How do regional Parliaments contribute to conflict resolution? At what point in time do they intervene and with what impact? These are the key questions pursued in this paper. The ultimate purpose is to stimulate further discussion on the subject. The methodology employed is qualitative, historical and discourse analysis based on desk reviews. The study was conducted in 2011 and 12 with a focus on the experiences of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in four countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia). The findings of the study reveal that regional parliaments play important roles in resolving violent conflicts. The study also confirms that in most cases, regional parliaments begin to intervene when conflict starts to escalate and stay involved until the situation stabilizes. In the process, regional parliamentarians use a range of tools: internal debates, fact-finding missions, providing fora for different actors, organizing meetings with diplomatic representations, and issuing periodic communications. These instruments target not only parties to conflicts but also other stakeholders with direct and indirect effects on conflict settings. Moreover, the study highlights that the positions of regional parliaments on a given conflict change depend on changing circumstances on the ground and parliamentarians' understanding of the situation. The paper concludes that though the power of PAP is limited to consultative and advisory roles, it plays considerable roles in trying to settle conflicts in different parts of the continent.
Key words: Conflict resolution, African Union, regional parliaments, Pan African parliament, diplomacy.
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