AU-ICC Relations Under the Spotlight Again

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

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.

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.

Lessons from the Malian Crisis for the International Security Architecture

French VAB Vehicle Being Unloaded from RAF C17 in Mali
French VAB vehicle being unloaded from RAF C17 in Mali. Photo: Defence Images/flickr.

The response to the crisis in Mali has revealed the shortcomings of the multilateral security architecture in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). The response to the security situation in Mali has gone through four phases, with the first two each facing challenges that made it necessary to move on to the next step. The third phase was an interim measure to address the acceleration of events on the ground, paving the way to a fourth step currently under discussion at the UN.

The initial response, which spans the period from the March 2012 coup d’état to June 2012, was a regional one. Articulated by ECOWAS, it was centred on the decision to deploy a multidimensional mission – the ECOWAS Mission in Mali (MICEMA). However, this decision never went beyond the planning stages, having faced several obstacles, including the junta’s hostility to any armed presence in Bamako; the absence of consensus on the way forward with Algeria and, to a lesser extent, Mauritania, accentuated by the fact that these two countries do not belong to ECOWAS; and logistical and financial constraints that made it impossible to deploy in the absence of international support.

Uganda’s Somali Dilemma – Learning from Ethiopia’s Mistake

AMISOM’s Burundian Peacekeepers Prepare for Deployment, photo courtesy of US Army Africa/flickr

The West can afford to ignore Somalia, Africa cannot. On the evening of July 11th, three bombs went off in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, leaving at least 75 dead and many more injured. There was no need for investigations or inquiries; the perpetrators quickly and proudly claimed responsibility. Carrying out its first attack outside Somalia’s borders, the Islamic militia Al-Shabaab, announced that Uganda was paying the price for deploying troops to Somalia in support of the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) and the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The bombings warranted an immediate and stalwart response from Somalia’s neighbors—Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan—who pledged to reinforce AMISOM with an extra 2,000 troops. It seems, however, that Uganda is also seeking to go beyond simply helping AMISOM.