This paper discusses on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) with particular emphasis and critical reflection on one of its components the African Standby Force (ASF). In considering the ASF within the context of the APSA, the paper identifies the role and place of the ASF within the African Union’s conflict prevention, management and resolution scheme and processes. Most importantly, taking into account its mandate, its planed structure and mode of operation, its assigned force strength and the politico-legal, technical, infrastructural, financial and administrative requirements for its proper functioning as well as the nature of African conflicts, the paper critically examines the potentials and limitations of the ASF as a critical mechanism for responding to the demands of African conflicts. The paper concludes that although it is one of the most important components of the APSA to be developed by the AU, since the ASF would not achieve an optimal level of logistical, technical, organizational and financial capability in the short term, one should not expect the ASF to have achieved its projected operational capabilities by 2010. Accordingly, in the short to the medium term, its role in and capability to contribute towards effective conflict management and resolution, particularly in large and complex conflict or crisis situations, will at best be modest.
About the author
Dr Solomon A. Dersso is a Senior Researcher at the Addis Ababa Office of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) working with the African Peace Support Trainers Association (APSTA). He holds a PhD degree in international human rights and constitutional law from the University of Witwatersrand. He is affiliated as visiting professor of human rights with the Institute for Human Rights and the Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University and serves as an associate researcher with the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights Con and International Law (SAIFAC), where he served as Doctoral Research fellow before joining ISS. Solomon undertakes research on subjects relating to constitutional law, human rights law with focus on minority rights and institutional and policy options for the management of ethnic conflicts and the AU Peace and Security regime.