Ugandan commanders serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Photo: AU/UN IST PHOTO/STUART PRICE.

Prevention vs militarization

Competing approaches to African security

Prevention and militarization are not mutually exclusive ways to counter conflicts in Africa. Rather, they should be understood as mirror images, writes NAI’s security researcher Linnéa Gelot.

In an article in Sustainable Security Gelot describes an ongoing dispute in policy circles between those who call for more inclusive political approaches and those who favor armed responses to security threats.

While preventive mediation has been used extensively in Africa, especially in geo-strategically important conflicts, it rarely receives attention. More often, peace and security in Africa is measured by how well the African Union (AU) and global partners manage to fight global terrorism in armed operations. Major powers like France and the US have often pointed to the African Union and individual African states as useful combat partners in active conflicts.

An over-reliance on military responses, as opposed to political measures, may lead to a militarization of the people, ideas and institutions of Africa’s security governance, according to Gelot. Military operations, she stresses, must always be linked to a political objective. AU-led missions to date have demonstrated operational readiness but lacked in political strategic-level direction.

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