The Africa Union has welcomed ongoing United Nations Security Council debate on the need to bolster the AU's capacity to resolve escalating conflicts across the continent. Some political analysts say although the African Union has been recently assertive in resolving recent crises its effectiveness has been undermined by lack of logistical support. Professor Okey Onyejekwe is the director of governance at theUnited Nations Economic Commission for Africa. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the Africa Union should try to resolve brewing tensions before they erupt into full-scale conflicts.
"I am glad that it is now a matter on the table because this issue has been ongoing for quite a while and I must say the EU (European Union) has been quite ahead of the UN (United Nations), in terms of supporting the AU's capacity to maintain and keep peace in the continent," Onyejekwe said.
He said the numerous conflicts currently plaguing Africa have undermined the continental body's ability to resolve each of them.
"It's obvious that the capacity of the AU to maintain peace in the continent is overstretched given the numerous conflicts zone. And for a while, the Au has come out with a 10 year capacity development program to support this peace and reconstruction development agenda. But it has not had the capacity in terms of resources, physical resources in terms of logistics and there has to be need for external support that is sustainable because a number of promises have been made in the past but they have not really been matched by the volume of support, which has so far been given to the Au," he said.
Onyejekwe described as unfortunate the failure of some countries to commitment funds in support of the African Union's peacekeeping operations.
"I think there is enough blame to go around. For example the international community has basically contended that it is the primary responsibility of African states to keep peace within the continent, but at the same time they've not supported the capacity of African states to keep peace with the kind of adequate resources that are needed. You see for example in the case of Darfur where the commander of the Africa peace keeping UN-AU force has not even had the capacity to move helicopters and troops from one part to the other, something as basic as that. And let alone the resources that are needed to train and to equip these forces to be able to respond to the crisis and challenges," Onyejekwe pointed out.
He said there is need for the international community to assist with logistical support in the African Union's effort to maintain peace.
"Now for a while the African standby brigade has been a skeletal force, but they have not had the capacity to even become functional. So, there is one area where I think that the international community and with this current debate this decision by the Security Council alongside the EU to capacitate this brigade to respond in a timely fashion. And also to be able to sustain their peacekeeping," he said.
Meanwhile, the Security Council was expected to adopt a non-binding statement drafted by Libya that would underscore what Tripoli described as the importance of supporting and improving, in a sustained way, the capacity of the African Union", adding that it would welcome recent developments regarding cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union as well as other international partners.
It also urged the UN Secretary General to take into account in his expected report the lessons-learned from past and current African Union peacekeeping efforts, with particular reference to the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the efforts to provide a logistical support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).