Article: ECOWAS protagonists for peace: An internal perspective on policy and community actors in peacemaking interventions

by Habibu Yaya Bappah

In the South African Journal of International Affairs
Volume 25, 2018 - Issue 1: African interventions seen from below: Practices, politics and perceptions on the ground
Pages 83-98 | Published online: 13 Mar 2018

Republished from South African Journal of International Affairs

Despite an increasing academic interest, ECOWAS peacemaking interventions have largely been approached from a top-down perspective. This tends to highlight the roles played by high-level mediators who use ECOWAS and its instruments as the basis for their interventions. Deeper analyses of the undercurrent intra-ECOWAS processes and the role played by community actors, in particular the ECOWAS Commission and its cooperation with civil society organisations, are rare. Yet it is both the high-level policy and the community actors that constitute the protagonists of ECOWAS peacemaking. This article examines the roles of both protagonists in the planning and conduct of ECOWAS peacemaking. Based on secondary sources and insider accounts, it argues that, although policy actors have so far been dominant, community actors play a complementary role, which often goes unnoticed. This is illustrated with empirical examples of ECOWAS peacemaking interventions from the Liberian war in 1990 to the recent case of the Gambia.

Download the full article here.

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Nairobi Workshop

January 25, 2018

Republished from The Social Science Research Council

Nairobi, Kenya– Fellows from the African Leadership Centre (ALC) and the Social Science Research Council’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program and African Peacebuilding Network gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, at the start of the new year for an academic workshop. The meeting was held in collaboration with the ALC, the Pamoja Trust, and United States International University–Africa.

This was the 12th skill-building workshop held by the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program. As an essential component of the Next Generation model, workshops deepen networks among scholars from across African academic institutions while providing valuable mentoring by professors affiliated with the continent’s top academic institutions. These workshops strengthen research capabilities, help researchers develop publications, and allow fellows to engage in an international research community.

Thomas Asher, director of the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program, noted that the workshop brought fellows of remarkable ability together so that they might have an opportunity to devise and pursue research questions of their own making and to influence public discussions of their choosing. “Too often, researchers based at more privileged universities—especially in Europe and the US—dictate the questions animating research in less well-resourced contexts,” Asher observed. “Too often, locally situated researchers are asked to produce data and quickly divest themselves of hard-won datasets that will appear in publications by researchers from wealthier and better-connected university systems. The labor of scholars working in less robust university systems is erased and their own concerns recast into a set of disciplinary issues or national frameworks not their own.”

Article: Africa: Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Comparative Perspective

 in the January 2018 edition of Conflict Studies Quarterly.

by Nokukhanya Ntuli

Republished from Conflict Studies Quarterly
Issue 22, January 2018

Abstract. In many African countries, attempts to address poor access to justice, have led to the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in the form of mediation, negotiation and arbitration. The popularisation and promotion of ADR is done using “international best practices and standards” developed in countries such as the USA, Australia and UK. Yet, a closer examination of some of the challenges with access to justice in Africa, which ADR is attempting to address, reveal, among other things, that the use of foreign procedures, principles and languages, in the formal justice systems, alienate many people and have contributed in creating a real barrier to the accessibility of justice. By using a comparative approach, the purpose of this article is to raise caution that although ADR may have useful components to improve access to justice in Africa, it cannot be viewed or introduced as a new concept coming from developed countries. Doing so, it perpetuates imperialistic attitudes, disempowers millions of people by disregarding their cultural practices and invalidates systems which have been in use for centuries.

Link to the soft copy of the issue...

An Ethiopian religious festival transformed into a rare moment of open defiance to the government on October 1, 2017 in Bishoftu. (ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/Getty Images)

December 13, 2017

by Zekarias Beshah Abebe

Republished from The Global Observatory

Waves of protests and at times ethnic clashes have continued to roil Ethiopia in recent months. While there are legitimate security concerns that the government is seeking to address, the situation is more complex than approaches to national security account for. Despite the successes of the Ethiopian federal republic since its founding and the perception that the country is an “island of stability in a troubled region,” much of the population feels left behind. This sentiment, expressed in the form of protest, is the result of a country that has struggled to deal with its internal social and political upheavals and challenges.

At the heart of the issue is discontent among the numerically dominant ethnic groups who sense that ethnic Tigrayans, who make up some six percent of the population, control most of the government. Protests began in 2015 and were sparked by a development plan intended to integrate Addis Ababa and neighboring towns and villages in the state of Oromia. In 2016, a deadly clash between the federal security force and members of a committee promoting Amhara identity set off protests in the north. Close to 1,000 people have been killed thus far and the government was forced to institute a ten-month long state of emergency for the first time in over twenty-five years. The worst of the recent violence was the conflict between Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regions. Conflict on the borders of the region has happened before, although in this instance hundreds of people were killed and and an estimated 400,000 people displaced in perhaps the largest exodus since the Ethio-Eritrea war.

People cheer a passing Zimbabwe Defense Force military vehicle during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Zimbabwe's president on November 18, 2017 in Harare. (Photo by Belal Khaled/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)


November 20, 2017

by Nompilo Ndlovu

Republished from The Global Observatory

The events in Zimbabwe over the past few days have returned to the conversation an often disregarded stakeholder: the country’s citizens. On November 18, Zimbabweans—both within the country and in the diaspora—took to the streets en masse, with a palpable excitement and of their own accord, to take a public stance. They wanted to communicate to the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that as a people they can no longer be compelled to accept the ruinous leadership of President Robert Mugabe.

Despite the clear position of the public, the political dimension of this story has a complicated and lengthy backstory. Recent developments intensified long-standing factionalism within the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party in an uncontainable and public manner. What was originally an in-house political fight between the Generation40 and Team Lacoste factions—led by First Lady Grace Mugabe and former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa respectively—transformed into a national issue.

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