Conflict, Security and the Right to Development in Africa
CONFLICT, SECURITY AND THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Conflict security and development in Africa has generated such a constant international debate in the recent decades. The prevailing discourse on these matters has rather been pessimistic. The prevalence of armed conflicts within certain phases of the African colonial state, the regression of socio-economic indicators, poor democratic processes as a result of the bad leadership from political elites and widespread corruption.1 2 We must underscore that conflicts are inevitable in society however if poorly handled it retard the enforcement of the right to development. This grounded in the human rights-based approach which seeks to ensure that the state who is duty bearer put in mechanisms to ensure that the generic needs of society are identified secured and protected. On the whole this paper presents an examination of conflict security, causes of conflict security and their effects on the right to development, the nexus between conflict security and development within the paradigm of the human security, generic and the human rights-based approach.
Conceptualizing Conflict Security and Development
Conflict has been defined variously by scholars. To Holsti (1983:350) conflict is a particular relationship between states or rival factions within a state which implies subjective hostilities or tension manifested in subjective economic or military hostilities. As per Coser on his part views conflict as a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the conflicting parties are to injure or eliminate their rivals. Conflicts could, however, be violent or uncontrollable, dominant or recessive, resolvable or insolvable. This presupposes that violence is not an inherent aspect of conflict but rather a potential form that conflict may take but then, unfolding events in world history suggest that most conflicts are violent, inflicting life- long injures on their victims and causing loss of life. Two broad categories of conflicts have been identified. Internal conflicts (or intrastates conflict) is one in which the governmental authorities of a state are opposed by groups within that state seeking to overthrow those authorities with force of arms. Internal conflict may also be seen as one in which armed violence occurs primarily within the borders of a single states.3 4 International conflict or interstate conflicts on the other hand take place between two or more nations and involve forces of more than one state. It is apt to observe that Africa has experienced both types of conflict over the years. However, Africa has also witnessed a third type of conflict, known as internationalized internal armed conflict. Such conflicts are essentially civil wars, having varying degrees of external involvement. Examples include the conflicts in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC), Angola and Sierra Leone.
Conflicts are social problems which two or more persons, families, districts, communities, states or nations are at war with each other. Conflict is part of our human existence and a natural part of our daily life”.5 From the foregoing, it is apt to say that human nature is a perpetual cause of disagreement, conflicts and quarrel if not prevented or resolved have far reaching effects on the right to development.
Security means protecting fundamental freedoms - freedoms that are the essence of life. It means protecting people from severe and widespread threats and situations. It means using processes that build on people’s strengths and ensure their enjoyment of peace. It means creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity. This in line with the human security theory which aims at providing a conducive environment for peoples’ survival and dignity. Paragraph 143 on Human Security of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document (A/RES/66/290), 10 September 2012 extols on security as: The Resolution saw the General Assembly agree that the human security approach identifies and addresses widespread and interrelated challenges to the survival, livelihood, and dignity of their people. Based on this, a common understanding of human security was agreed upon: the right of people to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair.6
The Right to Development
The concept of development is an inalienable human right which is conferred on all human beings to participate in and contribute to, and enjoy economic social cultural and political development in which all human rights are fully realized. Moreover, development entails complete transformation brought about by economic development through industrialization. It implies the amelioration of poverty and of other problems. Expanding the freedoms that people enjoy. Includes whatever is done in the name of development. Furthermore, “Development is a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom.” The human person is the central subject of the development process. The creation of conditions favourable to the development of peoples and individuals is the primary responsibility of the State. Equal integration of all international human rights: civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural. Equality of opportunity for development is a prerogative both of nations and of individuals who make up nations. This adds values to the right of development because human rights are enshrined in a set of internationally agreed legal and moral standards. Such universally agreed standards are largely absent in conventional development theory and practice. Human rights are inalienable, every human being is entitled to the same human rights from birth, human rights cannot be taken away or given up, human rights are universal and human rights treaties establish the basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural entitlements and freedoms of every human being anywhere in the world at all times. The understanding of conflict security and the right to development is further enhanced by analyzing the causes of conflict and their effects on developments.7 8
Causes of Conflicts and Implications on Development
The general causes of conflict are sub-divided into root, secondary and tertiary causes.
- Inept Leadership
Africa has consistently suffered from the problem of inept leadership which has retarded political integration and unity in almost all African states. Given the heterogeneous composition of most African states, perhaps what is needed most are the virtues of administrative tact, political tolerance and social justice. These essential ingredients are to be provided by the continent’s leadership. Unfortunately, the realities on ground in most African nations have revealed that most African leaders are weak, corrupt and unpatriotic. Apart from retarding national integration and socio-economic developments, the attitudes of these rulers have sparked off widespread bloody violence. Sudanese, Nigerian, Algerian, Liberian and current crisis in the English part of Cameroon lends credence to the fact that African leaders have failed to forge peace and national unity in their respective countries.
Based on these conflicts and current observation, one cannot but agree with Adedeji,9 when he posit that: what African countries have lacked during most of their history, as independent states are leaders who are unifiers, chiefs in the true sense, who bind wounds, hold everything and everyone together, mobilize and motivate their people, pursue a policy of inclusion rather than exclusion and are seen by one and all to be of the highest integrity and beyond suspicion. The point therefore is that African leadership must be acceptable to all sections of the community if the process of integration is not to be halted. Until then, a recurrence of conflicts across Africa may continue to be a common phenomenon which down plays on the right to development.
One of the major factors responsible for internal conflicts in Africa is the devastating impact of corruption. Corruption, manifested in the embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, has paralyzed development efforts and caused debilitating immobilize in the march towards socio-economic transformation and political integration in Africa. Africa’s resources have been badly managed over the years that masses are fed up with their leaders. This has provoked militant nationalism against Africa leaders. The result, expectedly, is the unending conflict across Africa states. The Africa Union itself acknowledges the debilitating impact of corruption on the political and socioeconomic stability of Africa states. This perhaps explains the adoption of the “Africa Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption” by the 2nd ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on 11 July 2003. The convention is meant to, among other things, promote and strengthen the development in Africa by each state party, of mechanisms required to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption in the public and private sectors.
Africa is one of the poorest continents of the world. This is largely due to harsh environmental conditions, corruption and huge foreign debt that exacerbate the conditions of poverty.10 For instance, desertification has contributed to famines in a number of African states such as Ethiopia and Mali. As a result, the number of people living in extreme poverty in sub- Saharan Africa grew from 217 million in 1987 to more than 300 million in 1998.11 12 If therefore the saying is true that a hungry man is an angry man, then conflicts may for long be a part of the African life owing to this situation of absolute poverty prevalent across the continent.
1 R. Grasa et al, ICIP WORKINK PAPERS: ‘Conflict Peace and Security in Africa: Assessment and Questions After 50 years of African Independence, 2010/08
2 L.A. Coser, “Social, Aspects of Conflict” International Encyclopedia of Social Science, New York, (1986)
3 O. Eminue, “Conflict Resolution and Management in Africa: A Panorama of Conceptual and Theoretical Issues” African Journal of International Affairs and Development, Vol. 9, No 1 and 2 (2004)
4 David, S.R. “Internal War, Causes and Cure”, World Politics, 49 (July 1997).
5 A. Nider, O.M & Mile TJ (eds), Peace & Conflict Resolution, Basic Concepts, Theories and Issues, 2003, Success World publications, Makurdi, p 6. intergovernmental organizations and the organizations and bodies of the United Nations system were presented as examples of the reach of this important concept and its growing acceptance. The report concluded by identifying the core elements and the added value of human security, and provided a set of recommendations as a follow-up to the above-mentioned commitment.
6 https://www.un.org/humansecurity/reports-resolutions/ accessed on 29/07/2019.The resolution also outlined the principles and the approach for advancing human security and its application to the current priorities of the United Nations. Key human security initiatives undertaken by Governments, regional and sub-regional
7 Para 2 of the preambular provision of the Declaration of the Right to Development 1986
8 Intrinsic Elements of the Right to Development 1986
9 Adedeji, A Comprehending and Mastering African Conflicts: The Search of Sustainable Peace and Good Government, London, Zed Books, (1999)
10 S. M Patience Munge, ‘Impacts of Financial Aid of Financial Aid on the Respect of Human Rights and Development in Cameroon’ African Journal of Social Sciences, Vol9, No.2, 2018
11 C, Cook, and Killingray, D. (1983). African Political Facts Since 1945, London/ Basingstoke, The Macmillan Press Ltd.
12 International Crisis group, 2017