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Looking Into an Integrated Approach to Conflict TransformationResearch Proposal

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Integrating Approach to Conflict Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Improving African Union Commission Capacity to Deal with Issues such as Security, Peace and Development

Building peace is a main approach to preventing conflict in Africa. It involves a range of activities to forestall the violent conflicts between warring groups or countries. It is also applied proactively to prevent re-emergence or future conflict (Agena, 2011, 19). Recent peace building experiences in countries going through transformations after experiencing conflict highlight some serious challenges that citizens, religious leaders, political leadership and other stakeholders face. Some of the challenges of peace building in these situations include: finding a way to reconcile conflicting political leaders and the ethnic differences that often stir these conflicts, maintaining security over the transition period, disarming former fighters and integrating them in the normal society, plus reforming the legal and institutional structures. The challenges often come with a silver lining. They constitute golden opportunities to resolve age-old conflicts and establishing a society in which the nationals can proceed with their normal life and fulfil their aspirations (Dynamics International Inc., 2015; Williams, 2011).

Even as the global community ponders over the political and socio economic changes that have occurred in the recent past, the environment is constantly changing and has become a lot more complex. The policies interrelate with the developments at a higher rate. It is now clear that there is a strong correlation between peace and development processes. If there is to be sustainable development, there must be peace. Similarly, attaining peace without development is a time bomb (Williams, 2011). Resources must be amassed to manage human diversity and conflict in environments that are relatively stable. People must be assisted to acquire skills for managing conflict and encourage the establishment of institutions that will boost reconciliation efforts existing side by side and managing conflict in areas that conflict has ended (Berman, Eyoh & Kymlicka, 2004).

Using an integrated approach will bolster capacity building efforts and help countries in sub-Saharan Africa along with all the agencies working with them and in the region to support capacity building at the local level. It will also encourage such stakeholders to adopt non-violent means of resolving conflict between different states. It will channel policy and practice upwards so that any potential conflicts are averted. Recurrence of earlier conflicts is also prevented; and the hope for peaceful coexistence and sustainable socio economic development is boosted (Berman et al., 2004)..

Context

Conflict has obviously interfered with the missions to fight poverty. The result has been thwarting any hopes of establishing structural capability for the long-term and sustainable socio-economic development. These conflicts are the cause of innumerable deaths, injuries, destruction of property and untold suffering among populations in this region. The extended and widespread conflict has led to the destruction of the very tenets that held hope for sustainable development, peace and prevention of future conflict. The AU, according to Brian-Vincent Dauda (2011:72), was set up to attend to the conflict situations in Africa. This is a fact that did not elude the African leaders when they adopted the entity in the ear 2000. They knew that conflicts have prevented meaningful development and even snatched the opportunity to prevent future conflicts. They knew that peace and security was necessary if they were to implement the development and integration agenda (Brian-Vincent and Dauda, 2011:72).

As a result of the agreement, the AU aims at achieving a peaceful environment that will enable its inhabitants to lead their lives and achieve their aspirations. In turn, the continent would be enabled to play its rightful role on the global economic platform and participate in international negotiations with leverage (Brian-Vincent and Dauda, 2011:72). There are established principles to sustain the objectives. Some of these include adopting common defence policies for Africa, resolving conflicts among member states in peaceful ways via the means that will be advised by the AU assembly and preventing the use of force among the members of the organization. The AU also aspires to establish peaceful relations among its members and assures them of each other's right to live in peace and secure settings. Member states are also accorded the right to request the organization to intervene for the purpose of re-establishing peace and security (Ceuppens, 2006; Brian-Vincent and Dauda, 2011: 72). The AU has been seen in action in several places in Africa, including Burundi, the Sudan and Somalia, among other places (Murithi, 2007).

This study focuses on the ways in which the AU can adopt an integrated approach to solve conflicts in Africa. The objectives of this study include

i. Identify the nature of the integration approaches that the AU can apply to resolve conflict in Sub-Sahara Africa.

ii. Establish what the AU should do to remain relevant and effective in conflict resolution in the region (Abonyi, 2010).

Theoretical Background

The main challenge facing the AU is to find a way to reduce the conflict situations in Sub-Sahara Africa to the bare minimum. The region has become extremely volatile as a result of the avalanche of conflicts. The situation has evolved into institutionalised violence. AU lacks effective communication tools, positive presence and management capacity. This is a fact that became apparent in the Libyan and Ivory Coast conflicts. There ineffectiveness and apparent helplessness and indecisive stance was an embarrassment. The organization lost credibility and any authority over their membership. According to a report issued by Africa Briefing in 2011, the roadmap that AU presented for resolving the conflict in Libya has faced criticism from within and without.

Losing credibility by the AU has been predisposed by a range of factors, including perceptions that the protests in the Middle East and Libya were widely regarded as the 'Arab Spring' that had little to do with Africa. Internal divisions have also wreaked havoc on the organization. Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa voted for UNSCR in 1973. Although the AU had a strong panel that included Zuma/RSA, Abdul Aziz / Mauritanie, Toumani Ture/Mali, Museveni/Uganda, Nguesso/C-Brazzaville, the leaders took a differing position. The 5-pont roadmap that constituted civilian protection, ceasefire, dialogue, humanitarian aid, and an inclusive period of transitional period in order to fulfil the hopes of the Libyan populace was widely criticized. In fact, the proposals fronted by the AU were declined by the main opposition at the time. The opposition chiefs insisted that Gaddaffi had to be removed from power (Agu & Okeke, 2013).

According to Ball and Peters (2003: 31), diversity that leads to conflict should not lead to the setting of such objectives as racial or economic differences. They point out that not all differences should surface at public level. In particular, they humouredly point out that differences in height between men do not warrant conflict at national level. Some research studies have claimed that such differences and linguistic, ethnic, racial have been sources of conflict in some areas. However, a closer look reveals that self-interest drives all conflict (Agu & Okeke, 2013; Williams, 2011). Therefore, self-interest antics that have manifested as conflicts are getting their way into long standing problems that need to be addressed.

Methodology

Such primary sources as AU and UN publications and even secondary sources such as magazines and periodicals, articles, newspapers and books will be inferred in the effort to find a solution to the AU conflict resolution options. The paper analyses two case studies. The Western Sahara Crisis and the Darfur conflict is at the heart of the discussion. The paper attempts to find out whether integrated conflict resolution has stymied the efforts by the AU in an effort to resolve the issues in these two cases (Akuffo, 2010). The research follows the documentary research approach. The documentary data collection approach is applied in this research. The Material that will be used included those that are published and some that are not. All such materials will be those that have a bearing on the AUS conflict resolution activities. The materials will be retrieved from public libraries as the main source, but will incorporate other sources, such as the internet.

Data analyses methods will entail examining the data collected, reviewing and analysing trends, issues and prospects. Consequently, the analysis will lead to findings and recommendations and conclusions made too (Agu & Okeke, 2013).

The Darfur and other Sub-Sahara conflicts are focus discussion points because they attracted a lot of attention from the AU. They present the needed picture of the AU in as far as its conflict resolution capability is concerned. Other conflicts; such as the one that was in Rwanda and that in the Congo involved other parties from outside the continent. The Darfur conflict is therefore a lot more relevant because the AU was deeply involved (Akuffo, 2010).

Data collection for this research will be carried out for a period of three months. Technicians will be deployed in the field for surveys, questionnaires and interviews. The interviewees will be AU staff. The interviews will be semi-structured and will be guided by a pre-formulated interview script. The case study and documentation… [END OF PREVIEW]

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