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Research Report

Between Indifference and Naïveté: Dutch Policy Interventions in African Conflicts A Synthesis Report

Pyt Douma
Klaas van Walraven
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2000
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 34

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. (pp. 1-2)
  3. (pp. 3-4)
  4. (pp. 5-6)

    This report constitutes a synthesis of three case studies of intrastate conflicts in Africa, which were researched in the context of the Conflict Policy Research Project, executed by the Netherlands Institute of International Affairs ‘Clingendael’ for the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The conflicts concerned are the civil wars in Liberia, Rwanda and Sudan. The details of these conflicts and the policy interventions undertaken by the Netherlands and other actors vis-à-vis these countries can be found in the respective reports.¹ In all cases, the analyses of Dutch policy interventions were based on empirical data culled from Dutch Foreign Ministry files,...

  5. (pp. 7-13)

    In Sudan, the major issue at stake is the north-south ethno-cultural divide involving a power struggle between northern Arab elite groups and southern elite groups of different ethnic origins. Control of natural resources located mainly in the southern regions is crucial for regime survival and widely considered the ultimate ‘price’ for the winner. The northern elite of Arab descent is a fairly homogeneous group, albeit internally divided between fundamentalist and more liberal groups on the issue of Islam as the guiding principle for the Sudanese state. All Arab groups, however, agree on the premise that the southern ethnic groups and...

  6. (pp. 15-21)

    One can distinguish two types of external interventions in intrastate conflicts, namely: interventions by actors that are party to the conflict; and so-called ‘third-party’ interventions. The difference is essentially based on the intentions of the actors involved.

    External actors that are party to an intrastate conflict will support a specific side and will engage in action that is meant to further the objectives and interests of favoured domestic parties. This will involve all kinds of activities that are not necessarily undertaken to mediate a settlement irrespective of which domestic party will emerge victorious from such a negotiated outcome. On the...

  7. (pp. 23-29)

    Outside the European heartland, the transatlantic realm and perhaps the field of multilateralism, the Netherlands used to behave by and large as a neutral observer of important political developments. This also applies to violent intrastate conflicts in the Third World. Sub-Saharan Africa, despite professed interest on the part of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has remained a rather peripheral area of interest, partly because Dutch trade relations with the region are negligible. Yet during Minister Pronk’s period in office as Minister of Development Cooperation, the Directorate General of International Cooperation became the leading Dutch policy agency on sub-Saharan Africa....

  8. (pp. 31-35)

    The African conflicts analysed for the Conflict Policy Research Project all had their origins in exclusionary policies on the part of narrowly defined elite groups. As a result of deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, the patronage systems on which their regimes were based were confronted with scarcity and crisis. Ultimately, this led to violent conflict and the overthrow of incumbents and the installation of rival elites whose regimes, however, were similarly grounded in the patronage, if not predatory conduct, of privileged minorities, as exemplified by Taylor in Liberia.

    In this respect it is surprising that the politico-economic nature of these regimes seldom...