This article traces recent changes of the practices and justifications of the use of force in intervention, in the context of African security governance, highlighting how these changes interact with norm transformations at the scale of the global order. In doing so, it conveys how a long-standing pattern of norm contestation between international and African actors over external intervention vs sovereignty, has started to give way to a mutually accepted division of labour. After 9/11, the paradigm of liberal interventionism has been incrementally replaced by the framework of stabilisation, with a re-prioritisation of sovereigntist agendas. This has increased collaboration between international and African actors, specifically prompting the United Nations and the African Union to divide tasks of mandating and enforcement, thereby increasing inter-institutional ‘order’. This consensus, however, far from signifying wider compliance with ‘liberal ordering’ principles, rather indicates the need to revisit central assumptions of the International Relations norm diffusion literature. While the latter emphasises the diffusion of ‘good’ international norms, especially pertaining to human rights and democratisation, the growing consensus on ‘intervention as stabilisation’ instead exposes how post-9/11 justifications of practices that carry the potential to downsize the scope of such norms, are starting to resonate across international, regional and national sites of policy and practice.