African forces make up a high percentage of UN peacekeepers in Africa, but also provide personnel to UN peace operations outside of Africa. When developing nations provide personnel for peacekeeping missions, they frequently require outside material and financial support – from the United Nations and outside partners – for transportation, logistics, equipment, and enabling units. The challenge for the African Union and sub-regional organizations is transitioning their forces to a higher level of self-sustainability and establishing their own management and planning staffs, logistics capacity, and financial strength to organize and run missions.
Added tensions include the AU’s desire to authorize continent-wide actions while sub-regionals organizations, such as ECOWAS, may resist seeking their authority before taking action; fear from recipient countries that peacekeepers infected with HIV/AIDs threaten local populations with infection (fewer militaries can deploy brigades that are free of HIV infected personnel); and concern that an increased African capacity will facilitate disengagement by Western and developed countries.
African Organizations & Operations. In 2002-2003, ECOWAS spearheaded peacekeeping deployments in response to conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire (ECOMICI) alongside French troops, and to Liberia (ECOMIL), providing approximately 5,000 troops to support these operations. Both peacekeeping operations are now led and managed by the United Nations, with ECOWAS troops “re-hatted” for the UN mission. ECOWAS also conducted mediation in Guinea-Bissau and had troops from its member states in the UN mission in Sierra Leone. Evaluations of ECOWAS’ role are underway.16 Its ability to deploy troops fairly swiftly is striking given the small planning staff at ECOWAS headquarters, its lack of financial, managerial and material resources, and its limited ability to communicate with the field.17 For ECOWAS capacity and effectiveness to increase, technical and logistical assistance is needed, as well as a stronger staff and planning capacity in Abuja and a re-evaluation of its early warning efforts. Reportedly key components are missing, such as communications capacity and fax machines at the early warning centers for ECOWAS, defeating their purpose. 18
Yet no other sub-regional organizations in Africa have the mandate and capacity to deploy troops and manage field operations on par with ECOWAS. Most are focused more on mediation and peace-building efforts.19 The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has played a leading advisory/mediation in Sudan and Somalia. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has a mixed record (with the SADC framework being used to justify intervention on behalf of the government of the DRC) but it has also played a role in attempts to mediate peace in DRC and deployed troops in Lesotho
16 The US Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, for example, is assisting the ECOWAS Secretariat with an after-action review to evaluate the deployment of the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia (ECOMIL). The Review is intended to lead to recommendations for improving future peacekeeping operations, to inform US and international partners’ assistance to building ECOWAS capacity, and to assist ECOWAS in developing a methodology for conducting future after-action reviews. (From ACSS factsheet, 15 March 2004). The UN also conducted a study of the UNMIL start-up phase, which included looking at the ECOWAS-UN handoff and the “re-hatting” of the existing troops. See Lessons Learned Study on the Start-Up Phase of the UN Mission in Liberia, Best Practices Unit, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations, April 2004. Study cited in, “Implementation of the Recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations,” Report of the Secretary General, A/58/694, 26 January 2004.
17 18 19 Reportedly ECOWAS had only two planners for the mission in Liberia. Briefing, Jason Ladnier and Patricia Taft, Fund for Peace, Washington, DC, March 2004. For a fuller list of sub-regional groups that have conducted peacekeeping operations, see “The Peacekeeping Capacities of African Regional Organisations,” Eric Berman and Katie Sams, Conflict, Security & Development, 2:1 2002.