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.

Towards an African Peace and Security regime: Continental embeddedness, transnational linkages, strategic relevance

Ulf Engel and João Gomes Porto eds.
Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2011, 257 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780754676041

The anticipated establishment of an African Standby Force (ASF) in 2015 and the interim African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), in the midst of new and continuing conflicts, have sparked renewed interest in the underpinnings of, and prospects for, the African Peace and Security Architecture. The unique African security environment, consisting of a revived continental organisation working to implement its policies through the capacities of eight recognised Regional Economic Communities (RECs), in the context of extensive external security sector involvement, presents questions for the sustainability and efficiency of this network of actors and their continued engagement. Answering these questions is the subject of this book.

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.

The seed of an African Renaissance: the Haiti revolution

This is an abridged version of a speech made by President Mbeki in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, on 1 January 2004 during the celebrations of the Bicentenary of the Independence of Haiti.

We bring you warm greetings and messages of support and solidarity from millions of your brothers and sisters in the vast expanse of the African continent. All of them, without exception, are with you in spirit as we celebrate a revolution that established the first black republic in the world, and the second independent state in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Indeed, all African people, wherever they may be, on the continent or in the Diaspora, view the Bicentenary of the Haitian Revolution as an inspiring occasion that communicates an important message to all of us that the poor of the world can and must act together decisively to confront the common challenges they face – poverty, under-development, discrimination and marginalisation.

As we know, as a French slave colony, this country contributed two third of French overseas trade, was France's greatest colony in the world and an envy of other colonial powers.Yet, as the coincidence of circumstances would have it, the San Domingo masses began their heroic revolt when the Paris masses carried out their historic revolution, which transformed France into a modern democracy, inspired by the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity.