The OAU/AU and an Africa at Peace with Itself (English)

Time for serious business

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This Policy & Practice Brief (PPB) is a postscript to the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the 21st African Union (AU) Summit which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 19 to 27 May 2013. It reviews the successes and triumphs of Africa’s peace and security architecture, set against the constraints and challenges of making peace in difficult times. It suggests that Africa’s euphoria over its recent economic growth should be moderated by attention to the continent’s unaddressed social, economic and political problems. Africa’s leaders, moreover, should establish clearer criteria for their common agenda, including the AU’s efforts to respond to peace and security crises. The brief concludes by advancing a number of recommendations which the AU should work towards in its Agenda 2063 – the AU’s vision for the next 50 years. The Union should build equal societies; live up to its own norms and rules for peace and democracy; and work for the long-term.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, gives a speech at the 21st AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25 May 2013. (AFRICAN UNION)


The OAU/AU Golden Jubilee celebrations led to analyses, speeches, reports and observations about the history of the OAU and the spirit of the AU. Africa is enjoying a period of relative optimism, with improved economic performance that follows a period of democratisation. The AU has used its first decade of existence to introduce new norms of non-indifference and peaceful, democratic transitions of power – which are bolstered through doctrines enshrined in several legal instruments. To implement these new norms, the AU has established the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). This architecture includes the AU and its commission, the regional economic communities or regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs), the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the African Standby Force (ASF), the Panel of the Wise (PW) and the Peace Fund. This architecture provides for horizontal and vertical cooperation and coordination at national, sub-regional, cross-regional and continental levels. APSA can achieve much if it works systematically and credibly. Nevertheless, most of the AU’s efforts will continue to encounter problems with implementation if governments of member states do not address their capacity to make Africa more at peace with itself.1 African countries have managed to create a laudable and historic compact for Africa, yet significant environmental, demographic, economic and political challenges will test their abilities to deliver on the promises of the AU.

Africa’s moment of optimism

The 50th anniversary of the OAU coincided with Africa’s move from wide-ranging pessimism, to relative optimism. Sub-Saharan African countries are some of the most promising economies in the world.2 The 2013 World Bank Global Economic Outlook for the region states that one third of economies in sub-Saharan Africa grew by about 6% in 2012. The causes of growth included ‘robust domestic demand, steady remittance flows, still high commodity prices, and increased export volumes (thanks to increased investment flows to the natural resource sector in recent years)’.3 If these conditions endure, this economic preformance is expected to continue. Growth in the region did not slow during the global economic downturn which began in 2008. The proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 a day decreased from 56.5% in 1990 to 47.5% in 2008.4 The AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has in fact noted that ‘the development outlook for the continent looks brighter than ever’.5

Dlamini-Zuma’s speech to the Third Pan-African Parliament, on 8 May 2013, put forward evidence that Africa’s public investment in infrastructure, its percentage of global foreign direct investment (FDI), its progress in telecommunications connectivity and even investments by Africans into Africa had been positive. She explained that African governments fund 65% of their own infrastructure costs, with private investors putting in 25%; Africa’s share of global FDI reached nearly 25% in 2011; Africans were the financiers of 17% of the continent’s FDI projects; Africa has become the world’s second largest mobile phone market; and Africa’s major wars and conflicts have declined in the last decade.

The 2012 Human Security Report notes that sub-Saharan Africa was the ‘deadliest region in the world in the 1990s’, mainly due to state-based conflict where at least one of the warring parties was the government.6 However, battle-related death tolls have declined by 90% since 2000. The majority of deaths in the state-based category in the 1990s were attributable to just five conflicts, each of which ’caused at least 10 000 battle deaths in a calendar year at some stage in the conflict’.7 Four of these were civil wars – two separately defined wars in Ethiopia, one in Angola, one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – and one was the international conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. All of these conflicts have been inactive since 2002. The Human Security Report also highlights that most battle-related deaths during the 1990s were caused by one-sided violence, where civilians were targeted by armed groups. In this category, the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and conflict in the DRC in 1996 were principally responsible for the global increase in deaths.

Undoubtedly, observed positive trends should galvanise continued efforts to move Africa from a troubled past – into a triumphant future.

Africa’s peace and security norms

The OAU, founded in 1963, was the author of its own saga – the African triumph over colonialism and apartheid. Thirty-nine years later, the people of Africa founded the AU, to begin the next chapter of achieving African conquest over poverty and marginalisation. While liberation and solidarity were mobilised for the fight against colonialism in 1963, they were embodied in a call for an African Renaissance following the end of apartheid in 1994.

At the time of the AU’s launch in 2002, the continent was uncertain that it would emerge from an intense period of intra-state conflict. The region had experienced a history of coups, with almost 43% of takeovers in the world taking place in Africa.8 The AU thus, in fact, set itself high expectations for quelling conflict. The norms of non-indifference and peaceful, democratic transitions of power would emerge as being fundamental. The aegis of these norms resides in the AU’s Constitutive Act, its PSC (2002), and the Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact (2005).

Observers such as Musifiky Mwanasali have noted that the right of ‘non-indifference’ embodied in Article 4 of the Constitutive Act is the main fundamental shift from the old OAU to the new AU.9 It endows the continental body with the right ‘to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity’ (Article 4h).10 AU Member States can ‘request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security’ (Article 4j).

The norm of peaceful, democratic transitions of power is strengthened in additional legal instruments such as the AU’s Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance (2007) which commits African governments to ensuring popular participation in governance. It requires that these states develop democratic cultures and institutionalise civilian control over their militaries. It obligates Member States to punish unconstitutional overthrows of democratic governments and to hold regular, transparent, free and fair elections.

The 2002 Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union – which came into force in December 2003 – created the PSC. The PSC is able to take action and organise the AU’s collective intervention when there are serious human rights abuses and unconstitutional changes of government. As of May 2013, the protocol had been signed and ratified by 47 member states. The PSC has met more often than its predecessor – the OAU Central Organ. There is no permanent veto right for any member of the PSC. All members are elected by AU Member States, with 10 members elected for a two-year term and five for a three-year term. More than two thirds of the AU’s Member States have served on the PSC, which has authorised mediation, consultation, sanctions, and peace operations – including the deployment of peacekeepers to Burundi, Darfur, Comoros, Somalia and, in 2013, to Mali.11 Over the last decade, the PSC’s deliberations have led to the suspensions of membership of the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania and Togo for unconstitutional changes of government. The governments of CAR, Guinea-Bissau and Madagascar were banned from attending the 21st Summit of the AU which was held from 25 to 27 May 2013.12

The norms of non-indifference and peaceful, democratic transitions have thus taken on a doctrinal quality, and are elaborated on in the APSA institutional structure. They have been applied, albeit unevenly. Other than Paul Williams, few analysts have pointed out that Article 4j of the AU Constitutive Act – which provides for the right to intervene without the consent of the host government – has never been invoked. The AU’s brief history of non-indifference has mainly been driven by consenting regimes and not by the will of neighbouring states or other actors such as civil society. Williams writes, ‘to date, all of the AU’s peace operations have been conducted at the invitation of the de jure authorities’.13

Africa’s challenges and constraints

As noted earlier, Africa is enjoying a period of optimism, with improved economic performance that follows a decade of increased democratisation. However, optimism regarding the achievement of a Golden Jubilee by the AU was overshadowed by a number of demographic, environmental, economic and political realities.

The growth of a much-talked about ‘youth bulge’ in most African countries coincides with other worrying facts. Youth make up nearly 60% of the unemployed in Africa, with roughly 200 million people aged 15 to 24 years actively seeking employment. By 2045, that number is expected to have doubled. A youth bulge can lead to social development, but in Africa, many are concerned that this demographic shift – coupled with climate-related pressures on food production and other modes of economic activity – will increase the likelihood of demonstrations, riots, social protest, terrorism and even armed conflict. These concerns are substantiated by the rise in urbanisation and mass movement of young people into cities and towns, where they often struggle to find employment. Significantly, the African continent is experiencing rapid urbanisation; 52 cities on the continent are populated by more than one million inhabitants. By 2030, 50% of Africans will be living in these cities.14 Despite increased economic growth in some African countries, the continent’s economies continue to appear among the least competitive in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). Fourteen of the world’s 20 lowest-ranked economies are in Africa. They underperform by a wide margin on human development indicators. The latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report cautions that one in four Africans is undernourished and that, ‘despite some improvements since the mid-1990s, many African governments continue to burden domestic agriculture with high, arbitrary taxes while bestowing subsidies, incentives and macroeconomic support on other sectors’.15 Most African countries are net food importers, and their economies are insufficiently diversified. The much-lauded projections for economic growth are in fact largely based on the continent’s oil and mineral exports, which make up over half of total exports. Many countries still need to implement regulation and support to the private sector in order to stimulate job creation. Large segments of their populations have not experienced the benefits of increased growth or of new trading partnerships with countries such as China and India. Indeed, in many resource-rich settings – from Zambia with its copper mines through to the oil-rich Niger Delta – foreign demand has not resulted in significant improvements in healthcare, social security, education, infrastructure or job opportunities.16

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013–2014 notes that the ‘share of gross domestic product (GDP) held by the manufacturing sector (in Africa) has remained largely unchanged since the 1970s, and that more than two thirds of the labour force is employed in the agricultural sector, implying limited structural transformation.17 The report’s Executive Opinion Survey highlights that business leaders and investors in Africa are worried most about accessing financing and circumventing the obstacles that exist in the African business environment, largely as a result of corruption. The report also states that:

these competitiveness figures bring to the fore the important question of whether, while enjoying high rates of growth, African countries have been making the types of investments and implementing policies that can put their economies on sustainable growth paths so that they can create enough jobs to benefit from, rather than suffer from, Africa’s youth bulge.18

Since 2009, sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed a rise in social protest – for example in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda.19 The stimulus for this has included rising food, fuel and transport costs; corruption and poor delivery of social services; high unemployment and poor working conditions; electoral disputes; and demands for political reforms.20 The spectre of instability remains as a clear concern. Furthermore, in addition to non-violent protests, the interaction of several causal factors could increase the likelihood of organised armed violence. The existence of an underemployed youthful population, pressures on the environment and cycles of food insecurity and unequal economic opportunities could all potentially contribute to this increase.

New research by Urdal and Hoelscher (2012)21 shows that social urban disorder – violent and non-violent political events aimed at challenging political authority – is associated, in particular, with low economic growth rates and hybrid democratic regimes. In their study, hybrid regimes are defined by the Polity IV Project as regimes that possess a wide mixture of democratic and authoritarian characteristics, wherein rules of democratic practice are in place, but democratic institutions are also weak and political liberties are also constrained. Across 55 major cities (23 in sub-Saharan Africa and 32 in Central and East Asia), in 49 different countries for the period 1960–2009, Urdal and Hoelscher found that urban social disorder was more likely in the context of declined economic growth in hybrid regimes where ruling elites manage to maintain power, despite the competitive nature of democracy. Their study provides empirical evidence of the concerns raised by other observers.

All these issues considered, Africa’s governments must keep their economies growing, while at the same time enabling consistent and credible popular participation, dealing with constraints on the executive, and facilitating competitive elections, freedom of the press and other hallmarks of democratic governance.

AU Golden Jubilee decisions

Concurrent to the Golden Jubilee in May 2013, the AU Assembly made a wide range of declaratory commitments. In terms of peace and security, AU Member States committed to continue, and even strengthen, the norms of non-indifference and peaceful, democratic transitions of power. Some of these declarations referred to the further institutionalisation of APSA, while others are more directly related to its implementation.

In terms of further institutionalisation, the Assembly made specific reference to strengthening APSA. It committed itself to establishing a Pan-African Network of the Wise (Pan-Wise) that would bring together the AU PW and similar initiatives at the level of the RECs and also more broadly. This coordination and collaboration can contribute to solving some of the limits of the continental group of elders. Africa is in need of an increased pool of senior women and men who can engage with a wide variety of stakeholders in conflict-sensitive settings. Robust engagement with civil society, opposition parties, marginalised groups, civil servants and public office holders – on behalf of a conflict prevention agenda – is critical to stopping the escalation of domestic disputes. Certainly, the AU Pan-Wise will need to collaborate with other bodies of wise elders at regional level, as the platform it provides adds important value to this mission.22

The Assembly also took a decision to establish a transitional arrangement for a rapid reaction force, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), which is envisaged as a standing force of 5 000, made up of tactical battle groups of 1 500 troops and deployable in less than 10 days.23 This decision may be necessary in terms of further institutionalisation of the APSA, although, at the same time, it may be superfluous. Undoubtedly, Africa needs a quick and responsive capacity of ‘military/police capabilities, force enablers and multipliers, equipment and resources’24 in order to respond to emergency conflict situations.The ASF, which was first declared an objective of the Union in 2002 and scheduled to be launched by 2010, is unlikely to be fully operational until 2015. However, its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) was to have a deployment period of 30 days, the function of an emergency response capacity. Thus, an AU institutional framework for rapid deployment is already in place. The original timeline for the ASF was exceptionally ambitious. Not unexpectedly, building and integrating regional level brigades has proved to be difficult. A decision to implement a transitional mechanism, a place-holder until the ASF-RDC is in place, is both confusing and worrying.

The introduction of ACIRC is related to a new tendency in African military interventions: coalition forces with ambitious mandates for the protection of civilians, and the making of peace where there is none. First, there is the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA), which is composed of the CAR, the DRC, South Sudan and Uganda, with support from the United States of America (USA).Second, there is UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2098 (2013) which, under chapter VII of the UN Charter, has created a special intervention force to neutralise and disarm Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups in the DRC.

The Intervention Force was not an idea born in New York, but rather is an African initiative of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC, signed by countries of the Great Lakes region in February 2013. The Framework is guaranteed by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the AU. These two interventions seem to indicate that Africa’s governments are willing to intensify the application of the norm of non-indifference. Certainly, given the delay of the ASF-RDC, the AU is taking a proactive step and ACIRC may present opportunities to circumvent future external intrusions, which have been a concern in the recent past. An example is France’s military intervention – Operation Serval – which deployed to Mali within a day of Islamist forces capturing the town of Konna on 10 January 2013, while UNSCR 2085 (2012) had already authorised an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) on 20 December 2012. Nonetheless, the RCI-LRA and the DRC Intervention Force are ad hoc operations, crafted beyond the APSA framework.

The agreement to establish ACIRC was hotly debated by the Member States of the AU, with some worried about its costs relative to their own defense budgets. Others questioned the new power its establishment would grant to the AU Commission (which would be responsible for command and control) over RECs/RMs; and still others have been concerned about wider political implications. Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda have all made early commitments to ACIRC.25 These measures, as necessary as they seem today, may however prove unwieldy and dangerous in the future. New rapid arrangements may be susceptible to other dynamics, including the interests of regional hegemons and international powers.

A difficulty is that, despite promises made by the AU Assembly to make exceptional voluntary contributions to the AU Peace Fund and while Member States explore ways of implementing recommendations in the report submitted by the High Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union at the national level, the AU will continue to rely, at least for the foreseeable next few years, on external funding. Currently, the AU depends on donors for most of its budget, covering 97% of its programmes and 56% of its administrative budget for 2013. Furthermore, although AU Member States have increased their budgetary contributions, so have the partners. Meanwhile, the membership arrears of the AU are US$72.4 million.26 Past peace operations have depended on a handful of African troop-contributing countries and have faced deficits in logistical and technical support. Similar resource and coordination problems are likely to arise with ACIRC. The May 2013 decision states that African governments will be responsible for financing ACIRC. It is not clear if financing this new force capability will divert resources from the full operationalisation of APSA, or if, inevitably, ACIRC will have to be financed through external funding.


As part of the Golden Jubilee, AU Member States committed themselves to drafting an Agenda 2063 – a vision for the continent 50 years from now. This project, although important, is a difficult one. It is likely that every issue and concern for democracy, governance and development will be included in this agenda. It runs the risk of being just another exercise that creates an impossible list of simultaneous, non-prioritised goals.

Nevertheless, Agenda 2063 is an opportunity to remind policymakers of three principal aims. First, Africa will not be at peace with itself without horizontal and vertical equality. As such, the coming decades must strengthen cultures of democratic practice, while creating equal economic opportunities. Second, peace in Africa is dependent on the continent’s ability to live up to its own promises. A range of laudable commitments to democratic ideals have been made, and a compact has been crafted. However, many gains made to democratisation in past decades are now being undermined by non-democratic characteristics, and by constraints on popular participation and civil and political liberties. The AU’s members will have to focus on turning their rhetoric into commitment to achieve full democratic practice which can be trusted. Only then will others, on the African continent and beyond, begin to take the AU more seriously. Finally, African governments must take the long view. Current African leaders are governing states that won their independence because of men and women who, for the most part, are long gone. Today’s leaders, activists, policymakers and supporters may not witness the AU’s centenary and thus should concern themselves more with ensuring the wellbeing of future generations, than with focusing only on present circumstances and on maintaining the tentative holds they might have on political power.

This PPB makes a number of recommendations – build equal societies; live up to the AU’s peace and democracy norms; and work for the long-term – to inform preparations, by different stakeholders, for an Agenda 2063. These recommendations are outlined in more detail below.

1. Build equal societies

The AU Agenda 2063 should foster equality across various identities and divisions. In this regard, important economic, social and political steps must be taken.

African governments should:

  • Hasten the domestication of Africa’s gender instruments, including the signature and ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa as well as the enforcement of its provisions, particularly with regard to equal rights in marriage, property inheritance, safety and security, education, housing and the workplace. There is much evidence that gender inequality not only harms women and girls, but limits a society’s development. It slows a nation’s economic growth, stymies productivity, creates insecurity, promotes violence, undermines a population’s health and reduces the pool of educated workers.
  • Prioritise efforts to harness demand for the continent’s natural resources towards the full economic benefit of all Africans. In this regard, the priority should be on securing better livelihoods, whether through improving and increasing opportunities for small-scale farming, infrastructure development jobs, small enterprises and intra-Africa trade. On a continent capable of feeding itself and perhaps much more of the world, it is inexcusable that one in four Africans is malnourished.
  • Consolidate and make transparent the AU’s economic leverage when the continent’s governments negotiate with external actors such as the European Union, but also in bilateral deals with Indian, Chinese and US government agencies and multinationals. Efforts have been made to coordinate trade policy, but negotiations should be more transparent and the outcomes of these arrangements must be widely publicised. At the same time, better regulation and monitoring will foster accountability on the part of multinationals. The extraction of oil and minerals and the sale of land must be a matter of public scrutiny and chronic corruption must be eradicated.
  • Scale-up support for the continent’s small-scale agricultural, education and healthcare sectors in the different countries, ensuring that there is equitable access for all. These sectors make a big difference to the average African girl, woman, boy and man and should be harnessed for their potential to ensure food security and human development.

Civil society should:

  • Strive to organise more Africans in a widespread culture of monitoring how economic, environmental and political goods are used, shared and sustained. In order to attain vertical and horizontal legitimacy, African civil society organisations (CSOs) should generate vibrant regional, national and local level cooperation with community-based organisations, traditional institutions and structures and other grassroots actors. Human rights normative values at regional and national levels could be diffused more widely, while local interests, insights and energy could finally harness bottom-up civic participation.
  • Support African small to medium enterprises. This entails making efforts to reach across to governments and add value to the economic development work of states by promoting the building of infrastructure, strengthening of markets for small-scale farmers, mobilising community-level safety and security for both women and men, deepening intra-regional trade and exchange, and implementing partnerships with the private sector. Trade unions, cooperatives and other civil society socio-economic interests need rejuvenated membership bases, systematic and informed approaches and new ideas for brokering equal opportunity outcomes.

2. Live up to the AU’s peace and democracy norms

The AU’s norms for peace and democracy require an improved democratic culture. African leaders must nurture institutions which for the most part are already in place. While these institutions are based on clear codes and rules, they must be governed by strong democratic populations and leaders driven by the incentives of honour and history.

African governments should:

  • Develop incentives to strengthen rather than weaken democratic practice. These incentives will have to be created by imaginative, transformative figures across the public-private spectrum. Moreover, political leaders should refrain from punishing an unruly (or simply independent) opposition with violence, arresting or demeaning opponents, using state resources unethically, censoring the media or pushing through legislation that goes against the fundamental spirit of democratic practice. Ruling political parties must accept that competition may inevitably lead to their removal from absolute rule.
  • Ensure that leaders who are responsible for institutional checks and balances, such as conducting electoral monitoring or interpreting constitutional law, do not shirk their democratic obligations. At the same time, judges, parliamentary committee chairpersons, the police, military heads and other key personnel should be appointed on merit and not based on political association or corruptibility.

Civil society should:

  • Become a conduit for building an educated and aware public, which is capable of bearing the responsibilities as well as rights of democracy. Civil society should continue to pronounce on, and advocate against, undemocratic practice and utilise tools of the modern era – social media, the Internet and other sources – not simply for mobilisation, but especially for education.

3. Work for the long-term

The AU must rapidly move towards self-sustaining mechanisms for its own governance, development, peace and security. The continental body’s portfolio continues to grow, without commensurate resources from Member States. Without a base of human and financial capital, there will be no ‘African’ solutions. This, above all, should motivate the AU to strengthen the continent’s resource mobilisation, allocation and utilisation.

African governments should:

  • By 2063 be able to finance their own governance and peace and security institutions. The need to do so has been clearly stated by the AU and its member states. The reality, however, is that full fiscal independence must start at national level, and thus it can be expected that this process will take some time to complete. However, if African states manage to move – as some African leaders argue they will – towards development and even middle-income status, then this goal becomes more than feasible. It will require a growing and reliable tax-base; effective domestic revenue mobilisation; state capacity to regulate and tax extractive business, among other considerations. Most of all, however, this process will entail the existence of fair, efficient and credible institutions. Success will depend on the willingness and commitment of Africa’s leaders to work toward these goals. Only then will the AU enjoy financial independence from external donors.

Civil society actors should:

  • Return to addressing environmental, economic and social problems at grassroots level – some of which require new linkages between academia, communities, media institutions and practitioners and the private sector. Instead of a rigid focus on special interests, African non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other community-based groups should develop a wider, more inclusive engagement on the economic and social obstacles ahead. This will mean sharing the stage with others and acquiring new knowledge about the environment, trade and political economy, and working with others who have expertise in these fields. In this way, large-scale movements can be fostered through collaboration, knowledge sharing, joint mobilisation and working in coalitions.


African governments have made significant strides in the creation of a new APSA. In 2002, on the eve of the AU’s establishment, many observers doubted that the new body would be able to transcend the OAU’s culture of non-intervention, or even believed in the value of new legal and institutional foundations for a more people-centred inter-governmental organisation. The work of APSA, such as that done through the PSC, has, however, surprised many. Today the AU is increasingly important to regional peace and security and to efforts to advance the values and norms of peace, democracy and development.

Yet, there are still many issues negatively affecting the continent, despite recent economic growth and efforts to address conflict-related, economic, social, political and environment challenges. Unless there is continued economic growth with equitable distribution of the benefits of this growth, Africa’s youthful population may be the fuel for crises, instead of the driver of opportunity. Gaps in credible and realistic implementation of the AU’s promises means that the institution may lose important time and resources. Without deeper and more consistent democratic governance, African governments run the risk of facilitating conflict, rather than building peace.

This PPB has proposed recommendations based on three principal aims – build equal societies; live up to the AU’s own norms and rules for peace and democracy; and work for the long-term. Indeed, these objectives are not novel; they are reflected in the AU’s own documents and commitments. However, in advance of Agenda 2063 and in the context of multiple, changing demands for resources, time and political will, these objectives should constitute a framework for future AU priorities. They are meant to serve as a reminder of what is at stake and a call to action.


  1. African Union. 2013. 50th anniversary Solemn Declaration adopted by the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 26 May. The phrase ‘an Africa at peace with itself’ is attributable to a number of sources. Former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela is believed to have said ‘I dream of an Africa which is [at] peace with itself. I dream of the realisation of unity of Africa whereby its leaders, some of whom are highly competent and experienced, can unite in their efforts to improve and to solve the problems of Africa’, in a 2000 interview with National Geographic Magazine. See Mandela. Available from: <> [Accessed 31 May 2013].
  2. United Nations Development Programme. 2013. UNDP in Africa. United Nations Development Programme. Available from: <> [Accessed 3 June 2013].
  3. World Bank. 2013. Global economic prospects January 2013: Sub-Saharan Africa region. World Bank. Available from: <> [Accessed 9 June 2013].
  4. United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Poverty reduction and the MDGs. United Nations Development Programme. Available from: <> [Accessed 3 June 2013].
  5. Dlamini-Zuma, N. 2013. Visible impact: Chairperson’s (CP) message. Synergy, 3 (January). Addis Ababa, African Union Commission.
  6. Human Security Group. 2012. Human security report: Sexual violence, education and war, beyond the mainstream narrative. Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, School for International Studies and Human Security Research Group/Human Security Press. p. 10 Available from: <> [Accessed 3 June 2013].
  7. Ibid.
  8. í–berg, M., with Taub, S. and Möller, F. 2011. Challenges from within: Introducing the Uppsala coup events dataset 1. Paper presented at a research seminar at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 12 May, in Uppsala, Sweden.
  9. Mwanasali, M, 2006. Africa’s responsibility to protect. In: Adebajo, A. and Scanlon, H. eds. A dialogue of the deaf: Essays on Africa and the United Nations. Johannesburg, Jacana Press.; Mwanasali, M. 2008. From non-interference to non-indifference: The emerging doctrine of conflict prevention in Africa. In: Akokpari, J., Ndinga-Muvumba, A. and Murithi, T. eds. The African Union and its institutions. Auckland, Jacana Media and Centre for Conflict Resolution. pp. 41–62. Centre for Conflict Resolution and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 2012. The African Union at ten: Problems, progress, and prospect. Centre for Conflict Resolution and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
  10. Organisation of African Unity. 2000. The constitutive act of the African Union. Organisation of African Unity. Available from: <> [Accessed 3 June 2013].
  11. African Union Peace and Security Department. 2010. Moving forward: African peace and security architecture. Addis Ababa, African Union. p.30. Available from: <> [Accessed 12 June 2013].
  12. African Union. 2013. Report of the Peace and Security Council on its activities and the state of Peace and Security in Africa. Addis Ababa, African Union. Available from: <> [Accessed 3 June 2013].
  13. Williams, P.D. 2009. The African Union’s peace operations: A comparative analysis. African Security, 2 (2–3). pp.97–118.
  14. African Development Bank. 2011. Africa in 50 years’ time: The road towards inclusive growth. Tunis, African Development Bank.
  15. United Nations Development Programme. 2013. Africa human development report: Towards a food secure future. New York, United Nations Development Programme. p.1 & p.4.
  16. Fraser, A. and Lungu, J. 2010. For whom the windfalls: Winners and losers in privatisation of Zambia’s copper mines. Lusaka, Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia and Catholic Centre for Justice, Development and Peace. ; Amnesty International. 2009. Nigeria: Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta. Amnesty International. Available from: <> [Accessed 6 June 2013].
  17. World Economic Forum. 2013. Chapter 1: Assessing Africa’s competitiveness in an international context. The Africa competitiveness report 2013. Geneva, World Economic Forum. p.3.
  18. Ibid. Overview. p. xiii.
  19. Graham, C. 2011. Africa rising: The significance of protests in sub-Saharan Africa. Consultancy Africa Intelligence. Available from: <> [Accessed 12 June 2013].
  20. Al Jazeera. 2011. Protests in sub-Saharan Africa. Al Jazeera, 12 August. Available from: <> [Accessed 12 June 2013].
  21. Urdal, H. and Hoelscher, H. 2012. Explaining urban social disorder and violence: An empirical study of event data from Asian and Sub-Saharan African Cities. International interactions: Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations, 38 (4). pp. 512–528.
  22. Mutisi, M. and Khamis, K. 2013. The African Union Panel of the Wise: Strengthening relations with similar regional mechanisms. A report based on the High Level Retreat of the African Union Panel of the Wise on Strengthening Relations with Similar Regional Mechanisms, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 4 and 5 June 2012. Durban, ACCORD.
  23. African Union. 2013. Final press release of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union: Summary of key decisions adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Addis Ababa, 27 May. Addis Ababa, African Union. p.5.; Africa Confidential. 2013. African Union paying – and fighting – for unity. Africa Confidential, 54 (12). p.3.
  24. African Union. 2013. Final press release. Op. cit. p.5.
  25. Africa Confidential, 2013. Op. cit. p.2.
  26. The Economist. 2013. The African Union: Half a century on. The Economist, 29 May. Available from: <> [Accessed 9 June 2013].