'Fighting for peace': South Africa's role in peace operations in Africa (part I)
In Africa, most of the present conflicts are civil, intra-state wars where belligerent groups use guerrilla tactics to achieve various political, economic or ideological objectives. The atrocities and the effect of these on-going wars on innocent civilians, human suffering, poverty and development are beyond comprehension. Not surprisingly, the majority of current peace operations are in Africa, with more than 70 countries contributing forces to these conflict zones. On the continent, South Africa has come to assume a leading role in peace operations and is now a major troop-contributing country to UN and AU missions. In the past 11 years, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has taken part in no fewer than 14 peace missions. This article provides a brief background of the conflicts in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan, the different United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) mandates under which peacekeepers had to operate as well as their objectives, and the extent of South Africa's involvement in the various missions. In the last section, the major challenges, that these operations have posed are highlighted. © 2012 Institute for Security Studies.