Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why is the African Union still failing its people on peace and security?

The conflict in the Central African Republic is spiralling out of control. “Strife in Central African Republic could turn into religious war and spill over borders, UN warns,” reads the headline in the UN’s latest report. The UN’s head of Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the Security Council that killings were continuing daily, dividing the country along religious lines – nearly 1 million have been driven from their homes and half the population needs aid.

This is exactly the kind of catastrophe that the African Union was designed to address. The organisation’s constitution was specifically written to allow it to step in where its widely discredited predecessor – the Organisation of African Unity – had failed to act. As its constitution puts it, the African Union can directly intervene in a member state in: “…grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”

This was introduced to ensure that Africa’s senior organization would never again allow itself to stand idly by, as it had done during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Or so we thought.

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