Trump cuts, South Sudan aid, and the six-year war in Syria: The Cheat Sheet

As US President Donald Trump threatens to cut funding to UN peacekeeping, it’s time to explore some alternative models. For this Global Observatory report, Paul Williams looks at the ECOWAS experience in Gambia this year, in which West African leaders and the African Union sent in 7,000 troops, endorsed by the UN, to prevent an “unconstitutional change of government”.

He concludes that the deployment “appears to be a successful case of coercion engineered through the coordinated activities of ECOWAS, the AU, and the UN Security Council”. There were a specific set of circumstances, but it was the logical result of two broader trends: “the African Union’s stance against unconstitutional changes of government and its willingness to authorise peace enforcement operations as part of its conflict management strategies.”

AU peace operations have historically been limited by a lack of money. But it now has a new funding model based on a 0.2% levy on imports by member states. It’s supposed to cover the costs of the organisation, and finance 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget. Can it work? The deadline for kick-off is this year. But the Institute for Security Studies points out that only five countries have started implementation. And weak revenue-generating mechanisms suggest many others will struggle. But if it does take off, ISS says it will “elevate the status of the AU” and go a long way to address concerns over its “capture” by international partners.

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