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AU-ICC Relations Under the Spotlight Again

African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa. Photo: Satu Ryynänen.

African Union headquarters, Addis Ababa. Photo: Satu Ryynänen/Global.finland.fi/flickr.

African solidarity and autonomy were in the spotlight in May when the African Union (AU) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor. These ideals were expressed most strongly in the African leaders’ opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC), especially its cases concerning Kenya, during the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa from 26 to 27 May.

As has always been the case with AU decisions on the ICC and international justice, the continent’s leaders began by reiterating their ‘commitment to combating impunity and promoting democracy, the rule of law and good governance throughout the continent’. They also acknowledged Uganda’s presentation on behalf of the eastern African region on ‘international jurisdiction, international justice and the International Criminal Court’ – a hint perhaps of this region’s influence over the tone of the summit’s decision. » More

Border of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Shows Signs of War

13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade Holds Drill at Golan Heights

13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade Holds Drill at Golan Heights. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.

The battle on June 6 between rebel groups and the Syrian army over Kuneitra, the border town on the northern Golan Heights that straddles the Israeli-Syrian disengagement line, is yet another indication that the Syrian civil war is slowly but surely drawing Syria’s neighbors into its orbit. While the Syrian-Lebanese border zones are where this has been particularly manifested through cross-border skirmishes, transfers of arms, crossing of combatants, and flights of refugees, the battle over Kuneitra and previous cross-border incidents indicate that Israel is increasingly drawn into the war as well. Not coincidently, it is at the Syria-Lebanon-Israel tri-border region where this cross-border leakage is becoming most volatile.

Since the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000, the Syria-Lebanon-Israel tri-border region has been extremely explosive. The UN, which in 2000 demarcated the Israeli line of withdrawal from South Lebanon, has attempted to defuse tension there related to Lebanon’s territorial claim over the Shebaa Farms and the village of Ghajar and Hezbollah’s military operations in this area as part of its “resistance” strategy against Israel. These border disputes are now overshadowed by the daily battles, human catastrophes, and the political predicaments of the civil war. » More

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AU and Pan-Africanism: Beyond Rhetoric

50th Anniversary African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

50th Anniversary African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The African Union (AU) has lined up several commemorative celebrations this week with the intention of reaffirming the spirit of pan-Africanism and African solidarity. However, several questions remain: Will the celebrations transcend both the cynicism and idealism that have accompanied previous debates on pan-Africanism? At a basic level, is pan-Africanism achievable? If it is, what concrete steps should be taken to move the continent towards that desired unity?

The idea of uniting Africa historically typified the quest for self-assertion and resistance to oppression and discrimination. In the recent past, however, in the context of the increasing global challenges affecting Africa, pan-Africanism evolved into a call for continental socio-economic and political unity. The transformation of the OAU into the AU was prompted by this desire to accelerate the process of integration. » More

China and Russia: Common Themes in Counter-Terrorism

Chechnya

Chechnya. Photo: LOreBoNoSi/flickr.

An interesting foreign policy aspect of the situation in Xinjiang is the region’s place within the wider global war on terrorism. When compared to the conflict in Chechnya, one can find a number of interesting similarities in the central governments’ narrative of the issue. However, in order to find them, it is first worth engaging in a short discussion of both conflicts.

According to Remi Castets, starting in the 1980’s, the region saw an increase in religiosity amongst its mostly Islamic population. This in turn led to the formation of student groups and to the beginning of protests. Following the student activism of the eighties, the nineties saw an increase in radicalism within the population, which led to both arson and sabotage. These actions then culminated in bombings and assassinations[1]. » More

New UN Development Agenda Gives Peace a Chance

Darfur: an experiment in African peacekeeping

Darfur: an experiment in African peacekeeping. Photo: Africa Renewal/flickr.

Give peace a chance. This is the message of the High-Level Panel, who singled out peace as a cornerstone of the post-2015 development agenda in their much-anticipated report released yesterday. The report stresses how freedom from conflict and violence are not just a means to an end, but ends in and of themselves. Such freedoms are “fundamental human entitlements” and “essential foundations for peaceful and prosperous societies.” Given simmering violence in the Middle East and across the Sahel, their message could not be more timely.

In putting peace squarely on the post-2015 development agenda, a historical wrong has finally been corrected. When the Millennium Declaration, which gave rise to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), was being crafted in the late 1990s, goals and targets on peace and security were quietly dropped from the final text. Now, they are front and center in the discussion. And rightly so. As the panel observes, “without peace, there can be no development.” » More

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