Anglo-French cooperation vis-à-vis the African Union

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In launching the Saint-Malo process at the December 1998 Franco-British summit, the UK and French governments declared their intention to set aside a century of rivalry and ‘pursue joint cooperation’ on the ground in Africa (Saint-Malo Declaration 1998). In so doing, they signalled their readiness to move away from their traditional spheres of influence in their former African empires and towards a continent-wide focus on Africa, including as a central tenet building up the capacity of regional and sub-regional organisations. London and Paris were helped in this latter goal by the winding up of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1999 and its replacement by the African Union (AU) in July 2002. This chapter therefore examines British and French policy towards the AU. It begins by noting the UK and French neglect of the OAU, and then reviews the key developments and contextual changes that pushed for and facilitated a more coordinated stance on the AU. It then seeks to explain the recent evolution towards a more cooperative approach by examining the key drivers behind this enhanced collaboration and it ends by evaluating the extent and nature of Anglo-French cooperation vis-à-vis the AU. Within a neoclassical framework, it shows how concerns in both the UK and France over their relative power on the international stage have pushed both countries to work more closely together with African regional and sub-regional organisations. However, divergent interests and foreign policy priorities, institutional and resource constraints, and the views of the wider domestic polity on state preference have impinged on policy-making and ultimately limited the extent of cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom rivalry to partnership? new approaches to the challenges of Africa
EditorsTony Chafer, G. Cumming
Place of PublicationFarnham
PublisherAshgate Publishing Limited
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781409405177
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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