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Regional Organizations and African Security: Moving the Debate Forward

Journal article
Authors Fredrik Söderbaum
Rodrigo Tavares
James Hentz
Published in African Security
Volume 2
Issue 2-3
Pages 206-217
ISSN 1936-2206
Publication year 2009
Published at School of Global Studies, Regional Studies Section, Africa Studies
Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
School of Global Studies
Pages 206-217
Language en
Keywords Africa; war; peace; security; regionalism; regional organizations; African Union; United Nations; Security Theory; New Security
Subject categories Peace and development research


This special volume addressed three issues concerning African Security (1) what are the advantages and disadvantages of African regional and sub-regional organizations vis-agrave-vis other security mechanisms, in particular UN peace operations?; (2) what are the official and unofficial reasons to intervene?; and (3) whose security is actually protected by the peace activities carried out by the regional organizations? The authors share some common conclusions. The relationship between regional agencies and multilateral agencies (including that between international and African organizations) is in flux, however in Africa the former are growing in importance. The reasons for intervening are often ambiguous, although likely to have both narrow national self interests and humanitarian catalysts. Less ambiguous, is the conclusion that Africa's regional and sub-regional security organizations have been more about “sovereign boosting” than about the “responsibility to protect.” Finally, by addressing the three questions above, we contribute to the larger debate in international relations and security studies on what we mean by security and how we define security Africa.

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