Magazine article New African

Pax Africana 3: France Has Recognised the Libyan Rebels, and the UN Security Council (Photo below) Has Ordered Foreign "Intervention" to Save Civilians. Once We Lose the Authority to Internally Resolve Our Own Conflicts in Africa, Opportunities Are Presented to Powerful outside Powers, with Their Own Interests and Agendas, to Intervene

Magazine article New African

Pax Africana 3: France Has Recognised the Libyan Rebels, and the UN Security Council (Photo below) Has Ordered Foreign "Intervention" to Save Civilians. Once We Lose the Authority to Internally Resolve Our Own Conflicts in Africa, Opportunities Are Presented to Powerful outside Powers, with Their Own Interests and Agendas, to Intervene

Article excerpt

As France recognises the Libyan rebels, creating the possibility of a fractured country, African sovereignty is in grave danger if we do not resolve our conflicts by ourselves. Over a year ago I wrote a series of articles under the heading "Pax Africana", linking the idea of sovereignty to the existence of peace and stability. My argument was simple. Peace is dependent not on the absence of conflict, since there is always conflict. Get two humans together and there will be various degrees of conflict. Peace is instead dependent on the mechanisms and agreements we have in place (whether personal or national) to resolve such conflict.

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I drew a playground analogy, where small children are left to play and manage themselves, provided they display the self-discipline and order required. The adult supervisors only get involved when the children are unable to settle the disputes amongst themselves, and a higher authority is needed to impose order on the squabbling mob. Like the children, once we lose the authority to internally resolve our own conflicts in Africa, opportunities are presented to powerful outside powers, with their own interests and agendas, to intervene and chip away at our hard-fought and hard-won sovereignty.

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Four unfolding disputes and conflicts in Africa over the last few months provide ample evidence for this thesis. In two countries, Egypt and Tunisia, change has happened relatively peacefully, with both countries emerging stronger, with their sovereignty not only intact but strengthened. They still have a long way to go in resolving core issues, but they seem to have worked out a way of operating that means their revolutions will evolve relatively peacefully, driven by their own internal processes.

When the conflict first exploded in Tunisia and Egypt between the ruled and their rulers, it was handled within a national framework. There were no appeals to outside forces - instead a consensus emerged, pretty quickly, about the rules which would hold sway as the conflict was fought out and the internal referee that would police those rules. Although part of the regime, the army in both countries created a space where it could assume some neutrality. And it did so by laying down the most critical ground rule-that the army would not fire on peaceful protestors. …

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