THE DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: DARFUR IN PERSPECTIVE

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THE DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: DARFUR IN PERSPECTIVE (INDUSTRIAL RELATION AND PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)

CHAPTER ONE

1.0    GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The crucial condition for the viability of a state lies in its ability to provide socio-economic and political security for its citizens.  In functional and politically matured state, the provision of this security is regarded as a basic right of the citizens.  The failure of a state to provide these basic rights often gave rise to the feeling of insecurity which may lead to variances thus leading to conflict.

Conflicts become more apparent when groups of people on security basis believe that they have to come together for their security and survival.   This feeling is a function of crisis pervading human society.  Considering the trend of crisis in the world today, conflict can be regarded as an inevitable phenomenon of human society.  Conflict is inevitable because it often emanates from individuals or groups in reaction to unpleasant socio-economic and political situation within the society. Conflict is therefore seen as a multi-dimensional social process which is common and an essential feature of human existence Isaac Olawale (1998:15). In its simplest form, conflict refers to the pursuit of incompatible goals by individuals or groups.  In essence, conflict situations arise when individuals or groups identify a goal, which they want to secure in order to satisfy material interest, needs or values.  When these perceptions lead to actions that come up against the interest, needs or values of others, a conflict occurs (Ibid:16).

Globally, countries are increasingly involved in one conflict or the other.  This has taken different dimension with the advent of modern technology and the proliferation of arms struggle consequent to the end of the cold war.  Statistically, the current 18 wars and armed conflicts that are active and fought globally in different levels of intensity and at different stages of civil war, Africa accounts for 90 per cent, Evans and Newham (1992:52).  Consequently, there are heightened concerns about sustained violent conflicts in Africa since the end of the cold war.

During the 1980s, Africa was torn by 9 wars and almost half of the war-related deaths in the world were in Africa.  As a result, Africa accounted for over 8 million of the 22 million refugees world wide, Satgneth (1996:16). Conflicts in Africa have assumed alarming proportion and constitute impediment to Africa’s development (ibid:30).These conflicts have wrecked devastating consequences on Africa in terms of societal fragmentation and the regionalisation of domestic civil wars, which affect regional peace and security.  Consequently, some western media commentators like Riz Khan of Aljazeera among others have painted contemporary Africa as the ‘Heat of darkness, hopeless continent and the coming anarchy’ that is capable of threatening international peace and security (Ibid:25).

In the last two decades, Africa has been plagued by intra-state conflicts.  Ethnic and religious clashes were common in most of African countries, with some escalating to full scale civil wars as in Darfur, Somalia, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’ Ivoire (Ibid:31). These alarming incidence of medium and high intensity conflicts had their own attendant consequences in deaths, instability, security and refugees.  This situation has given rise to serious breakdown of law and order in many societies, bringing in its wake, immense insecurity and human suffering of great dimensions.

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THE DYNAMICS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AFRICA: DARFUR IN PERSPECTIVE (INDUSTRIAL RELATION AND PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)

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