Presentation on theme: "Southern Voices in the Northern Policy Debate: African Perspectives An initiative of the Africa Program and Leadership Project at The Wilson Center With."— Presentation transcript:
Southern Voices in the Northern Policy Debate: African Perspectives An initiative of the Africa Program and Leadership Project at The Wilson Center With the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York
David Zounmenou and Fritz Nganje Southern Voices Conference Wilson Center
Introduction What are the important areas of divergence and convergence in the approaches to African conflict resolution and peace building between the North and Africa? Basic assumptions underpinning our argument Major areas of divergence The problem of quick-fixes & coercive tactics in conflict resolution The question of military intervention The relationship between the UN and African initiatives for conflict resolution The peace versus justice debate Some Recommendations
Basic assumptions underpinning our argument The causes of violent conflict are complex North and South Legitimate interests and stakes in containing the scourge of conflict on the continent. There is a convergence between the north and Africa around basic humanitarian norms such as the R2P. The divergence is at the level of process and implementation. Lingering lack of political will in some quarters of the African leadership to respect and implement these norms Interests of regional and external actors tend to obstruct effective conflict resolution efforts.
Major areas of divergence 1. The problem of quick-fixes & coercive tactics in conflict resolution Failure to appreciate the cultural norms and values that guide conflict resolution in Africa. Failure to appreciate the complexity of contemporary conflicts in Africa. Responding to conflict largely to contain the security threats they pose to Northern countries and not to address the underlying causes. 2. The question of military intervention There is not a general African aversion to military intervention in African conflicts, especially in the context of the R2P doctrine. Humanitarian intervention has a strong and growing constituency even in policy circles. The problem is with the implementation of this principle, which is both selective and at times used to serve national interest agendas. The double standards and regime change
Major areas of divergence 3. The relationship between the UN and African initiatives for conflict resolution There is shared understanding on the preponderant responsibility of the UN Security Council in maintaining international peace and security. Inevitability of partnerships with the West in overcoming the scourge of conflict on the continent, given mutual interests and the shortage of capacity and resources on the continent. Proximity to the conflict environment and direct interest in its outcome The unrepresentative character of the UNSC demands that African initiatives be prioritized, albeit with financial, technical and diplomatic of the UN and its member states. The problems of political paralysis within continental organizations, obstructive interests of regional powers could be dealt with through constant dialogue between the UN and regional organizations.
Major areas of divergence 4. The peace versus justice debate High premium on upholding the rule of law and accountability Africa’s argument is not against justice or accountability for serious crimes committed during conflict, but against an insensitive and inconsistent application of the principle. The challenge therefore is how to disentangle international instruments for the promotion of human rights from the realpolitik of international relations, as well as finding complementarity between modern and traditional African notions of transitional justice.
African Union and the R2P: Lessons from Libya and Cote d’Ivoire Two key lessons can be drawn from those experiences: 1. African Community is still divided. Two dynamics arose from this. The anti-imperialist rhetoric was advanced while the credibility of the continental organization was questioned regarding their stance on peers who unleashed extreme violence on their own citizens. One needs to interrogate the insistence on homegrown solutions, peaceful solution even when the threat of gross human right abuses has become imminent. 2. Libya and Cote d’Ivoire experiences appear to have brought back the UN Security Council into the “Cold War” politics.
Policy considerations 1. Dialogue: There is need for genuine, open and continuous dialogue involving Western policymakers, practitioners and scholars and their African counterparts to facilitate a shared understanding of conflict dynamics, underlying interests & preferred approaches. 2. Harmonization of approaches: Northern partners should apply an engagement model that allows for identifying and working with continental, regional and national drivers of change. This can effectively complement continental models of intervention, avoiding duplication and dislocation. It also limits frequent de-legitimization of their role and controversies that may arise from common shifts especially in post-conflict settings. This should be preceded by efforts to understand the rules and procedures of conflict resolution in Africa.
Policy considerations 3. Institutional/operational support & capacity building: Institutional support is required for continental mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and post-conflict reconstruction. This should follow the logic of catalysing Africans to do things for themselves rather than doing it on their behalf or leaving them to their fate. International development assistance from Western countries to their African counterparts should be refocused on supporting the democratic aspirations of the African people. Such support should go both to strengthening state institutions as well as develop the democratic agency of civil society. This would go a long way in preventing conflict and responding efficiently to them if they happen to arise.
Policy considerations 4. Reform of global governance processes: There should be a real commitment from Western leaders towards strengthening international regimes for conflict prevention & resolution by, among other things, democratizing their decision-making processes. To this end priority should be given to the reform of the workings of the UN Security Council, given its mandate to maintain international peace and security. In the specific case of the contentious R2P, the US should consider the merits of Brazil’s concept of “responsibility while protecting.”