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Monday, 10 February, 2003, 18:04 GMT
Does Africa need a unified security strategy?
African leaders have agreed to set up a peace and security council with the power to intervene in the continent's conflicts.

The decision came at the start of the African Union's two-day extraordinary summit.

The body's chairman, South African President Thabo Mbeki, urged the 32 member states in attendance to adopt the unified security strategy, saying they owed it to "impoverished Africans whose lives have been destroyed by war".

Although Libya's proposal for a common African defence force has been put off to a further summit, it is seen as a move closer to establishing a joint continent-wide security and defence framework.

Do you think Africa needs a unified stance on security and defence? Would it help stop conflict throughout the continent? Who would benefit most from the adoption of a common security policy?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

There will be no more coups at the cost of innocent civilians.

James Mboriundo, Khartoum,Sudan
A common stance is needed in Africa, both for security and defence. A united stance will stop conflicts,and protect our African identity. At the moment countries like Sudan, Burundi, the Ivory Coast and others will benefit from this common security policy. There will be no more coups at the cost of innocent civilians.
James Mboriundo, Khartoum,Sudan

What a difference such an organisation would make to Africa and Africans, given the state of many countries. War, disease and famine have crippled many generations. Put it up there on the global front that we are no longer side-lining, but are ready to solve our own problems.
Think Tank, Mali

The idea of a unified security force for Africa is well overdue. We have been on the sidelines for too long without learning to experiment . It is through failure that the West orchestrates development.
Ebrima Bittaye, Gambian/ USA

Anything that would bring Africans closer to unity should always be encouraged, whether it is a security, economic or social unity.
Abdi, Africa

Africa needs many things including unified security. However, what the continent needs most is for the people to decide on their own future and not be told to copy this and do that. Once Africans and the rest of the world come to terms with that concept we can move forward to an African future and not another borrowed or imposed set of ideas "in Africa's best interest".
Clive, Kenya

Leaders are just making more stupid proposals

Oloyede Oladipupo, Nigeria
These leaders are just making more stupid proposals. Before we think of dealing with conflicts in Africa with one united security force, they should first of all live up to the challenges of getting rid of dictators, liars and undemocratic leaders who are rulers of the continent.
Oloyede Oladipupo, Nigeria

There is no coherent state-craft in Africa. President Mbeki's favourite speech is always the one about the white capitalist bogeyman who is out to get him. He despises the West, which is obvious with his government's antagonistic attitude towards the USA and UK on almost every instance. But, he is very quick to imitate those same countries. This AU security council is only an exercise in "being like them", not to save their own people.
Stef, South Africa

An African defence force is a very good and achievable dream. This was proven recently when South Africa and Botswana jointly acted with a pre-emptive strike against a coup in Lesotho, restoring a legitimate democracy to power. If this concept could be used to overthrow corruption and military dictatorships across Africa, then it would be most welcome. Give Africa a chance!
Mark Wade, South Africa

Insecurity is Africa's greatest scourge

Alenyo John Peter, Uganda
Insecurity is Africa's greatest scourge. Some kind of unified security strategy is better than no strategy at all. It is better than crying for external help each time there is some conflict. It will not be perfect but we have to begin from somewhere and improve on it.
Alenyo John Peter, Uganda

It sounds like a very good plan, idealistically speaking. But realistically, how can the AU intervene in countries' conflicts when it cannot interfere in their governance? And my question to Africans: Haven't you had enough deaths, diseases, poverty and doom all accelerated by these inevitable wars? Have we solved anything so far by guns? I don't think so! Can we be serious and start thinking peace and progress.
Lissa Marang'a, Kenya/UK

Africa must forge closer security links if we are to avoid regional conflicts and combat terrorism. However security is not the only issue the continent must work together on. We need to join forces politically and economically if we are to be a serious independent force in the modern world. This is a start.
Haria, Kenya/UK

It will result in greater power for the dictators, tyrants, and warlords that have long plagued the continent

Tara, USA
A united security force for Africa will result in greater power for the dictators, tyrants, and warlords that have long plagued the continent. This same leadership steals aid and resources from the people, propagates brutal wars, and ignores threats of starvation and disease until they reach epidemic proportions, and then blames Western nations for the catastrophes. I don't see how shifting more power to the principles of violence, oppression, and exploitation can lead to either progress or peace.
Tara, USA

And how much will this defence force cost? This will only fuel further war while diverting precious resources away from Africa's immediate problems. How does spending more money on guns help stem the AIDS epidemic? Condoms are cheaper than bullets!! How can they push themselves further into debt buying more instruments of war while millions starve and die for lack of food and basic health care that costs pennies a day? If they expect the developed world to keep contributing humanitarian aid then they themselves need to spend less on war and more on real humanitarian problems.
John, Ireland

I just hope they back it up with the military teeth needed to do the job

Amoroso Gombe, Kenya
Absolutely. John from Ireland is missing the point. Without peace enforcement, we cannot even begin to build the civil institutions that we need in order to deliver basic public services. You cannot provide an education or health system when people are fighting. I just hope they back it up with the military teeth needed to do the job. Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Libya, Egypt and Morocco have sufficiently well equipped armies to do the task. Let's hope the AU backs this with money so we can stamp out the eternal civil wars and give peace and democracy a chance to deliver better lives for the longest suffering people of the world.
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

Africa does not only need a common security policy but a common market targeted to control the natural resources for her own people. I believe Africa needs to be a bit selfish in order to attain her developmental objectives from its vast resources. It might be painful to begin with because the west will manipulate the laws of demand and supply as they usually do. I am sure it will take time but we will be there and the key to it "is the management of our vast natural resources from exploitation".
Adama Sanyang, Gambia / Glasgow

What about a unified environmental and economic security strategy?

January Makamba, Tanzania
You have to have common acquired values that you want defended in order to have a unified security framework. At this point, I am not sure whether we have reached that point. Besides, the proposal put forward at Addis indicates that our leaders have a narrow conceptualisation of security. What about a unified environmental and economic security strategy?
January Makamba, Tanzania

I think it's long overdue. The people have suffered, and children have been born into death and destruction. I believe that enforcing peace and tranquillity over the continent for say, a period of 10-20 years, will have such astounding effects on the people, economies and countries as a whole that the risk is well worth it. The difficulties are bound to be there, but no major change came without pain.
Mengisto Katire, Namibia

As an African soldier now studying in Germany, I am very pleased with this initiative. With some logistical support from developed countries, this may even stop some wars before they ever begin.
Jing Emmanuel, Cameroon/ Germany

What Africa needs is a responsible leadership. Leaders who understands why they should go into politics and what huge responsibility it is. Discussing security plans is a waste time and money because it is the same leadership which will have to implement this security plan. Let us spend more time to understand why this problem is mostly unique to Africa.
Joseph Mfula, Lusaka, Zambia

Africa's biggest enemy is the African people

Jika Ntolo, RSA
What are armies for? A unified security strategy for what? African does not need guns and armies to solve its problems. Africa's biggest enemy is the African people themselves, by allowing themselves to be taken away from their national traditions by agents of destruction.
Jika Ntolo, RSA

The idea of a unified security strategy is very good if implemented. However, as previous comments suggested, it is very difficult to have such co-ordinated arrangement among the countries with difference in opinion among themselves. As most of the countries in Africa are not economically strong, the best way to prosper is by complimenting each other. That is why I think that the idea of unified security is a good idea but too hard to implement.
Ravi Bhensdadia, New Zealand

Yes of course, Africa does need a unified strategy on security and the sooner the better. Only then will peace on the continent be guaranteed as the African force will be able to swiftly move into any country with rebel insurgence and crush them so that peace will prevail on the continent. Those in the West and some of their puppet African leaders who fuel wars on the continent to their benefit will not stand a chance as the combined African force will be the mightiest on the continent and the most formidable worldwide.
Chalo Mwimba, Zambia/UK

It would benefit the African people who have suffered through illogical wars

Leopold Djumapili, DRC
This a nice idea and would benefit the African people who have suffered for a long time through illogical wars. But how well this can succeed all depends upon the interest of rich countries.
Leopold Djumapili, DRC

I think it was long overdue for Africa to have a peace and security council that will act expeditiously in finding solutions to trouble spots in the continent. It is a step in the right direction. However, no country should be dominant over another irrespective of its financial or demographic strength. Also it should be an autonomous body in theory and in practice. The feasibility of uniform defence should be carefully examined. This will require some time to ascertain its implementation.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leone

I support Pan Africanism and as a Muslim, I see the need for the African continent to have a common force both militarily and economically. Otherwise victimisation of Africa by Western powers is going to continue. These powers achieve this only by manipulating African people. Recognising the differences and commonalities is what will unite Africa and bring prosperity. Otherwise the nations of this continent are going to be looted as has been done in the Middle East using various pretexts of development!
Moe, UK

How can African nations unite in a common military strategy when many of the individual nations are themselves torn apart by internal strife and civil war?
Daniel Rego, USA

While I agree with Daniel from the USA that domestic strife is the primary problem, I'm glad to see Africa as a whole taking this step. I hope that this agreement bears fruit, that warlordism can come to an end, and that the common people of all African nations can find peace and prosperity. Cheers to President Mbeki.
Dan, Boston, MA, USA

The idea of a unified security force is simply escapist

UE, UK/Nigeria
The idea of a unified security force, like so many of their other countless "initiatives" is simply an escapist antic. Which armies are going to constitute the bulk of this supposed security force? Nigeria's army has a legacy in Liberia and Sierra Leone there for all to see.

And what happens when (as in may of the continent's conflicts) a faction leader would not accept any intervention because it might disrupt his ability to exploit a natural resource? Does the security force join the side of one of the numerous factions, or become a further faction itself?
UE, UK/Nigeria

I am proud the African countries are taking this step and believe it is a step towards self-government by Africans for Africans. For too long, Europe and the Americas have entangled in the affairs of Africa without a real understanding of Africa. Maybe now the mess left behind from Europe will be resolved.
Tim Renfro, USA

The historic summit should create a new African Union.

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