A Regional Responsibility to Protect? Towards ‘Enhancing Regional Action’ in Africa

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
Obinna Franklin Ifediora University of Queensland,

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Ten years after its endorsement by the un General Assembly, the operationalisation of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) concept faces challenges of consistency and capacity. Too often, global politics at the world’s premier intergovernmental body, the un, hampers effective action. Regional arrangements have a crucial role to play in this regard, however, questions of capacity to live up to this expectation remain. The Peace and Security Council (psc) of the African Union (au), mandated to implement the African Peace and Security Architecture (apsa) has primarily focused on developing the African Standby Force (asf), which the au succeeded in bringing to its ‘Full Operational Capability’ (foc) in December 2015 for implementation. Deploying the asf in deserving cases, for instance in Burundi in 2016, raises issues of sovereign consent, risks and costs. To avoid these complexities, this article argues that regional arrangements under Chapter viii are primarily pacific tools of the Security Council; focusing on harnessing these peaceful mechanisms of conflict prevention offers potential for consistent and effective ‘first responses’ to crises, with fewer complications. Regional arrangements as mediation tools present great opportunity for peaceful settlement of local disputes. Support for mediation is typically by peace operations. This article proposes that mediation support by a ‘preventive arbitration’ tool through ‘popular participation’ under the African Governance Architecture (aga) may have a pivotal role in this respect. Therefore, a regional responsibility to protect, through greater mediation, requires mediating challenges of governance in Africa.

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