Thursday, 28.06.2018 - Leipzig, Germany

New Collective Security Approaches for Regional Support for Sustainable Peace

On 28 June 2018, the Association for African Studies in Germany (VAD) organised a major conference during which the Peace and Security Competence Centre Sub-Saharan Africa Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES PSCC) held a roundtable on the theme "New collective security approaches for regional support for sustainable peace". This meeting held in Leipzig (Germany) saw the effective participation of about forty people composed of academics, experts, young researchers etc. to discuss and share their experiences on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) taking into account its role on Collective Security in Africa, the African Governance Architecture (AGA) but also the advantages and prospects of the G5 Sahel as a new ad hoc sub-regional arrangement and its impact on ECOWAS and APSA.

Panelists (from left to right): Prof. Charles Ukeje (Obafémi Awolowo University), Dr. Wafula Okumu (The Kenya Borders Institute), Holger Grimm (FES PSCC Director), Dr. Amandine Gnanguenon (Auvergne University)


The question of Peace and Security resembles an Arlesian or at most Sisyphus' work, which has been repeated many times in terms of problems and solutions. Since the creation of the OAU in 1963, armed conflicts, human rights violations, terrorism, transnational organized crime etc… have continued to undermine the development of African States despite many efforts for peace and security. It is in this context of human security challenges (trafficking in human beings, lack of governance, sometimes problematic military/police relations, border control issues) that the G-5 Sahel was established as an ad hoc choice based on comparative advantage because a wide range of conflict management systems in Mali have highlighted difficulties in terms of rapid deployment capacity. The G-5 Sahel was officially launched in December 2014 in Nouakchott and defined itself as "an institutional framework for the coordination and monitoring of regional development cooperation" with the objective of becoming the main beneficiary of international support for the fight against terrorism, transnational organized crime and human trafficking with the G-5 Sahel Common Force (FC-G5S) and for development issues. As a result, the G-5 Sahel strategy for development and security was adopted in September 2016 with four pillars: defence and security, governance, infrastructure and resilience.

The main objectives of the roundtable were to explore African collective security positions with a view to pursuing the APSA reform process, the challenges and opportunities of the creation of the G5 Sahel, and finally the relationship between ECOWAS /APSA and the G5 Sahel to formulate strategic proposal for conflict prevention and resilience.

The main themes developed during the panel focused on:

  • Inventory in the Sahel
  • Relations between ECOWAS and the G5 Sahel                                                                       
  • The African Union and the G5 Sahel

The discussions and exchanges of experiences provided an opportunity for participants to study the relationship between the G-5 Sahel and ECOWAS/APSA, which includes aspects of complementarity, subsidiarity and therefore the competitive advantage argument. The work also showed that the African Union has responded to Africa's security challenges with the Nouakchott Process of March 2013 on security cooperation and operationalization of APSA.

However, the discussions also revealed that the various regional and international actors are locked into a competitive rather than complementary relationship, pursuing conflicting interests, agendas and objectives that run counter to those of the G5, AU and ECOWAS countries. Similarly, France's domination of the G-5 Sahel combined with the multiplication of regional security initiatives such as the G-5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Force of the Lake Chad Basin (MNJTF/LCBC) could eventually erode the actions of ECOWAS and the African Union. In addition, ad hoc arrangements usurping the role of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) can cause irreparable damage to institutions such as the African Standby Force (ASF) and consequently delay the full operationalization of APSA.

In general, the following proposals have been made to build collective security:

  • Review the role of the AU in promoting peace and security
  • Review and consider revising the Peace and Security Council Protocol of the African Union
  • Engage and fully implement APSA according to “institutional memory”
  • Rethink ad hoc solutions because they are not always the best ones
  • Reflect on France's role and even its importance in the G-5 Sahel
  • Continue the APSA reform process

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