Skip to content The Open University

African Agency in International Politics - Seminar Series

Seminar 2
Peace, Conflict and Intervention

April 2011 — International Development Department, University of Birmingham

Narratives on peace and conflict in Africa frequently depict the continent as the at best helpless and passive, or at worst violently resistant, subject of international intervention. The vision overlooks the importance of inter-Africa security dynamics and the impact of new and resurgent African security institutions, particularly the African Union. This seminar explores the role of African agency in shaping both African and international responses to conflict and insecurity on the continent. The discussion relates directly to the growing focus by the UK and other states on security sector reform and new approaches to African security institutions, reshaping Africa's involvement in regional and international security. The seminar will address the growth of these continental and regional security institutions and peace support capacities within Africa, exploring how they are being integrated into international security agendas (counter-terrorism or energy security) and dynamics of peace and conflict at the regional, national and sub-national levels and the possibility of African actors in building, or resisting, the 'liberal peace' and 'African alternatives.'

PDF Seminar 2 Programme (84 KB)

PDF Executive Summary (121 KB)

Contact: Danielle Beswick,

About the Speakers

Professor Thomas Tieku, Director of African Studies, University of Toronto

Lessons learned from mediation by an African regional organization

African regional organizations have often used mediation processes to try to resolve almost every major conflict that has occurred on the African continent since 1990. Yet, we know little about the lessons they have, or have not, learned from these mediation processes. This paper examines Organization of African Unity, now the African Union's (O/AU) mediation of Burundi conflicts between 1993 and 2009 to help observers of African international relations gain a deeper understanding of lessons that can be learned from mediation by an African regional organization. The paper identified a number of lessons including the fact that a number of novel conflict resolution mechanisms emerged from the mediation processes and the incentive package given to parties may have prolonged the conflict. The sybaritic perks and per diems provided from donor funds seduced Burundian parties away from any interest they might have had in actually reaching an agreement. For many of the belligerents, living in fancy hotels and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle such as flying in chartered aircraft and other incentives were great value for their effort - or rather, lack thereof. Their interests were better served by continuing the talks rather than reach an agreement and faced with the daunting task of managing a poor African country.

Thomas Tieku is currently the Director of African Studies at the University of Toronto and lead researcher at the Centre for International Governance Innovation's (CIGI) Africa Initiative program. His current research focuses on African international relations, mediation, the African Union, regional democracy promotion and defense, and United States of America-African relations. His latest monograph entitled United States-Africa Relations in the Age of Obama will be published by Cornell University's Institute for African Development. His works have appeared in journals such as African Affairs, Africa Today, African Security Review, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and International Journal. He is frequently sought by the Canadian media for comments and analysis on African issues and he was awarded the Ranjini Ghosh Award for excellence in teaching in 2008-09.

Brigadier General Frank Rusagara, Rwandan High Commission (UK)

Military Integration: Rwanda case study

The aftermath of the 1994 genocide led to the death of over 1 million people and an entire population displaced internally or having fled as refugees. It also entailed a divided society with a collapsed socio-economic infrastructure. Meanwhile, even as the perpetrators of genocide had been defeated, they had relocated in the neighbouring countries from where they would reorganize and attempt armed return to Rwanda to resume where they had stopped with the genocide. The government of Rwanda then embarked on integrating the military which paved the way for peace building. What, however, would become of the modern Rwandan military as a socially integrative unifier cannot be seen outside the aftermath of the Genocide, nor the history that led to it. For instance, it may be recalled that the deconstruction of the Rwandan state, leading to the genocide, began with the advent of colonialism and deteriorated further during the post-colonial period in the First and Second Republics. The destruction of the state of Rwanda during these periods was spearheaded by the military.

This paper will demonstrate that military integration was an integral part of the peace building process and expound the Rwanda model of peace building. It will argue that Rwanda's peace building cannot be assembled elsewhere. It must be a home-grown process. Local ownership is paramount because locals must take full responsibility as they are the primary stakeholders. Rwanda's military and social integration process has shown that peace building is a positive-sum game; there are neither spoilers nor losers. Everybody is a winning stakeholder in the post-conflict scenario.

Brigadier General Frank Rusagara is the Defence Advisor at the Rwanda High Commission in London, also accredited to Stockholm/Sweden, Geneva/Switzerland and Nordic countries. He is a Military Historian and former Director of the Rwanda Defence Forces Department of Information, Documentation and Military History. Brig.Gen. Frank was previously the G1 – General Staff Officer in Charge of Personnel and Administration, Director of Finance, Secretary General (Permanent Secretary) of the Ministry of Defence, President of the Rwanda Military Court and Commandant of the Rwanda Military Academy, Nyakinama. He is currently Chairman of the Rwanda Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), and the Rwandan Chapter of the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Born in Rwanda, he lived, studied and worked in Uganda and Kenya. He holds an MA in International Security Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a B.Com Degree from Makerere University, Kampala - Uganda. He is currently a Post Doctoral student in International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], London. He was involved in the struggle for the liberation of Rwanda, and, after 1994, held several portfolios in policy formulation and implementation as a Senior Officer of the Government of Rwanda in the Ministry of Defence. He is the author of the book; Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda. He is an Associate of both the Brenthurst Foundation and the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI). He is married to Christine K. Rusagara with 2 daughters and 3 sons.

Jonathan Fisher, ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Birmingham/University of Oxford

Managing donor perceptions and securing agency: the UPDF intervention in Somalia since 2007

This paper will explore the background to Uganda's current involvement in Somalia as part of AMISOM and will argue that the UPDF's presence in Mogadishu has as much to do with Ugandan-donor relations as it does with maintaining regional stability (Kampala's putative reason for intervention). The Ugandan engagement in Somalia, it will be argued, is the most recent example of the Museveni regime's multi-pronged strategy to secure agency in its relations with donors. The regime has, it will be suggested, undertaken numerous activities in the foreign and domestic spheres to ensure that donors perceive it in a particular way vis a vis their interests: economic success story, regional mediator, guarantor of stability in a volatile region etc. In so doing, it has been able to largely avoid donor scrutiny in areas of traditional donor concern such as democratisation, corruption and military activity thereby achieving a considerable degree of agency in a wholly unequal relationship.

Jonathan Fisher recently completed his DPhil at St Antony's College, University of Oxford and is now an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Birmingham University's International Development Department. His research focuses on donor-African relations and looks particularly at how and why donors see some states, such as Uganda, as reliable allies and others, such as Kenya, wholly differently, focusing on the African role in this dynamic. His doctoral thesis looked at donor-Ugandan relations since 1986.

Dr John M. Kabia, The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, Warrington, Cheshire

Regional Approaches to Peacebuilding: The ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established in 1975 by developing West African states as part of their strategy to promote economic development and prosperity for their respective countries. However, following widespread conflict and instability in the sub-region in the 1990s and early 2000s, the leaders came to the realisation that economic prosperity cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and security. Beginning with a process that saw the adoption of nascent security protocols in 1978, the region has today developed and institutionalised elaborate conflict resolution, peacekeeping and security mechanisMs This paper looks at the provisions of these mechanisms and analyse the implications for sub-regional security and conflict resolution. It argues that despite the portrayal of Africa as the 'hopeless' continent, the conflict management and peacebuilding intervention of ECOWAS is a manifestation that Africa is taking ownership and responsibility for its conflicts.

Dr John M. Kabia works for The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in Warrington, Cheshire. The Foundation supports victims and survivors of conflict and acts of terror through the provision of learning programmes which explore the causes and effects of conflict and its resolution through non-violent means. After graduating with a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford in 2006, John served as an Associate Research Fellow at the Africa Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Bradford. He has written a number of books and book chapters on African Peace and Security interventions. His latest publications include Humanitarian Intervention and Conflict Resolution in West Africa: From ECOMOG to ECOMIL (Ashgate, 2009); Dangers of Co-deployment: UN Cooperative Peacekeeping in Africa (co-authored with David Francis, Mohamed Faal and Alex Ramsbotham, Ashgate, 2005); and UNAMSIL Peacekeeping and Peace support Operations in Sierra Leone (with Andreau Sola-Martin, Bradford, 2007).

Ecoma Alaga, University of Reading

The Emerging Regional Policy Frameworks for SSR/G in Africa: Prospects and Opportunities for the AU and ECOWAS

The paper will examine the emerging AU and ECOWAS policy frameworks on security sector reform and security sector governance respectively, which have different priority focus i.e. on post-conflict reconstruction and conflict prevention respectively but are nonetheless complementary. In line with the theme for session 3 the paper will examine what the challenges of cooperation and potentials are for implementing these within predominantly West Africa. It will look at this vis-a-vis a myraid of actors such as international partners; regional bodies such as the ECOWAS Committees of Chief of Defence Staff, Police, etc; ECOWAS member states and other key agencies including women and youth

Ms Ecoma Alaga served as Director of Programmes at WIPSEN-Africa for about five years. Currently she is pursuing a Doctoral degree in her field of work. Prior to this, she worked for the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Senegal as Programmes Manager; and for the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) as Regional Coordinator of its Women in Peacebuilding program, and Coordinator of its peace institute, the West Africa Peacebuilding Institute (WAPI). She is a trainer, facilitator and consultant on gender, peace and security and has consulted for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the West Africa Network on Security and Democratic Governance (WANSED), the University of Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) to mention a few. She has worked with gender ministries/women's bureaus across West Africa; and with the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre on gender, peace and security related issues. She holds an MSc in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies (Peace and Conflict Studies) and a BSc in Political Science.


PDF The Emerging Regional Policy Frameworks for SSR/G in Africa: Prospects and Opportunities for the AU and ECOWAS - Ecoma Alaga (62 KB)

PDF Managing donor perceptions and securing agency: the UPDF intervention in Somalia since 2007 - Jonathan Fisher (177 KB)

PDF Regional Approaches to Peacebuilding: The ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture - Dr John M Kabia (46 KB)

PDF Military Integration as an Integral Part of Peacebuilding: The Rwandan Example - Brig. Gen. Frank K. Rusagara (46 KB)

PDF Lessons learned from mediation by an African regional Organization - Thomas Tieku (234 KB)

BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group