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Reforming the African Union for Financial Independence, Sustainability, and Effectiveness: A Discussion with the African Union High Representative for Financing of the Union and Peace Fund

Date & Time

Oct. 16, 2017
10:00am – 11:30am ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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On October 16, 2017, the Wilson Center Africa Program hosted a discussion on “Reforming the African Union for Financial Independence, Sustainability and Effectiveness” with Dr. Donald Kaberuka, the African Union High Representative for Financing of the Union and Peace Fund. This discussion centered around the key role that the African Union (AU) and its predecessor, the Organization for African Unity, has played in establishing democratic norms and promoting peace and security on the continent. It also highlighted some challenges to implementation and funding that AU is currently facing and recommendations for increasing the AU’s financial independence, as laid out in the “Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union,” by H.E. Paul Kagame.

Dr. Kaberuka emphasized three main points regarding AU reform. First, it is important to recognize that the AU is an instrument for Africa and for the world. The AU plays a vital role in maintaining peace and security, including countering violent extremism; it is therefore imperative that the AU be a strong organization with the capacity to counter African and global challenges. For example, the AU has been a key actor in Somalia’s recovery process and has managed to accomplish a great deal there despite limited means. Second, the AU is not alone in its need for reform: all international organizations, including the United Nations (UN) and Bretton Woods organizations, must undergo reform in order to adapt to a changing global environment. Lastly, reforms are never easy because they disrupt the status quo, and there will always be those who lag in implementing reforms. While the reform process should be African-led, the international community, including the UN, can help with the coordination and implementation of reforms. The international community has a stake in helping the AU become the most effective organization that it can be. In particular, clarifying the division of labor between the AU and UN in peacekeeping is an important piece of increasing both organizations’ effectiveness.

Dr. Kaberuka noted that one of the major weaknesses of the AU has been the lack of resources. The AU has three budgets: for administration, programs, and peace and security. Today, funding for peace and security has presented the greatest challenge. When the AU was first established in 2001 and launched in 2002, peacekeeping was not among its core missions; therefore, more needs to be done to equip the AU to play a more significant role in peacebuilding, both in terms of increasing resources and capacity. While over a dozen African countries have already contributed to the AU Peace Fund, more can be done in this arena. The AU, as well as finance ministers from AU member countries, are working towards generating a comprehensive plan for funding the AU to decrease dependence on external resources, with the goal of developing and fully implementing a new AU financing plan by 2018. 

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This event was livetweeted and webcast. Follow the Africa Program Twitter account @AfricaUpClose and catch up on the conversation #AUReform.


Hosted By

Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial U.S.-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, including our Africa Up Close blog, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in U.S.-Africa relations.    Read more

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