Civil Society Inclusion in AU's and ECOWAS' Non-Military Conflict Intervention Practices

The vision of the African Union (AU) – “An integrated, prosperous and peace­ful Africa, driven by its own citizens [...]” – and the mission state­ment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – “From an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of Peoples” – suggest in­clusive develop­ment processes and goals of the two organi­zations. This is interpreted as an inten­tion to align their policies with the norm of “people-centric gover­nance.” As central actors in the African Peace and Security Archi­tecture (APSA), both organi­zations can intervene for purposes of crisis prevention, conflict mana­gement, and post-conflict recon­struction and develop­ment. Scholarly engage­ments with military compo­nents of African conflict inter­ventions have dominated the generation of know­ledge about African inter­vention politics to date. Besides, through the “local turn”, a strand of research has emerged that critically examines liberal peace­building and fore­grounds the actions of local peace­building. The dissertation project addresses the inter­twining of the local and the inter­national in African non-military interventions by elaborating how and why civil society actors are included or excluded as colla­borators in AU and ECOWAS conflict inter­ventions. Using practice-theoretical approaches, the study recon­structs the practices of inclusion and exclusion of civil society actors on the basis of the two case studies Mali and Guinea and contri­butes to further opening the “black box” of African non-military inter­vention politics.

This will first be realized through guide­line-based interviews with relevant AU and ECOWAS actors through field research visits to Addis Ababa and Abuja, and illus­trated through the case studies. In the latter, guided inter­views with civilian non-state actors and parti­cipatory approaches with focus groups will be con­ducted. In addition to expe­riential know­ledge on inclusion and exclusion mecha­nisms in AU and ECOWAS interv­entions, information to reconstruct the actor land­scape will be obtained through social network analyses and “commu­nities of practice”, which form the concep­tual frame­work of the project, will be iden­tified in the field of African regional conflict inter­ventions.