10. Governing Conflict and Peace: The Roles of International, National, Regional and Local Actors

E-mail of panel organiser: kristine.hoglund@pcr.uu.se

More and more, observers attribute intractable armed violence to weak, fragile, biased or incapacitated ‘exogenous’ actors involved in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, or regional and national agents of the state. Such outsiders are often described as approaching peacemaking tasks or peacebuilding objectives ineffectively, as hindering or hurting the chances for peace.   However, there is significant empirical variation in so-called outsider approaches and accordingly, their record of contributing to the end of war, violence against civilians, conflict termination or simply, the settling of volatile political hostilities. Moreover, who is an outsider? Since contemporary African conflicts have been shown to display cross-border and regional dimensions, attaching rigid boundaries between outsiders and more locally-rooted agents can result in oversimplification. Also, parties to conflict can manipulate or harm outsiders (and civilian non-combatants) in order to strengthen their own chances for victory or meet other interests. At the same time, too much focus on the outsider role tends to ignore the efficacy of local actors, who also influence law, order and peace and security.

Prompted to address these limitations, this panel, “Governing Conflict and Peace: The Roles of International, National, Regional and Local actors”, offers theoretical and empirical insights about various protagonists in African peace and security crises. Panelists will, respectively, assess the roles of international, national, regional and local actors. Key objectives of the panel include establishing the determinants of effective institutional design of interventions; understanding variation between rural and urban settings; presenting the effects on targeted violence; exploring the interests of local authorities; and providing systematic comparison of different strategies in the context of communal resource conflicts, peacekeeping, electoral violence and rebel insurgency.

Papers - Session 1

1. Armed Groups, Civilians, and Muddy Roads: The Conduct of Political Mass Murder

Author: Thorsten Rogall (Stockholm University, Sweden)


Do political elites use armed groups to foster civilian participation in violence or are civilian killers driven by unstoppable ancient hatred? If armed groups matter, how do they mobilize civilians? And are armed groups allocated strategically to maximize civilian participation? We empirically investigate these three questions using village-level data from the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. To establish causality, we exploit cross-sectional variation in armed groups’ transport costs: the shortest distance to the main road interacted with rainfall along the dirt track between main road and village. Guided by a simple model, we find that (1) one additional militiaman resulted in 7.2 more civilian perpetrators, (2) for the majority of villages armed groups acted as role models and civilians followed orders but in villages with high-levels of cross-ethnic marriages civilians had to be forced to join, (3) armed group leaders were rational actors who strongly responded to exogenous transport prices and dispatched their men strategically to maximize civilian participation. These results pass several indirect tests regarding the exclusion restriction and are also relevant for other cases of state-sponsored murder, in particular the killings of the Jews in Lithuania in the 1940s. Finally, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that a military intervention targeting the various armed groups could have stopped the genocide.

2. External Involvement in Somali State-Building: the nature of the ‘external’ and space for constructive engagement

Author: Michael Walls (University College London, UK)


In 2011, some conservative UK media ran a story, based on the work of a US PhD student,arguing that Somaliland has achieved stability and development in the absence of external assistance, thus showing that aid doesn’t work. More surprisingly, the liberal Guardian newspaper joined in, contrasting Somaliland’s position with the lavish funding received by far more dysfunctional governments in southern Somalia. Local media also often carry articles urging the outside world to ‘leave Somalis alone’.
In reality, Somaliland is an excellent case study of a more complex interplay between internal and external actors, boasting many links with a diversity of ‘outsiders’ and receiving almost 40% of the ODA assigned to Somalia. A thousand years of trade and a sizeable diaspora mean that links between Somaliland and external agents are extensive and of critical importance.

This paper proposes to explore both the nature of the ‘external’ and to build on an earlier paper that examined some traditional and contemporary spaces in which ‘outsiders’ are able to play constructive roles in supporting Somali state formation. This includes women’s involvement in political disputes, as well as the elders of clan groups who are not themselves involved in conflict acting as mediators. Islam is also an important part of Somali society, and many not of Somali origin have played key roles in the introduction of varied traditions throughout Somali history. The diaspora itself should be seen to some extent as ‘external’. While ethnically Somali, many returning diaspora are viewed with ambivalence by those that reside within Somaliland. Finally, the international diplomatic and donor communities, too, are external agents (though often ethnically Somali). The paper will explore both the nature of these roles and the implications for the kind of engagements that are more or less likely to prove supportive of durable state-building.

3. The Role of Local Businesspersons in Post-War Reconstruction and Peace-Building: the Case of Gulu

Author: Malin J. Nystrand (Gothenburg University, Sweden)


The role of private sector actors in conflict and post-conflict societies has received some attention in recent years, either focusing on how private sector actors may benefit from a war economy and thereby fuel war and conflict or on their potential contribution to economic recovery and to peace-building in general. Suggestions of how business can, do and should relate to peace-building and act in a post-war reconstruction context abound, some prescriptive and normative, others empirically based. Few studies have, however, explored the perceptions and role of local business actors. The perspective applied in this paper is that these actors are potentially important for both economic recovery and peace-building because of their double role as economic actors and socially embedded community members.

This paper explores how and to what extent local business persons play a constructive role in post-war reconstruction and peace-building in Gulu town in northern Uganda. The local business community was not extensively involved in a war economy and Gulu could therefore be seen as a 'best-case-scenario' for business involvement in peace-building.

The paper shows that local business persons can play a constructive role in galvanising the local economy, for example by organising and cooperating with farmers, but that such cooperation is not always smooth in a low-trust context where land is a sensitive issue. It also shows that business persons often see their core business activities as their main contribution to society. The local business community can play a constructive role both in promoting economic development and in peace promoting advocacy, but some local businesspersons are hesitant to get involved in what is seen as political spheres.

4. Good Guys or Bad Guys? Punishing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Burundi

Author: Angela Muvumba Sellström (ACCORD, South Africa and Uppsala University, Sweden)


After concluding respective negotiated settlements, the government of Mozambique under Frelimo had a better record of accountability for sexual violence than Joseph Kabila’s government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This is the puzzle. Some armed groups do not institute accountability for sexual violence after settlement.

This paper compares two rebel groups from Burundi’s civil war, the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the National Liberation Forces (FNL), and their prohibition of sexual violence. I present empirical material from ex-combatants of both rebel groups. The argument is that prohibition must meet four criteria in order to effectively instill a sense of accountability for wartime sexual abuse and aggression. These four criteria, clarity, costliness, depth and constancy, were effectively nurtured by FNL authorities. In contrast, the CNDD-FDD did not put in place commensurate measures. A culture of armed group impunity for sexual violence took root. The post-war governing elite in Burundi have further criminalized sexual violence. Yet, in their testimonies and in contrast to former FNL fighters, ex-CNDD-FDD soldiers seemed more confident that perpetrators of sexual violence will not be punished in Burundi. By demonstrating how armed group actors develop impunity, I find unexpected credibility in liberal tenets. Although necessary but not sufficient, legal instruments are important factors of accountability. Moreover, these instruments signal the presence of a social contract between followers and leaders of an armed movement and portend the type of accountability that armed group will foster in the post-settlement era. The paper concludes with recommendations to policymakers to redouble efforts to end impunity during and not just after war.

Session 2

5. The Interface of Local and International Peacebuilding Ideas and Processes in Northern Uganda.

Author: Paul Omach (Makerere university, Uganda)


The aim of this paper is to examine the interface of local and international peacebuilding ideas and practices in northern Uganda. Specifically, the paper examines the diverse local reconciliation, reintegration and resettlement ideas and processes and how they interface with external programmes and interests. Peacebuilding involves complex interface of local and external ideas and interests, which infuses and changes both local and external ideas.  This interface produces outcomes that are at variance with intended aims and goals.

Peacebuilding includes a variety of activities and goals depending on competing ‘ideas of peace’; the dominant of which is ‘liberal peace’. In recent years, the need to pay attention to local contexts of peacebuilding has been emphasized. However, the increased focus on locals raises issues. Locals just like external ideas and actors are varied. Locals and externals are not necessarily distinct. External ideas and interests interact with, influence and change local ideas and power structures. Local ideas, actors and contexts also reinterpret external peacebuilding ideas. This produces complex outcomes that are at odds with intended goals.

In northern Uganda, local actors; traditional authorities, institutions of chiefs, clan heads, elders, religious leaders and the community have been engaged in peacebuilding basing on customary values. They have promoted reconciliation and reintegration of former combatants and persons returning from rebel captivity and resettlement of formerly displaced persons into villages. External actors; especially international NGOs, bilateral and bilateral donors have supported local actors through, among others financially.  External actors have also relied on local actors to implement externally designed peacebuilding programmes. Taking the case of northern Uganda, this article examines the interaction of local reconciliation, reintegration and resettlement ideas, actors and interests and external ideas and interests.   

6. Local Peacebuilding in Urban and Rural Contexts: Comparative Evidence from Kenya

Author: Emma Elfversson (Uppsala University, Sweden)


Local violent conflicts may cause high death tolls and severe disruption of livelihoods in both urban and rural contexts. However, the role of different state and non-state actors in addressing and resolving these conflicts remains understudied. Recently, a growing scholarly attention has focused on the role of customary conflict resolution mechanisms in addressing communal conflicts in a rural context, for instance in cases of violent conflict over access to land and water between pastoral and agricultural communities. Findings are still inconclusive, however, as to when and how such initiatives are successful. At the same time, the post-electoral violence in Kenya in 2008 drew attention to the question of how to address and manage conflicts between communities living closely together in cities, and to what extent practices that function in a rural context may do so in the urban context as well. Arguably, a crucial factor is the actors that drive these processes, and the extent to which they – and the methods they use – are perceived as legitimate by the conflict parties. The position and strategies of the state in relation to the local conflict strongly affects the space given to other actors in this setting, and the roles they can play. This paper uses systematic comparison of conflict resolution processes in Nairobi, Nakuru and Kerio Valley, Kenya, to analyse the role of state and local actors in local conflict resolution in urban and rural contexts.

7. Crisis of Governance in South Sudan: Electoral Politics in the World’s Newest Nation

Author: Kristine Höglund (Uppsala University, Sweden)


On 15 December 2013 fighting broke out in South Sudan’s capital Juba. In less than a month thousands of people were killed. The igniting factor for the clashes was an alleged coup attempt. However, this disaster is embedded in a crisis of governance that has been ongoing for several years. A critical – but severely underresearched – aspect of the violence that has devastated South Sudan in recent years relates to elections. Elections scheduled for 2015 is a crucial component of the current crisis as it broke out in relation to a contested national convention of SPLM, South Sudan’s ruling party. In fact, also the previous elections – that took place in 2010 – contributed to several armed conflicts. Not only did losers in this election, such as George Athor and David Yauyau launched rebellions, the election was also preceded by extremely violence communal conflicts that were clearly connected to the violence. This paper examines South Sudan’s conflicts and emphasizes the electoral component. It does so by applying a conceptual framework underlining three sets of factors which contribute to explaining the violence-election nexus in South Sudan. First, the actors involved in the elections are all former combatants, which increase the risk that they will choose a violent path. Second, institutions are very weak in South Sudan and their ability to decrease the risk for violence is low. Third, the stakes in the elections in South Sudan is high since a position within the government is principally the only manner to safeguard political and economic influence.

8. Exploring urban protests in South Africa

Author: Anna Jarstad (Uppsala University)


How can we understand local political protests in South Africa? South Africa is a relatively new democracy, or rather a democratizing state, as democracy is not yet fully consolidated at all levels of society. This paper begins to explore local protests in Durban and Cape Town. In a newly started project various reasons for protest (including transnational influence) and the actions and responses conducted by formal institutions such as political parties, police and government will be investigated.

9. Corruption-Security Nexus: A Missing Discussion in Tanzania

Author: Colman Titus Msoka (University of Dar Es Salaam,Tanzania)


There is no doubt that corruption control is one of the problems which Tanzanians want the state to address. However, much of the efforts by the state against corruption in Tanzania and indeed many developing countries in general have centered around and biased towards the development angle than other equally important angles such as security and sovereignty. This state bias, it is argued, underrates the potential effects of creeping corruption on the security of the country and hence compromising the security and wellbeing of Tanzanians regardless of their economic status or position. This article seeks to overcome this limitation and develop a keen argument on corruption-security nexus and why states should treat corruption as a security issue. Doing so, it is argued in the paper, will help corruption and security watchdog institutions in the country to note the emerging risk in the country, given the security challenges facing East Africa as a region. It is emphasized that the approach will make the general population more vigilant to participate in anti corruption initiatives.

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