|ARMED CONFLICT IN THE AFRICAN UNION
CONSOLIDATION OF THE UNION WILL HELP END VIOLENCE
African Fighters in the Congo
Conflict is the primary manifestation of divisions caused by neocolonial mismanagement and neocolonial interference of the constituent states of the African Union. The fundamental purpose of the AUF is to end conflict by means of ideological, economic, and social integration of the African Union. The AUF addresses formulations and contestations of group and national identities across the African Union and seeks to put an end to the cultural wars and bloody conflicts that are products of perceptions of cultural, social, political and economic differences.
Although every conflict in Africa presents in its own unique way, they all have common underlying characteristics and causes. In recent times the most virulent conflicts have resulted in massive displacements of entire communities and millions of Africans. Typically the worst conflicts consist of political provocation (as a result of neocolonial impositions) followed by an armed rebellion, then finally an escalation resulting in inter-communal violence. Violence in its turmn produces poverty, social failure, and infrastructural and enviromental degradation.
Address to the 70th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity, Algeria, 8 July 1999 By K. Y. Amoako, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa
We found that out of the 50 countries for which we have data, 32 experienced some improvement in 1998, while 17 were worse off at the start of 1999 than they had been a year before.
However, almost without exception, the countries in the region are growing at less than 7 percent per annum, the rate needed for Africa to meet the international development target of reducing poverty in half by the year 2015. What is more, there are significant sub-regional differences in Africa's growth performance. The majority of Africans live in countries where performance fared poorly or declined last year.
Of the five sub-regions, only two, accounting for only about 25 percent of the continent's population -- enjoyed a positive growth performance. Growth decelerated in the remaining three sub-regions where the overwhelming 75% of the population reside. The evidence also clearly shows that a key factor accounting for this sub-regional differences in economic performance was the incidence of war and civil unrest.
This, Mr. Chairman, brings me back to the theme we discussed together two years ago, when in Harare I shared with you my thoughts on the relationship between the fields of diplomacy and economic policy. Foremost, I urged us to seek synergies between conflict prevention and conflict management on the one hand and economic reconstruction, recovery and development on the other.
Since that address two years ago, Africa's political stability has deteriorated, with 20 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's population affected by civil war today. And now, of course, we have interstate conflicts. It is obvious that the damage of conflict is going up.
It is against this background that I would like to continue today the dialogue I started with you in Harare, by briefly discussing the causes of conflict, particularly its linkages with poverty; the economic consequences of war; and the imperatives for coordinated and holistic action for post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction.
There continue to be common misperceptions as to what are the fundamental causes of the conflicts, which have set back national development in so many African countries. We owe ourselves a closer look at their causes -- as well as, if you will, the determinants of peace. Various analysts in political science, anthropology and other sciences have looked at the causes of all our conflict, so perhaps it is only fair that we economists are having our turn, aided by regression analysis and other tools of our trade.
At least four hypotheses have been advanced to explain why civil wars happen:
The first is innate ethnic and religious hatred, where these hatreds are then exploited by ambitious leaders;
The second is national grievance, where the performance of a government is held to be against the national interest;
The third is distributional grievance, where government performance is held as having been particularly discriminatory against a given group or groups in society;
The fourth is employment, where rebellion is an employment choice motivated by the opportunity cost of employment and the prospective gains from capturing the state and its resource base.
Each one of these hypotheses has been subjected to rigorous econometric testing where appropriate proxy variables are used for the occurrence of war and for the implied explanatory variables. Since the most significant and crosscutting explanatory variables are socio-economic, let me briefly run you through some of those that deserve your attention:
First, conflict is inextricably related to poverty, particularly the lack of human capital, which influences the probability of a civil war. Poverty means that young men have no stake in staying where they are. Joining a rebel army becomes a viable employment opportunity where job markets do not incorporate youth.
Second, conflict is related to the inequitable sharing of valuable natural resources. This failure has led to a number of conflicts and exacerbated many others. And, whenever territories rich in natural resources are captured by marauding militias, these resources are most often looted, providing the private funding to continue conflict.
Third, conflicts are more likely to break out where there are dysfunctional governments - characterized by weak, undemocratic economic and political institutions.
There are many cases where the failure by governments to address national grievances has led to conflict and war. Clearly, civil conflict is less probable in a full democracy. The more democratic the society, the more it has outlets for frustration and ways to seek solutions. The more governments respond to the issues people have, the lower the risk of civil war.
Fourth, polarized societies risk fracture. Contrary to what so many analysts have said about how Africa can never be stable with so many ethnicities, the evidence is that ethnic and religious diversity is a stabilizing force. There is a higher risk of civil wars in polarized societies (even if they are ethnically more homogeneous) than in more diverse societies. Diversity makes societies safer by reducing the probability of ethnic conflicts, as it is simply more expensive and complicated to foment trouble in diverse societies. Even if conflicts do break out in pluralistic societies, they tend to last for shorter periods, as it is harder for rebels to be cohesive.
We know the results when poverty is high, natural resource endowments are not managed equitably, governments are undemocratic and societies are polarized. The results are conflicts and the costs are terrible. War is undoubtedly the destroyer of economic development on our continent. As we saw so tragically in Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone, civil war not only devastates the lives of civilians: it damages the environment; it wreaks havoc on social, education and health services; it traumatizes whole generations of youth; and it forces people to abandon homes and farming land, engulfing once stable family units in a flood of refugees.
Indeed, the empirical evidence is now overwhelming that:
Armed conflict destroys capital, leaving shattered infrastructure in its wake;
Armed conflict, being as it is a negative shock on economic systems, reduces savings even when the levels of these savings are most fragile;
Armed conflict diverts portfolios away from domestic investment, and triggers massive capital flight - which, by the way, relative to GDP, is higher in Africa than in any other region of the world;
Armed conflict also distorts foreign aid budgets which now increasingly are devoted to emergencies; and, most fundamentally,
Armed conflict massively diverts government expenditures away from provision of economic services towards military expenditure. In one far from worst case, a current conflict is estimated to be consuming 50% of a country's GDP.
I also know that there is a theory that wars can reap high rewards, be they in the form of gold, diamonds or oil. But I would submit that almost any economist would come to a different conclusion if all the costs to the populations involved were added up against the gains from such looting. In any case, the gains of wars are generally illegally siphoned off so they usually should be counted as a loss to the public. All loss, no gain.
When we all took economic courses, our professors would talk to us about the choice between "guns and butter". Well, we face that choice daily throughout our continent. And more often than not the winners are guns for civil and international conflict.
These reflections on the causes and economic consequences of civil strife and warfare should lead us to a wider appreciation of the inter-linkages between development and peace. It is with this new evidence in hand that I would like to revisit the recommendations I presented to you two years ago.
At that time I emphasized that the fight against poverty was a battle for peace, and recommended that:
* donors and national resource managers invest more in the peace process;
* peace building and conflict prevention efforts be under-girded by more equitable development;
* cooperation between Africa's three main regional organizations be enhanced to promote recovery of economies;
* the Abuja process be considered as important for the political rationale for peace, as for growth and development;
* and the United Nations be reinvigorated to play an even more effective role in peace building in Africa.
Given the new evidence of what increases the chances for conflict and what strengthens the chances for peace, plus our history over the last year, I hope you agree that these recommendations are even more timely now that they were in Harare two years ago.
The central conclusion of our most recent economic assessment of the continent is that despite recent positive economic trends, most African countries do not as yet have the conditions to sustain growth, at a level required to meet the target of reducing poverty, by half by the year 2015. We also know that growth alone will not be sufficient.
Growth must be coupled with policies that deliberately attack poverty and promote education, health, and social safety nets. This requires an appropriate balance between short-term stabilization and adjustment measures, and longer-term considerations, including capacity building, institutional reform, human resources development and good stewardship of the environment. These are all points we elaborate in our most recent Economic Report on Africa, which I commend to your attention.
But being able to concentrate on reducing poverty and expanding growth depends upon meeting a set of shorter-term challenges. We need to end ongoing conflicts, prevent new ones, build a sustained peace and rebuild countries that have been in conflict.
The international community has not been particularly well prepared for these tasks, and frankly, neither have we here in Africa. The international community has been caught off guard by conflicts. Relief organizations like UNHCR, the international committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme have had to stretch their mandates by building roads and water supplies. There have been overlaps between peacekeeping and providing basic services in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Development banks and similar long-term development donors are in a bind because they often depend upon the re-establishment of basic services and on a reviving financial system before they can operate. In addition, lenders find that disrupted loan repayments cause eligibility issues.
All of this calls for a level of seamless co-ordination and programme innovation beyond traditional mandates and practices. Out of the agony of experience and the prospect that many countries may well soon be emerging from emergency situations, there is a new consensus arising on how to better manage the transition form crisis to development. Three underlying principles are now generally understood.
First, there is a continuum between pre-conflict, where there is normal development; conflict, which requires humanitarian relief; and post-conflict, where rehabilitation of physical and institutional foundations and transformation from a war economy to a developing economy takes place. There are economic, social and political aspects to all of this.
Second, while conceptually separate, these three phases actually overlap and it is critical that we manage the bridging of these phases far better. This overlap underscores the need for a holistic approach to assisting countries emerging out of conflict. It is clear that the tasks at hand in all these phases are so multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary and inter-linked that they go beyond the capabilities of any one agency.
Third, since most conflicts spread across borders no matter how internal they seem, any effort to assist affected countries must necessarily factor in the sub-regional and regional dimension of the problems they confront. Yet most agencies wanting to be of help are geared to act only within national legal and operational frameworks.
These issues have been studied and experience has been collated in order to design an appropriate framework for multi-agency assistance to countries and regions in, or emerging out of conflict. This is reflected in the UN Secretary-General's April 1998 report on the "Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa", and in subsequent guidelines issued towards implementing this framework.
In that strategy, and in view of the sub-regional and regional dimensions I referred to earlier, regional organizations have been explicitly enjoined to play a lead role in ensuring co-operation among States and in guiding support from the international community.
In the last few years, the world has seen a greater willingness among our countries and sub-regional groupings towards committing human and material resources to putting out fires in their own backyards in the interests of peace and economic development. Africa's leaders show an increasing sensitivity to the sub-regional and regional dimensions of conflict, to the realization that what affects our neighbours today may be our undoing tomorrow.
Let me now turn to what role ECA can play and intends to do in this field. Taking into account our regional mandate and comparative advantage, the overall objectives of ECA's work in this area are to assist countries emerging out of conflict to undertake economic rehabilitation and reconstruction, as well as social integration.
In this vein, Mr. Chairman, often in cooperation with other agencies, we plan to carry out activities that focus on:
* Assisting countries in rehabilitating and strengthening national capacity and institutions for economic policy-making and management, including reorienting new leadership in basics of governance and economic relationships with international financial institutions;
* Facilitating the sharing of experiences in post-conflict peace-building, with particular emphasis on economic rehabilitation, reconstruction and development;
* Identifying national and regional expertise on the continent, as well as globally, who could participate in post-conflict peace-building and development activities in a country or sub-region emerging out of conflict; and
* Addressing and supporting regional and sub-regional dimensions of post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and development - activities that will also provide an entry point for our bilateral and multilateral partners, whose programmes tend to be country focused, so they can contribute to sub-regional rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes.
In this framework, Mr. Chairman, as a first step, ECA is organizing a preparatory workshop this Fall to bring together stakeholders including representatives of governments, UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral organizations, and civil society. The workshop will forge a consensus, develop a strategy and design steps towards a programme of post-conflict economic rehabilitation and social integration in response to the emerging peace prospects in the continent. We are very much encouraged by the outcome of the intensive consultations we have had to date in this regard.
The world has come to understand that the making of peace in Africa must be led by Africa's leaders and institutions. I believe we are on the threshold of understanding that the making of economic recovery and reconstruction must also be defined and led within Africa. This is a key development as we seize the future with both hands.
Hydro-Conflict is at the bottom of most localized low level land conflicts in Africa, and can be resolved by implementing economic and social development policies compatible with water resources of Africa, and by implementing water policies compatible with the global objectives of Africa. Failure to manage these limited stresses means that they escalate, usually by copting the authorities to take sides in escalating actions.
Below: Epupa Falls on the Kunene River, on the Border between Namibia and Angola
Moreover, once incidents happen the chaotic reporting and intepretaion does not lend itself to easy resolution.
Many divided society conflicts have roots in the indigenous/settler dichotomy, especially where the settlers disposed of the indigenous as the ruling elite, but they are in themselves insufficient explications of the root causes of why conflict emerges in some multiethnic societies and why it does not in others.
Other conflicts are easily limited by short-term political concessions. And others have more complex results when numerous factors converge. This is the case with the central African regional war over mineral deposits in the DRC, compounded by ethnic rivalry, imperialism, food and water scarcity, dictorship, territorial ambitions, genocide and the failure of governance.
The literature is limited on why some conflicts are more amenable to settlement - not resolution - than others. Each conflict follows its own contradictory impulses, hostage to myth and history, distortions of reality, imprisoned in misrepresentation, warped perceptions, and insatiable demands for revenge that are the legacy one generation bequeaths to the next. In some, the long duration of the conflicts leads to “the evolution of social mechanisms to regulate and control the relationships [between the parties in conflict], and unable either to remove each other and unwilling to assimilate, they gradually evolved forms of relationships which regulated rather than resolved their antagonisms.”
In Africa such social controls evolved under slavery. Following this period, acceptable levels of political instability and low level hostility became the norm. There was no pressure on leaders and followers and to engage in the intense dialogue that is inevitably necessary to resolve the historic conflicts, as had been in more distant African past (this is attested to by several treaties such as the Baqt of 652 AD, and other documents.
POST CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION
Africa's modern conflicts are deeply rooted in slavery, in the colonial occupation of Africa (the neocolonial state is a casualty of severe contrations and a clash of African and Aphaean systems of thinking. Most scholars have discounted the deepth and strength of entrenched African values and the repulsive and deeply offensive nature of neocolonial practices of the foreign powers.
Six principles to guide actions toward Africa in areas ranging from peace building and preventive diplomacy to peace-keeping and post-conflict reconstruction.
The root-causes of violent conflicts need to be addressed in a coherent manner, with an appropriate mix of all available instruments: political, social, environmental and even military measures.
The first is the principle of "ownership". Ultimately, it is Africans who must decide to what extent we will engage in conflict prevention, management and resolution, and to what extent we are committed to building institutions and policy-making structures that make communities viable. "Ownership" does mean that Europe and America will not attempt to deliver ready-made solutions to Africa.
Second is enhanced effectiveness of assistance to Africa. The task of effectively preventing and resolving violent conflicts far exceeds the limited resources available. Hence, priorities must be carefully considered for state and region concerned. The main challenge is neither technical nor managerial, it is conceptual. [Consistently the think tanks in Europe in America have overlooked the Conceptual nature of African confict, so much so that even humanitarian assistance succeeded in excercebating conflict].
Third is the necessity to focus on preventing violent conflicts. Prevention means, first of all, peace-building: preventing violent conflicts at an early stage, when tensions are not yet obvious. Discussions on "conflict prevention" often focus solely on current crisis spots, like the Great Lakes region, but currently peaceful and stable regions should not be ignored.
The fourth principle is that internally generated development should form the basis of peace-building and conflict prevention. Building a just peace is not simply another priority sector: it is the main priority, perhaps even the only one. And it is not economic growth that counts most; a functioning political system is the key to Africa's well being.
Funding must target the root causes of violent conflict, like state
failure, illegitimate government, corruption and the repression of
entitlements, rights and freedoms. The experience of the last 15 years
clearly demonstrates that development can only take place under suitable
The fifth principle is POLICY COHERENCE. Instead of thinking of "instruments", we must start thinking of "problems". The root-causes of violent conflicts need to be addressed in a coherent manner, with an appropriate mix of all available instruments: political, social, environmental and even military measures.
Last, is co-ordination and integration. Responding to these complex challenges makes the close co-ordination of all those concerned indispensable.
INTERNATIONAL SOURCES OF AFRICAN CONFLICT
The TransAtlantic Agenda between Europe and America on Africa is potentially genocidal for Africans. It is laden with residual notions of neocolonial development. It is possible to overwhelm Africans with the forcible development...through the use of such instruments as SAPs, NGO and relief programs, globalisation, and other forms of development assistance are are threats not to be taken lightly.
A strong western focus on functioning political systems should not serve as a pretext for slashing aid budgets, or placing more conditionalities on African-Aphaean (non-African) relations. It should not even be a factor as it is a flawed way to relate to Africans. The use of western momentum and critical mass has ushed Africans to the edge of the abyss.
Ultimately, massive cuts in aid, increase in funds for peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance, are NOT remedial but rather are the residual manifestations of neocolonialism. What we require from Europe is fair trade terms and equality, not the programs of the Compassion Industry.
African conflicts are defined by the measures that the authorities communities adopt to preserve their power and privilege. The state implemented policies of control with methodical and brutal force. They made Africans nonpersons in their own country, forcing the resettlement of millions, destroying family life and undermining its social fabric, requiring them to live in underserviced and overpopulated townships, refugee camps or in ‘homelands’ (tribalised semi-autonomous communities with limited missions). Today nearly a decade after the fall of apartheid, most Africans are totally disenfranchised and denied any expression of their aspirations.
The west still defines African aspirations, providing us with 54 ‘homelands’ or 'bantustan' or republics called soveireign countries in which Africans can supposedly achieve our aspirations. Millions are forcibly confined, their migration and movement severely limited by colonial borders, so that they might enjoy the "benefits" of their colonial heritage.
The level of subordination Africans have had to endure and the harshness of the dominant system has reached the repression that the colonialists slavery imposed in Africa. The kinds of confinement and domination practiced and enforced in Africa are repulsive and hardly evil.
While there are common elements to the inequities between communities as a result of the legacies of past discrimination, injustices, and being deliberately disadvantaged — either through legislative measures or willful action on the part of the dominant group — the social and economic imbalances between different African groups are relatively insignificant compared with the imbalances between Africans and non-Africans around the world.
Moreover, the emphasis put on redressing these injustices will be strikingly different. Socioeconomic imbalances Africa will be addressed in the context of similar imbalances existing in other parts of the world. In Africa, the AUF is attempting to restructure the ‘molecular’ composition of society itself, to bring about a total transformation that will reach into every echelon of society through legislative means and within the broad boundaries of Pan Africanism.
STRUCTURAL CONFLICTS IN AFRICA
CROSSING THE BOUNDARY OF LEGITIMACY
In most conflicts, one party believes that another has "stepped across the line", has crossed the boundary between legitimate disagreement into illegitimate actions.
This violation of legitimate behavior causes the lack of trust and sense of threat that is part of most conflicts. If one of the parties in a conflict is no longer obeying the same rules that other parties believe in, the sense of safety is compromised, and the agrieved party feels that they can no longer predict the actions or negotiate a mutual understanding. Consequently aggrieved parties may then also feel justified in bending and changing their own sense of right and wrong in self-defense.
Action Chains are cultural "recipies" that have a sequence of actions leading to a particular goal (for example, building a house, passing a course, holding a meeting, building a state, receiving compensation). Parties to a conflict often expect particular action chains. They will have a patterned way of conducting an argument, of escalating conflict, of resolving it. Sometimes conflicts is rooted in structures beyond the control or fault of the particular individuals involved. Awareness of the historical concerns and subsidiary grievances that are part of the "recipe" or action chain can help peace mediators and negotiators achieve just settlements, by helping them put in place a process that is rich in detail and vision that does justice to all sides.