The 21st African Union Summit was organized under the theme, “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 19-27 May 2013. This Summit was significant for several reasons. It marked the 50th Anniversary of the OAU and a decade since its transformation to the AU. Also, it provided a platform for the reflections on the historical foundation of pan-Africanism and the expedience for strengthening Africa’s renaissance amidst the contradictions of booming economies and the persistent challenges of peace and security in the continent. In this issue we seek to provide analysis of some key issues in relation to peace and security at the 21st Summit in Addis Ababa. Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance have been used repeatedly as the new buzzword for the characterization of Africa. The ‘dark continent’ reference to Africa for example, has rapidly given way to a renewed positive assessment of a rising and hopeful continent in terms of its political and economic gains. It therefore comes as little surprise that the 21st AU Summit in celebration of OAU/AU anniversary was launched under the theme of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. The article on Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance explains how this theme was manifested in the determination of African leaders to make decisions that will sustain and improve upon the progress made by Africa. Yet, there have been modest attempts to deconstruct pan-Africanism and African renaissance in light of its contemporary meaning, significance, challenges and prospects. One of the most profound decisions made by the AU Assembly during the AU Summit was the conditional establishment (as a transitional arrangement and pending the full operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF) and its Rapid Development Capability (RDC)) of an African Capacity for immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) (Assembly/AU/Dec.489 (XXI)). This transitional mechanism is supposed to provide the AU with a flexible and robust force made up of military and police capabilities, force enablers and multipliers, equipment and financial resources for the deployment, within fifteen days, in response to gross violations of human rights. The article on African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises: The Decision and the Implications by Samgba Gyafla provides a critical reflection on the operational significance, political considerations and resources for translating this proposal into reality. For example, will the ASF ever be fully operationalized by 2015 in light of this transitional arrangement? Is the ACIRC a sheer duplication or a reinforcement of the ASF? How will the political decision for the deployment of ACIRC defer from the current AU-mandated peace support operations? How will the ACIRC be funded after the huge resources expended by the EU in supporting capacity building measures towards the full operationalization of the ASF? These are some of the questions that this article will seek to address. In subsequent issues, we will be examining further, the decisions adopted at the 21st AU Summit and the way forward for the organization.
Shola J. Omoregie