Armed Conflict Bane of Africa's Development: Causes and Prevention

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1.The end of the Cold War between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States of America (USA) was expected to usher in relative peace, security and stability globally. The corresponding calm was to facilitate meaningful economic and technological growth in most nations of the world. Unfortunately, these expectations have not been realised, as the world began to experience new form of conflicts, more complex and devastating.

2.The 2 gulf wars (1991 and 2003), the Yugoslavian civil war, the war in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the multiple ethnic wars in Africa. These wars are among the conflicts which ended with massive destruction of lives and properties along with gross violations of human right. Kornblum stresses that the post Cold War proliferation of local conflicts have strained the resources and credibility of governments and international community almost to a breaking point.[1]

3. These conflicts have dampened the initial euphoria and raised doubts about the present strategies for conflict management and resolution. While there is increasing rapprochement among actors in some regions, those in Africa have taken perennial crises proportions. The situation has became more critical with the breakout of inter and intra-state conflicts that resulted in the death of millions and an upsurge of refugees and displaced people. These conflicts lacked appropriate management at global and regional levels. They have resulted in the collapse of the Somalian state, genocide in Rwanda and an unending circle of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Sudan and Angola to mention but a few.

4.Basically, conflict is seen as a state of opposition. It is said to exist when individuals or groups express different views, interests or goals, and perceive their views as incompatible.[2] The term has also been defined as an “interaction between interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and who expect interference from the other party in an attempt to achieve their goals”.[3] On the other hand, armed conflict has been defined as “a political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at least one state, or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state”.[4] Whether armed or unarmed, it is evident that, incompatibility and opposing views or interests exist in all forms of conflict.

5.In the last decade, Africa has witness more armed conflicts than any other region in the world; increasingly, the conflicts have taken a regional character especially along the Great Lakes Region.[5] Between 1970 and 1997, over 30 wars have been fought in Africa. The wars involved a quarter of the continent and accounted for more than half of the entire war related deaths world wide, while leaving almost 8 million refugees around the continent.[6]

6.The African conflicts, most of which are still on going, are threatening the stability of the continent. Many countries within the continent are still being afflicted by wars since independence. Apart from massive destruction to lives and properties, the conflicts have also created an upsurge of refugees within the region. Besides, they provided excuses for extra African powers to interfere in the region’s domestic affairs, while giving way for arms trafficking and other African states to interfere in neighbouring states. These have contributed in no measure to the underdevelopment of the continent.[7]

7.The causes of conflicts in Africa are many and they frequently reoccur. The precarious position of African states is brought into sharper focus vis-à-vis the globalisation of the rest of the world. Consequently, in the face of erupting horrors, Africa’s collective and global attentions have been diverted from the developmental needs of the continent to the...
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