ATELIER / WORKSHOP
African Armies in Multilateral Peace Support Operations:
Social and Professional Changes at Stake
CFEE & Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University, Addis-Abeba, 25-26 avril 2016 / Addis Ababa, 25-26 April 2016
Atelier organisé par le CFEE en partenariat avec l’Observatoire pluriannuel des enjeux politiques et sécuritaires dans la Corne de l’Afrique, le laboratoire LAM (UMR 5115), Sciences Po Bordeaux, la région Aquitaine, la DGRIS et l’Université libre de Bruxelles / Workshop organised by the CFEE in partnership with LAM (UMR 5115), Sciences Po Bordeaux, Région Aquitaine, DGRIS and Université libre de Bruxelles.
Programme ci-dessous / See program below.
Objectives of the workshop
African armies are increasingly contributing troops to international peace support operations on the continent. But how are they affected by these contributions? How does the entry into this social world of international peace and security affect these armies, as state institutions and professionals?
In the framework of its new program on “Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa and Beyond”, the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE) organises a two‐day workshop in Addis Ababa, aimed at discussing recent empirical research on the issue. The Observatory of the Horn of Africa (Observatoire de la Corne – Les Afriques dans le Monde in Bordeaux and the Région Aquitaine), the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Ministry of Defense are financial partners of the event.
The question refers to at least two strands of academic literature. The first raises classical concerns for institutional efficiency in peace and security activities, particularly for the UN due to its long experience in this matter, but also for the new African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). It is to assume that the new African Peace and Security Architecture will become what African states and notably African armies will make of it. Peace and security practitioners would thus benefit from the existence of rich data, detailing how armies are experiencing this new activity, evolving in it, and possibly being shaped by it, in return.
The second strand of the literature concerns the military in Africa. Much has been written on the negative role that the military has played in the genesis of security crises in Africa, often blaming the factionalism, nepotism and corruption reigning within it, in connivance with the political rulers, fuelling political contest and repression, rebellions and civil wars. But monographic and comparative academic studies coping with the evolution of this important institution in day‐to‐day African politics have been rare. The domain of the security sector reform (SSR) has in some way filled this gap since the beginning of the 2000s, with a practical, policymaking orientation dedicated to stabilising what are often called “post‐conflict” countries. SSR analyses are providing useful data, particularly on the political and social costs when “minorities”, i.e. women, specific ethnic groups, etc., are excluded from the military apparatus. But this literature has not questioned the influence of growing contributions of African armies to multilateral operations.
The junction is easily made concerning countries like Uganda yesterday and Burundi today, which have been experiencing such SSR programs before (and while) becoming important troop contributors for multilateral operations. Rwanda maintained a national grip on its involvement in the social world of peacekeeping. In Burundi (and Rwanda), lessons can be learned on how former “mono‐ethnic” armies have been driven to (try to) change their social basis and the effects of these attempts on the domestic arena. Undoubtedly, the international environment which has made the entrance into the peacekeeping world possible for states like Burundi and Rwanda, has favoured this internal transformation.
But even the contributing armies that do not host domestic SSR programs (strictly speaking), and notably the well‐trained, organised and equipped ones among them, deserve to be studied in light of their contribution. This would provide useful insights into their roles at regional and national levels.
Among the different issues to be discussed during this workshop:
1/ Can contribution to multilateral operations be conceived as an indirect tool to reform armies? Can we trace some official objective in this sense, among the national political decision‐makers and/or their foreign partners?
2/ How do these contributions impact the concerned contingents, and later the armies which they belong to, in terms of professionalisation, and/or modernisation? The question of the modernisation of the African armies, notably through peace support operations, is an actual one. The “Forum for Peace and Security in Africa”, held in Dakar (9‐10 November 2015), has dedicated one panel to the issue. Multilateral operations are likely to favour the diffusion of organisational and behavioural standards developed by more experienced foreign armies with regards to peacekeeping and, more generally, to the diverse missions conferred to the military today. External training programs, but also competition and imitation between contingents, are assumed to serve as important channels for the diffusion of these standards and norms. The professionalisation / modernisation of the armies and their increasing specialisation in multilateral operations include material dimensions (budgets dedicated to certain sectors, material acquisitions, etc.) that need to be tracked. Such technical / professional / material capabilities in the realm of national defence and external operations can also contribute to the emergence of specific rules and an actual professional ethos preventing the military from interfering into politics and from neglecting the rule of law and the international humanitarian law. Yet, this emergence is not a natural, or a necessary, one. Armies can be strengthened without adhering to the rule of law.
3/ To which extent are changing capabilities within the concerned armies simultaneously altering their social structure (ethnicity, social solidarities and networks, socioeconomic cleavages, etc.). Rarely evoked in this regard are the transformations in the socio‐professional structure of these armies. The apparition of new specialisations and “careers”, of new curricula, of new individual ambitions and new strategies to fulfil them, are of interest here. They may reveal variations in the social capitals mobilised by different categories of military staff and, by the same token, variation within the social structure in the military institution (competing social solidarities, generational gaps, etc.). Such variations would necessarily transform the channels through which the armies interact with, and eventually also the roles they play within, their domestic political societies. Also, a political economy emerges in the surroundings of the peacekeepers. “Peacekeeping Economics in Africa” (Kathleen Jennings) takes place at peacekeepers’ home as well, not only on the fields of deployment.
4/ Finally, one needs to better understand how these military transformations, this professional standardisation, these social connections across specialities and national boundaries, provide the national authorities with new leverage of action towards their external partners and among the multilateral diplomatic arenas. How does this “geopolitical rent” work concretely through troop contribution (Jonathan Fisher) in the relations with external partners, and how does it impact national armies and soldiers within their countries?
Téléchargez le programme / Download the program : Workshop CFEE April25-26 – Program
Monday 25 April
8:30-9:00 – Welcoming (CFEE office)
9:00-9:30 – Introduction (CFEE office)
Dr. David AMBROSETTI (CFEE/CNRS)
Dr. Jean-Nicolas BACH (LAM / Observatoire de la Corne, Bordeaux)
Dr. Nina WILÉN (FNRS/ULB)
9:30-12:00 – Session 1 (CFEE office) Chair: Dr. Jean-Nicolas BACH
9:30-9:55 – Political Unrest in Burundi and Peacekeeping Missions Abroad: Linking Professionalization and Depoliticization – Dr. Nina WILÉN (FNRS/ULB), Dr. David AMBROSETTI (CFEE / CNRS) & Dr. Gérard BIRANTAMIJE (Université du Lac Tanganyika)
9:55-10:15 – Discussant: Ms Michelle NDIAYE NTAB (Director, African Peace and Security Programme, IPSS/AAU and African Union), and Q/A session
10:15-10:40 – When ideals face reality – Shaping the South African Armed Force for the Future – Dr. Thomas MANDRUP (Royal Danish Defence College / Stellenbosch University)
10:40-11:00 – Discussant: Dr. Jide M. OKEKE (Dr., Head of Policy Development, Peace Support Operations, African Union Commission), and Q/A session
[11:00-11:15 – Coffee Break]
11:15-11:40 – Strange Battlefield Fellows: The complicated relations between the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers – Dr. Judith VERWEIJEN (Researcher Nordic Africa Institute & Conflict Research group, Ghent University)
11:40-12:00 – Discussant: Mr. Jean-François HASPERUE (First Counsellor, Peace and Security Section, European Union Delegation to the African Union), and Q/A session
[12:15-13:45 – Lunch at Louvre Hotel]
14:00-14:15 – Welcoming to the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University
Ato Kidane KIROS (Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University)
14:15-15:45 – Session 2 (Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University)
Chair: Dr. Yonas ADAYE
14:15-14:40 – Post-liberation armies and peacekeeping: From guerrillas to securocrats? – Dr. Jonathan FISHER (International Development Department, University of Birmingham)
14:40-15:00 – Discussant: Dr. Yonas ADAYE (Associate Academic Director, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University), and Q/A session
15:00-15:25 – The role of peacekeeping contribution in the construction and performance of military identity in post-conflict Rwanda – Dr. Josefine Kuehnel LARSEN (Center for Military Studies, University of Copenhagen)
15:25-15:45 – Discussant: Dr. Mesfin GEBREMICHAEL (Assistant Professor, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University), and Q/A session
[15:45-16:15 – Coffee Break]
16:15‐17:45 – Key-Note Lecture (Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University)
Reflections on the Experiences of African Armies in the African Union Mission in Somalia
Dr. Paul WILLIAMS (Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University)
[18:30 – Reception at the Residence of the French Ambassador, H.E. Ms Brigitte COLLET]
Tuesday 26 April
8:45-9:00 – Welcoming to the FDRE PSTC
Brigadier-General Habtamu TILAHUN (Head of FDRE-Peace Support Training Centre)
9:00-12:00 – Session 3: Discussion on the Ethiopian Role in Peace Operations (Peacekeeping Support Training Centre) Chair: Dr. Elias SEYOUM
9:00-9:25 – Ethiopia in Early Multilateral Peace Operations during the Imperial Era – Dr. Ahmed HASSEN OMER (Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University)
9:25-9:50 – Ethiopia in AMISOM – Dr. Kidist MULUGETA (Consultant on Issues of Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa)
9:50-10:15 – Ethiopia in Somalia, 2006-2016 – Dr. Paul WILLIAMS (Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University)
10:15-10:40 – The Peacekeeping Operations, a Catalyst of the Security Sector Reform and the Affirmation of an International Role: the Case of Ethiopia – Dr. Patrick FERRAS (Independent researcher, Observatory of the Horn of Africa)
[10:40-10:55 – Coffee Break]
10:55-12:00 – Discussants: Dr. Elias SEYOUM (Colonel, Chief of Research Department, FDRE-Peace Support Training Centre) and Dr. Asnake KEFALE (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Addis Ababa University), and Q/A session
[12:00-13:30 – Lunch at the Peace Support Training Centre]
13:30-15:00 – Session 4 (Peace Support Training Centre) Chair: Dr. Nina WILÉN
13:30-13:55 – The unintended consequences of foreign military assistance: an analysis of PSO training centres in Africa – Dr. Marco JOWELL (Africa Research Group, London)
13:55-14:20 – Constructing the Meaning of Peacekeeping: Examining the course contents of Regional Peace Academies in Africa – Dr. Nina WILÉN (FNRS/ULB) and Dr. Marco JOWELL (Africa Research Group, London)
14:20-15:00 – Discussant: Colonel Jacques DEMAN (Military Advisor, Peace and Security Section, European Union Delegation to the African Union), and Q/A session
[15:00-15:30 – Coffee Break]
15:30-16:45 – Conclusion (Peace Support Training Centre)
Outlines for a publication project – Dr. David AMBROSETTI, Dr. Jean-Nicolas BACH & Dr. Nina WILÉN
[18h00 – Reception at the Residence of the Belgian Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Didier NAGANT]
Political Unrest in Burundi and Peacekeeping Missions Abroad: Linking Professionalization and Depoliticization – Dr. Nina WILÉN (FNRS/ULB), Dr. David AMBROSETTI (CFEE / CNRS) & Dr. Gérard BIRANTAMIJE (Université du Lac Tanganyika)
During the last decade an increasing number of post‐conflict armies participate in multilateral peace operations. As such, these armies are subject to numerous external formations with the aim of making sure that they fulfil the conditions for participation in peacekeeping missions. Many of these post‐conflict armies have also undergone some type of Security Sector Reform (SSR) with the objective of transforming the military into an efficient, effective and professional army. In this article we attempt to examine how these experiences influence the army with a particular focus on the process of professionalization. We are dividing professionalization into four different dimensions: the technical dimension of professionalization, which refers to the army’s capacity to use modern equipment and technology, to gain interoperability, etc.; the social dimension of professionalization which refers to integrating a corporate spirit in the army and imbuing new civilian values; the financial dimension of professionalization which relates to the regular payment of the army; while the political dimension of professionalization refers to the military’s subordination to a civilian authority and rules. Depoliticization is a transversal element of all dimensions of professionalization and implies the army’s absence of involvement in politics. We examine these different dimensions of professionalization in the case of the Burundian military. We argue that the Burundian army has experienced significant social, political and economic transformations in relation with its SSR process and entrance into international peacekeeping. Financially, the participation in peacekeeping mission has enhanced the status of soldiers in general, which also have increased motivation to stay in the forces. Socially, through its adherence to international peacekeeping mission and its participation in externally supported and guided SSR, the military institution has introduced a new understanding of human security and civilian protection, including the value of its own members. This is linked to the political transformation through which the army has gone from clearly being attached to the political leadership in a politicized way towards depoliticization, understood as neutral and isolated from politics. However, Burundi’s current crisis has challenged these transformations, which forces the authors to discuss the limits of professionalization, and depoliticization in particular.
When ideals face reality – Shaping the South African Armed Force for the Future – Dr. Thomas MANDRUP (Royal Danish Defence College / Stellenbosch University)
In 2015 the South African Parliament finalised the long awaited new defence review. This document had been long time in the making, and was the result of more than four years of intensive work by the members of the Defence Review Committee. The recommendations opens up for an extensive transformation of the armed forces, and reflected the lessons learned that South Africa have had from its participation in international PSO since the transition for apartheid, but also from the so-called “Border wars” prior to 1994. This paper focuses on the influences and experiences that the SANDF have had from its involvement in the SADC Force Intervention Brigade in DR. Congo and the strengthened training mission in Central African Republic that ended up in a battle with the SELEKA rebel movement in 2013. What has the lessons learned for the SANDF been from these operations, and how has this influenced South Africa’s view upon and involvement in the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC). During the first years of the post-apartheid government, there was as a very dominant disbelieve in the effectiveness of the military tool. Since the intervention in Lesotho in 1998 this has changed, and the SANDF has increasingly been used as integral part of South Africa’s foreign policy, and increasingly in a robust role. With the dominant role played by South Africa in setting up the ACIRC it seems that the South African military and political leadership foresees a future where the SANDF will be involved in robust intervention and enforcement type operations.
Strange Battlefield Fellows: The complicated relations between the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers – Dr. Judith VERWEIJEN (Researcher Nordic Africa Institute & Conflict Research group, Ghent University)
In recent years, the study of peacekeeping missions has increasingly focused on mission relations with so-called “host societies”. Up to present, these research efforts have paid scant attention to the interaction between peacekeeping troops and host-country military. Given that national armed forces are crucial for security dynamics and are often subject to reform processes that are part of mission mandates, this is an important omission. This paper addresses the gap in scholarly knowledge on the relations between national and peacekeeping troops, focusing on the DR Congo. The DRCongo provides a particularly relevant case in that UN forces and the national army (FARDC) are engaged in “joint” military operations against armed groups. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research in the Kivu provinces, in particular zones of Pak-Batt and Ind-Batt deployment, the paper explores mutual representations, the discourses that inform them, as well as how these discourses shape and are shaped by military practices. The main findings of the research indicate, perhaps surprisingly, that shared military identities do not facilitate but appear to hamper collaboration, since they are infused with discourses of racial and cultural difference, while accentuating asymmetries in power, resources and service conditions. For the Congolese army, the UN’ peacekeepers appears like “armed tourists” due to their relative inertia, limited radius of action, and risk-avoiding behavior. Oscillating between an inferiority and a superiority complex, this feeds an attitude of “opportunistic (pretended) partnership”, reflecting how the FARDC tries to profit as much as possible from free fuel, rations and other material benefits, while limiting the interference of UN forces in its daily business. UN military, in turn, see Congolese soldiers predominantly in terms of inferior racial, cultural and military characteristics, but also realize they partly depend on these forces for intelligence, operational awareness, and their own safety. This feeds an attitude that can best be described as “paternalistic (pretended) partnership”. The limited interaction that takes place during “not so joint” joint operations, patrolling and trainings, always via interpreters and mostly in the formal sphere, does not manage to substantially reduce these mutual negative representations. On the contrary, these scarce moments of contact tend to further foster distrust and divisions, by highlighting that the two troops are “worlds apart” that are “working together apart”. While these dynamics were less visible among French and Swahili speaking African troops deployed for more robust peacekeeping operations, there were few indications that this contributed to inducing behavioural change among the FARDC. Thus, the “transformative potential” of peacekeeper-national armed forces interaction appears to be limited.
Post-liberation armies and peacekeeping: From guerrillas to securocrats? – Dr. Jonathan FISHER (International Development Department, University of Birmingham)
This paper explores the relationship between peacekeeping and the legacy of guerrilla heritage within the polities of eastern Africa. In five east African states – Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan – the ruling party (de facto or de jure) since the 1980s/1990s emerged from reformist, guerrilla insurgencies fighting against indigenous African governments. These ‘post-liberation’ regimes have consciously (re-) built their states around themselves and their ideological programmes; the latter of which have long been deeply ambivalent regarding the merits of Western-style liberal democracy. In the case of South Sudan and Eritrea, a minimal or fleeing ‘pre-liberation’ state apparatus has allowed the SPLM/A and EPLF/PFDJ to build national political, military and economic institutions around their party civilian and military architectures. The same is largely true for Uganda’s NRM and Rwanda’s RPF – though both initially incorporated rival political parties and some surviving pockets of bureaucracy into their ‘broad-based’ governments during their early years in power to consolidate their positions. Even in Ethiopia, where the state bureaucracy of the imperial and Derg eras largely survived the war which brought the TPLF/EPRDF to power in 1991, the movement nevertheless ensured that its own military wing came to form the core of the new Ethiopian Defence Force – and Ethiopia’s military and security apparatus remains heavily dominated (particularly at the top) by Tigrayan veterans of the liberation war. In the cases of Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia particularly, these post-liberation militaries have increasingly been employed in multilateral peacekeeping operations – under UN or AU mandates – since the early 2000s in Africa and beyond. In doing so, their militaries have become socialised with others across the continent in an unprecedented manner, both through involvement in operations but also in training exercises and fora. This paper explores the extent to which those officers at the heart of these peacekeeping missions represent a new generation of ‘post-post-liberation’ “securocrats’ within their respective regimes or, indeed, whether participants in peacekeeping are carefully insulated from the politics of state security, and for what reasons. Uganda’s dual deployment of soldiers to Somalia – under an AU mandate – and to South Sudan – as a bilateral, ad hoc arrangement – during 2013-2015 represents a particularly salient comparative case study in this regard.
The role of peacekeeping contribution in the construction and performance of military identity in post-conflict Rwanda – Dr. Josefine Kuehnel LARSEN (Center for Military Studies, University of Copenhagen)
The Rwandan military is one of the world’s largest contributors of troops to international peacekeeping operations, yet it is a country with a history of violence and conflict. Since 2004, the Rwandan military has deployed to international peacekeeping operations. It began its peacekeeping deployment only ten years after the country had a foreign peacekeeping operation deployed on its own territory. Since the genocide in 1994 and the breakdown of the state institutions, including the national security force, the Rwandan military has been at the forefront of policies and initiatives for post-conflict rebuilding. The conflicts that have historically marked Rwanda, which ultimately erupted in genocide in 1994, were mainly based on disputes over perceived ethnic identities. In seeking peace and reconciliation, the government and the military has sought to reconstruct Rwandan identity. On a national level, ethnic identities, over which conflict was fought, were outlawed to create an ideology of national unity. In line with this policy, the military has undergone a transformation from being largely ‘mono-ethnic’ –to be multi-ethnic – and then being ‘de-ethicised’. This was one way that they military sought to encompass the ethnic groupings that had previously been in continuous conflict. This article analyses how peacekeeping contribution is used as a tool to form, and perform, Rwandan-military identity, in addition to how peacekeeping assist in managing Rwanda’s external image and foreign policy position. In this article, I argue that one of the reasons that Rwanda contribute so heavily to peacekeeping operations, is that peacekeeping is used as an internal tool for soldiers to change their own self-conception. In addition, while Rwanda’s peacekeeping efforts constitute a foreign policy instrument intended to provide African solutions to African problems, they are also helping transform the image of Rwanda from a violent regional actor in the past that has contributed to insecurity in the region to solid standing as a strong contributor to peace. Building upon the country’s experience of conflict and genocide, I argue that Rwanda builds an image of the Rwandan military as better suited than other countries militaries to respond to conflicts that involve aspects of genocide and violence against civilians, because they have a lived experience of these grounded in the liberation war and the Rwandan genocide. The article builds upon a PhD thesis for which 6 months ethnographic research was conducted with the national military and the ministry of defense in Rwanda in 2012.
Ethiopia in AMISOM – Dr. Kidist MULUGETA (Consultant on Issues of Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa)
Ethiopia’s decision to join the AMISOM was a departure from its previous unilateral military approaches to neutralize and contain threats emerging from Somalia. Covering the greater part of AMISOM’s area of operations, Ethiopia has become an indispensible security player to the peacekeeping mission. The mission’s involvement in the internal state building and political process of Somalia has, however, exposed the frontline troop contributing states to criticism. This has further been complicated by the absence of a viable exist strategy in the near-future. The author analyzes the implications of Ethiopia’s engagements as a peacekeeping force in Somalia. The author also analyzes how the peacekeeping mission is being used to promote and maintain Ethiopia’s national interest, regional standing and its contribution to peacemaking efforts in Somalia. The lessons learned for Ethiopia from the peacekeeping operation will also be discussed.
The Peacekeeping Operations, a Catalyst of the Security Sector Reform and the Affirmation of an International Role: the Case of Ethiopia – Dr. Patrick FERRAS (Independent researcher, Observatory of the Horn of Africa)
This contribution will aim to show that participation in peacekeeping operations and support for peace support operations contribute to the concept of reform of the security sector and the organizational development of the armed forces. Secondly, it allows a State to integrate or assert its position in the international community when the level of involvement is sufficient and continuous. Since 1991 and because of its military commitments in the service of peace, Ethiopia has become a major player on the African continent and internationally.
The unintended consequences of foreign military assistance: an analysis of PSO training centres in Africa – Marco JOWELL (Africa Research Group, London)
Peacekeeping training centres in Africa are numerous and are affiliated to the African Union. They aim to train predominately African civilians, police and military who will be deployed to peacekeeping operations in Africa. The Centres are staffed predominately by African military officers and foreign military officials seconded as technical advisers. The intent is three fold. Firstly that these Centres aim to contribute to improving African Union peacekeeping operations by creating a pool of well trained personnel; secondly these Centres aim to contribute to the professionalization of national defence forces in African states through training and instruction in international norms and finally the Centres are intended to provide areas of socialization between African militaries in order to foster bonds and forge ties in the hope that the potential for regional conflict will reduce through these elite relationships. This paper argues that few of these intended outcomes are achieved. It is argued that African militaries reflect the broader socio-political dynamics of the state and are typically patrimonial in nature. Implications for foreign military assistance are profound. By providing patrimonial military institutions with significant external resources such as training centres foreign donors actively exacerbate internal patrimonial dynamics. This will of course take different forms depending on the nature of the military and the nature of the state. What is common however is that foreign military assistance in Africa is subverted for more national and usually internal reasons as opposed to the intended and more outwards oriented aims. Comparative cases of the International Peacekeeping Training Centre (IPSTC) in Kenya with supporting cases from Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia are used to demonstrate this ‘satisficing’ model of foreign military assistance. Furthermore I show that the Centres reinforce existing socio-political realities in their respective militaries such as identity politics, patrimonial systems and national foreign policy priorities.
Constructing the Meaning of Peacekeeping: Examining the course contents of Regional Peace Academies in Africa – Nina WILÉN (FNRS/ULB) and Marco JOWELL (Africa Research Group, London)
This article examines how the meaning and content of peacekeeping as a concept is being constructed, reproduced and reinforced through the creation and teachings of regional peacekeeping training centres in Africa. We examine the pedagogical approach of three of these centres in order to examine and understand how the concept of peacekeeping is perceived and adopted through different courses and taught as a recollection of these latter. The aim of this article on a theoretical level is to study how and why peacekeeping has become not only an accepted solution to current conflicts, but moreover the solution. Furthermore we show how courses promote and follow a ‘static liberal international peacebuilding’ agenda that although has salience conceptually is far detached from the reality of the conflicts’ ‘peacekeepers’ aim to mitigate and ultimately solve. On an empirical level, the objective is to examine how peacekeeping as a concept is being (re) constructed, reproduced and reinforced in three African regional training centres. This is done by an in-depth examination of the courses proposed at these centres. We argue that peacekeeping as a concept is reproduced, re-legitimized and ultimately reinforced as a practical solution to conflicts through the teachings in these regional centres. However, the fact that many of these centres are hosted and driven by local actors in autocracies, undermine the liberal aspect of the peacekeeping concept and hollow out the meaning of liberal peace all together.