Sovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa


Sovereignty, according to the authors, can no longer be seen as a protection against interference, but as a charge of responsibility where the state is accountable to both domestic and external constituencies. In internal conflicts in Africa, sovereign states have often failed to take responsibility for their own citizens' welfare and for the humanitarian consequences of conflict, leaving the victims with no protection or assistance. This book shows how that responsibility can be exercised by states over their own populations and by other states in assistance to their fellow sovereigns. The authors present a framework that should guide both national governments and the international community in discharging their respective responsibilities. They develop broad principles by examining identity as a potential source of conflict, governance as a matter of managing conflict, and economics as a policy field for conflict prevention. Considering conflict management, political stability, economic development, and social welfare as functions of governance, they also develop strategies, guidelines, and roles for its responsible exercise. Approaching conflict management from the perspective of the responsibilities of sovereignty provides a framework for evaluating government accountability. It proposes standards that guide performance and sharpen tools of conflict prevention rather than simply making post hoc judgments on success or failure. The authors demonstrate that sovereignty as responsibility is both a national obligation and a global imperative.

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