Negotiating Out of ConflictExternal Interventions in Africa

Mark Anstey

in The Slippery Slope to Genocide

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199791743
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919222 | DOI:
Negotiating Out of ConflictExternal Interventions in Africa

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This chapter explores dimensions of identity conflicts in Africa and dilemmas of external intervention in such conflicts. Poverty is key to understanding conflict in the region, but in the context of weak development class and ethnicity are often conflated, and mobilization around ethnic markers offers the greatest utility in organizing groups to compete for resources. The potential for violence is related to such variables as the degree of heterogeneity in a society; high-frustration/high-threat scenarios; a history of violence in intergroup relations; the evolution of cultures of impunity; and leadership choices in mobilizing societal groups. External parties face dilemmas in the legalities of intervention in intrastate conflicts; in coordinating action among themselves; in achieving legitimacy with those directly and indirectly involved in the conflict; in resourcing or championing various types of intervention; in the timing of interventions; in assisting parties in conflict to design social and political systems to reduce and more effectively manage identity conflicts; and in dealing with those parties that are more interested in perpetuating a conflict than in resolving it. Many African conflicts demand a systemic, developmentally oriented approach with long-term vision and carefully designed systems of justice and reconciliation with grassroots resonance if a sustainable peace is to be achieved and levels of violence reduced.

Keywords: genocide; africa; identity conflicts; regulatory system design; factors contributing to violence (leadership choices, a culture of impunity); external intervention dilemmas; secondary parties (peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding); mediation; conflict transformation; democratic transitions; elections; reconciliation

Chapter.  16267 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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