Chapter 3 Discursive Norm Contestation in APSA Research

Exploring ‘African Solutions to African Problems’ as an Emergent APSA Norm

In: Researching the Inner Life of the African Peace and Security Architecture

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Abstract

This chapter analyses the contribution of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) as a norm entrepreneur to the discourse on ‘African solutions to African problems’ (AfSol). Conceptually, the chapter combines an international practice perspective with the literature on norm contestation. Empirically, it scrutinises the practices that actors at the IPSS have employed to shape norms, policies, and strategies related to the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). In particular, the chapter focuses on key IPSS publications on AfSol, to illustrate the discursive norm contestation of AfSol as an APSA norm. It interrogates the extent of problematisation of AfSol in these publications and the extent to which they refer to the various AfSol pillars designated by the IPSS, namely ownership and commitment, leadership, and shared values. The chapter argues that despite the rhetorical appeal of the idea, the ideal of AfSol has not yet been critically explored. After examining the epistemic limitations of the extant approaches, the authors propose a much more concentrated discursive contestation of AfSol with regard to the meaning, validity, and applicability of this emergent norm in African peace and security policies.