The Security-Development Nexus and the Imperative of Peacebuilding with Special Reference to the African Context


This article is premised on the contention that the link between security and development is a complex, but indisputable one. Many of the world’s poorest states have experienced violent conflict in the past decades and it is today widely accepted that contemporary armed conflicts require sustained efforts which address not only the military dimensions of conflicts, but also the political, humanitarian, economic and social dimensions of conflicts. For some years there has been a growing concern with and a specific emphasis on the necessity of linking security and development to achieve meaningful peace, and pursuing this by means of special peacebuilding measures. To this end, a range of reforms throughout the international system have been implemented to facilitate peace-building endeavours.

From an African point of view, the question arises as to what confronts the peacebuilding agenda on the African continent. Furthermore, what instruments and programmes have been put in place to address armed conflicts from a peacebuilding perspective? To what extent have peacebuilding endeavours been undertaken in the international community in general and in African states in particular? These questions are examined and reflected upon in this article as they are obviously of great importance, given the acute need to apply relevant and constructive measures and strategies in the search for sustainable development and long-term security on the continent.

1. Introduction

Africa is known as a continent that is steeped in armed conflict and instability, the sources of which are both diverse and endemic. The most violent and devastating conflicts have notably been intra-state in nature: conflicts with considerable peacekeeping consequences for regional and international role-players. Such conflicts have led to despair, destitution, poverty, disease, refugee problems and internally displaced persons. In short, there is a pressing need for African and other role-players to register greater progress on the need to address and resolve the conflicts on the continent and to strengthen the foundation for durable peace and economic development.

De Coning (2004:42) points out that extensive research undertaken over a considerable period suggests that about half of all peace agreements fail in the first five years after their conclusion. This could often be blamed on protagonists in conflicts, because they frequently agree to peace agreements for tactical reasons without being firmly committed to a long-term peace process. Also, international role-players are sometimes to be blamed for pressuring protagonists to sign peace agreements when they know that the agreements are likely to fail because of unrealistic time frames, or as a result of the root cause of the conflict not being addressed. Therefore, for some years there has been a growing concern with and an emphasis on the necessity of linking security and development to achieve meaningful peace, and pursuing this by means of special peacebuilding measures. Lying at the nexus of development and security, peacebuilding requires a readiness to make a difference on the ground in preventing conflicts or establishing the conditions for a return to sustainable peace. Peacebuilding essentially implies the consolidation and promotion of peace and the building of trust in the aftermath of a conflict to prevent a relapse into conflict or war. More broadly outlined, it relates to integrated approaches to address violent conflict at different phases of the conflict cycle. To this end, this article sets out to examine to what extent peacebuilding programming in the area of conflict resolution and peacekeeping has been developed and is being implemented and integrated with other dimensions of peacekeeping endeavours on the African continent and further afield.

In the following analysis, the link is described between security and development with a view to clarifying the security-development nexus from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. Against this background, peacebuilding as a theoretical and practical tool in strengthening and solidifying peace processes is analysed. Furthermore, the challenges that confront the international peace-building agenda, as well as measures, instruments and programmes to address armed conflicts from a peacebuilding perspective with specific emphasis on the African experience, are assessed and reflected upon. Finally, the South African view on conflict resolution and peacebuilding is explored.

2. Outlining the Security-development Nexus

The link between conflict (insecurity) and development is a complex, but indisputable one. Most of the world’s 20 poorest states have experienced violent conflict in the past decades. Because the nature of conflicts has changed fundamentally in the post-Cold War era, contemporary conflicts are now increasingly internal, intense and protracted, and their social, economic and environmental consequences are considerable and long lasting (UNDP undated).

In 1995, the Commission on Global Governance proposed that the following be used as norms for security policies in the ‘new era’ (Commission on Global Governance 1995:84-85):

  • All people, no less than states, have a right to a secure existence, and all states have an obligation to protect those rights.
  • The primary goals of global security policy should be to prevent conflict and war and to maintain the integrity of the planet’s life-support systems by eliminating the economic, social, environmental, political and military conditions that generate threats to the security of the people and the planet, and by anticipating and managing crises before they escalate into armed conflicts.
  • Military force is not a legitimate political instrument, except in self-defence or under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).
  • The development of military capabilities beyond that required for national defence and support of UN action is a potential threat to the security of people.
  • Weapons of mass destruction are not legitimate instruments of national defence.
  • The production of and trade in arms should be controlled by the international community.

The principles advocated by the Commission on Global Governance in 1995 clearly pointed towards changing perceptions of what constitutes security. This coincided with the emergence of human security – a security paradigm that is vested in the belief that the state-centric security thinking of the Cold War era has become insufficient for coping with the challenges of today’s security landscape (Werthes & Bosold 2004:1). Shortly before, in 1994, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Development Report probably promoted the notion of human security for the first time (Fourie & Schönteich 2001) when it was stated that:[t]he concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression… For most people, a feeling of insecurity arises more from worries about daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event. Will they and their families have enough to eat? Will they lose their jobs? Will their streets and neighbourhoods be safe from crime? Will they be tortured by a repressive state? (UNDP 1994:22)

Since 1994, a host of role-players considered, proposed and reflected on appropriate human security definitions and conceptualisations. Although a commonly accepted definition does not seem to exist, Werthes & Bosold (2004:2) argue that there are some basic premises all definitions have in common, namely: a liberty/rights and rule of law dimension; a freedom from fear/safety of peoples dimension; and a freedom from want/equity and social justice dimension.

Upon closer scrutiny it appears that some middle-powers (e.g. Canada) base their approach to human security mainly on human rights and an extended arms control nexus; thus a combination of the first and second dimensions. The Asian approach (e.g. the Japanese approach), however, seems to be more related to a conceptualisation that stresses the connection between security and economic and social development, and could be subsumed under the second and third dimensions (Werthes & Bosold 2004:2-3). This has clearly manifested in the following conceptualisation by former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi (as quoted by Werthes & Bosold 2004:3):

‘Human security’ is a concept that takes a comprehensive view of all threats to human survival, life and dignity and stresses the need to respond to such threats. The economic crisis confronting the Asian countries today has been a direct blow to the socially vulnerable – the poor, women and children, and the elderly – threatening their survival and dignity.

The above-mentioned clearly points towards a security-development nexus and should be viewed against the background of linkages between security and development that formed a central focus of research during the latter half of the 1990s. From a more political policy point of view, Sending (2004:11) argues that it was only in the late 1990s that a clear and more ‘politicised’ agenda emerged, which bore the promise of an integration between development and security policy. As an agenda related to the concept of ‘human security’, it was launched in an effort to integrate both development and security concerns with a focus on individuals rather than states. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s report, The Responsibility To Protect, specifically stated that ‘the responsibility to protect’ – i.e. any form of intervention by international role-players or multinational institutions against a state or its leaders – should be focused on the human needs of those seeking protection or assistance (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty 2002:8,13). Moreover, this document should be seen as a ‘radical political document’ (Sending 2004:11), effectively making state sovereignty dependent upon the ability to provide ‘human security’ (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty 2002:13). Therefore, the emphasis of the security debate should be on ‘human development with access to food and employment’ (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty 2002:15).

The UNDP Human Development Report of 1999 clearly states that ‘while underdevelopment may not directly cause violent conflict, poor social, economic and environmental conditions as well as weak or ineffective political institutions certainly diminish a society’s capacity to manage social tensions in a non-violent manner’. To this end, UNDP became involved in development assistance, which is geared towards building or rebuilding that capacity (UNDP undated).

As far as conflict resolution is concerned – the dimension where peace-building comes into play – the point is rightly made that ‘[e]nsuring a speedy and smooth transition from the large-scale, short-term, externally driven humanitarian and military interventions that are typical in the midst of crisis to the more grass roots, longer-term, locally-driven development interventions that must take root in the transition out of conflict is no easy task’. This is why ‘credible peacebuilding and development programming’ is of such importance (UNDP undated). In view of the above, Tschirgi (2003:1) states that since the end of the Cold War, it has become commonplace to assert that peace and development are intimately linked and that the UN and other international role-players need to address the twin imperatives for security and development by means of integrated policies and programmes through peacebuilding in support of conflict prevention, conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction.

3. Peacebuilding as a Link Between Security and Development

Not all development impacts the security environment. Conversely, not all security concerns have ramifications for development. Where peace and security are affected by factors that (may) cause, perpetuate, reduce, prevent or manage violent conflicts, peacebuilding comes into play. Lying at the nexus of development and security, peacebuilding requires a readiness to make a difference on the ground in preventing conflicts or establishing the conditions for a return to sustainable peace (Tschirgi 2003:2).

Since the early 1990s peacekeeping operations have become charged, for example, with the task of enforcing peace, and of assuming de facto sovereignty over a territory, as in the case of East Timor and Kosovo. As a consequence of developments, security policy and peacekeeping operations have increasingly assumed responsibility for managing large-scale socio-economic and political change. It has also been realised and recognised that investments in both conflict prevention and post-conflict resolution form an integral and central element of security policy. To this end, it is today accepted that to provide peace and security, policy instruments outside the toolbox of traditional security policy need to be mobilised.

Furthermore, ‘development policy’ has been transformed to suit a new socio-economic and political environment. Since Cold War thinking presented a paradigm that defined development assistance as external to security, ‘development policy’ was only indirectly tied to issues of security in the form of guaranteeing political support and preserving the spheres of influence of the two super powers. Importantly, the policy tools of development were never employed specifically to reduce the potential for violent conflict (Sending 2004:3).

In other words, the end of the Cold War offered an opportunity for international role-players to revisit dominant conceptions of security, and to devise integrated and coherent policy instruments and programmes to address violent conflict from a peacebuilding perspective. As far as a proper understanding of peacebuilding is concerned, Tschirgi (2003:2) states that at its core, peacebuilding aims at the prevention and resolution of violent conflicts, the consolidation of peace once violence has been reduced, and post-conflict reconstruction with a view to avoiding a relapse into conflict. Proceeding beyond the traditional security (military) approaches of the Cold War era, peacebuilding seeks to address the proximate and root causes of contemporary conflicts, which include structural, political, socio-cultural, economic and environmental factors.

An Agenda for Peace, introduced in 1992 by the UN Secretary-General, Boutros-Boutros Ghali, presented a concept of peacebuilding that has gained widespread acceptance in academic and political circles. According to the Secretary-General, peacebuilding consisted of ‘sustained, co-operative work to deal with underlying economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems…’ (UN Secretary-General 1992). However, Haugerudbraaten (1998) argues that the measures listed in An Agenda for Peace, namely disarming, restoring order, destroying weapons, repatriating refugees, training security forces, monitoring elections, advancing the protection of human rights, reforming institutions and promoting political participation, did not carry the notion of being sustained efforts that addressed the underlying or root causes of problems. In addition, a host of questions and issues were also raised as a matter of discourse with regard to peacebuilding as a notion. Some of the most pressing questions were inter alia (Haugerudbraaten 1998) those about:

  • The aim of peacebuilding: Is peacebuilding about removing the root cause of a conflict or about finding ways to resolve old and new disputes in a peaceful manner?
  • The temporal (time) aspects of peacebuilding: Are the measures employed in peacebuilding short- to medium-term or long-term ones?
  • The main actors of peacebuilding: Who are the main actors in peace-building – indigenous or external actors?

After considerable debating and disagreements regarding the exact meaning of peacebuilding, the Secretary-General modified his position in the 1995 Supplement to An Agenda for Peace and suggested that peacebuilding could also be preventive (UN Secretary-General 1995). This coincides with a some-what broader view that peacebuilding is essentially about removing or weakening factors that breed or sustain conflict, and reinforcing factors that build positive relations and sustain peace (Hitchcock 2004:38). Hence it could be stated that peacebuilding has evolved from a strictly post-conflict undertaking to a concept with a broader meaning, and the general consensus would seem that peacebuilding efforts should (ideally speaking) already be attempted during the earliest indication of tension in a situation of potential conflict. Against this background, Tschirgi (2003:1) points out that the term peacebuilding was gradually expanded to refer to integrated approaches to address violent conflict at different phases of the conflict cycle. To this end, conflict prevention and peacebuilding are often considered two sides of the same coin.

However, it should be noted that the exact concept of peacebuilding remains an issue of conceptual confusion, disagreement and discourse (Haugerudbraaten 1998; Shannon 2004:36). Disagreements especially revolve around the point that some international role-players or functionaries view peacebuilding as short- to medium-term undertakings aimed at preventing a resumption of violence, and not as long-term developmental and nation-building endeavours. Others clearly view the purpose of peacebuilding as to avoid a return to conflict and argue that in some cases it may require ambitious long-term nation-building efforts by international actors. As far as this article is concerned, the view is taken that the role of peacebuilders could be salient when civil wars have ended not in the conquest of one of the parties, but rather in a peace settlement between two parties (typically as in Mozambique). However, where civil war was the consequence of resource scarcity (as earlier in the Horn of Africa) or skewed land property structures (as in Central America), one could only hope to accomplish limited objectives by promoting good governance. In such cases, undertakings have to involve long-term processes, and a number of indigenous role-players must be involved (Haugerudbraaten 1998). In other words, the aim, duration and actors involved should depend on specific peacebuilding challenges and would differ from one case to another.

On a more practical note, the challenge for the UN – as the pre-eminent organisation responsible for international peace and security – was how to transform the short-term presence of peacekeepers into efforts aimed at societal transformation. Efforts aimed at building peace, as opposed to providing security, brought security thinking and practice into closer collaboration with development policy. Experiences from El Salvador and Mozambique, from Angola and Cambodia, all suggested that a central challenge for the UN would be to formulate policies and strategies that focused on the foundations necessary for the rebuilding and restoration of war-torn societies (Sending 2004:5). From an international or macro perspective, peacebuilding, therefore, required that the elaborate doctrines, strategies and institutions that were developed during the Cold War to deal with issues of international peace and security be regarded as inadequate for dealing with conflicts in the ‘new’ era (Tschirgi 2003:1).

Against this background, a range of international reforms throughout the international system has taken place to facilitate peacebuilding endeavours. There were numerous proposals for a fundamental overhaul of the UN system, inter alia by the 2000 Report of the Panel of UN Peacekeeping Operations (otherwise known as the Brahimi report). Furthermore, major aid agencies established conflict prevention and peacebuilding units. There was also an effort on the part of some Western governments to align their foreign, security and development policies and programmes to respond to the evolving conflict prevention and peacebuilding agenda of the contemporary international community (Tschirgi 2003:4-51).

Today, a great deal of the international debates about the future of security and development policy, respectively, tends to focus on the need for more and better co-ordination between already existing bureaucratic organisations, such as the UN’s Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), or between UNDP and United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on the one hand, and DPA and DPKO, on the other. By its own account, UNDP’s work is now central to post-conflict peacebuilding. Areas in the nexus of peace and security where, for instance, UNDP is most active are the demobilisation of former combatants, comprehensive demining action, sustainable return and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the restoration of governance institutions to support the rule of law and build just and democratic societies. Thus, the role that UNDP normally plays in a peace process is essentially a supplementary one – a role geared to coaxing the parties towards further accommodation in a peace negotiation that has already been triggered by a fundamental shift in the military and political balance. In such situations, UNDP’s involvement boils down to be that of a facilitator; often in close collaboration with NGOs and institutions of civil society; creating a politically acceptable distribution of power through institutional development projects that address the legal framework within which the nation’s polity should act; and identifying common development needs and designing projects that straddle internal political and military boundaries, separating the participants and using the projects as a mechanism for fostering common ground and reconciliation (UNDP undated).

From an African point of view, the question arises as to what confronts the peacebuilding agenda on the African continent. Furthermore, what instruments and programmes have been put in place to address armed conflicts from a peacebuilding perspective? To what extent have peacebuilding endeavours been undertaken in the international community in general and in African states in particular? These questions will be examined in the section below.

4. Contemporary International Peacebuilding Programming

Traditionally, development actors have only in exceptional cases worked ‘on conflict’ by acknowledging and setting out to address the interlinkages between conflict and development programming. In recent times, donors and agencies have endeavoured progressively into undertaking ‘conflict-sensitive development’. In addition to the above, there are especially three sectors where international actors have started to design and develop new programmes and activities to respond to peacebuilding challenges. These are programming in the fields of governance, security sector reform and rule of law (Tschirgi 2003:8-9).

Governance programming is aimed at shaping a society’s capacity to reconcile conflicting interests and to manage change peacefully. Traditionally neither development nor security agencies concerned themselves directly with governance programming. Today, with a series of weak, failing or vulnerable states, both development and security agencies have started with governance programming. The UN, therefore, became increasingly aware of the need to integrate governance issues through the provision of technical assistance with regard to constitution making, election monitoring and public sector reform. In addition, other international organisations became involved in democratisation projects, civil society support, transparency and anti-corruption initiatives, as well as conflict resolution projects.

Security sector programming implies the involvement of international organisations in security sector reform, disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of former combatants, and the protection of vulnerable and war-affected populations. In addition, it also involves the addressing of security issues through a fundamental restructuring of security institutions, such as the police and defence forces, as well as instituting civilian oversight to advance democratic control and accountability. Traditionally, the security sector fell within the exclusive domain of political and security institutions. Nowadays it is recognised as central to peacebuilding and a great deal of work has been undertaken in this sector in recent times.

Rule of law programming basically embraces multiple aspects, such as the promotion of human rights, constitution making, traditional justice mechanisms, and legal and penal reform. Given its centrality to peacebuilding, there has been a proliferation of rule of law initiatives and activities in peacekeeping operations, post-conflict reconstruction, and in supporting governments to strengthen their legal institutions within a longer-term peacebuilding agenda.

This said, this section will provide an overview of international peace-building efforts undertaken in a ‘conflict-sensitive development’ context and in the above-mentioned sectors to make a difference on the ground in preventing violent conflicts or establishing the conditions for a return to sustainable peace. In addition, the focus will be directed on recent experiences on the African continent in the said sectors. Finally, the South African approach to peace-building will specifically receive attention.

4.1 Peacebuilding in Kosovo

The case of Kosovo is perhaps the most significant and outstanding case of a methodical and extensive peacebuilding undertaking in the contemporary era, as the UN for all practical purposes took charge of all the executive, legal and judicial competencies of this province. Since 1999, the UN structures faced some daunting peacekeeping and peacebuilding challenges in Kosovo. Although many of the northern parts of the province remained virtually untouched by the hostilities, towns such as Pec, Djakovica and Mitrovica sustained massive damage. Generally speaking, the public service structures in Kosovo were largely inoperative after the war with many municipalities functioning inadequately or not at all.

On 10 June 1999, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1244 (1999) which authorised the creation of an international presence, comprising a military and civilian branch. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) quickly took charge of the military branch, which became known as the Kosovo Force (KFOR). The UN Secretary-General took charge of the second branch by establishing the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (Chapaux 2004:3). Importantly, Resolution 1244 (1999) gave UNMIK the task of supporting the reconstruction of key infrastructure and other economic reconstruction. It also provided for extensive governance and rule of law programming.

As regards the deployment of an international security presence in Kosovo, it was decided in terms of Security Council resolution 1244 of 1999 that KFOR’s immediate task was concerned with the more robust peacekeeping activities in the peace process. Its task was to eradicate the violence from Kosovo, which had become so much a part of Kosovan life. KFOR’s role was also to create the conditions necessary for the rebuilding of Kosovo and to assist in the establishment of a democratic and legitimate political dispensation. Its aim was to take the gun and the grenade off the streets, and to do so impartially (Fursdon 1999:24).

In terms of what was described by the UN as ‘a massive international effort to turn war-devastated Kosovo into a functioning, democratic society’, it was decided that the allocation of tasks would be dealt with by four main components, respectively responsible for civil administration, institution building, humanitarian aid and reconstruction (UN Secretary-General 1999).

4.1.1 Civil administration component

The civil administration component was divided into three departments:

  1. The public administration/civil affairs department was tasked to establish the multi-ethnic governmental structures essential for the sustainable delivery of public services where and as long as required.
  2. The police department was tasked to define UNMIK’s law and order strategy in Kosovo in accordance with two main goals: the provision of interim law enforcement services; and the rapid deployment of a credible, professional and impartial Kosovo Police Service.
  3. The judicial affairs department was established in the context of the urgent need to build genuine rule of law in Kosovo, including the immediate re-establishment of an independent, impartial and multi-party judiciary (UN Secretary-General 1999).

4.1.2 Institution-building component

The tasks of UNMIK’s second component, the institution-building component, were identified as strengthening the capacity of local and central institutions and civil society organisations, as well as promoting democracy, good governance and respect for human rights. It also included the organising of elections.

As an immediate priority, it was decided that UNMIK would work in the field of democratisation and institution building. This would relate to collaborating with other international organisations to identify the needs of local civil administrators and provide them with the required training. It would also facilitate the awareness and involvement of citizens in social and political change in Kosovo by strengthening the development of ordinary citizens, women’s and youth groups, and professional, cultural and other associations. UNMIK was also tasked to undertake programmes to facilitate conditions that would support pluralistic political party structures, political diversity and a healthy democratic political climate. Concerning elections, UNMIK would organise and oversee the development of provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government pending a political settlement. This included the holding of elections and the creation of an environment where free, fair and multi-ethnic elections would be possible.

In the field of human rights it was decided that UNMIK would strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo and develop mechanisms to ensure that the police, courts, administrative tribunals and other judicial structures could operate in accordance with international standards of criminal justice and human rights (UN Secretary-General 1999).

4.1.3 Humanitarian component

The third component of UNMIK, the humanitarian component, would be led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Two special tasks were identified, namely humanitarian assistance and demining action.

The aim of humanitarian assistance was to ensure that adequate shelter, food, clean water, medical assistance and employment would be available to meet the protection needs of internally displaced persons and the growing number of returnees into Kosovo. Humanitarian programmes would also target urgent and essential infrastructure repairs and short-term rebuilding efforts.

It was decided that demining action would focus on humanitarian relief. This included the setting up of an information management system regarding a demining action database, defining the scope of the mine threat, mobilising demining action resources, and conducting demining action liaison and planning with other role-players, including KFOR. In the longer term, the focus would be to co-ordinate demining action support for the reconstruction of Kosovo (UN Secretary-General 1999).

4.1.4 Reconstruction component

The fourth component of UNMIK, the reconstruction component, was tasked to promote peace and prosperity in Kosovo and to facilitate the development of an economic life that would bring better prospects for the future. It was decided that this component of the mission would be managed by the European Union. The main functions of the reconstruction component would be to plan and monitor the reconstruction of Kosovo; prepare and evaluate policies in the economic, social and financial fields; and to co-ordinate between various donors and international financial institutions in order to ensure that all financial assistance was directed towards the relevant priorities (UN Secretary-General 1999).

4.1.5 General strategy

As regards UNMIK’s general strategy of operation, it was decided to conduct its work in five integrated phases. The first phase would focus on the establishment and consolidation of UNMIK’s authority and the creation of interim UNMIK-managed administrative structures. Once basic stability was achieved, the second phase of UNMIK’s efforts would be directed towards the administration of social services and utilities, and the consolidation of the rule of law. The third phase would then be to build upon the second and would be the finalisation of preparations for and the conduct of elections. In the fourth phase, UNMIK would oversee and assist elected Kosovo representatives in their efforts to organise and establish provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government. The fifth and last phase would depend on a final settlement and would basically oversee the transfer of authority from Kosovo’s provisional institutions to institutions established in terms of a political settlement (Annan 1999). It is, therefore, clear that the peace process for Kosovo has been considered in terms of the achievement of a desirable political end-state.

In view of the above, Chapaux (2004:7) states that the action of the UN in Kosovo is far beyond the one of a simple peacekeeping mission. ‘The aim of the economical part of the UNMIK is not to come back to the status quo ante by rebuilding what war had destroyed but indeed to create a state of prosperity in Kosovo… it is relevant to point out that the (Security) Council sees a direct link between economic prosperity and international stability’. In fact, in Kosovo, UNDP participated actively in the assessment and planning of the peace process and worked closely with the rest of the international community to develop programmes to enable Kosovars to rebuild their lives and futures for a sustainable and stable Kosovo (UNDP undated). Thus developments in Kosovo have shown the international community’s determination to ensure that Kosovo progresses on the path of co-existence and reconciliation. However, what is needed – and presently lacking – is concrete action on the part of the leaders and people of Kosovo to implement measures to ensure that renewed conflict would not erupt (UN Secretary-General 2004:15).

Finally, it should be noted that the political strength and economic capacity of the Developing World have been instrumental in ensuring that peacebuilding has featured prominently as an integral part of peacekeeping in Kosovo. In fact, in the context of realities in Africa – where peacekeeping is more often than not concerned with enforcing peace in impoverished, weak and collapsing or collapsed states – it has sometimes been contended in the past that peacebuilding has more relevance for the countries elsewhere in the Developing World than for those on the African continent. In view of the above, the relevance of peace-building in contemporary African peacekeeping undertakings will be assessed in the section below.

4.2 African challenges and responses

It could rightly be asserted that concerns regarding post-conflict peace-building were largely peripheral to the debates on and the practice of conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa during much of the 1990s. For instance, Malan (1999:4) asserts that African sub-regional organisations ‘have pursued overtly political objectives’ as a rationale for intervention, and that sub-regional organisations could not lay claim to the right of intervention on humanitarian grounds. Likewise, Schraeder (2004:291) contends that ‘interventions are (were) theoretically driven by the self-interest of the intervening country’. However, recent peacekeeping interventions seem to have moved beyond the pursuit of ‘overtly political objectives’ and are now also concerned with processes essentially relating to removing or weakening factors that breed or sustain conflict, and reinforcing factors that build positive relations and sustain peace (Hitchcock 2004:38). In this regard, the cases of Angola and Sierra Leone, for instance, are clearly pointing towards substantial peacebuilding processes on the African continent.

4.2.1 The case of Angola

Angola entered the process of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction in 2002 with a legacy of over a million people killed, a third of the population (over 3 million people) displaced and in need of emergency assistance, and 105 000 ex-combatants to be re-integrated into society (Shannon 2004:40). Thus, since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Cessation of Hostilities, between the military leaders of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in April 2002, Angola has been faced with the challenging task of post-conflict peacebuilding in an unstable social, economic and political environment, and in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis (Hitchcock 2004:38).

Since disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) is a vital process in the transition from war to peace, a DDR process is underway in Angola as part of the ongoing peacebuilding process. Without going into much detail, the quartering, demilitarisation and demobilisation process of UNITA began immediately after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding and was carried out by the Angolan Armed Forces. The peacebuilding process got underway in April 2002 with the quartering of a total of more than 85 000 UNITA soldiers in family reception areas in 27 quartering areas. The quartering process was still ongoing when it was announced that the demobilisation of these ex-soldiers would begin in earnest, and that a number of UNITA soldiers (approximately 5 000) would be integrated into the Angolan Armed Forces in accordance with a selection process that had been initiated. International technical assistance to the DDR process has been led and facilitated primarily by the World Bank under the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme. The DDR process also provided for the peaceful co-existence between ex-combatants and residents in areas of resettlement and return, as a critical priority for the socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants. In the Angolan case this is especially important because the majority of soldiers remained for long periods of time in the armed forces (Porto & Parsons 2004:32,35,43,60).

A number of difficulties have been encountered with the DDR process, mainly due to a lack of adequate planning and unrealistic timetables. This resulted in large numbers of ex-combatants not receiving the necessary supplies or attention, and an increase in criminal activity. Health problems and malnutrition further complicated the situation in the camps. Another reason why the DDR process was and is being hampered by difficulties relates to the government’s reluctance to involve the UN to any significant degree. In addition, there is limited co-ordination between the various actors, such as the World Food Programme, NGOs and humanitarian agencies. Despite many difficulties facing the DDR programme, a considerable advantage is the fact that it is home-grown, that the former enemies agreed on a cease-fire and that there was unhindered political will demonstrated in the completion of the peace process (Hitchcock 2004:39-40).

It should be noted that peacebuilding in Angola went far beyond DDR. In short, NGOs did extensive work with regard to preparing for elections, undertaking human rights training and civic education, as well as rendering humanitarian and development assistance (Shannon 2004:40,42).

Apart from the Angolan process the peace process in Sierra Leone presents another recent example of a significant peacebuilding undertaking on the African continent. In fact, the Sierra Leone peace process presents a case of considerable magnitude in terms of comprehensive peacebuilding programming in a post-conflict state.

4.2.2 The case of Sierra Leone

After a disastrous encounter with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in May 2000, when the UN suffered one of its worst setbacks in the history of UN peacekeeping, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) made significant strides towards achieving its goals. The UN has moved speedily to increase the capacity of UNAMSIL to a strength of more than 17 000 uniformed personnel, and the mission appeared to be better organised and equipped than before. To this end, UNAMSIL was able to play a meaningful role in helping Sierra Leone’s war-ravaged population in moving towards an election process.

In his report of 14 March 2002, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, reported the following with regard to the peace process (UN Secretary-General 2002:2-5):

  • The overall security situation in Sierra Leone was generally stable.
  • The disarmament process had progressed well with a total of 47 076 combatants disarmed between 18 May 2001 and 17 January 2002.
  • Some 1723 ex-combatants had been selected for reintegration into the Sierra Leone army.
  • Substantial progress had been made in preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections.
  • Political parties could continue to prepare for the scheduled elections.

The Secretary-General furthermore reported that the disarmament process and the deployment of UNAMSIL throughout the country had created a relatively more secure environment, which provided the opportunity for Sierra Leone to hold free, fair and credible elections, to concentrate on national reconciliation and recovery, as well as on building sustainable institutions. Interestingly, the Secretary-General mentioned that ‘the international community has invested heavily in Sierra Leone, both politically and financially’ (UN Secretary-General 2002:11-12).Against this background, the conducting of general elections on 14 May 2002 represented a significant step forward in Sierra Leone’s elusive search for peace and democracy. Though the elections did not result in a change of government, the participation of the RUF signalled a commitment to both peace and the democratisation process. One of the remarkable features of the 2002 elections was the level of public engagement and the peaceful nature of the campaign process (Jalloh 2002:59,61). Another remarkable or most outstanding feature – especially significant from a peacebuilding perspective – was the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under the Lome Peace Agreement of 1999 between Sierra Leone’s government and the RUF. The TRC, clearly meant to be a nation-building project, was intended to address impunity, to break the cycle of violence, to provide a forum for both victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to tell their story, as well as to get a clear picture of the past in order to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation. Modelled on past commissions in Chile, Guatemala and South Africa, the TRC intended to investigate the causes, nature and extent of human rights violations that occurred in the country, help restore the human dignity of victims, and promote national reconciliation. Apart from fostering national reconciliation through the TRC, it was also decided to establish a Special UN Court to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law that have taken place in Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996. However, the Court was meant to be punitive as opposed to the TRC with its aim of being complementary to promoting sustainable peace in Sierra Leone (IRIN 2002).

Other issues that received attention in the peacebuilding process relate to programmes in the fields of humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, the consolidation of civil authority, the promotion of human rights and good governance, as well as the restoration of the legal system. Without going into much detail, it should be noted that considerable amounts were invested and practical aid was provided by the European Union, as well as the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. For instance, the United States’ total humanitarian and emergency contribution in the fiscal year 2002, including grants to the World Food Programme and other aid agencies, assistance to refugees, programmes to combat HIV/AIDS, reintegration of combatants and development programmes, amounted to USD 56 million (Human Rights Watch 2003).

Approximately five years after its creation, UNAMSIL is (at the time of writing) approaching the end of its mandate in December 2004. Amongst other successes, UNAMSIL managed to disarm some 75 000 former combatants, facilitated significant improvement to infrastructure, expanded state authority, and has almost rebuilt the national police to the target of 9 500 officials. Although UNAMSIL has enjoyed considerable success, certain challenges remain and others are sure to arise in the upcoming withdrawal process. Low levels of public confidence in the capabilities of the police and armed forces may especially pose security challenges of a serious concern. However, should the peace process – and post-conflict peacebuilding – prove to be successful, it will represent a major success in international peacekeeping in one of Africa’s most conflict-ridden states (Molukanele et al 2004:42-43).

Thus, from the above it is clear that the peace processes in the cases of Angola and especially Sierra Leone (to mention only two recent African experiences) clearly involve a human security approach, specifically based on a liberty/rights and rule of law dimension; a freedom from fear/safety of peoples dimension; and a freedom from want/equity and social justice dimension. Moreover, it involves a commitment to peacebuilding: a willingness to make a difference on the ground in preventing conflicts or establishing the basic conditions for making sustainable security and development possible.

Having said this, the question arises as to what the South African view on peacekeeping entails. This question is of considerable importance given South Africa’s political and economic strength on the continent, as well as the country’s evolving role in African peacekeeping requirements. To this end, the South African view will be explored in the section below.

5. The South African View and ‘Developmental Peacekeeping’

In 1999, the South African Government published a White Paper on South African Participation in International Peace Missions (hereafter White Paper). This document has a wide scope and covers not only the philosophical and political aspects of involvement in peace missions, but also the practical aspects of the country’s potential contributions. From a foreign policy point of view, the White Paper is certainly a document of much significance. It is possibly the most important foreign policy document of the last decade to pass Cabinet, since it forced the South African Government to outline its philosophy on conflict resolution and its general approach towards Africa (Cilliers 1999:10).

Importantly, the White Paper states that there is no singular short-term approach to resolving crises. Peace missions should, therefore, be viewed as long-term endeavours, which include a significant investment in peacebuilding. According to the drafters of the White Paper, peacebuilding involves inculcating respect for human rights and political pluralism, accommodating diversity, building the capacity of the state and civil institutions, and promoting economic growth and equity. In the words of the White paper, ‘these measures are the most effective means of preventing crises, and are therefore as much precrisis priorities’ (SA Department of Foreign Affairs 1999:10). This clearly coincides with the point that peacebuilding was gradually expanded to refer to integrated approaches to address violent conflict at different phases of the conflict cycle.

The White Paper especially emphasises peacebuilding in terms of governance programming and rule of law programming (SA Department of Foreign Affairs 1999:10):

While the staging of free and fair elections normally marks the transition of the post-conflict state, this state has little chance to prosper unless emphasis is also placed on the essentials of efficient and effective governance, namely: adherence to the rule of law; competent and fair judiciaries; effective police services and criminal justice systems; professional civil services with an ethos of democratic governance…

The White Paper also alludes to ‘conflict-sensitive development’ as the White Paper describes peacebuilding as a ‘diplomatic/developmental’ process, and not primarily a ‘military responsibility’ (SA Department of Foreign Affairs 1999:10). At the same time, the White Paper does not say much about developmental issues or challenges, except for referring to a need to attend to ‘the reorientation of the state and its personnel away from partisan interest towards developmental goals’ (SA Department of Foreign Affairs 1999:10).

More recently, in 2000, the (now former) Deputy Minister of Defence, Ms Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, introduced the concept of ‘developmental peacekeeping’ to politicians and defence functionaries (Madlala-Routledge 2000:4). This concept is defined as a post-conflict reconstruction intervention which aims to achieve sustainable levels of human security through a combination of interventions aimed at accelerating capacity building and socio-economic development, which will result in the dismantling of war economies and conflict systems, and replacing them with globally competitive ‘peace economies’. An important feature of developmental peacekeeping is that it does not distinguish between peacekeeping and peacebuilding on a process level, as if they were separate phases or elements in a linear process. This view implies that peacekeeping, peace enforcement and peacebuilding are integrated in one process. On an operational level this means that post-conflict reconstruction interventions operate in synergy with peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Practically speaking, this would mean that post-conflict reconstruction practitioners and resources are deployed alongside peacekeepers irrespective of the existence of cease-fire agreements (Madlala-Routledge & Liebenberg 2004:128).

The concept of developmental peacekeeping is premised on the ‘problem statement’ that current peacekeeping interventions are unable to resolve resource-based conflicts or conflicts that are being sustained by war economies – which is typical of African conflicts. Moreover, it is asserted that current peacekeeping approaches are characterised by long time lapses before developmental and peacebuilding interventions can be implemented in war torn zones. This leads to an inadequate capacity to dismantle war economies, as well as an inability to absorb ex-combatants and to destroy conflict systems (Madlala-Routledge & Liebenberg 2004:127).

A very ambitious concept indeed, developmental peacekeeping focuses on the realisation of the African Union and NEPAD’s priorities. Firstly, it is believed that developmental peacekeeping will work towards achieving sustainable political and economic development which will, furthermore, advance democracy, as well as regional integration and co-operation through the dismantling of exploitative war economies. Secondly, it is contended that developmental peacekeeping will create a platform for policy reforms and increased investment through the dismantling of war economies. This is primarily to be achieved through the development of an integrated development plan or framework for post-conflict reconstruction and development (Madlala-Routledge & Liebenberg 2004:130).

A striking feature of the proposed concept of developmental peacekeeping is the basic assertion that capacity building and socio-economic development will result in the dismantling of war economies and conflict systems, and in replacing them with globally competitive economies. This view coincides with the contention that there are strong linkages between scarcity, inequality and institutional weaknesses in societies and their (in)abilities to ensure peace and security. Moreover, it supports the view that underdevelopment and poor social, economic and environmental conditions, as well as weak or ineffective political institutions diminish a society’s capacity to manage social tensions in a non-violent manner. Although developmental peacekeeping has not received any official policy endorsement at governmental level, it underscores a firm belief among some role-players in the South African context that specific measures, instruments and programmes in terms of human security and ‘conflict sensitive development’ may need to be implemented to address armed conflicts constructively.

6. Appraisal and Conclusion

It is commonly known that armed conflicts on the African continent have seriously undermined the attainment of development, security and democratic consolidation. From a scholarly and practical point of view, such conflict reinforces the inextricable link between durable peace, long-term security and sustainable development. It is today widely accepted that contemporary armed conflicts require sustained efforts that address not only the military dimensions of conflicts, but also the political, humanitarian, economic and social dimensions of conflicts. Specifically, for some years there has been a growing concern with and emphasis on the necessity of linking security and development to achieve meaningful peace, and pursuing this by means of special peacebuilding measures.

Based on the aforementioned case studies or references to peacekeeping in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Angola – to cite only a selected few cases – there seems to be a growing awareness that peacebuilding should be an essential part of any multinational peacekeeping undertaking. In referring once again to Sierra Leone, the citizens of this West African state went to the polls on 26 and 27 February 1996 before there was any sign of a cease-fire or peace agreement. Instead of the usual ‘UN prescribed pattern’ of cease-fire, peace agreement, demobilisation and then elections, the ‘peace process’ of 1996 began with the staging of elections. Not surprisingly, Sierra Leone’s people had a short-lived experiment with democracy. In 2002, there was clearly a different methodology as peacebuilding measures, instruments and programmes had been put in place. Policy instruments outside the toolbox of traditional security policy were mobilised and development-related interventions were made in the search for durable peace and democracy.

Finally, it has been argued in this paper that the end of the Cold War has offered an opportunity for international role-players to revisit dominant conceptions of security and development policy, and to devise integrated and coherent policy instruments and programmes to address violent conflict from a peacebuilding perspective. However, Tschirgi (2003:13) warns that the ‘window of opportunity’ that opened internationally in the 1990s with regard to the global search for security and development through integrated peace-building approaches, has been closed somewhat in the mean time. The reason is that international attention tended to turn to ‘issues of hard security’ again since 11 September 2001. ‘It would be a great mistake to underestimate the significance of the normative, political, institutional and operational changes that have been undertaken since the 1990s and to allow these gains to be overtaken by the climate of fear that has marked international affairs since 11 September. The case has to be made continuously that development and security need to be mutually reinforcing – especially when many of the threats that confront the international community emanate largely from failures of development’ (Tschirgi 2003:13).

Be that as it may, it is evident that a range of international reforms throughout the international system has taken place to facilitate peacebuilding endeavours. Much was indeed done to facilitate a fundamental overhaul of the UN system, while major aid agencies established conflict prevention and peace-building units. Also, some Western governments aligned their foreign, security and development policies and programmes to respond to the conflict prevention and peacebuilding agenda and challenges of the contemporary international community. This means supporting policies, activities, programmes and projects which facilitate war-prone, war-torn or post-war countries to recover from conflict in order to address longer-term developmental and security goals. All in all, it could be argued that this has led to a better understanding of the political economy of armed conflicts, as well as a drive towards applying appropriate strategies and priorities to deal with developmental and security challenges in responses to violent conflict and civil war. Obviously, this is of great importance from an African perspective given the acute need to apply relevant and constructive measures and strategies in the search for sustainable development and long-term security on the continent.


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