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States at War: Confronting Conflict in Africa

  • Catharine Newbury
Abstract:

In the early 1990s, democratization dominated discourse on African politics. However fraught with contradictions, processes of political liberalization held out hope for more responsive, accountable government—and some African countries achieved impressive gains. But in many parts of the continent the outlook at the beginning of the twenty-first century is decidedly more somber. An increase in violence and war has had devastating consequences for people and their communities. This presidential address examines several approaches to confronting these conflicts and highlights three lessons that emerge. In some situations international involvement is essential to end a war, and doing this successfully requires enormous resources. But external assistance cannot follow a single template; it must be adapted to different local dynamics and coordinated with efforts of peace-builders within. Finally, greater support is needed for efforts to alleviate the conditions that spawn wars and violence.

Résumé:

Au début des années 1990, la problématique de la démocratisation a dominé le discours politique africaine. Bien que lourds de contradictions, les processus de libéralisation politique ont laissé espérer une forme de gouvernement plus responsable et plus sensible à la critique—et quelques pays africains ont obtenu des résultats impressionnants. Cependant, dans bien des parties du continent, les perspectives en ce début de vingt-et-unième siècle sont décidément plus sombres. L'augmentation de la violence et des guerres a eu des conséquences désastreuses pour les civils et les communautés auxquelles ils appartiennent. Ce discours prononcé lors de la réunion annuelle de l'ASA en 2001 examine plusieurs approches possibles pour affronter ces conflits, dont on peut tirer trois leçons. Dans certaines situations, la participation Internationale est essentielle pour mettre fin à une guerre, et d'énormes ressources sont nécessaires pour y parvenir. Mais l'aide extérieure ne peut pas appliquer un unique modèle, et doit s'adapter aux différentes dynamiques locales, en coordonnant leurs efforts avec ceux des acteurs locaux. Enfin, la suppression des conditions qui ouvrent la voie aux guerres et aux violences necéssitera l'apport d'un soutien plus grand encore.

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