AFRICA’s SECURITY: TIME TO ESTABLISH A HYBRID MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL PAN –AFRICAN SECURITY FORCE
By Taiwo. I. Abiodun-Oni
It is often said that the world is a global village but never is there any statement more untrue than this. In all fairness, while it may be an incontrovertible fact that the world could be indeed globalized but it definitely does not have a feel or character of a village. In a village, there is togetherness, operational collectivism and communal centeredness but the international world as it is today has the feel and character of the direct opposite.
In the midst of the gargantuan scale of international hypocrisy, Africa from every facet seems to be at the lowest ebb. This unfortunate position stems from Africa’s overexerting structural dependence on external factors and unpredictable changes in the international system. The continent suffers the consequential lag in almost all of its sectors but the one that is the focus here is the issue of security. A poll into the security situation on the African continent reveals that 33 out of 54 countries are currently faced with diverse security challenges such as non-international armed conflicts, human and drug trafficking links to mention a few. A 1% rise in this number could spell unimaginable doom for the future of the continent. To resolve the issue of insecurity, the continent’s regional body; the African Union (AU) established a security institution independent of the United Nation’s sanctioned force. This security institution in Africa is not the only one similar organization in the world. There are several similar institutions established in other regions such as the NATO in Europe, the League of Arab States (LAS) and Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in the Middle East, the Organization of American States (OAS) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in America, the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) in Asia, in Australasia there is the commonwealth and the Australia New Zealand and US security treaty (ANZUS). In spite of this regional effort, many regions within the continent have also risen to establish regional security outfits under their respective subregional governments one of which is the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). Despite all of these efforts at tackling insecurity, the problem appears much more resistant than wit every passing day with internationalized and non-international crimes threatening and persisting daily, so much so that some of the terrorist groups now brazenly swear allegiances to much more superior international terrorist groups (Boko Haram has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaida). International crime syndicates and terrorist groups operate worldwide, making use of the best technologies money can buy. It would not be out of place to state that they are a force to reckon with. To ensure an effective and coordinated response to the threats that these elements pose, international organizations and countries have individually or through a group, treaties established quasi-military, inter-jurisdictional, multi-jurisdictional and even non-jurisdictional security forces, exemplified in the establishments of the CIA, Europol and the Interpol.
In the midst of all of these security forces stated above, Africa as a region has managed to scrap around its own security architecture under called the African Union Forces under what may qualify as the supervision of African Peace and Security Council (APSC) which plays a role likeable to that which the United Nations Security Council plays in the UN with the exception of the right to veto or the possibility of permanent membership. Notwithstanding, these efforts, the insecurity threats have continued worrisomely unabated.
The AU Forces have failed to deal with the conflicts in Nigeria, Mali, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon etc. Sometimes the AU Forces have been rendered so incapable so much so that there has right daylight hijacks of the African state security apparatus just like NATO did in Libya through ‘Operation Unified Protector’ which eventually led to the murder-assassination of Muammar Gaddafi. A Europol Organized Crime Threat Assessment on West Africa (OCTA-WA) that was delivered in 2019 acknowledged the growing threat of organized crime from West Africa and this isn’t any different for the rest of the continent. What then is the way forward in all of these? To answer this question, no quote is more apt than that given by the Former United Nations Secretary General; Kofi Annan in 1998 when he correctly said that ‘Africa must help itself’. The application of African solutions to African problems seems the only way out.
For Africa to help itself, I propose an overawe of the current regional security architecture (African Standby Forces established under the framework of a Common African Defense and Security Policy) and the introduction of a ‘Hybrid Multi-Jurisdictional pan –African Security Force’ under a new strategic and operational security framework.
Under this framework, I propose the dismantling the pre-existing African regional security agencies or a consolidation of these bodies to make one; The Unified African Intelligence Force (TUAFIF). This body will embody the clandestine and multi-jurisdictional nature of the CIA, the technical prowess of the NATO Forces and the regional overreach of the EUROPOL into one. This African force will be saddled with capabilities of taking on high level threat assessments through the neutralizations of hard targets, intelligence gathering through infiltration, counter terrorism roles, investigating and stemming human and drug trafficking and the neutralization of each and every interest that runs counter to the African interest. To achieve this, Africa needs to re-evaluate its position as regards the followership of international treaties that run counter to the pan-African security age that is soon to be ushered in. The effect of this is that treaties such as the Rome statute and the Pelindaba Treaty must be withdrawn from. There must in replacement of the International Criminal Court which would automatically cease to be binding, be an Afro-centered court; An African Criminal Court saddled with the exclusive responsibility of trying African offenders for the crimes in Articles 6-8 of the Rome Statute. This security force would also be vested with universal and supranational jurisdiction capable of legitimate inter-jurisdictional arrests and issuance of arrest warrants. Topmost on the security reforms are the re-negotiation of the Nuclear Weapon Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to allow for the nuclear capability of the African continent as a center (this does not advocate for one right of one African state to own nuclear capabilities but that the African Union as body must have such capability necessary for the protection of African interest). In addition to this, the African Union must be given a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Administratively, to make the task of equal representation and administrative efficiency, there must be an establishment of a functional African Intelligence Liaison Offices in each African state. In all of this, it is important that this new security architecture must be legitimized by Treaty and consented to by all African states with each of the domesticating states, agreeing to cede certain powers and privileges to the African centre to be overseen by representatives of the African Peace and security Council. In conclusion, if Africa states must come out alive from the scourge of the many security challenges that they currently face, they must be ready to partner with other states and the center even if this means giving up some of the executive powers vested in the different heads of states and governments. Africa must also work towards structural and technical independence from foreign assistances by taking its rightful place amongst the world powers. The African center must stand atop of every single country’s foreign policy. I see no other way.