Understanding Peacekeeping

alt Bellamy, A.J., Williams, P. and Griffin, S.
Published by: Polity, Cambridge, 2004
ISBN: 10: 0745630588 13: 978-0745630588

Reviewed by: Cedric De Coning, Research Fellow at ACCORD and Advisor to the Training for Peace in Africa Programme
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2005

Bellamy et al start their book with a quote by Alan James: “the fullest perspective on peacekeeping…is one which places it firmly in the context of international politics.” Understanding Peacekeeping provides a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of contemporary peacekeeping and attempts to contextualise peacekeeping in both the historical and contemporary international political systems. The authors argue that peacekeeping is “contemporary international society’s most sustained attempt to manage violent conflict” and that understanding the theory and practise of peace- keeping should therefore shed “significant light upon important trends and developments in global politics.” They argue that peacekeeping has always been an ad hoc response to particular problems, and that is why the concept defy simple categorisation based on the tasks peacekeepers fulfil in different historical periods. This is also why they feel an approach that focuses on the role that peacekeeping plays within wider processes of global politics is needed. The authors identify two key questions at the outset which they aim to answer in this book, namely: “what are the chief characteristics of the contemporary political environment in which peacekeepers operate, and how have peacekeepers come to understand their role within it?

Unbowed: One Woman’s Story

alt Wangari Muta Maathai
Published by: William Heinemann: London, 2006
ISBN: 10: 0434016314 13: 978-0434016310

Reviewed by: Karanja Mbugua, Senior Researcher at ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2006

Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai is the first woman in Africa to win the Nobel Peace Award, which crowned her international recognition in the field of environmental conservation. Unbowed: One Woman’s Story is her memoir.

Written in chronological order, the narrative is simple and descriptive. The book is divided into 13 chapters and an epilogue. It ends with a short story, which Prof. Maathai says was narrated by one of her aunts. Former US President, Bill Clinton, prefaces the memoir, but it has no introduction.

To Walk Without Fear: The Global Movement to Ban Landmines

alt Edited By Maxwell A. Cameron, Brain Tomlin And Bob Lawson
Published by: Oxford University Press, South Africa, 1998
ISBN: 10: 0195414144 13: 978-0195414141

Reviewed in Conflict Trends Issue 1 of 1999

To Walk Without Fear is a comprehensive and authoritative account of the global movement to ban landmines. It brings together leading academics, senior policy makers, and prominent leaders of NGOs to examine and draw lessons from the ‘Ottawa Process’, which culminated in December 1997 when over 120 states signed a convention to ban the use, sales, and production of landmines.

Theories of War and Peace: An International Security Reader

alt Edited by E. Michael Brown, R. Owen Cote, Jr.; Sean M. Lynn-Jones and E. Steven Miller
Published by:(1998), The Mitt Press, London
ISBN: 10: 0262522527 13: 978-0262522526

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 1999

This book deals with the theoretical issues around the concepts of war and peace. The first section of the book, entitled Realist theories of war and peace begins with a chapter by Mearsheimer that focuses on post-Cold War Europe. The section deals mainly with the question whether Europe would be able to maintain its peace and stability in a post- Cold War era. The analysis is done within the context of the bipolar world (Cold War) versus the multipolar world (post-Cold War). Drawing from the neo-realist theory of international relations, the first article presents four different scenarios for a post-Cold War Europe. The author concludes that Europe would face incredible destabilisation due to multipolarity as there would be no clear (military) power to ‘moderate’ the activities of other states. It is the absence of this great power that leads to anarchy with states pursuing their own national interests. The author seems to suggest that this could only be avoided if the United States and Russia continue to play the role of superpowers in Europe in order to maintain stability.

The State, War, and the State of War

alt Holsti, Kalevi J.
Published by: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1996 (reprinted in 1997, 1998)
ISBN: 10: 052157790X 13: 978-0521577908

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 1 No. 2, 2000

Attempts to offer an understanding of the relationship between war making and state creation in the world have been undertaken by many international relations and strategic studies scholars. In most of these attempts attention has been focused on how state making in Europe differed from that in other parts of the world. In this context, we have come across a number of publications on the collapsing or deteriorating of States in Africa. Linked to this is the question of war and how the world has come to understand it. In all these attempts various authors have tried to explain the changes that have taken place regarding the nature of wars and conflicts in the world.

The State of the World's Refugees

alt Hussein Solomon
Published by: Oxford University Press, 2000
ISBN: 10: 019924104X 13: 978-0199241040

Reviewed in Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2002

The world has changed fundamentally since 1951 when the UNHCR was established with a budget of US$ 300 000 and a staff component of 33 to deal with 400 000 refugees who were homeless in the aftermath of the Second World War. By 1999, the UNHCR budget had surpassed US$ 1 billion and it employed more than 5 000 staff in 120 countries to respond to a worrying population numbering some 22,3 million of which 52,4 percent were refugees. These figures clearly indicate the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis confronting policy-makers. This, then, is a timely publication which examines the development of international refugee law and the establishment of institutions devoted to the protection of refugees and other displaced people over the past 50 years.

Property & Freedom

alt Pipes, Richard
Published by: The Harvill Press, London, 1999
ISBN: 10: 0375704477 13: 978-0375704475

Reviewed by Kole Omotoso
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 1 No. 2, 2000

The freedom that property confers on the owner has always been recognized in all cultures. The words of a propertied person are valued over those of a person without property, the Yoruba of Nigeria like to say. Ancient societies in their wisdom allow only those with property to participate in the deliberations of the community. Why then was organised religion able to preach the total rejection of property? Why was it that the way forward for the world was not that everyone should have property in order to be free? Why is it that the development of the modern free market system deals with having and not having to keep the market going? Perhaps most important for those who hope for total liberation of humanity from all forms of bondage, why does the dream of the common ownership of property continue to be unrealisable?

Phases of Conflict in Africa

alt Kadende-Kaiser, Rose & Kaiser, Paul J. (eds)
Published by: Toronto: De Sitter Publications, 2005
ISBN: 10: 0973397896 13: 978-0973397895

Reviewed by: Emmanuel Kisiangani, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 6 No. 2, 2006

Africa has been judged to be more afflicted by serious armed conflicts than any other region on the planet. It is however important to put the causes of these conflicts into proper perspective, rather than simply concluding that they are tribal or ethnic. In most cases, the underlying causes are closely interwoven in both national and international arenas. The international factors include the consequences of the Cold War and its aftermath, as well as the globalisation and liberalisation of the world economy – which have generated a sense of political and economic insecurity in Africa. National factors that have contributed to armed conflicts in Africa include discriminatory political processes and skewed resource distribution (in some cases going back to the colonial period), centralised and highly personalised forms of governance, corruption and mismanagement. While debates often conceive the causes of conflict in Africa in both national and international dimensions, in practice, attention to dealing with these conflicts is in most cases paid at the level of and in the context of the countries concerned. The consequence is that conflict resolution strategies fail to appreciate the complex nature of disputes in Africa. The book Phases of Conflict in Africa aims to provide an analytical framework for conceptualising and dealing with some of these conflicts, particularly in West and Central Africa.

No-Party Democracy in Uganda, Myths and Realities

alt Mugaju, Justus and Oloka-Onyango (eds.)
Published by: Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2000
ISBN: 10: 9970022040 13: 978-9970022045

Reviewed by Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

The question of democracy, as it relates to the right of people to decide who and how they ought to the governed, still remains one of the thorny issues in African politics. Of course, notwithstanding countries like Botswana, Senegal and South Africa who appear to be consolidating their democratic paths, most African states are still battling with this issue.

Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa

alt Villa-Vicencio, Charles and Verwoerd, Wilhelm
Published by: University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town Zed Books Ltd, London, 2000
ISBN: 10: 1856498190 13: 978-1856498197

Reviewed by Jaap Durand
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

Referring to the Zimbabwean crisis caused by the occupation of farms by war veterans of the struggle for freedom from colonial domination in the old Rhodesia, a political commentator in an Afrikaans newspaper observes that it would not have happened if Zimbabwe, instead of giving amnesty to violators of human rights in the old Rhodesia, had set up a truth commission similar to the one in South Africa. This is a remarkable acknowledgement in a newspaper that consistently had shown itself as a severe critic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This indicates that the debate on the TRC is not yet over and that, as the time goes on, new perspectives on the work of the TRC will open up. In this respect, the collection of essays on the TRC in Looking Back, Reaching Forward can play an important role, because here we have the remarkable story and a debate triggered by it from the inside – in the words of the editors: an “internal critique”.