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The Role of the EU and the African Union in Somalia

24 July 2020

3 mins

Author: Omotara Nadi

My dissertation question: To what extent is the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) an equal partnership between the EU and Africa aimed to examine the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU). Whilst the world has been focused on Brexit and the EU’s relationship with other countries such as the US and China, little attention has been paid to EU’s relationship with Africa. As such, I found the topic both innovative and exciting, and I was proud to be able to contribute to the existing literature on this sorely understudied relationship.

The research process

I had not studied the EU-Africa relationship specifically during my undergraduate degree, so the first step was making myself aware of what had already been written on the topic. To do this, I visited the European Commission Library in Brussels in March 2019. The Library gave me access to many valuable resources on the EU-Africa relationship. The next major task was sifting through the piles of sources I had acquired in order to focus my argument. Even though a dissertation is 12,000 words, it is extremely easy to go well over the word limit due to the amount of information that is available.

 Finally, the dissertation module helped me to understand how I can successfully present my argument. The weekly lectures that focused on a different approach were immensely useful when I was deciding upon which research method I would use to argue my points. I decided to conduct a single case study analysis on AMISOM which helped me to focus my research.

What I found

Despite the rhetoric given by the EU and Africa that AMISOM was a partnership, my dissertation argued that the partnership was still unequal. I found that there were two main reasons for this. The first reason is that the EU and Africa do not share the same interests when it comes to military intervention in Somalia. The EU’s involvement likely stems from a desire to prevent the proliferation of piracy – an issue that negatively affects the EU’s trade – as opposed to a genuine desire to help Africa with its security issues.

The second issue, and perhaps the one I was most surprised about, was the actions of African states. Only six countries within the African Union (AU) contributed troops to AMISOM. In addition to this, AU Member States are not mandated to contribute to the AU’s budget.

This means that the bloc relies on donations from western actors, such as the US and the EU, to fund its military operations. In the case of AMISOM, this has meant that the donor-recipient dynamic that the EU and Africa have pledged to move away from is apparent, resulting in a partnership that continues to be based on inequality.

Autobigraphical statement – Omotara Nadi studied Politics and International Relations at Loughborough University. Alongside her degree, Omotara was an active volunteer at Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU). Some of her volunteer positions included POLIS & English Department Chair 2019/2020, Chair of the Ethnic Minorities Network 2019/2020 and Student Coordinator for the International and Erasmus Scheme 2018-2020. After graduating, Omotara joined the Loughborough Graduate Programme as a Graduate Management Trainee.

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

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