Implementing Peace and Security Architecture (I): Central Africa
Africa Report N°181 7 Nov 2011
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Political and security cooperation in Central Africa is in urgent need of
revival. More than a decade ago, the African Union (AU) tasked the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to give life to its peace and
security architecture. ECCAS member states signed relevant treaties and
protocols, but the multinational body has struggled to shape and implement a
regional policy. To ensure this conflict prone region moves toward greater
political integration, Central African states need to reinvigorate ECCAS,
reform it and decide on clear security priorities. Foreign partners should
coordinate their support to the organisation in line with its needs,
absorption capacity and objectives.
The spiral of conflict that set Central Africa on fire in the 1990s made
painfully clear the need for a regional political and security response.
With the double blessing of the AU and the European Union, ECCAS committed
to prevent, manage and resolve conflict in the region. Unfortunately, like
previous efforts to promote economic integration, political and security
cooperation has not produced the hoped-for results.
On paper, ECCAS looks good. Central African states signed a mutual
assistance pact and a protocol establishing the Peace and Security Council
for Central Africa (Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’Afrique centrale,
COPAX). They also set up a Regional Staff Headquarters (Etat-major régional,
EMR) that runs multi-national military training exercises and the Peace
Consolidation Mission in the Central African Republic (Mission de
consolidation de la paix en Centrafrique, MICOPAX). But in reality, regional
leaders have been reluctant to create and invest in an institution that
constrains the way they cooperate in security matters. They voice support to
a regional peace and security architecture, but half-heartedly commit to
ECCAS while turning more readily to old and trusted bilateral relations to
mitigate their security concerns, thus generating a confused web of
ECCAS suffers from serious internal governance problems. Decisions on
in-house issues are highly centralised and have to be made by consensus
among member states. Instead of generating cohesion among regional actors,
this means sensitive issues on which member states differ are avoided. It is
also an institution still under construction. Human resource management is a
constant problem, as is the body’s financial dependence on outside backers.
Only decisive political commitment by its members can breathe new life into
ECCAS. But the successive postponement of the heads of state summit and the
failure of members to appoint representatives in some of its organs reveal a
lack of interest in the organisation’s purpose. Members’ distrust of each
other, ingrained by a violent past, and the absence of regional leadership
also drain ECCAS of its usefulness. As a result, the most serious security
problems are dealt with outside the ECCAS framework, and Central Africa’s
peace and security architecture has difficulty leaving the drawing board.
The region’s governments should urgently deepen their political commitment
to ECCAS’s structures and projects and sort out their common priorities.
They must decide if they really want to be members of ECCAS. If so, they
should prove their will by undertaking several crucial steps: respect their
financial obligations to the organisation; name their representatives to it;
and organise a summit as soon as possible. A reform agenda should focus on
the decision-making system, ensuring smooth running of the secretariat in
Libreville and greater involvement of civil society. Security priorities
should seek practical implementation and concrete results.
Foreign partners should establish effective coordination, tailor their
support to ECCAS’s peace and security priorities and adjust it to the
organisation’s absorption capacity. The first major goal is to strengthen
the secretariat so it can implement its programs and avoid overspending and
In the next few years, the fundamental challenge is to give political
meaning to an organisation whose members exist in a tangle of mistrust,
rivalries and thinly veiled hostility. If this zero-sum geopolitics endures,
Central African countries will continue to put their own narrow interests
above the project of peace and security architecture. Political and security
integration would then risk following in the tragic footsteps of economic
To reinforce political commitment and to reform ECCAS
To Member States:
1. Undertake a cost/benefit evaluation of participation in ECCAS and, based
on this, decide to stay or leave.
2. Organise quickly a heads of state summit aimed at publicly launching a
reform agenda, deciding the thorny question of the nomination rule for
senior positions and naming a new secretary general.
3. Decide the priorities of ECCAS’s peace and security policy and annually
make the work plan public.
4. Pay membership dues to ECCAS regularly (contribution communautaire
d’intégration) and apply sanctions on those who do not pay, as set out in
the ECCAS Constitutive Treaty.
5. Designate representatives to the committee of ambassadors and to the
deputy secretary general posts, as well as in each member state a
high-ranking civil servant to act as liaison with ECCAS.
6. Include ECCAS in processes aimed at resolving political and border
disputes between member states.
7. Evaluate the Peace Consolidation Mission in the Central African Republic
(MICOPAX) and prepare an exit strategy with a clear timeframe.
8. Revise the Constitutive Treaty to adopt decision-making by majority for
administration and management issues; introduce emergency procedures and
simplified consultation; and delegate some aspects of the decision-making to
the Council of Ministers and the Defence and Security Commission.
9. Ensure balance between the civilian and military components of the
Regional Staff Headquarters (EMR) and reaffirm the superiority of the
Department for Human Integration, Peace, Security and Stability (Département
de l’intégration humaine, de la paix, de la sécurité et de la stabilité,
DIHPSS) over it.
10. Organise joint communication campaigns involving the ECCAS general
secretariat and national authorities to make plain ECCAS’s role and
functions to the general public.
11. Revise the COPAX Protocol to conform to the Constitutive Act of the
African Union and to increase civil society involvement.
To improve the running of the secretariat
To the ECCAS Secretariat:
12. Establish the subsidiarity principle as a basic rule of internal
13. Recruit new staff through transparent procedures, taking into account
the need for member states to be represented and for new personnel to be
experienced in project management.
14. Update ECCAS’s financial regulation and create new salary levels to
attract qualified candidates.
15. Increase the means and privileges of the human resource department.
16. Increase financial control by introducing annual audits, the results of
which are made public and that are followed up, as necessary, with
17. Provide the DIHPSS with a coordination desk.
To increase the effectiveness of donor support
To Foreign Partners, in particular the EU, France and the U.S.:
18. Coordinate support within the Group of Friends of ECCAS, which should
be enlarged to include current and prospective partners.
19. Make support proportional to ECCAS’s absorption capacity and align it
to the organisation’s peace and security priorities and the need to
strengthen the secretariat.
Nairobi/Brussels, 7 November 2011
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Received on Wed Nov 09 2011 - 19:08:05 EST