During its 5th Anniversary, the Tana Forum opened the floor for several African and non-African dignitaries, high-level decision makers and experts to discuss Africa in the Global Security Agenda under the symbolic baobab tree. Still, the exclusivity of the forum lies beyond the high-level participants. The understanding that today’s African youth demand and deserve representation in such high-level security gatherings is noted. The Tana Forum launched a university essay competition that invited MA and PhD candidates to engage African youth. The authors of the top three essays participated in the Forum and the first top student had an opportunity to present his essay at the Forum. This year the secretariat announced Sekou Toure Otondi, a PhD candidate at the University of Nairobi, as the winner of the 2016 Tana Forum Annual Essay Competition. In his essay “Africa in the Global Security Agenda: The African Union and Regional Economic Blocs as an impetus to Regional Peace and Security”, Sekou Toure Otondi discussed how Africa can acquire and sustain one voice in the global security agenda.
According to Otondi, in the world order after the end of colonialism, Africa has been represented in the global security arena by the OAU, and later on by the AU. After the establishment of the AU in 2002, the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), (still struggling to operationalise fully) has assumed the role as Africa’s main security player. The AU and other sub-regional organizations are playing a role in promoting development, economic growth, mediation, discouraging unconstitutional change of governments and maintaining peace and security. Despite the efforts of the AU and other regional organizations challenges to democratisation such as third termism prevail. Further, given the regional nature of conflicts in Africa, the establishment of regional task forces has become necessary. It is, however, evident that member states of regional organizations are not free from their own national interest biases when making intervention decisions in their neighboring countries. As such two important questions are raised for discussion in this #AfSol Discussion Series
- Though decisions cannot be liberated completely from national interests, how can members of regional organizations and the AU find a common voice?
- What check and balance mechanisms are there to ensure regional, sub-regional and state actors act in the interest of human security?
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