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Research Report

Africa:: Confronting Complex Threats

Kwesi Aning
Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2007
Pages: 20

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)
    Terje Rød-Larsen

    The International Peace Academy (IPA) is pleased to introduce a new series of Working Papers within the program Coping with Crisis, Conflict, and Change:The United Nations and Evolving Capacities for Managing Global Crises, a four-year research and policy-facilitation program designed to generate fresh thinking about global crises and capacities for effective prevention and response.

    In this series ofWorking Papers, IPA has asked leading experts to undertake a mapping exercise, presenting an assessment of critical challenges to human and international security. A first group of papers provides a horizontal perspective, examining the intersection of multiple challenges in specific regions of the...

  4. (pp. 1-2)

    Africa is grappling with several difficult security challenges. These difficulties result not only from the magnitude of these challenges, but also from the lack of capacity of African states and organizations to respond quickly and effectively to them. While wide swathes of Africa are compelled to deal with problems in an ad hoc manner, there are indications that some states, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Union (AU) are undertaking promising steps to respond. Some of Africa’s core security challenges are (a) the legacy of historic notions of state sovereignty; (b) the rise of regionalism in the absence of...

  5. (pp. 2-6)

    In the next five years – that is between the short to medium term – Africa’s security challenges may not be markedly different from what they are now. Among Africa’s most pressing security challenges are

    increasing fragmentation of political authority across societies;

    mounting political influence of armed substate actors;

    fragmented loyalties of armed official military/security groups;

    crises in food security and public health; and

    increasing vigilantism as a societal response to the inability of ‘depleted’ and often discredited state security agencies to provide protection.

    It is important to understand that in some instances individual states and subregions can experience more...

  6. (pp. 6-10)

    Response mechanisms for dealing with both the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ security challenges confronting Africa are primarily ad hoc, whether organized at the state level or through regional organizations. However, a clear trend is emerging toward formalization and institutionalization, particularly at the regional level. Yet this process of regionalism is not without its own challenges, since form may not always be backed up by substance.

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) provides an example of this process, having intervened in both Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Learning from these interventions, in 1999 ECOWAS adopted a protocol...

  7. (pp. 10-12)

    From the above discussions, it is obvious that while scenario building can be undertaken, it is fairly difficult to place scenarios in neat categories. Nevertheless, we can discern three rough scenarios for the future development of African security challenges. Which of these scenarios eventuates will depend in part on the policy choices made by states and international organizations in building coping capacity.

    From the foregoing discussion, it is obvious that if there are no radical reversals in the low levels of public funding of several social infrastructural projects, then the HIV/AIDS pandemic, for one, would worsen into a spiraling crisis....

  8. (pp. 12-12)

    The events of the last decade show that the rest of the world is not placing Africa’s concerns at the top of their agendas. To deal with the scenarios identified above, Africa’s states and organizations must move beyond rhetorical clichés and genuinely take it upon themselves to develop African solutions to African problems.

    This paper has attempted to describe the security challenges that Africa faces, as well as the coping mechanisms states, RECs, and the AU have established, as well as the types of support that the wider international community is providing, to enable Africa to respond to these challenges....

  9. (pp. 13-14)
  10. (pp. 15-15)