African Peace Missions

Key Findings & Recommendations |Reports & Publications | Research Briefings & Case Studies | Graphs, Charts and Videos | Research team

This project was supported by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Carnegie Corporation of New York with The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the World Peace Foundation.

In July 2016, the World Peace Foundation released its report, ‘African Politics African Peace.’ The Report is the most extensive review of the African Union’s peace missions ever conducted.  It charts an agenda for peace in Africa, focusing on how the African Union can implement its norms and use its instruments to prevent and resolve armed conflicts.  It is an independent report of the World Peace Foundation, supported by the African Union.  It is based on detailed case studies and cross-cutting research, and draws on consultations with leading experts, peacekeepers, and mediators. It covers African peace and security norms and mechanisms, including conflict prevention, conflict mediation, political missions and the spectrum of military peace operations.“Peace missions” include political engagement and peace support operations.

The report was launched on July 21, 2016 in Addis Ababa. Its main findings, recommendations and full text are available below. You can also access the case studies and research that helped to inform the report, as well as downloadable versions of all charts used in the report and two short videos conveying the main ideas of the report.

This study was initiated in December 2014 as a contribution to the African Union’s review of peace missions in Africa, with a view to informing the policies of the AU related to peacekeeping operations, stabilization/enforcement missions, conflict prevention, conflict mediation and political missions.  Amb. Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, supported the project throughout. In this regard, the World Peace Foundation initially produced a briefing, “Peace Missions in Africa: Constraints, Challenges, and Opportunities” (March 2015) by Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe and Alex de Waal, to assist the AU Commission in its engagement with the UN High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.The final report of the review process, African Politics, African Peace was launched on July 21, 2016.

We are particularly pleased that the preface to the report was jointly authored by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Algerian/United Nations diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, and the report was presented to the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, in July 2016.

Key Findings

After the African Union was founded in 2000, the level of armed conflict in Africa dropped to an all-time low. But today conflicts are again increasing—due to conflicted government transitions, inter-state rivalries, and violent extremism.
The African Union should return to its founding principles of collective security, constitutional democracy, solidarity for protecting civilians from violence across borders, and inclusivity in peace processes..

The Report emphasizes the “primacy of the political”:

  • Reaffirming and implementing Africa’s hard-won peace and security norms;
  • African ownership of the goals and strategies for peace and security;
  • Emphasizing conflict prevention and resolution; and
  • Ensuring that military peace support operations are designed and implemented with political goals always in mind.

Key Recommendations

  • Strengthen commitment to the key AU norms: multilateralism, constitutional democracy, non-indifference and inclusivity.
  • Strengthen the core instruments of the AU Peace and Security Council and Peace and Security Department.
  • Integrate the African Peace and Security Architecture with better coordination between the AU, the United Nations, Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, and regional organizations for Europe and the Arab countries.
  • Create new mechanisms for addressing the security crises of Africa’s “shared spaces”—the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
  • Establish High-Level Panels and Expert Committees for situations at most risk of conflict.
  • Develop separate mechanisms and doctrines for distinct kinds of peace support operations, namely preventative missions, traditional peacekeeping missions, and stabilization operations conducted by “coalitions of the willing”.
  • Clearly prioritize the protection of civilians in all peace missions, and create and enforce an AU policy of Zero Tolerance for Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Civilians.
  • Strengthen the AU-UN partnership, allocating tasks based on the two organizations’ comparative strengths and capabilities.
  • Ensure that the core activities of the AU Commission and political missions are fully financed.

Cover of African Peace Missions Report

Research Team

Alex de Waal
Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe
Headshot of Sophia Dawkins
Sophia Dawkins
Headshot of Sarah Detner
Sarah Detzner
Headshot of Ben Spatz
Ben Spatz

Photo: African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Albert González Farran, UNAMID, 8 December 2013 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)