The UN, the AU and ECOWAS - A Triangle for Peace and Security in West Africa?

The UN, the AU and ECOWAS - A Triangle for Peace and Security in West Africa?
Regional Governance Architecture   FES Briefing Paper February 2006   Page 1

                    The UN, the AU and ECOWAS –
           A Triangle for Peace and Security in West Africa?




The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                 FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                                 Page 2

1     Introduction                                               rica. The challenges of and opportunities for
                                                                 greater cooperation are the focus of this paper.
The central question in the regional-global secu-
                                                                 Following a brief overview of the history of rela-
rity debate is how the relationship between the
                                                                 tions between the UN and the AU and the UN
UN and regional organisations should be struc-
                                                                 and ECOWAS, the paper considers the opportu-
tured so as to maximise the comparative advan-
                                                                 nities for, and challenges to more fruitful col-
tages of each body and ensure the complemen-
                                                                 laborations between the UN, the AU and ECO-
tarity of roles, while maintaining the primacy of
                                                                 WAS. In a concluding section, the paper high-
the UN in the maintenance of international
                                                                 lights key issues and restates the need for clearer
peace and security.
                                                                 and closer working relationships among the
Current debate is centred on how feasible ‘part-                 three bodies in the area of peace and security.
nerships’ can be between the UN and regional
organisations.1 The United Nations (UN) has pri-                 2     A Historical Background
mary responsibility to maintain international
                                                                 The regional-global security debate is about as
peace and security. In his ^ÖÉåÇ~= Ñçê= mÉ~ÅÉ,
                                                                 old as the UN itself. The Dumbarton Oaks pro-
then UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-
                                                                 posals subordinating regional arrangements’
Ghali acknowledged that the capacities of re-
                                                                 peace and security efforts to the UN Security
gional organisations in the key areas of preven-
                                                                 Council generated strong resistance from Latin
tive diplomacy, peacekeeping, peacemaking,
                                                                 American and League of Arab states. An impor-
and post conflict peacebuilding could not only
                                                                 tant modification was made at the San Francisco
lighten the UN’s burden, but also help consoli-
                                                                 conference concerning the right to individual
date ‘a deeper sense of participation, consensus
                                                                 and collective self defense: Article 51 of the UN
and democratization in international affairs’. 2
                                                                 Charter protected the ‘inherent right of individ-
However, although regional organisations have a
                                                                 ual or collective self-defence if an armed attack
clear ‘stake’ in resolving regional crises, the
                                                                 occurs against a Member of the United Na-
complex dynamics of such crises can mitigate
the impact of these organisations.3
                                                                 When the UN came into being, there were only
The relationship between the UN and African
                                                                 four African member states and they did not
regional organisations has received significant
                                                                 have much say in the policies and actions of the
attention due to the preponderance of conflicts
                                                                 world body. When the Congo crisis broke out in
on the continent. The UN has collaborated with
                                                                 1960, the UN, Belgium, and the Soviet Union in-
the African Union (AU) and the Economic Com-
                                                                 tervened because there was no African regional
munity of West African States (ECOWAS), pre-
                                                                 body to contend with the UN over the resolution
dominantly in the area of peacekeeping, and
                                                                 of the dispute.
continues to make efforts to improve its rela-
tionships with them, notably in the area of
                                                                 3     Conflict Management in Africa:
peacebuilding. The latest initiative of the UN in
                                                                       The UN and the Organisation of
this regard is the implementation of a ten-year
                                                                       African Unity/African Union
capacity building plan for the AU and its sub re-
gional organisations, discussed further in a later               The Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Africa’s
section of this paper. Considering that the UN,                  first effort at continental integration, was
the AU, and ECOWAS each have peace and se-                       formed in 1963. It marked Africa’s first attempt
curity mandates that concern Africa, there is                    to address its own security challenges. However,
clearly much to be gained from ensuring coher-                   the OAU’s failure to resolve conflicts in Nigeria
ence and coordination of the efforts of these or-                (1967-1970), for example, exposed the organisa-
ganisations in the maintenance of peace in Af-                   tion’s limitations and hampered the UN’s ability
                                                                 to respond.
    See Tim Murithi, Between Paternalism and Hybrid
    Partnership: the Emerging UN and Africa Relation-
    ship in Peace Operations, FES Briefing Paper, May
2                                                                4
    Boutros Boutros-Ghali, ^å= ^ÖÉåÇ~= Ñçê= mÉ~ÅÉ,                   Interview with James Jonah, New York University
    Chapter VI, 1992.                                                Graduate Centre, July 7, 2008, New York. For
    Report of the Secretary-General on the relationship              more detailed information, see James Jonah, qÜÉ=
    between the United Nations and regional organiza-                råáíÉÇ=k~íáçåëI in Adekeye Adebajo & Ismail Rash-
    tions, in particular the African Union, in the main-             id (Eds), ‘West Africa’s Security Challenges: Build-
    tenance of international peace and security, 24                  ing Peace in a Troubled Region’, 2004, pp. 319-
    March 2008.                                                      347. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                 FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                               Page 3

In a period of waning UN interest in Africa5, the                nomic Community of West African States
OAU deployed its first military mission, an inter-               (ECOWAS) in 1975. ECOWAS was formed with
African force, in Tchad in 1981.6 The OAU mis-                   a primary mandate to= improve regional eco-
sion was unable to resolve the Tchad conflict                    nomic integration in West Africa. However, the
due to a lack of adequate financial and logistical               onset of civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone un-
resources among other factors. In 1993, the                      derscored the indispensability of peace and po-
OAU facilitated peace talks and deployed a Neu-                  litical stability to successful economic integration,
tral Military Observer Group to Rwanda that was                  forcing a shift from economic to political priori-
eventually taken over by the UN. Subsequent                      ties. ECOWAS deployed its Ceasefire Monitoring
peace interventions in Ethiopia/Eritrea (2000),                  Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia (1990-1998, 2003-
Burundi (2003-2004)7, and Somalia (2007-date),                   2006), Sierra Leone (1997-2000), Guinea Bissau
among others, have served as precursory efforts                  (1999), and Côte d’Ivoire (2003).
to UN missions. The UN’s interventions in Soma-
                                                                 The ECOMOG missions in Liberia and Sierra
lia and Rwanda accentuated its disinterest in Af-
                                                                 Leone occurred without prior UN authorisation
rica and emphasized the need for stronger Afri-
                                                                 due to internal divisions within ECOWAS and the
can responses to African conflicts.
                                                                 UN. The UN Security Council held several infor-
Although the UN has co-deployed in the past                      mal consultations, some in response to ECO-
with the AU and ECOWAS in several African                        WAS’ requests for assistance, but took no im-
countries, the joint AU-UN hybrid mission in Dar-                mediate action. After difficult negotiations, the
fur (UNAMID) marks an attempt to depart from                     UN sent military observer missions to Liberia in
the previous form of cooperation between the                     1993 (UNOMIL) and Sierra Leone in 1998 (UN-
UN and African regional organisations whereby                    OMSIL) to help ECOMOG implement its man-
the AU and ECOWAS would deploy first and the                     dates under the respective peace agreements.
UN would eventually take over full responsibility                While the UN retained UNOMIL, resource con-
for the mission. Since its deployment, UNAMID                    straints forced the partial withdrawal of ECO-
has encountered serious problems including in-                   MOG troops from Sierra Leone in 2000. The UN
adequate logistics and personnel. 8 Again, poor                  responded by transforming UNOMSIL into a
capacity on the part of some AU staff raises                     peacekeeping mission, UNAMSIL.
questions about how equitable a partnership the
                                                                 Difficulties that confronted the UN-ECOWAS co-
operation is.9 The indictment by the International
                                                                 operation in Liberia and Sierra Leone included
Criminal Court (ICC) of Sudanese President
                                                                 lack of clear mandates, disparities in logistics and
Omar Bashir and the AU’s condemnation thereof
                                                                 remuneration, and divergent approaches to is-
suggest that there is insufficient consultation
                                                                 sues such as sanctions, and elections. As such,
and consensus between the UN and the AU on
                                                                 even though there were some useful consulta-
Africa’s security concerns. These issues need to
                                                                 tions between the UN Security Council and
be addressed if the mission is to succeed in ful-
                                                                 ECOWAS, the above factors created a discon-
filling its mandate as well as serving as a worka-
                                                                 nect between the political decisions that were
ble model for future cooperation between the
                                                                 made and their implementation in the field.
UN and African regional organisations.
                                                                 ECOWAS withdrew its troops from Guinea-
4     Conflict Management in West Africa:                        Bissau after a few months due to a lack of finan-
      The UN and ECOWAS                                          cial and logistical support from the UN and the
                                                                 international community. After questionable
Other efforts at regional integration followed in
                                                                 elections in 1999, the UN established a Peace-
Africa’s various sub regions, notably the Eco-
                                                                 building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UN-
5                                                                OGBIS).
    Jonah, qÜÉ=råáíÉÇ=k~íáçåë, page 320.
    Cedric de Coning , The Role of the OAU in Conflict
    Management in Africa, Monograph No. 10, Con-                 5     The UN-AU Capacity-Building
    flict Management, Peacekeeping and Peacebuild-                     Framework: the Story so Far
    ing, April 1997
7                                                                Throughout their existence, the OAU (now AU)
    Festus Aboagye, qÜÉ=^ÑêáÅ~å=råáçå=áå=_ìêìåÇáW=iÉëJ
    ëçåë= Ñêçã= íÜÉ= cáêëí= ^ÑêáÅ~å= råáçå= mÉ~ÅÉâÉÉéáåÖ=        and ECOWAS’ conflict management capacities
    léÉê~íáçå, 2004.                                             have been constantly tested by a succession of
    Report of the Secretary-General on the deployment            conflict scenarios. The same conflicts have con-
    of the African-United Nations Hybrid Operation in            tinually tested the provisions of the UN Charter
    Darfur, 7 July 2008.                                         concerning regional solutions to instability and
    Interview with General Henry Anyidoho. New York,             the UN’s evolving disposition towards engage-
    June 24, 2008.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                 FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                                   Page 4

ment with such initiatives. Despite extensive me-                same goal, the DPKO has held a number of
diation activities by the AU and ECOWAS, previ-                  training programmes targeted at senior AU offi-
ous cooperation between these organisations                      cials (civilian, military and police). The DPKO has
and the UN has focused mainly on peacekeeping.                   also provided some support towards the realisa-
Since 1995, the UN has made several efforts to                   tion of the African Standby Force (ASF) although
broaden the scope of these relationships and                     this support has been criticised as being insuffi-
clarify the roles of each party. While underlining               cient.14
the UN’s control over the maintenance of inter-
national peace and security, several high level                  6      Opportunities for Collaboration
and thematic meetings with regional organisa-
                                                                 Previous cooperation among the UN, the AU and
tions, Security Council debates, and key docu-
                                                                 ECOWAS has consisted mainly of peacekeeping.
ments/reports and resolutions have affirmed the
                                                                 Thus, lessons learned from joint peacekeeping
important role of regional organisations in peace
                                                                 operations must first be consolidated in order to
and security and made recommendations aimed
                                                                 improve future collaborations, before other op-
at ensuring more effective cooperation between
                                                                 portunities for collaboration may be considered.
them and the UN.10
In 2005, the UN Security Council issued Resolu-                  Lessons learned from Joint Peacekeeping
tion 1631 which identified priority areas for col-
                                                                 In joint peacekeeping operations, cooperation
laboration between the UN and regional organi-
                                                                 must occur at all levels (i.e. political, military, and
sations. Further to the recommendations of the
                                                                 economic) and must be based as far as is practi-
Secretary-General’s report on implementing
                                                                 cally possible on the comparative advantages of
Resolution 163111, the UN Security Council and
                                                                 all organisations involved. Africa has experienced
the AU Peace and Security Council elaborated a
                                                                 soldiers but is currently not in a position to make
ten-year Capacity Building Programme to en-
                                                                 significant financial contributions to joint peace-
hance the ability of the AU and its sub regional
                                                                 keeping missions. As such, the UN and Africa’s
organisations to ‘address the challenges to hu-
                                                                 bi- and multilateral partners must commit to
man security in Africa’.12 The focal areas identi-
                                                                 provide the required funding and logistics for
fied by the Framework include conflict preven-
                                                                 joint peacekeeping operations. African countries
tion and peacebuilding. In April 2008, the UN
                                                                 must be consistent in their demand for this.
Security Council issued Resolution 1809 high-
lighting progress made so far and identifying ar-                Mandates must be clear, coherent, and com-
eas that require further attention.                              plementary in order to ensure mission success.15
                                                                 In Sierra Leone, erroneous assumptions by UN-
Implementation of the Capacity Building Pro-
                                                                 OMIL about the deployment locations of ECO-
gramme has so far focused mainly on the activi-
                                                                 MOG led to serious casualties for the UN.16
ties of the “African Union Peacekeeping Support
Team” within the UN Department of Peacekeep-                     Care must be taken to distinguish between ca-
ing Operations. This team has deployed staff at                  pacity-building and capacity substitution. It is
the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa with the                      useful for the UN and bilateral and multilateral
aim of providing the necessary expertise and                     development partners to loan technical capaci-
transfer of technical knowledge to enhance the                   ties to organisations like the AU. However, care
AU’s capacity for planning and managing Peace                    must be taken to ensure that the intended
Support Operations. 13 In furtherance of this                    knowledge is genuinely transferred. This form of
                                                                 assistance does not eclipse the need to develop
     For more detailed information, see ^= oÉÖáçå~äJ             the capacity of the beneficiary organisation in
     däçÄ~ä=pÉÅìêáíó=m~êíåÉêëÜáéW=`Ü~ääÉåÖÉë=~åÇ=lééçêJ          the face of pressure to meet deadlines and
     íìåáíáÉë’ (2006), and Security Council Report Up-           achieve set targets.
     date No. 3, September 2006.
     Op. cit.
     Declaration Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation:
     Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity-Building                     ship between the United Nations and regional or-
     Programme for the African Union. The Framework                   ganizations, in particular the African Union, in the
     had previously been proposed by the tçêäÇ= pìãJ                  maintenance of international peace and security’,
     ãáí=lìíÅçãÉ=açÅìãÉåí (October 24 2005).                          24 March 2008.
13                                                               14
     For example, a technical team is currently at the                Cilliers, J., 2008, ‘The African Standby Force – An
     AU headquarters in Addis Ababa assisting with ad-                update on progress’, ISS Paper 160, Institute for
     vice and assistance to UNAMID; I.nterview with Ni-               Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa.
     cholas Seymour, July 8, 2008, UN, New York. See                  S/RES/1809 (April 16, 2008)
     ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the relation-                Jonah, the UN, page 328.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                  FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                                  Page 5

Conflict prevention and Peacebuilding                             Leone was allocated $35 million, 19 million of
                                                                  which remains unspent.20
The UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) is a
new creation and expression of the UN’s recog-                    An important observation of the Sierra Leone
nition of the need for a holistic approach to con-                CSC visit to Freetown is the centrality of eco-
flict management. The PBC, established in 2006,                   nomic development to peace and stability. How-
aims to consolidate the benefits of international                 ever, recent debates in the PBC on the relevance
efforts to end war in countries emerging from                     of energy reform to the Strategic Peacebuilding
conflict. Its specific mandate is to:                             Framework for Sierra Leone raised questions
                                                                  about what constitutes peacebuilding and what
•     Bring together all relevant actors to marshal
                                                                  issues belong on the PBC agenda. In order to be
      resources and advise on and propose in-
                                                                  effective, the PBC’s interventions must be as
      tegrated strategies for post-conflict peace-
                                                                  comprehensive as possible bearing in mind that
      building and recovery;
                                                                  peace, security, and development are inextrica-
•     Focus attention on the reconstruction and                   bly intertwined21.
      institution-building efforts necessary for re-
                                                                  The founding resolutions of the PBC provide for
      covery from conflict and to support the de-
                                                                  the participation of ‘relevant regional and sub
      velopment of integrated strategies in order
                                                                  regional organizations’ in CSCs at the invitation
      to lay the foundation for sustainable deve-
                                                                  of the PBC Organisational Committee. 22 While
                                                                  the AU Permanent Observer Mission in New
•     Provide recommendations and information                     York has attended most of these meetings,
      to improve the coordination of all relevant                 ECOWAS has not always been represented at
      actors within and outside the United nations,               the CSCs for Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau.23
      to develop best practices, to help to ensure
                                                                  Like the UN, the AU and ECOWAS recently de-
      predictable financing for early recovery acti-
                                                                  veloped conflict management frameworks to
      vities and to extend the period of attention
                                                                  coordinate previously ad hoc peacebuilding in-
      given by the international community to
                                                                  terventions. The AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction
      post-conflict recovery.17
                                                                  and Development Framework (PCRD) and the
Post-conflict reconstruction is an expensive long-                ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF)
term process. There is a need for better coher-                   both aim to coordinate more holistic approaches
ence and coordination of bilateral efforts to                     by each organisation towards the management
avoid duplication and ensure that host countries’                 of conflict in Africa. The AU and ECOWAS need
needs are met. There may also be a need to re-                    to be more directly involved in the PBC’s work, a
view the PBC’s mandate or strengthen its rela-                    role that should be clearly articulated in any
tionship with the relevant UN organs.                             agreements between the UN and these organi-
The PBC’s work in West Africa has so far fo-
cused on two countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea
Bissau, and to a lesser extent, Liberia.18 Consulta-
tions between each country’s government and                            The UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) claims
the country-specific configurations (CSCs) of the                      that this is due to delays by the government of Si-
                                                                       erra Leone in submitting project documents. Re-
PBC led to the formulation of Strategic Peace-
                                                                       presentatives of the Sierra Leone government ho-
building Frameworks for each country. 19 Sierra                        wever attribute it to delays in the disbursement of
                                                                       funds by the relevant UN office in Sierra Leone.
                                                                       Kofi Annan, In Larger Freedom, United Nations,
17                                                                22
     Paragraph 2, UN Security Council Resolution 1645                  See Article 7 (b), S/RES/1645 (December 20, 2005),
     (2005).                                                           and Article 7 (b), A/RES/60/180 (December 30,
     The Government of Liberia received $10 million                    2005).
     from the Peacebuilding Fund for promoting                         ECOWAS did not participate in the CSC visit to Si-
     awareness of ongoing political processes as part of               erra Leone and it is not known whether the find-
     its post-conflict reconstruction programme.                       ings of the visit were communicated to ECOWAS.
     Country specific configurations are sub-committees                Interview with H. E. Mr. Nathaniel Milton Barnes,
     of the PBC specifically convened to deliberate on                 Permanent Representative of Liberia to the UN.
     the peacebuilding needs of countries under the                    New York, July 10, 2008.
     consideration of the PBC. Strategic Peacebuilding                 Resolution 1631 (October 17, 2005) proposed that
     Frameworks are essentially roadmaps for address-                  the UN consider forming cooperation agreements
     ing the priority areas of intervention identified by              with regional organisations to serve as frameworks
     countries on the PBC’s agenda.                                    for joint peacekeeping operations.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                     FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                              Page 6

Conflict Mediation                                                   sations to ensure that all the parties fulfil their
                                                                     responsibilities. Concrete action should be taken
The UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) was es-
                                                                     to hold consultations on and finalise partnership
tablished in Dakar in 2001. Though its mandate
                                                                     agreements between the UN and regional or-
is to coordinate UN activities in West Africa, the
                                                                     ganisations. For this relationship to be meaning-
location of the office in Dakar is hindering its
                                                                     ful, it must be clear who will do what, when and
work as ECOWAS’ headquarters is located in
                                                                     how. For example, will UN approval of AU- or
Abuja, Nigeria. 25 The AU and the UN Depart-
                                                                     ECOWAS-led missions be given pre- or post- de-
ment for Political Affairs (DPA) are engaged in a
                                                                     ployment? What effect will this have on the le-
number of initiatives including developing an
                                                                     gitimacy of these missions?
operational plan for the Panel of the Wise, de-
veloping an AU toolbox of mediation experience,                      The principle of the sovereignty and territorial in-
and providing various forms of mediation train-                      tegrity of member states is central to the UN;
ing for AU personnel.26                                              how will it be reconciled with the exigencies of
                                                                     the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
7      Challenges to Greater Cooperation                             as enshrined in the ECOWAS and AU conflict
                                                                     management frameworks? As Jackie Cilliers
Lack of established framework                                        rightly observes, the differences in approach by
                                                                     these organisations to the principle of R2P raise
As stated earlier, fierce debates preceded the
                                                                     issues regarding the handover by ECOWAS and/
deployment of UN missions in Liberia and Sierra
                                                                     or the AU to the UN in situations where this is
Leone, reflecting the UN’s ambiguity towards co-
                                                                     deemed necessary due to logistical and resource
deploying with a regional organisation (in Af-
                                                                     constraints. The UN and the AU both respect the
rica).27 In order to forestall future misconceptions
                                                                     sovereignty of member states. However, the
or willful manipulations of the provisions of
                                                                     Constitutive Act of the AU, in stark contrast to
Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the UN must
                                                                     its predecessor states that it has the “right … to
confirm its commitment to work more closely
                                                                     intervene in a Member State pursuant to a deci-
with regional organisations by creating through
                                                                     sion of the Assembly in respect of grave circum-
a collaborative process a framework that defines
                                                                     stances, namely war crimes, genocide and
the responsibilities of the UN and relevant re-
                                                                     crimes against humanity”. This raises issues of
gional organisations in a given conflict situation,
                                                                     how mandates will be determined and the dif-
while maintaining flexibility with regard to the
                                                                     ferent criteria for intervention for both organisa-
rate of response and other peculiarities of varied
                                                                     tions fulfilled in order to ensure a smooth transi-
conflict situations. For instance, it is a major
                                                                     tion from one mission to another.
principle of the UN to not intervene in a conflict
without a peace agreement whereas ECOWAS is                          The UN and bi- and multilateral development
prepared to do so. However, in certain situations,                   partners of ECOWAS will have to bear the bur-
it is not possible to negotiate peace agreements                     den of financing joint UN-ECOWAS operations
without first establishing some measure of sta-                      for the foreseeable future. Most ECOWAS
bility. ECOWAS deployed in Sierra Leone and Li-                      member states will not be in a position to con-
beria without peace agreements and subse-                            tribute financially to peace missions while they
quently created the conditions for negotiations                      continue to stagger under the weight of un-
that led to the respective peace agreements.28                       wieldy debt burdens. Funding has long been a
                                                                     major issue for the AU, the ECOWAS, and other
A mechanism for monitoring and periodic evalu-
                                                                     African sub regional organisations. It is incon-
ation should accompany the framework for co-
                                                                     ceivable that African countries continue to ser-
operation between the UN and regional organi-
                                                                     vice unrealistic debt burdens with money that
                                                                     could be put to better use in critical areas of
     Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, qÜÉ=bãÉêÖJ             need.
     áåÖ= oçäÉ= çÑ= íÜÉ= ^r= ~åÇ= b`lt^p= áå= `çåÑäáÅí= mêÉJ
     îÉåíáçå=~åÇ=mÉ~ÅÉÄìáäÇáåÖ. Page 37.                             Capacity-Building: Too Many ‘Cooks’…
     See ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the rela-
     tionship between the United Nations and regional                Beside the UN, there is presently a multiplicity of
     organizations’..                                                development partners - organisations and states
     James Jonah, ‘The United Nations’, in tÉëí=^ÑêáÅ~Ûë=            - seeking to work with the AU and ECOWAS in
     pÉÅìêáíó= `Ü~ääÉåÖÉëW= _ìáäÇáåÖ= mÉ~ÅÉ= áå= ~= qêçìÄäÉÇ=
     oÉÖáçå, Adekeye Adebajo (and Ismail Rashid (Eds),
     Lynne Rienner, 2004, Colorado: USA, page 327.
     Interview with General Henry Anyidoho, New York,
     June 24, 2008.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                  FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                                 Page 7

different areas. 29 It is not clear whether either                rightful place as the primary initiator and imple-
organisation has identified priority areas for sup-               menter of security policy in Africa.
port or is coordinating its work with partner or-
                                                                  The AU is the only African inter-governmental
ganisations and countries within the framework
                                                                  organisation with permanent representation at
of its stated needs. Further research is needed to
                                                                  the UN because it is considered as the umbrella
address this important question.
                                                                  body for all African sub regional organisations.
One actor whose role urgently needs to be                         Ideally, this means that the AU should be in a
strengthened is civil society, in particular the                  position to represent equitably the security and
West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF). Ef-                     other concerns of each of its sub regions. This is
forts are ongoing to revive WACSOF which was                      not the case for several reasons. First, there cur-
paralysed for a while by internal divisions among                 rently exists a multiplicity of sub regional organi-
its members. ECOWAS should work with inde-                        sations in Africa.31 The AU is attempting to ra-
pendent civil society actors and WACSOF to                        tionalise these groupings by formally recognising
support WACSOF to fulfil its function as a forum                  eight. 32 This project faces a number of chal-
for civil society engagement with ECOWAS.                         lenges. For one thing, Africa’s intra regional
                                                                  boundaries are not rational and some countries
Civil society has an important role to play in
                                                                  fall within the geographic scope of several re-
conducting research, providing expertise to the
                                                                  gional economic communities (RECs). Second,
AU and ECOWAS, and assisting in the imple-
                                                                  although the AU has elaborate peace and secu-
mentation of stated goals in diverse areas of
                                                                  rity mechanisms and policies, it lacks the needed
peace and security. The AU and ECOWAS should
                                                                  cohesion and resources to utilise them effectively.
partner with universities and other educational
                                                                  Although the AU and ECOWAS both have active
and training institutions to establish training
                                                                  working relationships with the UN, there does
programmes specifically targeted at developing,
                                                                  not seem to be coordinated interaction between
especially among young Africans, the knowledge
                                                                  both organisations’ interactions with the UN.
and skills needed to enhance Africa’s capacity
                                                                  The AU may thus not be in a position to appre-
for conflict management. Other courses could
                                                                  ciate fully or articulate eloquently the major con-
be organised in collaboration with networks of
                                                                  cerns of the West African sub region. This
experts such as the African Security Sector Net-
                                                                  should not preclude the AU from participating in
work (ASSN) and the West African Network for
                                                                  UN-ECOWAS meetings. Infact; it would provide
Security     and     Democratic     Governance
                                                                  an excellent opportunity for the AU to learn
                                                                  from two organisations with considerable ex-
                                                                  perience of peace management in Africa. It
8      The Relationship between the AU
                                                                  would also help clarify areas of collaboration
       and ECOWAS
                                                                  among all three organisations. Thirdly and relat-
In principle, a relationship of subsidiarity exists               edly, the AU is in a state of flux at the moment.
between the African Union (AU) and African                        A recently completed audit of the AU concluded
RECs. In reality, the nature of this relationship is              that the continental body is not functioning at
unclear. It would seem that the AU has had                        full efficiency because several key commitments
more influence over the activities of RECs that                   have not been met. 33 As the AU attempts to
have relatively lesser experience of conflict man-                streamline its organs, structures and operations,
agement – notably in Eastern and Southern Af-                     the Peace and Security Council (PSC) has a role
rica. Is there a case, then, for eliminating the role             to play in coordinating experience-sharing and
of the AU as ‘middle man’ between the UN and                      staff exchanges among the various recognised
African RECs? Perhaps. But there is a stronger                    African RECs.
need for coherence of policy and approach of
African countries towards international security                  31
                                                                       West Africa: ECOWAS, UEMOA; East Africa: CO-
cooperation. In the author’s view, there is less to                    MESA, ; Central Africa: ECCAS, ; North Africa/Horn
be gained from sidelining the AU than there is                         of Africa: AMU, IGAD; Southern Africa: SADC,
from assisting the continental body to take its                   32
                                                                       Interview with Mashood Issaka.
                                                                       The audit, commissioned by the AU in Accra in July
                                                                       2007, reviewed the structures, processes and op-
                                                                       erations of the AU with a view to promoting effi-
     Interview with Mashood Issaka, Senior Program Of-                 ciency and coherence. The audit contains roughly
     ficer, International Peace Institute, New York. June              170 comprehensive recommendations, see Audit
     24, 2008.                                                         of the African Union, December 18, 2007, p. 16.
     See and                            Available online at See also                                                  Accra Declaration of July 2007.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                  FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                             Page 8

Before it can occupy its rightful position as the                 and Benin, among others) calls into question the
supervening body for African issues, the AU will                  legitimacy of some African leaders and their abil-
have to earn legitimacy before its RECs by build-                 ity to defend accurately their countries’ needs. It
ing its own capacity to represent their interests                 may also have a bearing on the ability of these
while helping to enhance their various capacities                 governments to appoint experienced and capa-
to fulfil their respective mandates. Efforts to im-               ble representatives to their permanent missions
plement the ten-year capacity-building frame-                     to the UN.
work have hitherto centred on building the Afri-
                                                                  The ECOWAS must intensify its efforts through
can Standby Force, finalising the Early Warning
                                                                  the Authority of Heads of States and Govern-
Systems of the AU and ECOWAS and enhancing
                                                                  ments and its Council of Elders to implement ful-
the peacekeeping capacities of both organisa-
                                                                  ly the provisions in the Supplementary Protocol
                                                                  on Democracy and Good Governance (2001)
Each of the eight RECs recognised by the AU                       concerning the mismanagement of elections and
should consider establishing liaison offices at the               unconstitutional accessions to power.
UN. This will help conserve the time and costs of
regular travel to New York for relevant meetings,                 10 Conclusion
and facilitate RECs’ inputs to UN activities, espe-
                                                                  The rationales for engagement on peace and se-
cially the country-specific meetings of the PBC
                                                                  curity between the UN and regional organisa-
that take place frequently and often at short no-
                                                                  tions are numerous. RECs are closer to regional
                                                                  conflicts. They understand the dynamics of such
                                                                  conflicts, appreciate the specific needs for inter-
9      UN Security Council Reform
                                                                  vention, and know how it can be organised and
Africa’s capacity or lack thereof to represent its                implemented as quickly and efficiently as possi-
security interests at the UN may be attributed                    ble. Again, the fluidity of conflict imposes a
partly to the lack of permanent African represen-                 greater burden on RECs to act quickly to prevent
tation on the UN Security Council – an issue that                 conflict in one country spreading to contiguous
is still the subject of considerable debate. Africa               states. There are myriad other reasons why the
has two rotating seats of two years each in the                   involvement of RECs in regional peace is indis-
present composition of the Council. Recent at-                    pensable and the UN has long recognised this.
tempts to expand the membership of the Secu-
                                                                  Notwithstanding, regional organisations do not
rity Council and obtain an additional two per-
                                                                  always have the necessary resources to enable
manent seats and at least one additional rotat-
                                                                  them respond appropriately to conflicts. The UN,
ing seat for Africa, failed. Adekeye Adebajo at-
                                                                  on the other hand, may lack the required exper-
tributes this to the ‘deep divisions’ that emerged
                                                                  tise or understanding of regional conflict dynam-
among African countries on the issues of which
                                                                  ics to intervene alone; hence the need for part-
countries should occupy the permanent seats
                                                                  nership. Over the years, the UN has restated its
and whether or not they should have the power
                                                                  desire to work more closely with RECs and at-
of veto. 34 African leaders need to look beyond
                                                                  tempted to create an acceptable framework. If
their differences at the prospective gains for the
                                                                  this latest attempt is to succeed, two main issues
entire continent of having permanent represen-
                                                                  must be addressed: the clarity of roles, the ca-
tation on the UN Security Council. The process
                                                                  pacity of the AU and ECOWAS to engage with
of achieving consensus on this matter and iden-
                                                                  the UN, and the capacity of the UN to absorb
tifying potential drivers should be initiated and
                                                                  the capacities of these organisations and other
discussed in Africa’s principal sub regions before
                                                                  African RECs in its responses to security situa-
being discussed at the continental level.
                                                                  tions in Africa.
Until the next opportunity avails itself for the
                                                                  The principle of reciprocity must inform all future
much-needed reform of the Security Council, Af-
                                                                  UN-AU and UN-ECOWAS collaborations. African
rica will have to rely on its political leaders to
                                                                  troops and civilian personnel have been and con-
represent its interests at the UN. Unfortunately,
                                                                  tinue to be active in UN-led peace missions
recent election-related crises in some African
                                                                  throughout the world. Even if other UN-member
countries (e.g. Guinea, Senegal, Cape Verde,
                                                                  states cannot provide the human resources
                                                                  needed for peace missions in Africa, they should
     ‘Chronicle of a death foretold’, in ^= aá~äçÖìÉ= çÑ=         not withhold financial and material support to
     íÜÉ=aÉ~Ñ, Essays on Africa and the United Nations,           African-led or joint peace missions. The account-
     Adekeye Adebajo and Helen Scanlon (Eds), Jacana              ability that the UN expects from regional bodies
     Media, South Africa, 2006, page 26.
The UN, the AU and ECOWAS                      FES Briefing Paper 11 | November 2008                                          Page 9

with a mandate for regional security comes at                           ^Äçìí=íÜÉ=~ìíÜçê=
the cost of a stronger and sustained commit-
ment to such organisations.
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All options must be explored for closer collabo-                        lÑÑáÅÉI= ^Äìà~K= eÉê= êÉëÉ~êÅÜ= áåíÉêÉëíë= áåÅäìÇÉ=
ration between the AU and ECOWAS. The AU is                             `çåÑäáÅíI= dÉåÇÉêI= ~åÇ= pÉÅìêáíó= pÉÅíçê= oÉÑçêãK=
only as strong and effective as the sum of its                          qÜáë= ÄêáÉÑáåÖ= é~éÉê= áë= íÜÉ= çìíÅçãÉ= çÑ= ~= çåÉJ
parts.                                                                  ãçåíÜ= cÉääçïëÜáé= áå= kÉï= vçêâ= ïÜÉêÉ= ëÜÉ= ÅçåJ
                                                                        ÇìÅíÉÇ= êÉëÉ~êÅÜ= çå= íÜÉ= ìåÑçäÇáåÖ= êÉä~íáçåëÜáé=
                                                                        ÄÉíïÉÉå= íÜÉ= råáíÉÇ= k~íáçåë= ErkF= ~åÇ= êÉÖáçå~ä=
                                                                        çêÖ~åáë~íáçåë= Ó= åçí~Ääó= íÜÉ= ^ÑêáÅ~å= råáçå= E^rF=
                                                                        ~åÇ= íÜÉ= bÅçåçãáÅ= `çããìåáíó= çÑ= tÉëí= ^ÑêáÅ~å=

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The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the ones of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung or of the organization for which the author works.
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