In July 2002, in Durban South Africa, leaders and representatives from 53 African nations launched the African union, a continental organization to replace the organization of African union. This new organization calls for major changes to pan African approaches to peace and security. The Constitutive Act of the African union and its protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council place renew emphasis on building a continental security regime capable of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts in Africa. The African Union like the Responsibility to Protect clearly lays out provisions for interventions in the internal affairs of a member state through military force, if necessary to protect vulnerable populations from human rights abuses.
The African Unions Constitutive Act is the first international treaty to recognise the right on the part of an international organization to intervene for human protection purposes. In order to provide an operational dimension to the security provisions of the Constitutive Act, the African Union is developing capacities for early warning, quick reaction, management and resolution of conflicts in the African region of the world.
Africa has witnessed more conflicts than any other continent in the world. There have been over 9million refugees and internally displaced people due to conflicts in Africa.
The causes of conflicts in Africa are many and they frequently recur, including major causes of potential tensions and conflicts, which could perhaps be summarised and classified below. Common to many conflicts is the unsatisfactory nature of inter-state borders. Nearly all these borders were inherited from colonial times, and were the product of negotiations and treaties between the colonial powers, decided in Europe with the aid of poor maps and with scant attention to African peoples. At independence, the African governments shied away from making adjustments, and in any case, this was difficult as they did not all reach independence at the same time. The existing state structures do not satisfy variously the aspirations for cultural identity, autonomy, economic democracy and self-determination of different nationalities co-existing with the contemporary states. Thus, the ease with which dissidents of a state are harboured in neighbouring countries and guerrillas armed and trained there, is itself a cause of both internal and inter-state conflicts. A major cause of African conflicts has been ethnicity, and it has continued to be so. The creation of new nation-states at the time of independence was accompanied urgent calls for nation-building by the new African leaders who were well aware of the difficulty in transcending African ethnic and regional loyalties. The European concept of a nation was exported to Africa. There have been a number of separatist movements causing attempts at secession, such as Katanga in Zaire, Biafra in Nigeria, and others in Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Military coups have also often been caused by ethnic rivalry, as well as personal rivalry such as Idi Amin’s coup in Uganda in 1971, caused by inter-ethnic rivalry among leading army officers, as well as by ethnic resentments against the civil head of state. Idi Amin was able to recruit soldiers loyal to him from across the northern border, from the Sudan, for his own Kakwa tribe had been split in two by the colonial border. Thus it came about that it was Sudanese troops who played a large part in the coup, and Sudanese officers commanded key positions in the subsequent military regime. Use of foreign troops in such cases tends to exacerbate the cruelties and abuse of human rights inflicted on the civilian population, for these troops feel little affinity with populations they are sent to control. Power struggles, hostile groups, over-population, economic or religious disparities, oppression, and demands for democracy, communal...
References: Abbink, Jon and Ineke van Kessel, eds. 2005. Vanguard or Vandals: Youth, Politics, and Conﬂict in Africa. Boston, MA: Brill.
Adelman, Howard and Govind C. Rao, eds. 2004. War and Peace in Zaire-Congo: Analysing and Evaluating Intervention, 1996–1997. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Manning, C. Local level challenges to post-conflict peace building. International Peacekeeping, 3 (10) (2003):25–43.
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