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


Figure 1: The process of norm socialization



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Figure 1: The process of norm socialization23


Figure 2: The process of norm socialization in the African society of states

In relation to Africa’s security culture, arguably the most important principled ideas were anti-imperialism, self-determination, and Pan-Africanism. Instrumental adaptation and strategic bargaining in Africa occurred first and foremost during the early period of decolonisation, particularly during the late 1950s and 1960s, when national deals were struck with the respective departing colonial powers. This period also demonstrated the practical limits of Pan-Africanism as an organising principle in Africa’s international relations. Consciousness-raising about the legitimacy of self-determination, the ending of empire and the importance of African unity started well before this process of strategic bargaining occurred. Interestingly, at least in its initial stages, the most important attempts to develop the ideology of Pan-Africanism were organised by intellectuals and groups in the African diaspora and took place outside the continent in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Later on, however, and especially after the Second World War, Africa’s inhabitants assumed control over the more detailed dialogue about exactly how power was to be transferred from colonisers to the colonised. As well as making forums like the Pan-African Congress periodic fixtures on the international scene, the key date in the institutionalization of these norms was the establishment of the OAU in 1963. It was arguably within this association of African leaders that the continent’s security culture took shape and subsequently developed in response to practice, argumentation, dialogue and persuasion. In this sense, the socialization process by which these norms were internalized is ongoing. The most important recent developments were codified in the new AU Charter in 2002.




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