The African Union and the Conflict in Mali: Extra-regional Influence and the Limitations of a Regional Actor
The role of regional and sub-regional organisations cannot be over stressed in conflict resolution, especially in their sphere of influence. The African Union and ECOWAS played prominent roles in places like Burundi, Darfur, Chad, Somalia and Liberia, otherwise the story of the conflicts in these countries would have been different today. It is also well-known that the success achieved in these interventions would not have been forthcoming if the US, EU and EU countries and the United Nations had not given their preponderant support to these regional and sub-regional organisations. In other words, the cooperative, collaborative and supportive understanding between these extra-African bodies and the regional and sub-regional organisations has recorded more success than a unilateral intervention. The support given to ECOWAS in Liberia led to a successful resolution of that country’s war and the AU-UN hybrid operations in Darfur are yielding some kind of modest success. Analysts have posited that at present, there is no substitute for coherent, coordinated intervention by global power and that apart from being wasteful and expensive, unilateral intervention can be controversial internationally on the ground of legality and legitimacy, especially where the UN has not given its approval. This article submits that such cooperation should have been applied to the resolution of Mali’s conflict. Africa, even though it lacks the required expertise, logistics, diplomatic and financial muscles to singularly mount a successful intervention without support from outside Africa, the experience of Liberia and Burundi should have been improved upon and explored in managing the conflict in Mali. This article argues that by failing to timely intervene until the troops of African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) were almost overrun, France is accused of stealing the show. Moreover, the same resources used by France could have been more effectively utilised if made available to Africa. In this case, cooperation not for this mission alone, but future missions, could have been achieved, thereby institutionalising confidence-building measures.
Keywords: conflict resolution, interventions, AFISMA, AU, ECOWAS, regional and sub-regional organisations