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Flexibly supporting the African Union

Published on Wednesday, 26th of August 2015

CMI’s long-standing partnership with the African Union is set to continue for another three years.

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Ambassador Nicolas Bwakira (in the middle) together with CMI’s senior advisers ambassadors David Kapya (second from right) and Nureldin Satti (r) discuss peace mediation in Africa at a seminar in Helsinki.

One of CMI’s longest partnerships has been with the African Union (AU). For the last six years we have supported the regional organisation’s mediation capacities together with our partner, the African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Conflicts (ACCORD).

Over the years, solid trust has developed between the three partners. As a sign of how successful the partnership has been, the collaboration will continue for another three years.

The core philosophy behind CMI’s work is our understanding that sustainable solutions to complex conflicts require regional efforts. This is particularly true in Africa, where the African Union faces multiple challenges, as ambassador Nicolas Bwakira, former AU special representative to Somalia and CMI’s senior adviser, notes:

“The environment in which the AU operates is very diverse and complex. Just recently, the AU has been involved in assisting Nigeria, Somalia and Mali to tackle terrorist attacks, addressing intra-state conflicts in Libya, South Sudan and Egypt, and mediating in Lesotho and Burundi.”

Varied support

The highly challenging environment means that CMI needs to flexibly respond to the AU’s needs. “Because of local and regional interests, the multiplicity and complexity of the conflicts, and the limited human and financial capacity of the AU, CMI has to be flexible to be helpful,” highlights the experienced diplomat.

Building on this need, the project’s focus has during the years shifted increasingly towards providing operational support. Based on the AU’s requests, CMI has worked in contexts varying from Madagascar to the Central African Republic and Ivory Coast.

Work remains

“CMI has played an important role in providing diversified technical and advisory support to the AU. Our assistance has spanned from conflict analysis to process design, facilitation, and frequent thematic advice. The AU has especially benefitted from our agility, impartiality and discreetness as a non-state actor,” Bwakira believes.

Looking back, he concludes that the AU’s mediation capacities have increased in recent years thanks to the support from various partners.“

However, there is still a lot of work to be done. This is a fruitful partnership and we are extremely honoured that the AU wants to continue working with us for another three years,” he says.