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Africa has grown to be of strategic importance in the global world. It has become of much significance not only for the United States, but also for China due to the need of these countries for energy. However, Africa remains a key epicenter for serious atrocities and endemic health-related problems. In this light, the African Union (AU) was formed in 1960 in a bid to address some of these issues facing the continent. Disappointingly, the union faces practical challenges in addressing a number of issues due to the expectation gap that results from the rhetoric and ambitious vision, under which it was established.
The AU was established on the grounds of resolving armed conflicts facing most parts of the continent. Nonetheless, despite the inability to achieve the intended purpose, member states, donors, as well as bureaucrats are working on a set of instruments and institutions known as the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) aimed at empowering the AU to play a significant role in conflict management across the continent. Upon its inception, some challenges that the AU faced included the division of member states in relation to the African conflict, the lack of sufficient resources to maintain organizations running and finally a challenge of meeting goals, which had been established to pursue. Regrettably, rather than addressing the current problems facing the continent, the African Union embarked on the refashioning campaign connected with security and peace policies at the height of the African crises. Secondly, the AU assumed conflict management responsibilities, when it was not well-equipped to handle the challenge. It lacked necessary resources for dealing with armed conflicts. Irrespective of many initiatives, the AU has not succeeded in securing predictable and reliable financing of its conflict management activities. The inadequacy in funding is emblematic, as member states are reluctant to fund the organization with the required resources (Karns & Mingst 2010).
Five nations, including South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya and Egypt, have been sponsoring the AU budget to the tune of 75%, with Libya even offering to clear dues for other member states by increasing usual contribution of 15% to about 25%. However, with the recent political backlash in Egypt and Libya, financing the AU could pose a significant challenge. Lastly, it was engulfed in a cloud of confusion, as debates concerned its relationship with the United Nations Organization. Therefore, in spite of the positive strides made, these inadequacies continue to retard the primary duty of the AU to resolve armed conflicts across the continent. In 2007, a Panel of the Wise was created under Article 11, which comprised the chair, secretary general as the lead, together with five other selected members from the key sponsors. Participants were mandated to apply their expertise and moral authority to resolve conflicts by engaging in preventive diplomacy and facilitating communication channels between conflicting parties (Baylis, Smith & Owens 2011).
Despite the aforementioned challenges, the AU has been credited for significant milestones achieved so far. Notably, it has created a forum that debates how the potential global norms impact Africa. In this regard, they critically evaluate how member states can adapt and reconcile with new foreign norms in local situations. The AU’s Political Security Council (PSC) harmonizes the African approach to conflict management and the expectations of outsiders, including representatives of foreign governments and other international bodies.
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