Horn of Africa Bulletin, Volume 22, No. 3, MARCH 2010
Seasoned observers of the Horn of Africa have been sceptical about the emergence of a viable supra-national organization that will realize the building of a regional peace and security architecture in the not too distant future. Most of them however, insist that the Horn has to be approached as a 'Regional Security Complex' where security threats to any one state of the region has serious security repercussions on the rest. On this analysis, external relations between the states of the region support and sustain the conflicts within the states of the region in a systemic way. The different conflicts interlock with and feed into each other, determining regional external relations that exacerbate conflicts.1
Alex de Waal writes, "the political conditions for . . . the building of a robust sub-regional architecture for peace and security have not existed and do not appear imminent." He points out that "credible democratization in the largest states of the region, a resolution to internal conflicts, a stable sub-regional inter-state order, autonomous and capable multilateral institutions, and benign engagement by the dominant superpower, namely the United States of America"2 as necessary political conditions absent from the region.
The emerging IGAD peace and security architecture promises a lot more mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in non-violent ways. Although the Strategy lays down a framework for the emerging regional peace and security architecture and details will be developed in the course of its construction in the coming five years, however, it can safely be said that the architecture will be well-proportioned for human security, as the Strategy has at least recognized the problem of human insecurity. A properly structured and well endowed regional peace and security architecture should include a mechanism by which member states can collectively anticipate and respond to external challenges to their maximum advantage. In this regard, even if the Strategy puts great emphasis on Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanisms (CEWARN), it unfortunately fails to provide for measures designed to expand Eastern Africa Standby Brigade's (EASBRIG) mandate and boost its defence and/ or peacekeeping capability. The proposed IGAD Protocol on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR Protocol) should allow EASBRIG to intervene in the internal affair of a member state on behalf of IGAD in the event of a serious and massive human rights violations; an unconstitutional change of government; or any other situation as may be decided by the concerned body.
Since the region has served as a theatre for proxy wars both during the Cold War and more recently in the US War on Terror, the region's statesmen should not lose sight of the fact that external powers have good reason enough to engage in acts aiming at frustrating the attainment of the peace and security architecture as well as regional integration. The looming international competition over natural resources - such as fish in the waters off the coast of Somalia, the strategic waterway of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, oil in the Sudan, and the Nile River - promises a continued strategic interest and challenge from powers external to the IGAD states. Within the emerging architecture, room must be made for anticipating and meeting the security challenges of the future. Recently, serious, gross, and systematic human rights violations, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, electoral violence, transitional justice, on- and off-shore terrorism, and the unlawful use of marine resources have emerged as key threats to human security in the Horn of Africa. Thus, the emerging peace and security architecture can provide powerful and effective tools for addressing these problems.
Despite the challenges, IGAD, in its efforts to contribute to regional peace and security, managed to broker peace processes for Somalia, leading to the formation of the Transitional Federal Government, in October 2004 and for Southern Sudan, leading to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), in January 2005. All peace processes undertaken by IGAD, however, stalled when regional tensions came to play.
Whatever else will happen in the long run, IGAD's proposed peace and security strategy would seem to have realized the fact that it cannot afford to overlook the modern approach to security that emphasizes the security of people and the nonmilitary dimensions of security; the creation of forums for mediation and arbitration; the reduction in force levels and military expenditure; and the ratification of key principles of international law governing inter-state relations. In other words, they have been endeavouring to understand security in ways that incorporate political, social, economic and environmental issues.