Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBC Learning English Launch BBC Media Player
  • Help
  • Text only
Learning English
News English
Words in the News
News about Britain
Business English
Watch and Listen
Grammar and Vocabulary
English by Radio
Contact Us
Related sites
BBC Weather
BBC Sport
You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
26 May, 2004 - Published 14:27 GMT
New security council for Africa launched
African security force

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (the AU) is officially launched this week. Its mission is to deal with the main problem facing African nations since they achieved independence - war between nations and within nations. This report from Martin Plaut:

Listen to the story

After the opening session, the Commissioner of the new Council, Said Djinnit, told journalists that it would not be possible to solve all of Africa's problems, but at least it would now have a mandate to try. What distinguishes the African Union from its predecessor - the Organisation of African Unity - can be found tucked away in Article 4 (h) of its charter - the Constitutive Act. This allows the AU to intervene in a member state in what are called 'grave circumstances' - where there have been war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity. This is the political justification that now overrides the old cry - that any action without the permission of a member state would be interference in its internal affairs.

The real question now is whether the AU will have the muscle to put this into practice. The answer is - only slowly. Getting a robust force to back the African Union's political decisions will be some time in coming. Until then the United Nations will have to fill the void.

Martin Plaut, BBC

Listen to the words

a mandate
the authority

makes it different

its predecessor
the body which had its role before

very serious

cancels and replaces

the old cry
the usual comment (colloquial)

the muscle
the strength

a robust force
a strong group of soldiers

to back
to support

fill the void
fill the space - here, step in to solve the problem


Other Stories
Email a friend Printable version