Ending War in Africa
Dr Kayode Fayemi - Executive Secretary, Centre for Democracy and Development, Lagos
Professor Robin Luckham - Institute of Development Studies (TBC)
- Kayode Fayemi argued that any analysis of conflict and how to reduce it must look at the global shifts in economic and political power over the past decade.
- In Africa the critical background factors include: fiscal and monetary pressures on dependent economies amid IMF and World Bank reform programmes; weakening of state security strcutures; decline of authoritarian states in face of demands for political liberalisation; the withdrawal of superpower sponsorship of Africxan regimes after 1989.
- The most important direct causes of war are two sides of the same coin: worsening impoverishment of Africans and misuse/theft of resources by elite groups. But it's too mechanistic to blame war solely on poverty as it doesnÕt explain why many of the wars have been in less poor countries (such as Angola and Algeria). Most of Africa's wars are about resources in the broadest sense - access to land, social and economic goods - as well as the more obvious diamond looting.
- Social networks and good governance are important in avoiding conflict and resolving them quickly. Political reforms and pluralism in countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Mali, Cape Verde and Benin allow for some optimism that better performance by governments can help build a more peaceful climate.
- The New Partnership for African Development (NePAD) document on peace and security has major weaknesses. It discusses the issues in isolation to its analysis of government and politics. It ignores the historical backdrop and other multilateral attempts to tackle conflict such as the OAU security mechanism; the early warning systems and monitoring mechanisms.
- A serious shortcoming with NePAD is its disconnect with African people - as opposed to governments and the political elite. The voices of the people who make up oppositional groups or who serve in the security institutions are not being heard.
- Tackling causes of conflict is a political task: war is generally an effect not a cause of bad govertnment. So pushing for democracy, accountability and open government are key to efforts to reduce violent conflicts.
- Failed states needed reconstruction if they were not to spread conflict in the region
- Better regulation of corporations was needed to stop them financing wars
- Arms dealers and financiers in the West should be better scrutinised
- The Brahimi reforms to UN peacekeeping should be implemented
- African governments should sanction troublemaking countries and Western states should back them
- The British intervention in Sierra Leone saved lives but interventions are not always benign
This event discuss whether the conflict in Africa is internally or externally driven. Early warning options, conflict resolution and humanitarian issues need to be taken into consideration.