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Conflict and Security in Africa

Conflict and Security in Africa

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Conflict and Security in Africa
    Book Description:

    More than any other part of the globe, Africa has become associated with conflict, insecurity and human rights atrocities. In the popular imagination and the media, overpopulation, environmental degradation and ethnic hatred dominate accounts of African violence, while in academic and policy-making circles, conflict and insecurity have also come to occupy centre stage, with resource-hungry warlords and notions of 'greed' and 'grievance' playing key explanatory roles. Since the attacks of 9/11, there has also been mounting concern that the continent's so-called 'ungoverned spaces' will provide safe havens for terrorists intent on destroying Western civilization. The Review of African Political Economy has engaged extensively with issues of conflict and security, both analysing on-going conflicts and often challenging predominant modes of explanation and interpretation. This Review of African Political Economy Reader provides a timely, comprehensive and critical contribution to contemporary debates about conflict and security on the continent. The first section, covers some of the continent's main post-Cold War conflicts and demonstrates their global connections. The articles also discuss the so-called 'resource curse', as well as the global arms trade, and reveal the complexities of the relationship between the economic and the political. The second section focuses on security as part of post-Cold War global governance, and discusses the effects of liberal peace-building as well as the link between development assistance and the 'war on terror'. The final section examines life as it continues in conditions of war and shows how insecurity reconfigures urban space, transforms social order, identities and authority. Rita Abrahamsen is Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, Canada . Published in association with ROAPE. ROAPE African Readers. Series Editors: Tunde Zack-Williams & Ray Bush

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-164-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Tunde Zack-Williams and Ray Bush
  4. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Permissions:
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction: Conflict & Security in Africa
    (pp. 1-12)

    More than any other part of the globe, Africa has in the post-Cold War period been associated with conflict, insecurity and human rights atrocities. In the 1990s, Robert Kaplan’s (1994) nightmare vision of ‘the coming anarchy’ epitomised the continent’s perceived affinity with ethnic hatred, senseless violence and environmental dystopia. Two decades later, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jeffery Gettleman painted a similar picture, despairing that the continent’s wars ‘never end’ but spread ‘like a viral pandemic’, making ‘quiet places’ like Tanzania ‘the lonely exceptions’ in Africa (Gettleman 2010). In academic and policy-making circles, conflict and insecurity have also come to occupy centre...

  7. Section One:: Global Economies, State Collapse & Conflicts

    • 2 Ironies of Post-Cold War Structural Adjustment in Sierra Leone
      (pp. 13-24)

      Africa’s creditors stress ‘capacity building’ measures to strengthen bureaucratic effectiveness to reverse economic and political decline (Dia 1993). World Bank officials point to the EastAsian example of success in using government policies and institutions to promote ‘market friendly’ growth policies insulated from the pressures of clients demanding payouts as a positive example for Africa (World Bank 1993a). Analysts recognise, however, that decades of patron-client politics and intractable rent-seeking behaviour (the use of state resources for personal gain) among state officials limit short-term prospects for increasing revenue collection. With little internal financing for market-boosting policies, World Bank programmes prescribe extensive civil...

    • 3 Timber Booms, State Busts: The Political Economy of Liberian Timber
      (pp. 25-40)

      A combination of four issues perpetuated and worsened the decay of state institutions and transformed political corruption in Liberia during the Charles Taylor regime: the demands for political and economic liberalisation made by Western international financial institutions (IFIs); the United Nations’ long-time refusal to place sanctions on the Liberian timber trade; a clandestine network of predatory foreign firms; and corrupt rent-seeking state elites. Investment from foreign timber firms in Liberia reinforced an informal, clandestine economy that thrived and took primacy after the collapse of Liberia’s formal economy. Charles Taylor and his associates profited from these transactions, leaving ordinary Liberians alienated...

    • 4 Petro-Insurgency or Criminal Syndicate? Conflict & Violence in the Niger Delta
      (pp. 41-64)

      Among the chattering classes of the Washington, DC beltway there has been a deep concern, bordering on panic, over the implications of the growing presence of China on the African continent. It has been driven by an aggressive expansion into the energy sector and by what is seen as a new ‘scramble for oil’ against a backdrop of tight global oil markets, and a post-9/11 US obsession with energy security including a dovetailing of the ‘global war on terror’ with the 2001 Cheney Report’s expressed concerns over an unhealthy dependence upon Middle East oil imports. There are those – Frynas and...

    • 5 Oil as the ‘Curse’ of Conflict in Africa: Peering through the Smoke & Mirrors
      (pp. 65-78)

      This article is structured around three broad questions: is oil endowment really a ‘curse’ to Africa? To what extent can studies based on a statistical correlation between oil abundance and the onset, duration and intensity of armed conflict (Ross 2003; Collier and Hoeffler 2004; Lujala 2009; 2010) adequately capture the complex roots, forces and local and transnational ramifications of armed conflict in oil-rich African states? How is the resource curse constructed and reproduced and whose interests does it serve? These questions are impelled by the trend in some scholarly, policy and media circles which identifies oil endowment as a major...

    • 6 Defence Expenditures, Arms Procurement & Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa
      (pp. 79-96)

      Within neoliberal discourse, corruption, understood as the ‘misuse of public power for private or political gain’, has been identified as a major obstacle to development in that it reduces domestic investment, discourages foreign direct investment (FDI), inflates government expenditures and distorts public spending by shifting resources from education, health and infrastructural investment into sectors more malleable to corruption, such as the security sector.

      in its 2006 Development White Paper, the UK Department for international Development committed itself to scrutinising public spending and procurement in the defence sector in developing countries as part of its broader anti-corruption campaign and as an...

  8. Section Two:: Global Security Governance

    • 7 Somalia: ‘They Created a Desert and Called it Peace(building)’
      (pp. 97-107)

      Explanations of Somalia’s extraordinary 20-year crisis – featuring civil war, state collapse, failed peace talks, violent lawlessness and warlordism, internal displacement and refugee flows, chronic food insecurity, piracy, regional proxy wars and Islamic extremism – have tended to fall in one of two camps. One assigns blame primarily to internal factors perpetuating the country’s crisis; the other emphasises the role of external drivers. Both have ample evidence on which to draw. Accurate analysis of the Somali crisis must account for both internal and external conflict drivers and the mutually reinforcing dynamics that have developed between them.

      A case can also be made...

    • 8 The Burundi Peace Negotiations: An African Experience of Peace-Making
      (pp. 108-126)

      In August 2005, the former rebel leader, Pierre Nkurunziza, was installed as the President of a newly-elected Hutu majority government in the central African state of Burundi. This marked the culmination of almost nine years of a formal peace process that followed a trajectory of peace negotiations, peace and ceasefire agreements, a transitional government and democratic elections (, 2002a; b; Reyntjens 2005). Yet, it is an uneasy peace as ceasefire agreements were not reached with all warring factions and low-intensity violence and a culture of impunity pervade Burundi society.

      Since independence from Belgian colonial rule in 1962, Burundi has been...

    • 9 Blair’s Africa: The Politics of Securitisation & Fear
      (pp. 127-145)

      At the Labour Party Conference that followed shortly after the al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered what is widely perceived as one of the most important – and also most powerful – speeches of his political career. With the televised images of the collapsing Twin Towers still etched on people’s minds, the speech expressed the Prime Minister’s hope that ‘out of the shadows of … evil should emerge lasting good’ and outlined his vision of a new, reordered world founded on justice and ‘the equal worth of all’ (Blair 2001).

      Central to the construction of this...

    • 10 Abductions, Kidnappings & Killings in the Sahel & the Sahara
      (pp. 146-162)

      It is understandable that since 2001 the media and Western policy-makers have focused on the capture of tourists, aid workers and foreign dignitaries in the Sahel and Sahara. Yet, kidnappings and hostage-takings make for headlines that obscure the more fundamental, endemic issues of pervasive, persistent poverty and the United Nations’ millennium goals and development. Their headlines and official reports depict terrorists as profiting from the region’s ‘ungoverned spaces’ and ‘invisible desert borders’. This is, after all, a region that is ‘sparsely populated and [with] loosely patrolled borders’ (Glickman 2003:167; Brulliard 2009; CSIS 2010:3). The most recent incidents include the kidnapping...

  9. Section Three:: Cultures of Conflict & Insecurity

    • 11 The Political Economy of Sacrifice: Kinois & the State
      (pp. 163-178)

      Since the early 1980s, ‘collapse’, ‘oppression’, ‘illusion’, ‘bankruptcy’, ‘corruption’ and ‘criminalisation’ have become unavoidable terms when referring to the Zaire of Mobutu and, subsequently, the Congo of Kabila père and fils (Turner 1981; Callaghy 1984; Young 1984; Young and Turner 1985; Braeckman 1992; Leslie 1993; Weiss 1995; Bustin 1999a; McNulty 1999; Lemarchand 2001). These works focus on the ‘failure’ of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest state, attributing it to deep-rooted historical processes, Cold War politics, aggressive industrial capitalism and personality cult. This state crisis terminology is representative of a continent-wide examination of the (in)appropriateness, and future survivability, of the Weberian nation-state model...

    • 12 A City under Siege: Banditry & Modes of Accumulation in Nairobi, 1991–2004
      (pp. 179-194)

      This is a study of the impact of political and economic liberalisation on modes of socio-economic engagement and accumulation in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, subsequent to the introduction of multiparty ‘democracy’ in 1992.¹ On the one hand, economic liberalisation led to a diminished state-provisioning capacity and unwillingness to protect public interests. On the other hand, political conditionalities opened up political space but also spawned anomic tendencies within the regime and among social groups and individuals, with struggles in defence of economic position against each other at one level and against the state and local councils at another. This account focuses...

    • 13 Côte d’Ivoire: Patriotism, Ethno-Nationalism & other African Modes of Self-Writing
      (pp. 195-208)

      Ever since the outbreak of war in September 2002, Côte d’Ivoire has been floundering in a poisonous morass of identity politics. The most obvious sign of this is the affirmation by a certain section of the population of an ultranationalist and extremely violent ‘patriotism’, to use the term favoured by its proponents. In the south of the country, which remains under government control, this particular brand of nationalism, aggravated by the radical rhetoric of the ruling party and its allies, is the expression of a three-pronged rejection. The first rejection is of the former colonial power, France, which retains a...

    • 14 Beyond Civil Society: Child Soldiers as Citizens in Mozambique
      (pp. 209-224)

      The conditions match any of the most terrifying and depraved suffered by past generations afflicted by war. Yet the victims are not only soldiers. At the beginning of this century, 90% of war casualties in the world were military; today about 90% are civilian. Yet even this sobering UNDP (1994) figure does not name the problem, for the term ‘civilian’ obfuscates the vulnerability and innocence of child victims. The conditions for children who are forced to bear arms erase the traditional analytical categories of military, civilian and child. An estimated 300,000 children under 18, some as young as five years...

  10. Index
    (pp. 225-228)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-229)