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Research Report

Election-Related Disputes and Political Violence: Strengthening the Role of the African Union in Preventing, Managing, and Resolving Conflict

African Union Panel of the Wise
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2010
Pages: 108

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. i-iv)
  2. (pp. v-vi)
  3. (pp. vii-vii)
  4. (pp. viii-ix)
    Terje Rød-Larsen

    As Africa prepares for more than thirteen presidential and legislative elections in 2010, the need for vigilance is paramount. In the wake of the 2008 election-related crises in Kenya and Zimbabwe, the African Union (AU) and regional economic communities recognize that they face major challenges as they seek to ensure that the elections have a positive impact on African democracy.

    This report published by the International Peace Institute (IPI) in partnership with the AU is the first in the African Union Series, which seeks to provide fresh insight into the policy alternatives available for the work of the AU Commission....

  5. (pp. x-ix)
  6. (pp. 1-7)
  7. (pp. 8-12)

    1. The 2000 Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) commits AU member states to democratic governance. The act declares that the AU shall “promote democratic principles and institutions” (Article 3(g)). Various other AU documents emphasize that democracy guarantees the protection of human rights, the right to development, as well as peace and security. The commitment of the AU to democracy, peace, and security is articulated in the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding on Security, Stability, Development, and Cooperation and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance. As part of their commitment to promote democratic governance, peace, and security is...

  8. (pp. 13-20)

    7. The wave of democratization in Africa since the late 1980s stemmed from the confluence of circumstances and events. After years of military dictatorships and single-party governments, there was growing mass pressure for increased participation and accountability as part of a new momentum for political renewal. Equally significant, the end of the Cold War unleashed external pressures for democratization that were decisive in supporting the process of change. The coincidence of these factors produced the much-heralded “second liberation” that marked a significant chapter in Africa’s political rejuvenation. Almost twenty years after the inauguration of political pluralism, Africa has made remarkable progress...

  9. (pp. 20-27)

    20. Electoral conflicts and political violence have featured in Africa’s democratization, signaling weaknesses in the governance of elections, the rules of orderly political competition, and the lack of impartial judiciaries to interpret and adjudicate electoral disputes. The challenges of electoral conflicts and political violence reflect the problems of transitions to democracy associated with managing elections and building institutions of competition that are widely accepted by winners and losers. In other instances, electoral conflicts and political violence arise, in part, from reactions of groups that have been deliberately disadvantaged and disempowered by their opponents. Claims about the deliberate subversion of the ends...

  10. (pp. 28-44)

    34. The African Union (AU) is firmly committed to peace and democratic governance in Africa. To this end, its fifty-three member states have adopted instruments relating to peace, democracy, and credible elections. This chapter of the report examines these instruments as enunciated in various official AU documents. The first part discusses the AU commitments relating broadly to democratic governance, peace, and security. The second part focuses specifically on AU declarations relating to the holding of credible democratic elections. The conclusion highlights the remaining challenges that require strategic policy responses from the AU.

    35. The 2000 Constitutive Act of the African Union is...

  11. (pp. 45-60)

    61. The AU has put in place various organs and structures whose mandates include the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts including election-related disputes. Conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy apply to situations where conflict is still in its embryonic stage and measures are taken to contain its escalation. Conflict management applies when a conflict has already occurred and is beginning to escalate, but measures are put in place to reduce the intensity of violence associated with such conflict. Conflict resolution applies where a conflict situation is transformed into peacebuilding through, for instance, postconflict reconstruction and development programs. It is important to...

  12. (pp. 60-74)

    91. Dealing with election-related conflict and political violence is the collective responsibility of national, subregional, and continental institutions. Although international assistance is also essential, it is important to recognize that the singular objective of fostering African capacity and ownership for conflict resolution and problem solving should begin with endogenous African initiatives. It is in this respect that leadership by the AU is germane to developing modalities that strengthen existing institutions and values around electoral processes, democratic governance, and consolidation of peace. Since elections are a costly democratic exercise, African Union member states should also make deliberate efforts to shoulder the largest...

  13. (pp. 75-80)
  14. (pp. 88-90)
  15. (pp. 91-92)