Thierry Tardy and Marco Wyss have already published substantially in the field of security studies.1 With the anthology at hand, they have set out to provide an overview of the topic. The volume’s introduction opens with the observation that peacekeeping in Africa has undergone significant changes since the last overviews published around 2000.2 Today, more actors are involved and regional organizations have taken on an even more crucial role. The formation of the African Union (AU), with its increasing role to address the continent’s peace and security matters, has had a substantial impact on a domain that was long dominated by the United Nations (UN). In addition, major international powers – for example, the US and China – have shown a renewed interest in peacekeeping or have started to become more actively engaged. The editors further the argument by underlining the effect the conflicts on the continent have had on the evolution of peacekeeping in general (p. 1–12).
From these observations, Tardy and Wyss develop a threefold focus to guide the inquiry: first, they intend to take stock of the various actors, types and “theatres” of peacekeeping (p. 2); second, they aim at depicting “the architecture of peacekeeping in Africa” (p. 7) in its current nascent state; and, third, they seek to understand the impact that this mix has had on peacekeeping (p. 2). To that end, the volume is organized into three parts on: “institutions”, “states’ policies”, and “case studies”. The first part on institutions deals with the broader changes in international peacekeeping focusing on the AU-led peace support operations 3 and the role of the EU while discussing the issues of financing peace operations with the subsequent potential for external interference.
The second part reflects on the involvement of three non-African national actors. Among them, France, as a former colonial power, has maintained a close interest and relationship with francophone African countries in particular. The other two – China and India –are perhaps less known for their peacekeeping engagement although they are influential in the UN. The former has only recently become involved, while the latter’s peacekeeping record goes back to the Suez Crisis in 1956 and (perhaps more prominently) to the UN Operation in Congo in the early 1960s (p. 115). In this chapter, Zachariah Mampilly aptly relates India’s long-term foreign policy development to specific people in the peacekeeping missions. The case of the Indian UN troop commander, Bipin Rawat, and the Ethiopian civilian head of the UN force, Hiroute Guebre, shows how individuals can determine the practical focus of a mission (p. 120 f.).
The third part presents a range of peacekeeping cases. It covers the recent intervention in Mali and the protection of civilians in Darfur. Focusing on the norm of state consent (to a peacekeeping mission), the dilemma in the case of Côte d’Ivoire is considered and evaluated. In the chapter by Meike Froitzheim, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is examined as “a laboratory for international peace operations” (p. 190). Here the implications of a changing peacekeeping mandate are discussed with regard to the shift from mere peacekeeping to peacebuilding and the emphasis on “stabilisation” in the DRC (p. 190). While this depicts a shift between different types of operations, the case study on Mali – “The long path to MINUSMA” by Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni – follows the complications that arise when the multiple actors that have to be considered in a mission’s planning cannot reach an agreement.
The Malian case makes the various African peacekeeping actors particularly visible, be it the AU or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or Mali’s neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauretania, whose successful obstruction to a regional intervention highlights the influence of individual African states (p. 174). The editors acknowledge that “Africans are not […] mere peacekeeping objects” (p. 4). Yet the structure they chose for the anthology does not reflect that. The distinction between “states’ policies” and “case studies” seems unsuitable for the topic. The former deals with the non-African state actors – China, India, and France – and the latter with African peacekeeping theatres. This division obscures that African states – in particular the regional powers like Nigeria and South Africa but also Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda – have been increasingly involved in peacekeeping on the continent within UN or AU missions. A more explicit examination of these developments would have been a good addition to the volume. The chapter by Judith Vorrath “When the neighbors keep a foot in the door”, though grouped under “case studies”, provides to some extent such a perspective by examining the influence of Rwanda and Uganda on the missions in the DRC, juxtaposed with those of Ethiopia and Kenya in Somalia. While departing from the conflict scenarios, it sheds light on African “states’ policies”. The Kenyan intervention in Somalia, for example, (and its later role within the African Union Mission to Somalia [AMISOM]) illustrates that the country is an active participant in providing peacekeeping.4 While subtle, such a shift in the emphasis would have given a framing to the various mentioning of African state actors. Other criticisms are minor and belong to the reoccurring problems of anthologies, such as missing cross references between the chapters (for example, the ones on France, on Mali, and on Côte d’Ivoire).
The volume nonetheless provides a valuable update on peacekeeping in Africa. The chapters provide rich empirical material and case-specific analysis. It gives a good overview of the actors, types, and theatres of peacekeeping in Africa as well as the resulting changes, thereby living up to its promise. Readers with background knowledge will encounter a lot of familiar material while appreciating the more detailed case examinations. For those less acquainted with the field, the anthology provides a “state of the art” introduction to the topic. Policymakers and practitioners may appreciate the concluding chapter that summarizes the most severe crises arising from the complex landscape of peacekeeping in Africa. Overall, while information and publishing on peacekeeping in Africa has become so diversified that it is hard to provide comprehensive coverage, the editors of this volume have nevertheless done a great job with an updated overview on peacekeeping in Africa.
1 Tardy has looked at peacekeeping with an emphasis on the European Union (EU) but also on the United Nations (UN). In addition to numerous publications through the European Union Institute for Security Studies, see The Europeanization of national foreign policy. Continuity and change in European crisis management, Basingstoke 2009. Much of Wyss’ research has focused on the Cold War; for example, see Arms transfer, neutrality and Britain’s role in the Cold War. Anglo-Swiss relations 1945–1958, Leiden 2013.
2 To substantiate this claim, the editors acknowledge prominent books of that time: Oliver Furley / Roy May (eds.), Peacekeeping in Africa, Aldershot 1998; Eric G. Berman; Katie E. Sams (eds.), Peacekeeping in Africa. Capabilities and culpabilities, Geneva 2000; Robert I. Rotberg (eds.), Peacekeeping and Peace enforcement in Africa, Cambridge 2000.
3 In contrast to the term “peacekeeping”, which is mainly used by the UN to refer to its missions, the AU refers to its engagement in conflict as “peace support operations”.
4 For an examination of Kenya as an active participant in UN, AU and regional peacekeeping, see Jan Bachmann, Kenya and international security. Enabling globalisation, stabilising ‘stateness’, and deploying enforcement, in: Paul Amar (ed.), Global South to the rescue, emerging humanitarian superpowers and globalizing rescue industries, New York 2014, pp. 125–144. In the same volume, see Alice Hills on Nigerian police in UN operations, pp. 91–106.