The article “After 50 years of the OAU-AU: Time to Strengthen the Conflict Intervention Framework” provides insightful information on the mechanisms provided by the African Union (AU) to address conflict and why these interventions do not produce the intended outcomes.
The general consensus is that the AU has been slow to intervene in dangerous conflicts witnessed in a host of African countries despite the fact that it has endorsed the UN’s “responsibility to protect” principle with the view to ensuring that it is able to intervene in situations where a member state jeopardizes the welfare of its citizens (Mentan & Agbor, 2013). From the article, it is clear that the AU is unable to intervene in conflicts not only due to ideological and logistical shortcomings, but also as a result of pressures from Transnational Corporations (TNCs).
Before addressing these shortcomings, it is important to note that Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Acts of the continental body is clear that the AU “has the right to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the general assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity” (Mentan & Agbor, 2013, para. 1).
However, while 4(h) mandates the AU to intervene, another article contained in the same Constitutive Acts (4g) underscores the need for the continental body to draw a fine line between its principle of non-interference and its mandate to resolve conflicts as stipulated in the “responsibility to protect” framework. The inconsistency emanating from the two articles has contributed significantly to the AU’s inability to intervene in situations where its member states undermine the welfare of their citizens.
As mentioned earlier, the article is clear that the AU is unable to achieve effectiveness in implementing effective interventions to stop conflicts due to ideological and logistical shortcomings. On the ideological front, Mentan and Agbor (2013) note that the standard of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states has blotted the effectiveness of the continental body in making decisions on which scenarios to consider, particularly in light of the fact that most African countries are still experiencing problems related to weak governance structures, human rights violations, civil wars, and famines.
These problems make it difficult for the AU to design the parameters that could be used to reach a consensus on whether, how, and when to intervene in case of a conflict. This situation is further compounded by the fact that the continental body clearly lacks oversight over most of the member states when it comes to governance issues, meaning that it is unable to determine which governance factors should be considered when making a decision to intervene (Mentan & Agbor, 2013).
In their article, Mentan and Agbor (2013) are clear that “logistical issues linked to inadequate resources, lack of technical know-how and poor planning have also impaired the AU’s ability to respond in a timely manner in order to avert humanitarian crises” (para. 3). These logistical issues are self-explanatory since they have affected the African continent for many years. Another factor that makes AU ineffective in intervening in conflicts is anchored on the TNCs capability to compete with state departments in the economic, political and social spheres, leading to situations where the TNCs not only fuel conflicts in mineral rich African countries but also engage in tax evasion through the implementation of tax haven practices (Mentan & Agbor, 2013).
Overall, the analyzed article clearly shows why the AU is unable to intervene in conflicts in a timely and effective manner. Some of the solutions proposed in the article to deal with this problem include adopting a proactive conflict prevention strategy with capacity to identify and address governance failures before they become full-scale humanitarian crises, implementing a system with the capacity to undertake a credible assessment of war signals, and encouraging coordination and collaboration efforts with the UN.
Mentan, T., & Agbor, J. (2013). After 50 years of the OAU-AU: Time to strengthen the conflict intervention framework. Web.