AU-led Peace Operations : The Case of the AMISOM KDF’s Local Peacebuilding Engagement in Southern Somalia, Jubbaland Region
Abstract: Contemporary peace operations are deployed to increasingly complex, high-risk environments where localised armed groups, often those that can influence the trajectory of the conflict are not at the table, at the same time militaries are mandated to facilitate social, economic and political transformative processes in recovered areas. By the opening of the twenty-first century, the distinction between peacebuilding and military interventions converged both in policy and practice and increasing pressure are placed on the troop contributing countries to adapt to the dynamics of ‘multidimensional peace operations’. Drawing upon the intersection between the academic bodies of peacekeeping and counter-insurgency, this research argues that there is a growing amount of empirically grounded literature that seeks to critically assess missions’ peacebuilding capability, and more specifically its impact on local settings. Yet, most studies tend to be framed in relation to conflict abatement along reductionist approaches to development rather than analysing how and in what ways such missions aid in providing a stable polity, thus suggesting a need of further investigation about the phenomena. In contribution to the community of practice(s), this research draws upon the latest theoretical trend of peacebuilding, abiding to a system perspective of the 5 Capabilities Framework (5Cs). This, in order to attain an increased understanding of military actors’ involvement and ability to undertake early peacebuilding tasks, by studying the case of the Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) under the auspices of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in the Jubbaland region. Moreover, the research was operationalised through an on-ground collection of data in Kenya and Somalia, using unstructured and semi-structured interviews and draws upon a purposive sampling method to gather perspectives from a variety of actors involved in peace operation affairs. The study finds that the AMISOM KDF have played a key role in shaping the organisation’s peacebuilding policy, with a diverse portfolio engagement of both top-down and bottom-up character. Working predominantly through informal structures, much of their engagement is not aligned with the AMISOM civilian headquarters, in response to an environment with many challenges, resulting in a patchwork of practices with sectoral difference. Analytically, the 5Cs framework posit that an organisation must strike a balance between all capabilities in order to produce social value, something that the Kenyan contingents have struggled to achieve. While this unpacks a view of moderate, to low capacity for peacebuilding, it also generates an overall critique to the framework as it promotes a scenario which seems impossible to realise. Despite its ‘system-wide’ contribution, questions remain regarding the value of the framework in analysing local peacebuilding engagement in peace operations.
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