Development and Peacemaking in Africa: Negotiating Peace in a Neo-liberal World

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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa 11th General Assembly/Maputo, Mozambique

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This paper examines the relationship between the neo-liberal ideology and practices which dominate current development policy in Africa and official negotiation of civil war in Africa. The purpose is to establish the implications this relationship poses to forging alternative self-reliant approaches to peace making. Given Africa’s dependent status in the world economy which is driven largely by the dominant neo-liberal agenda, how does this agenda influence the diplomatic negotiation of civil war in Africa? What implications does this have for alternative ways of peace making in Africa? I argue that negotiation from a position of economic dependence may limit or enhance the forging of a self-reliant approach to peace making. On the one hand, the increasing donor fatigue, and the reluctance of the international community to directly intervene in African civil wars has opened up possibilities for African solutions to African problems. However, Africa’s dependence on donor aid and its use as an instrument of peace conditionality privileges a neo-liberal and remedial approach to peace making rather than a self-reliant and transformative agenda. I draw on the notion of mediation as part of politics and the use of aid as peace incentives to make this argument using the Burundi Peace Negotiations (1996-2000) as my empirical case. The aim is to understand what kind of society a neo-liberal peace envisions for Africa, how viable this project is for the African communities affected by war, and whether feasible alternatives exist for resolving conflict in the continent.

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