Peace and Security in West Africa – Any role for the                    Commonwealth?                                     ...
espoused in the Harare Declaration and the yearnings the Commonwealth peoples as awhole.Beyond the romanticism of belongin...
of potential conflicts by addressing fundamental political, social and economic rootcauses of the regional crisis.Social a...
By choosing „Development and Democracy‟ as the overriding theme of this year‟sSummit, it would appear that the Commonwealt...
capital, political legitimacy and institutional weakening of many African states can bedirectly linked to the policy choic...
So, if human security provides the framework for achieving democratisation anddevelopment, regionalism is the basic instit...
nature and context of conflict in the region, what are the prospects for addressing thechallenges and what role is there f...
While the identified issues above are common to all the states in question, it isimportant to respond to them differently....
Experience has since shown that while there are immediate tasks that must beaddressed in terms of peace building and recon...
Finally, international donors cannot ignore the international context in their responseto peace building and reconstructio...
recognise constituted authority and still address genuine yearnings of the people. Bytheir collective and decisive approac...
Although the above represented a shift from the days of the super-power ideologicalrivalry, even this shift in the leaders...
committed themselves. In spite of this general scepticism, constitutionalism as asocial compact remains the best route for...
all of which have moved the hapless below the poverty line and moved them closer toviolence and conflict.In our view there...
1. There is an urgent need for clarification of values and norms subscribed to by   Africans and adopted in a widespread m...
REFERENCES  1. AFRODAD, Reality of Aid – African Edition 2002.  2. Buzan, B. et al. 1998. Security: A New Framework for An...
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Peace and Security in West Africa – Any Role for the Commonwealth?

  1. 1. Peace and Security in West Africa – Any role for the Commonwealth? By Kayode Fayemi, Centre for Democracy & DevelopmentIntroductionThis year‟s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)in Nigeria marks a significant watershed for democratisation and development inWest Africa. Eight years ago, in Auckland, New Zealand, Nigeria was the pariahstate in the Commonwealth, and the significant impetus for the establishment of theCommonwealth Ministerial Action Group(CMAG) and the Millbrook Plan of Action,came from the flagrant violations of the 1991 post cold-war Harare Declaration by theruling dictatorship in Nigeria. By the time of the Edinburgh summit in 1997, thesituation in West Africa had worsened, with two West African States – Nigeria andSierra Leone – subject of scrutiny by CMAG. Although Nigeria had begun a journeytowards international rehabilitation by CHOGM 1999 in Durban, South Africa, butGambia had joined Sierra Leone and Pakistan in the list of states under scrutiny. So,it could be argued that CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat had always hadcause to address problems of violations of the Harare Declaration in one West Africamember country or the other (except Ghana) since the establishment of theCommonwealth Ministerial Action Group.In spite of its effort to promote the core values of the Harare Declaration in WestAfrica and the commitment contained in the Fancourt Commonwealth Declaration onGlobalization and People-Centred Development of November 1999 which committedmember states, in partnership with civil society, to promote processes that help toprevent or resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner and support measures that help tostabilize post-conflict situations, and combat terrorism of all kinds, there is everyreason to be sceptical about the Commonwealth in Africa, especially at a time thatAfrican states are keen to pursue local solutions to existing and emerging problems.First, given the way the Commonwealth works, it is difficult to trace any shift inthinking or politics to the Association as the significant and/or only player in thecampaign for democratic governance in the last decade. Second, the dominantinfluence of its Northern members (Australia, Britain, Canada) is a source ofcontinuing concern in Africa and Asia, where this unequal power relations is oftenseen as a dampener of the Club spirit. Third, the consensual approach of its politicsundermines the utility of punishment and incentives for erring and progressivemember states. This works in favour of State parties to the detriment of the values 1
  2. 2. espoused in the Harare Declaration and the yearnings the Commonwealth peoples as awhole.Beyond the romanticism of belonging to a club of ex-British colonies in a regiondominated by members of La Francophonie (only four out of sixteen West Africanstates are ex-British colonies), it is still possible to see the Commonwealth as apotential and real force for good in the region, not least because 154 of the region‟s233 million people theoretically belong to the Commonwealth. Without losing sightof the historical context, the challenge for the Heads of Government and the parallelCommonwealth Peoples‟ Forum meeting in Abuja is how to make theCommonwealth relevant not just to the governments but the peoples of West Africa.How can the Commonwealth help promote values of proper governance, humansecurity and human development in West Africa? How can it assist the promotion ofregionalism in the global context, in responding to the negative impact ofglobalisation and in the quest for fairer trade, debt relief, transparency, accountabilityand genuine equality of opportunity? So, the issue for the Commonwealth leadersmeeting in Abuja is not just one of a more nuanced understanding of the challenges ofdemocratisation and development in West Africa, but also one of concretely making adifference – deepening West Africa‟s democratisation process in order to promotedevelopment and prevent conflict. These are considerable challenges, but they are notinsurmountable ones and Abuja 2003 offers another chance to at least agree on ajourney with annotated maps.The Nature of Conflict and Prospects for Peace in West AfricaWest Africa‟s story has been one of reversal, stasis as well as progress. The sub-region has witnessed significant changes in the 1990s decade. Peaceful alternation ofpower in Benin, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Cape Verde, the emergence ofconstitutional governments in Sierra Leone, Niger, and the Gambia and the formalexit of the military from the political affairs of the region‟s giant, Nigeria providejustification for optimism.In spite of the progress made on the civil and political rights front though, WestAfrica remains one of the poorest regions in the world and one of the most susceptibleto crisis and violent conflict, placing a huge question mark on the sustainability of theregion‟s electoral democracies. With the re-ignition of conflict in Liberia, continuedinstability in Cote d‟Ivoire, Sierra Leone emerging from a decade of civil war withgreat uncertainty, Guinea Bissau and Guinea hovering between coup d’etats and coldpeace, not to mention large numbers of refugees and internally displaced populationcreating a major humanitarian emergency in West Africa, it is clear that pro-formademocracies represented by „free and fair‟ elections will not be enough and that themost paramount tasks facing the region now include finding sustainable solutions tothe current violent conflicts in the Greater Mano River Basin, stemming the ignition 2
  3. 3. of potential conflicts by addressing fundamental political, social and economic rootcauses of the regional crisis.Social and Economic Indicators 2002Country Population GDP GNP per Human Life Adult (millions) ($bn) Capita($) Devt Index Expectancy literacy (%)Benin 6.0 2.4 380 147 53.6 39Burkina 11.0 2.6 230 159 46.1 23Faso 0.4 0.6 1,330 91 69.4 74CapeVerde 16.2 10.5 660 144 47.8 46Cote 1.3 0.4 330 149 45.9 36d‟Ivoire 19.0 6.8 350 119 56.6 70Gambia 7.0 3.3 450 150 47.1 35Ghana 1.2 0.2 180 156 44.5 38Guinea 3.1Guinea- 11.0 2.6 240 153 51.2 40Bissau 11.0 2.0 180 161 44.8 15Liberia 127.0 32.8 260 136 51.5 63Mali 9.3 4.7 500 145 52.9 36Niger 5.0 0.6 130 162 38.3 32Nigeria 5.0 1.4 300 128 51.6 56SenegalSierraLeoneTogoTotal 233.3 70.9 304(av)Sources: World Development Report 2002 & UNDP Human Development Report 2002. 3
  4. 4. By choosing „Development and Democracy‟ as the overriding theme of this year‟sSummit, it would appear that the Commonwealth understands the nature, causes andcomplexity of West Africa‟s dire situation and the inextricable link betweendemocracy and development in any attempt at addressing these challenges. Even so, itis important to emphasise this linkage, especially given how post cold wardevelopments – have brought this into clear relief and how important it is to avoidsimplistic understanding of the problems.To understand the causes and nature of violent conflict, Commonwealth leaders mustexamine in a more nuanced manner the historic roots and contemporary trajectories ofWest Africa‟s violent conflicts and move away from simplistic interpretation ofcauses based on notions such as „greed‟, „poverty‟, or „ethnicity‟. Theincontrovertible evidence is that West Africa‟s conflicts share a common backdrop ofeconomic stagnation and faltering democratic rule that undermined state capacity andlegitimacy in the 1980s. Yet each conflict has followed its own trajectory shaped bypolitical and policy choices partly made by the ruling governments and partlyimposed by the international context. Among the most critical elements inunderstanding the new conflict equation arising out of the 1990s political transition inthe region are:  The shifts in global and geopolitical power relations; in particular the end of the cold war and the withdrawal of the metropolitan security umbrella which paved the way for serious challenges to some client regimes in a manner previously considered impossible;  With the demise of universalistic ideological battle between socialism and capitalism, new forms of conflict emerged in the form of identity issues anchored on religion and ethnicity in particular;  The withdrawal of assistance by big states also resulted in the search for new forms of sustenance leading to the exploitation of resources and criminal activity;  Increasing availability and privatisation of instruments of violence, transforming the military balance between the state and society.(A recent survey indicates that the permanent members of the Security Council were together responsible for 81% of world arms exports from 1996 – 2000. The G8 nations sold 87% of total arms exports to the entire world.)  New forms of violent and trans-national crime.Yet in this context of internal cleavages and external fuelling of conflicts, one couldalmost reach the flawed conclusion that the 1980s was a period of unbridled peace.The truth is however more complex that this. Examined critically, the most importantlesson of the 1990s conflict in West Africa is that the 1980s laid a solid basis for them- through the severe economic and fiscal compression exemplified by the structuraladjustment shocks of the period. It is no longer in doubt that the erosion of social 4
  5. 5. capital, political legitimacy and institutional weakening of many African states can bedirectly linked to the policy choices that informed governance during this period. Forexample, the State lost its central relevance due to the agenda of StructuralAdjustment Policies, which was the choice of many states in the 1980s. In turn, theresistance triggered by the SAP sufferings led to State militarism largely driven by theauthoritarian culture so widespread in the 1980s. This laid the basis for the new andmore deadly societal militarism represented by the warlords of the 1990s and theviolent nature of crime.In short, the nature of conflict and politics in West Africa was in essence redefined bythe peculiar context of the 1990s and the nature of partnership between Africa and itsdevelopment partners. Addressing violent conflicts in the region therefore requiresbroadening the notions of security and developing multi-faceted responses. Fourpillars of peace and security ought to form the core of this agenda: 1. human security as the bedrock for peace; 2. democracy and open governance; 3. transformation of violent conflicts through political processes; and 4. collective security for all African states and the Commonwealth should be playing roles in all of the four areas.At the heart of this conflict prevention agenda is the transformation of Africa‟ssecurity sector governance. Until recently, the mantra among donors is to emphasisecost-cutting approach to dealing with security sector problems. However, thesolutions required are first and foremost political in nature and this relates essentiallyto the deepening of democracy by ensuring that there is scope for involvement by allstakeholders in processes of democratisation, both in terms of long term containmentof conflict and in terms of democratic consolidation.The above approach which places individuals at the centre of the security anddemocratisation equation has gained increasing acceptance in Africa, and indeed inmany parts of the world. While protecting the state and its citizens from externalaggression remains a key consideration, the most serious threats facing countries onthe African continent at the beginning of the 21st century tend to be those that eitherderive from internal causes or are trans-national and collective in nature. To many inAfrica therefore, a safe and secure environment is a necessary condition forsustainable democracy and poverty-reducing development. This broader conceptionthat articulates security and democracy in a manner that the individual, the group aswell as the state may relate to its fundamental objectives of promoting and ensuringthe right to life and livelihood and provision of a safe and secure environment in anuncertain world underscores the importance of the inextricable link betweendemocracy and development in Africa and supports human security as the appropriateframework for achieving proper governance. 5
  6. 6. So, if human security provides the framework for achieving democratisation anddevelopment, regionalism is the basic institutional scaffolding that theCommonwealth ought to pay particular attention to since the gains of a humansecurity approach are best realised within a regional context. The importance of theEconomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can hardly beoveremphasised in this context and it is hoped that the Commonwealth will spendsome time on discussing the place of regional institutions in accomplishing the twingoals of development and democracy.This is not to suggest that these institutions are not without their own challenges.Indeed, questions abound as to the extent to which regionalism is grounded in realityand can act as a mechanism for promoting human security. Some of the challengessoften highlighted include amongst others: the enduring legacy of the Westphaliannation-state, lack of common core values driving the regional project; a perpetualresource gap hampering progress and implementation of regionalism, the formalismof the regionalist project which tend to emphasise a wide array of institutions withlittle or no capacity to manage them; issues of regionalism as leaderism in whichpeople to people partnerships take the backseat whilst regionalism is only happeningat the Heads of States‟ level and government realm, issues of regional hegemony – allof which tend to give the impressions of regionalism as an externally driven agenda,and not the product of the people‟s lived experiences. No doubt, regionalism still faces a critical problem of entrenchment in a region whereefforts to build homogenous nation-states on the basis of artificially constructedboundaries have resulted in forced unity. Since sovereignty of the nation-state isregarded as sacrosanct, states that have ceased to function as states in the traditionalsense of providing basic needs for the citizens still enjoy support and assistance indevelopment circles even when it is known that these states are nothing but privatisedentities. Even when regional and sub-regional mechanisms put in place by Africanshave developed autonomous capacity to handle local conflicts – as recently witnessedin ECOWAS‟ successful efforts in Liberia, Cote d‟Ivoire and Guinea Bissau, thecritical issue remains how best to address the westphalian logic of sovereignty as wellas moving away from the regionalism of leaders in which regional integration is onlyrecognised as happening at the level of leaders with scant regard paid to the risingregional consciousness at the level of the citizens. It is only when regionalism is takenseriously as a response to globalisation that Africans can define a new relationshipwith the International community.Acknowledging the fact that an exclusive focus on the nation state has prevented anunderstanding of regional specific determinants in the poverty-security-developmentcomplex might help Commonwealth leaders to address some of the policy issues andpossibilities that can make a difference. Having secured an understanding of the 6
  7. 7. nature and context of conflict in the region, what are the prospects for addressing thechallenges and what role is there for the Commonwealth?Prospects for addressing current challenges to peace and security?For a start, as we move towards the CHOGM in Abuja, it is important to acknowledgethat West Africa‟s violent conflicts and security problems can only be resolvedthrough committed regional leadership and genuine global partnership. The decadesof the 1980s and the 1990s were a testament to the dangers of „broad brush‟approaches, characterised by the external imposition of macro-economic stabilisationand structural adjustment programmes that were sufficiently inflexible to account forthe diversity of circumstances and need. African leaders now argue for more locallydriven agenda, hence the launch of NEPAD. Yet, developing more „home grown‟approaches will require donors to relinquish greater responsibility to Africa‟s leadersand their people. Unfortunately, this is more apparent than real in the NEPADprogramme so far as it would appear that the drivers of NEPAD have hitched itssuccess to enhanced partnerships with donors, and paid limited attention to homegrown partnerships. Given the different trajectories of democratisation that we haveseen in the region, and indeed, the entire continent, it is important to develop a rangeof responses which fit the different typologies of African states in the post cold wartransitions, in order to avoid the failed broad-brush strategies of the past. Given itsknowledge of its member states, the Commonwealth stands a good chance to push thisline of argument with other bi-lateral and multilateral agencies.For example, in analysing the human security situation in West Africa, at least fiverough categories can be identified, ranging from progress to stasis, and in a few casesreversal, and requiring different responses from development partners. It is possible totalk of: 1. States in the process of consolidating their democracy – Benin, Ghana, Mali, Senegal; 2. States in various stages of transitions to democracy – Cape Verde, Nigeria, Niger, Gambia, Burkina Faso; 3. States in conflict or emerging out of conflict – Cote d‟Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone; 4. States in relapse or remilitarisation – Guinea, Guinea Bissau; and, 5. Authoritarian states – Togo and Mauritania.Without an exception, all the states continue to face various challenges to their humansecurity situation, and some of the central challenges they face include: poverty,political and economic governance, education, youth crisis, small arms proliferationand trafficking, manipulation of religion, citizenship and identity issues, gender,environmental degradation, migration, health, especially malaria, tuberculosis andHIV/Aids pandemic. 7
  8. 8. While the identified issues above are common to all the states in question, it isimportant to respond to them differently. Ultimately, our argument is that given the“glocal” nature of the conflicts afflicting many of the states, state rebuilding andconsolidation can only be reinforced in the context of regional integration supportedby global partnership. None of the countries in question can respond to theseproblems on its own terms. Majority of the states are only sovereign in the juridicalsense, not in terms of making available basic provision to their citizens and the mostrealistic way of addressing the problems they confront is by treating them as part of aregional system. If one were to review the dire figures in the table above and recentfigures provided on aid dependence in West Africa (Afrodad, „The Reality of Aid,African Edition 2002), it seems evident that to continue to live under the illusion ofjuridical sovereignty is not the way to go. Instead, our states must be reinforcedthrough regional incentives and sanctions.Support for peace building and reconstruction: For states in conflict or thoseemerging out of conflict, State rebuilding after state collapse often requires a strongsupport for peace building and reconstruction measures. Peace in this context hasoften been interpreted as mere absence of war and state rebuilding is often seen onlyin terms of physical reconstruction. While physical reconstruction may be a necessarydeparture point for state rebuilding, the defining characteristic of state rebuilding froma human security approach is the presence of holistic security and a model of conflictmanagement, which emphasises the fundamentals of military security,democratisation and consensus building, development, economic reform, humanrights and human dignity for the citizens to engage their rulers.Therefore, although the conventional wisdom is to ignore it, the security required inthe immediate aftermath of conflict might also require higher rather than lowersecurity expenditure to enable the state and citizens cope with the impact of conflict –rehabilitating refugees and the internally displaced, providing for a secure, safe andenabling environment in which development initiatives can succeed and reintegratingformer combatants into society and economy. In situations where conditions ofpoverty prevail after post war conflict, it is reasonable to predict a correlation betweenthe lack of development opportunities in terms of direct income generation tosurvivors and an increase in criminality and conflict.For policy makers, especially international organisations and donor agencies such asthe Commonwealth, there is always the pressure to construe their role in terms ofimmediate restoration of peace and stability, rather than security and development.Almost to the letter, elections is the top priority in the aftermath of conflict.. Theconcentration on elections and elections monitoring, for example by theCommonwealth in say Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the past decade gives theimpression that what mattered most was the election, not democracy nor was there arecognition that elections are not enough to guarantee democracy and development. 8
  9. 9. Experience has since shown that while there are immediate tasks that must beaddressed in terms of peace building and reconstruction in every conflict situation –disaster relief and management, repatriation and reintegration of refugees andreduction in the proliferation of small arms and clearance of explosives, these are notthe most critical ingredients of a successful peace building strategy.To promote sustainable security and peace building strategies therefore – internationalorganisations such as the Commonwealth must take a comprehensive look at peacebuilding and reconstruction strategies treating them as a continuum with short term(relief and emergency aid and creating a secure and enabling environment); mediumterm (peace support operations) and long term (reconstruction, democracy &development) components in an integrated manner. Donor countries should beencouraged to foster greater coherence amongst their own policies at an inter-agencylevel, as well as within their own regional structures (such as EU, OECD, etc). Agood example as we pointed out in the preceding section is the fact that arms salesfrom developed countries is often at variance with the emphasis the same countriesplace on conflict prevention and security sector governance.Equally, in this respect, there is a need for stronger cooperation between theCommonwealth, Bretton Woods institutions, the UN Systems and other multi and bi-lateral development agencies as well as independent development institutions toreduce the overzealous focus on achieving fiscal discipline and macro-economicstability at the expense of efforts to protect social cohesion. Donor responses haveoften involved conditionalities relating to automatic decreases in military spendingand reductions of military and other security forces with no attention paid to theexpensive nature of security and the objective security threats that each country faces.Especially in post conflict situations, this realization should inform internationalattitudes towards security sector transformation on the one hand, and post conflictreconstruction on the other.Third, it is extremely important that international institutions should seize themomentum provided by the weak capacity of the state to align external assistancewith local needs and efforts, not an opportunity to impose received wisdom and newtheories of development. This is extremely important in the context of claims thatNEPAD is Africa owned – a claim that is rejected by many Africans. Where stateinstitutional capacity is weak, an immense burden of responsibility is placed oninternational organisations like the Commonwealth, IFIs and development agencies inwhich real dialogue with the people and wide consultations underscore whateveractions are taken. This is a point that the Commonwealth Foundation has emphasisedin the Kampala document following the tri-sectoral dialogues held in 10Commonwealth countries in the past year. 9
  10. 10. Finally, international donors cannot ignore the international context in their responseto peace building and reconstruction efforts. How, for example, has the oftenconvoluted linkage between trans-national corporations, proliferation of arms andpromotion of neo-liberal globalising trends by the industrial world undermine thesuccess of security and development reforms in countries emerging out of conflict,especially within the context of an unstable region in which domino effect is realrather than imagined. These are some of the issues that are central to any discussion ofthe policy lever on peace building and reconstruction efforts and the extent to whichthe Commonwealth Heads of Government consider them critically would determinethe possibilities of success that might accompany critical intervention on developmentand democracy.The Challenge of strengthening the territorial state: As has been argued above, thisthinking itself is a product of the state-centric notions of security that dominatedtraditional thinking in the cold war era. Since the state is increasingly seen asunrepresentative and illegitimate, are there conditions under which war might be seento be a legitimate means of removing regime types that promote conflicts and inwhich leaders have encroached upon common pool resources. To this end, somequestions might suffice in any consideration of complex political situations ratherthan focus exclusively on state monopoly of means of coercion. This is not to suggestthat states do not have legitimate needs for security which might necessitate legitimateprocurement and monopoly of means of coercion, but this has to be demonstrated toensure that security is treated as common public good, not just regime good. It maytherefore be necessary to consider:  Under which circumstances, if any, is war necessary to remove bad governments? That is how do we distinguish between justifiable rebellion and needless conflict?  How is regional economic and political co-operation built between and among states to address the pathology of militarism?  How can state-centric definitions of security be de-emphasised, and the role of civil society in peace building increased in the quest for common values?  How is democratic control of the military to be built in states undergoing political transition or moving from war to peace – through parliamentary oversight, effective institutions of governance and genuine interaction between the military and the rest of society?Again, two examples from West Africa in recent times have demonstrated thematurity of the leaders in grappling with this dilemma whilst underlining theimportance of developing an effective regional system. Unlike before when leaderstended to ignore the internal conditions of states and the repressive edge of theirleaders, West African leaders and the regional body, ECOWAS have demonstrated intheir handling of recent crises in Liberia and Guinea Bissau that it is possible to 10
  11. 11. recognise constituted authority and still address genuine yearnings of the people. Bytheir collective and decisive approach to the removal of President Taylor of Liberiaand encouraging the resignation of President Kumba Yala of Guinea Bissau fromoffice, regional leaders were espousing the importance of common core values towhich all leaders must subscribe – whilst disabusing the minds of others who oftensee regional institutions as clubs of leaders dedicated to patting one another on theback. Since there is now evidence to suggest that African leaders and theirinternational partners now accept the argument about broadening the human securityagenda to include the accountability of leaders(Africa Peer Review Mechanism), thisparadigm shift should be encouraged. The fact that the commitment to the mutuallyreinforcing interaction between the values of proper governance, democracy, equityand sustainability still remain subordinate to the core need for macro-economicstability and integration in the international political economy remains a source ofworry. This is why many are still suspicious of African leaders‟ and theirdevelopment partners‟ commitment to a human security approach in spite of the newrhetoric about local ownership, peer review and social capital promotion.Promoting social coherence through civil society development and multi-culturaltoleranceIf the Commonwealth takes peace-building as the sum total of activities that willsupport peace making and conflict transformation: demobilisation, re-structuring ofthe local security system – police and the military; resettlement of refugees and theinternally displaced persons; removal of dangerous weapons – mines and otherunexploded firearms, reconstruction of shattered infrastructure and humanitarian anddisaster relief – very few still advocate that this could be done without the inclusion ofcivil society. Indeed, even African leaders and international development agenciesnow see civil society as key to the successful implementation of these various aspectsof post-conflict peace building process. In discussing rights based approach togovernance and security sector transformation, local ownership and development ofsocial capital rests with the civil society, but it is important to place this within thecontext of developing institutional mechanisms for the management of diversity anddifference and incorporating international human rights framework into domestic law.Hence, the rights of the people to their resources should not be compromised at thealtar of encouraging foreign direct investment, especially where this underminesenvironmental security.It was assumed in policy and development circles that support for neo-liberaldemocracy will help achieve this objective, hence there was the enthusiasm fordemocracy assistance and „good governance‟ in the early 1990s and donor countriesmade some efforts to move economic assistance away from former concerns aboutstimulating economic growth to an emphasis on political objectives, including supportfor processes of democratisation and building of civil society. 11
  12. 12. Although the above represented a shift from the days of the super-power ideologicalrivalry, even this shift in the leadership‟s thinking and IFIs‟ assistance hasconcentrated primarily on the reform of the public sector and involvement of the „civilsociety‟ to the extent that it promotes the neo-liberal paradigm, not on an alternativevision of bottom-up reforms driven by societal consensus. The fact that many of thetransitions of the last decade in Africa now approximate to – at best electoraldemocracies and at worst elected dictatorships, has raised new questions on how todeepen the democratic content of current reforms in a process oriented, participatoryand accountable manner. At every level, the idea of constitutionalisingdemocratising polities that have largely functioned as „virtual‟ democracies alongmultifaceted lines is taking shape.Today, the fact that the struggle for reconstituting the African state is taking place inno fewer than twenty African states in Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Coted‟Ivoire, Swaziland and Lesotho, to mention but a few, underscores a paradigmaticshift from constitutionality to constitutionalism, a situation where constitutions arenow seen as tools for building bridges between the state and civil society, a socialcompact based upon a foundation of consensus among the constituent elements withinthe polity and between them and the state in the quest for common value systems.What has to be emphasised however for the purpose of CHOGM and human securityis the importance of an organic link between the constitution as a rule of lawinstrument incorporating international human rights framework and primarilyconcerned with restraining government excesses, and the constitution as alegitimisation of power structures and relations based on a broad social consensus andthe values in diverse societies. In short, if CHOGM is to promote the mutuallyreinforcing role of development, security and democracy, the task today is largelybetween bridging the gap between “juristic constitutionalism” and “political andsocio-economic constitutionalism” in the search for common core values. Althoughthe Commonwealth has played a significant role in constitutional development withinthe Commonwealth, there is a lot more that could be done by the Commonwealthleaders as highlighted in the significant study by the Commonwealth Human RightsInitiative.(Ebrahim et-al)The core issues around values can only be addressed in the context of principleswhich all Africans willingly subscribe. Values of representation, ownership,accessibility to all levels of government, accountability, openness and collectiveresponsibility. CSSDCA has been doing a lot of work on developing a consensusdriven value systems which is what would be the subject of the peer reviewmechanism. NEPAD is also developing a similar parameters and indicators. Whilethis is welcome by all, the scepticism that has attended the search for common valuesto be promoted across Africa has been informed by the anti-democratic andreprehensible behaviour of some of the leaders who are at the forefront of the NEPADcampaign and their total contempt for some of the supposed values to which they have 12
  13. 13. committed themselves. In spite of this general scepticism, constitutionalism as asocial compact remains the best route for forging the kind of value system andreorientation that can deepen our democracy in order to prevent conflict and buildpeace and the Commonwealth ought to be doing more, not less in this regard.Building assets that provide security against disasters and economic shocksConventionally, most international organisations and development agencies havepromoted the building of assets against disasters and economic shocks by focusing onmacro-economic stability strategies like Structural adjustment reforms, electoraldemocracies and support of measures that seek to provide the enabling environmentfor foreign direct investment and the global integration of the economy – a mutualpursuit of political and economic liberalisation. This is the fundamental principleguiding the NEPAD document. So far, the logic of trickle down economics has failedto produce an integrated world economy in which all zones are winners. Indeed, asCaroline Thomas and Peter Wilkin argue, In the process of globalisation, the continent (Africa) has quite literally been left behind in terms of the distribution of the spoils of the process. The promised advantages of economic restructuring, as hailed by the IMF, World Bank and individual developed countries, have not been borne out. Foreign investment fails to flow in; debt burdens continue; commodity prices fluctuate; environmental degradation proceeds…and industrialisation fails to occur. (Thomas & Wilkin: 1998).This clearly contradicts the core assumption of globalisation that wealth wouldautomatically be created when the free market gains universal acceptance in theworld. By arguing that the way to build assets against shocks is not via the creation oflocal self sufficiency, but national economies should concentrate on what they cancontribute to the world economy, globalisation ignores the comparative advantage ofthe North, locks African states further into relative powerlessness by creatingconditions for conflict which further weakens the mediatory role of the states. Instead,it empowers those elites within the state who can form part of the network in businessand government capable of acting independently of the juridical state. The fallout ofthis globalising trend is the unregulated trade in mineral resources, proliferation ofarms and narcotics and the illicit trade in banned items all of which ultimatelyundermine food security, environmental security and the security of the individual –factors responsible for conflict today in many African states. It has also helped indeepening the rural-urban divide, fostered inter-generational strife occasioned byyouth frustration and exacerbated the scourge of refugees and the internally displaced, 13
  14. 14. all of which have moved the hapless below the poverty line and moved them closer toviolence and conflict.In our view therefore, the greatest assets against shocks and disasters ultimately liewith the development of human resources, better management of natural resourceendowment and respect for local ownership of the reform agenda whether indetermining the role of the State or in arriving at the most effective povertyeradicating mechanisms. In fairness, the Commonwealth has always paid attention tothis distinction, but only within the context of free and unregulated market. Hence, itis also useful to examine and analyse individual situations on their merit, rather thanassume that the market is the answer to every problem. This is of course not tosuggest that market has no role in reforming states structures. It is to say that there areno universal models of the market as providing the best assets against shocks anddisasters, hence Commonwealth leaders and donor agencies must learn from theirown experiences of the market in formulating realistic policies. For example, theBritish state cannot be taken railways into public ownership on the basis of theinadequacies of the market, and still continue to promote unbridled marketfundamentalism in hapless states.Conclusion: In pursuit of human security and human development inWest AfricaThere is definitely a sense in which a deep feeling of disillusionment is widespread inAfrica with the current democratisation and development agenda and this threatens toundermine the long standing partnerships with institutions like the Commonwealth.Indeed, many now feel that the hype surrounding democracy is more than what theeventual product offers. Hence, one can see a major opposition to the current slowpace of democratic and economic development. Indeed, deepening democraticdevelopment remains an uphill task in several African countries, especially in theaftermath of the global shock occasioned by the 9/11 tragedy in America. There areindications that even the enthusiasm that greeted the NEPAD initiative in the G8countries has been enveloped in another global shift which is now in favour ofdespotic peace in place of democratic, even if unsettling, freedom. The greatestchallenge of course is to understand that despite the frustrations and impatience of thepeople with this democratic deficit, there is realisation that transitions are inherentlyunstable and unpredictable.It is our hope that the leaders meeting in Abuja in December will bear the above inmind as they deliberate on this important theme as „Development and Democracy.‟ –one that secures the world and promote peace. Based on the above analysis of thepeace and security dynamics in West Africa, a number of measures seem to suggestthemselves to us about a role for the Commonwealth, especially in developing ahuman security approach that promotes human development: 14
  15. 15. 1. There is an urgent need for clarification of values and norms subscribed to by Africans and adopted in a widespread manner by the citizens. For example, it would be useful as the Commonwealth finalises its own review to promote synergy between the Harare Declaration and the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy & Good Governance with a view to sharing experiences and learning lessons. The Commonwealth has a lot to offer ECOWAS in the latter‟s quest to institutionalise best practice.2. There is a need for conceptual clarity through a comprehensive approach to peace and security in policy and development circles – one that recognises that while there is no teleological link between elections and democracy, deepening democracy offers the best chance of preventing violent conflict and building durable peace, but this must be accompanied over the long term by economic development;3. There Commonwealth must recognise the importance of strengthening regional integration and promote regional mechanisms that can help sustain democratic development and consolidation through the adoption of a regional approach to conflict prevention;4. The Commonwealth must recognise the need to reconcile economic and social development and enhance the input of non-state actors – in policy formulation to enhance social capital rather than entrench the leverage of IFIs and donor agencies on States;5. The Commonwealth must promote the recognition of legitimate security needs of nation-states must be factored into the human security approach through the promotion of governmental and non-governmental peace-building strategies6. The Commonwealth must problematise the link between globalisation and conflict, rather than assume that it is always going to be positive in the promotion of pro-poor growth in the search for and implementation of sustainable livelihood and poverty reduction strategies;7. The Commonwealth must locate the security agenda within the democracy and development framework and reflect the link between politics and economics, and between security and opportunities;8. Human security approach is a process, whose results will not necessarily be immediate, hence the need for a long term view by interested stakeholders and anti-poverty strategists. 15
  16. 16. REFERENCES 1. AFRODAD, Reality of Aid – African Edition 2002. 2. Buzan, B. et al. 1998. Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. 3. CODEP, 2000. Report on the outcomes of the consultation on globalisation and conflict for the White Paper on International Development: Globalisation & Development. London, June 2000. 4. Commonwealth Foundation, 2003, Kampala Vision: Communiqué of the Pan- Commonwealth Tri-Sector Conference on Partnerships for Governance, held in Kampala, Uganda in August 2003 5. DFID, 2000. Security Sector Reform and the Management of Military Expenditure: Risks for Donors, High Returns for Development, Report on an International Symposium, February 14-16, 2000. 6. Ebrahim, Hassen, Fayemi Kayode & Loomis Stephanie, 2000, Principles and Mechanisms of Constitution Making in Commonwealth Africa, Delhi: CHRI 7. Fayemi, J.K. 2000. “Security Challenges in Africa”, Seminar: Indian Journal of Opinion, Special Issue on African Transitions 490, June 2000. 8. Martin, B. 2000. New Leaf or Fig Leaf? The Challenge of the New Washington Consensus. Report prepared for Bretton Woods Project and Public Service International. 9. NEPAD Strategy Document –; 10. Thomas, C. & P. Wilkin (eds.) 1998. Globalisation, Human Security & the African Experience, Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. 16