from International Institutions and Global Governance Program

The African Union's Conflict Management Capabilities

October 04, 2011

Report

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Defense and Security

Conflict Prevention

Overview

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.

Paul D. Williams

Associate Professor, George Washington University

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 on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Defense and Security

Conflict Prevention

Top Stories on CFR

United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to convince her own party to pass the Brexit deal she negotiated with the European Union because of its backstop provision. What is it, and why does it matter?

Nigeria

February’s presidential election does not inspire confidence in the democratic trajectory of Africa’s most populous country.

North Korea

It is time to put denuclearization on the back burner and adopt realistic approaches toward North Korea. An all-or-nothing approach will yield nothing, leaving the United States worse off than before the diplomatic outreach began.