ABSTRACT

On 19 February 2013, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous commented on the adoption of Security Council resolutions 2071 (2012) and 2085 (2012) on the situation in Mali by stating that “a multi-pronged approach to help facilitate the resolution of the crisis ha[d] been pursued by the United Nations, in close partnership with the Malian authorities, ECOWAS, and the African Union, as well as other key stakeholders”.1 These remarks on the potential deployment of a UN mission to Mali are illustrative both of the evolution of the African security architecture over the last decade and of current peacekeeping challenges in Africa. A UN multidimensional operation in Mali is to take place not only in partnership with the “Malian authorities”, but also with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and “other key stakeholders”. Among the latter are states of the region, the European Union (EU), which has established a training mission for the Malian armed forces, and UN humanitarian and development agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court. On the threshold of the new millennium, when the last comprehensive volumes on peacekeeping in Africa were published,2 the AU had not yet succeeded the Organization of African Unity (OAU), while ECOWAS was struggling to assert its role at the sub-regional level. The trend towards regionalisation of peacekeeping in Africa was already making itself felt at the time. Yet the active participation of regional and sub-regional organisations, whether African or European, was far from being a given. Throughout the 1990s, despite the tragedies of Somalia and Rwanda, the UN had remained by far the most prominent peacekeeping actor on the African continent. The second half of the 1990s had witnessed a relative withdrawal of the great powers from Africa – even France had opted for a less interventionist and more indirect African policy. Against this background, over the last decade, Africa’s rise to new strategic prominence has led old and new great powers, notably the United States and China, to (re-)discover the African continent and become increasingly involved in African security affairs and, in China’s case, peacekeeping – leading to what some have called the “new scramble for Africa”.3