A "culture of conservatism" : How and why African Union member states obstruct the deepening of integration (21 pages)

the status quo in a nutshell

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African Regional Stand-by Brigades has been constantly deferred in
several regions. It seems that the majority of African states does not
want the continental integration project to gather further momentum,
but wants to maintain the status quo — at least in several policy realms.
As a result, a 'culture of conservatism' has emerged and the AU will
remain an intergovernmental organisation in the foreseeable future, by
and large dependent upon the will of its members, who shape and
shove the organisation and sometimes even undermine it. In its current
shape, the AU is far removed from Kwame Nkrumah's (and later on
Muammar al-Gaddafi's) vision of a United States of Africa.

The reasons for the 'culture of conservatism' and the AU mem-

ber states' general reluctance to engage in the deepening of con-
tinental integration are various. They include an unwillingness to cede
sovereignty, an unwillingness of national leaders to give up personal
power, a lack of capacities and resources, as well as the fact that re-
gional economic communities, which are developed simultaneously at
the sub-regional level, are often more beneficial for its member states
than the AU.

2. The

Status Quo in a Nutshell

The AU has come a long way since the foundation of its predecessor,
the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), in 1963. While the OAU was
a loose alliance of states that strictly adhered to the principles of
sovereignty and non-interference, the AU has since its formal launch
in 2002 developed into a stronger institutionalised and diversified
structure. This includes a relatively strong Commission, a Pan-African
Parliament (PAP) with consultative functions, and several institutions
which promote peace and security. Particularly the well-advanced
security architecture, comprising the Peace and Security Council, the
Continental Early Warning System, the regional Stand-by Brigades,


and the Panel of the Wise, leaves observers with the impression that
some progress has been made (Packer and Rukare 2002: 365-379;
Ankomah 2007: 10-12; Makinda and Okumu 2008; Akokpari 2008: 85-
112; Williams 2007: 253-279; Franke 2009; Engel and Porto 2010;
Franke 2010: 179-200). Beyond that, the African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM), a monitoring process that looks inter alia into the
political and socio-economic developments of voluntarily participating
states, has been introduced and implemented in several African coun-

Strategic Review for Southern Africa, Vol 36, No 1 Martin Welz

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