African Union presidents gathering in Rwanda this weekend will discuss how member states can fund peacekeeping operations on the continent. Western backers will still end up picking up most of the tab.

More than a decade after the continental body adopted the maxim “African solutions to African problems,” it’s still unable to fund operations needed to quell violence including political conflicts from South Sudan to Libya, and Islamist insurgencies from Nigeria to Somalia.

Smail Chergui
Smail Chergui
Photographer: Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/ via Getty Images

A proposal to compel the organization’s 53-member states to provide a quarter of the funding required over the next five years is being discussed at a summit that kicks off Friday in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said in an interview. If agreed, it will allow the body to receive United Nations funding for the balance, he said.

More than 100,000 uniformed peacekeepers are deployed in African nations, twice as many as a decade ago, with locations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Mali and South Sudan, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The UN’s annual peacekeeping budget is about $8 billion, with the biggest contributors the U.S., Japan, France and Germany, the CFR said in a report published May 2015.

Moribund Ambition

The plan being discussed by the African Union is for a fund “independent” of its annual budget that would breathe life into a moribund ambition — an African force that can “deal with threats all by itself,” Chergui said.

African leaders need to agree on raising 25 percent of the funds required over five years, before asking the UN Security Council to finance the balance, according to Chergui.

“There is political will, there is determination and hopefully we will have the tools,” he said. “We have to make sure we don’t continue to depend on partners.”

Conflict management and peace operations are the largest single item on the African Union’s budget, according to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who’s stepping down as AU Commission chairwoman, after serving one term. All the same, the continental body has been able to do little over the past year as violence has gripped Burundi, South Sudan, Mozambique and Libya and Islamist insurgencies persist in Somalia and Nigeria.

Violent Upsurge