The Nordic Africa Institute


AU Waging Peace? Explaining the Militarization of the African Peace and Security Architecture

Started • 01 January 2016
Ended • 01 December 2017

Project conducted by:

Linnéa Gelot, Principal Investigator
Mikael Eriksson, Senior Researcher

Time frame for the project: 2016-2019 ( project conducted at NAI 2016-2017)

Financed by: Vetenskapsrådet Uforsk

Despite the African Union’s (AU’s) recently adopted pacifist vision to ‘Silence the Guns’ by 2020, several scholars has noted the AU’s increased propensity to resort to militarized narratives and practices in dealing with continental threats. In this project we explore through which processes institutional settings, practices and public policy discourses centring on the AU’s African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) are becoming militarized. More precisely this project builds an explanatory social theory around selected relevant processes and practices to help us answer the research question: why is there an increasing militarization of the African Union’s institutional practice? The project draws mainly on security regime complex theory, the securitization framework, as well as security practice theory. While militarization is neither absolute nor complete, and in different issue areas of the AU peace and security framework the picture is uneven and more nuanced, we interrogate why the institutional processes and public policy discourses of the AU today diverge from the inherent normative vision of APSA. This pan-Africanist vision foresees that the AU should provide integrated responses to multidimensional security challenges and rely on African inclusive and solidarist conflict resolution principles.

Through qualitative interviewing (AU, REF and NGOs), narrative and policy analysis, field visits, and collaboration with scholars and practitioners in- and outside the African security governance field, we aim to identify and model a ‘community of security practice’ to help us set boundaries to the agents and processes we concentrate on. We also identify key events (such a launched reform processes of the APSA structure; retreats and summits involving peace and security practitioners; meetings of the AU Peace and Security Council and its statements regarding security developments) that can help us explain why social processes lean towards militarization. We will identify and follow security and military practitioners and experts including, but not limited to, AU and REC decision-makers and officials, as well as diplomats and member state officials, representatives of the AU’s strategic ‘partners’, and other relevant actors and stakeholders. They make up the core of our ‘empirical material’, and are our primary interviewees. In line with our theoretical framework, we naturally expect that the community is dynamic, heterogenous, and overlapping with other policy spheres.

This knowledge is highly relevant to development practitioners. For example, developing and investing in military capabilities such as troop deployments are generally made at the expense of empowering other activities such as prevention, mediation and diplomacy. Prioritizing military measures – military first rather than as last resort - runs fundamentally against the conclusions by peace and conflict researchers about how to create a stable post-war order and more durable peace.