POLICY BRIEF: Beating African Swords into Ploughshares: From Military Security to Human Security

Posted on February 26, 2024

The Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala, Sweden; the University of Pretoria’s Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship (CAS) in Pretoria, South Africa; and Trust Africa, Dakar, Senegal, jointly convened a research seminar entitled “Beating African Swords into Ploughshares: From Military Security to Human Security”. The meeting took place on 31 October and 1 November 2023 at the Nordic Africa Institute, in Uppsala, Sweden, and involved members of the academic, policy, and civil society communities.

The seminar covered eight substantive sessions over two days including; Strengthening Africa’s Security Architecture, and Tackling Military Coups d’États in Africa; Enhancing Africa’s Role on the United Nations (UN) Security Council; The African Union’s (AU) Right to Intervene, and the Role of Civilian Police in Peace Support Operations in Africa; A Life of Service: Experiences in Mediation, Humanitarian Action, and Diplomacy; Human Rights, Mass Atrocities, and Protecting Civilians in Africa; Promoting Climate Justice, and Decolonizing Liberal Peace and Security in Africa; Mediation Lessons, and Addressing the Scourge of Children and Armed Conflict in Africa; and Tackling Militant Groups in Africa.

The outcomes from this research seminar were published in a policy brief, authored by Dr Samuel Igba (Postdoctoral Fellow, CAS) and edited by Professor Adekeye Adebajo (Senior Research Fellow, CAS). You can read the full policy brief here


Policy Recommendations

Ten substantial policy recommendations emerged from the October/November 2023 Uppsala seminar:

  1. First, there is an urgent need to build bridges between the three key pillars of the international system – security, development, and human rights – especially since only 12 per cent of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been achieved at its halfway point in 2023.
  2. Second, in order to mitigate the humanitarian crises in Africa, all international aid agencies, including the UN, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and donors must commit to working according to three fundamental principles: national systems should be reinforced and not replaced; crises should be anticipated and planned for instead of improvising in often chaotic conditions; and there must be eff ective cooperation between humanitarian workers and development actors.
  3. Third, research indicates that half of conflict cases tend to relapse into war within five years due to inadequate peacebuilding. This demonstrates the failure of the poorly funded UN Peacebuilding Commission. There is therefore an urgent need for a better-resourced UN Peacebuilding Commission that can work closely with the Security Council.
  4. Fourth, the challenges facing the AU’s supranational right to intervene can be addressed by reassessing the decision-making process for activating its Article 4(h). Potentially effective approaches would include decisions by AU leaders being subject to a two-thirds majority rather than taken by consensus, with the AU Peace and Security Council being granted the authority to make the final decision on future interventions.
  5. Fifth, there is an urgent need to operationalise an eff ective 25,000-strong African Standby Force, supported by UN funding and logistics, in order to address the challenges of deploying financially and logistically deficient African peacekeepers.
  6. Sixth, consistent with the July 2023 A New Agenda for Peace of UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, there is an urgent need for regional peace enforcers to be supported through UN-assessed funding. This will ensure that deployed peacekeepers are able to sustain themselves in the field.
  7. Seventh, UN troop-contributing countries must ensure that deployments are aimed specifically at restoring peace to confl ict zones and protecting civilians in need, rather than pursuing more parochial interests. Peacekeepers must thus be willing to take part in risky operations in Africa.
  8. Eighth, in order to address the inherently hierarchical decision-making process of the UN Security Council, an institutional mechanism to document, track, support, and improve E10 membership should be created to serve as a secretariat for non-permanent members of the Council. Lessons learned can thus be more efficiently shared with present and future E10 members.
  9. Ninth, the current UN Security Council is a relic of the 1945 world and therefore not fit-for purpose in the twenty-first century. As such, permanent membership of the Council should be expanded to include regional powers such as Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and India.
  10. Finally, predominant approaches to mitigating the contemporary climate crises are those which sustain and extend existing political and economic structures. There is therefore an urgent need to promote climate justice in the crafting of climate policies using decolonial methods to address climate change-related issues. Indigenous mechanisms for peacebuilding and justice should thus be restored and implemented with the active participation of local communities.
- Author Dr Samuel Igba

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