Why African Norms Matter: Subsidiarity and Agency in Peacemaking

15 November 2021, Version 3
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


This study explains why the African Union (AU) claims primacy and opposes the UN Security Council’s and the ICC’s efforts to enforce R2P and nonimpunity norms in peacemaking. It draws on the concepts of norm subsidiarity and African agency in global politics and analyses African norm-setting and policy instruments. The central argument is that the AU is a subsidiary actor in the international system and has created subsidiary norms on immunity, the right to protect, and continental sovereignty to defend Africa’s vital security interests. The significance is that existing studies have applied the norm localization model and assumed that the AU is or should be a localizing actor and subordinated African subsidiary norms to international principles. Thus, the current approach has missed the collision of African and international norms we are witnessing. This study contributes to knowledge by enriching the understanding of African subsidiary norms and agency in international relations.


African agency
African Union


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