Capital politics: The political economy of African regional organisations
Date and Start Time 29 June, 2017 at 14:00
This panel investigates how, by whom and for what purpose African regional organisations are financed, what impact this has on the nature of regionalism in Africa, and how to conceptualise the projection and practices of institutionalised regionalism in a comparative perspective.
Africa abounds with regional organisations (RO). They constitute an integral part of the political landscape in most parts of the continent and some have emerged into becoming actors in their own right. Numerous studies have been conducted on the role of ROs play in providing development and security for Africa. A frequent critique has been the lack of institutionalisation. However, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to their own institutional logics. In particular, the finances and the bureaucratic culture of ROs have not received nearly as much attention as their counterparts on the national level, partly due to the difficulties of data collection and a lack of transparency in this respect.
This panel will thus explore these crucial but under-researched aspects of the role of ROs in Africa. The panel looks at the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities (RECs), but also at other ROs of imperial or functional origin. This will allow a comparative perspective to address the questions of how, by whom and for what purpose ROs are financed, what impact this has on the nature of regionalism in Africa, and how to conceptualise the projection and practices of ROs in their region and beyond. External donors, who often play a crucial role in the set-up and even survival of ROs, will also be included into the picture.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Paying the bill, asserting regional space: ECOWAS and its Standby Force in Guinea-Bissau
This paper analyses the deployment process and financing of the ECOWAS Standby Force in Guinea-Bissau, placing it in the context of previous conflict interventions by ECOWAS and interactions with other international actors, as well as linking it to ECOWAS’ aspirations to assert “its” regional space.
Since the 1990s, regional organizations have increasingly turned into central actors in dealing with various crises on the African continent. While this development is reflected in a continuously growing body of literature, much more and deeper analysis is required to understand complex dynamics in different local contexts and between different actors involved, especially when it comes to financing operations. Therefore, taking an example that so far has received only scant attention, this paper focuses on the processes around the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) in 2012. Based on field research in Addis Ababa, Abuja, Bissau, and Dakar, the paper empirically reconstructs how ECOMIB has been decided, planned, and implemented. Interestingly, ECOWAS initially deployed without any international mandate other than its own, and thus also had to fund the operation by itself. Until today, attempts to secure financial support from international partners/donors have been largely unsuccessful. Consequently, the paper argues that, through ECOMIB, ECOWAS has tried both to take responsibility for regional conflicts (also financially) and to assert primacy in its "own" regional space. However, it also demonstrates how positions adopted and actions taken by ECOWAS relate to other actors (e.g. AU, EU, and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries) as well as previous interactions and engagements. Moreover, these positions and actions also reflect particular spatial imaginations that guide them. Thus, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics between different regional organizations in Africa and their role in security affairs.
External actor involvement at the African Union: organization, resources and practices
This paper theorizes how different external resources are mediated through institutional practices at the AU. The paper elucidates a theoretical blind-spot of EU-centric regionalism studies and shows the AU Commission’s attempts to establish itself as an orchestrator of African regionalism.
Why and with which consequences are external actors involved in African regionalism? The African Union (AU) today could not run its programmes without external financial and other support from external actors. This provides for a puzzling contradiction: Are AU member states, AU bureaucrats or external donors in the driving seat? Unravelling the dynamics of external actor involvement requires a sociological framework that anchors the AU as an organization amidst the broader ideational and material resources of African regionalism, by weighing in on the practices between actors. Empirically, the paper focuses on the role of EU, the USA and China at the AU in infrastructure development policy; it combines participant observation at the AU headquarters with quantitative data. In charting the social mechanisms of external actor involvement at the AU, this contribution speaks to several debates. First, its analytic focus sheds light on a theoretical blind spot of EU-centric regionalism studies. External actor involvement therefore suggests itself as a novel form of regional governance that goes beyond the power of the purse. Second, it shows how the AU Commission attempts to coordinate the external relations of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), thereby carving out a new role of orchestrator for itself. Third, this is a contribution to the study of the politics of donor coordination within regional organizations.
The political economy of regional economic communities in the field of peace and security - Insights from Africa, Asia and Latin America
Regional organizations have become crucial actors in addressing issues of peace and security, in particular in Africa but also in several other parts of the world. Drawing on data on twelve organizations this paper deals with central questions of how, by whom and for what purpose they are financed.
Regional organizations (ROs) have become crucial actors in addressing issues of peace and security, in particular in Africa but also in several other parts of the world. They enjoy internal and external legitimacy, they contribute to mediation and peacekeeping, and they harbour new institutions such as early warning mechanisms. Among the usual fields of activity of ROs, such as trade and migration, peace and security stands out as a very costly endeavour. Despite the high costs associated with the growing relevance of ROs in issues of peace and security, comparative insights on their political economy with respect to finances remain rare.
Drawing on data on ca. 12 ROs from Asia, Africa and Latin America this paper deals with central questions of how, by whom and for what purpose ROs are financed. What impact do the different financial constellations have on the nature of regionalism in Africa and elsewhere? This comparative approach will help to conceptualise the self-understanding, the logics and the practices of ROs in their region and beyond. External donors, who often play a crucial role in the set-up and even survival of ROs, will explicitly be included into the picture, as in Africa their financial contributions surpass those of member states. Seven continental and sub-continental African ROs will be compared to ROs from Asia and Latin America.
Borders within/of "New Regionalism": The case of West Africa
The paper is mainly concerned with the theoretical debate on the "New Regionalism" by focusing on "borders" through West African example and aims to place this debate within its historical context.
This study investigates the handling and transformation of "borders" in West Africa, through the "New Regionalism" discourse from a political economic perspective. It argues that the concept of borders, deployed by various actors, regional and global, aims to facilitate the integration of African markets into the global economy through Regional Economic Communities. The paper takes cross-border cooperations, developmental corridors and spatial development initiatives as its launching points. These efforts, being the main targets of "new regionalism" discourse, rest heavily upon international borders of Africa. Thus, the paper is mainly concerned with the theoretical debate on the "New Regionalism" by focusing on "borders" and aims to place this debate within its historical context. The paper aims to discern the actors taking part in both bottom-up and top-down dynamics. Such that, it investigates the role of the state in institutional regional experiences as ECOWAS and UEMOA, the role of public-private partnerships, the private actors within development corridors and questions the aims and interests of these actors.
The Work of the AU Liaison Office in Peacebuilding on the Ground: The Case of Madagascar
This paper analyses the role of the African Union (AU) Liaison Office in the international efforts to reestablish constitutional order after the 2009 political crisis in Madagascar and reconstructs how and to what extent it has contributed to peacemaking and conflict prevention in Madagascar.
Field offices are an increasingly important reality in the architecture of African peacemaking. Yet despite their importance in practice, little attention has to far been paid to their work in academic debates on peacebuilding and mediation. This paper analyses the role of the African Union (AU) Liaison Office in the international efforts to reestablish constitutional order after the 2009 political crisis. The paper scrutinizes the mandate, set-up and institutional capacities of the Liaison Office and reconstructs how and to what extent it has contributed to peacemaking and conflict prevention in Madagascar. It thereby particularly highlights the often ad hoc way the Liaison Office reacted to unprecedented and rapidly changing events on the ground and stresses the important role individual staff play in translating the Liaison Office’s mandate into practice.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.