International Conflict Resolution And The Challenges Of Peace Making In Africa (A Study Of North East Nigeria)

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International Conflict Resolution And The Challenges Of Peace Making In Africa (A Study Of North East Nigeria)


Abstract


The study examines international conflict resolution and the challenges of Peace making in Africa, a study of North East Nigeria.

The study adopted qualitative method. It uses content/document analysis which are journals, articles, textbooks, internet based materials, class notes.

The study revealed that: Conflict is not a new phenomenon in most parts of the world, and acknowledging that it exists is the first major step to balancing and sustaining peaceful coexistence in the world. International assistance came late and donors struggled to identify viable national counterparts for peacekeeping efforts. Much of the international efforts have focused on strengthening local security mechanisms; restoring civilian administration and basic services; and supporting the reintegration of former fighters and others associated with non-state armed groups.

The study concludes that: Peacekeeping efforts from international organizations together with government’s commitment will help address sources of insecurity in the region if we’ll designed and coordinated. The study further recommends that: Nigeria’s international partners should continue to push for greater civilian oversight of the military’s screening processes and detention facilities, building on the coordinated pushback against premature relocations of IDPs. The majority of the of the security challenges Nigeria as a country is currently facing are related to the overarching socio-economic problems in the country. Intelligence should be taken as paramount. Efforts should be geared toward expanding the programmes that have development efforts with strategic outreach at the local levels.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Conflict is an inevitable part of life and it has recurrent decimal in every political system. As a social problem, it is as old as man and cuts across continents, regions and nations. Conflict arises in societies as a result of rival opinions, divergent wants, competing needs and opposing interests (Heywood, 2007). Conflict can be classified into intra-personal, interpersonal, intra-group and inter-group conflicts. In Africa, conflicts are hardly caused by a single factor rather multiplicity of factors may account for a given conflict. Some scholars on conflict in Africa (e.g. Anyang’ Nyong’o 1991; Msabaha 1991) agree that conflict in Africa stems primarily from crises of national governance and from the failure of governmental institutions in African countries to mediate conflict. According to Onumajuru (2005), one in five Africans lives in a country severely disrupted by conflicts.

Today, while increased cooperation between various countries in Africa has fortunately helped to reduce the tempo of inter-state conflicts considerably, the post-cold war period has ushered in its wake an upsurge of conflicts across regional, ethnic, and religious lines within some nations (Abdul-Mumuni, 2005). The breakdown of the ideological mindset and the structures of the cold-war global alliances, had also unfortunately, unleashed formally suppressed ethnic and political tensions in some African countries. In other words, conflicts have arisen within these nations from deep- rooted antagonisms that had been held in check for so many years. In effect, the end of the cold-war has brought to the fore exposed conflicts, which were hitherto overshadowed by superpower rivalry. In countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea- Bissau and Cote d’Ivoire, there have been outright carnage and the destruction of property and traditional institutions which used to contain domestic tension and conflicts and instability (2). In these countries violent conflicts led to the dislocation of most of the population and wrecked their socio-economic infrastructure. The civil conflicts particularly in Sierra Leone and Liberia were characterized by large economic interests involving diamonds and extreme violence against civilians (Abdul-Mumuni, 2005).

Against this background, peace and conflict resolution have emerged as issues of great importance in Africa. The re-emergence of age-old conflicts has effectively challenged both African leaders and the wider international community’s capability of devising effective means of handling conflicts in the region. Leaders in Africa and the world at large have, indeed, recognized the immense importance of conflict resolution and peacekeeping in the maintenance of peace and stability. In this regard, African peace operations, in collaboration with international partners like the United Nations, are responding to a highly complex and dynamic environment. To meet rapidly changing conflict patterns and security trends, a variety of institutional inter-linkages and peacekeeping models have emerged, but these models are often poorly developed or institutionalized in Africa.

As described by Achankeng (2013), international peacekeeping organizations seems to pursue conflict resolution efforts in Africa from a variety of purposes and interests and with policies that are often replete with ambiguities and contradictions. This situation may be the reason why many African conflicts, like the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria, may be silenced but remain largely unresolved. As Zartman and William (2000: 3) have also pointed out, although African conflicts entail the activities of seasoned peacemakers using the best of personal skills and recently developed knowledge about ways of managing and resolving conflicts, international efforts at conflict resolution have not been particularly effective or efficient in overcoming the disasters that have brought them to the continent.

Citing the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria, Brechenmacher (2019) noted that the donor community on the ground in north-eastern part of Nigeria was late to acknowledge the severity of the crisis, and slow to scale up its response. Several factors explain this pattern. First, in the early years of the crisis, international partners were hesitant to push back against Nigerian authorities’ assurances that the conflict response was under their control. In contrast to other conflict-affected states, the Nigerian government wields significant resources and regional power, resulting in a greater stature viz-a-viz international partners. Donor governments, thus, prioritized working through Nigerian government structures rather than sidestepping local authority, even as bureaucratic obstruction, a lack of committed interlocutors, and in-fighting between different levels of government slowed down the response (Edwards, 2017).

Most stabilization programmes were designed with the assumption that the security situation in north-eastern Nigeria would continue to improve, thereby facilitating the gradual return of displaced populations and local government. Yet in practice, Nigeria’s overstretched, under-resourced, and corruption-plagued military has struggled to consolidate its gains (Brechenmacher, 2019). Civilians in many parts of the northeast face ongoing threats from both insurgent attacks as well as counterterrorism operations.

This study emerges, thus, as a response to the challenges that confronted international conflict resolution efforts in the north-eastern part of Nigeria and, indeed, Africa at large. The study seeks to provide an overview of the international community efforts at ensuring peace and conflict resolution in Africa, as well as the persistent tensions between peacekeeping efforts and Nigeria’s political and institution dynamics.


1.2 Statement of Problem

In 2019, the conflict in north-eastern Nigeria entered its eleventh year. Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency and the government’s military response have killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced millions across the Lake Chad region, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. Although major military campaigns in 2015–2016 succeeded in degrading the group’s territorial control, Boko Haram has proven remarkably adaptable in its tactics. The end of 2018 saw an uptick in attacks in Nigeria’s Borno State (Maclean, 2018).

Since the early years of the crisis, Nigeria’s international partners have cautioned that Boko Haram is unlikely to be defeated on the battlefield alone. In practice, international assistance came late and donors struggled to identify viable national counterparts for peacekeeping efforts. As a result, their efforts centered on supporting regional military efforts and responding to the large-scale humanitarian crisis. Recent reports have also shown that civilians in many parts of the northeast still face threats from both insurgent attacks and counterterrorism operations. Rampant corruption and ineffective coordination have hampered the Nigerian government’s civilian response to the crisis, with various federal, state, and local elites benefiting from the continuation of the crisis. Moreover, while international partners stress the need for a regional response to the crisis, the region lacks an effective political infrastructure, and cooperation has been primarily externally driven (Brechenmacher, 2019).


1.3 Objectives Of the Study

The overall aim of this study is to examine international conflict resolution and the challenges of peacekeeping in Africa using the crisis at the north-eastern part of Nigeria as a case in point. To achieve this aim, it is imperative to address the following specific objectives:

These specific objectives are:-

  1. To identify the roles and dynamics of international peacekeeping organizations in crisis areas in Africa.
  2. To examine the specific challenges militating against international conflict resolution efforts in crisis areas in north-east Nigeria.
  3. To identify the efforts that are being made to address these challenges.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the roles and dynamics of international peacekeeping organizations in crisis areas in Africa?
  2. What are the specific challenges militating against international conflict resolution efforts in crisis areas in north-east Nigeria?
  3. What efforts are being made to address these challenges?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will be an authentic source of international peacekeeping efforts in Africa because it will be carried out thoroughly and without falsification or perversion of information. It will look into the challenges of peacekeeping particularly as relate with the Boko Haram crisis in north-east Nigeria, and proffer solutions to those challenges by detecting the root cause(s) of those problems so as to be able to decide how such problems can be dealt with using international best practices.


1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study

To properly appraise the issues of conflict resolution in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, the study will cover the period of 2009 – 2019; the reason being that 2009 marked the beginning of the crisis in Nigeria. The data will be sourced from secondary sources. The study is limited to secondary data since the author do not have access to victims of the crisis and personnel deployed to that region. Nevertheless, the study will rely on credible sources such as United Nations Peacekeeping Organization, United Nations Security Council, etc.


1.7 Methodology

Methodology is part of the research that shows the ways and approaches of collecting the data (Oliver, 2004). This research is primarily qualitative as it is based on the international conflict resolution and the challenges of peace making in Africa, a study of North East Nigeria. The reason for choosing the qualitative analysis strategy is the exploratory and the qualitative nature of study. According to Robson (1993), flexibility is always the main strength of the case study strategy in terms of interpretation and getting access to the specified places. The research is a based on secondary data. We used document analysis/content analysis as main method of data collection. Document analysis/content analysis also called “textual analysis” (Travers, 2001) in the study will include all kinds of academic articles, textual and multi-media products, ranging from television programmes to web sites on the internet.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Peacekeeping:

Refers to any activity that tends to provide favourable conditions for lasting peace. Within the United Nations (UN) framework, there is a general conception that at the international level, it is the duty of peacekeepers to monitor and observe peace processes in post-violent areas; and also to provide assistance to ex-combatants in implementing peace treaties.

United Nations:

An international organization set up to maintain world peace and security and to promote economic, social and cultural cooperation among nations, set up (1945) as a successor to the League of Nations. Its charter was signed by 50 nations and there are now more than 180 members meeting annually in the General Assembly.

Peacekeeping Force:

A United Nations combat-ready force of member nations combined into military body to maintain peace in an area involved in dispute.

Conflict:

Armed fighting, a war, a struggle between opposing principles or aims, a clash of feelings or interests, such a clash as a source of dramatic action

Crisis:

A time of great danger, difficulty or confusion when problems must be solved or important decisions must be made.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The failure of emergency rule to contain and impede Boko Haram violence revealed that the military option with an absolute focus on the violent destruction of Boko Haram is not tenable and an alternative must be sought. The offensive failed to neutralize the movement, at the same time damaging and alienating the people, while demoralizing and discrediting the armed forces operating in the region. Nigeria’s international partners also warned earlier that Boko Haram is unlikely to be defeated on the battlefield alone. Most stabilization programmes were designed with the assumption that the security situation in north-eastern Nigeria would continue to improve, thereby facilitating the gradual return of displaced populations and local government. Yet in practice, Nigeria’s overstretched, under-resourced, and corruption-plagued military has struggled to consolidate its gains. Civilians in many parts of the northeast face ongoing threats from both insurgent attacks.

In this study, an attempt was made to examine international conflict resolution and the challenges of peacekeeping in Africa using the crisis at the north-eastern part of Nigeria as a case in point. Three specific objectives were raised for this purpose which include; to identify the roles and dynamics of international peacekeeping organizations in crisis areas in Africa; to examine the specific challenges militating against international conflict resolution efforts in crisis areas in north-east Nigeria; to identify the efforts that are being made to address these challenges. To properly appraise the issues of conflict resolution in the north-eastern part of Nigeria, the study covered the period beginning from the crisis period to date. The data were sourced from secondary sources since the author do not have access to victims of the crisis and personnel deployed to that region. Nevertheless, the study relied on credible and reliable information sources.

As regards the study findings, Chapter three of the study revealed that conflict is not a new phenomenon in most parts of the world, and acknowledging that it exists is the first major step to balancing and sustaining peaceful coexistence in the world. For the conflict situation in north-east Nigeria, the study showed that Boko Haram insurgency remained the worst to have hit the country. No violence of such nature and magnitude has ever taken place in Nigeria since the crisis began. The situation and the displacements caused by the conflict appears to have affected livelihoods in the region.

In regards to international peacekeeping initiatives, it was discovered that in this study that international assistance came late and donors struggled to identify viable national counterparts for peacekeeping efforts. As a result, their efforts centered on supporting regional military efforts and responding to the large-scale humanitarian crisis. Not only that, it was found that much of the international efforts have focused on strengthening local security mechanisms; restoring civilian administration and basic services; and supporting the reintegration of former fighters and others associated with non-state armed groups. Also, some factors were identified as militating against the proper execution of conflict resolution strategies by international organizations in Nigeria. Some of the factors identified in the study: include porous borders, bad governance and corruption, missing political framework, cases of human rights abuses, and disagreements between international organizations and the military.


5.2 Conclusion

The paper has indeed provided a glimpse into the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria that have affected and continue to affect the Northeast, Nigeria year at least 10 years. While commonly perceived as solely a domestic problem, the threat posed by this insurgence has important drivers, and implications. Accordingly, it is important that both the Nigerian government and external partners make a priority of keeping links between northern Nigeria and the outside world open. Ultimately, this is a battle for the trust of the local population. The study has shown that conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms have proven effective at the local level, although their reach is still limited by certain factors, some of which were addressed in the study. Some programmes have sought to couple infrastructure reconstruction with community-based development efforts that seek to restore ties between citizens and government officials, with the long-term aim of improving bottom-up participation and accountability in governance and service delivery. Yet the incomplete return and weak capacity of civilian administration to many parts of the region remains a significant hurdle. Indeed, if well-designed and coordinated, peacekeeping efforts from international organizations together with government’s commitment will help address sources of insecurity in the region. In the following section, the study puts forward a number of recommendations based on the study outcome.


5.3 Recommendations

  1. Nigeria’s international partners should continue to push for greater civilian oversight of the military’s screening processes and detention facilities, building on the coordinated pushback against premature relocations of IDPs.
  2. The majority of the of the security challenges Nigeria as a country is currently facing are related to the overarching socio-economic problems in the country, such as poverty, corruption, unemployment, and poor infrastructure. Thus, governments at all levels should improve on infrastructural development projects and ensure that issues of poverty and unemployment are squarely addressed.
  3. Intelligence should be taken as paramount. Intelligence and surveillance through the co-operation of communities, security agencies, international and donor agencies and other agencies involved in the fight against insurgency in Northeast Nigeria, should be taken very seriously.
  4. For the programmes that have begun development efforts with strategic outreach at the local levels, more efforts should be geared toward expanding these programmes.

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