Democracy-building in conflict-affected and fragile states: the role of the African Union

This publication is only available in electronic format
16 April 2016
Khabele Matlosa

The African Union (AU) has made considerable strides in its efforts towards democracy promotion and peacebuilding since 2000, when it adopted its Constitutive Act.

This Act brought about an interesting paradigm shift away from the doctrine of non-interference to one of paying attention to human rights abuses within its member states.

As a result, the AU has evolved a robust normative framework that has been instrumental in assisting most of its member states emerging from protracted war and violent conflict. Three parts of this framework are worth mentioning: the 2003 African Peer Review Mechanism, the 2006 African Union Post-Conflict and Reconstruction and Development policy framework, and the 2013 African Development Bank’s High-Level Panel report on fragile states.

This Discussion Paper argues that the real value of these normative frameworks does not lie in AU member states signing up to these norms alone. Instead, it is to be found in political commitment and policy reforms through effective implementation of these norms at the national level.



1. The African Peer Review Mechanism

2. The African Union’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Policy Framework

3. The African Development Bank’s Report on Fragile States in Africa

4. Prevention of election-related violent conflicts

5. Combating unconstitutional changes of government

Conclusions and recommendations

References and further reading

About the author

About International IDEA

About the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy 

Related Content


International IDEA Regional Director for Africa and West Asia, Dr Roba Sharamo, with the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Dr Workneh Gebeyeh, during the signing ceremony in Addis Ababa. Image credit: International IDEA.

Press Release