This thesis provides an evaluation of the African Union‟s contribution to the management of transnational conflict in the Great Lakes region. Regarding transnational aspects of conflict, it is mainly focused on militarized refugees, “ordinary” refugees and the relationship between African warring parties. Furthermore, I emphasize different notions of security, arguing that an approach including “alternative” security notions is necessary in contributing to the management of transnational conflict. In order to describe the processes characterizing the Great Lakes conflicts, the theoretical concepts of neopatrimonialism and trans-state regionalization are applied, in addition to transnationalism. Furthermore, Regional Security Complex theory is introduced in order to illustrate the interrelated security concerns of the Great Lakes states.
The findings show that the AU in many instances fails to address important aspects of transnational conflict. In the Great Lakes, “war is better than peace” for many of the actors involved. The AU‟s member states in the Great Lakes region are involved in activities working to counteract formal regionalist efforts and the regimes have their own interests in the current conflicts. As an interstate organization, the AU falls short of responding to the way state and non-state actors are intertwined in complex networks contributing to the sustenance of conflict.
I also emphasize the AU‟s security cooperation with relevant sub-regional initiatives. Furthermore, the role of the UN in the Great Lakes is shortly introduced in order to contextualize the AU‟s security-political initiatives. The large amount of interstate actors involved in the Great Lakes makes the conflict management efforts in the region fragmented. I argue that a regional approach is a necessarily component in contributing to conflict management. However, it is not sufficient. In order to address transnational conflict, it is crucial to identify and address all the actors involved in conflict. However, the AU falls short of addressing the role the states have in sustaining a conflict dynamic that operates outside formal interstate politics.