The African Standby Force: Vision vs. Reality

The Eastern African Standby Force.

In July 2002, the African Heads of State and Governments agreed to establish the Peace and Security Commission as “a standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts”. One critical component of the PSC is the African Standby Force (ASF). The purpose of the ASF isto serve as a continental standby force, comprising of five regional brigades from the five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and independent regional mechanisms (RM). The unofficial vision and mission document for the ASF was developed in 2006 and needs to be reviewed so that it reflects the current realities and factors the challenges have thus far met with its establishment. The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia convened a two-day workshop in October, 2012, to review the ASF Vision document so that it suitably aligns  to the current realities and the African Union (AU)-mandated peace support operations and to generate recommendations for amendments.


Some of the critical questions raised were:

  • What should be done to strengthen Member States’ political will for this enormous initiative, particularly in light of the lessons from AMISOM?
  • How should the ASF be organized so that it meets the changing requirements of varying missions and scenarios?
  • Does the formation of the Military Committee as a key advisory institution to the PSC make the vision of ASF military heavy?
  • Given that there are ongoing discussions between the AU and RECs, what are the specific concerns of the Member States and RECs in the concept and vision of the ASF?
  • How should the concept of the ASF be structured to provide guidance to the formation of the standby brigades without being prescriptive?


The workshop was attended by senior professionals from the AU/PSOD, UN mission to AU, IPSS senior staff and other external experts. The output of the workshop will feed into the drafting of the reviewed vision and mission.


This post was submitted by Alula Iyasu, Research Coordinator at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies.


One thought on “The African Standby Force: Vision vs. Reality

  1. There is an urgent need for the formation of the African Standby Force due to increasing insecurity on the continent. The African standby force should be modeled after that of NATO with emphasis on anti-terrorism which is fast becoming a threat to peace and security on the continent with terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and AQIM involved in various crimes against humanity. Enough of paper work and the need for action.


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