Document Type



Spring 2015



Course Number

DIPL 2144/DIPL 6710

Course Description

The beginning of the 21st century appears to be an exciting and a hopeful period for Africa. Unlike the 1960-1990, where various indicators pointed to Africa's persistent dismal scores in terms of economic, political, social, and cultural development, the last decade and a half point to indicators moving in the opposite direction. These include decreases in the magnitude of war (Marshall 2005; Wallensteen and Sollenberg 2001), increases in popular demand for more openness and transparency; popular resistance to extended tenure of long-time leaders, economic progress over the last few years that surpassed those in many other regions of the world (Africa, as a region, was perhaps the fastest or second fastest growing in 2013); and increases in the frequency of elections and peaceful transfers of power. This trend, which began in the mid-1990s, continued at a more rapid pace, especially after the African Union (AU) was established in 2000.

This course examines factors that gave rise to positive developments and the sense of optimism that prevails in Africa today, with emphasis on the role of the AU in the resolution and management of conflicts. That is, how does the AU see conflicts in Africa? What is its role in international affairs? How and in what ways does it manage its relationships with international organizations, such as the UN, EU, and the Arab League; and with sub-regional organizations, such as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Southern African Development Community (SADC)? How does it function as an international organization consisting of 53 states, each having different political and economic systems, and national security objectives? How does it face the challenges posed by the plurality of religious, ethnic, and other cultural markers? How does it deal with African countries that have closer ties to western countries than to each other?