Conflict Resolution And Strategies To Eliminate Global Poverty By 2030

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Seeing less of this should translate into development

As preparations for the post-2015 development agenda from 2016 through 2030 enter the second and final phase, there is much debate by state and non-state actors at national, sub-regional, regional and international levels about what needs to be done to make poverty history by 2030.

Many suggestions have sprung up. There are those calling for a general revolution in the way we have done business so far. Others are calling specifically for an end to instability in areas of endemic conflict as a first step.

At a recent book launch on Timor-Leste in New York City, participants, drawing on the experience of this country, stressed that addressing conflict or post-conflict fragility was a pre-requisite for rapid, sustained economic growth, sustainable development and poverty eradication.

The idea of addressing conflict in Africa as an integral part of sustainable development has gained momentum among many stakeholders in a joint collaborative effort including the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank. Increasingly development partners are allocating more resources to address security concerns as part of their poverty eradication agenda.

Evaluation reports of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have shown that countries caught up in conflict or emerging out of conflict have performed poorly regardless of the amount of resource allocated to them.

There are some countries in Africa where conflict has become endemic to the extent that when they are not fighting they are preparing for it. In these circumstances, no amount of resources will propel these countries out of poverty. What is also disturbing is that conflicts in such countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tend to spill over to neighboring countries with all the adverse consequences including the influx of refugees and their impact of social and environmental capital.

At a recent meeting in New York, participants learned how refugees from unstable neighboring countries have adversely impacted the environment in Tanzania. In Uganda the influx of refugees and their impact on land tenure especially in areas already heavily populated has triggered conflicts with all implications on poverty, environment and development.

In his article titled “Africa’s Ugly Sisters” published in African Business of June 2014, Richard Walker talks about the perpetual conflict in central Africa that sits at the heart of the continent. “Why”, he asks “are the DRC, Chad and the Central African Republic going backwards when everybody else is going forward? What is the destabilizing effect on neighboring countries? What do they cost Africa in terms of lost investment and income?”

To stop this spillover into neighboring countries we need first to understand what causes these conflicts in Africa including in the three ugly sisters. By and large, the struggle for political power between or among individuals to access economic resources has triggered conflicts as in South Sudan.

The conflict there started when the former vice president indicated his intention to run for president in the next elections. To prevent competition, the president reshuffled the cabinet and dismissed the vice president who picked up the gun to get the post by force thereby throwing the country into the current political turmoil and refugees into neighboring countries.

In his article titled “Crisis in the Central African Republic” published in the New Yorker dated October 20, 2014, John Lee Anderson explains the back ground to the current fighting. He records that a Christian army officer Francois Bozize called on Muslims to join him in a 2003 military coup and promised power-sharing in the new government. Muslims had been shortchanged in the political process and access to economic resources since independence.

Mohamed Bahar, a Muslim and former Army general joined Bozize. Bozize also promised he would be the last Christian president and the next president would be a Muslim. He also promised that Muslims would be given senior positions in the army. However, Bozize, not only broke his promise but jailed some Muslim soldiers and disenfranchised the rest.

Bahar and his colleagues retreated into the jungle and with the help of elephant poachers he obtained weapons, formed a militia and began the war in 2004. The Muslims were defeated after three years by external intervention on the side of Bozize. In 2012, Bahar and other Muslims regrouped and formed Seleke with a force of 6,000 men and captured power with Michel Djotodia becoming the Muslim president.

“After years on the political sidelines, the country’s Muslim minority had suddenly come to power”, Anderson noted. This action led to the current crisis as Christians fought back and turned the fight for power into a religious war.

Another case of a broken promise comes from Somalia. In October 1990, three opposition groups – the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), the United Somali Congress (USC) and the Somali National Movement (SMN) joined forces against the government of Siad Barre. They agreed that before forming the new government the three groups should consult. When Barre was defeated, the leader of USC faction formed the government without consultation as agreed. He began killing his opponents in and around Mogadishu. The SNM group from former British Somaliland that already disliked the Somalis in former Italian colony felt it was time to end the union. At a meeting in March 1991, it was finally decided that the union with the south had been a bad idea and formed a new state of Somaliland (Current History May 1998).

The two case studies clearly show that political exclusion is at the heart of many conflicts in Africa. Thus, many parts of Africa will not stabilize and develop sustainably to end poverty until political exclusion is brought to an end and power sharing embraced.

Thankfully, the United Nations has recognized this constraint and has addressed it in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To this effect, goal 16 calls for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.       

 

Eric Kashambuzi is New York-based international consultant on development issues. 

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