Skip to content
Policy for in African Operations International Policing Union Peace Support and Special Operations
30 Jul 2020
AU Publications

Among others, peace support operations are one of the means employed by the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms to maintain peace and security in Africa. Peace support operations have contributed tremendously to conflict resolution, management, peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa. The African Union’s flagship, the African Union Mission in Somalia, amply testifies to this aspect. African Union peace support operations have also facilitated a seamless transition towards the deployment of United Nations peace operations for long-term stabilisation and peacebuilding in countries such as Mali and the Central African Republic. The unique concepts underpinning African Union peace support operations, its predictable African Standby Force tool and the right of the African Union to intervene without the consent of the host nation in grave situations described under Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, give the African Union a distinct comparative advantage to undertake pre-emptive deployment to contain further deterioration of conflict, or to effect robust deployment to contain extreme violence, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

African Union peace support operations are strategically integrated, multidimensional and multifunctional in nature and scope. The police are an integral component of African Union- mandated peace support operations and special operations, the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture, and a substantive player in peace and security in Africa. The approval of this Policy for International Policing in African Union Peace Support Operations and Special Operations (2018) by Decision of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government constitutes a major milestone in the growth and development of the police and policing in African Union peace support operations and special operations. The Policy is the beacon that provides the basis for the development of subordinate police strategic guidance instruments such as guidelines, standard operating procedures, directives and others.

Contemporary threats to peace are complex and diverse. The mandates for African Union peace support operations have also become complex and broader in scope. The African Union deploys peace support operations in hostile operational environments, which are characterised by the absence of peace to keep, or where the host nation’s rule of law and security institutions would have either become utterly dysfunctional or collapsed. These scenarios expose citizens to extreme vulnerability due to predatory behaviour by some or all parties to the conflict, resulting in gross human rights abuses, impunity, massive displacements and loss of lives and livelihoods.

As a function of governance, the main roles and responsibilities of the police in African Union-mandated peace support operations are to ensure public safety, protection of civilians, compliance with human rights, law enforcement and investigation if mandated; to take a lead role in the restoration of civil authority for stabilisation and early recovery; and to provide operational and capacity-building support, including police reform of host nations’ police and other law enforcement agencies, to empower them to perform their statutory responsibilities of maintaining law and order and internal security. The African Union will also deploy police capabilities to provide operational support for disaster management operations and security support to humanitarian actors.

Police officers deployed to the African Union come from different police institutions with different policing practices and law enforcement frameworks. Yet these police officers will be expected to apply the same standards of performance under the mandate of African Union peace support operations. By their ad hoc, short-term nature, peace support operations are supposed to quickly create conditions leading to their withdrawal and liquidation in the short to medium term. In this regard, the African Union police must be able to timeously assist in building and standing up the capacities of the host nation police and other law enforcement agencies, as well as facilitate the restoration of policing services and functions to all citizens.

Therefore, as an integral component of the African Union Doctrine on Peace Support Operations, this Policy for International Policing in African Union Peace Support Operations and Special Operations provides a standardised framework for legal, operational, administrative, command and control, training and cross-cutting issues relating to policing in African Union peace support operations and special operations. The Policy provides for the various categories of African Union police officers; defines policing, the vision, mission and core values of the African Union Police; and clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities of the African Union Police at strategic and operational mandate implementation levels. It also lays down the responsibilities of the African Union, Member States and police officers in the preparation, deployment, operation, command and management, as well as liquidation of police operations. This Policy will guide and assist the African Union and Member States to adopt qualitative and capability-focused preparation, generation and deployment of police capabilities, as opposed to numbers-driven pledges and deployments.

African Union Member States, all police training institutions for peace support operations, African Regional Mechanisms and Regional Economic Communities, training centres of excellence and training institutions are urged and encouraged to always refer to this Policy and its subordinate instruments to nominate and prepare all categories of African Union police officers, for service in African Union peace support operations and special operations.

The African Union wishes to express its deepest appreciation to African Union member states, the African Union Police Strategic Support Group, Training for Peace Programme, GIZ African Union Office and the United Nations Office to the African Union, for providing critical support in the development of this Policy.

Publication Information

Year: 2020
Publisher: African Union Commission
In its report dated 10 December 2013 – the ‘Report of the Independent Panel of Experts’ Assessment of the African Standby Force and Plan of Action for Achieving Full Operational Capability by 2015’ (Gambari Report) – the Panel recommended that the African Union Commission (AUC) convenes a meeting of the African Chiefs of Police (ACOP) to define the role of the police in Peace Support Operations (PSO) and the African Standby Force (ASF). This recommendation came out of the Panel’s findings and observations regarding the lack of understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the police, as well as the structural challenges (policy, weak capacities, structure, perceptions and practices) experienced by the police in all the regions. The Chairperson of the AUC is required under Article 7 [1] (d) of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSC Protocol) to work in conjunction with the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) to lay down general policy for the conduct of PSO, including their mandates, and undertake periodic reviews of the same.

Stay Connected

Thanks for your interest in our work. We share monthly newsletters and updates about our impact through email. 

Send this to a friend