This research programme is thus directed at generating debates around the very notions of conflict, and post-conflict transitions within the context of West Africa’s historical experience, its social relations and traditions, post-cold war changes and the involvement of external factors or forces. The greater challenge that lies ahead is perhaps the task of ensuring that the latest impetus of post-conflict transitions on the continent does not contain the seeds of regression or future conflict. Where then lies the guarantee against a regression to conflict? Is it in democratic elections that may not adequately address poverty, violence, corruption and injustice, constitutions that in reality disempower the people, or political systems that reduce participation to voting during elections? How can a system of participatory democracy that empowers the people and gives them a choice be institutionalized in West Africa? Equally relevant is the need to analyze the ideological trend towards reconstructing war-damaged economies by depending entirely on market-based reforms. Can the ‘trickle-down effect’ of the market provide badly needed employment, heal old wounds and address past and emerging inequities? How do we balance market concerns with State welfare roles? What can be the roles of the State and Civil Society in addressing these emerging concerns for the reconciliation, demilitarisation, disarmament, rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration, in a continent that is faced with daunting political, developmental, and security challenges?
Theory and Method
The research will be eclectic, combining broad historical, social science, humanities and regional perspectives. This gives the studies a broad inter-disciplinary approach. It also enables the studies to go beyond power sharing solutions that may not necessarily address the roots of conflict and post-conflict consolidation. To further consolidate the research, teams and networks will be encouraged to hold methodological and review workshops to harmonise and reinforce the empirical and scientific rigour of their studies. Research results will be disseminated through conferences, workshops and seminars. The publishing of books, monographs, discussion and occasional papers would also constitute another outlet for the dissemination of research results. In terms of methodology, the research will work with networks of Nordic and African researchers and institutions doing research on post-conflict transitions in West Africa. It will focus critically on local and regionalised conflicts, as well as the various approaches to peace agreements, power sharing arrangements, rehabilitation, disarmament, reconstruction and reconciliation within the framework of post-conflict transitions.