Since independence, many Sub-Saharan African states have witnessed civil wars, mass killings, and other direct political violence. Local, regional, and global efforts have been produced on different occasions to resolve these conflicts but have not produced lasting results. The main reason for the failure of these efforts is that they have not addressed the root causes of these conflicts. In that sense, I argue that the best way to resolve the long-lasting disputes in Sub-Saharan Africa is to analyze, understand, and find solutions to the history-long nature and complex causes of these conflicts. Therefore, I will explore recurring causes of conflicts and wars in Sub-Saharan African countries, their particularity, and their consequences before I can propose related solutions in the last section of this paper. These causes include ethnical division, structural violence, exploitation and unequal distribution of resources and power, strife for self- determination, lack of the rule of law, political differences, and conversion to terrorism as the worst form of war. Worse, conflicts in this region have always been complex because, though they seem intra-state initially, they have often extended to threaten the entire area.
In this paper, I will not explore the status of every single state in Sub-Saharan Africa; instead, I will emphasize the countries where incessant local conflicts and civil wars have become significant determinants. These countries share some causes of conflicts though there can be particularities depending on the country‘s historical background. However, I cannot assume to dress an exhaustive list of solutions to these conflicts because there is no single formula to resolve dynamic and complex conflicts. Instead, I am optimistic that the solutions I will propose in this paper can be the foundation for effectively resolving these persisting conflicts. In that trend, there is a need for empowering initiatives for local solutions, promoting peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms, strengthening preventive diplomacy, respect ing global responsibility to protect, and especially promoting sustainable economic development that can guarantee reliable peace and security. Finally, I will make a few recommendations to the policy and decision-makers at local, regional, and global levels to ensure peace, security, and economic development that incessant conflicts and wars have long hampered.
AN OVERVIEW OF INTRA-STATE CONFLICTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA POST-INDEPENDENCE
The period after World War II marked a change in the conflicts, from inter-state to intra-state wars. These types of disputes have been significant characteristics of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are complex and multi-fact conflicts resulting from the struggles for self-determination, such as the war between Sudan and South Sudan, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), opposition groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the collapse of weak states such as Somalia, ethnical conflicts, civil wars between governments and opposition groups such as Lord‘sResistance Army in northern Uganda, fight for natural resources, political differences. Other contests and battles include conflicts in Nigeria with Boko Haram, various armed groups in Chad and the Central African Republic, and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb in Northern Mali, to name a few. The negative side of these local conflicts is that they are internationalized with intervention by other states to support the government or opposition groups . The worse scenario is the conversion of regional conflicts into terrorism, such as in the case of Somalia, and Genocide against one ethnical group, such as in the case of the Genocide committed against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.
Poverty, famine, diseases, internally displaced people, large numbers of refugees, and under-development are the factors proving the consequences of long-standing local conflicts and are significant determinants of many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. These consequences include loss of human life, destruction of infrastructure, human capital, and institutions; political instability; and more significant uncertainty associated with conflicts can impede investment and economic growth, not only during the battle but also afterward, making it difficult to escape the conflict trap have been the significant characteristics of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa .
Complex and History-Long Causes of Internal Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa
Post-colonial Africa demonstrates that this region has been the home of wars and instability, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, the regularity of conflicts in Africa has become one of the distinct characteristics of the continent . Additionally, European colonizers in the 19th century created political units that divided ethnic groups in some cases and combined rival groups in others .
The Colonial Legacy Impact on Local Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa
Poor governance, ethnic rivalry, mismanagement of natural resources, declining economic conditions, widespread poverty, and famine are consequences of colonization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Policies enacted during those eras promoted corruption, scarcity, and violent competition .
Additionally, in the pursuit of their interests, colonial rulers did little to establish systems and institutions of local governance and finance . Unfortunately, this practice, which put one ethnic group against another, introduced frailty to the civic order. The situation began to deteriorate when African countries started movements for their independence .
I agree with Moe that African countries rushed for independence, forcing them to adopt modern self-governance democracy while they had little experience in modern self- governance democracy. In other words, colonial powers did little to prepare their colonies for independence . In that trend, influential figures assumed or seized power and implemented measures to retain control rather than establish good governance . That way, authoritarians built central solid-state structures, police, and militaries to help them maintain power while devoting little toward developing other essential institutions of management and finance .
Civil Wars: The Result of Ethnic Cleansing and Political Differences
For many African countries, the most readily identifiable political category for identification and mobilization before colonization was ethnicity rather than class or territorial nation . With European colonization, artificial political borders and colonial favoritism set the conditions for ethnic rivalry in all colonized societies. Since then, with ethnic groups seen as the primary units serving the interests of individuals, promoting ethnic-based interests became paramount, and the increase in power of one ethnic group was perceived as a relative decrease in the power of others and, therefore, a threat to their security and their interests .
Consequently, all political matters thus came to be viewed first through the ethnic lens and judged fundamentally regarding how they influenced the balance of power among ethnic groups, which resulted in intense inter-ethnic competition and increasing ethnic political parties . Marginalization of some ethnic groups causes violent reactions by legitimizing any action to win power, even at the expense of the democratic system. Fraud in elections, one-party states, and abuses of power became the norm, forcing excluded groups to find other alternatives to protect their interests, such as military coups, secession, revolution, and, regrettably, internal civil wars that killed millions of people .
Pre and Post-Elections Insecurity
Chaotic reactions by citizens in opposition parties characterized the eve of the elections in Kenya. The political crisis led to chaotic economic situations, including the closure of factories, accumulation of delays in supplies, cancellation after cancellation of the tourists’ travel, and even the collapse of the stock market. Unquestionably, these crises caused the country’s impoverishment and the entire region because Kenya is the gateway for supplies to many landlocked countries in East and Central Africa . In other words, this Kenyan political crisis tarnished the country’s image and potentially had short-term and long-term economic consequences for the country and its neighbors.
The decades-long internal crises include the cases in Burundi, the Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, the long-standing conflicts and civil wars in Angola, Sudan, and the DRC, pre, and post-election riots, and unrest in Uganda and Kenya . For example, the Burundian security crises of 2013 and 2015 emanated from a disagreement on election results and respect for the Arusha Agreement. These revolts and conflicts caused the loss of many people’s lives, and others have been displaced . Unsurprisingly, these conflicts result from social identities, such as ethnic polarization, the politicization of ethnicity, inappropriate representation, too long leadership and domination, insufficient political systems, democratic trends against political systems, inadequate handling of risky changes, and proliferation of conflict into other countries .
THE PARTICULAR ASPECT OF INRA-STATE CONFLICTS IN SUB- SAHARAN AFRICA AND RELATED CHALLENGES
Poverty, diseases, famine, unending political tensions, wars, and conflicts have been major characteristics of Sub-Saharan Africa. These factors have negatively impacted the region’s socio-economic development and, most regrettably, the loss of many lives. Uncontestably, socio-economic development cannot be sustained in an environment riddled with violence, instability, and insecurity . Despite its natural resources and foreign aid, Sub-Saharan Africa alone counts 44 countries among 63 Least Developed Countries .
What Makes Intra-State Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa Complex and Difficult?
The Sub-Saharan Africa region has been the hub of armed conflict, Genocide, riots, and other civil wars since its independence. Since then, most Sub-Saharan African states have been governed through authoritarian (often military) dictatorships, and now most countries have elected leaders. Most conflict-related deaths and injuries in Africa have occurred in this region, and many people continue to suffer from insecurity and fear of violence .
The Exceptional Crime of Genocide in the Great Lakes Region
This exceptional crime of Genocide was committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 and later on in South Sudan. During this Genocide, more than 800,000 people were killed in less than 100 days, causing many others to be displaced. The eastern part of the DRC did not escape this history of conflict and insecurity because, beginning in 1996, violent conflicts involving internal and external armed groups led to the death of more than 6,000,000 persons and forced more than people to be displaced .
The conflicting situation in South Sudan has a different story of being repetitive and implying civil war and Genocide. Typically, the first conflict peaked in the 1960s and ended in 1972, but the second one, which began in 1983, lasted for twenty-two years . The African Union (AU) and the UN have documented part of the violence in South Sudan, labeled it as ethnic cleansing, and have been reluctant to declare it a Genocide. In other words, the international community did not escalate its rhetoric to describe the violence in South Sudan as Genocide .
The Role of Natural Resources in Intra-State Conflicts in Sub- Saharan Africa
DRC is a leading example of resource conflict; it is a history-long, complex, conflicting situation since the Belgian colonization of the region by King Leopold II in the 1880s. Since then, King Leopold II started a systematic exploitation of natural wealth. The subsequent Congolese leaderships before and after independence focused on appropriating these natural resources for their families and closest friends. They used military forces to silence the citizens and other opposition groups that could object to such leadership styles . The Congolese natural resources attracted the interests of local people, including leaders, citizens, opposition groups, rebel movements, and most importantly, other countries, companies, and individuals at regional and international levels. I was curious to read that government dependence on natural resources for revenue likewise increases the risk of war and thwarts peacebuilding .
The DRC case is one of the leading examples where opposition groups and external supporters of the rebellions have played a critical role in intensifying the crisis. Surprisingly, the UN’s failure to handle the Congolese case through its peacekeeping forces and negotiations is a regrettable memory in global governance. Not only had the UN failed to protect the civilians from atrocities of civil wars in DRC, but also it had failed to facilitate peaceful negotiations between DRC and Zimbabweans who were fighting in DRC in the 2001s to protect their mining and timber concessions acquired by high government officials and their associates, as well as other regional actors who contributed to the escalation of the crisis .
Many opposition groups, including Genocide perpetrators in Ex-Forces Armeées Rwandaises (Ex-FAR) who formed different groups such as Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), have so long worsened the Congolese security issues. By the time of these writings, M23 is the primary threat in Eastern DRC, including insecurity and acts of violence in the Eastern region of DRC by M23 . Therefore, the EAC member states should support any programs to promote peace between its member states to maintain bloc unity. Though member states of the bloc agreed to deploy a regional security force led by Kenya to the Eastern DRC, their productivity is still questionable. Above all, I realize that after two years of DRC’s accession to the EAC, there has not been any significant change in cooperation between DRC and other EAC member states; the tension between DRC and Rwanda increased from allegations of Rwandan support to M23 .
The Congolese example indicates how controlling natural resources increased the risk of civil. Regrettably, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa failed to exploit these natural resources to boost their economic development effectively. Therefore, poverty remained their major characteristic because agricultural activities account for more than 90 percent, and more than 40 percent live on less than a US dollar daily . Unquestionably, poverty plagues Sub-Saharan Africa and forms a critical root cause of many of Africa‘s problems . Additionally, corrupt regimes in this region abuse foreign aid by using it for favoritism and to secure political power. For foreign aid to be effective, leaders should adopt appropriate measures to ensure the use of funds as intended. Additionally, aid money is often diverted and used to acquire arms and ammunition .
When Government is a Perpetrator: The Case of Genocide Committed Against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994
The Rwanda case about the Genocide committed against Tutsi in 1994 presents a worse scenario when the government is the perpetrator of the crime against its citizens. Since the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) invasion in 1990 toward the signing of the Arusha peace agreement in 1993, the organized violence against unarmed civilians in this phase constituted a kind of early warning to the effect that worse might be in store .
The signing of the Arusha Accords in 1993 was symbolic because an extremist plan was to assassinate politicians at the scheduled ceremony for swearing in the transitional government. In the process, they would provoke an encounter with Belgian UNAMIR soldiers, expecting that by killing some, the entire UN contingent would leave Rwanda . From this description, I can infer that the former Rwandan government still insisted on its decades-long plan of executing the Genocide.
Genocide Perpetrators in Exile
During the Rwandan liberalization war by RPF troops and after seizing power, members of the old regime led a massive flow of civilian refugees across the border to Tanzania and the DRC (former Zaire). These refugees included government soldiers, militia members, local officials, and former national leaders, while the army, the militia, and the civilian refugees were mixed while establishing the militarized refugee communities. The members of the defeated regime who were responsible for the Genocide used these refugee camps for their re-organization and consolidation of their power, with attempts to renew the conflict and attack Rwanda .
From that description above, I understand they should not have obtained international refugee protection as people who committed Genocide or other crimes against humanity. The situation worsened when Zairian authorities helped ex-FAR units and staff to establish themselves in different sites along the border in the North and South Kivu areas . These actions by the government of Zaire violated several international legal instruments such as the UN arms embargo on Rwanda , the OAU Convention that proscribes armed encampments of refugee-soldiers close to the border, and international law prohibiting armed incursions across the border , as well as the legal and moral principles to punish perpetrators of Genocide. Unquestionably, Zaire‘s help enabled the defeated forces to regroup, retrain and rearm freely, and continued to be a security threat to Rwanda and the region.
Conversion of Local Conflict Into Terrorism: Somalia Case
Somalia is a particular example where local conflicts were converted into terrorism, finally affecting neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. This country has been a victim of social, economic, political, and security problems for so long. Insecurity and terrorism are significant problems in the entire East African region . Somalia has been facing and is still facing various social, economic, and political issues. Somalia has been a victim of a drought threatening to cause famine in different areas for so long. Many Somali people have been victims of acute food insecurity and need humanitarian assistance. Additionally, the lack of funds to address the problems of drought, climate change, malnutrition, and famine, is a critical concern .
Worse, insecurity resulting from Al-Shabab terrorism cannot allow the government to focus on other socio-economic aspects. Al-Shabab has remained a severe threat to the government and its institutions .
Internationalization of Local Conflicts: Case of Democratic Republic of Congo
As I introduced earlier, conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa seem intra-state initially, but they have often extended to threaten the entire region . The complex and history- long conflicts in DRC exemplify the internationalization of local conflicts and wars in this region. In the Congolese crises, different actors and spoilers have contributed to the tension and internationalization of local wars to the extent that they have been qualified as Africa‘s first World War . These actors, interveners, and spoilers have different interests, and their involvement in the Congolese local crisis has complicated the peacekeeping mission to the extent that the AU itself, SADC, and UN failed to protect tens of thousands of people who died, suffered from rape, and other major human rights abuses during these crises .
The Strife for Legitimization and Self-Determination of Opposition Groups: Case of Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF)
Many cases are worth examining because no single country in Sub-Saharan Africa has been free from the struggle with opposition groups. To understand how self- determination and striving for constitutional rights have successfully led to overthrowing authoritarian leadership and instore a government of unity and reconciliation, I will briefly discuss the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) case. It emanated from the issue of Tutsi, who were the principal victims of political violence and ethnic discrimination, and marginalization in Rwanda in the decolonization period (1959–1963); they fled to the surrounding countries, with large numbers settling in southern Uganda .
In this case, the refugee issues became a source of renewed violence, given the failure of the Rwandese government to permit return and the unwillingness of Uganda to accord full rights of settlement . I understand that war was inevitable in this case since the Rwandan refugees had no other option than using military forces for their self- determination after refusing to return to their home country, being unwilling to accord rights of settlement, and failing regional and international regulations to handle the refugees’ problems. Surprisingly, African legal instruments and other international law, such as the OAU and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), had appealed to African states to prevent refugee problems from generating renewed strife by following accepted principles of state responsibility towards refugees . These regulations required the country of origin must allow them full and free right of return; failing this, receiving countries should facilitate settlement and integration .
Unfortunately, neither Uganda nor Rwanda honored these legal requirements because Uganda expelled the Rwandan refugees in South-Western Uganda in 1982-83 while the Rwandese government evoked the issue of overpopulation, consistently and unequivocally denied the refugees the right to return, which amounted to an invasion by the RPF. Consequently, the period from the October 1990 invasion by RPF until an interlinked process of civil war, civil violence, and preventive diplomacy characterized the signing of the Arusha Peace Agreement in August 1993 .
The RPF demand complicated the Rwandese government’s decision-making; it was not simply to return but to change the political regime in the homeland. However, I agree with Ericksson that if the Rwandan regime had formally recognized the right of return, this might have given symbolic satisfaction to RPF, even in the absence of political reforms . One important note that I must emphasize about the RPF invasion was a transformative impact on Rwandese politics by giving significant momentum to a democratization process; this continued after the RPF victory and the establishment of the new government of unity and reconciliation.
The Failure of Global Responsibility to Protect and Use of Force
The UN‘s global responsibility to protect resides in the deployment of peace operations to help maintain cease-fire agreements, stabilize conflict situations, create an environment conducive to peaceful settlement, and help implement peace agreements. More importantly, they aim to protect the civilian populations at risk in humanitarian crises and assist in laying the foundations for durable peace . Regrettably, the UN has proven reluctance and slowness in deploying its forces to save the civilian populations from these chaotic situations, constituting a critical failure of global responsibility to protect civilians from these risks.
The UN’s failure as a center-piece of global governance in the Rwandan genocide case is proven by the UN‘s reluctance and slowness to take any action against the Genocide that was happening in Rwanda since April 6, 1994, even to recognize these killings as a Genocide despite many reports from Non-Governmental Organizations, and pressure from different African officials to the UN Secretary-General. During that catastrophic incident, African members of the UN had called for forceful action during the discussion of UNAMIR‘s fate after April 6, 1994, and maintained this position as the months went by and the death toll mounted. Surprisingly and unfortunately, their demands were buttressed by growing information being fed to the Secretariat by UNAMIR and DHA about the nature and magnitude of the massacres until April 29, 1994, when the UN Secretary-General vainly called for the Security Council to take forceful action for Rwanda .
The Critiques Against Global and Regional Security Mechanisms to Address Intra-State Conflicts in Sub- Saharan Africa
The existing security global and regional organizations have proven ineffective in addressing the issues of enduring local conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa and ensuring peace and security. The causes of this ineffectiveness include the unresponsiveness of the Security Council as a global security organization and the failure of African regional security organizations such as the East African Community (EAC), the East African Standby Forces (EASF), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) . These regional security organizations these security organizations are subject to many critiques due to organizational, financial, and technical challenges they encounter. For example, the first deployment of the East African Standby Forces (EASF) in Burundi in response to the political crisis caused by the President’s third term in 2015 was eventually rejected at the AU level. Moreover, it lacks strategic airlift capability and capacity to provision troops, funding issues, and adequate communications equipment that could enable command and control .
I must recall that, in the Somali case, many security standby forces failed to restore security in Somalia. These include the African Union (AU) itself, African Standby Force (ASF), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Eastern African Standby Force Secretariat (EASFSEC) . According to UN norms, states that border a country in conflict are ineligible to deploy troops into that country . Therefore, Sudan and Uganda were identified as the countries that would deploy troops under the IGAD Peace Mission in Somalia (IGASOM) to restore peace and security in Somalia. The other IGAD countries were to assist in providing logistics, equipment, emergency assistance, and training for the Somalia Army and Police . Surprisingly, all these arrangements have not made any positive change to Somalia‘s security system.
I must also emphasize that EASF relies on funds from both member and non- member states. Member states fund the headquarters. Exercises, educational programs, and real-life deployments are supported through friends of EASF. Therefore, I understand that this long funding process is a severe impediment to the functioning of a standby security force . On another side, IGAD missions depend on military capacities from AU nations that are not members of IGAD. Considering these discussions and challenges above, I will not be cynical to conclude that peace and security have deteriorated since the establishment of the EAC. More specifically, this region does not have a collective defense system to help reinforce security measures.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR THE PARTICULAR ASPECTS OF POST-INDEPENDENCE INTRA-STATE CONFLICTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
The sections above discussed the particularity and complexity of local conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa. These conflicts require particular approaches and solutions, especially home-grown solutions. Mainly, they need a specific involvement of local stakeholders, unofficial facilitators in conflict resolution, using traditional conflict resolution methods, and immediate intervention as long as early warnings signal the severity of the conflict.
The Need for Addressing the Root Causes of the Conflict for Effective Conflict Resolution
One among many possibilities to address the issues of conflicts and profound insecurity that continue to ravage the region is to deal with their root causes because they escalate into complex forms. In other words, there is no single formula to deal with a particular conflict because an apparent conflict has many other connected ones and is story-long for each case. Though I cannot assume to dress an exhaustive list of causes of these conflicts, I must emphasize that the main reasons for recurring conflicts in Sub- Saharan African countries include economic stagnation and poverty aggravation, mistrust and suspicion between governments, massive violations of human rights, and other policies of exclusion and marginalization of some groups including ethnic or religious groups.
Additionally, the list of possible causes includes the use of violence for conquering and conserving power, impunity of crimes of Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons by opposition and terrorist groups, especially in the horn of Africa, a proliferation of armed groups such as the DRC case, organized crime and illegal exploitation of natural resources . Therefore, effectively resolving local conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa should address these causes and other factors connected to them.
The Role of Informal Diplomatic Approaches in Complex Internal Conflicts
Resolving complex local conflicts requires particular settings that enable a clear and deep understanding of the causes of the wars, active involvement of the concerned parties, and solutions that meet their interests. Uncontestably, this process requires an unmeasurable amount of time and patience for the mediators, facilitators, and other concerned actors. Therefore, only an informal mediation can achieve this goal because, in such conflicts, emotions have an extremely considerable value; causes are complex and attached to the history-long of the matter and the parties.
Strengthening Preventive Diplomacy/Mediation
Preventive diplomacy can best suit local conflicts because it can prevent disputes from arising between parties or prevent existing disputes from escalating into conflicts or limit the spread of conflicts when they occur . Limiting the spread of conflicts when they occur includes timely intervention by the Security Council as long as there are shreds of evidence of an existing conflict. I believe that as the UN delays preventive measures, the cost of wars increases, especially the loss of lives. Therefore, the prices of repairing the conflict’s consequences are higher than preventive diplomacy.
In doing so, there is a need to maximize the use of early warning systems and, if necessary, persuade the concerned parties to accept a peaceful conflict resolution process. In this process, the role of UN agencies, NGOs, and expert individuals operating in the conflicting area should share accurate reports that help the decision-makers to have a complete account of the conflict . In intra-state battles, the UN should use its forces and power to induce the concerned parties into talks because they are the masters of the causes of their conflicts and solutions.
Active Involvement of Non-Governmental Organizations in Resolving Intra-States Conflicts
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) go beyond the works of official diplomats, mediators, and intermediaries in resolving complex local conflicts. In that process, create a better historical account of the issues, provide educational opportunities for conflict resolution, and serve as information channels . Therefore, I understand it is best to deal with many peacemaking activities requiring time, effort, and patience.
More particularly, NGOs operate independently from power politics, which increases their trust in the parties in conflict. In short, I can infer that involving and empowering NGOs as intermediaries and mediators in international conflict situations is essential .
The Lesson to Learn from Informal Mediation Approach in Local Conflicts over Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Mozambican Case
The Mozambican case is one of the leading examples of long-history violent conflict that marked the successful work of informal actors and NGOs, particularly meditation. The mediation efforts involved the Government of Vatican, the governments of Italy, Kenya, the Sant’Egidio Community, the Mozambican churches, France, Malawi,
Portugal, Zimbabwe, the United Nations, the United Kingdom, and a non-negligible role of the USA. One particular aspect is that each party was represented in the group, with observer status, and later became the mediation group, the collective mediation action . Therefore, this collaborative mediation action satisfied the conflicting parties because the government and RENAMO wanted a mediator rather than bilateral negotiations .
Moreover, this case marks the role of the religious field (Roman and Anglican) and NGOs. In that sense, the Christian Council of Mozambique (C.C.M.) established the Commission for Peace and Reconciliation (C.P.R.) to explore possible options for dialogue and facilitate communication between the parties. These organizations acted behind the scene throughout the mediation process and were involved in negotiating the conditions of an amnesty with RENAMO leaders .
Strengthening Local Solutions and Policy Actions for Prevention and Resolution of Local Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa
As I discussed in the sections above, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) continues to be a world region characterized by incessant local conflicts. These include mainly ethnic, revolutionary, inter-communal, and political differences wars . On a positive note, some countries have made significant steps in ending civil wars, such as the wars in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Rwanda, while many others are still in chaotic warring situations. There is an important lesson to learn from the Rwandan approach of prosecuting the Genocide perpetrators and the consequences of Genocide by using traditional methods.
The Role of Gacaca Courts in Prosecuting Genocide Perpetrators in Rwanda in 1994: An Example of Home-Grown Solutions in Resolving Local Conflicts
Diplomatic efforts and other conflict resolution attempts failed in many cases of local conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa because of the complexity of these conflicts. These include negotiation, mediation, or coercive diplomacy. As a solution, involving local people and using traditional African experiences can be resourceful for conflict resolutions to achieve the best solutions . For example, the Rwandan traditional Gacaca Courts played an unprecedented role in trying the suspects of Genocide committed against Tutsi in 1994, eradicating the culture of impunity and contributing to unity and reconciliation .
The Need for an African Sustainable Economic Development
The discussions above stress the importance of addressing the internal root causes of African conflicts beyond the traditional responses, which only tackled their symptoms . That way, Sub-Saharan Africa should embark on a significant journey of reinforcing investment in education in science, technology and innovation, health, gender equality, and youth empowerment. This education will undoubtedly increase employment opportunities and the continent‘s sustainable economic development. In doing so, domestic resources need to be mobilized by emphasizing the efforts to fight corruption and embezzlement of public funds . Thus, there is a need to empower local legal and administrative institutions to implement these developmental policy actions .
Improvement of Crisis Intervention Policy Actions by the International Organizations
The Rwandan Genocide had proved a lack of contingency plans or efforts to strengthen the mission‘s preparedness for worse-case scenarios despite clear evidence of mounting tension. The problem was partly due to limited institutional capacity in the face of a rapid increase in peacekeeping operations worldwide . I understand that in matters of threats to peace and security and severe human rights violations, including the crime of Genocide, the neutrality principle should not necessarily apply to the UN or other designated international organizations. In other words, Chapter VII of the UN Security Council should be enforced as fast as necessary . In that same logic, the UN should not be neutral towards Genocide or parties threatening civilians whom the UN has placed under its protection .
However, the case of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda demonstrates that it requires the UN to have the capacity for information collection and analysis to take action accordingly. Nevertheless, member states are reluctant for reasons of national security to let the UN develop such an intelligence function. For example, Zaire, France, and Uganda had access to the Rwandese regime  but no interest in collecting, let alone sharing, any information that could be used against the Rwandese government at that time.
The Need for Empowerment of Regional Security Standby Forces
As I emphasized above, the existing regional security organizations have proven ineffective in ensuring peace and security due to numerous organizational, financial, and technical challenges. As mentioned above, the first deployment of East African Standby Forces (EASF) with full operational capability in Burundi in response to the political crisis caused by the President’s third term in 2015 was eventually rejected at the AU level. As a solution, I observe that this organization should have the decision-making power, financial capacity, and autonomous structure to be effective. Nevertheless, contributing countries where these forces are drawn decide whether troops can be deployed .
Additionally, several factors contribute to the spread of conflicts within the region. These include weak state institutional capacity in some states that constrain frontier security cooperation, the presence of armed and region-destabilizing hostile forces, mutual suspicions, and low levels of trust among states, while some of them support local conflicts in neighboring countries . These factors require strengthening the standby force to ensure regional peace and security. Moreover, I am convinced that creating collective defense forces would be a starting point, but having a trained national army and police force and ensuring financial capabilities is a requirement.
Developing Appropriate Alternative Policies to Comprehensive Sanctions
Beforehand, I must emphasize that using comprehensive sanctions in conflict is a double punishment for vulnerable citizens. Therefore, I claim that applying comprehensive sanctions in such disputes is a double punishment to vulnerable citizens. Undoubtedly, comprehensive sanctions are ineffective, counter-productive, harmful to the global economic aspects, and morally questionable yet challenging to lift once imposed. The situation worsens in intra-state conflicts and in failed states where generalized sanctions are ineffective against leaders of armed factions; there are gaps in documentation of imports and exports or borders .
The Iraqi case is a leading example signifying how comprehensive sanctions benefit a few individuals, including bad leaders, to the detriment of local citizens. As the regime became more repressive, ordinary Iraqis suffered the most from the sanctions, which reduced things like food imports and medical supplies, leading to widespread malnutrition and starvation, and impoverished them. Between 670,000 and 880,000 children, fewer than five, are estimated to have died during 1990-1995 due to the impoverished conditions caused by the sanctions . From this description, I can deduce that sanctions adversely cause poverty, especially among vulnerable people. This impact increases with the severity of sanctions and is more extensive for multilateral sanctions than for unilateral sanctions imposed only by one superpower and is long- lasting as the poverty gap increases .
The Iraqi case is another leading example of the failure of the UN‘s comprehensive sanctions. The UN imposed sanctions on Iraq after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, but the Iraqi people did not rise to rebel against the dictator. Instead, his political violence ended after the United States militarily invaded his country in 2003 . According to this example, economic sanctions benefit particular political leaders, companies, groups, and individuals who violate human rights to the detriment of vulnerable civilians. The oil sales authorized under the 1995 Oil-for-Food Program to pay for food and medical supplies were an exception to the sanctions imposed on Iraq .
Regrettably, these sanctions resulted from malnutrition, contaminated water supplies, increased infectious disease, and higher infant and child mortality rates, producing a severe humanitarian crisis . It is regrettable that Saddam Hussein, some private companies, and individuals, including some UN personnel concerned with the program, made that exception as their opportunity to exploit it, earning good wealth through kickbacks and surcharges and illegal oil smuggling . The North Korean case is another culminant example. North Korea has also been heavily sanctioned, but this policy instrument has been ineffective, counter-productive, and even harmful to human life, causing political and economic insecurity among the civilian population. Despite extensive sanctions, North Korea continued to test nuclear missiles . Human rights violations became terrible until the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea recommended that the North Korean case be referred to the International Criminal Court .
In this paper, I have explored the particular linkage between the security issues and conflicts in the Sub-Saharan Africa region with the countries’ colonial legacy that prolonged and amplified other social divisionism. The colonials‘ failure to establish long- lasting legal, administrative, and institutional systems and to empower local leaders to sustain them have contributed to incessant wars in this region. Inevitably, the marginalized groups strived for their rights and self-determination, thus forming opposition and rebel groups.
Unsurprisingly, military forces have been the last option during these conflicts and wars, but the use of terrorism has been the worst version. Additionally, Africa, in general, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, is rich in natural resources; these have been other significant causes of conflicts since both the governments and oppositions rely on them for their financial purposes and power. Though the grounds of the wars in this region have the same traits, I emphasized in this paper the need for particular attention to each concerned country’s specific nature and history because there is no single formula to resolve these dynamic and complex conflicts. Therefore, any successful resolution of these conflicts must address their root causes, and involve collective efforts and inter- state collaboration through different regional integrations, because local disputes have finally become multinational and international.
More specifically, the policy and decision-makers at local, regional, and global levels should strengthen democratic institutions to emphasize development and sustainable democracy, establish effective early warning security mechanisms and ensure timely intervention when emergencies arise. Additionally, they should support domestic programs and activities that promote peace, security, and respect for human rights. These include academic programs, community services, training, and seminars. In other words, there should be efforts to seek African solutions for African problems. That way, the policy, and decision-makers should also strengthen inclusive and constructive internal dialogues because an internal exchange facilitates the development of an exit strategy and empower local citizens in effective conflict resolution.
The superpowers and the UN Security Council should encourage and support peaceful ways of resolving conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa and leverage them whenever possible instead of rushing for economic sanctions that harm vulnerable citizens. In other words, the UN Security Council should invest in peace efforts because supporting these efforts is more cost-effective than paying the price for instability and conflict.
Finally, the international community should increase its capacity for rapid response in emergencies because its delays and reluctance cause colossal human and material losses, as exemplified by different cases in this paper. To do so, it should soften its procedures to enhance rapid response, maximize the use of early warning systems, credit the field reports, and promote active involvement of NGOs and expert individuals operating in the conflicting areas because their words help the decision-makers to have a complete account of the conflict.
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