From Unity to Union: The historical development of Africa’s regional security culture 


Figure 4: The process of norm socialization in Africa’s current security culture



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Figure 4: The process of norm socialization in Africa’s current security culture





Conclusions

In this paper I have attempted to show that ideas about what counts as appropriate “African” conduct have influenced the behaviour of African states. In particular, I have tried to show how the concept of a regional security culture is relevant to understanding Africa’s international relations. The ideas and norms that constitute Africa’s regional security culture have not dictated foreign and security policies but they have helped set the terms for debate and set normative standards for state conduct. Since the African society of states emerged in the late 1950s and 1960s, Africa’s security culture has developed in a variety of ways as it was formed, institutionalised and internalised by the continent’s diplomatic elites. This development was driven by both outside influences, such as Western pressure to liberalise, as well as internal contradictions within Africa’s security culture, such as those related to issues of secession, non-interference and autonomy.


Arguably the two most notable recent developments have been the willingness of African states to condemn unconstitutional changes of government and to codify a legal right for the AU to intervene in matters that were previously considered part of the internal affairs of its member states. The former development can be said to have achieved the status of new norm of Africa’s security culture because there is considerable evidence of African states condemning coup d’etats, most recently that in Togo. In contrast, there is still no practical case of the AU invoking Article 4(h) of its Charter despite the fact that the crisis in Darfur, Sudan clearly meets the definition of ‘grave circumstances’ set out in Article 4(h).126 Consequently, the most that can be said is that a new norm that is challenging the region’s traditional culture of non-intervention is in the process of emerging but it is encountering stiff resistance from some African states. It is only by remaining sensitive to the long and protracted struggles to shift Africa’s security culture that analysts will develop sophisticated understandings of why African states respond to security challenges in the way they do.

 Thanks go to Alex Bellamy, Jürgen Haacke, Matt McDonald and Ian Taylor for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

1 Michael C. Desch, ‘Culture Clash: Assessing the Importance of Ideas in Security Studies’, International Security, Vol. 23, No. 1 (1998), pp. 141-170. Desch argued that four strands of cultural theorising dominate this third wave: organizational, political, strategic and global. Arguably the central text in this third wave was Peter Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

2 For an example of the former see Peter Katzenstein, Norms and National Security: Police and Military in Postwar Japan (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996). For an example of the latter see Martha Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention: Changing Beliefs about the Use of Force (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).

3 David A. Lake and Patrick M. Morgan, ‘The New Regionalism in Security Affairs’ and ‘Building Security in the New World of Regional Orders’, in David A. Lake and Patrick M. Morgan (eds.), Regional Orders: Building Security in a New World (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997), pp. 6-7 and 348-9.

4 Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver, Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 468.

5 Buzan and Wæver, Regions and Powers, p. 42.

6 Buzan and Wæver, Regions and Powers, p. 49.

7 By socialization, I mean the ‘induction of new members … into the ways of behavior that are preferred in a society.’ Barnes, Carter and Skidmore cited in Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink, ‘The socialization of international human rights norms into domestic practices’ in Risse, Ropp and Sikkink (eds.), The Power of Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 11.

8 See Karl W. Deutsch et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 36.

9 For a similar approach focusing on ASEAN see Jürgen Haacke, ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).

10 Andrew Hurrell, ‘Regionalism in Theoretical Perspective’ in Louise Fawcett and Andrew Hurrell (eds.), Regionalism in World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 65.

11 Alastair Iain Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995).

12 Stephen D. Krasner, ‘Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables’, in Krasner (ed.), International Regimes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 1.

13 For a flavour of the central concerns of many African NGOs see Alex de Waal (ed.), Demilitarizing the Mind: African Agendas for Peace and Security (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2002).

14 See Robert H. Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

15 Buzan and Wæver, Regions and Powers, p. 186. See also Christopher Clapham, ‘Degrees of Statehood’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2 (1998), pp. 143-57.

16 Buzan and Wæver, Regions and Powers, p. 24.

17 For details of these sort of state structures and how they differ from European structures see Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz, Africa Works (Oxford: James Currey, 1999); Jeffrey Herbst, States and Power in Africa (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000); William Reno, Corruption and State Politics in Sierra Leone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) and Warlord Politics in African States (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998); and Nicolas van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

18 Peter J. Katzenstein, Alexander Wendt and Ronald Jepperson, ‘Norms, Identity, and Culture in National Security’ in Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security, p. 54.

19 Risse, Ropp and Sikkink, ‘The socialization of international human rights norms into domestic practices’, p. 7.

20 Following Hedley Bull, an international society ‘exists when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive of themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with each other, and share in the workings of common institutions’. The Anarchical Society (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1977), p. 13.

21 See Christian Reus-Smit, American Power and World Order (Cambridge: Polity, 2004).

22 Risse, Ropp and Sikkink, ‘The socialization of international human rights norms into domestic practices’, pp. 5-6 and 11.

23 Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp and Kathryn Sikkink, ‘The socialization of international human rights norms into domestic practices’ in Risse, Ropp and Sikkink (eds.), The Power of Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 12.

24 Report of the Secretary General on the Twenty-Second Ordinary Session of the OAU Labour and Social Affairs Commission CM/Dec.465 (LXX) 1999, para. 87. Cited in Rachel Murray, Human Rights in Africa: From the OAU to the African Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 148.

25 Solemn Declaration on a Common African Defence and Security Policy (Assembly of the AU, 2nd Extraordinary Session, Sirte, Libya, 27-28 February 2004), p. 2 para. 4.

26 Colin Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, International Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2 (1975), p. 214.

27 Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood’, World Politics, Vol. 35, No. 1 (1982), p. 19.

28 Emanuel Adler, ‘Imagined (Security) Communities: Cognitive Regions in International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1997), pp. 249-277.

29 Jackson and Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist’, p. 17.

30 See Basil Davidson, The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation State (Oxford: James Currey, 1992).

31 Christopher Clapham, ‘Africa’s International Relations’, African Affairs, Vol. 86, No. 345 (1987), p. 578.

32 Andrew Hurrell, ‘Regionalism in Theoretical Perspective’ in Louise Fawcett and Andrew Hurrell (eds.), Regionalism in World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 49.

33 See Klaas van Walraven, Dreams of Power: The Role of the OAU in the politics of Africa 1963-1993 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), p. 70 and Hurrell, ‘Regionalism in Theoretical Perspective’, p. 50.

34 Jackson and Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist’, p. 19.

35 Godfrey L. Binaisa, ‘Organization of African Unity and Decolonization: Present and Future Trends’, Annals: AAPSS, Vol. 432 (July 1977), p. 69.

36 Van Walraven, Dreams of Power, p. 23.

37 Olajide Aluko, ‘Nigeria’s Role in Inter-African Relations with Special Reference to the Organization of African Unity’, African Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 287 (1973), p. 148.

38 Yashpal Tandon, ‘The Organisation of African Unity’, The Round Table, No. 246 (April 1972), p. 226. On the OAU’s ability to dispense legitimisation for policy decisions and various peacemaking initiatives see also B. David Meyers, ‘Intraregional Conflict Management by the Organization of African Unity’, International Organization, Vol. 28, No. 3 (1974), p. 369.

39 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 211.

40 John Markakis, ‘The Organisation of African Unity: A Progress Report’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1966), p. 144.

41 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 211.

42 For an excellent overview of the different national styles of decolonization see Paul Nugent, Africa Since Independence (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003), chapter 1.

43 I. William Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System in International Relations’, International Organization, 21:3 (1967), p. 546.

44 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System’, p. 549.

45 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System’, p. 552.

46 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System’, p. 558.

47 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System’, pp. 559-561.

48 Salim A. Salim, ‘The Architecture for Peace and Security in Africa’, presentation, 6 March 2002, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at www.uneca.org/eca_resources/Speeches/2002_speeches/030602salim.htm

49 T.O. Elias, ‘The Charter of the Organization of African Unity’, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 59, No. 2 (1965), p. 248.

50 On the distinctions between a pluralist and solidarist international society see Bull, The Anarchical Society. For a contemporary defence of pluralism see Robert H. Jackson, The Global Covenant: Human Conduct in a World of States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

51 S. Neil MacFarlane, ‘Africa’s Decaying Security System and the Rise of Intervention’, International Security, Vol. 8, No. 4 (1984), pp. 135-136.

52 MacFarlane, ‘Africa’s Decaying Security System’, pp. 146-147.

53 MacFarlane, ‘Africa’s Decaying Security System’, p. 147.

54 Ethical arguments ‘are about what it is right to do in particular situations; and identity arguments are about how different understandings or actions in the world are implied on the basis of identity. … Ethical arguments concern how to act in a particular situation so as to be doing good, assuming that the good has been defined through cultural consensus or meta-argument. … Identity arguments posit that people of a certain kind act or don’t act in certain ways and the audience of the argument either positively or negatively identifies with the people in question.’ Neta C. Crawford, Argument and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 14 and 24.

55 See Binaisa, ‘Organization of African Unity and Decolonization’, p. 52.

56 Rupert Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, International Organization, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1962), p. 280.

57 Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, p. 282.

58 Richard A. Griggs, ‘Geopolitical Discourse, Global Actors and the Spatial Construction of African Union’, Geopolitics, Vol. 8, No. 2 (2003), p. 73.

59 Haile Selassie I, ‘Towards African Unity’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3 (1963), p. 289.

60 Julius K. Nyerere, ‘A United States of Africa’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 1, No.1 (1963), p. 6.

61 Nyerere, ‘A United States of Africa’, p. 1.

62 Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, p. 276.

63 Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, p. 288.

64 Cited in Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, p. 281.

65 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 208. The OAU Charter actually entered into force on 13 September 1963 after Congo-Léopoldville became the 22nd state to deposit its instrument of ratification (this represented two-thirds of the 32 independent African states rather than the 30 states which signed the Charter at Addis Ababa in May 1963).

66 Selassie I, ‘Towards African Unity’, p. 285.

67 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, pp. 209ff.

68 The Brazzaville group comprised of Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’lvoire, Benin, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, the Central African Republic, Senegal and Chad. The Monrovia Group comprised the twelve countries of the Brazzaville Group as well as Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia and Congo (Kinshasa). The Casablanca group was made up of Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco.

69 Nugent, African Since Independence, pp. 101-102.

70 Onyeonoro S. Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1974), pp. 362-363.

71 Elias, ‘The Charter of the Organization of African Unity’, p. 245.

72 Selassie I, ‘Towards African Unity’, p. 287.

73 Meyers, ‘Intraregional Conflict Management by the Organization of African Unity’, p. 372. This logic apparently did not apply for the UN’s other agencies.

74 Aluko, ‘Nigeria’s Role in Inter-African Relations’, p. 155.

75 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 214.

76 Elias, ‘The Charter of the Organization of African Unity’, p. 248.

77 Nyerere, ‘A United States of Africa’, p. 5.

78 Cited in Emerson, ‘Pan-Africanism’, p. 278.

79 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 212.

80 Richard A. Fredland, ‘The OAU After Ten Years: Can it Survive?’, African Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 288 (1973), p. 312.

81 Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 367.

82 Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 368.

83 For a relevant discussion see Richard Hodder-Williams, ‘African Summitry’ in David H. Dunn (ed.), Diplomacy at the Highest Level (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996).

84 See Meyers, ‘Intraregional Conflict Management by the Organization of African Unity’.

85 Meyers, ‘Intraregional Conflict Management by the Organization of African Unity’, p. 364.

86 See Gramsci’s discussions of ‘common sense’ and what he calls ‘the philosophy of the multitude’ in Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Edited and translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Smith. (London: Lawrence and Wishart, [1971] 1996).

87 Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 355.

88 See Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), chapter 7. As Kamanu suggested, legitimate justification for self-determination ‘could not merely be that [a group of] people are different ethnically or culturally from the rest of the parent political community … but rather that, on the basis of hard empirical evidence, the members of the seceding group could no longer live in peace and security, or fulfil their legitimate individual aspirations, within the larger political community.’ Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 361.

89 Arnold Hughes, ‘Decolonizing Africa: Colonial Boundaries and the Crisis of the (Non) Nation State’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol. 15, No. 4 (2004), p. 864.

90 Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 370.

91 Although strictly speaking it was a case of federation rather than secession, between 1981 and 1989 the Gambia and Senegal joined to form Senegambia. Before the establishment of the OAU there had been some examples of voluntary state mergers, for example, British and Italian Somaliland forming a single Somali state in 1961 and the unification of British and French Cameroon also in 1961. Both these cases followed referenda in the former British-administered UN Trust Territories.

92 See Jeffrey Herbst, ‘Responding to State Failure in Africa’, International Security, Vol. 21, No. 3 (1996-97), p. 137.

93 Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 373.

94 I have added four cases to the table in Arnold Hughes, ‘Decolonizing Africa: Colonial Boundaries and the Crisis of the (Non) Nation State’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol. 15, No. 4 (2004), pp. 837-838.

95 Of course this norm was regularly violated in practice. Between 1974-82 alone, MacFarlane listed 16 interventions in Africa, 15 of which involved African states as interveners. MacFarlane, ‘Africa’s Decaying Security System’, p. 128.

96 ‘While ‘promotion’ involves steps to bolster awareness of human rights, their ‘protection’ means acting directly on behalf of individuals whose rights have been abridged.’ Claude Welch Jr., ‘The Organisation of African Unity and the Promotion of Human Rights’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 29, No. 4 (1991), p. 536.

97 Claude E. Welch Jr, ‘The OAU and Human Rights: Toward a New Definition’, Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 19, No. 3 (1981), pp. 401 and 403. A similar criticism of the OAU was made earlier in Binaisa, ‘Organization of African Unity and Decolonization’, pp. 61 and 68.

98 Welch, ‘The Organisation of African Unity and the Promotion of Human Rights’, p. 537.

99 Welch, ‘The OAU and Human Rights’, p. 405.

100 Welch, ‘The OAU and Human Rights’, pp. 405-406.

101 Welch, ‘The Organisation of African Unity and the Promotion of Human Rights’, p. 538.

102 Bruce Baker, ‘Twilight of impunity for Africa’s presidential criminals’, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 8 (2004), pp. 1497-98.

103 Baker, ‘Twilight of impunity for Africa’s presidential criminals’, p. 1491.

104 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System in International Relations’, p. 550.

105 Berhanykun Andemicael cited in Henrikson, ‘The Growth of Regional Organzsations and the Role of the United Nations’, p. 137.

106 Nugent, African Since Independence, p. 207.

107 Zartman, ‘Africa as a Subordinate State System in International Relations’, p. 549 and Jackson and Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist’, p. 21.

108 On which see Fiona Terry, Condemned to Repeat: The Paradox of Humanitarian Action (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002), chapter 5.

109 See Audie Klotz, Norms in International Relations: The Struggle Against Apartheid (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995).

110 See Murray, Human Rights in Africa, p. 22.

111 See Rita Abrahamsen, Disciplining Democracy: Development Discourse and Good Governance in Africa (London: Zed, 2000) and Miles Kahler (ed.), Liberalization and Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).

112 Jackson and Rosberg, ‘Why Africa’s Weak States Persist’, p. 8.

113 Welch, ‘The OAU and Human Rights: Toward a New Definition’, p. 404.

114 The likely catalyst for the inclusion of this clause was the assassination of President Sylvanus Olympio of Togo in an army coup d’état in January 1963. Elias, ‘The Charter of the Organization of African Unity’, p. 249.

115 Decisions Adopted by the 66th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers, CM/Dec.330-363 (LXVI), Dec.356.

116 On the debates surrounding the establishment of the AU see Thomas Kwasi Tieku, ‘Explaining the clash and accommodation of interests of major actors in the creation of the African Union’, African Affairs, Vol. 103, No. 411 (2004), pp. 249-267.

117 Ben Kioko, ‘The right of intervention under the African Union’s constitutive act’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 85, No. 852 (Dec. 2003), p. 819.

118 Kioko, ‘The right of intervention under the African Union’s constitutive act’, p. 820.

119 See Kamanu, ‘Secession and the Right of Self-Determination: an OAU dilemma’, p. 371.

120 Legum, ‘The Organisation of African Unity – Success or Failure?’, p. 213.

121 Clapham, ‘Africa’s International Relations’, p. 579.

122 Kioko, ‘The right of intervention under the African Union’s constitutive act’, p. 821.

123 This is not new. The preparatory materials of the OAU’s Charter indicate that the organisation was intended to be one of the ‘regional arrangements’ referred to in Chapter 8 of the UN Charter. Alan Henrikson, ‘The Growth of Regional Organizations and the Role of the United Nations’ in Fawcett and Hurrell (eds.), Regionalism in World Politics, p. 130ff. It is worth noting in addition that the preamble to Article 4 (Principles) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union explicitly states that the Council ‘shall be guided by the principles enshrined in the … Charter of the United Nations’. Adopted at the Assembly of the AU, First Ordinary Session, Durban, South Africa, 9 July 2002.

124 The Common African Position on the Proposed Reform of the United Nations: “The Ezulwini Consensus” (AU doc. Ext/EX.CL/2(VII), 7-8 March 2005), p. 6.

125 Kioko, ‘The right of intervention under the African Union’s constitutive act’, pp. 811-12. For an alternative interpretation of the amendment as an inherently conservative change see Everist Baimu and Kathryn Sturman, ‘Amendment to the African Union’s Right to Intervene: A shift from human security to regime security?’, African Security Review, Vol. 12, No. 2 (2003), pp. 37-45.

126 See the evidence provided in the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the UN Secretary-General: Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1564, 18 September 2004 (Geneva, 25 January 2005) and the US State Department’s Atrocities Documentation Team report in Samuel Totten and Erik Markusen, ‘Research Note: The US Government Darfur genocide investigation’, Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 7, No. 2 (2005), pp. 279-90.




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