Potentials and pitfalls of civilian component in African peace support operations – a case study of African union mission in Somalia (Amisom)
Since the establishment of the African Union in 2002, the Commission has taken an active role in addressing protracted conflicts in the continent as well as ventured in conflict zones that other multilateral organisations such as the United Nations would not be willing to deploy peace operations. The role of the civilian component in peace operations has become a major contributing success factor towards achieving the mission mandate and in particular addressing root causes of conflict. To this end, this study examined the role of the civilian component in AU led PSOs using the AMISOM case study. The study scrutinized previous peace operations in Somalia undertaken by UN and regional organisations and sought to extract the lessons learnt from those operations and investigate whether they have been incorporated in the AMISOM operation. In order to extract the potentials and pitfalls of the civilian component in AU PSOs, the study conducted an in-depth analysis of the AMISOM civilian component and interrogated the mission mandate, mission composition and considered other players such as UN and international organisations all aiming towards stabilising Somalia. Based on the nature of the study, a large part of the research findings was derived from systematic literature review of AU/ UN official reports, scholarly contributions on AU PSOs and other literal works published on the subject matter. Further, the study was complimented by focused group discussions of AMISOM employees attending training at International Peace Support Training Centre and interviews with key persons with expertise on the subject matter from academic and policy circles. The research methodology was also complimented by questionnaire responses from Somali population. The study relied on constructivism theory of international relations complimented by structural functionalism in placing the role of the civilian component in AU peace operations. The study established that even though the role of the civilian component is well captured on the AU PSOs doctrine reflected by many key policy documents, the actual implementation on the ground is dismal. AU PSOs are military focused thereby concentrating on the security paradigm and negating key components of development, humanitarian, political and social aspects which are of absolute importance in attaining sustainable peace. Moreover, the study revealed that some key functions which the civilians’ component can play a significant role in enhancing sustainable peace in Somalia such as Rule of Law were missing from the mission structure. Finally, the study exposed coordination and overlap of functions between UNSOM and AMISOM civilian components and called for coherence and harmonisation of processes to avoid duplication of effort and ensure that the few resources availed to Somalia are utilised in a result oriented manner. Based on these findings the study has made some key recommendations, starting with the actualisation of the policy guidelines and strengthening of the civilian capacity through systemic organisational learning processes and ensuring the rostering of the civilian capacities is done in a systematic and coherent manner between the AU, RECs and member states. The study also recommended that AU and RECs involved in identification of the civilian capacities should employ a deliberate effort to include qualified non-state actors. The cooperation experienced in international peace and security can be fostered by AU through regular exchanges of best practises in PSOs especially concerning the dynamics and recruitment of the civilians in peace operations.