Self-Interest and Altruism as motivations of regional action? A study of African Regional Organisations and the interventions in Mali and the DRC

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This thesis examines the military interventions of ECOWAS and SADC in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These interventions took place within the frame of the high expectations of international and regional peace after the collapse of the Cold War. However, conflicts have continued to flourish, with the African continent being the forefront for numerous. At the same time, regionalisation of security and humanitarian action is shifting the grounds for how such conflicts are addressed and regional organisations (ROs) are emerging at the centre of this development. Even so, there is still a considerable lack of knowledge in the literature on what such role entails and how these new actors actually behave and why. Realism has been shown to explain state decisions, but realism has not been applied to the decisions of ROs. In this thesis, I explore the applicability of realism to the decisions of ROs. Specifically, I ask: Can realism explain the RO decision to intervene in a humanitarian conflict? Or is the decision to intervene alternatively motivated by altruistic concerns that cosmopolitanism can explain? Through an in-depth qualitative analysis of the two cases, I show that the answer is that while realism seems the most applicable it does not entirely explain RO decisions to intervene in a humanitarian conflict, I also demonstrate the presence of non-realistic, altruistic motivations as well. I explore the implications of this finding and avenues for future research in the discussion section. This work represents a significant step in the scholarly understanding of ROs as the unit of analysis. From a policy perspective, as we strive to understand the increasing role that ROs play in mitigating humanitarian crises, it is valuable to document the full spectrum of incentives influencing RO choices.

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