Improving the Legitimacy of African Solutions
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
As the United States looks increasingly to Africa for solutions to African problems, it is important to appreciate the merits of an African solution what it looks like, how it functions, and if it is effective. This paper analyzes how African leaders use subregional institutions to establish and maintain legitimate military interventions. Looking specifically at West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS has a long and varied history responding regionally to common security challenges. The 1990 intervention in Liberia and the 2013 operation in Mali represented two similar situations with different responses and results. In both cases, ECOWAS member states leveraged the institution s legitimacy to help resolve internal political conflicts by setting the conditions for a stable and secure political solution, but interests and structural limitations reduced their effectiveness. Institutions are subject to the interests of their strong members but are not their tools norms, shared interests, and mutual benefit tie regional states together. Subregional interventions reflect the selfinterest of the members and their motivation to invest in regional security. This is not unique to Africa, but the variety and proximity of weak and strong states, especially in West Africa, lends itself to post-Westphalian concepts of regional cooperation. Legitimacy is the fulcrum upon which institutions rest, determining the utility and cost of its function. It is not easily gained, nor kept, but is a vital ingredient for institutions seeking to improve the conditions for a political resolution to a conflict of which they are not a part. Without it, an institution has no standing or credibility, loses its high ground and endangers its intervening military forces. Securing the legitimacy, and with it the viability, of African regional security responses is a chief concern for policymakers.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Forces and Organizations