Working Paper No. 56. Africa's Sub-regional Organisations: seamless web or patchwork?


This paper considers the pros and cons of outsourcing responsibility for security from the African Union to various sub-regional organisations, usually referred to as the regional economic communities (RECs) The author concludes that although there are some advantages in such decentralisation, it is far from clear that all RECs are up to the task they have been given, identifying problems such as the lack of a regional hegemon and the absence of shared values and norms.

The paper delivers an analysis of the main RECs covering Africa's five sub-regions: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU). The author concludes that the African Union will still be forced to take action in many situations due to organisational weaknesses in several of the sub-regional structures.


Working Paper No. 56 (series 2), London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 32 pp.

Working Paper No. 56. Africa’s Sub-regional Organisations: seamless web or patchwork?

Published 1 January 2009