The idea of ‘African solutions to African problems’ has become a compelling maxim of the African Union (AU) and its leading member states like South Africa. The concept evokes a sense of self-reliance, responsibility, pride, ownership and indigeneity, at once a rallying cry and a neat amalgam of politics, agency and geography. But what exactly is it intended to convey, and what are its implications? Laurie Nathan addresses these questions in the context of South Africa’s foreign policy, distinguishing between the organisational, ideological and cultural implications of the concept.
In 2011 the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) disbanded the SADC Tribunal after the regional court held that the Zimbabwean government's land seizures violated the rule of law. The disbandment reflects SADC's hierarchy of values, in terms of which the organization's formal commitment to human rights and a regional legal order is subordinate to the political imperatives of regime solidarity and respect for sovereignty. The Tribunal saga demonstrates that the jurisdiction of regional courts derives not simply from their official mandates but from an interplay between domestic and regional law and politics.
In places as diverse as South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Nepal, negotiators of national peace plans have for years sanctioned the creation of local peace committees (LPCs) to address community-level sources of grievance and thereby to build peace from the bottom up. In A Crucial Link: Local Peace Committees and National Peacebuilding, longtime practitioner Andries Odendaal engages in the first comparative study of LPCs and asks whether and where the committees have succeeded.
According to Dr Simon Mason, a member of the Mediation Support Team at the Center for Security Studies in Zurich, "It’s a fantastic read, thanks to a great combination of
comparative case studies,
conceptual clarity that teases out the key factors related to Local Peace Committees and how they link up to the national and international level, and
story-like, personal examples that relate on an emotional level, and make it more than just a solidly researched book. At times daily news can be depressing, I felt this book really provides the reader with realistic hope and very useful insights of how local, organized peace efforts can work (and how we can learn from those that do not work).
"For all of us who were at the Berlin MSN [Mediation Support Network] meeting struggling with the local-international question, I think it is an absolute must read."
This article presents a synopsis of Community of insecurity: SADC's struggle for peace and security in southern Africa, published by Ashgate in 2012. It focuses on SADC's efforts to establish a common security regime; conflict and peacemaking in southern Africa between 1992 and 2011; and the prospects of SADC becoming a security community.
This article responds to the reviews by Gwinyayi Dzinesa and Elling Tjønneland of Community of insecurity: SADC's struggle for peace and security in southern Africa. It emphasises the need to present explicitly the criteria for assessment, to concentrate on the actual performance of the organisation rather than on its declarations and structures, and to make assessments and predictions on the basis of historical trends and sound analysis.
South Africa supposedly has one of the best Constitutions in the world, one which is intended to control and constrain the exercise of power by the state. But, in reality, does the Constitution contribute more to the security of some groups than others? Does it help to ensure certain types of security but not others? And does it have greater impact on some institutions than others? The book is based on the assumption that the Constitution has a significant impact on the security of South African citizens and communities but that this impact is differential.
A national peace committee is a multi-stakeholder body mandated to implement key peacebuilding objectives, and coordinate a multi-level network of peace committees called an infrastructure for peace. Based on 10 case studies, the article explores the importance of political legitimacy for the success of NPCs and analyses, in particular, the contribution of their mandate, role clarity, composition and competence.
The Mediation Arguments working paper series explores how mediation efforts can prevent, manage and resolve high intensity conflict. The most recent paper features Laurie Nathan's research entitled "A Clash of Norms and Strategies in Madagascar: Mediation and the AU Policy on Unconstitutional Change of Government".
Practitioner Notes is a non-academic working paper series. Written by mediators and other peace practitioners, these papers highlight critical insights and lessons about current mediation efforts. The latest edition sees Doc Mwale discuss local mediation in Malawi's electoral conflicts.
Exploring the formation, evolution and effectiveness of the regional security arrangements of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Community of Insecurity examines the vital issues of why the SADC has struggled to establish a viable security regime; why it has been unable to engage in successful peacemaking; and why it has defied the optimistic prognosis of the early 1990s that it would build a security community in Southern Africa.
Despite its importance for war termination and long-term peacebuilding and statebuilding, international mediation has not been conducted and developed in a systematic and professional manner. A Revolution in Mediation Affairs? highlights the main problems and makes recommendations for improving the mediation approach of international bodies.
No Ownership, No Peace: The Darfur Peace Agreement examines the factors underlying the failure of the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement, including deadline diplomacy and the failure of the AU and its international partners to distinguish between getting the parties to the Darfur conflict to sign a peace agreement and obtaining their genuine consent to its terms and execution.