Over the past year, the humanitarian consequences of conflict and atrocities have been consistently visible. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Western-backed Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, millions of Afghans are experiencing acute hunger and starvation. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been riddled with evidence of war crimes, including extrajudicial killings, sexual-based violence, torture, and looting. Evidence of ethnic cleansing is being reported in Ethiopia’s Tigray region—a consequence of the recent civil war in the country. Further, any near-term solutions to these humanitarian crises seem almost wholly out of grasp.
These events support a belief commonly espoused by advocates of conflict and atrocity prevention—that the best way to minimize the human suffering experienced during conflict and atrocities is to ensure that they never happen in the first place.
Conflict and atrocities are far from exclusive to the African continent. They have been historically prevalent and continue to occur in every geographic region in the world. However, the emphasis on conflict and atrocity prevention that has taken place over the past few decades on the African continent is unparalleled in any other region.
Conflict resolution and peace have been key objectives of the African Union since its conception, leading to heavy investment in conflict early warning systems and peacebuilding activities. Globally, half of the twelve active UN peacekeeping operations are in Africa, and 57 have been previously completed within the continent.
This emphasis entails that there is much to be learned about conflict and atrocity prevention from the efforts that have been taken in Africa. This series aims to analyze these efforts to understand their success, failures, and how they can be improved. By doing so, we hope to add to the discussion on how conflict and atrocity can be prevented throughout the world.
Part 1: Ishmael Maxwell contrasts the actions of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) with insider mediation efforts, and outlines the opportunity for MUNUSCO to support these initiatives.
Part 2: Christopher Heber examines the consequences that national memory and narrative play in continuing separatists’ efforts in Nigeria and how these narratives can be transformed to promote national unity.
Part 3: In the wake of several recent coups in Western Africa, Ryan Johnson reflects on the concept of “coup-proofing” and how the structure of Gabon’s security sector has aided the country in avoiding successful coup attempts.
Part 4: I will discuss the extensive existing conflict early warning system infrastructure on the African continent and how it can be leveraged to prevent climate-change driven conflict.