This network will engage with the challenges of building peace in West African states in the context of the withdrawal of Western actors and the promotion of resilience approaches in peacebuilding. The United Nations, regional and national development agencies have invested unprecedented amounts of funds in post-conflict peacebuilding in recent decades, most notably in Africa. Addressing the challenges of building a sustainable peace in West African states has been a focus of attention, including through the UN Peacebuilding Commission, with four of the six countries on its agenda being in West Africa (Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone). In recent years, we have also observed a new shift in international peacebuilding practices towards fostering resilience and capacity-building at the local level. This shift towards resilience can lead to increasing levels of pressure being faced by civil society actors. While some empirical studies have demonstrated that civil society actors have adapted to this new approach by transforming their activities in various ways, we still lack knowledge of how this resilience approach is adopted, adapted and/or resisted at the local level, particularly in the context of West Africa, and how it contributes to the broader goal of achieving sustainable peace. The overall goal of this network will be to organise a series of workshops focusing on the concept of resilience in peacebuilding in West Africa. The network will bring together WUN academics, including early career researchers and PhD students, NGO practitioners and policy-makers. This newly-formed network will actively seek out opportunities to undertake and apply further research in this area, especially through interactions with policy-makers and NGO practitioners and the development of future research grants.
The project investigates how the porosity of African borders might exacerbate war and conflict and the way in which this impacts on regional integration on one hand, and the extent to which regional and continental integration could contribute towards cooperation, peace and well-being in Africa on the other hand. The project goes beyond the analysis, description and/or outlining of the causes of conflict in Africa. It engages in a serious consideration of initiatives and innovations that can be put in place or are already being employed on the ground, within the current regional and continental integration debates and practice.
Project leaders: Dr Inocent Moyo (University of Zululand), Dr Chris Nshimbi.
Project Summary: This comparative research project examines justice outside of the formal state systems, on the borders between countries and during transitions in Africa. In the past few decades, increasing amounts of attention and resources have been given to national reconciliation and transitional justice, as is evident in the increased inclusion of these in mediation processes and peace agreements. There are long and difficult debates between local governments and the international community concerning what mechanisms should be adopted, as was evident in, for example, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Rwanda and more recently, the Democratic Republic of Conogo, Burundi and Zimbabwe. Yet, a lot of uncertainty remains about these processes and mechanisms, how they work and their actual contribution to peacebuilding.
This project straddles the Transboundary Governance, Security Governance and Governance of the Commons axes of GovInn and addresses three major challenges to reconciliation and transitional justice:
- The lack of empirical research related to how particular national reconciliation and transitional justice mechanisms impact peacebuilding in local communities
- The difficulty of balancing adherence to ‘international norms’ with the needs of local governments and communities
- The fact that many conflicts occur across borders whereas reconciliation and transitional justice is imagined only within the nation-state.
Junior researchers: Anthony Bizos, Chenai Matshaka, Rebeka Gluhbegovic, Zefanias Matsimbe
Funding: CODESRIA and the University of Pretoria’s Research Development Programme
Funding period: May 2015 – July 2019