The effectiveness of regional peacemaking in Southern Africa – Problematising the United Nations-African Union-Southern African Development Community relationship

  • S Ancas


With ever increasing urgency, the United Nations (UN) has worked to develop the budding security relationship between itself and regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa, especially the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). In conflict resolution efforts in Southern Africa, this relationship has sometimes featured competition and tension, with more than one organisation vying for the lead, or in other cases, trying to pass the blame for failures. Since the UN’s early peace mission in the Congo under Dag Hammarskjöld, achieving  peace and stability in Africa has been a monumental task. This article explores whether new regional partnerships can help facilitate this goal in Southern Africa and whether the current principles of cooperation between the UN and regional organisations are sufficient for the task at hand. This article takes lessons from the conflict resolution efforts in Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to illustrate recent examples of cooperation and/or competition as they are unfolding in the present, with an emphasis on analysing the institutional relationship between the UN, AU and SADC in Southern Africa. This article concludes that there are still major limitations on the successful regionalisation of conflict management efforts in Southern Africa and that the UN and its partner organisations need to clarify and improve their working relationship to improve their chances of facilitating successful peacemaking.

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eISSN: 1562-6997