Since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Africa has had to deal with border issues, particularly in relation to conflicts over disputed borders drawn mainly by colonial powers. Following the OAU, the African Union (AU) committed to a progressive border agenda recognizing the positive contribution of border governance in peace and security, integration, resource sharing and trade facilitation, as well as inclusive growth and sustainable development of borderlands.
This positive perception of borders is illustrated by the adoption of the AU Border Programme (AUBP), whose implementation since 2007 demonstrates the strategic importance of continuous and sustained action on the borders. This is a paradigm shift that makes African international borders an asset, a resource and/or a lever for anchoring public policies at different scales: continental, regional and national. While African borders have been governed in various ways since their creation, this new perspective promotes a multifaceted and multidimensional approach toward African borders by enhancing their integrative potential. Borders become, therefore, the nodes which connect States’ public action in the security, economic, commercial, infrastructural, environmental, and social affairs sectors, etc.
This new approach to African borders justifies the need for a strategy to design an African Border Governance agenda as a guiding framework for coordination of border policies at the continental, regional and national levels with the objective to create greater coherence. The purpose of the AU Strategy for a Better Integrated Border Governance is to provide African decision makers guidance, allowing them to align the governance of borders with AU, values, principles and objectives. It helps Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the development of national and regional border policies and at the same time facilitates the consistency of procedures and practices of agencies concerned with border governance.
It relies on the relevant provisions related to borders adopted by the AU normative organs to build coherence and promote concerted and joint intervention in border governance.
The African Union Strategy for Integrated Border Governance (AUBGS) is an instrument developed to use borders as vectors to promote peace, security and stability, and to improve and accelerate integration through effective governance of borders while facilitating easy movement of people, goods, services and capital among AU Member States.
The Strategy is built on the understanding that African countries have not yet effectively governed their borders to harness benefits, reduce and when possible eradicate threats, prevent crime and facilitate cross-border cooperation. It is also built on the assumption that African countries have not yet fully exploited the borders’ potential as a resource for peace, security and stability and for greater integration and socioeconomic development of the continent.
The Strategy is divided into five chapters. A brief introduction is the first chapter. The second chapter highlights the context through a description of the status of borders in Africa. The third chapter presents the normative framework and the principles guiding the strategy. The fourth chapter describes the core dimensions of the strategy including the vision, mission, and functions of borders, principles and pillars, as well as strategic priorities for improved border governance. Chapter five deals with the roles of the different stakeholders in the implementation, monitoring, evaluation, communication and resources mobilisation of the strategy.