In this video, Dr. Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director of the International Crisis Group, joins UNU Policy Advisor Rahul Chandran to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for overcoming conflict and maintaining peace in Africa.
Numerous peacekeeping strategies have failed to address Africa’s conflict and security concerns in a sustainable manner. According to Dr. Ero, the seemingly unresolvable instability on the continent leads back to some of the most fundamental issues of African policy. One of these issues, she stresses, is the overall lack of good governance and states’ inability to exercise legitimacy. This distinction gives rise to profound center-periphery conflict in the African region.
Although she remains optimistic about the future, Dr. Ero points to the unrepresentative border configurations as a significant obstacle in the peacekeeping process. Not only do the borders create tensions between the local communities on the periphery and elitists in the centre, but this is further reinforced by contesting groups within the country. The border configurations also play an increased role in sovereignty issues of the African states, as newly discovered natural resources in border regions have become a focus for economic growth and a source of conflict, thus supporting two contradictory narratives: ‘Africa rising’ and ‘Africa still at war’.
Dr. Ero anticipates that one way to overcome such diverging interests is for the state to ensure that revenue from resources returns to local community origins. In order to support these efforts, the international community should refrain from predefined resolutions and peace agreements, and instead acknowledge the complexity and unique cases of different African countries. She refutes the notion of one actor who is capable of solving the conflicts, but emphasizes the need for international coordination. Mutual contribution by different actors would take advantage of the differentiated capabilities in the international community, and thus keeping peace in Africa would be more likely.