Undoing Coups

The African Union and Post-coup Intervention in Madagascar

Antonia Witt


An in-depth analysis of international intervention in Madagascar following the 2009 coup, and what it means for African ‘anti-coup’ efforts.

Since the beginnings of independence, a number of African nations have been plagued by repeated coup d'états. Within the African Union (AU), there has been a concerted effort to break this cycle through the official adoption of an ‘anti-coup norm’, by which the AU is mandated to suspend a member state and restore constitutional order following a coup. Supporters of this stance see it as strengthening democracy in Africa, while critics argue that it has served to prop up existing regimes. But there has been little analysis of what the AU’s attempts to ‘restore constitutional order’ have meant for individual African states.

In this book, Antonia Witt looks at the legacy of the AU’s intervention in Madagascar following the 2009 ‘Malagasy crisis’, one of the increasingly relevant yet under-researched cases of non-Western intervention in Africa. The book looks at the ways in which international intervention reconfigured the political order in Madagascar, how it facilitated the power struggle within the Madagascan elite and prevented more profound political change. It also considers what the example set by the Madagascan intervention means for the wider international order in Africa and the powers attributed to African international actors such as the AU.

Author Bio

Antonia Witt is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Germany. She has a background in International Relations, African Studies, and Peace and Conflict Research. Her main research interests are: international and (African) regional organizations, authority and legitimacy in the international realm, and societal effects of interventions in Africa.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • 1. Norms, Intervention, and the Making of Orders
  • 2. Crafting an African Anti-coup Manual
  • 3. What ‘crise malgache’?
  • 4. The Intervention Scenario
  • 5. The Logic of Intervention
  • 6. Reproducing Old, Legitimating New Orders
  • 7. Politics and Power of Post-coup Interventions 


Undoing Coups is a must-read for anyone interested in the critical challenges of the pan-African mechanism to promote democracy through the doctrine of non-indifference. It is an insightful analysis of the politics of Madagascar and AU policies.
Abu Bakarr Bah, Northern Illinois University

‘An exciting book, providing not only a rich account of the coup in Madagascar but also a fascinating analysis of African agency and the making of an “African international”. An important contribution to ongoing efforts to make International Relations more international.’
Rita Abrahamsen, University of Ottawa

‘Navigating between the extremities of “Afro-optimism” and “Afro-pessimism,” Undoing Coups is a significant contribution to our understanding of African institutions as international and intentional actors that redefine sovereignty, democracy, and good governance.’
Niklas Hultin, George Mason University


Publication Date: 17 September 2020
296 pages

Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786996831
eBook ePub: 9781786996855
eBook PDF: 9781786996862
eBook Kindle: 9781786996879

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