IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

I was revising and updating a course I teach on African in world affairs, and came across an article entitled “Human Security and Development in Africa” by Poku, Renwick and Porto (International Affairs 83: 6 (2007) 1155–1170).  On page 1164 (of the journal, not the article 🙂 ), the authors write:

“When a war erupts, as in the DRC or Darfur, most policy-makers look for a polit-
ical explanation and a political solution. This is understandable, but it misses a
basic point. It is only by understanding the role of poverty and inequality—of
resources, of access, of participation—in conflict, that we can find more sustainable
and therefore realistic solutions to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. While
so-called ‘structural causes of conflict’ are often referred to in the policy litera-
ture, seldom do they inform the responses taken by different actors to a particular
situation—or receive the same urgent attention as other conflict management
and ‘stabilization’ measures. And yet factors of a structural nature, in particular
extreme poverty, are a major cause, and predictor, of violence in Africa.”

This sums up the problem nicely–and it doesn’t just apply to Africa.  Thanks to research and field experience, we know that structural issues matter:  there is no doubt about this.  However, getting them addressed through proactive policy is an entirely different matter.  Why, do you suppose?  Probably because this would entail encroaching on certain vested interests, both domestic and international, in the countries concerned.  And remember, when we talk about “conflict” here we are also talking about the horrors of genocide, child soldiers, etc…  Seems to me sooner or later being proactive in regard to human security becomes a simple question of survival.

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January 12, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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