Panel 21

Chronic violence and non-conventional armed conflict in Africa: Unlocking complex dimensions of human security

Panel organiser: Sylvester B. Maphosa, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

E-mail of panel organiser: smaphosa@hsrc.ac.za

Violence shatters lives. Though conflicts among (African) nations diminished at the end of the last millennium, positive change in many societies is not happening rapidly and effectively. As countries traverse differently the journey of a democratic revolution agenda the trajectory of social progress is a mix of successes and challenges. Self-reproducing systems of chronic violence driven by a complex combination of structural factors and behaviors, cultures, and practices undermine democratic dispensation for violence reduction. This is a high risk factor for human security and development objectives of country national development strategies including the African Union Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030. Indeed, progress has been made in many areas and governments are improving inclusive political space. However, extant dividends are still not achieving the outcomes necessary to ensure adequate progress in creating peaceful relations and a ‘better life for all’. What is it that we know and we can know about positive change and peaceful relations of enduring human security?

This panel represents aspirations of engendering a trans-disciplinary perspective on understanding complex interactions in chronic violence and non-conventional armed conflict in Africa. It does not seek to reduce issues of social transformation including protracted hybrid organized violence to causally-related abstract phenomena. Instead, the panel will underscore and stimulate a series of evidence-based open and non-suggestive insights that allow for systematic but flexible reflection of different aspects of human security including peace and security (conflict-related sexual violence, local and national public decision-making and education); development and economics (climate change resource conflicts, access to resources, female entrepreneurship, and property rights); health (sexual and reproductive health, family violence and bodily rights); and, politics (civil society, law reform and political participation).

Approved abstracts Panel 21

2. Civil conflict and terrorism in Sub-Saharan African states: The effect of ethnicity, religion and natural resources

Author: Anastassia (Boitsova) Buğday (Bilkent University, Turkey) boitsova@bilkent.edu.tr

Recent events, including the attacks in Kenya conducted by a Somalian terrorist group Al-Shabaab, brought once again to the fore the importance of studying terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa. This importance is also underlined by the fact that many new terrorist groups that emerged on this continent are more extreme than the previous generation of terrorists. In this vein, this paper seeks to answer the following questions: Why do transnational terrorist organizations target Sub-Saharan Africa? What are the motivations of transnational terrorist organizations while they prefer one country over another to perpetrate attacks? The present paper argues that these organizations are quite strategic in their choices and their decision-making process factors the internal dynamics of the countries that they pick. Particularly important are whether the country is experiencing a civil conflict, is ethnically divided and, thus, whether ethnic groups can easily be mobilized through religious extremism. Essential also is the presence of natural resources that the terrorist organization can utilize and profit from. This paper provides a large-n analysis of transnational terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa, based on a combination of data, including the Birnir and Satana DHS-funded project “One God for All? Fundamentalism and Group Radicalization,” as well as A-MAR, GTD and CIDCM.

Key words: Ethnicity; Religion; Resources; Terrorism; Sub-Saharan Africa

3. The role of socio-economic status in the construction of masculinity: The case of ex-combatants in Burundi

Author: Gudrun Sif Fridriksdottir (University of Iceland, Iceland) gsf3@hi.is

In the work on masculinity, and in particular the masculinity ideas of men with combat experience, a lot of emphasis is put on militarized notions of masculinity.

My research with ex-combatants in Burundi however does not depict militarised ideas of masculinity as particularly important. The reason why men joined the army or rebel groups varied quite a lot, but ideas of men with arms and in uniforms as the “ideal” version of man were not common and bore little weight in the reasons given for why men chose to bear arms.

Masculinity on the other hand was described in more positive terms. Being a man of truth, justice, and peace were recurrent themes in the interviews. The importance of marriage and having a family was also frequently mentioned. Participant observation and informal interviews however led to the conclusion that economic status is possibly the most important factor in the construction of masculinities in Burundi. This is linked with the importance of marriage and family since substantial funds are needed (due to both bride price and the price of starting a new home) to attain the status of a married family man.

Rather than view their time in the armed struggle in a positive light and yearning for that period, the ex-combatants spoken to often resented it. The time as a combatant was viewed as a time standing in the way of them becoming men, since it was time not used on education or starting to build a career, rather than a time of conforming to ideas of masculinity. Many ex-combatants in Burundi are currently dealing with the frustration of the unattainability of masculinity, but it is related to poverty and unemployment, rather than a sense of disempowerment due to a lack of gun and uniform.

4. Pokot woman - A case study of gendered human ( in) security

Author: Nurit Hashimshony-Yaffe (the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, Israel) nurithas@mta.ac.il

Multiple threats converge to affect Pokot livelihood in North Kenya. How and in what ways local and global threats are represented in community lives of Pokot Women?

Climate Change effects (David P. Rowell et al, 2016) ; water scarcity, drought ,land degradation and limited access to grazing pasture – were recorded as changing livelihoods, causing food insecurity and undernourishment amongst Pastoralists (Kisake Nangulu, 2001;Fratkin, 2014;Ton Dietz, Dick Foeken, Sebastiaan Soeters, 2014 ;David P. Rowell et al, 2016).
Following the emergence of nation- states, Pastoralists in East Africa became more vulnerable ((Little, 1985; Hogg, 1992). Ethnic Clashes between Pokot and neighboring group Turkana and ongoing warfare , livestock raiding (Greiner, 2013) and terror attacks on Somalia- Kenya border area, added a political and ethnic value to be considered (Yieke, 2007 ) . Political Changes; constitutional and institutional changes - added to the former.

The research is based on field work done during July – August 2015 in northern Kenya, and will present preliminary insights. It is a qualitative research taken in Sigor – Kapenguria area in different villages.
The paper will overview the main threats in the region; following the literature regarding the social and political changes , the development issues (Robertshaw & Collett, 1983;Fratkin,1997) and Climate Change effects on livelihood (Ulrich Anneet al, 2012), and will suggest their multi layered influence on Pokot Women.
Research findings show Pokot women choosing individual strategies to both economic and social threats, and community based coping strategies (for example traditional meetings and gatherings, self- help and mutual aid, official Ngo's,) - in different occasions and as a response to different threats.
Focusing on Women in a Pokot community- the paper seek to understand is there a gendered human security issue in Pastoralist societies?

5. Protection of civilians: The role of government and non-government actors in protection of displaced persons from South Sudan living in Uganda

Author: Sylvester Bongani Maphosa (Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa) SMaphosa@hsrc.sc.za

The current crisis in South Sudan began on 15 December 2013 as a conflict between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and opposition forces. It started from internal political disputes among the country’s elite political and military leaders. Interpersonal and collective violence broke out in Juba and quickly engulfed other locations in the country. Consequently, the mass displacement that followed was rapid and chaotic. Throughout, civilians have borne the brunt as they were targeted. More than 2.2 million individuals were displaced representing over 600 000 refugees scattered in the region mainly in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya, and, an estimated 1.6 million displaced internally.

People displaced by armed violence need immediate support. More than 85 percent of refugees from this conflict are women and children many of whom are being displaced for not less than once in their lives. Further, more than 35, 000 children are travelling alone, either having been separated from their family or because their family was killed; some, will never be able to find the truth of what happened to their loved ones.

This study examines the challenges and opportunities faced by government and non-government actors in protection of displaced persons from South Sudan living in Uganda. What is the nature of prevention and response strategies implemented by government and non-government actors in protection of displaced persons from South Sudan living in Uganda? What are the challenges faced by various actors in protection of displaced persons from South Sudan living in Uganda? What lessons can be learned and contribute to global knowledge and capacity of protection of civilians in acute emergencies? In considering these buildups the study is not seeking definitive or absolute conclusions, but rather substantive and collective understanding of what actually is – and/or not – being impacted by intervention action in protection of civilians.

6. Diciplining fighters: Non-state armed groups and the prevention of wartime sexual violence

Author: Angela Muvumba Sellström (Uppsala University, Sweden) angela.muvumba-sellstrom@pcr.uu.se

Some organized non-state armed groups – such as rebel armies, armed liberation movements and religious or ethnic separatists and nationalists – stop their fighters from committing wartime sexual violence. These organizations establish varying degrees of, and nuanced versions of sexual discipline. Other actors carry-out sexual abuse and exploitation with impunity. What explains this variation?

Civil war research has provided a number of interpretations of these abuses at the level of armed actors. New evidence of punitive practices by some forces highlights the importance of naming and shaming fighters into sexual discipline. Progress on this front should be expanded and enriched, particularly since the complex phenomena of wartime sexual violence has multiple causes and consequences at different levels of analysis. Empirical research has yet to tackle more fundamental theoretical implications of different social origins of insurgents and the way they discipline their troops. Focus has been on the pathology of wartime sexual violence, not its prevention. Finally, the interaction between gendered notions of warfare, masculinity and organizational goals have not been explored systematically.

This paper offers a preliminary theory of prevention by assessing social, gendered dimensions of fighting among different types of organized non-state armed groups in Africa. Inclusive social origins, equal protection gender norms and prohibitive institutional practices, are seen as inter-related, proximate explanations for wartime discipline. The paper explores how these factors play out, illustrated with three cases: the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People-Forces for National Liberation (FNL) of Burundi; the National Resistance Army (NRA) of Uganda; and the African National Congress’s (ANC) armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe’s (MK). By comparing these groups, the paper introduces new ways of seeing social dimensions and variation among non-state armed organizations, and the discipline of their fighters.

To the top