If the end of the Cold War produced a euphoria that led some scholars to claim that humanity had reached an ‘end of history’, that people across the globe would enjoy a ‘peace dividend’, the number of conflicts on the African continent after 1990 worked to dissipate this enthusiasm. According to the UNHCR, in mid-2013, there were 3.3 million international refugees and 6.87 million internally displaced persons in Africa. In 2013, eight of the UN sixteen peacekeeping operations were deployed in Africa, totalling approximately 80 per cent of the UN peace missions’ budget.
In this context, West Africa experienced multiple wars and a succession of conflicts: Côte d’Ivoire (civil war, 2002-11), Guinea (clashes in 2013), Gulf of Guinea (ongoing criminal activities such as kidnapping and piracy), Liberia (civil wars, 1989-96, 1999-2003), Mali (various insurgencies, and 2012- ), Niger (Tuareg Rebellion of 2012), Nigeria (numerous conflicts and Boko Haram related violence), and Sierra Leone (civil war, 1991-2002).
These conflicts have not been restricted by state borders, instead forming regional conflict systems. For instance, the borders of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire have been porous and the Sahel region is now attracting much international attention as armed groups move easily from one conflict zone to another. Yet, West African conflicts are neither homogeneous nor identical. Their categorisation and analysis have produced a range of theoretical approaches and conceptual frameworks: ‘low intensity conflict’, ‘internal conflict’, ‘ethnic conflict’, ‘regional conflict systems’, ‘new/old wars’, ‘new barbarism’, ‘war on terrorism’, and so on. Regional, continental and international responses have also generated numerous analyses and debates over the efficiency, legitimacy and motives behind peace operations and conflict resolution initiatives. Debates over their merits have moved beyond academia to include public and policy deliberations about the international, humanitarian, neo-colonial, or neo-imperialist nature of these operations and initiatives: whose peace is being pursued and for what purpose?
Whatever the theoretical approach or normative standpoint taken, West African conflicts involve a variety of actors, institutions and organisations. Conflict management responses engage numerous partners and require enormous human and material resources. Both entail intense negotiations and struggles over the meaning of and the means to peace, good governance, security, democracy and development.
The Organising Committee is inviting research paper proposals from scholars and practitioners in the field who are interested in participating in the Symposium: ‘The Regional Dynamics of Peace and Security in West Africa’.
The aim of the symposium is to establish a ‘Knowledge Production Network’ of researchers and practitioners engaged on peace and security issues in West Africa. The objectives of the Network are fourfold: 1) to bring together academic research and practitioner experiences from the ‘Global North’ and West Africa; 2) to produce research that both fosters peace and security in West Africa and that can underpin policy; 3) to explore emergent issues in peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and security practices in West Africa, including but not limited to gender issues, women and peacekeeping, maritime security, and private sector involvement in peace and security; 4) to participate and encourage student exchanges and transnational collaboration between graduate programmes.
The Organisers welcome proposals for papers on the regional dynamics of peace and security in West Africa. We encourage proposals that address new or emerging issues and/or propose original theoretical contributions. This might include papers that cover one or more of the following themes:
• Theoretical contributions toward understanding the dynamics of regional integration, cooperation, and conflict, and of the dynamics of regional-international relations and processes (e.g. the legitimacy, efficiency and/or practicality of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter).
• West Africa as a complex security regime: actors, institutions, processes in both their internal and external dimensions of the region
• EU/UN cooperation with ECOWAS in the area of peace and security
• Case-study analyses of peace and security intervention in their regional dynamics
• The regional integration dimension of peace and security (including political economy of peace and security and/or political economy of conflict)
• The disjunction between conflict analysis and understanding and peace intervention analysis, in both research and policy terms
• Questions of legitimacy of regional organizations in peace and security intervention/conflict management/resolution
• Conflict prevention and early warning systems: procedures, funding and mechanisms to prevent civilian conflicts, terrorism and wars in sub-Saharan Africa
• Women and peacekeepers in West Africa
• The gender dimensions of peace and security in West Africa
• Maritime security (Gulf of Guinea, its links to energy security and food security e.g. fishing)
• The privatisation of peace and security in West Africa
• The post-colonial dimensions of peace and security interventions in West Africa (e.g. questions of division of labour; francophone-anglophone-lusophone dynamics in peace processes)
• Child soldiers, generational ‘shift’ in leadership, and growing unemployed youth
One session of the symposium will be devoted to discussions of the establishment of a ‘West Africa Transnational Peace and Security Network’. This will cover: the name of the proposed network, priority themes, timeframe and structure, research outcomes, partners, funding, and the education (and knowledge production) dimensions of capacity-building in the fields of regional integration, conflict management, and peace and security (e.g. student exchanges and secondments, doctoral programs).
Keynote speakers who have confirmed their participation include:
Dr. Bruno Charbonneau, Associate Professor of Political Science at Laurentian Universityand Director of the Center for Peace and Humanitarian Missions Studies at the Raoul Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at Université du Québec à Montréal.
Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, Director of Political Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja
Dr. Jide Okeke, Civilian Expert (Planning and Coordination), Peace Support Operations, AU Commission. Addis Ababa
The Organising Committee welcomes abstracts of 250 words maximum, with a short biography of the author(s). We welcome proposals, which should be sent to the Organising Committee to arrive by 31 March 2014, in English or French. Please send your abstract to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Tony Chafer, Director, Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), University of Portsmouth, UK.
Dr Bruno Charbonneau, Directeur Director, Observatoire sur les missions de paix et opérations humanitaires Centre for Peace and Humanitarian Missions Studies, Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiquesRaoul-Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada