Towards Concert in Africa: Seeking Progress and Power through Cohesion and Unity
by Sigfrido Burgos Cáceres
Economic development, power distribution, and security consolidation can be promoted collectively by states. Collective actions are predicated on acquiring strength through unity. A number of formal and informal institutional arrangements exist to advance broad and narrow goals. One of these is concert. The classical notion of concert is related to the balance of power that existed in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. A more contemporary notion of concert goes beyond power balancing, as it seeks to address economic, environmental, legal, military, political, trade, and socio-cultural issues. The African continent is not seeking an ideal form of multi-polar balance of power but rather is aiming to join forces to tackle the most pressing concerns of its societies: conflict, dictatorship, hunger, illiteracy, integration, poverty, public health, resource extraction, and water scarcity. The heterogeneous landscape of influence and power within the African Union creates two sets of states: core and peripheral. The most dominant states in the core advance progressive policy initiatives that uphold their national interests, while the remaining periphery follows as they stand to benefit from the spillover effects generated. Concert provides an effective platform for African states to assess, agree, and adopt coordinated positions on matters of common interests that can have national, regional, and international impacts. This essay argues that cohesive agreements on adjustments, designs, and implementations of tactics, plans, and strategies are strengthened by multilateral communication of opinions, proposals, and views under concert.
Sigfrido Burgos Cáceres is Unit Coordinator at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. The opinions and views expressed in this information product are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of FAO or the United Nations.