'New regionalisms' and Violent Conflicts in Africa: The Politics of the AU and ECOWAS in Mali and Guinea-Bissau


Taking the events of early 2012 in Mali and Guinea-Bissau as the starting point, this paper examines the involvement of the AU and ECOWAS in these conflicts and subsequently explores the spatial dimensions of their responses. To this end, our analysis is guided by the following empirical questions: What strategies do West African states, the AU, and ECOWAS pursue in their attempts to (re)gain sovereignty as well as to defend or recover a particular spatial order (i. e. a specific order of states)? How do these actors cooperate with bilateral and multilateral actors to that end? Which (possibly novel or innovative) processes and practices of spatialization go along with all of this? The paper begins with an overview of the literature on discussing the roles of ROs and NRs in peace and security. As demonstrated in this paper, space as an analytical category is missing in much of the literature. Subsequently, the paper engages with the conflict situations in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, followed by a first attempt to explore the spatial dimensions of the engagement of the AU and ECOWAS in the respective conflicts. Finally, drawing some tentative conclusions the paper argues that an explicitly spatial perspective allows for gaining new insights into current transnational conflicts involving state and non-state actors and a better understanding of the ways in which the AU and ECOWAS react to them. However, the considerations advanced here are still of a preliminary character and need to be developed further in the course of this research project.

Working Paper Series des SFB 1199 an der Universität Leipzig