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The Role of Sustainable Development in Preventing the Relapse of Conflict in Africa

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Authors: Charles Matseke and Bhaso Ndzendze

In this paper we will discuss the interplay between violence and development and lack thereof and then lay down the framework from which we situate the relationship. Secondly, we will articulate the role of sustainable development in preventing the relapse of conflict through two empirical studies (China and Rwanda). Then lastly, we will lay out some suggestions which the case studies point out in terms of future policies by South Africa as a leader in the continent, the AU as a continental multilateral body and the United Nations’ various organs.

The Peace-Development Nexus

Three disturbing patterns exist regarding civil wars and their recurrence. First, civil wars have a surprisingly high recidivism rate. Of the 103 countries that experienced some form of civil war between 1945 and 2009 (from minor to major conflict), only 44 avoided a subsequent return to civil war. That means that 57 percent of all countries that suffered from one civil war during this time period experienced at least one conflict thereafter. This confirms what Collier and Sambanis (2002) have called the “conflict trap;” once a country experiences one civil war, it is significantly more likely to experience additional episodes of violence.

Second, recurring civil wars have become the dominant form of armed conflict in the world today. In fact, since 2003 every civil war that has started has been a continuation of a previous civil war. Third, civil wars are increasingly concentrated in a few regions of the world. Prior to the end of the Cold War, civil wars were spread over almost every continent, in countries as diverse as Bolivia, Greece, Indonesia, Lebanon and Nicaragua. The end of the Cold War, however, brought an end to many of these conflicts, especially those in Central America and Southeast Asia. The result is a greater number of civil wars concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.

The interplay between conflict and poverty is a storied one. With very few exceptions, where there is conflict, there is more often than not grinding poverty which acts to bring about conflict in a variety of ways:

Poverty leads to unemployment which in turn leads to a lack of opportunity cost for those youths especially who are both dis-incentivised away from being good and law-abiding citizens and in turn are drawn to violent groups, be they rebel militia and terrorist groups. Religious terrorist groups throughout the continent, capitalizes on local conditions by offering envisioned solutions to the grievance shared by the surrounding communities. They portray the situation in terms of an impoverished Nigerian Muslim population  as being oppressed by non-Muslim rulers, and “apostates” backed by sinister forces that intend to keep the local Muslim communities subservient.

According to James J. Forest, terrorists and criminals thrive in a climate of sustained grievances. It is no coincidence that the worst forms of political violence in Nigeria today originates in the most socio economically disadvantaged part of the country. In the north, where unemployment and poverty are the highest, radical Islamists and the imposition of Shari’ah have challenged the authority of the state (Forest, 2012: 45).In the south, where environmental destruction resulting from oil extraction in the Niger Delta has made local Nigerians traditional groups and armed militant gangs often consisting of unemployed youth have engaged in kidnapping, extortion, car bombings, murder, and other forms of violent attack against the government and the nation’s critical oil infrastructure. This shows that issues like ideology and ethnical grievances are merely benchmarks or contingents and that the real issue at the core of conflict is (1) a lack of resources, (2) a lack of opportunity and (3) therefore a lack of development. And allowing violent groups to provide the first two can lead to a complete shutoff of the third because civil violence in turn has developmental implications in several ways:

Firstly, terrorist attacks enhance uncertainty. This comes to limits investments and diverts FDI to “safer venues” (Gaibulloev and Sandler, 2011).

Secondly, augmented security outlays by a targeted government led to the crowd-out effect on what would otherwise be productive public and private investment.

Thirdly, an anti-terrorism campaign increases “the costs of doing business” through, for example, more expensive insurance premiums, higher wages, and higher security expenditures, which can themselves plummet profits, undermine productivity, and therefore economic growth.

Fourthly, in relation to the first point, terrorist attacks can lead to the undermining of growth through the destruction or degrading of social overhead capital that “facilitates commerce (for example, transportation, communication and electricity) and daily routines.”

Finally, terrorism tends to impact specific industries airlines and tourism and this may directly limit growth; “this may be especially true when terrorists target export-sector assets in an export-led-growth economy”. For example, states that purchase the target country’s export(s) may take their business elsewhere to states that have more reliability. (Gaibulloev and Sandler, 2011: 91-92).

The 2011 World Development Report’s authors argue that violence is not just one cause of poverty among many: it is becoming the primary cause. Countries that are prey to violence are often trapped in it. Those that are not are escaping poverty. This has profound implications both for poor countries trying to pull themselves together and for rich ones trying to help.Conflict in impoverished states thus becomes a self-reproducing loop which needs to be interrupted. Misunderstanding this relationship is what many states and organisations have done best, however.

The NATO aid budget for Afghanistan, for example, is focused almost entirely on military expenditure – about 90% — whereas only 10% is on developmental issues. And the shift in the White House’s rhetoric to further prioritise militant means over social ones and to not understand the factors leading to the need for violence in the first place further undermine multilateral efforts at culling conflict through development.

This section will now detail case studies wherein the logic discussed above has been lent some weight.

Brief Case Studies: In War and Peace, Poverty and Development

China: Performance Legitimacy and Beyond

Pre-1949 China, under the Qing was a political anomaly.Its feudal arrangement was one which the citizens were not entirely citizens and had no productive capacity. This, in addition to a lack of a stable and strong state, and one, moreover under increasingly intrusive Western control, lent itself to massive violence and chaos that resulted in a Warlord era, under which various civil insurgencies vied for control over the corpse of the once great empire.

But even when the People’s Republic was declared, and stability was brought onto the land, there was still the potential for massive citizen dissatisfaction and therefore of major uprising. Indeed, some scholars have argued that the Cultural Revolution only took place because youths were not incentivized away from violence. China is too big, and therefore preventing insurgency can only be done through massive development output and that is just what China has done since the 1970s.

To begin with, the Communist Party, has carried out what is labeled as “performance legitimacy” by political scientists through which it maintains its hold on power and brings about stability due to the wide approval it maintains due to its economic output. To that end, some 90% of Chinese society approve of the CCP; and some 60% of Chinese people believe their country is a democracy.

Additionally. In order to fight the perceived socioeconomic roots of terrorism, China has launched a number of development initiatives. Beijing is trying to stabilize the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by improving the living standards of Uyghurs, creating jobs and integrating Xinjiang with the Chinese economic heartland. These efforts intensified with the proclamation of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative in 2013.The Silk Road initiative has also brought about stability in the Asian continent outside of China’s borders to include the states of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan; Pakistan is a particularly interesting case in point because of the well-documented history is has had with terrorism.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) constitutes one of the largest foreign investments China has made in the framework of the OBOR initiative. The expenditures planned for the coming years in the amount of approximately $46-billion will further intensify relations between China and Pakistan as well as provide Beijing with access to the Arabian Sea, increasing its trade with Europe and the Middle East and Africa. On the other hand, there have been benefits for Pakistan, a country whose median age is 22.7 years, in terms of its fight against terrorism on which the government spends $67.93 billion per year fighting.

Already, this has been described by Pakistani officials as a “fate changer for Pakistan”; Pakistani economist Dr Gulfaraz Ahmed has estimated that some 700,000 jobs will be created along the silk road and through the newly created infrastructure and special economic zones and industrial zones. This is especially so in transportation, energy and some manufacturing.

Thus despite fears that the belt and road would be disrupted by violence, the Pakistani and Central Asian cases show the extent to which the violence can be pre-emptively halted through development.

Rwanda: Optimism, Economic Incentives and Social Responsibility

On 6 April 1994, with the world’s media focused on the election of Nelson Mandela, a plane was shot down in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It had been carrying Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi. The double assassination triggered the state-sponsored genocide of approximately 800,000 of Rwanda’s minority Tutsi population and moderate Hutus. The mass slaughter was carried out in 100 days by government-backed perpetrators in the army, police, militias and by thousands of Hutu civilians across the country.

In 1996 an OECD report stated that the Rwandan government and international financial institutions face a major challenge: “maintaining macroeconomic policy in favour of growth and development.”

One of the first things the new government did was to eliminate the reference to ethnicity in identification documents. From then on, the country’s inhabitants were all “Rwandans.” In fact, children are educated in schools that are strongly encouraged to desist from using potentially divisive labels. Pupils are discouraged from identifying themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and are instead asked to focus on building the future of a common Rwanda. To this end, in 2001, the government unveiled a new flag and national anthem.

The practice of doing regular community work, which was grounded in the Rwandan tradition of “umuganda,” was reintroduced not only as part of the effort to rebuild the country but as a way to foster a community spirit. Once a month, Rwandans are called upon to perform communal tasks such as building a house for the needy, laying a road or sweeping a square. On a national level, traditional community courts called “gacaca” were revived in 2001. Between 2005 and 2012 these courts tried almost two million people across the country.

For several years, the members of the community of Simbi have been organized in an agricultural cooperative called “Duharanire Ubumwe N’Ubwiyunge” – “Working Toward Unity and Reconciliation.” Together, the members of the cooperative want to boost agricultural production – for them, a sign of development.

The government in Kigali is also counting on economic progress to help the country achieve lasting reconciliation. A poverty reduction program, with measures such as the introduction of health insurance for all, the targeted improvement of educational opportunity as well as a promotion of the private sector had already yielded results

Rwanda had reduced its poverty rate by 12 percent within 5 years. It now stood at 45%, adding that in comparison to other African countries that was an extremely good result.

The capital, Kigali, has 1.2 million inhabitants. It is regarded as a symbol of Rwanda’s progress. In the city center, one commercial skyscraper after the next is being built. Mayor Fidele Ndayisiba is convinced that “if the pace of development continues, in 10 years time Kigali will be a modern, flourishing city.” Even if the people beyond the city center still have to wait for modernity to arrive, Rwandans are patient and optimistic about the future. Today D’ Artagnan Habintwali, the traumatized boy from Butare, is 25 years old. He has almost completed his studies and wants to become a writer. “There will come a time when everything will be alright,” he says confidently.

Today, the country can boast that 97% of its children attend primary school – the highest rate in Africa. UNESCO noted this by naming it as one of the top three countries globally for improving access to education. Yet with the youth unemployment rate persisting above 40%, there is clearly much to be done to support the people who will drive the country’s economic growth.

The youths are no longer susceptible to being Interahamwe, and pursuing violent means through which to voice their grievances – there is optimism and therefore there is peace. Which is in turn another more positive feedback loop; and one to be built on.

Multilateral Policy Implications

From the case studies it is clear that there is a role for the international community to play in terms of bringing about sustainable development. In China, the international community has served the capacity of consumers. In Rwanda the international community is playing the role of the consumer but also that of developmental partner in terms of developmental aid

As we look at various conflicted and post-conflict societies in transition, we must acknowledge the role to be played by regional organisations and leaders such as South Africa and African Union in Africa, and international organisations – primarily the UN.

Sustainable peace, development and democracy have three mutually reinforcing dimensions, namely; societal reconciliation, democratization and economic reconstruction. Henceforth, greater coordination during post-conflict reconstruction is of greater need not only within the UN coordination but also within the entire aid community. Prospectively, it requires bringing together economic aid and political assistance, and thus have more comprehensive and integrated methods by the UN organizations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The Carnegie Commission report on Preventing Deadly Conflicts recognizes the symbiotic tensions between economic conditionality and the peace imperative, and look more into the binary distinction between neo-liberal economic reforms advocated by the international financial institutions and the contingencies of post-conflict countries (Patrick and Salomons, 1999). It thus calls on the Bretton Woods financial institutions ‘to establish better cooperation within UN’s political structures for economic inducements to facilitate a more central position in terms of early prevention and in post-conflict reconstruction. For example, the peace agenda of El Salvador has been diminished by the competing neo-liberal economic agenda and the prospect for peace in Guatemala continue to depend largely on the adaptation of the neo-liberal economic prescriptions.

Inside the UN structures, the UNDP facilitated a leading role with the UN in as far as to support recovery from conflict and sustaining democratic peace. The peace settlement of 1972 in El Salvador and the 1996 peace settlement of Guatemala together with the transitional election of 1990 Nicaragua were formidable in the sense that they intertwined peace and development, thus creating a key role for UNDP. In its efforts to secure good governance and reconciliation, programs in post-conflict countries, the UNDP took full appreciation of ‘the peace process of Central America were the first instance of UNDP involvement in overtly political and diplomatic, as well as developmental activities’. These experiences had a profound effect on the developmental philosophy of the UNDP and the stage whereby an organization vests its focus on countries with special circumstances (UNDP, 1999). At the Ibero-American Summit of 1996, a ‘Democratic Governance and Development’ resolution was adopted, UNDP made flagship for a more robust ‘Political Cooperation for Democratic Governance’, which at a later stage subscribed to policies and strategies on UNDP regional bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDP, 1996).But how primed are these actors for such responsibilities, and what policy prescriptions can be given in relation to this particular context we find ourselves in?

The first thing to note about the UN peacekeeping budget is how small it is, at least when compared with the defence budgets of national governments.At $8bn, the entire peacekeeping budget is equivalent to one month of US military spending in Afghanistan at the height of the conflict in 2010, or just 1.4% of the current US defence budget, which stands at $573bn.

At the same time, peacekeeping operations are not considered as purely military interventions. United Nations Peacekeeping and Health noted there was a problem “of peacekeepers providing healthcare to the local population in situations where the quality of medical care provided to the mission’s own personnel is not always in accordance with WHO guidelines”.

While Monusco, the UN Peacekeeping mission in the DRC, is the most expensive operation, Minusca, the mission in Central African Republic, received the biggest increase in funding in 2016; rising 220% to over $800m, amid an intensification of fighting in the country.

Military and police personnel costs have increased by more than 300% to more than $350m, while spending on consultants, has increased by over 1,000% to $462,600. Medical spending increase to $9m, up 712% on the previous year, but this dwarfed by the $20m spent on communications, an increase of 37% on 2015. But despite the increase in funds, the missions faces numerous problems.

Area-Based Development Approach to Conflict

An area-based developmental approach significantly represent a precise instrument for conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and has been extensively implemented in conflict regions. In order to evaluate the applicability of the Area-based developmental approach in addressing conflict situations, the comprehension of conflict and its nature. Conflict is endemic in human society, and conflict of interest is inherent as well, this calls for all societies to introduce a range of norms and institutions to prevent the tension from developing into an open conflict between the groups or various government bodies. In order to systematically arrange various characteristics and conditions of conflict, this section will illustrate literature found in Brown’s categorization and clustering of the main factors of conflict divided into four categories, namely; structural, political and governance, economic and social, and cultural and perceptual (Ross, 1986).

Structural factors

Structural factors as most scholars would suggest, include inter-state security objectives including location in war-prone neighborhoods and undemocratic regions, mountainous country or rough terrain, size of the population, military capability, ethnic demographics including high ethno-linguistic and religious diversity. Collier and Hoeffler discovered through their lengthy econometric analysis that the risk of conflict is proportional to a country’s population, siting both opportunities and grievances increase with the size of the population (Collier and Hoeffer, 2007). The tradition of conflict and time difference since the previous conflict including ethnic dominance, understood as one ethnic group being a major stakeholder of the population also have a significant effect on the risk of conflict. On the other hand, one structural factor that is often omitted is the role of neighboring countries. Refugee problems, economic contestation which often leads to the disruption of trade, communication and production networks and military problems including the use of a neighboring state’s territory for shipment of arms and supplies and as a base for operation, can all substantially contribute to regional instability (Brown, 1996).

Political and governance factors

Political and governance factors are most likely to include issues such as a weak or failed state, exclusionary national ideologies and inter-group, elite and identity politics, and discriminatory political institutions. Weak or failing states both from the perspective of political legitimacy and its capability to exercise authority over the population and the overall territory under its jurisdiction and provide services for its citizens, is an important factor potentially contributing to conflict. Eroded elite and public confidence in the legitimacy and capability of government is one of the factors, which in combination with economic and social factors increases the probability of civil violence (Nafziger and Auvinen, 2005). Reiterating the significance of political factors and the weakness of the conventional economic illustration of inter-ethnic tensions. Horowitz influential work on Ethnic Groups in Conflict maintains that the developing elite of a subordinate group generally aspire not to economic power and business opportunities, but are focused on political power. Violent eruptions of conflict is therefore generally linked to the political system and in a particular degree in which the institutions of government are discriminatory or based on exclusionary ideologies Hegre and Sambanis, 2005).

Economic and social factors 

This crucial and comprehensive category of conflict factors is in academic writing portrayed by failed microeconomic policies, limited access to the market, low level and slow growth and structure of income, vertical inequalities such as income inequality, economic and social horizontal inequalities, failure of social contract, role of the Diaspora and male secondary education enrolment. According to Collier and Hoeffler, the key supporters of economic or feasibility theory of conflict, maintains that economic attributes such as the level, growth and structure of income are significant in the analysis of war initiation (Collier and Hoefer, 1998). Moreover, the Diaspora holds the potential to significantly increase the risk of conflict renewal, being a possible source of finance and having more sentimental views than the domestic population. An examination of the ties between humanitarian agencies and their hypothesized source in less-developed countries by Auvinen and Nafziger also confirms that stagnation and decline in real GDP, high income inequalities and a high ratio of military expenditure to national income are associated with the emergencies (Auvinen and Nafziger, 1999).

Environmental factors

Environmental factors can be broadly defined into three groups including threats related to scares resources, such as water, energy, sea passage and fishing grounds, to environmental externalities and those relating to social upheaval or environmental refugees. Environmental externalities consist of issues such as upstream river and trans-boundary air pollution and illegal trade in toxic waste. Environmental refugees and social upheaval result from forced migration in response to ecological disaster or chronic shortage of natural resources (Rawabizambuga, 2007).

Cultural and perceptual factors

Finally, these are factors which illustrates patterns of cultural discrimination, inequitable educational opportunities, legal and political constraints on the use and teaching of minority languages, religious freedom as well as problematic group histories and incendiary perception (Brown, 1996). Many if these attributes are linked to the structural, political and social factors and horizontal inequalities mentioned above.

Conclusion

Coordination among international organisations and states so as to not undermine one another’s developmental efforts. A case in point is the IMF and World Bank’s advocating for the rollback of the state via structural adjustments and therefore taking away of the social nets and developmental efforts being done in those countries. Likewise, blindly giving aid by the UN, AU and South Africa is counterproductive when it cannot be guaranteed that it is actually going to the advertised core issues. Policy should therefore be framed around sustainable development; development which yields results. Indeed the most important result of development is its self-reproduction and therefore a positive feedback loop in terms of peace and development; and therefore development and peace

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Is Morocco become China’s freeway to Africa?

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Back in the year 1958, the kingdom of Morocco become the second African country to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Basically, bilateral ties between the two countries set up last year when King Mohamed VI made an official visit mainland China. It was the second trip to China during his reign in 2006. The royal visit to China resulted in signing up very important treaties and agreements especially the agreement named “China-Africa Investment Fund” and plans for a $10 billion industrial city to be located and built in Tangier, Morocco’s North Hub.

Indeed, China looks at Morocco as fruitful opportunity area to develop factories for export to the European Zone, and easy up way to the other African State especially across Gibraltar.

At the political Approach, Morocco China mutual ties were strongly adhesive and cemented and also have shared the same current key issues, most so-called “Non-Intervention Policy” in State affairs. While the Moroccan news media has sometimes questioned on the oppression and depression of faith in China, the Moroccan government has predominantly declined from commenting on issues concerning to China’s “Key Interest”: Xinjiang, Taiwan, or Tibet. In return, China has not mentioned on the Moroccan position concerning the “Western Sahara Issue” According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs “Nasser Bourita” said: “I think the Chinese position on the South is very pragmatic, the Chinese overlooked at Dakhla and South and taken economic opportunities where they exist “.This relating to one of Southern Morocco’s largest cities in Western Sahara.

Yet, China has bestowed a lot of troops to the operation, China got no interest concerning the “Western Sahara”, said a Senior UN official based in Western Sahara. United Nations figures from August 2016 certify that just 10 of the 2639 Chinese Soldiers deployed on the United Nations Missions abroad were in Western Sahara.

Currently, the experience there has been remarkable, somehow some Chinese officers’, “In addition to the visible white bones everywhere, the black wind of the Sahara Desert is also impressive”. a Chinese officer wrote in reminisces issued by Global Times online.

China’s relationship with Taiwan is still complex and intricate by geopolitical rivalry with the United State and China’s territorial aspirations, similarity; the devotion of Western Sahara is closely tied to Morocco’s long-standing relationship with Algeria. In fact, Algeria always has long _advocated ” Polisario Front”, a socialist party that brought off an arm conflict campaign against the Kingdom of Morocco until a cease-fire in the year of 1991.

China, for its side, has traditionally had stronger mutual ties with Algeria than any other country in North Africa.

All the same, The Western Sahara Conflict and Twain Issue similarly can be taken same territorial issues. In Morocco, anyone can freely access and explore websites linked to “Polisario Front”; it is far difficult in China to access or seek about Xingjian or Tibet. That’s the fact indicates that Kingdom of Morocco is liberalized society and since, reforms enacted by King Mohamed VI, an increasingly democratic one. For its side, the Moroccan News has often published on China’s lack of religious freedom and restriction opposed by the Chinese Muslims.

In June 2015, The kingdom of Morocco lifted out visa requirements for Chinese tourists, making a new pointing start in the long history of travel between both countries. For instance, some 160,000 Chinese tourists have visited Morocco in 2016, an enlarge of 300 percent year a year. This kind of figure is specifically impressive given the visa requirement was in place for much of 2016. Before the visa requirements were lifted out, Morocco welcomed more than 1,000~600 Chinese tourists a month, that number has been reached as high as 7,000 per month back to visa requirements was dropped. Actually, Morocco’s aim to welcoming 100,000 Chinese tourists in 2017 seems more achievable. So far, Global Times in February named Morocco the ” Best potential destination ” in the world in an opening ceremony attended by a representative of the Moroccan Government.

At the Ancient era, by 13th Century 1325, the well-known traveler “IBEN BATTUTA” left Morocco all the way for China, which he reached 20 years later after traveling far and wide. nowadays, the journey would be less indirect, but there are still no direct commercial flight links between China and Kingdom of Morocco. which is the absence of a direct flight link makes the sudden increase in Chinese tourism to Morocco altogether.

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Beautiful Soul Narrative and Gendered Understanding of Armed Conflict : Case Study of the Rwandan Genocide

Cemre Yapici

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Armed conflict leads to exacerbation of inequalities and power relations that existed in the pre-conflict period as a result of gender stereotypical understanding of the conflict. That is why it is a vast resources in the academic literature to examine the relation between gender roles and armed conflict (Cockburn 1999; El- Bushra 2017; Turshen 1998; Yuval- Davis 1997). According to many feminist scholars, gender is a system of power relation to determine both relations and access to resources within a society. Gender roles point out politically constructed roles, behaviours and norms that society decide which way most proper and appropriate for both women and men. In other words, stereotypical assumptions lead to expectations that men are associated with aggressiveness, perpetrators, defenders, power and fight; whereas women are related to honour of the country, innocence, peacefulness, victimisation, care and maternity. However, as a result of this gendered dynamics of armed conflict women are perceived as substitute in the armed conflict such as cookers, cleaners, sex slaves and nurse into the military life (Cockburn 1999; El- Bushra 2017; Turshen 1998; Yuval- Davis 1997).

Having said that, traditional masculinity dominated gender roles shape the understanding of victimisation in armed conflict. As Cynthia Cockburn analyses (1999) in the chapter of ‘The Continuum of Violence’ gender based war normalises the invisibility of female participation into the military forces. Particularly, it is a common perception that all women and young girls experience rape, sex slavery or faced sex work while, real men fight for the country and honour of the state. In addition, as Turshen describes that this masculinity based understanding of sexual abuse causes to leave aside women’s agency into military life (Turshen 1998)

Furthermore, both gendered war stories and narratives exclude women and their agencies in armed conflict by showing men as perpetrators of the war. Also, both war propaganda and images of motherland are symbolised as a woman who is honour of the country; whereas enemies are symbolised as male who threats the country (Cockburn 1999; El- Bushra 2017; Turshen 1998; Yuval- Davis 1997).  At the same time, particularly victorious war stories and traditional narratives strengthen the negative impacts of gender roles on armed conflict because women are shaped as innocent victim who must be protected by a hero. To illustrate, beautiful soul narrative is identified by Jean Elshtain to clarify the impact of gender roles on the understanding of armed conflict and security. According to Jean Elshtain, victorious war stories have essential role to encourage people especially men to fight for the country by labelling women who are ‘beautiful souls’ and are ‘incorrectly pacifists’ (Elsthain 1995). At the same time, the war stories also emphasise that women are mother of heroes; hence they need to be protected. In this way, it is a traditional gender perception that women should be at home during the armed conflict by providing love and maternity as a supporter for the fighters (Elsthain 1995; Sjoberg 2010).

As many feminist theorist argue that the elements of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative subordinate women and their agencies as a result of the core idea that ‘beautiful soul’ is related with the protection of the women (Elsthain 1995; Sjoberg 2010). It is noteworthy that, there are two core elements of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative. The first element identifies that women are more peaceful than men whereas second one identifies that women are the main reasons of the conflict (Elsthain 1995; Sjoberg 2010). Nonetheless, in this way, ’beautiful soul’ narrative ‘sets women up as the prizes of most wars- fragile, removed from reality, and in need of the protection provided by men’ by showing women as just reason of the armed conflict (Sjoberg, 2010; pg.58) On the other hand, many feminist scholars point out that ‘beautiful soul’ narrative focuses on specific differences between gender roles of women and men and thus; might be identified ‘by the separation of a private sphere (where women are, and naturally belong) and the sphere of war- making and war-fighting (where something has gone terribly wrong if women are included)’(Sjoberg, 2010; pg.58).

However, as many feminist scholars clarify this masculinity based characterization of gender roles into the military life is inaccurate and incomplete thus; it overshadows both agency and active participation of women in armed conflict by creating a perception that women have temporary and supporter role in armed conflict (Cockburn 1999; El- Bushra 2017; Turshen 1998; Yuval- Davis 1997).Additionally, females have more active role and even can be more brutal than men in armed conflict contrary to popular myth. That is, we might claim that ‘beautiful soul’ narrative cannot be obtained in every time in military life. Hence, it is important to examine ‘beautiful soul’ narrative regarding female combatant’s active role in the armed conflict to bring into open women’s agency. In the light of the information that given above, this essay critics the understanding of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative and, delves into both female violent agency and active roles of women into military life with a case study of the Rwandan genocide to clarify that ‘beautiful soul’ narrative cannot be incorporated into the military life.

Active Participation of Female Combatants: Are they ‘Beautiful Souls’ or Perpetrators of Armed Conflict: A Case Study of Rwanda

Throughout history, women have been active involvement in armed conflict as fighters and combatants in many international conflict such as the American revolution, the Mexican revolution, World War I, The Vietnam War, The Sierra Leone Civil war and The Rwandan Genocide whereas; ‘beautiful soul’ narrative shows women as more peaceful, innocent and naive than men (Sjoberg, 2010; pg.58).At the same time, it is noteworthy that women’s participation to armed conflict is not only as substitute roles but also as fighter role in many International cases. Furthermore, gender and armed conflict studies show that active participation of women is increasing during the last years and female combatants sometimes commit more brutal and oppressor war crime than male combatants in armed conflict by killing, raping civilians mercilessly (Schjølset 2013; Sjoberg 2010). In other words, gender studies show that women are not either more peaceful nor reason of the conflict by focusing on many different case studies all around the world. Hence, it is essential to delve into women’s role into military life from an objective and gender-neutral perspective. All in all, this part of the essay will critically analyse the active involvement of the female combatants in the Rwandan genocide to challenge the understanding of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative and traditional gender roles into military life.

A Case Study of Rwanda Genocide: Historical Background about the genocide

Rwanda had been known as a country of a mainly three different ethnic groups; the Hutu, the Tutsi, and the Twa. Interactions and inter-marriages between those groups particularly the Hutu and the Tutsi groups were situation of daily life (Hogg 2010; Brown 2014; BBC News Rwanda). However, the distinction between Hutu and Tutsi,’ the perpetrators and victims of the genocide respectively’ was historically related to their social status which was socially constructed by colonial powers (Brown 2014). Having said that, the colonial rules exacerbated effectively the social status differences by giving both social and administrative power to the Tutsi group to create perception that Tutsis are superior group. However, this situation ‘portrayed the Tutsis as the direct antagonizes of the discrimination that had been directed toward the Hutus for decades.’(Hogg 2010; Brown 2014). As a result of social inequalities, created by colonial power, on 6th April 1994 Rwandan genocide started right after extremist Hutu power announced that to kill and excruciate Tutsi people (BBC News: Rwanda). According to the United Nations report about Rwanda (2015), 8000 people were slaughtered, many of them were raped, and tortured within 100 days. As most academics stated that on April 1994, Rwanda witnessed an unforgettable and unprecedented genocide in the history of the humanity as a result of ethnic and gender based problems into the society. Briefly, Rwandan genocide has still been a controversial topic in the armed conflict field in terms of many reasons such as female fighters, ethnicity problems, and the role of colonial powers. In order to analyse specifically, this part of the essay will particularly focus on female involvement in the genocide.

Women As Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide

‘I had seen war before, but I had never seen a woman carrying a baby on her back kill another women with a baby on her back.’ (UNAMIR interviewer in 1996) (Johns 2010; 82)

‘I believe that women are just as guilty of this genocide as men’ (Female genocide suspect, Kigali Central Prison)’

As stated in the introduction to this part of the essay, the Rwandan genocide has been unprecedented in the history of genocide in terms of the prominent role of female combatants. Women’s active participation into the military life in the 1994 Rwandan genocide added a new dimension to gender-based assumption of armed conflict. As Brown states that the agency of women to participate in the genocide challenged the gender based narratives. In other words, women in the Rwandan genocide reshaped patriarchal understanding of war narratives by showing how a mother became a cruel murderers. To exemplify, interview with Victor Karega enlightens how female participant in the genocide reshaped patriarchy and masculinity based understanding of armed conflict in Rwanda. Karega claims that,

In our culture, women has always been a symbol. A symbol of maternity, a symbol of love. It was a symbol of social cohabitation. Even when there were problems, ethnic problems and political problems, women were always like a link, a linkage, between different categories of people, because they were marrying from, or to, both sides…. But during the genocide, they were also involved in perpetrating the genocide (Interview Victor Karega of the Rwandan Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Affairs, November 3, 1998) (Sharlach, pg 393)

At the same time, in the academic literature, there are vast feminist resources to analyse female participation into the military life in the Rwandan genocide to show that women are capable of use of force in contrast to ‘beautiful soul’ narrative and masculinity based understanding of armed conflict (Hogg 2010; Johns 2010; Brown 2014). Hence, this section of the essay will particularly focus on the specific dominant roles of female combatants in the genocide to indicate that ‘beautiful soul’ narrative cannot be incorporated into the military in all conditions.

Moreover, it is essential to note that, women have prominent role in a variety of the genocide by murdering, stealing, and looting resources of Tutsis, and acting as an accessory for rapes contrary to the perception of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative discourse. As stated by Odette Kayirere, Executive Secretary of AVEGA and Sabine Uwase, staff attorney, the genocide-related crimes committed by female combatants in the genocide might be categorised under two main forms violence namely; acts of direct violence and acts of indirect violence (Brown 2014). Acts of direct violence is related to use of physical force such as killing, rape, torture, sexual assault and beatings (Galtung 1969) whereas indirect violence is not related to physical force such as looting, supervising and ordering indirect violence (Brown 2014). However, one of the main direct violence committed by female perpetrates in the genocide is to rape to Tutsi young boys by dishonouring them (Hogg 2010). For instance, Charles, as a male victim of female perpetrated rape confirmed that Hutu women forced them to have sex involuntarily by giving drugs (Brown 2014). Also, women participated actively in the killings and excruciating of so many Tutsi civilians regardless of age, and gender mercilessly. Having said that, according to African Rights investigators women combatants not only caused so many killings and torturing in the genocide but they also behaved more brutal than male combatants as commanders (Hogg 2010; Brown 2014). In addition, Adam Jones examples in his research that there are many female commanders who committed more brutal genocide crimes than male commanders in Rwanda. To exemplify,

Rose Karushara, a councillor in Kigali, who ‘took extremely active role in the genocide’, by wearing military uniform. She was a tall and physically strong woman, she attacked the refugees herself ‘before handing them over to her interahahmwe for the final kill.. At least five thousand people were killed, all thrown into the Nyabarongo River under orders from Karushara. (Jones,2002 pg.83)

As another example of female commanders Sister Julienne Kizito, one of a number of nuns who was prominent figures of the women participation in genocidal atrocities. She was accused of working directly with the killers by burning people alive (Jones, 2002)

Furthermore, it essential to focus on that women not only committed direct violence in the Rwandan genocide, but also they committed indirect violence by both act looting resources and supervising murdering of Tutsis. As Adam Jones emphasizes (2010) that particularly female leaders dominated the genocide by looting resources and stripping bodies of Tutsis. Such that, they did not hesitate to assisted in killings and torturing of their neighbors. What is worse, many Hutu women appealingly assisted in even killings of children and babies of Tutsis to cause extinction of Tutsis. Having said that, Hutu women led to so many rapes and sexual harassment of Tutsis appealingly by helping male Hutu combatants. Especially, they had active role in forcing Tutsi women to accept their designated fate as sex-slaves for male Hutu soldiers.

Survivor of the genocide described that how Tutsi women deforced them at their houses to be raped by Hutu male soldiers (Jones 2010). To illustrate, one of the survivors of the genocide describes that ‘Many of women of your kind have been taken by dog-like vagabonds. And here you are, rejecting this nice young man… What are you waiting for?’ (Jones 2010 pg.84). Also it is significant to analyse that, Hutu women also participated in the genocide as spies by denouncing and tolerating killings of Tutsis as another significant indirect role (Hogg 2010). Additionally, women had prominent roles in the key political positions to provoke the Hutu people against the Tutsis during the genocide. Mainly, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, previous Minister of Family Affairs and Women’s Development was accused of being the reason of thousands of killings by provoking the Hutu women with the effect of her political power (Hogg, 2010).All in all, in the light of the information regarding female involvement in the genocide, it is essential to analyse that, the cases of female combatants in the Rwandan genocide refute the idea of  ‘beautiful soul’ narrative into the military life. That is, the Rwandan genocide has been a milestone to demonstrate that how ordinary women became brutal combatants on the contrary of the general assumption that women are more peaceful and naive than men.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this essay delves into the active role of women into  military life in the Rwandan genocide in the discourse of understanding of gender based armed conflict and ‘beautiful soul’ narrative. Gender is seen as a set of expectation that society determine what is more proper for both male and female into the society. Having said that, there is a growing acceptance that gender issues have crucial impact on the understating of armed conflict and political violence in the academic literature. Also, there are specific gender roles in armed conflict as a result of masculine understanding of military life. However, it is noteworthy that male power dominated gender roles overshadow both the active role of women and their agencies by creating assumption that women are victims of the armed conflict whereas; men are defenders of the conflict even though, women actively participated in armed conflict and political violence like soldiers, combatants and commander throughout the history.

At the same time, as Elstahin argues (1995) that with the effect of traditional gender roles in armed conflict war stories associates women as reason to men die for by creating assumption that women are more naive than men. However, this gender based assumption contradicts reality into the military life because gender studies indicate that women can be more brutal fighter who victimise civilians regardless of sex. In other words, female combatants kill, rape and victimise on the contrary of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative during the conflict. Especially, the Rwandan genocide added a new dimension in terms of gender and war field. Thus, it has essential role to challenge the idea that women are more naive and peaceful than men hence; they need to be protected.

According to The United Nations report and other gender studies that greater proportion of female combatants took extremely active role as killers, commander and torturer in the genocide. To exemplify, the cases of female leaders demonstrate that female combatants had dominant role  ‘in the post-massacre looting and stripping bodies, which often involved climbing over corpses piled thigh-high in the confined spaces in which many Tutsis met their end.’(Jones 2002, pg84). What is more, studies show that female commanders commit more war crimes than men commanders during the genocide. Briefly, the active involvement of many Hutu women in the killings during the Rwanda genocide objects to both ‘beautiful soul’ narrative and gender based dynamics of armed conflict. Hence, it is noteworthy that the perception of ‘beautiful soul’ narrative cannot be truly incorporated into real military life thus; the role of female combatants in armed conflict should be consider without masculinity based stereotypical lenses.

Bibliography

  • Adam Jones (2002) Gender and genocide in Rwanda, Journal of Genocide Research, 4:1, 65-94, DOI: 10.1080/14623520120113900
  • Anita Schjølset (2013) Data on Women’s Participation in NATO Forces and Operations, International Interactions: Empirical and Theoretical Research in International Relations, 39:4, 575-587, DOI: 10.1080/03050629.2013.805326
  • African Rights. 1995. “Not So Innocent: When Women Become Killers”. London: African Rights.
  • BBC News Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13431486
  • Cockburn, Cynthia. (1999) “Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Violence”Backgroun Paper for Conference on Gender, Armed Conflict and Political Development, Washington ,DC, 9-10 June.
  • El- Bushra, Judy. (2017) “Why Does Armed Conflict Recur, and What has Gender Got to with it” LSE Women, Peace, Security Paper Series. Available at: lse.ac.uk\wps
  • El- Bushra, Judy, Sahl, M.G. Ibrahim (2005). “Cycles of Violence: Gender Relations and Armed Conflict”. Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development ACK Garden House
  • Elsthain,Jean Beathe (1995) “Women and War” The University of Chicago Press. Chicago and Press.
  • Hogg, Nicole (2010) ‘Women’s Participation in the Rwandan genocide: mothers or monsters?”, International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 93 Number 877, 69-102.
  • Sara E. Brown (2014) “Female Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide, International Feminist Journal of Politics”, 16:3, 448-469, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2013.788806.
  • Sjoberg, L. and Gentry, C. 2007. Mothers, Monsters, Whores: Women’s Violence in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.
  • Sjoberg (2010) ‘Women fighters and the ‘beautiful soul’ narrative’ International Review of the Red Cross.
  • The United Nations Report on Rwanda (2015) Available at:http://research.un.org/en/docs/reports
  • Turshen, M and Twagiramniya (eds) (1998). “What Women Do in War Time: Gender and Conflict in Africa,”. London, New York: Zed Books.
  • Walby, S. 1989. ‘Theorising Patriarchy’, Sociology 23 (3): 213–34.
  • Yuval Davis, N. 2006. ‘Intersectionality and Feminist Politics’, European Journal of Women’s Studies 13 (3): 193–209.
  • Yuval-Davis, Nira. (1997).”Gender and Nation“, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi.

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Africa

Africa’s First Continental War: Rwanda, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and Internally Displaced Persons

Jason Anderson

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Refugee movement and the concept of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has a profound effect on global security. Regional instability often scales up localized geopolitical conflicts that eventually take center stage on a global policymaker’s agenda. This is the case with the Great Lakes Region of Africa (GLR).   In defining what these geopolitical contexts mean, this analysis will refer to internally displaced persons affected by the Rwandan genocide living in Uganda, the DRC, Tanzania, and Burundi.

Given the scope of political psychology and how it affects various actors, it is difficult to encompass all of the variables at play without talking about the perception of victims in the international system and how that translates to specific geopolitical contexts. There is a lack of theoretical perspective regarding victimhood and how some groups transform actionable grievances into a victim-based identity. Essentially, why do we see this phenomenon in some geopolitical contexts and not others? According to Jacoby, this process consists of 5 stages: “(i) – structural conduciveness; (ii) – political consciousness; (iii) – ideological concurrence; (iv) – political mobilization, and (v) – political recognition” (2015, p.513).

Additionally, given the scope of mass violence and the efficiency with which the Rwandan genocide played out, it is safe to say that this study feels that IR theory is short in recognizing victims within the lens of the most abominable cases of human rights suffering and how these events unfolded since the post-colonial history of the GLR. The main shortfall is the failure to understand the scope of victim-based identity. Struggling to be recognized is a key theme that has been recurrent in the literature as it portrays ethnocentrism in the GLR. The idea of identifying a ‘victim’ in the structure of in-groups/out-groups with regards to IDPs has suffered from a lack of legitimacy and salient power construction in the GLR.

The collective experience that forms social identity patterns in the GLR draws heavily from the past 60-70 years of post-colonial history. The essential question is how the relationship between the individual that works through the mechanisms of internal displacement understands the nuances of collective suffering from the group dynamic? This precept means that the conversation has to include the multi-faceted dynamics that accompany genocide. There is an element of political mobilization that controls power distribution mechanisms in every layer of this conflict. From the perspective of IDPs, how do they perceive power distribution and what means are they willing to use to accomplish that end goal? Is the perception of being a victim enough to legitimize those means? The events of targeted retributions get complicated quickly as they run counter to the ideas proposed by Paul Kagame’s self-initiated genocide ideology laws. Victims that see their claims falling within the self-constructed categories of group grievance also see these aspects are also lacking as far as leverage is concerned with regards to social power.

In what many scholars have considered ‘Africa’s first continental war’ (Mills, 2002), the various linkages with regards to large refugee flows create positions of insecurity on a regional standard. While parsing out these instances may seem trivial on a global security scale, they should not be limited to anything less than the following: the individual security of the refugees pertaining to the areas from which they fled, their inherent social security, and the regional circumstances that are contributing factors to the greater conflict.

Overall, the condition of displaced persons in the GLR has not improved.  The UNHCR’s Annual Global Trends report notes that by the end of 2016 “Uganda was hosting 940,800 refugees…the highest number in the country’s history. Uganda was the 5th largest refugee hosting country in the world and the largest in Africa. By May 2017, this number stood at over 1.2 million”. The majority of these individuals come from a wide range of neighboring countries, however “177,176 of these were Rwandan who arrived during and after the 1994 genocide” (Frank 2017). While Uganda has ratified more international human rights law instruments than any other country in the GLR, obstacles still remain. For reference, here is a list of the treaties to which Uganda has ratified:

  • The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The International Convention on the Eliminations of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • The 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • The 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights,
  • The 1984 Convention Against Torture

The treaties noted above have also been codified into Ugandan domestic law with the enactment of the 2006 Refugee Act (Frank 2017).

The crux of all this is to show that even though these norms exist within the governing structures of the GLR, Rwandans desiring to return are living in a dangerous chasm between principle and practice. What is missing from the literature and the field are the specific negative conditions of repatriation as described by the refugees themselves and their perception of conditions in Rwanda that still revolve around the social calibrations of their ethnic status. These include, but are not limited to political suppression, ethnicity, media & ideological manipulations, state-controlled production of information dissemination, geopolitical tension, and social identity as an organizational destructive force. There is also a critical basic infrastructure problem that plays into Kagame’s hard-line stance on refugee movement. Frank quotes an interview with the Rwandan Minister for Disaster Management and Refugees that outlines the government’s perceived obstacles: “(1) Over 60% of returnee households were on permanent aid, (2) 96% needed support to re-build their shelters, (3) 72% had not received any kind of poverty alleviation assistance,(4) 50% of them did not possess any health insurance scheme, (5) 11% of returnees had no identification cards, (6) the vast majority of children born to returnees did not possess an adequate birth certificate, and (7) despite access to 12years of basic education, the majority struggled to provide their children with school materials and uniforms.” (2017, p.112)

The aim of this analysis is to show how fractional yet critical gaps in various social mechanisms are de facto governing refugee flows and constitute a threat to global security as much as they do in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Historical research founds this problem in the culminating events surrounding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, where over 900,000 people were systematically murdered in roughly one hundred days. Millions more were forcibly displaced as a result and continue to live as internally displaced persons in highly unstable situations. Internally displaced persons are on the negative receiving end of both international treaties and the codified legislation of states within the region. Refugee policymaking needs to include, or perhaps more importantly start with, those whose voices go unheard in the process. NGOs need to focus more on the geopolitical dynamics within all of the countries involved. This context includes, but is not limited to: Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the DRC. The causal mechanisms behind this IDP problem demonstrate that variables associated with national security, factionalized class structures, group grievance, human flight, and inequality based on ethnicity are factors that have yet to be mitigated through international norms, even though it is now fully23 years after Africa’s first continental war.

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