The linkages between transnational illicit economies and local conflicts are multifold. From Guinea-Bissau to Libya to Nigeria, examples abound of how transnational illicit markets interact with local conflicts. For instance, the rise of certain illicit economies can skew the agendas of actors involved in a conflict, such that peace may cease to be a goal if it means an end to a source of wealth. Understanding how the larger illicit economy intersects with local conflict and the actors involved will help find meaningful solutions to a conflict.
The sudden upsurge of recent crises in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere in Africa underline the need for robust mediation capacities on the continent. However, this involves more than the mere dispatch of luminaries and high-level figures to meet with belligerents. According to insights from seasoned African mediators, a successful mediation effort must analyze and map all the parties to a conflict and their interests, cultivate a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, and then devise a tailored and often multi-stage process of talks.
Low-level disputes in Africa can spiral into violence and conflict due to the lack of effective judicial systems that can provide a credible and timely process for resolving differences. Alternative dispute resolution techniques can strengthen dispute settlement systems and bridge the gap between formal legal systems and traditional modes of African justice. They may have particular value in stabilization and statebuilding efforts when judicial institutions are weak and social tensions are high.
Competing claims, inequitable access, and mismanagement of land and natural resources is a source of conflict in many African states. Prevention is critical since disputes are often entangled with complex factors such as demographic pressures and food insecurity and are therefore difficult to resolve. Identifying incremental reforms can quickly reduce conflict drivers, but should be supported by thorough analysis for unobservable flashpoints and dispute mediation mechanisms.
Low-level tensions between pastoralist groups in East Africa’s border regions frequently erupt into deadly confrontations. Government responses have relied too heavily on coercive disarmament campaigns, generating mistrust and prompting violent reprisals. Instead, efforts by civil society groups and inter-governmental efforts to build alternative dispute mechanisms should be replicated.
Crises in Africa are often resolved through power-sharing arrangements. In Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Liberia, however, these have tended only to address elite concerns and interests. As a result, conflict drivers remain unresolved and incentives to subvert or “spoil” democratic or peace processes are strengthened. A “bottom up” approach featuring public engagement with genuine local representatives and the effective functioning of oversight institutions provide more sustainable solutions.
Results of the author’s research into SALWs among pastoral groups in the Kenya-Uganda border area, and the long history of their ’spiral of violence’.
An account of the Burundi Leadership Training Program that the Woodrow Wilson Center has led since late 2002. The piece focuses on explaining the relative merits of the so-called Ngozi process, whereby representatives from various groups in conflict are brought together to engage in cooperation-building interactive exercises. Their experience may offer useful lessons for others engaged in conflict mitigation work.
This article outlines the current situation with regard to the Lord’s Resistance Army, the possibilities for peace in Northern Uganda, and the role of traditional justice systems and the ICC in ending the war. It concludes that justice in Northern Uganda requires an end to the false dichotomy of ‘traditional’ and ICC approaches and that the two must complement each other in order to address the different groups within the LRA and the Acholi population.
Drawing on their experiences promoting reconciliation in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia, the authors explain their training techniques based on “experiential learning” and “interest-based negotiation.” The authors contend that challenges to building peace and democracy “lies not in sector specific institutional ‘fixes’, but, rather in bringing key leaders together in a long-term process …” A welcome evidence-based contribution to the literature on conflict mitigation.
Security Topics: Conflict Prevention or Mitigation