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The African Union's Conflict Management Capabilities

An IIGG Working Paper

Author: Paul D. Williams, Associate Professor, George Washington University

The African Union's Conflict Management Capabilities - the-african-unions-conflict-management-capabilities

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date October 2011

32 pages


In this Working Paper, Paul D. Williams clarifies how Africa's strategic importance to the United States has increased substantially over the past decade. In particular, the continent is a growing source of U.S. energy imports; it houses suspected terrorists; and it offers profitable business opportunities, especially in the energy, telecommunication, and minerals sectors. As Chinese and Indian influence spread and explicitly challenge the U.S. development model, Africa is an arena of intensifying great power rivalry. And, critically, Africa remains the major epicenter for mass atrocities as well as a potential source of transcontinental health pandemics. Consequently, stabilizing the continent should be a core U.S. policy goal.

The African Union (AU) has great potential as a U.S. partner in Africa. Unfortunately, the AU's practical capabilities in the field of conflict management suffer from a persistent capabilities-expectations gap, falling well short of the ambitious vision and rhetoric contained in its founding documents. The AU's shortcomings are not fatal, however; the U.S. government can bolster AU conflict management capacity in the near and long terms.

More About This Publication

Paul D. Williams is associate professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. His books include War and Conflict in Africa, Understanding Peacekeeping, and The International Politics of Mass Atrocities: The Case of Darfur. He received his PhD from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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