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AJCR | 2000/2

Foreword

By  25 Jun 2000

Occurrences of conflict on the African continent, and indeed in the world, have certainly not diminished in this first year of the third millennium. All over Africa, even in regions that were previously regarded as amongst the more stable parts of the continent, new flash points have arisen while many of the old conflicts persist.

With the launch of the first number of the African Journal on Conflict Resolution (AJCR) we reflected on the sad acknowledgement of the very deficient state of our human situation that is contained in a statement about the need for literature on conflict resolution. That situation of a world plagued by destructive inter- and intra-state conflict persists and with it the need for such descriptive and analytical literature.

This second number of the Journal continues the direction set in our inaugural number. Each contribution in this issue attempts to present some special insight to be gained from a description and contemplation of a situation of conflict in Africa. The focus in this issue, in line with our intention with the Journal, is on the more scholarly work in the field.

Our experience in compiling and editing these first two issues has also taught us lessons about the difficulty of launching and sustaining a journal of high quality in this field.

We wish the contributions in the Journal to reflect as wide a range as possible of scholarly views and experiences. The globalisation of world affairs, whether economic or political, makes it imperative that world-wide perspectives are shared and that the quest for solutions and resolutions itself be globalised. Within that search for a global set of views the AJCR for obvious reasons sees it as an important part of its function to be a forum where African and Africa-based scholars can express themselves and make their contributions to that global dialogue and discourse on issues of conflict and conflict resolution.

Identifying and drawing upon the rich talent of scholarship in this field that undoubtedly exists on the continent proves to be quite difficult. This is not only a matter of logistics but also touches on the epistemological foundations of the field of study. As with all essentially multi-disciplinary fields, locating scholars with a special interest in and focus on the social phenomenon intersected by the various disciplines can be very challenging.

We trust that as the Journal gets wider circulation and exposure on the continent it will not only draw more contributions but contribute to the stimulation of further scholarly work about conflict and conflict resolution. We attach particular importance to the promotion of systematic theorisation and debates on the nature of the discourse about conflict resolution. ACCORD has other publications in which it reports upon and empirically describes particular situations of conflict on the continent. The Journal seeks to advance theoretical understanding of and debate on a phenomenon that plagues our continent and stands critically in the way of its progress.

The four articles in this issue span a number of geo-political areas in Africa and cover a range of topics in the field.

Intra-state conflicts rather than conventional wars amongst states have come to characterise our times. Some of the articles address various social, economic and political factors contributing to or underlying such conflicts. Theorising these social bases of conflict is a crucial challenge to our longer-term understanding of the phenomenon and our ability to deal with it in practice.

The internationalisation of conflict and the adaptive capacity of regional organisations to cope with such conflict form the subject of another article. There are a number of intra-state conflicts on the continent that have assumed multi-state dimensions because of this internationalisation of internal disputes.

The remaining article foregrounds a specific procedure of diplomacy and conflict resolution, departing from a particular situational study and proceeding to a more theoretical and generalised interrogation of that procedure. Our understanding of the dynamics of conflict resolution is enhanced by this presentation.

We eagerly invite critical comment and response to the specific contributions and to the overall thrust of the Journal. We would above all wish to provide a vehicle for rigorous debate. Criticism of our own efforts will be central to that project of stimulating debate and scholarly discourse. We trust that subsequent issues of the Journal will draw and sustain those kinds of vigorous critical contributions.

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