Most conflicts today arise from intra-state rather than interstate tensions. Many developing countries are unable to manage intra-state conflicts effectively, mainly because of capacity constraints in their governance and oversight institutions, political manipulation and executive interference. The result is that public confidence in the institutions remains weak and there is greater resort to private and group justice. National development is thus deeply affected. In restoring public confidence in the state’s ability to manage inter-group and inter-community conflicts, many governments are establishing and institutionalising standing national capacities for conflict prevention and resolution as extensions of their national governance framework. This article is a critical review of the efforts to establish such capacities in Kenya.
Local peace initiatives have been introduced in post-conflict settings in aid of statebuilding processes. However, contradictions in such efforts that undermine the state become apparent in a development context when government institutions are, generally, functioning. Peacebuilding initiatives in the arid lands of Kenya are a good example of this. While they have proved successful in resolving conflicts at the local level, they challenge the state structure in three ways. First, some of their features run counter to the official laws of Kenya and jeopardize the separation of powers. Second, they pose a dilemma, since their success and legitimacy are based on grassroots leadership and local concepts of justice. Both can be at odds with democratic decision-making, inclusiveness and gender equity. Third, they provide yet another tool for abuse by politicians and other local leaders. This reveals a dilemma: aspects of peacebuilding can actually undermine a statebuilding endeavour.
The two volumes of Understanding Civil War build upon the World Bank’s prior research on conflict and violence, particularly on the work of Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, whose model of civil war onset has sparked much discussion on the relationship between conflict and development in what came to be known as the “greed” versus “grievance” debate. The authors systematically apply the Collier-Hoeffler model to 15 countries in 6 different regions of the world, using a comparative case study methodology to revise and expand upon economic models of civil war. (The countries selected are Burundi, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Indonesia, Lebanon, Russian Federation, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and the Caucasus.) The book concludes that the “greed” versus “grievance” debate should be abandoned for a more complex model that considers greed and grievance as inextricably fused motives for civil war.
When discussing the end of British colonial rule in Africa, many historians have highlighted the role of postwar international relations and the impact of domestic imperial politics on decolonization and have failed to recognize the role of African nationalists. This article argues that such a viewpoint is flawed because it conceives of colonial policy makers as isolated and autonomous entities impervious to changes taking place in the colonies. The national liberation movements in Ghana, Central Africa, Kenya, and other regions of East Africa are explored in this article to illustrate the central role that colonial subjects played in the British decolonization of Africa. While dominant scholarship on the failures of the post-colonial state has made studies of decolonization and African nationalism less fashionable, it is becoming increasingly clear that our understanding of the nature and mechanics of the crises that beset the continent requires taking fresh stock of the record of European colonial rule in Africa. In this regard, the study of colonialism and decolonization in continues to be of critical relevance.