The New Partnership for Africa's Security: The United Nations, Regional Organisations and Future Security Threats in Africa

Pursuant to its vision and mission objectives of promoting peaceful conflict resolution in Africa, the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) Cape Town, South Africa, in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) offices in South Africa and Mozambique, and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) office in New York, organised a three – day policy seminar from 21 – 23 May 2004 in Cape Town. The meeting focused specifically on the interrelated and vexing issues of political instability in Africa and international security. Participants deliberated the merits of institutional reform of the United Nations (UN) – a pivotal actor in Africa’s security architecture – and considered a possible restructuring of its relationship with the African Union (AU) and Africa’s sub regional organisations, specifically the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Seeking practical solutions and policy recommendations to these problems, participants discussed these issues based on a solid historical foundation and concrete case studies. From the deliberations during the Cape Town seminar, it became clear that African conflicts have many causes which have roots in economic, political and religious processes, as well as ethnic divisions. The lack of social development and poverty are indeed the major causes of conflict on the continent, and in order to offset this, there is a pressing need for large – scale investment in human resources. At a political level, the “winner – takes – all” election system in many parts of Africa and the lack of democratic accountability also contribute to tensions and conflict. A long – term solution to African conflicts and the building of durable peace requires that the root causes of these conflicts be urgently addressed.