United Nations Role in Conflict Management in Africa: a Case Study of Darfur

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Conflict is a naturally inevitable part of human life worldwide1. It exists in all relationships, groups, culture and every level of social structure. Although, conflict is often uncomfortable and energy consuming, it can be a positive force for change and bring an otherwise stagnant relationship out of dormancy into a new life and vitality. Conflict is therefore an outcome of human interaction as a result of disagreement between individuals, parties or states. A conflict situation is characterized by the inability of those concerned to iron out their differences.2 Human wants are unlimited but the means to satisfy these wants are scarce. There is therefore, an inherent struggle in man for greater share of the limited resources. Conflict of interest is the result of these struggles. Most times, these conflicts at the micro level if not controlled can develop to conflict at the macro level such as communal, national, regional or even global. The existence of conflict connotes the presence of antagonisms or struggles by individuals, groups or organizations in the bid to pursue incompatible interests. When these struggles are not properly handled, they inevitably degenerate into violent conflicts. Violent conflicts have devastating effects on individuals and their societies. It was the horrified effect of First World War that led to the creation of the League of Nations. The failure of the League to prevent another war and the bitter lessons of the Second World War fostered the transformation of the League of Nations into the United Nations (UN). The United Nations was charged with the maintenance of world peace, develop good relations between countries, promote cooperation in solving the world’s problems and encourage respect for human rights. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr asserted that “a treat to peace anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere”. Thus, the UN was designed to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to world peace and the suppression of acts of aggression. The UN to manage violent conflicts between nations evolved Peace Support Operation (PSO).

During the cold war era, most of the crises could have been attributed to ideological rivalry between the United States of America (USA) and the then Soviet Union with the support of their respective client states in Africa. However, conflicts in Africa assumed different description after the Cold War. The major conflicts, in the continent today take the form of internal conflicts rather than conflicts across national borders.10 There have been violent conflicts in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Sudan among others.


The occurrence of conflicts in Africa has become worrisome and their resolution has also been quite challenging. After the cold war, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote D’Ivoire, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Sudan were engrossed in intra-state violent conflicts. These conflicts had devastating impact on Africa. It is estimated that millions of Africans lost their lives to these violence. The destruction of properties worth millions of dollars, refugees and displaced people were the aftermath of violent conflicts in Africa. In the post cold war era, the strategic withdrawal of ideological competition between the super powers changed the nature of conflicts in Africa. These conflicts changed from inter-state to intra-state shortly after the cold war in 1990. Fierce ethnic rivalries, economic and social decays led to untold hardships that challenged the very existence of various African states.1 This brought about new challenges to international peace and security as well as the United Nations. Ironically, Africa’s problems were perceived in a more limited regional context and responsibility for their solutions was shifted to the Africans themselves. The...
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