TOPICS: African Conflicts, Former Child Soldiers, Transformative Mediation, Insurgency, Transitional Justice, Conflict Over Natural Resources
Christian Chereji and Ciprian Sandu
ARTICLES in Issue 14 – January 2016:
Somalia and Rwanda: The Psychology and Philosophy of the African Conflicts
Mohamed HAJI INGIRIIS
Specialists on African conflicts are torn between fascination, frustration and factionalism. Factionalised and fictionalised narratives in post-conflict communities in traumatic settings are often presented not through reflexive rationality but through defeatist war logic. Focusing on an account of Somali uncivil war in 1991, I challenge the recent propagation of the claim of ‘clan cleansing’ in Somalia and thus present a critical reassessment of the complex dynamics of the past Somali conflicts. An engaging academic re-examination is important, considering the controversies often created by post-conflict claims. By putting clan conflicts into anthropological and historical perspective, I argue that the claim of clan cleansing has no ethnographical authorisation and historical validity in Somali history. Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic observation and personal experience as a witness of Somali uncivil war and working as a writer in Mogadishu during the height of the Somali conflicts, backed by theoretical, conceptual and comparative and
empirical critical analysis on scholarship across humanities and social sciences, I problematize the paradoxes of the claim, propagated through public commentaries in Somali websites and by certain commentators in academia.
African Conflicts, Somali Uncivil Wars, Post-conflict Narratives
India: Conflict Over Natural Resources. A Study on Jharbadhali Micro Watershed
Suman DEVI & Niharranjan MISHRA
In India, especially in rural areas, people mainly depend on natural resources for the
livelihood. Due to the immense importance of natural resources, the potential to create conflict among the resource users exist. The term ‘watershed project’ has initiated for the conservation of natural resources such as land and water. In the case of Watershed Development Programme (WSDP), the conflict is found to be relevant as it has a number of stakeholders. The conflict occurs because of unequal sharing of resources and the inability of Planning Implementing Agency (PIA) to establish the ‘resource use agreement’ among the users. Under the above background, the present study is carried out at Jharbadhali micro watershed, located at Balangir district of western Odisha. The specific objective of the present study is to find out the causes of the conflict and involved mechanisms in the conflict resolution process. The sociological methods, like the case study, unstructured interview schedule and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), have been used to fulfil the objectives of the study. The analysis of data reveals that the intervention of new institution in the form of the watershed project has disturbed the traditional mechanism of resource management and the cause and process of conflict resolution have become more complex.
Conflicts, War, Natural Resources, Jharbadhali Micro Watershed.
Liberia: Cross-Cultural Healing for Former Child Soldiers
In recent years, the issue of child soldiering in Africa has captured international attention and it is no longer a secret that children in war are subjected to brutal recruiting methods that involve, but not limited to, cruel trainings, torture, the killing of community or family members, cannibalism, dehumanization and the application of rituals sacrifices which are believed to protect and make a warrior fearless against an enemy in battle. Agitated by drugs, alcohol, revenge, to mention a few, they are, in most cases, forced to commit terrible atrocities that are beyond human imagination. While these children faithfully execute their “duties” and are viewed as “heroes” by their commanders during wartime, they are, in peacetime, stigmatized and considered impure by the people they once lived among. This is partly so because, in traditional African society, it is held in the highest esteemed that reintegrating a wrongdoer into his former community without any
form of spiritual purification could contaminate the entire clan and lead them into misfortune. Similarly, it is believed that until a warrior is purified from the pollution of battle and death, he cannot experience inner peace or total healing. This paper will examine the application of traditional purification rites and western therapeutic trauma mechanisms as approaches used by a local peace building organization (the Charles Wratto Foundation), for the successful reintegration of former child soldiers in rural Liberia. Among other things, the various treatments and support methods applied by traditional healers, community members and western practitioners are discussed.
Liberia, Former Child Soldiers, Cross-Cultural Healing, Indigenous Purification, Western Psychology, Reintegration.
Zambia: Mediation and the Transformation of the Lunda-Luvale Conflict
Ignatius KABALE MUKUNTO
This article is an attempt to examine the intervention efforts in a conflict between the
Lundas and Luvales in Zambia’s north-western region. The two ethnic groups on the eastern and western banks of the Zambezi River respectively have a longstanding ethnic acrimony since the 1950s. Based on the analysis of existing scholarly works and electronic media sources, the study, mainly desktop, looks at why transformative mediation is recommended than other forms of mediation. The article finds that since 2009, the government of the republic of Zambia has made several attempts to try and resolve the Lunda-Luvale conflict but very little progress has been made. While there are several official interventions, these are often top-down and problem-solving oriented. In October 2015, a special task committee constituted by Zambia’s Head of State is collecting data in
the Lunda and Luvale areas of Northwestern Zambia with the aim to making recommendations for ‘resolving the conflict’. The study has also advanced cases for the appreciation of mediation through transformative lens, an approach that seeks to transform people and not just situations. Several intermediaries who can contribute to this transformation in the Lunda-Luvale conflict are suggested.
Ethnic Conflict, Transformative Mediation, Empowerment, Recognition.
Northern Ireland: Religion and Transitional Justice
John D. BREWER, David MITCHELL & Gerard LEAVEY
The right to practice religion is recognised as one of the universal liberties transitional
justice interventions are designed to defend, and religion is often mentioned as one of the cultural factors that impact on local transitional justice practices from below. Many human rights cases of abuse, however, are motivated by religious extremism and the association of religion with conflict has largely a discouraged reflection on its positive contribution to transitional justice. This field is undeveloped and the little work that elaborates its positive role is descriptive. This paper theorises the relationship between religion and transitional justice and develops a model for understanding its potential role that better allows an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. The model is applied to original research conducted on ex-combatants in Northern Ireland, and concludes that only in very limited circumstances can religious actors make a telling contribution to transitional justice. Understanding what these circumstances are is the purpose of the model developed here.
Religion, Northern Ireland, Local Transitional Justice, Ex-combatants.
Nigeria: State Capacity and Insurgency in the Niger Delta since the 1990s
Otoabasi AKPAN & Ubong Essien UMOH
During the post-1990 period, negative peace (the absence of armed violence) appeared
to have taken a holiday in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. The insurgency in the Niger Delta has experienced a free fall, mutating and escalating almost uninterrupted. Mainstream analyses of the causes and duration of insurgency in the Niger Delta tend to focus on the deprived actor (frustration and aggression) and rational actor (greed and opportunity) paradigms. Less attention has been paid to the role of state capacity in the onset and duration of insurgency in the Niger Delta. Indeed, the specific relationship between state capacity and the onset and duration of the insurgency, especially in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, is yet to receive brawny scholarly attention. This paper attempts to remedy this shortcoming. Building upon well-established theoretical and empirical literature on state capacity, the paper examines the effect of state capacity on the insurgency in the Niger Delta since the 1990s. The paper argues that the manifestation and duration of insurgency in the Niger Delta of Nigeria is a reflection of a feeble state capacity. State capacity significantly explains the willingness to participate in, and the shelf life of, the insurgency in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. To this end, the cause of and cure for the insurgency in the Niger Delta rests on a robust state capacity which the Nigerian state lacks.
State Capacity, Insurgency, Niger Delta, Rebellion.