AU sees borders as “bridges of solidarity”

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The African Union (AU) border programme (AUBP), started 14 years ago, is an endeavour by the continental body to transform borders into “bridges of solidarity”, seen as “crucial” in pre-empting conflicts and fostering regional cohesion.

An AU statement to mark Africa Day (25 May) reads, in part: “Our borders should not be subjects of contention but rather bedrocks for policy implementation, as encapsulated in the AU Convention on Cross-Border Co-operation (Niamey Convention) and the AU Strategy for Border Governance”.

Borders, it notes further, should “emerge as instruments of opportunity, playing a crucial role in the pursuit of peace and security across the continent”.

Africa’s security challenges are “predominantly concentrated” along border areas. These were once overlooked but now are “at the forefront of our battle against cross-border crime and terrorism”.

“It is imperative that we concentrate our efforts in these regions to cultivate peace, security and sustainable development.

“The resilience we foster in border communities, fuelled by cross-border co-operation, equips us to combat transnational crime and mitigate the impacts of climate change. By embracing co-operative strategies, we can ensure effective management of forced displacements, food shortages, humanitarian crises and resource-related conflicts.

“The AUBP’s mission extends beyond conflict prevention. It is a tool for resolving border disputes that have resurfaced, spurred by the allure of newfound natural resources. While international arbitration remains an option, its protracted and costly nature often strains the camaraderie between nations,” according to the statement.