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.
The refugee crisis in southern and central Africa
Although southern Africa is relatively less affected by refugee movements than central Africa, the impact of refugees on southern African societies and the increasing retreat of southern African governments from their responsibilities towards refugees, are causes for concern.