According to the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research60, the number of conflicts61 in Africa (Sub-Saharan African and Maghreb, according to the definition) remained stable at 89, mainly driven by conflicts over natural resources and, to a lesser extent, political power at the national and regional levels. However, in 2008, the number of highly violent conflicts rose from 9 to 1262 reversing a trend towards decreasing intensity of violence in recent years. The deterioration of the situation in Chad resulted in its reclassification as a country at war, alongside conflicts in Darfur and Somalia. In the latter case, the retreat of the Ethiopian troops at the beginning of 2009 did not bring about a significant improvement, and clashes continue between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and groups loyal to the United Islamic Courts (UIC). As a result, while still ranking second in the world for the number of conflicts, after Asia and Oceania, Africa is now the region with the highest number of wars (highly violent conflicts).
As in the past, Sub-Saharan Africa hosted the largest number of UN-led peace operations in 2008 (10 out of 17), including in Burundi, Central Africa Republic/Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan (South), Sudan (Darfur), and Western Sahara. In 2008, UNMEE, the UN mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea came to an end, despite the increasing tension over border demarcation in 2007. Although no new mission was deployed, the African Union/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) approved in December 2007 was effectively implemented in 2008. This initiative represents the realisation of the UN’s goal to strengthen co-operation with multilateral and regional organisations. However, peacekeeping operations did not manage to improve the situation significantly. In view of the increasing instability in DRC, the Security Council decided to increase the number of troops by 3 000 units for the mission (MONUC).
After a very active 2007, which saw the launch of a number of new regional initiatives, new interventions by the African Union (AU) in 2008 were limited to the AU mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and the hybrid UN-AU mission in Sudan. Furthermore, AU observers are still deployed along the border between DRC and Rwanda, with observers from the UN and the two parties, as well as in Southern Sudan. AU Liaison Officers, based in Asmara and Addis Ababa, contribute to the monitoring of the Temporary Security Zone between the two countries. The deterioration of the situation in Somalia caused the UN Security Council to extend the AMISOM mandate by six months on February 2008. In March, AU troops supported the Comoros government in its intervention in dissident Anjouan Island to return it to central government control.
Efforts to make the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), launched in Durban in 2002, operational are continuing: the Annual Consultation between the Commission of the African Union (AU), members of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, representatives of the G8 member countries, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and other partners was held in June 2008 in Addis Ababa. Progress and the implementation of the AU peace and security agenda were assessed and the Panel of the Wise was inaugurated in December 2007. At the end of January 2008, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Co-operation on Peace and Security between the AU and the Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution was signed. As part of the capacity building component of the Africa Peace Facility (APF) put in place by the EU at the request of the AU, a number of Regional Mechanisms have already deployed Liaison Officers with the AU in Addis Ababa. Moreover, the EURO RECAMP initiative was launched in November 2008 by the EU and aims to train African military and civilian leaders belonging to the African Stand-by Force (ASF) in order to compensate for the severe capacity shortage. The ASF is expected to be able to provide rapid reaction in emergency situations. The Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) is expected to become operational by 2009.