Ethnic conflicts in Africa are often portrayed as having ages-old origins with little prospects for resolution. This Security Brief challenges that notion arguing that a re-diagnosis of the underlying drivers to ethnic violence can lead to more effective and sustainable responses.
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The rise of farmer-herder violence in Africa is more pernicious than fatality figures alone since it is often amplified by the emotionally potent issues of ethnicity, religion, culture, and land.
Rising violence by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel is straining intercommunal tensions, threatening the foundations of social cohesion in the region.
Stability in South Sudan will require addressing fundamental drivers of conflict including weak national identity and state structures, the securitization of governance, and the lack of accountable leadership.
English | Français | العربية When South Sudan achieved independence in 2011, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/ Movement (SPLA/M) and its leader, Salva Kiir Mayardit, took control of a system of governance that transcended the lines between the formal and informal sectors, military and civilian elites, government and nongovernment actors, as well as licit and... Continue Reading
Mass atrocities, including unlawful killings, rape, torture, and destruction of property, have caused one in three people in South Sudan to flee their homes.
While much of East Africa suffers from food shortages due to drought, in South Sudan, it is conflict, rather than lack of rain, that has been the cause of a widespread humanitarian disaster.
Although the vast majority of conflicts in Africa today involve non-state actors, there has been a significant increase in state-based violence since 2010. While there is now a better understanding of the need to engage at multiple levels of society, leveraging the political will and resources to facilitate these deeper connections has remained a challenge.
The Ethnic Army and the State: Explaining Coup Traps and the Difficulties of Democratization in Africa
Since the independence era of the 1960s, there have been more than 215 coup attempts in 43 of the 54 countries of Africa. Though the numbers were mostly concentrated in the early years, coups attempts are still a feature on the continent. Where early leaders tended to form militaries based on ethnicity, coups attempts were four times as likely to happen. Likewise, because of the patronage system in place in many fragile states, when elections bring in a leader that is not of the same ethnicity as the army, coup risk spikes dramatically.
African institutional efforts at conflict prevention and mediation have proved instrumental at realizing negotiated settlements.
Domestic institutional mechanisms of accountability are more directly relevant for managing conflict than constitutional design.
The Africa Center’s Director of Research, Joseph Siegle, participated in a symposium at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas on October 16 examining the role of constitutions on conflict management in Africa. Responding to the recently released book, Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa: Preventing Civil War through Institutional Design edited by... Continue Reading