New Forms of Governance and Multilateralism in Africa

Endast inbjudna

Mån 4.10.2010 kl. 13:30-15:30
Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Kruunuvuorenkatu 4, 2nd floor

The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), in collaboration with the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, South-Africa have the pleasure of inviting you to the Roundtable Discussion:

New Forms of Governance and Multilateralism in Africa

Monday, October 4th, at 14:00 - 16:00.
At the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Kruunuvuorenkatu 4, 2nd floor.

African international institutions rely on consensus in most decision-making procedures – with potential negative consequences for the resolution of African peace and security issues. What trends can be identified regarding the state of hybrid forms of governance in Africa, at this point, and for the foreseeable future? Could an African G5 prove more effective in finding lasting solutions to Africa’s challenges?

Speakers:

Paul Simon Handy, Director of Research, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), South-Africa
A G5 for Africa? Exploring Club Governance in the continent

Richard Cornwell, Senior Research Fellow, ISS, African Security Analysis Programme
Sharing Sovereignty: On Hybrid Political Orders

Touko Piiparinen, Researcher, Centre of Excellence in Global Governance Research, University of Helsinki
On Sharing Sovereignty - Assessing the Current Trend towards a More Ambitious Agenda in International Peacebuilding and Peace Operations

Comments:
Kirsi Joenpolvi,
Head, Africa, Crisis Management Initiative – CMI


Chair:
Mika Aaltola
, Academy Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Summary of the Seminar

African international institutions rely on consensus in most decision-making procedures – with potential negative consequences for the resolution of African peace and security issues. What trends can be identified regarding the state of hybrid forms of governance in Africa, at this point, and for the foreseeable future? Could an African G5 prove more effective in finding lasting solutions to Africa’s challenges?

Paul-Simon Handy, Director of Research at the ISS, opened the roundtable with a discussion about the prospects for G7/8-style club governance in Africa, in the form of a G5. The proposition, albeit controversial, could pave the way for more efficient policy-making, especially when compared to the bogged down state of African multilateral decision-making around a myriad institutions, most notably the AU.

The outside world’s demand for Africa’s contribution to world politics is growing commensurately with its increased internal stability and resilient economic growth. Responding to this demand requires efficient policy-making capacity. On the other hand, there is also demand for such capacity within the continent, as Africa’s growing population and rapid urbanisation coupled with a number of weak and inefficient states render the continents development too precarious for comfort. While the AU is commendable in its inclusiveness and consensus-seeking spirit, reaching agreements among 53 member states is a difficult task, while a G5 could be a more coherent unity.

The other major question that remains is to decide which five African countries could form such a G5, if such a nation ever gained common acceptance. Finding a suitable combination of states that would evenly represent African interests would be difficult, considering the continent’s highly dispersed wealth, varying political clout distinct regional traits and issues.

Offering a contrast to the idea of club governance, Richard Cornwell led the roundtable to questioning the practice of taking states in Africa for granted as the de-facto primary units of the political landscape. He points to the growing literature that challenges the permanence of the sovereign state and the perception that nation states will inevitably govern the world. When speaking of failing states, there are incidents where said states have no aspirations towards succeeding as states, yet they are measured against Westphalian criteria, much as a consequence of the post-WWII world order. However, the end of the Cold War confrontation is providing room to perceive the world through a different prism.

The relationship between state and citizen is in constant flux, and even in developed states there are segments of society that render themselves practically autonomous from state intervention. There are more ungoverned spaces than we would think, but those spaces are less ungoverned that what we would assume.

In the international system, there are no easy alternatives with which to replace the unit of the state, nonetheless it remains imperative to recognise the Africa political landscape for what it is, where the economics and politics of affection are a central factor to governance. When interacting with African societies, there may be more representative counterparts and better starting points than the states, Dr. Cornwell reckons.

Touko Piiparinen, of the University of Helsinki, contributed with a presentation on humanitarian sovereignty-building, based on the argument that many of the UN’s current approaches to crisis management could be attributed to a normative umbrella of sovereignty building. State-building, capacity-building and peace-building have become mantra in institution-building, although the ultimate aim is sovereignty-building, which is a far more tasking exercise in non-uniform environments and has led to a material operational overstretch in UN operations. This has already become evident in post-colonial states that were granted de jure sovereignty which, however, did not hold de facto sovereignty. The Westphalian notion of absolute sovereignty is subsiding in the global age.

What are the critical gaps in peace-building, and how does sovereignty-building manifest itself in peace operations? Dr. Piiparinen argues that structural interventionism is emerging as a new paradigm of global crisis intervention. Respecting territorial integrity and refraining from use of force are enshrined principles of UN operations, but these principles are being replaced by a different approach in the post-Cold War world: to prevent and manage conflicts and to conduct post-conflict peace-building. Achieving these goals, to an increasing degree, requires attempts to consolidate sovereignty through military measures. Often, however, international society is not following through its mission to solidify the political landscape, leaving an abundance of loose ends.

The commentator at the event, Kirsi Joenpolvi (CMI), found a common link in all three presentations, as they dealt with Africa having entered an age where it can shape its own future. The audience raised some acute questions about the feasibility of forming club governance in Africa, about the actual issues to be administered by such a club, and about the questionable need for maintaining a political body that represents Africa as a whole. In connection with the idea of sovereignty-building, the roundtable discussed the notion of sovereignty-sharing, which is a relevant concept in a region like Africa, where a multitude of countries are too small and weak to represent themselves individually. Another topic of discussion was the necessity to introduce UN operations that are based on sufficient intelligence of the unique conditions that prevail in the various theatres of operation.