Peace and security in west africa any role for the commonwealth


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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 Nigeriamarks a significant watershed for democratisation and development in West Africa. Eight yearsago, in Auckland, New Zealand, Nigeria was the pariah state in the Commonwealth, and thesignificant impetus for the establishment of the Commonwealth Ministerial ActionGroup(CMAG) and the Millbrook Plan of Action, came from the flagrant violations of the 1991post cold-war Harare Declaration by the ruling dictatorship in Nigeria. By the time of theEdinburgh summit in 1997, the situation in West Africa had worsened, with two West AfricanStates – Nigeria and Sierra Leone – subject of scrutiny by CMAG. Although Nigeria had begun ajourney towards 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 beargued that CMAG and the Commonwealth Secretariat had always had cause to addressproblems of violations of the Harare Declaration in one West Africa member country or theother (except Ghana) since the establishment of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.In spite of its effort to promote the core values of the Harare Declaration in West Africa, there isevery reason to be sceptical about the Commonwealth especially at a time that African states arekeen to pursue local solutions to existing and emerging problems. First, given the way theCommonwealth works, it is difficult to trace any shift in thinking or politics to the Association asthe significant and/or only player in the campaign for democratic governance in the last decade.Second, the dominant influence of its Northern members (Australia, Britain, Canada) is a sourceof continuing concern in Africa and Asia, where this unequal power relations is often seen as adampener of the Club spirit. Third, the consensual approach of its politics undermines the utilityof punishment and incentives for erring and progressive member states. This works in favour ofState parties to the detriment of the values espoused in the Harare Declaration and the yearningsthe Commonwealth peoples as a whole.Beyond the romanticism of belonging to a club of ex-British colonies in a region dominated bymembers of La Francophonie (only four out of sixteen West African states are ex-British colonies),it is still possible to see the Commonwealth as a potential and real force for good in the region,not least because 154 of the region’s 233 million people theoretically belong to theCommonwealth. Without losing sight of the historical context, the challenge for the Heads ofGovernment and the parallel Commonwealth Peoples’ Forum meeting in Abuja is how to makethe Commonwealth relevant not just to the governments but the peoples of West Africa. Howcan the Commonwealth help promote values of proper governance, human security and humandevelopment in West Africa? How can it assist the promotion of regionalism in the globalcontext, in responding to the negative impact of globalisation and in the quest for fairer trade,debt relief, transparency, accountability and genuine equality of opportunity? So, the issue for theCommonwealth leaders meeting in Abuja is not just one of a more nuanced understanding of thechallenges of democratisation and development in West Africa, but also one of concretelymaking a difference – deepening West Africa’s democratisation process in order to promotedevelopment and prevent conflict. These are considerable challenges, but they are not 1
  2. 2. insurmountable ones and Abuja 2003 offers another chance to at least agree on a journey withannotated 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 haswitnessed significant changes in the 1990s decade. Peaceful alternation of power in Benin,Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Cape Verde, the emergence of constitutional governments in SierraLeone, Niger, and the Gambia and the formal exit of the military from the political affairs of theregion’s giant, Nigeria provide justification for optimism.In spite of the progress made on the civil and political rights front though, West Africa remainsone of the poorest regions in the world and one of the most susceptible to crisis and violentconflict, placing a huge question mark on the sustainability of the region’s electoral democracies.With the re-ignition of conflict in Liberia, continued instability in Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leoneemerging from a decade of civil war with great uncertainty, Guinea Bissau and Guinea hoveringbetween coup d’etats and cold peace, not to mention large numbers of refugees and internallydisplaced population creating a major humanitarian emergency in West Africa, it is clear that pro-forma democracies represented by ‘free and fair’ elections will not be enough and that the mostparamount tasks facing the region now include finding sustainable solutions to the currentviolent conflicts in the Greater Mano River Basin, stemming the ignition of potential conflicts byaddressing fundamental political, social and economic root causes of the regional crisis. Social and Economic Indicators 2002Country Population GDP GNP per Human Devt Life Expectancy Adult literacy (millions) ($bn)) Capita($) Index (%)Benin 6.0 2.4 380 147 53.6 39Burkina Faso 11.0 2.6 230 159 46.1 23Cape Verde 0.4 0.6 1,330 91 69.4 74Cote d’Ivoire 16.2 10.5 660 144 47.8 46Gambia 1.3 0.4 330 149 45.9 36Ghana 19.0 6.8 350 119 56.6 70Guinea 7.0 3.3 450 150 47.1 35Guinea-Bissau 1.2 0.2 180 156 44.5 38Liberia 3.1Mali 11.0 2.6 240 153 51.2 40Niger 11.0 2.0 180 161 44.8 15Nigeria 127.0 32.8 260 136 51.5 63Senegal 9.3 4.7 500 145 52.9 36Sierra Leone 5.0 0.6 130 162 38.3 32Togo 5.0 1.4 300 128 51.6 56Total 233.3 70.9 304(av)Sources: World Development Report 2002 & UNDP Human Development Report 2002.By choosing ‘Development and Democracy’ as the overriding theme of this year’s Summit, itwould appear that the Commonwealth understands the nature, causes and complexity of WestAfrica’s dire situation and the inextricable link between democracy and development in anyattempt at addressing these challenges. Even so, it is important to emphasise this linkage,especially given how post cold war developments – have brought this into clear relief and howimportant it is to avoid simplistic understanding of the problems. 2
  3. 3. To understand the causes and nature of violent conflict, Commonwealth leaders must examinein a more nuanced manner the historic roots and contemporary trajectories of West Africa’sviolent conflicts and move away from simplistic interpretation of causes based on notions suchas ‘greed’, ‘poverty’, or ‘ethnicity’. The incontrovertible evidence is that West Africa’s conflictsshare a common backdrop of economic stagnation and faltering democratic rule thatundermined state capacity and legitimacy in the 1980s. Yet each conflict has followed its owntrajectory shaped by political and policy choices partly made by the ruling governments andpartly imposed by the international context. Among the most critical elements in understandingthe new conflict equation arising out of the 1990s political transition in the 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 could almost reachthe flawed conclusion that the 1980s was a period of unbridled peace. The truth is however morecomplex that this. Examined critically, the most important lesson of the 1990s conflict in WestAfrica is that the 1980s laid a solid basis for them - through the severe economic and fiscalcompression exemplified by the structural adjustment shocks of the period. It is no longer indoubt that the erosion of social capital, political legitimacy and institutional weakening of manyAfrican states can be directly linked to the policy choices that informed governance during thisperiod. For example, 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, the resistancetriggered by the SAP sufferings led to State militarism largely driven by the authoritarian cultureso widespread in the 1980s. This laid the basis for the new and more deadly societal militarismrepresented by the warlords of the 1990s and the violent nature of crime.In short, the nature of conflict and politics in West Africa was in essence redefined by thepeculiar context of the 1990s and the nature of partnership between Africa and its developmentpartners. Addressing violent conflicts in the region therefore requires broadening the notions ofsecurity and developing multi-faceted responses. Four pillars of peace and security ought to formthe core of this agenda: 1) human security as the bedrock for peace; 2) democracy and opengovernance; 3) transformation of violent conflicts through political processes; and 4) collectivesecurity for all African states and the Commonwealth should be playing roles in all of the fourareas.At the heart of this conflict prevention agenda is the transformation of Africa’s security sectorgovernance. Until recently, the mantra among donors is to emphasise cost-cutting approach todealing with security sector problems. However, the solutions required are first and foremostpolitical in nature and this relates essentially to the deepening of democracy by ensuring that 3
  4. 4. there is scope for involvement by all stakeholders in processes of democratisation, both in termsof long term containment of 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 in manyparts of the world. While protecting the state and its citizens from external aggressionremains a key consideration, the most serious threats facing countries on the Africancontinent at the beginning of the 21st century tend to be those that either derive from internalcauses or are trans-national and collective in nature. To many in Africa therefore, a safe andsecure environment is a necessary condition for sustainable democracy and poverty-reducingdevelopment. This broader conception that articulates security and democracy in a mannerthat the individual, the group as well as the state may relate to its fundamental objectives ofpromoting and ensuring the right to life and livelihood and provision of a safe and secureenvironment in an uncertain world underscores the importance of the inextricable linkbetween democracy and development in Africa and supports human security as theappropriate framework for achieving proper governance.So, if human security provides the framework for achieving democratisation and development,regionalism is the basic institutional scaffolding that the Commonwealth ought to pay particularattention to since the gains of a human security approach are best realised within a regionalcontext. The importance of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) canhardly be overemphasised in this context and it is hoped that the Commonwealth will spendsome time on discussing the place of regional institutions in accomplishing the twin goals ofdevelopment 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 reality and can act as amechanism for promoting human security. Some of the challengess often highlighted includeamongst others: the enduring legacy of the Westphalian nation-state, lack of common corevalues driving the regional project; a perpetual resource gap hampering progress andimplementation of regionalism, the formalism of the regionalist project which tend to emphasise awide array of institutions with little or no capacity to manage them; issues of regionalism asleaderism in which people to people partnerships take the backseat whilst regionalism is onlyhappening at 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 theproduct of the people’s lived experiences.No doubt, regionalism still faces a critical problem of entrenchment in a region where efforts tobuild homogenous nation-states on the basis of artificially constructed boundaries have resultedin forced unity. Since sovereignty of the nation-state is regarded as sacrosanct, states that haveceased to function as states in the traditional sense of providing basic needs for the citizens stillenjoy support and assistance in development circles even when it is known that these states arenothing but privatised entities. Even when regional and sub-regional mechanisms put in place byAfricans have developed autonomous capacity to handle local conflicts – as recently witnessed inECOWAS’ successful efforts in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau, the critical issueremains how best to address the westphalian logic of sovereignty as well as moving away fromthe regionalism of leaders in which regional integration is only recognised as happening at thelevel of leaders with scant regard paid to the rising regional consciousness at the level of thecitizens. It is only when regionalism is taken seriously as a response to globalisation that Africanscan define a new relationship with the International community. 4
  5. 5. Acknowledging the fact that an exclusive focus on the nation state has prevented anunderstanding of regional specific determinants in the poverty-security-development complexmight help Commonwealth leaders to address some of the policy issues and possibilities that canmake a difference. Having secured an understanding of the nature and context of conflict in theregion, what are the prospects for addressing the challenges and what role is there for theCommonwealth?Prospects for addressing current challenges to peace and security?For a start, as we move towards the CHOGM in Abuja, it is important to acknowledge that WestAfrica’s violent conflicts and security problems can only be resolved through committed regionalleadership and genuine global partnership. The decades of the 1980s and the 1990s were atestament to the dangers of ‘broad brush’ approaches, characterised by the external imposition ofmacro-economic stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes that were sufficientlyinflexible to account for the diversity of circumstances and need. African leaders now argue formore locally driven agenda, hence the launch of NEPAD. Yet, developing more ‘home grown’approaches will require donors to relinquish greater responsibility to Africa’s leaders and theirpeople. Unfortunately, this is more apparent than real in the NEPAD programme so far as itwould appear that the drivers of NEPAD have hitched its success to enhanced partnerships withdonors, and paid limited attention to home grown partnerships. Given the different trajectoriesof democratisation that we have seen in the region, and indeed, the entire continent, it isimportant to develop a range of responses which fit the different typologies of African states inthe post cold war transitions, in order to avoid the failed broad-brush strategies of the past.Given its knowledge 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 five roughcategories can be identified, ranging from progress to stasis, and in a few cases reversal, andrequiring different responses from development partners. It is possible to talk 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 human securitysituation, and some of the central challenges they face include: poverty, political and economicgovernance, education, youth crisis, small arms proliferation and trafficking, manipulation ofreligion, citizenship and identity issues, gender, environmental degradation, migration, health,especially malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids pandemic.While the identified issues above are common to all the states in question, it is important torespond to them differently. Ultimately, our argument is that given the “glocal” nature of theconflicts afflicting many of the states, state rebuilding and consolidation can only be reinforcedin the context of regional integration supported by global partnership. None of the countries inquestion can respond to these problems on its own terms. Majority of the states are onlysovereign in the juridical sense, not in terms of making available basic provision to their citizensand the most realistic way of addressing the problems they confront is by treating them as part ofa regional system. (Dependence of West African states on donors.) 5
  6. 6. Support for peace building and reconstruction: For states in conflict or those emerging out of conflict,State rebuilding after state collapse often requires a strong support for peace building andreconstruction measures. Peace in this context has often been interpreted as mere absence of warand state rebuilding is often seen only in terms of physical reconstruction. While physicalreconstruction may be a necessary departure point for state rebuilding, the defining characteristicof state rebuilding from a human security approach is the presence of holistic security and amodel of conflict management, which emphasises the fundamentals of military security,democratisation and consensus building, development, economic reform, human rights andhuman dignity for the citizens to engage their rulers. Therefore, although the conventional wisdom is to ignore it, the security required in theimmediate aftermath of conflict might also require higher rather than lower security expenditureto enable the state and citizens cope with the impact of conflict – rehabilitating refugees and theinternally displaced, providing for a secure, safe and enabling environment in which developmentinitiatives can succeed and reintegrating former combatants into society and economy. Insituations where conditions of poverty prevail after post war conflict, it is reasonable to predict acorrelation between the lack of development opportunities in terms of direct income generationto survivors and an increase in criminality and conflict. For policy makers, especially international organisations and donor agencies such as theCommonwealth, there is always the pressure to construe their role in terms of immediaterestoration of peace and stability, rather than security and development. Almost to the letter,elections is the top priority in the aftermath of conflict.. The concentration on elections andelections monitoring, for example by the Commonwealth in say Liberia, Sierra Leone andNigeria in the past decade gives the impression that what mattered most was the election, notdemocracy nor was there a recognition that elections are not enough to guarantee democracy anddevelopment. Experience has since shown that while there are immediate tasks that must beaddressed in terms of peace building and reconstruction in every conflict situation – disasterrelief and management, repatriation and reintegration of refugees and reduction in theproliferation of small arms and clearance of explosives, these are not the most critical ingredientsof 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 peace building andreconstruction strategies treating them as a continuum with short term (relief and emergency aidand creating a secure and enabling environment); medium term (peace support operations) andlong term (reconstruction, democracy & development) components in an integrated manner.Donor countries should be encouraged to foster greater coherence amongst their own policies atan inter-agency level, 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 sales fromdeveloped countries is often at variance with the emphasis the same countries place on conflictprevention 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-lateraldevelopment agencies as well as independent development institutions to reduce the overzealousfocus on achieving fiscal discipline and macro-economic stability at the expense of efforts toprotect social cohesion. Donor responses have often involved conditionalities relating toautomatic decreases in military spending and reductions of military and other security forces withno attention paid to the expensive nature of security and the objective security threats that eachcountry 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. 6
  7. 7. Third, it is extremely important that international institutions should seize themomentum provided by the weak capacity of the state to align external assistance with localneeds and efforts, not an opportunity to impose received wisdom and new theories ofdevelopment. This is extremely important in the context of claims that NEPAD is Africa owned– a claim that is rejected by many Africans. Where state institutional capacity is weak, animmense burden of responsibility is placed on international organisations like theCommonwealth, IFIs and development agencies in which real dialogue with the people and wideconsultations underscore whatever actions are taken. This is a point that the CommonwealthFoundation has emphasised in the Kampala document following the tri-sectoral dialogues held in 10Commonwealth countries in the past year. Finally, international donors cannot ignore the international context in their response topeace building and reconstruction efforts. How, for example, has the often convoluted linkagebetween trans-national corporations, proliferation of arms and promotion of neo-liberalglobalising trends by the industrial world undermine the success of security and developmentreforms in countries emerging out of conflict, especially within the context of an unstable regionin which domino effect is real rather than imagined. These are some of the issues that are centralto any discussion of the policy lever on peace building and reconstruction efforts and the extentto which the Commonwealth Heads of Government consider them critically would determinethe possibilities of success that might accompany critical intervention on development anddemocracy.The Challenge of strengthening the territorial state: As has been argued above, this thinking itself is aproduct of the state-centric notions of security that dominated traditional thinking in the cold warera. Since the state is increasingly seen as unrepresentative and illegitimate, are there conditionsunder which war might be seen to be a legitimate means of removing regime types that promoteconflicts and in which leaders have encroached upon common pool resources. To this end, somequestions might suffice in any consideration of complex political situations rather than focusexclusively on state monopoly of means of coercion. This is not to suggest that states do nothave legitimate needs for security which might necessitate legitimate procurement and monopolyof means of coercion, but this has to be demonstrated to ensure that security is treated ascommon public good, not just regime good. It may therefore 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 the maturity of theleaders in grappling with this dilemma whilst underlining the importance of developing aneffective regional system. Unlike before when leaders tended to ignore the internal conditions ofstates and the repressive edge of their leaders, West African leaders and the regional body,ECOWAS have demonstrated in their handling of recent crises in Liberia and Guinea Bissau thatit is possible to recognise constituted authority and still address genuine yearnings of the people.By their collective and decisive approach to the removal of President Taylor of Liberia and theforced resignation of President Kumba Yala of Guinea Bissau from office, regional leaders were 7
  8. 8. espousing the importance of common core values to which all leaders must subscribe – whilstdisabusing the minds of others who often see regional institutions as clubs of leaders to pat oneanother on the back. This paradigm shift should be affirmed and strengthened in the quest tostrengthen the territorial state. First, concerted efforts from the top should help address some ofthe policy challenges posed for conflict transformation and security sector reform within theNEPAD context and subject state monopoly of violence to international and regional checks.Although there is evidence to suggest that African leaders and their international partners nowaccept the argument about broadening the human security agenda to include the accountabilityof leaders(Africa Peer Review Mechanism), but the commitment to the mutually reinforcinginteraction between the values of democracy, equity and sustainability still remain subordinate tothe core need for macro-economic stability and integration in the international politicaleconomy. This is why many are still suspicious of the African leaders and their developmentpartners’ commitment to a human security approach in spite of the new rhetoric about localownership and social capital.Promoting social coherence through civil society development and multi-cultural toleranceIf the Commonwealth takes peace-building as the sum total of activities that will support peacemaking and conflict transformation: demobilisation, re-structuring of the local security system –police and the military; resettlement of refugees and the internally displaced persons; removal ofdangerous weapons – mines and other unexploded firearms, reconstruction of shatteredinfrastructure and humanitarian and disaster relief – very few still advocate that this could bedone without the inclusion of civil society. Indeed, even African leaders and internationaldevelopment agencies now see civil society as key to the successful implementation of thesevarious aspects of post-conflict peace building process. In discussing rights based approach togovernance and security sector transformation, local ownership and development of socialcapital rests with the civil society, but it is important to place this within the context ofdeveloping institutional mechanisms for the management of diversity and difference andincorporating international human rights framework into domestic law. Hence, the rights of thepeople to their resources should not be compromised at the altar of encouraging foreign directinvestment, especially where this undermines environmental security. It was assumed in policy and development circles that support for neo-liberal democracywill help achieve this objective, hence there was the enthusiasm for democracy assistance and‘good governance’ in the early 1990s and donor countries made some efforts to move economicassistance away from former concerns about stimulating economic growth to an emphasis onpolitical objectives, including support for processes of democratisation and building of civilsociety. 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 has concentrated primarilyon the reform of the public sector and involvement of the ‘civil society’ to the extent that itpromotes the neo-liberal paradigm, not on an alternative vision of bottom-up reforms driven bysocietal consensus. The fact that many of the transitions of the last decade in Africa nowapproximate to – at best electoral democracies and at worst elected dictatorships, has raised newquestions on how to deepen the democratic content of current reforms in a process oriented,participatory and accountable manner. At every level, the idea of constitutionalisingdemocratising polities that have largely functioned as ‘virtual’ democracies along multi-faceted lines is taking shape. Today, the fact that the struggle for reconstituting the African state is taking place in nofewer than twenty African states in Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, Swazilandand Lesotho, to mention but a few, underscores a paradigmatic shift from constitutionality toconstitutionalism, a situation where constitutions are now seen as tools for building bridges 8
  9. 9. between the state and civil society, a social compact based upon a foundation of consensusamong the constituent elements within the polity and between them and the state in the questfor common value systems. What has to be emphasised however for the purpose of CHOGMand human security is the importance of an organic link between the constitution as a rule of lawinstrument incorporating international human rights framework and primarily concerned withrestraining government excesses, and the constitution as a legitimisation of power structures andrelations based on a broad social consensus and the values in diverse societies. In short, ifCHOGM is to promote the mutually reinforcing role of development, security and democracy,the task today is largely between bridging the gap between “juristic constitutionalism” and “politicaland socio-economic constitutionalism” in the search for common core values. Although theCommonwealth has played a significant role in constitutional development within theCommonwealth, there is a lot more that could be done by the Commonwealth leaders ashighlighted in the significant study by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.(Ebrahim et-al) The core issues around values can only be addressed in the context of principles whichall Africans willingly subscribe. Values of representation, ownership, accessibility to all levels ofgovernment, accountability, openness and collective responsibility. CSSDCA has been doing alot of work on developing a consensus driven value systems which is what would be the subjectof the peer review mechanism. NEPAD is also developing a similar parameters and indicators.While this is welcome by all, the scepticism that has attended the search for common values tobe promoted across Africa has been informed by the anti-democratic and reprehensiblebehaviour of some of the leaders who are at the forefront of the NEPAD campaign and theirtotal contempt for some of the supposed values to which they have committed themselves. Inspite of this general scepticism, constitutionalism as a social compact remains the best route forforging the kind of value system and reorientation that can deepen our democracy in order toprevent conflict and build peace and the Commonwealth ought to be doing more, not less in thisregard.Building assets that provide security against disasters and economic shocksConventionally, most international organisations and development agencies have promoted thebuilding of assets against disasters and economic shocks by focusing on macro-economicstability strategies like Structural adjustment reforms, electoral democracies and support ofmeasures that seek to provide the enabling environment for foreign direct investment and theglobal integration of the economy – a mutual pursuit of political and economic liberalisation.This is the fundamental principle guiding the NEPAD document. So far, the logic of trickledown economics has failed to produce an integrated world economy in which all zones arewinners. Indeed, as Caroline 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 would automatically becreated when the free market gains universal acceptance in the world. By arguing that the way tobuild assets against shocks is not via the creation of local self sufficiency, but national economiesshould concentrate on what they can contribute to the world economy, globalisation ignores thecomparative advantage of the North, locks African states further into relative powerlessness by 9
  10. 10. creating conditions for conflict which further weakens the mediatory role of the states. Instead, itempowers those elites within the state who can form part of the network in business andgovernment capable of acting independently of the juridical state. The fallout of this globalisingtrend is the unregulated trade in mineral resources, proliferation of arms and narcotics and theillicit trade in banned items all of which ultimately undermine food security, environmentalsecurity and the security of the individual – factors responsible for conflict today in manyAfrican states. It has also helped in deepening the rural-urban divide, fostered inter-generationalstrife occasioned by youth frustration and exacerbated the scourge of refugees and the internallydisplaced, 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 lie withthe development of human resources, better management of natural resource endowment andrespect for local ownership of the reform agenda whether in determining the role of the State orin arriving at the most effective poverty eradicating mechanisms. In fairness, theCommonwealth has always paid attention to this distinction, but only within the context of freeand unregulated market. Hence, it is also useful to examine and analyse individual situations ontheir merit, rather than assume that the market is the answer to every problem. This is of coursenot to suggest that market has no role in reforming states structures. It is to say that there are nouniversal models of the market as providing the best assets against shocks and disasters, henceCommonwealth leaders and donor agencies must learn from their own experiences of the marketin formulating realistic policies. For example, the British state cannot be taken railways intopublic ownership on the basis of the inadequacies of the market, and still continue to promoteunbridled market fundamentalism in hapless states.Conclusion: In pursuit of human security and human development in West AfricaThere is definitely a sense in which a deep feeling of disillusionment is widespread in Africa withthe current democratisation and development agenda and this threatens to undermine the longstanding partnerships with institutions like the Commonwealth. Indeed, many now feel that thehype surrounding democracy is more than what the eventual product offers. Hence, one can seea major opposition to the current slow pace of democratic and economic development. Indeed,deepening democratic development remains an uphill task in several African countries, especiallyin the aftermath 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 G8 countries hasbeen enveloped in another global shift which is now in favour of despotic peace in place ofdemocratic, even if unsettling, freedom. The greatest challenge of course is to understand thatdespite the frustrations and impatience of the people with this democratic deficit, there isrealisation that transitions are inherently unstable and unpredictable. It is our hope that the leaders meeting in Abuja in December will bear the above in mindas they deliberate on this important theme as ‘Development and Democracy.’ – one that securesthe world and promote peace. Based on the above analysis of the peace and security dynamics inWest Africa, a number of measures seem to suggest themselves to us about a role for theCommonwealth, especially in developing a human security approach that promotes humandevelopment: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. 10
  11. 11. 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. 11
  12. 12. REFERENCESBuzan, B. et al. 1998. Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner.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.Commonwealth Foundation, 2003, Kampala Vision: Communiqué of the Pan-Commonwealth Tri-Sector Conference on Partnerships for Governance, held in Kampala, Uganda in August 2003DFID, 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.Ebrahim, Hassen, Fayemi Kayode & Loomis Stephanie, 2000, Principles and Mechanisms of Constitution Making in Commonwealth Africa, Delhi: CHRIFayemi, J.K. 2000. “Security Challenges in Africa”, Seminar: Indian Journal of Opinion, Special Issue on African Transitions 490, June 2000.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.NEPAD Strategy Document –;, C. & P. Wilkin (eds.) 1998. Globalisation, Human Security & the African Experience, Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. 12
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