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5 Relevance

This chapter presents the evaluation’s assessment of the relevance of the APP, focusing on the extent to which the APP partner organisations (and through them the APSA and AGA) were suited to the (geo)political and development priorities of Denmark, and the extent to which the APP partner organisations were suited to the conflict and stability needs in Africa. The chapter will present this assessment along the lines of the geographical focus areas of the APP: the African continent (focusing on the AU), West Africa (focusing on ECOWAS, KAIPTC and WANEP), and East Africa (focusing on IGAD).

5.1 Relevance of APP support to the AU

Danish senior officials note that it was ‘against the backdrop of a deadly decade’ with the incidence of violent conflict steadily increasing in Africa since the end of the Cold War that the APP was conceived in the early 2000s. There was real concern over protracted violence or repeat civil wars, and the creation of the AU with its strong mandate in terms of conflict management was viewed with hope from Copenhagen amidst the perception of general despair.

Meanwhile, the AU was celebrating that the continent was fully liberated from colonial influence (except for Western Sahara) but was aware that it needed to build institutional capacity to engage nations with very diverse interests. A senior AU official said that the 2002 vision was intently ‘on the institution itself and its relations with other institutions,’ and much less a longer-term strategic vision that the more mature organisation now proposes, i.e. Agenda 2063 sets bold ambitions for the continent as a whole.[175]After the establishment of the AU, Denmark was ready to support the organisation, and its pioneering stance was demonstrated in 2003 when Denmark was the first non-African state to obtain AU organisation accreditation status.

Danish investment in the AU also made sense from a larger geopolitical perspective. Denmark became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during 2005 to 2006 and in retrospect, some Danish officials hint that this may have prompted the engagement with the AU. Though the timing of the decisions does not support this hypothesis, engagement may subsequently have further justified the increased focus on conflict prevention in Africa, while Denmark had increased influence over global conflict management through its UN seat.

Looking back over the past 15 years, APSA institutions, civil society experts and development partners, including Denmark, recognise a growing AU capacity to mitigating, reducing and preventing violent conflicts, although the continent continues to suffer from instability in many regions. The AU continues to provide critical stability in Somalia, primarily through AMISOM, but increasingly also by strengthening the AGA, most tangibly related to elections. Already in 2012 in Sierra Leone, for example, elections were cancelled, ostensibly due to the budget problems, but this caused tension and risk of unrest. In a first such governance and conflict prevention effort, the AU, in concert with ECOWAS, fundraised for the election, which subsequently was conducted peacefully. The AU has also shown success as convener. When the incumbent in the 2016 presidential elections in The Gambia refused to step down, the AU and ECOWAS facilitated talks backed by credible threats of Nigerian intervention. This resulted in a peaceful transition of power.

The AU has started to address some of the new threats to peace and stability in Africa, but so far primarily through timid statements, not action, due to the largely consensual approach in the Peace and Security Council. This function was foreseen in the APP III Mid-Term Review. The Review noted that in countering violent extremism, the AU role as a norm setter, particularly emphasising the importance of human rights and solutions involving civil society, would indeed be relevant provided that it includes mechanisms for follow-up with member states. This has not yet materialised.

Thus, while the relevance of the AU is confirmed by this evaluation, it is less clear that the APP, through its support to the AU, covers the relevant spectrum of relevant peace and security priorities. The nature of conflict has changed considerably on the African continent and it is not yet evident that the AU can lead the charge to effectively counter the threats.

5.2 Relevance of APP support to ECOWAS, KAIPTC and WANEP

Overall, the APP support to the West African region – through ECOWAS, KAIPTC and WANEP as its support organisations – has been closely in line with Danish development assistance and foreign policy objectives. The APP has supported the peace and security priorities identified by the organisations (as reflected in their Strategic Plans and in the various MoUs that exist between organisations). By providing longer-term, flexible funding the APP enabled the partner organisations to build capacity and develop tools and instruments (the type of activities that are increasingly difficult to fund through project-funding). The need for a regional approach to peace and security issues is increasingly relevant considering the increase of cross-national threats, and as such the APP support to ECOWAS is considered to have been highly relevant.

Now in 2018, ECOWAS shapes its peace and security mandate through the ECPF, which respondents underline has been developed in large part thanks to the Danish support. Through the provision of financial support and technical assistance, Denmark has been a driving force behind the process of developing the ECPF and its component action plans, as well as setting up a dedicated ECPF Secretariat, which is mandated to coordinate the process of operationalizing the ECPF. The APP funding currently pays for the full staff capacity of that Secretariat. With other donors coming in to support the implementation of the ECPF, one can conclude that Danish support has provided the credibility and trustworthiness need to inspire other external partners to join.

Yet when broken down into various subcomponents of the APP support to ECOWAS, a more mixed picture emerges. APP support to setting up the Mediation Facilitation Division within the ECOWAS Directorate of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (with APP funding currently paying for the bulk of the staff capacity of that Division) is considered relevant given the fact that mediation is considered as one of the areas where ECOWAS has proven its added value. The same would apply for the APP support to improved democracy and political governance, with a specific focus on electoral support – though it would be worthwhile to consider what Denmark’s niche is in this regard given the fact that there are many other donors active in the field of electoral support. In terms of the APP support to security governance, APP funding has been used to support the civilian components of the ESF. With the bulk of the costs of the ESF being covered out of the ECOWAS member states’ contributions, and with other donors providing substantial technical support, one can question if the APP support was complementary to these efforts. Taking into account that the formation of the ESF has been a slow process and that its political framework, configuration and deployment capacities underperform when compared to the ESF’s formal objectives,[176]and taking into account that ECOWAS has proven not to be well-equipped to deal with modern-day security challenges in the West African region, it would seem to be more relevant for support to focus on strengthening the diplomatic and conflict prevention elements of ECOWAS’s mandate.

ECOWAS officials raised the question whether the APP funding – given its flexibility and higher risk tolerance compared to other donor funding – was best used for issues like strengthening the role of women in peace and security. This criticism stemmed from the fact that Denmark is but one of many donors supporting these types of activities – with Denmark being a relatively small donor compared to USAID and the EU. Interviewees indicated that they would find it more useful for APP funding to focus on the more urgent peace and security challenges in the region – like the farmer-herder conflicts, migration, and terrorism.

As for the APP support to ECOWAS’s early warning activities, the APP has supported baseline data collections and capacity development within ECOWAS. In light of the recognition that collecting reliable information on conflict dynamics is of little use if governments are unwilling to act upon detected threats and share relevant information, ECOWAS is currently working on establishing national response centres to promote member state ownership over conflict prevention. This process has been heavily supported by USAID, next to the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Switzerland, and one can therefore question whether the Danish support has been very relevant in this regard (in light of the needs of the organisation). However, the bulk of the APP support for early warning has been channelled to WANEP. Their activities in terms of early warning and Track II mediation are considered highly relevant to the needs in the region, with interviewees underlining that WANEP is a core element of ECOWARN (and therefore, the APSA), playing a key role in the operationalization of the system. As found by the APP III Mid-Term Review, value is particularly placed on the synergies that are being created between WANEP and ECOWAS through the APP support in terms of enhanced cooperation between non-state actors, member states and ECOWAS. Whereas the Review found that this should remain the preferred option for Danish support,[177] WANEP is no longer included in the APP IV as a separate partner organisation. However, the organisation can still receive APP funding under the budget line that has been created for civil society organisations.

With regard to the relevance of the support to KAIPTC, in general most of the trainings have been – in one way or another – relevant for the strengthening of the APSA. Though stakeholders say that KAIPTC trainings are supply-driven rather than demand-driven (as a result of donors earmarking their funding for specific courses that they themselves partly develop and implement), the APP support should in principle be demand-driven. The APP funding is indeed to be core funding for providing courses that are demanded. In practice, however, it is not clear whether KAIPTC uses the APP support solely for such trainings (which is partly due to the fact that the administrative capacity of the Centre is very weak). The mixed picture underlines the need for a more engaged and functioning Governing Board (of which Denmark is a member – represented by the ambassador in Accra and supported by the APP contract manager from the embassy in Addis Ababa). It also underlines the importance of getting to a more focused and ‘restrictive’ Strategic Plan for KAIPTC (in the sense that the plan should be drafted in a way that does not allow KAIPTC and the donors to stray from the set priorities). The new Strategic Plan is being developed now and should serve as the basis for Danish decision-making on continuation of funding (with KAIPTC no longer being included in Phase IV of the APP).

5.3 Relevance of APP support to IGAD

IGAD has played a pivotal role in the conflict resolution processes regarding two of the bloodiest and longest-running conflicts in Africa. While neither of the two conflicts has been resolved as such, IGAD’s role has been critical and thus relevant in bringing regional powers together to broker a regional response. In conversations with the evaluation, IGAD officials highlighted the regional nature of conflicts in the Horn, which in recent decades have often related to climate change and thus require regional, not national or bilateral, solutions. IGAD was established expressly to deal with such issues and thus continues to be relevant to the peace and security challenges in the Horn. This view was echoed by several senior diplomats and aid officials in Addis: ‘If IGAD did not exist, it would need to be invented.’

Throughout its lifetime, APP’s contributions to IGAD have aligned closely with the organisation’s own priorities, such as those set out in the 2010 Peace and Security Strategy. These priorities largely remain, although there is an increased focus on IGAD’s member states. Today the organisation carries out three types of activity, each relevant to the situation in East Africa and to Danish policies. Firstly, the organisation promotes coordination between its member states, which continues to be relevant in a region with trans-border conflicts. Secondly, IGAD seeks to enhance the institutional capacity of member states, a task which is more relevant for some states than others. Thirdly, IGAD promotes ratification and implementation of instruments. Again, this is a very relevant ambition in a region with low adherence to international agreements, although the results have been lacking (details in the effectiveness section below). The Danish contributions through the JFA have directly focused on the three strands of activities, and several IGAD officials have noted not just the relevance but also the positive institutional outcomes of the APP support.

While the APP has fully met the relevance criterion with regard to Danish policies, the evaluation found that Danish support to IGAD specifically – and also APP support generally – currently generate only limited interest in the MFA in Copenhagen. Danish officials suggested that the APP has very low visibility, it is difficult to show results because (1) it does not fit into results framework, (2) counter-factual scenarios are seldom explored and (3) there is a lack of personal interest in institutional strengthening efforts. ‘It is not sexy to work on long-term capacity-building issues,’ noted one official. Oddly, the current Danish focus on migration does not fully appreciate that the APP could indeed mitigate issues contributing to migration. To address these concerns, APP Phase IV includes a dialogue mechanism for annual meetings between African institutions and Danish stakeholders. This is expected to highlight the links between African and European security issues and thus the broader relevance of the APP.

The EU has recently decided to increase its funding to IGAD to EUR 40 million, which underlines that the organisation and its activities continue to be relevant to the region, to Africa, and beyond. One aid official in Addis Ababa noted that there is ‘political interest in Brussels to get the situation under control.’ The official referred to EU strategic papers which state that IGAD is the most critical organisation to be strengthened in order to improve the situation in the Horn of Africa.


[175] See: https://au.int/en/agenda2063.

[176] ICG 2016, op. cit.

[177] Danida, Mid-Term Review Africa Programme for Peace, Phase III (APP III) – Review Aide Memoire, July 2016, p. 9.

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This page forms part of the publication "Evaluation of the Africa Programme for Peace 2004-2017 – November 2018" as chapter 5 of 12.
Version no. 1.0, 2018-12-13
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/evaluation_africa_programme_for_peace_2004-2017/index.html