International Order & Conflict
Issue Brief

United Nations-African Union Coordination on Peace and Security in Africa

in Program

Africa now hosts more peacekeepers than any other region. As of mid-2007, nearly 55,000 UN peacekeepers, about 65 percent of the total worldwide, were deployed to missions in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia/Eritrea, Liberia, Sudan, and the Western Sahara. The African Union has led its own operations, including its initial peace operation in Burundi from 2003–2004 and the current, high-profile mission in Darfur. The UN and AU are transitioning the Darfur mission to the jointly-led United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). This will be the first such “hybrid” operation and the largest peacekeeping mission to date for either organization. The AU also began a new peacekeeping mission in Somalia in March 2007, and sent an electoral and security mission to the Comoros Islands in May 2007.

Given the mutual efforts of the United Nations and the African Union to conduct peace operations in Africa, an institutional collaboration between the organizations would appear natural. How do they—and should they—work together to address peace and security on the continent? This issue brief provides an overview of UN-AU collaboration on peacekeeping, with emphasis on their joint efforts to resolve the Darfur conflict. This brief also details recent initiatives to strengthen the UN-AU relationship, and identifies options for complementing current policies and addressing remaining challenges in inter-organizational cooperation.

This Issue Brief is one of six produced as part of Stimson’s workshop series, A Better Partnership for African Peace Operations, made possible by a generous grant from the United States Institute of Peace. The series examined progress, challenges, and potential steps forward in expanding national, regional, and international capacity to lead and participate in peace operations in Africa. The six issue briefs produced in conjunction with this project provide background and analytical context for the insights gained through the Better Partnership workshops. Each brief also highlights workshop findings and identifies recommendations for the US, UN, regional organizations, and policymakers.

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