The Institute for Security Studies is a regional human security policy think tank with an exclusive focus on Africa. As a leading African human security research institution, the institute is guided by a broad approach to security reflective of the changing nature and origin of threats to human development.
The first Africa-EU Summit following the Lisbon Treaty, which brought major institutional renovation and structural changes in the European Union (EU), will take place in Tripoli, Libya on 29-30 November 2010. The Summit, which will be chaired jointly by the President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, as current chair of the African Union and the Permanent President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, will be attended by Heads of State and Government of both continents.
This third Africa-EU Summit will discuss a number of issues ranging from security and economic cooperation to environment and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The progress towards realising the eight major points of cooperation in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) that was adopted at the last Lisbon Summit in 2007 will guide the agenda of the meeting. A second Action Plan (2011-2013) of the JAES on the eight key thematic and sectoral partnerships will be adopted in addition to creating new mechanisms to effectively implement the three-year strategy. The platform is considered to be a great opportunity to assess the achievements, failures and challenges of the post 2007 Lisbon Summit relations between Africa and Europe.
The partnership, cooperation and working relations between the African Union (AU) and the EU and their various organs can generally be referred to as an exemplary and ever increasing one, considering the high level commitment and planning and growing partnership on various issues. The 2007 strategic partnership is a significant manifestation of interest by the two regional bodies further institutionalising their commitment and relations in regard to various sectors of mutual interest, including peace and security.
The peace and security agenda of the AU is one of its most visible agendas, defining the institution and its relations with international partners. The grand African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), a set of various institutions and mechanisms for an effective and coordinated conflict prevention, resolution and management strategy, requires constant and consistent support from external partners. This needed particularly as the AU still suffers from a serious financial and expertise deficiency. Both of these are necessary to successfully and expediently operationalise the Architecture that is taking shape.
The financial and expertise support of the EU for the various AU peace and security initiatives through its Africa Peace Facility (APF) has been significant in the past years. Most of the components of the APSA are being supported by the EU and the recent AMANI-AFRICA cycle that took place in Addis Ababa at the end of October 2010 is a great example of the EU's ongoing support to the APSA. Since 2006, the EU has spent approximately 1 billion Euros in its support for the APSA and five peace support missions in Africa. Furthermore, there is a hope that one of the new positions of the Treaty of Lisbon, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), led by High Representative Laura Ashton and her team, the European External Action Service (EEAS), as well as newly empowered EU Delegations, can enhance the AU-EU cooperation and partnership. The coordination role of the EEAS could also potentially assist the coherence between the EU's military missions on the African continent, particularly the technical and financial support for conflict prevention and resolution in Africa.
However, in the midst of a growing institutional partnership and engagement and the increasing diplomatic presence of delegations of the two institutions in their respective headquarters, there seems to be a communication and understanding gap between the two bodies, especially in effectively accessing and utilising funds in the Africa Peace Facility. The AU in many instances refers to lack of funding and failures by partners to fulfill their financial pledges as serious setbacks for its peace and security activities. The AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) is a classic case of a poorly funded peace mission.
Following the 2007 AU Summit in Addis Ababa there was a positive spirit for resolving the Somali conflict by Africans. Consequently, eight states on the continent, including the continental powerhouse Nigeria and other states like Ghana and Malawi, pledged to send troops for the proposed peacekeeping mission of some 8,000 soldiers. Although some of the states did not fulfill their pledges because of various developments locally, the AU and some individual states repeatedly associated the failure to send the full mission with the failure by Europe and others to finance and logistically support the mission, as originally promised.
While the successful operationalisation of the mission would not have been a panacea for the most complex security crisis in Africa, more funding and better resources would have provided an opportunity for the AU to address the problem in a better manner and test its peacekeeping capacity at another level.
The dominant view of the various EU organs dealing with peace and security issues in relation to Africa is rather different. They confidently state that there is sufficient money available through the Africa Peace Facility (APF) and what is absent is proper planning, clear objectives and, more than anything, institutional capacity from the AU side to effectively access and use the existing funds. Here one might raise an alternative approach in which the EU could support and facilitate the strengthening of the AU Secretariat in terms of existing resources so that the latter can better access the fund. There is without any doubt a need to clearly discuss existing limitations in the Africa Peace Facility (APF), which is the main EU funding instrument to support the APSA. These obvious differences, and perceived contradictory remarks, should also be thoroughly discussed at the Tripoli summit and at the technical policy implementation level in order to obviate future misunderstandings and gaps in communication. Easing the bureaucratic bottlenecks and complex procedures for the AU to use the money dedicated for Africa should be another focus.
From the AU side there is a pressing need to seriously enhance its capacity. With growing visibility comes greater expectation from Africa's people in resolving the various peace and security challenges faced by the continent. Failing to meet these expectations can be a huge disappointment, damaging the institutional reputation of its future endeavors. The AU needs to have more transparent and accountable financial and personnel systems to build the trust of donors and the people of the continent. Although it is not possible to do so at present, the AU should also work to reduce dependence, in the long term, on external assistance in the peace and security sector.
The growing institutional working relations between the AU and the EU and enhanced delegation presence in their respective regions, should be translated into an effective communication and understanding between Addis Ababa and Brussels. Only through unambiguous and effective communication, sustained by joint commitment to mutually beneficial goals and objectives, can this important partnership grow and prosper.
Written by: Hallelujah Lulie, Junior Researcher, Peace and Security Council Report Programme, ISS, Addis Ababa