At the 27th African Union Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, member states adopted a new funding model. The proposal by Dr Donald Kaberuka to institute an import levy of 0,2% on ‘eligible’ imports’ is widely hailed as a historic step forward for the organization and its ambitions to become independent and self-reliant. If implemented as expected, the Kaberuka model will fund the AU general budget and its programmes and is expected to raise approximately USD 1,2 billion beginning in 2017. Starting in 2017, each of the continent’s regions have committed to paying USD 65 m into the AU Peace Fund, which will enable Africa to fund 25% of the costs of AU peace operations. While this decision is imperative, I would like in this article to reflect on some of the broader challenges and trends in Africa’s security governance.
This year’s Africa Day 25 May is the 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU), former Organisation of African Unity (OAU). NAI researcher Linnéa Gelot comments on the AUs achievements and remaining challenges for the future.
The OAU was best known for its long and finally victorious decolonization struggle and the often problematic defense of African sovereignty and support for liberation struggle leaders. The OAU was also important in achieving consensus around a set of core principles and norms governing a pan-African political order. These were highly supportive of sovereign equality and non-interference, favoring a so-called ‘traditional’ notion of state sovereignty. The OAU also served as a platform for debate around important alternative African visions of economic development and governance, and the OAU initiated work that has since been built on by the AU: to serve as a vehicle for African states to speak with one voice on issues of common interest to the continent in global forums.
Even if Northern Mali has been in the hands of armed Salafist forces since spring 2012, it has not yet morphed into another ‘Afghanistan’. The Salafist forces, may have taken the name of al-Qaeda, but they are of a different origin and nature than the one in Afghanistan. The danger is, however, that if the international response to Mali is too heavy-handed, it may create a dynamic that pushes the conflict into a similar pattern like the one in Afghanistan.
On January 11, 2013, French airplanes attacked strongholds of Islamist rebels in the north of Mali. Soon thereafter land troops followed in a quick sweeping raid, clearing most of rebel controlled areas. French forces, assisted by several thousand troops from Chad and Niger, thereby efficiently ended the offensive of Islamist rebels and gained nominal control over the cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. This was, however, the easy part.
The Islamists have not completely lost the battle for northern Mali. They still have the capacity to resist and even strike inside towns formally under French control. As France is scaling down its number of troops from 4,000 to 1,000 by the end of the year, controlling this vast territory will prove even more difficult for the remaining French force and the joint ECOWAS/AU mission and the Malian army.