Spotlight: Enhancing Africa-US responses to fragility and conflict

2017-01-26

If policymakers don’t work together to find solutions, fragile states will remain at the centre of regional and global insecurity.

This was the key message shared by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and its partners the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Addis Ababa-based Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), at a high-level meeting on enhancing Africa-United States (US) cooperation in challenging environments.

‘African expertise on challenges such as preventing violent conflict is vital to developing better responses,’ says Ambassador Alfred Dube, ISS Office Director in Addis Ababa. ‘With the change in US and African Union leadership in 2017, constructive dialogue between the AU and the US becomes even more important.’

The meeting, which took place at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa in late November 2016, used the Fragility Study Group’s recommendations for the new US administration as a basis for discussion. The dialogue was an opportunity to include African perspectives and recommendations on state fragility and highlighted key gaps that need to be addressed, including the urgency of responses and policy implementation.

US and African policymakers must use continental resources – like the ISS – to enhance joint action

Approximately 50 representatives from the AU, various embassies, civil society, government and research institutions discussed lessons learned and proposals for the new leadership in the US and the AU.

‘Regardless of whether or not we can agree on a single definition of state fragility, we all know that violent conflict hinders development,’ says Dube. ‘This is why it’s important for US and African policymakers to speak to each other and use continental resources – like the ISS – to enhance joint Africa-US action.’    

The outcomes and policy recommendations of the state fragility dialogue were presented as a package at a forum for senior officials in Washington, DC, on 10 January 2017. The forum, convened by USIP, was attended by senior officials from the outgoing Obama administration and senior officials of President Donald Trump's transition team.

The ISS in Addis Ababa, together with USIP and IPSS, plan to convene a series of dialogues in 2017 with African policy makers and thought leaders on the challenge of state fragility.

For more information, contact:

Amb Alfred Dube, ISS: +251 94 413 6044, [email protected]

Picture: ©Sylvain Liechti/MINUSMA

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