n Conflict Trends - Enhancing the efficiency of the African Standby Force : the case for a shift to a just-in-time rapid response model?

Volume 2014, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


When political or social tensions result in violent conflict, the solution that is usually most prominently on the table is the rapid deployment of a peace support operation, as in the recent cases of the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. This is why the 2002 Protocol establishing the African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) provided for the establishment of an African Standby Force (ASF). The ASF is composed of standby multidisciplinary contingents, with civilian, police and military components in their countries of origin. When fully operational by end-2015, the rapid deployment capacity (RDC) of the ASF should be on standing readiness to deploy within 14 days, in response to mass atrocity crimes.

This target has, however, proven to be quite a challenge. In fact, there is no international or regional organisation that can deploy such a force within 14 days. There are only a handful of countries in the world that have the kind of standing readiness capacity to deploy at such speeds. If pursuing this kind of response time is unrealistic, is it not time to take stock and question whether this is the type of model in which we should continue to invest our efforts?
This article questions whether it is time for the ASF to shift from a standing readiness model to a just-in-time rapid response model. An overview is provided of the progress made with the establishment of the ASF to date. Then, on the basis of an assessment of the actual African capabilities, as reflected in its deployments and operations, an argument for adjusting the ASF model to a more realistic and efficient just-in-time rapid response model is made.

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