Residents of Shangil Tobaya, North Darfur, queue up to receive medical treatment from the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), as part of a medical campaign in the area. (UN Photo/Olivier Chassot)

The Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, in the words of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is part of a new attempt to mobilize political action around the United Nations peacekeeping reform process. The A4P is structured around overcoming the inadequate performance of peace operations through the four “Ps” described in the 2015 High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO): people, politics, partnerships, and performance. More than developing new recommendations, the A4P aims to bring together elements of different reviews of the UN peace and security architecture as a means to create a cultural shift in the organization, and ultimately to realize better results for peace operations in the field.

The inclusion of partnerships in this process creates the need for a closer look at one of the UN’s most important partners when it comes to peacekeeping, the African Union (AU).

Since its creation in 2002, the AU has been able to showcase some of its comparative advantages in responding to new demands for peacekeepers, including in environments facing asymmetric threats. The increasing demand for organizations to step in can be seen by the wide range of peace operations mandated by the AU, as in Burundi (2003-2004), Sudan (2004-2007), Somalia (2007-to date), or Mali (2013). In recent years, the AU has also authorized a range of more offensive types of operations led by countries in a specific region, often referred to as ad hoc security initiatives, such as the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Force. Read more