Conflict resolution and peace-building Initiatives: ethical quandaries in post-colonial southern Africa.
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While there is a wide range of literature on the causes of war, an area that has not received adequate attention is in determining the extent to which post-colonial Southern Africa has used military interventions as an instrument of advancing state-centric interests under the guise of pursuing collective security interests. This may partly be because international relations theory has for a long time been predominantly obsessed by the realist paradigm which has always regarded conflict as a permanent provenance or condition in the international system stimulated by what Hans Morgenthau, (1948) regards as the inevitability of competition among the most powerful in their advancement of self-interests even in extent of resolving and managing them. The ubiquitous and recurrent nature of armed conflict situations within a post-colonial Southern African environment implicate the need to search for alternative mechanisms for resolving conflicts other than the adversarial model that emphasises military interventions disguised as instruments for conflict resolution and ultimately sub-regional harmony. This model inherited from Western Europe at the conclusion of World War II appears not necessarily suitable for a region such as that of Southern Africa whose historical past was greatly different to that upon which it was created. For post-colonial Africa, emerging from a brutal colonial and white settler historical past, emphasis among its leadership appeared to have been informed by the need to restore lost African pride such that the nature and construct of its social order and collective security framework had to adopt certain preferred pre-colonial practices (Ajayi and Buhari, 2014). Ideally, such an argument would be in contention with Brehe’s (2012) observation that regards Africa to always have had its own conciliatory, mediatory and arbitral ways of resolving conflict. These African indigenous forms of conflict resolution where military force was only used as a last resort include mediation, diplomacy and adjudication. However, it is not to suggest that these pre-colonial African customary conflict resolution models did not have their own limitations, but the application of military interventions as an instrument for enhancing collective security tends to promote the preponderance of self-interest than those of the collective. In an attempt to have a clear understanding of why member state behave in such a manner, I have considered the collective arrangements that post-colonial Southern African states put in iv place in attempting to resolve the DRC and Lesotho conflicts all of which came at a time when the sub-region’s conflict resolution and peace-building mechanisms were in transition from being informal to a more robust and formal entity. The intention is identifying the extent to which state-centrist interests are manipulative of those of the collective even in the presence of formalised structures to advance the interests of the intended collective. To support my arguments, I employ ethical interpretations arising out of the competitive nature among member states in their advancement of self-interests even in pursuit of collective security interests. East and West Africa who share a common historical background of colonialism to that of Southern Africa are used for comparative purposes in determining the extent to which state-centric interests are prevalent in the pursuit of collective security interests. Indigenous norms applicable to contemporary conflict resolution mechanisms in Southeast Asia, though is a non-African region, share in common a historical background to that of sub-Saharan Africa is explored with a view to relate how these can be employed in managing conflicts under a reconciled form of state-centric and collective security interests. This thesis argues that within all these three sub-regions’ state-centric interests, the competitive nature of state-centric and collective security interest are prevalent, especially in situations where military interventions are used as an instrument for conflict resolution and peace-building. I argue from a realist perspective that it becomes imperative not to wish way state-centric interests which by nature, are always omnipresent at any given level (individual, society or state), in pursuit of those of a collective. To this end, I advocate for the development of a relational ethic between state-centric and collective security interests. This can be achieved by way of underscoring the need for transparency as member states openly negotiate the settlement of their state-centric interests within the scope of other states, especially when situations arise where there might be possible chances to engage in military interventions. Ultimately, I raise the argument that failure to create conditions conducive in allowing the development of such a relational ethic between state-centric and collective security interests underlies the ethical challenge inherent to post-colonial Southern Africa’s conflict resolution and peace-building initiatives.