It has been almost 12 years since French President Francois Mitterrand vigorously called for Africans “to resolve their conflicts themselves and organise their own security”. Since then, skeptics have argued against the practicability of regionalising peace operations, that is, employing regional or sub-regional organisations to conduct operations reaching from low intensity peacekeeping to high intensity peace enforcement. In light of the recent interventions by regional and sub-regional organisations in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sudan, the transformation of the defunct Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into a more promising African Union (AU) as well as the various international programs aimed at developing regional capabilities, this article argues that, at least in Africa, the delegation of some aspects of peace operations to such organisations cannot longer be considered unfeasible, or in fact, undesirable. Instead, its most important conclusion is that the exemplary willingness and increasing capacity of Africa’s regional organisations to step up to the continent’s manifold security challenges coupled with the UN’s current overstretch as well as the notable absence of many of the problems foreseen by the “regioskeptics” bodes well for the future of regional peace operations in Africa.
This paper aims to contribute to the discussion of the conditions under which a military intervention should be undertaken in order to avert, or at least limit, a humanitarian catastrophe. It identifies a number of criteria which render such a conflict-induced catastrophe conducive to a solution centered around the use of an airpower oriented peace enforcement strategy. By highlighting the ability of sustained coercive airpower (SCAP) to act as a force multiplier and drastically reduce the number of troops as well as the field time needed for large-scale humanitarian operations, the paper goes on to directly challenge the daunting implications of Quinlivan’s theory. It also sought to describe the conduct and requirements of a military intervention relying on such a strategy. Two case studies are used, Iraq and Sudan, to highlight the importance of a number of factors for the success of a SCAP strategy.