UN SC APSA and Military Interventions in Africa

Conveners: Prof. Kay Mathews (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia);
e-mails: kay_mathews40@yahoo.com, kay_mathews@rediffmail.com, Ricardo Real Pedrosa de Sousa

(Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands); e-mail: ricardorps2000@yahoo.com

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) is being developed to be the main framework for conflict management in the continent. This regime in the making is formally structured on the responsibility to protect to justify military action and on subsidiarity to allocate the onus of that decision and implementation. With the approval of the constitutive act of 2000 creating the African Union (AU), the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) member states accepted for the first time the interference into the domestic affairs of their states in circumstances of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Six years later the principle of subsidiarity entered explicitly into APSA in the Memorandum of Understanding between the AU and African sub-regional organisations (SRO) in 2008. The principle considers that action should be left to the lowest possible level and only when such level is inefficient should a more central organ assume such responsibilities. This can be applied both to the relationship between AU and UN or AU and SRO like ECOWAS, SADC or IGAD. The utility of both of these rules can be questioned on the grounds of its real use or the extent of its legality or merit. The clauses of the responsibility to protect enshrined in the AU constitutive act have not been used to justify an intervention so far. Therefore it is doubtful if and when would a civil war meet such general criteria. Additionally the principle of humanitarian interventions have been permeable to political interest and military interventions authorized with such mandate have been considered to deviate significantly from it when implemented, such as was the case with the UN authorized intervention in Libya. Subsidiarity itself is prone to the resource dependence, which constrains lower level organizations from acquiring independence on decision and action on military interventions. This means that the advantages of regional ownership and initiative are plagued by out of the region interests more likely alienated from local conditions and possible humanitarian crisis. At the same time subsidiarity is not a guarantee that regional and local action is motivated by humanitarian considerations and is equally subjected to the political interests that the current centralized systems have. This panel welcomes papers who seek to explore these two dimensions of APSA and in what way its formulations can contribute more or less to the establishment of an international security regime based on the rule of law and humanitarian action.