How will AU reforms impact on relationships with key partners?

Author: Cedric de Coning
Year: 2018
Publisher: Institute for Peace and Security Studies
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The African Union functions in an international global governance system that includes the United Nations and regional organizations such as the European Union or the League of Arab States, but also the Regional Economic Communities. At the same time, the AU has several bilateral partnership arrangements, for example with China, Japan, the Nordic group and Turkey. The AU also increasingly has formal relationships with African and international civil society organizations. It is thus not possible for the AU to reform itself without considering how its reforms may impact on its relations with these partners. In fact, some of the proposed reforms are explicitly aimed at reducing the transaction costs associated with maintaining these partnership arrangements. In this paper, the focus is on the implications of the AU reforms for the relations between the AU and its partners. We argue that whilst the reform process is necessary, and broadly supported by the partners, some of the partnership related reforms are unrealistic, others lack nuance, and a few may end up undermining the very efficiencies the reforms are meant to achieve.