Defining the role of the African Union Peace and Security Architecture (ASPA)
: a reconceptualisation of the roles of institutions

  • John Wood

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    At its core, this research project is a revision of how we conceptualise the role of international organisations. The concept of role is often invoked International Relations when discussing the function of institutions like the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), but its full meaning in this context has never been problematised, leading to varying perceptions of its meaning and a lack of common understanding in the discourse. In the case of the APSA, this lack of common understanding has led to a wide variance in how the role of the APSA is categorised, and a corresponding discrepancy in assessments of the institution’s success and utility, which has had a knock-on effect on policy recommendations, which also differ wildly from author to author.

    This thesis devises technical definitions for the various ways in which the word role is utilised in International Relations and related fields, and in so doing, aims to standardise our understanding of the role of institutions, using the APSA as a case study.

    After developing a new technical definition of role based on Role Theory, the thesis develops a research programme which sets out to investigate the true role of the APSA, based on an examination of how the APSA’s role has been shaped by key limiting and enabling factors, and how this role is shaped and influenced, and directed; all the while highlighting how it differs from the organisation’s stated role, and scholarly perceptions of that role.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorBruce Baker (Supervisor) & Simon Massey (Supervisor)


    • African Union
    • Africa
    • African Peace and Security Architecture
    • peacekeeping
    • conflict management

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