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The Peace and Security Council of the African Union: evaluating an embryonic international institution*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 November 2009

Paul D. Williams*
Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, 1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20052, USA


How has the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union helped promote peace, security and stability on the African continent? This article assesses the PSC's activities in light of insights generated by the literature on international security institutions. After providing an overview of the immediate origins of the PSC, it discusses five elements of the Council's institutional design. It then evaluates the PSC's activities during its first five years (2004–9), by examining the Council's political relevance, its efficiency and productivity, and whether it is the institution best placed to deal with the continent's security problems. It concludes that the PSC's future will hinge on whether more of the African Union's members can be persuaded to devote more serious levels of resources (human and financial) to it.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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For their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article, thanks go to Brook Beshah, Benedikt Franke, Carolyn Haggis, Kathryn Sturman, Tom Tieku and the journal's anonymous referees. I also acknowledge research support provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), Project Grant RES-223-25-0072.



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