LILONGWE, Malawi — The concept of the responsibility to protect and retailoring conflict prevention policies to address new security challenges will be essential to effectively conduct peace support operations, according to participants in a three-day workshop organized by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).
“What has been observed is that the nature, context and drivers for peace support operations are continuously changing and adapting to new realities,” Malawi Defence Force Commander General Ignacio Maulana noted at the opening of the workshop.
He indicated a number of complex situations posed by the shifting nature of conflicts has encouraged the development of a variety of new policies. He also stated the workshops would help draw the vast experience and knowledge in peace support operations. He then went on to discuss the difficulties of transitioning African-led peace support operations to UN peace support operations.
“In addition, there is often some dilemma regarding the protection of civilians in African peace support operations which derives from, among others, some diverging interpretations of the UN Charter and the role of each actor in this context.” General Maulana told participants that respecting the sovereignty of others while internally respecting the dignity and basic rights of all would ultimately shift the focus of security on the individual instead of the African states at the center of the analysis and strategy.
The United States Ambassador to Malawi, Jeanine Jackson, shared her admiration for Malawi’s commitment to regional peace keeping and commended the commitment the African leaders are taking to promote regional security. She also noted the challenges that many peace mission face in order to operate with a more robust mandate while also ensuring the protection of civilians.
The workshop, which was hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in partnership with U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), brought together 45 participants from AFRICOM’s Southern Accord exercise, who would likely deploy to the United Nations Organization and Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO); representatives from non-governmental organizations; African peacekeeping professionals, international peacekeeping experts; and the United States military. Participants hailed from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Madagascar, and Mozambique.
Participants discussed four main themes: first, robust peace operations; second, the protection of civilians (including the situations in Mali and Eastern Congo and gender mainstreaming); third, the challenges of transitioning African-led missions to the UN; and lastly, the transfer of UN peacekeeping security responsibilities to civilian authorities. The workshops have helped identify the challenges of coordination between the UN and AU, the resource constraints faced by African-led missions, and weaknesses in planning by peace operations for stability. The seminars also covered the protection of civilians and the building trust between communities and peace keepers.
ACSS is the pre-eminent institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. The Center works with African partner states and institutions through rigorous academic and outreach programs that build strategic capacity and foster long-term, collaborative relationships. Over the past 14 years, more than 6,000 African and international leaders have participated in over 200 ACSS programs.
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