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  • Author: John Paden
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria is by far the largest country in the world—with a population of just over 180 mil-lion—evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. The 2011 presidential election split the country along ethno-religious-regional lines. Thus, concerns for the upcoming 2015 election are widespread. Muslims in Nigeria include Sufi, Izala, women's organizations, student organizations, emir-ate traditions, and ordinary people, as well as Boko Haram extremists. Christians range from Catholic to mainstream Protestant to Evangelical to Pentecostal to African syncretism. The candidates in the upcoming election are the same as in 2011: Muhammadu Buhari for the All Progressive Congress party (APC) and Goodluck Jonathan for the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). At the national level, the APC is running on the themes of security and anticorruption, the PDP on the theme of transformation. The APC believes that it can sweep seventeen of the nineteen northern states as well as the southwest. The PDP is confident that it can win the south-south and southeast as well as parts of Middle Belt. Such a scenario could set up ethno-regional tensions in the aftermath of the election. The presidential election is scheduled for February 14, 2015. State-level elections, including for governors, are set for February 28, creating a possible bandwagon effect after the presidential election for whichever party wins. Postelection court challenges follow. The inauguration is scheduled for May 29. Do religious symbols exacerbate or mitigate conflict, especially during an electoral season? What are the interfaith efforts to ameliorate or mitigate ethno-religious conflict? What are the consequences of a polarized election? How might recent patterns of extremist violence—with ethno-religious implications—affect this election? The question is framed in the context of broader patterns of religious identity and conflict that have plagued Nigeria's Fourth Republic. Most important will be a national election such that whoever wins, it will stand as a milestone in the quest for democratic practices rather than as a testament to a failed state.
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Freedom C. Onuoha
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since Nigeria's return to democracy in May 1999, armed nonstate groups have significantly undermined the country's internal security environment, largely using young men as foot soldiers. Among these groups, Boko Haram has grown to become a serious national, regional, and international concern. Estimates of the death toll from Boko Haram attacks since 2009 range as high as ten thousand fatalities. With Boko Haram and other groups seemingly gaining in strength, questions arise as to why young men join them in the first place and what the government and other actors can do to prevent it. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups conducted in Nigeria in 2013 suggest that poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and weak family structures make or contribute to making young men vulnerable to radicalization. Itinerant preachers capitalize on the situation by preaching an extreme version of religious teachings and conveying a narrative of the government as weak and corrupt. Armed groups such as Boko Haram can then recruit and train youth for activities ranging from errand running to suicide bombings. To weaken the armed groups' abilities to radicalize and recruit young men, the Nigerian government at all levels, perhaps with support from interested international actors, could institute monitoring and regulation of religious preaching; strengthen education, job training, and job creation programs; design robust programs to aid destitute children; promote peace education; and embark on an anticorruption campaign. Addressing the conditions that make it possible for insurgents to recruit young men in Nigeria can significantly diminish the strength of the insurgency, if not eliminate it altogether.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Jon Temin, Lawerence Woocher
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Numerous predictions asserted that the referendum on the secession of southern Sudan would lead to renewed civil war. Despite ongoing violence in many parts of Sudan and South Sudan, the referendum process was largely peaceful. This unanticipated result may prove a relatively rare instance of documented success in conflict prevention. Warnings of impending violence came from many sources. They were timely but tended to be vague. Whether they were overly dire because of faulty assumptions about the conflict dynamics deserves scrutiny. Two prominent narratives explain why the referendum process was peaceful: one that emphasizes domestic factors and another that focuses on international intervention by Africans and westerners. It is highly likely that both contain important explanations for the peaceful referendum. People in Sudan and South Sudan tend to emphasize the domestic narrative; members of the international community tend to focus on international engagement. Several lessons for global conflict prevention can be drawn from the Sudan referendum experience: Preventing conflict in what seems like dire circumstances is possible. Coordinated outside actions should support local conflict-mitigating dynamics. Technical actions, such as election or referendum logistics, can have a significant positive impact on political processes. International actors need to be receptive to taking preventive action. Focusing on successes, as well as failures, is critical.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, Territorial Disputes, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Andrew Walker
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. Since August 2011 Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public or in churches in Nigeria's northeast. The group has also broadened its targets to include setting fire to schools. In March 2012, some twelve public schools in Maiduguri were burned down during the night, and as many as 10,000 pupils were forced out of education. Boko Haram is not in the same global jihadist bracket as Algeria's al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or Somalia's al Shabab. Despite its successful attack on the UN compound in Abuja in August 2011, Boko Haram is not bent on attacking Western interests. There have been no further attacks on international interests since that time. Following the failed rescue of hostages Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in north¬eastern Nigeria in March 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan played up the connections between the group and international terrorism. However, links between Boko Haram and the kidnappers are questionable. It is difficult to see how there can be meaningful dialogue between the government and the group. The group's cell-like structure is open for factions and splits, and there would be no guarantee that someone speaking for the group is speaking for all of the members. Tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consis-tently brutal and counterproductive. Their reliance on extrajudicial execution as a tactic in “dealing” with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand. The group will continue to attack softer targets in the northeast rather than international targets inside or outside Nigeria. It is also likely to become increasingly involved in the Jos crisis, where it will attack Christian indigenes of the north and try to push them out. Such a move would further threaten to destabilize the country's stability and unity.Now that the group has expanded beyond a small number of mosques, radical reforms in policing strategy are necessary if there is to be any progress in countering the group. Wide¬spread radical reform of the police is also long overdue throughout Nigeria. As a first step, jailing a number of police officers responsible for ordering human rights abuses might go some way to removing a key objection of the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Religion, United Nations, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia
  • Author: Susan Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The field of religious peacebuilding has begun to move closer to the mainstream of conflict resolution practice and theory. The 2011 unrest in the Middle East and North Africa—the Arab Spring—reflects ongoing challenges and opportunities for the field. American and European nongovernmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. government, academia, and international organizations—sectors that once held religious issues at a distance or understood religion mainly as a driver of violence—increasingly engage religious communities and institutions as partners in creating peace. Meanwhile, religious organizations that have been involved in creating peace for decades, if not longer, increasingly have institutionalized and professionalized their work, suggesting ways that religious and secular organizations could coordinate their efforts more closely. The U.S. Institute of Peace's own programs on religion reflect the development of the wider field, having moved from research and analysis to on-the-ground programming to foster interfaith dialogue in the Balkans, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan. In addition, it has trained religious actors in conflict management in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Colombia and developed peace curricula based on Islamic principles for religious and secular schools in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As the U.S. field of religious peacebuilding continues to develop, challenges include integrating further with secular peacebuilding efforts, engaging women and youth and addressing their priorities, working more effectively with non-Abrahamic religious traditions, and improving evaluation, both to show how religious peacebuilding can reduce and resolve conflict and to strengthen the field's ability to do so.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Aaron Sayne
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Many of Nigeria's worst conflicts pit the recognized original inhabitants, or indigenes, of a particular place against supposedly later settlers. These conflicts may be growing deadlier and more numerous with time. State and local governments have free rein to pick who is an indigene. Abuse of the label can foster deep socioeconomic inequalities, given that indigenes enjoy preferential access to land, schools, development spending, and public jobs. These inequalities feed into violence, although righting inequality may not be sufficient to end violence in every case. The indigene-settler distinction is also explosive because it reinforces and is reinforced by other identity-based divides in Nigeria. These differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and culture can be longstanding and deeply felt, but how they factor into violence is again not well understood. Poor law enforcement responses also help entrench violence between indigenes and settlers. Official complicity and indifference make prosecutions rare. Destructive conduct by the Nigerian security forces itself often becomes a structural cause of violence. Serious thought about how to prevent or resolve indigene-settler violence has barely started in Nigeria. Addressing inequality between indigenes and settlers calls for serious, microlevel analysis of local economic dysfunctions and opportunities, along with real official commitment to make and enforce better policies. More holistic understandings of justice are also needed. The worst hot spots will need a wide menu of well-planned interventions. Options include securitization, criminal prosecution, mediation and dialogue, truth commissions, victim compensation programs, public health and trauma assistance, public institutional reforms, education, and communications work. In some cases, building sustainable peace could take a generation or more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Crime, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Jill Shankleman
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Oil started being produced in Sudan in the 1990s and has become the mainstay of the economies of the north and south. Most, but not all, of the oilfields are in South Sudan, but the export pipelines, Red Sea export terminal, and refineries are in the north. Agreement to share control over oil resources and revenues was a central part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but up to the eve of South Sudan's secession, north and south had not resolved how to divide the industry or its revenues. The Republic of South Sudan starts independence facing huge challenges in using its oil wealth to jump-start development in the country, where over 50 percent of its people live below the poverty line and over 80 percent are illiterate. Without new investment to increase output, or successful exploration that finds additional resources, South Sudan faces declining oil production from 2015-too little time under any circumstances to diversify the economy and develop alternative sources of government revenue. As the most oil-dependent state in the world, the government of South Sudan faces the certainty that its income will fluctuate from year to year with global oil prices, a circumstance known to make sound macroeconomic management difficult. The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should have three priorities for the oil sector. First, in the short term, it should focus on developing a detailed understanding of what it now owns and what the long-term prospects are for its oil industry. Second, it needs to maximize revenues from the existing industry. Third, it must make the best use of its revenues for development. Information on the potential for, and barriers to, increasing production and incentivizing new exploration is essential to developing a realistic oil industry strategy. This requires a technical and economic reserves evaluation study and disclosure of data by the oil companies-to which the new government will be entitled as a partner in production sharing contracts. To overcome the problem of revenue fluctuations, the government should explore working with donors to use aid to help moderate variations in government income and consider the possibility of oil-backed loans, that is, obtaining immediate funds for infrastructure to be paid with future oil production. To secure new oil investment, South Sudan needs to overcome the toxic reputation of Sudan's oil industry by committing immediately to joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the international program for oil sector transparency, and allow its industry's environmental and human rights performance to be audited against current international standards, developing a remediation program as needed. The government also should be ready to consider offering incentive terms to good-quality oil companies to secure their investment in enhanced oil recovery and exploration. Most important of all, as violent conflict has emerged in some of the oil areas in the months preceding independence, South Sudan and the international community must ensure security for oil workers and installations so that the new state gets the oil income it depends on.
  • Topic: Civil War, Oil, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan
  • Author: Judith Vorrath
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Despite recent elections in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda and upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Great Lakes region shows worrying trends toward electoral authoritarianism and political fragmentation, with new divisions that intensify the potential for confrontation. A shrinking political space and a tight grip on the state by the ruling elites and their parties are signs of authoritarianism in the region—a cause of concern since armed conflict in all four countries has been strongly linked to a history of exclusion under autocratic regimes. New divisions beyond previous alignments in armed conflicts also have occurred and already led to serious confrontations, flight, and at times violence. An increasing political fragmentation has become visible, and splits embroil intraparty conflicts in the political landscape instead of resolving them. The two trends—electoral authoritarianism and political fragmentation—are mutually reinforcing within and across the countries of the region and risk jeopardizing economic and social progress in Uganda and Rwanda as well as an emerging vibrant civil society in Burundi and the DRC. In light of the history of conflict and autocratic regimes in the region, these trends have to be a serious concern for local and international actors. The preference for stable leadership, economic performance, and security considerations regardless of political conduct has been a fatal miscalculation before in the Great Lakes region. Rather, acting early and using pressure constructively, the international community should do what it can to support a more open and less fragmented political sphere in the Great Lakes countries.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Political Economy, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Burundi
  • Author: Jon Temin, Theodore Murphy
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Approaches to Sudan's challenges—by both Sudanese and the international community— have been fragmented and regionally focused rather than national in scope. They overlook fundamental governance challenges at the roots of Sudan's decades of instability and the center of the country's economic and political dominance of the periphery, which marginalizes a majority of the population. Such fragmentation diffuses efforts into fighting various eruptions of violence throughout the periphery and confounds efforts to address governance and identity issues. Ongoing processes in the future Republic of Sudan, sometimes referred to as north Sudan, continue this trend. While Darfur negotiations and popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states should continue, they should eventually be subsumed into a national process aimed at addressing the root causes of Sudan's governance failures. The process should feed into, and then be reified by, development of a new national constitution. Even now the goal of these regional processes should be re-envisaged as steps toward a national process. Sudanese negotiations largely occur between elites. Negotiators often cannot claim genuine representativeness, resulting in lack of broad buy-in and minimal consultation with the wider population. The ongoing Darfur negotiations are a case in point. To avoid prolonging the trend, a more national process should be broad-based and consultative. It should feature an inclusive dialogue, involving representatives from throughout the periphery, about the nature of the Sudanese state and how to manage Sudan's considerable diversity. Southern secession in July 2011 presents an opportunity for Sudanese to take a more comprehensive, holistic approach to their governance problems. Significant adjustments are warranted by the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, such as the development of a new constitution. The opportunity to initiate fundamental governance reform may be ripe because the ruling National Congress Party is under intense political and economic pressure. The Arab Spring revolts, the economic shock of lost oil revenue, and the proof of governance failure that southern secession represents have inspired, among some NCP leaders, a belief in the necessity of preemptive change. Any reform of northern governance should be led by Sudanese. Perceptions that external actors are forcing change can be counterproductive. The international community can support a reform process but should tread carefully. International efforts should focus on promoting an enabling environment in which nascent Sudanese-led efforts can take root and grow. Support to constructive voices and aid to inchoate political initiatives should be available when requested. Supporting a national process poses a challenge for the international community as its capacity, pressure, and incentives are already distributed across the various regional political processes. Pressures and incentives are tied to specific benchmarks defined by those processes, making it difficult to reorient them toward the new criteria dictated by a national process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Chris Newsom
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Neither Nigeria nor foreign donors are investing enough to end violent conflict in the Niger Delta. While Nigerian officials opt to buy short-term cease-fires, such as the 2009 amnesty process, other governments spend too little in money and manpower to grow local civil society, engage core conflict issues, or adequately understand the region's problems. All parties likewise fail to focus on deeper trends when planning their anticonflict strategies. This causes them to undervalue the potential costs of ongoing violence, as well as the importance of a peaceful Niger Delta to Nigeria's economic development and global energy security. A tragedy of the commons results. The situation in the delta remains fragile and will likely return either to intermittent conflict or full-blown insurgency within six to eighteen months if a "business as usual" approach is taken to interventions. The amnesty process opened a door for stabilization but did not reduce the long-term potential for violence or deal with root conflict issues. Governance is both at the heart of the conflict and the best place to seek solutions. To best help catalyze peace in the region, donors should invest heavily in democratization and learn lessons from a decade of setbacks and poor investment choices. International support for governance reform in the delta must start at the grass roots. The key is to lay a foundation to support and argue for better government practices higher up. Civil society is already having some success promoting accountability at the community level. Obstacles are high and progress is slow, making longer commitments from donors a must. Reformers in the Niger Delta also have operated too much in isolation. Local and international actors need a multilateral strategy allowing them to combine levers and use each other's momentum. They must ground this strategy in deeper analysis of the region's problems and a unified theory of change. Donors should also complement their support of governance reform in the delta with funding for innovative local development work. Ideas and best practices should be sought from other countries, with flexibility for keying in to promising government initiatives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil Society, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria