Project-Security Regimes in Africa/Prospects and Challenges
Project-Security Regimes in Africa/Prospects and Challenges project is a free project for all to read. The articles in this special issue of Africa Development emanate from a conference held by CODESRIA, in partnership with the University of Humanities and Social Sciences of Bamako, Mali, on the 28 and 29 of September 2016. The conference was part of a larger CODESRIA project on security regimes in Africa that seeks to understand the security challenges in Africa, and the security measures and regimes that have developed to deal with these challenges.
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The project also aims at bridging the divide between policymakers, practitioners and researchers working on peace and security in Africa in order to generate more context-appropriate responses. Mali, itself a country in conflict, represents a space of knowledge production. Having the conference there provided researchers and practitioners with an opportunity to show solidarity and reflect on the security challenges confronting the country.
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From State Security to Human Security and Back Again?
The discourse on peace and security has gone through multiple conceptual shifts, from security centred on states and acquired through a build-up of the means of coercion, to that of security as centred on people and communities and defined by the ability to exercise choice, and live without fear or want and in dignity, commonly referred to as the human security perspective. The latter conceptualization developed in a changed post-Cold War conflict context in which many countries had descended into civil war.
Causes of Conflict in Africa
The causes of conflict are multiple and contested. Many authors have elaborated on these causes and on those that are specifically fuelling violent extremism (Alao 2013; Botha 2015; Crenshaw 1994; Forest and Giroux 2011; Ikelegbe and Okumu 2010; Mamdani 1996, 2009; Mbembe 1992; Mkawandawire 2008; Obi 2009; Reno 2011; Williams 2011). Paul Williams (2011) identified five ingredients of conflict on the continent: neo-patrimonialism, resource scarcity and resource abundance, sovereignty, ethnicity and religion. Others have sought to categorize the litany of causes through the prism of colonial legacies, weak/fragile states and security structures, political and resource governance, underdevelopment, political exclusion/marginalization, religious radicalization, human rights abuses and environmental challenges; while feminists have highlighted the link between gender inequality and conflict (Caprioli 2005; Ekvall 2013).
Security Regimes as Response to Conflict Challenges
The AU set itself the aim of creating an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’ through finding ‘African solutions to African problems’. It has largely used the processes of peacemaking, peacekeeping and postconflict reconstruction to achieve this, and has relied heavily on the RECs and Mechanisms to be the building blocks of its peace and security architecture, most notably in the provision of peacekeepers for its standby force.