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Accueil > Research at CFEE > Axes and research programs > Theme 3. Social and political transformations in the contemporary Horn of Africa

Peace and security : Conflicts in the Horn of Africa, peacekeeping operations, and international organisations

Members
David Ambrosetti (CFEE),
Jean-Nicolas Bach (Sciences Po Bordeaux, LAM),
Gérard Birantamije (Lake Tanganyika University, Bujumbura),
Romain Esmenjaud (IHEID Geneva& UN DPKO),
Ahmed Hassen Omer (Institute of Ethiopian Studies, AAU),
Jérémy Révillon (Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour / LAM),
Nina Wilén (FNRS, Université libre de Bruxelles).

This new program aims at fostering scientific exchanges on armed conflicts management policies conducted by State authorities and international organisations responsible of peace and regional security.
The fact that the African Union Headquarters, including the Peace and Security Council and the Peace and Security Department, are located in Addis Ababa, encourages the CFEE to support research in Political Sociology on this organisation and its relations with other kinds of (African and non-African) actors and bodies concerned with this field.The CFEE also conducts research on topics related to armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa, and the diplomatic and military role played by Ethiopia in matters of regional security in the past as well as in the present (for instance in Sudan / South Sudan or in Somalia).
This program focuses on the modes of integration of African armies in multilateral programs for armed conflicts management (of African States or the UN), and the transformations they undergo while doing so. From this viewpoint, more traditional works on the logistics and the institutional strengths and weaknesses of these organisations (especially within the framework of the new African Peace and Security Architecture), bothhighlight and draw on works on African armies and their social and political (extra-military) roles. This is even more evident when one considers national armies that have been subjected to reforms promoted by competent international organisations and are nowadays deployed within multilateral operations on the African continent or elsewhere. The questions raised here concern the relationship between the professionalisation and the internationalisation (and sometimes extroversion) of the contingents involved and, by extension, ofthe entire armies. This relationship needs to be understood with regard to the internal transformations that armies undergo (social bases, relation channels with the rest of the political society and the State apparatus, etc.), as well as to the individual career paths of soldiers and officers in terms of accumulated new social capitals and related internal or international promotions.
Directed by David Ambrosetti, this program is based on partnerships with the Observatory of the Horn of Africa (Sciences Po Bordeaux / Les Afriques dans le Monde), the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy(DGRIS)of the French Ministry of Defence, the REPI of the Université libre de Bruxelles, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa, and the Department of Political Science and Strategic Studies of Mekelle University. Within the framework of this partnership, the CFEE has organised an international meeting on “African armies in peacekeeping operations. Which social and professional transformations ?” in Addis Ababa from the 25th to the 26th of April 2016. The meeting gathered thirteen renowned researchers working on this topic. They came from Belgium (FNRS/ULB and Ghent University), Burundi (Lake Tanganyika University), Danemark (Royal Danish Defence College), the United-States (Georges Washington University), Ethiopia (Institute of Ethiopian Studies of Addis Ababa University, and an independent consultant), France (CNRS, and an independent consultant) and the United Kingdom (University of Birmingham, SOAS of London). Four African Regional Economic Communities were discussed : the EAC, the CEEAC, the IGAD, and the SADC.
The meeting was held in different places : the CFEE, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa (a structure highly connected to international actors based in Addis Ababa and involved in the training of Ethiopian practitioners that has organised the Tana Forum for the past five years), and then the Peace Support Training Centre of the Ethiopian Ministry of Defence (FDRE-PSTC, a structure inaugurated in June 2015 whose colonel in charge of the Research section, Dr. Elias Seyoum, has been directly associated to this meeting in the CFEE).
An audience made of Ethiopian scholars as well as civil practitioners and militaries based in Addis Ababa and working for international organisations (Peace and Security Department of the African Union, European Union Delegation to the African Union) has discussed the original texts produced for this meeting. The publication of these texts is in progress.
The lessons learned from this comparative approach will have several implications. First of all, operational implications : a reevaluation of these armies’ capacities when they are deployed. Social Sciences are here to remind us that the reinforcement of military capacities cannot rely solely on foreign collaborators’ training actions. Instead, reinforcement develops within the social structures of the armies in question, and with the shared experience of the field among each contingent and between contingents. The troops may be more or less inclined to implement international mandates and rules of engagement depending on the geopolitical stands of their political leaders (especially in the case of Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda), important constraints due to domestic policies (developmental priorities in South Africa and in Ethiopia, safety emergencies in Ethiopia and Rwanda), or the need for national armies that are in the process of restructuring and exposed to the continued presence of foreign troops to be internationally acknowledged (RDC). A special interest is given to the perception of national and foreign troops under multilateral mandates, as well as to the ideas, ethos, and other presuppositions conveyed within peacekeeping training centres supported by foreign donors.
Beyond pure operational effectiveness, the transformations induced by this practice for the armies in question on the long run are also important. International organisations agents should always try to assess the effects of this practice on the long run in order to either reduplicate them (when the effects are positive) or avoid or contain them (when the effects are negative). During the Addis Ababa meeting, long-term transformations related to the way national armies think of their political roles before and after the troops deployment have held our attention. With the case of Burundi, we saw that an army in the process of restructuring could enter a phase of professionalisation and depoliticisation if its political environment managed to keep it away from the political society requesting a military intervention in its favour. When political competition becomes acute and public space no longer has any safeguard protecting military institutions, these requests threaten the professionalisation and depoliticisation process in the army. The Ugandan case, on the other hand, showed that when semi-authoritarian national political authorities were in charge of appointing people to high positions in international missions, it allowed the semi-authoritarian political regime in questionto redistribute political resources in its favour.

News
Follow the news of this research program on the blog of the CFEE :
cfee.hypotheses.org/category/divers/actualites-de-nos-programmes-news-from-our-programs/peace-and-security.

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