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Lessons Learned from Peace Operations in Africa (Africa Security Brief, Number 3, March 2010)

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Reducing the incidence of armed conflict remains a defining priority for Africa. The continents recent conflicts have killed millions and displaced many more, leaving them to run the gauntlet of violence, disease, and malnutrition. These conflicts have also traumatized a generation of children and young adults, broken bonds of trust and authority structures among and across local communities, shattered education and health care systems, disrupted transportation routes and infrastructure, and done untold damage to the continents ecology. In financial terms, the direct and indirect cost of these conflicts is well over 700 billion. The current resurgence of peace operations began in 1999 with the UN missions in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo following a U.S.-led withdrawal from peacekeeping in Africa after the Black Hawk Down episode in Mogadishu in October 1993. Since then, 40 missions have been deployed to 14 African states. They were conducted principally by the UN, African Union, and European Union. This brief reviews the major strategic and operational lessons learned from these 40 peace operations with the aim of making these and future operations more effective instruments of conflict resolution. There are many mission-specific lessons that result from a review of African peacekeeping operations, but six general lessons bear highlighting 1 An Effective Political Strategy Is a Prerequisite for Success, 2 Strategic Coordination Is Crucial, 3 Ends and Means Must Be in Synch, 4 Define and Deliver Robust Operations, 5 Focus on Effects, Not Just Numbers, and 6 Legitimacy Matters. In light of these lessons, a number of practical steps can be taken to address the challenges raised by contemporary peace operations in Africa Clarify Mission Tasks, Prioritize Peace Operations to Support Effective Peace Processes, Design Better Entry and Exit Strategies, Deliver More and Better Resources, and Recruit More Civilians.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Geography
  • Unconventional Warfare

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