Ever since 50 years Africa is the continent with highest concentration of conflicts in its territory. Marginalized within the international system because of its small economic size, Africa still remains a subject of interest to study International Relations. At a time when maOver the past 50 years, Africa has been witnessing much strife on its territory.
Marginalized within the international system because of its small economic size, Africa is nevertheless an interesting object of study for International Relations. At a time when many African states are preparing to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their independence, it is interesting to try to understand why the African continent has been marked by a multitude of conflicts for over 50 years, and has not yet managed to find a model corresponding to it.
A huge chunk of its population has been vulnerable to some form of conflict since 1990. In total, there were 30 conflicts in 22 countries, killing 12 million people between 1992 and 1997. There are still 9 million refugees.
If we define the conflict as the meeting between several opposing wills by the pursuit of conflicting interests, and lead to use of violence resulting in the victory of will over others, we find that African countries are characterized by extreme conflict. These conflicts are very heterogeneous. All regions of Africa are affected by conflict, even if they differ greatly depending on the factors taken into account. We'll see which object of the conflict varies greatly depending on the period in which it operates or its location.
African conflicts are quite unique insofar as they depict a multitude of players. If we draw a typology of conflicts quickly, we see that there are several types of conflicts. Some are mainly due to internal factors, such as wars of secession, or ethno-religious conflicts, while other conflicts are related to external causes, such as the Cold War, and even now, to the inappropriate state framework imposed by former colonial powers, and foreign interference-like neo-colonialism.
What are the structural reasons for the extreme conflicts in Africa and the mechanisms that perpetuate these conflicts?
The conflict in Africa result from a complex web of multiple factors, but some responsibility lies with the State apparatus which has been ineffective in resolving tensions over land, equitable distribution of wealth or violence. The failure of states leads to an inability to exercise sovereignty over its territory, making it vulnerable to the presence of many transnational actors. Moreover, conflicts have often been exacerbated by geopolitical and global strategic issues.
It was during the Berlin conference in 1885 that the great European powers of the time carved out regions of Africa. The borders were created arbitrarily at first, with deliberate disregard for the differences and cleavages. In addition, post-colonial logic of the great powers have largely exploited this conflict, to the extent that a territory that is home to a conflict is one area in which it is easy to take ownership of wealth.
Characteristics of the colonial mode of administration:Tracing arbitrary boundaries - They do not consider the ethnic and religious dynamics, and populations are either made to straddle several states, or people with extreme cultural disparities are forced to cohabit in the same area.
Tags: Ethnicity in Africa, African colonialism, Berlin Conference
[...] With the end of the Cold War, conflicts in Africa were marginalized. The end of bipolar confrontation, the radical transformation of the international environment had marginalized Africa into the global system. Conflicts are not likely to jeopardize the global equilibrium, so are marginalized, and last up to exhaustion. They are marked by the absence of real fronts and actual ideologies. States were not able to maintain control of their territories and people's security. Thus, uncontrolled armed groups were increasing. Banditry, looting, black market, risk in the government being overthrown were the realities of contemporary Africa. [...]
[...] General idea: oil accounts for 40% of GDP. Over time, revenues from the exploitation of natural resources were not redistributed. It was estimated that 35% of earnings went directly to local people, against just today. This view substantiated that conflicts were executed by political elites, religious and traditional local calling for a greater percentage of oil revenues, in response to states by clan, ethnic or religious group, which made the state a tool of domination and appropriation of resources for the benefit of a well-defined entity and to damage others living in the same territory The failure of the state space opened to the presence of many destabilizing transnational actors in pursuit for interests. [...]
[...] For example the Rwandan army was constantly making incursions into the DRC because it accused the refugee camps to be rear bases of the rebel groups. The proliferation of non-state actors and the very diverse nature of the belligerents and the complexity of the goals were all factors that interlocked, reinforced and complicated the terms of conflicts and were magnified by the extreme mobility of violence. II. Conflicts in Africa have also exacerbated by geopolitical and strategic stakes of the great powers in Africa seeking to maximize their power A. [...]
[...] The example of the Biafran conflict particularly well illustrates this view. Biafra is a province of Nigeria which has the distinction of being very eccentric, predominantly Christian and animist (when the central power was held by Muslims) and to host huge oil reserves. The central government has gradually appropriated the resources present in this territory, without any economic development projects in parallel, having a typical colonial governance model. Gradually, the Biafran minority wanted to assert its right to enjoy the natural resources, causing tensions with the central government. [...]
[...] They do not take into account the ethnic and religious dynamics, and several states or several people are forced to cohabit in the same territory. This has resulted in conflicts from the day after independence, for example interstate conflicts between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The bad Boundary was also the cause of intra-state conflicts like in Biafra or southern Sudan, which led to the civil wars that killed nearly one million. Another example is Somalia, which is actually an amalgam of three entities that have always had conflicting relations between them except during the colonial period because the colonizer had the means to bring order. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee