Armed conflict prevention-Cases from Africa

About 20 years ago, I was studying for my Masters in Sociology at Göteborg University in Sweden. Then I wrote a master thesis on armed conflict prevention in Africa. As the thesis might be interesting for some I will post the abstract here. Those who are interested to read the whole thesis can find it in this blog page.


Title: Armed conflict prevention-Cases from Africa

Author: Getahun Yacob Abraham

Supervisor: Bertil Nelhans

Department: Göteborg University, Department of Sociology

Type of work: CD-thesis, 20 points

Number of Pages: 62

Period of study: Mid-January, 2003 – May, 2004

Objectives and research questions: Africa as a continent experienced many armed conflicts that caused losses of lives, physical and psychological handicaps, hatred and property damage. The objectives of this study are to try investigate the root causes of armed conflicts in Africa, contributing to further awareness about the problems among different groups of people, hopefully adding some knowledge to the already existing ones on the subject and indicating some areas that need further research. The major investigatory theme revolves around and posed as a main question, whether it is possible to prevent armed conflicts in Africa. My sub questions were: on what are the causes of armed conflicts in 1990s? who are the main actors in armed conflicts? and what measures are needed to prevent or at least minimize future armed conflicts in the continent?

Data and method: The data used in the paper is collected through literature survey and supplementary interviews conducted with Africans living in Sweden and Swedes familiar with Africa. I also conversed with a large number of informants by e-mail and/or telephone. Qualitative data collecting method has been used. Grounded theory is considered as a tool for identifying concepts and categories relevant for the study.

Theory/Theories: Sociological theories of social conflict and modern theories of conflict prevention used within peace and conflict research are considered.

Empirical findings: The study focused upon the intra state and inter state conflicts. In the intra state conflicts political, ethnic, resource and religious factors are found to be main causes of armed conflicts. The inter state conflicts are mainly caused by politically motivated factors, border and territorial claims. Actors of conflicts can be both internal and external. The state, the army, ethnic groups, local leaders and religious leaders are some of the internal actors. External actors can be neighbouring states, big powers supporting armed opposition groups, arms dealers and mercenaries. There are also internal and external actors for armed conflict prevention. Internal actors are the state, civic organisations, religious and other traditional organisations while external actors could be the UN, the regional and sub-regional organisations, NGOs, big powers and states of other countries. These actors can take proactive or reactive measures of armed conflict prevention in a short term and long term bases.