The changing nature of conflict in Africa : challenges for the United Nations

Weldon, Catherine Leigh (2006-04)

Thesis (MA) -- Stellenbosch University, 2006.

Includes bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The nature of conflict in Africa has changed from the Cold War to the post-cold War era. This is evident in the internal and external factors and actors involved within the conflict dynamics. During the Cold War era politics and the quest for control of the state formed the basis for conflicts in Africa, from anti-colonial wars of independence and liberation struggles to secessionist attempts. In the post-Cold War era with the loss of external superpower support, this has changed with the growing significance of identity politics, and conflicts based on the differences of ethnicity, religion and the quest for the control of resources and land, characterised by extreme violence and the rise of actors other than the state, within failed and collapsed states. These conflicts have thus presented challenges to the United Nations (UN) in relation to its traditional means of maintaining international peace and security, and the internal dynamics of the decision-making processes, political will and accompanying resources and financial factors within the organisation. The challenges faced by the UN in Africa therefore lie not only within the nature of conflict and the nature of the African state but also within the internal constraints inherent within the organisation itself. The conflicts in Mozambique and Rwanda respectively represent how the nature of conflict has changed in Africa from the Cold War to the post-Cold War era and both illustrate the challenges the UN has faced in light of the changing nature of African conflict. While Mozambique offers an example of a typical Cold War conflict, based on the quest for control of the state and exacerbated by superpower support, Rwanda represents an example of a typical post-Cold War internal conflict based on identity politics and extreme violence manifest as genocide. By comparing and contrasting these two conflicts, and the subsequent involvement of UN peace maintenance operations in these conflicts, this thesis offers a comparative study of "old" and "new" wars in Africa in order that a better understanding of the nature of conflict in Africa can be reached and to illustrate the challenges faced by the UN in light of this changing nature of conflict.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die aard van konflik in Afrika het vanaf die tydperk van die Koue Oorlog tot die na-Koue Oorlog tydperk aansienlik verander. Dit is in die innerlike en uiterlike faktore en akteurs wat by die konflik betrokke is waarneembaar. Gedurende die Koue Oorlog tydperk was interstaatlike konflik 'n hoofkenmerk. Dit was ook die fase van antikoloniale oorloë wat dikwels met eksterne steun geveg is. In die na-Koue Oorlog tydperk met die verlies van uiterlike supermoondheid ondersteuning, het interne konflik binne swak state dikwels oor die beheer van skaars hulpbronne, of oor identiteit en griewe gegaan. Die konflik het uitdagings aan die Verenigde Nasies (VN) gestel wie se vredesregime kwalik vir rebelle en kindersoldate voorsiening gemaak het. Dit het ook eise gestel aan die politieke wilskrag van lede van die Veiligheidsraad om in dergelike konflikte betrokke te raak. Die uitdaging vir die VN in Afrika lê dus nie net in die aard van konflik en die aard van die staat in Afrika wat verander het nie, maar ook in nuwe eise vir vrede. Die twee gevallestudies van die konflik in Mosambiek en Rwanda demonstreer hoe hierdie aard van konflik verander het, en hoe moeilik dit is om vrede te maak waar akteurs (rolspelers) kwalik binne konvensionele raamwerke hanteer kan word. Waar Mosambiek 'n voorbeeld van 'n tipiese Koue Oorlogse konflik was - stryd vir die beheer oor die staat en aangevuur deur supermoonhede, is Ruanda weer 'n meer eietydse voorbeeld van 'n tipiese na-Koue Oorlogse interne konflik, gebaseer op identiteitspolitiek wat met ekstreme geweld en volksmoord gepaard gegaan het. Hierdie tesis bied 'n vergelykende studie van sulke "ou" en "nuwe" oorloë in Afrika en bied moontlik 'n beter begrip van die aard en oplossing van sulke konflikte wat by uitstek nuwe uitdagings aan die tradisionele opvattings van die VN stel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50649
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