Beyond Warfare – Consolidating Africa’s Piecemeal Peace
Panel organiser: Anders Themnér, Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden and Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden.
The African continent is commonly associated with civil wars, authoritarianism and coups. In fact, Africa is the world’s most conflict-afflicted continent, with one third of all inter- and intra-state armed conflicts since 1946. Despite these bleak statistics – and ongoing civil wars in countries such as the Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan – there are reasons for hope. Not only have large parts of Western Africa transitioned itself from zones of war to zones of peace, countries such as Botswana, Malawi and Zambia have withstood armed domestic strife since independence. In order to consolidate the peace in these zones, it is imperative to address elite-mass dynamics in the context of transitional electoral politics. While elite-pacts and ‘transformed’ (ex-military/authoritarian) leaders can play a vital role creating the stability needed to strengthen democratic institutions, it is vital to create enough political space for the emergence of new political forces and grass-root mobilization. The question is how this can be done without cementing authoritarian and militant norms and creating incentives for electoral violence and fearmongering. The panels invites contributions that seek to address these important questions.