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The African Union and coercive diplomacy: the case of Burundi

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2018

Nina Wilén*
Affiliation:
Peace Research Institute (PRIO) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 39–41, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Paul D. Williams*
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1957 E Street, NW Washington, DC, 20052, USA

Abstract

In December 2015, the African Union (AU) took the unprecedented step of threatening to use military force against the government of Burundi's wishes in order to protect civilians caught up in the country's intensifying domestic crisis. This article traces the background to this decision and analyses the effectiveness and credibility of the AU's use of coercive diplomacy as a tool of conflict management. After its usual range of conflict management tools failed to stem the Burundian crisis, the AU Commission and Peace and Security Council tried a new type of military compellence by invoking Article 4(h) of the Union's Constitutive Act. We argue that the threatened intervention never materialised because of (1) the Burundian government's astute diplomacy and (2) several African autocrats’ resistance to setting a precedent for future interventions where concerns about civilian protection might override state sovereignty.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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