussed the prerequisites for future peace operations, specifically given the changing threats to security.

The reports main point is the need for a holistic approach, thorough analysis, careful planning and cooperation.   It is also vital to have a predictable and long term international commitment to support the African peace operations with supplies and logistics.

More independent

The report notes that African peace operations are depending on international funding, which limits the possibilities to make independent decision on the scope of the operations.

“African delegates at the seminar emphasised the importance of more African funding, to ‘put the money where your mouth is’. This would increase their independence according to them”, says Linnéa Gelot.

Another conclusion in the report is the need to develop a readiness for rapid deployment within the existing order for the standby force, the ASF, with the purpose to react more quickly to upcoming crises.

The conference in Addis Ababa starting Monday February 9 will assemble representatives from UN, AU, African countries, international, and African organizations to discuss African peace operations.

“It’s a golden opportunity to the get the African priorities on to the UN agenda. That would help and strengthen the important cooperation between UN and AU on African peace operations”, says Linnéa Gelot.

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