AU-China peace and security co-operation: RECs, CSOs, and think tanks for the win

  • Lina Benabdallah Center for African Studies, University of Florida Gainesville , United States of America


Extant literature points at peacekeeping troops, financial support of the African Peace and Security Architecture, and promoting development to be the backbone of China-Africa security engagements. However, despite notable growth in each one of these aspects over the past few years, there are concerns over Chinese ambitions and African agency in conflict resolution and stability maintenance. This article addresses the role that the African Union (AU) can play in enhancing, guiding, and evaluating China-Africa security co-operation. By taking security to encapsulate not only military but economic, human, and environmental dimensions, it becomes more evident that negotiations that are based on project evaluation and follow-up mechanisms lead to a sustainable development-security nexus. However, AU officials have expressed structural challenges within the AU Commission that hinder an efficient participation at China-Africa summits and other multi-lateral platforms. Consensus-building which is vital for a unified agenda as well as lack of means to set up follow-up mechanisms for development projects across over 50 member states are the big roadblocks. In brief, as a way to go around these two challenges, this study identifies the regional economic communities (RECs), Civil Socicety Organisations (CSOs) and think tanks as the key allies of the AU to maximise its potential at the negotiations table.