Contextualising all-African peacekeeping
: political and ethical dimensions

  • S. Massey

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The hypothesis underlying this research is that Africa's leaders are under a moral/political imperative to summon the will to develop a capacity to intervene in conflicts, possibly with external assistance, but without direct extra-continental intervention. This begs two questions. Is Africa right — politically and morally – to assume this task? And should the rest of the world, particularly the traditional intervening powers, accept and/or promote and/or assist African self-pacification? A trend toward subsidiarity and the regionalisation of conflict management in the African context followed reversals for United Nations and Western policy in the early 1990s, notably in Somalia and Rwanda. In the wake of these setbacks the universal impulse to intervene wherever necessary was overshadowed by a particularist/relativist position that distinguished Africa and African conflicts as cases apart. This translated in theoretical terms to a switch away from a cosmopolitan position allowing of international intervention to a communitarian position that promotes the African 'community' or African sub-regional 'communities' as the primary loci for addressing conflict. The continental organisation, the Organisation of African Union (0AU), has been hampered in assuming this task by its strict Charter adherence to state sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of its member states. As a result the logic of subsidiarity devolved on Africa's sub-regional organisations, in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). However, these organisations have found development of a security framework problematic, suffered from internal rivalries and have been hindered by paucity of funds and logistics. Interventions undertaken under the auspices of these bodies have often been of dubious legitimacy under international law. Viewed from the perspective of the 'just war' tradition these interventions also invariably seem morally suspect. Unwilling to intervene directly, the United States, France and Britain have established a joint initiative to enhance peacekeeping capacity in Africa. This project, under funded and ill considered, has proven inadequate from the perspective of both African participants and its sponsors. The research examines two case studies — intervention by the OAU in Chad in 1980-1982 and the peacekeeping operation undertaken by ECO WAS in Guinea-Bissau in 1998-1999. These cases confirm that existing mechanisms are ineffective for addressing African intra-state conflict. Moreover, they show that extra-African involvement remains an enduring feature of conflict on the continent. A return to the universal/cosmopolitan impulse in terms of international intervention in African conflicts seems unlikely in the short to medium term. In view of this neglect Africa must continue the project of self-pacification. The West is under a moral duty to set aside narrow national interests and expand and improve its existing peacekeeping capacity enhancement programme.
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorRoy May (Supervisor)


    • conflict intervention
    • conflict management
    • Organisation of Africa Union
    • Economic Community of West African States

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