Accepted Paper:

Tracing trajectories of African mediation support infrastructures  
Michael Aeby (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

The paper traces the development of mediation support infrastructures of two regional economic communities and the African Union from a comparative history perspective to analyse factors affecting their characteristics and effectiveness.

Paper long abstract:

The paper traces the development of mediation support infrastructures of regional economic communities (RECs) and the African Union (AU) from a comparative history perspective to analyse factors affecting their characteristics and effectiveness. As part of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the AU and RECs have established institutions, including mediation support units, reference groups and early warning systems, amongst others, to bolster their conflict management capacity. But the development, functioning, stakeholder-relations and effectiveness of these institutions differ widely between African intergovernmental organisations (IGOs).

Using a comparative process-tracing approach, the paper examines the development and functioning of the mediation support infrastructures of the AU, Economic Community of West Africa and the Southern African Development Community in their respective historical and sub-regional political context, and compares these processes to analyse factors that have shaped their characteristics and affected their effectiveness. Rather than exclusively focusing on structural development, the paper also assesses the functioning of the three IGOs' mediation support infrastructures in selected diplomatic peace initiatives. The analysis is based on ongoing empirical research, drawing from interviews with IGO officials, civil society representatives and sub-regional experts, as well as official IGO communiqu├ęs and news coverage. The paper seeks to produce insights on parameters that determine the effectiveness of the mediation support infrastructures that may offer lessons for the development of equivalent institutions in other RECs. Moreover, it reflects on the use of comparative history to study the institutions of African IGOs.

Panel Pol03
The inner life of African organizations: Innovative methods and approaches