International Relations

Why African Norms Matter: Understanding Subsidiarity in Peacemaking in Africa



This article explains the problem facing the UN and African regional organizations in applying the principle of subsidiarity in peacemaking. It draws on the concept of norm subsidiarity and studies African norm-setting instruments. It finds that the African Union is a subsidiary agent in the global order and formulates parallel but distinct norms to retain autonomy, claim primacy and deflect implementing uncomfortable external principles. The AU policies show the norm subsidiary, not localizing, behaviour. Conversely, African subregional organizations exhibit the norm localizing behaviour, indicating the willingness to modify and accept global and regional rules. The significance is that existing knowledge assumes that the AU is or should be a localizing agent, as Chapter VIII of the UN Charter prescribed. Crucially, African norms matter because they are a fundamental characteristic of African agency. This paper contributes to a broader understanding of African agency in international relations and global security governance.


Thumbnail image of Why African Norms Matter IFEDIORA, Obinna F.pdf


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