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«PEACEMAKING IN THE MIDST OF WAR : AN ASSESSMENT OF IGAD’S CONTRIBUTION TO REGIONAL SECURITY Sally Healy Royal Institute of International Affairs ...»

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Conclusions In the thirteen years since IGAD added peace and security to its mandate there has been no appreciable reduction in the level of conflict in the Horn of Africa. The region still lacks the most rudimentary regional security framework. IGAD member states continue to flout the old fashioned inter-state rules of respect for territorial sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s affairs, ‘victims of their neighbour’s insecurities, or conversely, as threats to the neighbours’ (Khadiagala 2008b). As yet, there are few signs of their moving towards collective security arrangements or genuinely endorsing institutional processes of regional consultation or decision making. All this could point to the conclusion that IGAD is paralysed 9 AMISOM deployment was authorised by UNSCR 1744 of 20 February 2007

–  –  –

However, thirteen years is a relatively short time in which to judge the efficacy of new approaches to peace and security, the more so after a century of regional conflict. The IGADled peace processes in Sudan and Somalia have qualified the expectations that such a conflicted neighbourhood would have no contribution to make to African regional peacemaking. The two agreements are important achievements in the era of IGAD’s expanded mandate and provide relatively rare examples of regional mediation in internal conflicts within the wider African sub-region. Formally speaking, both sets of negotiations achieved the results that the IGAD leaders sought – a settlement between Northern and Southern Sudan that preserved the option for independence for the South, and a process for selecting a new central government for Somalia. In both cases, the longer-term outcomes have proved far more problematic in this volatile region.

IGAD is due to unveil it new peace and security strategy, including the promised ‘mechanism’ for the pacific settlement of disputes, in October 2009. On the basis of past performance, member states are unlikely to embrace any new regional security mechanism that might significantly restrict their own freedom of action. As we have seen, the peace processes in Sudan and Somalia were dominated by the far from disinterested engagement of regional (and sometimes extra-regional) powers, often competing against each other to achieve outcomes favourable to their own national security interests. They can be expected to move cautiously, if at all, on conferring the IGAD Secretariat with the authority or the means to develop an independent conflict-resolution capability.

The existence of IGAD nonetheless brings a new diplomatic dimension to conflict management in the Horn of Africa. This is a forum that locks in the regional states but also locks out other interested parties beyond the region. The new ingredient is the internationally conferred legitimacy that IGAD possesses to address conflict within the region.

Paradoxically, the recognition that national security interests are intimately connected across the region implies that, however imperfect and compromised, IGAD’s regional peace and security activities will remain in place and gain incrementally in importance. If IGAD is to consolidate its role, its institutions, including the Secretariat, will eventually need to be strengthened so that it can assert some autonomy. But the organisation has already played a crucial agenda-setting role in directing African and wider international responses to conflict in the region. Over the longer term, and provided that other member states recognised its utility, IGAD also has the potential to serve as the forum in which unequal relationships and localised hegemony could be managed without recourse to violence.

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