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The Nation
John Haberson
27 April 2008

In the midst of contentious domestic politics in many African countries, a quiet continent-wide revolution has been in process since the first years of the new millennium.

() Specifically, African states have moved to organise the African Standby Force (ASF), supported by sub-regional and country-level military units. ()

() The specific objectives of this new force were to be to

(1) conduct and observe peacekeeping missions,
(2) intervene in member states when their internal security is gravely threatened,
(3) conduct preventive deployments where such security threats loom in the horizon,
(4) conduct post-conflict peace-building operations, including disarming and demobilising warring militias,
(5) provide humanitarian assistance in conflict and disaster areas, and
(6) perform such other functions as the Peace and Security Council may authorise.

() The objectives seem to embrace () the Africa Union doctrine on Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which includes all the foregoing purposes plus promoting and encouraging democratic practices, good governance, and the rule of law.

In a word it implies amendment of the 350-year-old Westphalian principle of absolute state sovereignty and non-interference by states in each other's affairs to embrace a new doctrine of what Ambassador Francis Deng has termed "responsible sovereignty," - that is states are sovereign as long as they behave themselves. ()

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