Wednesday, July 07, 2004

African Union: resist temptation to turn AU into UN-type org

The following is excerpted from an opinion piece written by David Malone, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN and president of the International Peace Academy ...
The new AU could also be paralyzed by relations between Africa's biggest powers and its smaller countries. Myths of the sovereign equality of states, nowhere more keenly supported than in Africa, confront the reality of South African and Nigerian leadership on continental security challenges. South Africa has risked large numbers of its own troops to bring some stability to Burundi; Nigeria has done likewise in West Africa. African scholar Adekeye Adebajo describes them as "regional hegemons." The large countries should learn that strong leadership must induce followership (as the United States has discovered in Iraq); smaller states should cease petty carping about the pretensions of their larger partners.

Finally, the AU needs to resist the temptation to turn itself into a regional UN-type organization with a multiplicity of objectives and structures. Why duplicate what the UN does well? Africans need to focus today on a few key challenges rather than dissipating their energy and scarce resources in a structurally complex and expensive organization such as the European Union has built up, with vast resources, over 50 years of prosperity. (source)