Unscrambling subsidiarity in the African Union: from competition to collaboration

This report explores the origins of subsidiarity and its use in the African multilateral context.

Subsidiarity is a political concept that prioritises the role of local actors over those further removed from the situation at hand. Although unclear, the principle has been used in Africa to justify why regional bodies should take the lead in responding to conflicts in their areas of jurisdiction. This report explores the origins of the concept and its use in the African multilateral context. It provides recommendations for more coherent cooperation between the African Union and regional mechanisms.

About the author

Félicité Djilo is an independent analyst on African peace and security issues. His research focuses on the institutional dynamics of African responses to instability. He holds degrees in public management and international relations.

Paul-Simon Handy is Director of the ISS Regional Office for East Africa and the Horn, based in Addis Ababa.

Image: Amelia Broodryk/ISS

Development partners
This report was funded by the government of the Netherlands. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
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