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The AU and the drive for mediation support
24 Aug 2020
Research Report
By: Manuel Bustamante and Gustavo de Carvalho

Despite hard-won political changes and recent economic growth, between 1980 and 2016 Africa accounted for nearly 87 percent of all civilian conflict-related fatalities.1 Conflict has resulted in the loss of countless lives and in the destruction of institutions, human capital, and infrastructure, becoming a central impediment to development.

The African Union (AU) Commission’s goal of ‘silencing the guns’, embedded within its Agenda 2063, is thus a welcome and urgent effort to address the continent’s conflict-prone state. Since the development of the Agenda, the AU has focused on creating structures that can assist it to become more effective in preventing conflict and sustaining peace in Africa.

Ultimately, meeting this target depends largely not only on the AU’s ability to strengthen its technical expertise, it is also linked to its ability to provide reliable and sustainable funding for structures that might prevent and de-escalate conflict in the region. To this effect, one of the main tools it has at its disposal is its mediation capacity.

Africa’s unique mediation environment
consists of a combination of demand and supply factors. On the demand side there is increasing political violence, the rise of political militias, marginalisation and poverty, continuing processes of democratisation, a proliferation

of small arms and light weapons and an increase in sectarian warfare and terrorism and secession.2 These factors make it necessary for the AU to prioritise the prevention, resolution and management of conflict, thus creating the demand for preventive diplomacy and mediation.

Publication Information

Author: Manuel Bustamante and Gustavo de Carvalho
Publisher: TfP
In the past 15 years mediation support structures have proliferated throughout the world. While mediation is effective in preventing and peacefully resolving conflicts there has been little focus on building the capacity to develop a unified approach to it. The AU must ensure that the African Union Mediation Support Unit, which was established in 2016, responds effectively to increasing demands for mediation. This report recommends ways in which the AU can make the best use of the unit.

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