Grace Maina, Erik Melander, eds. Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa. Scottsville, South Africa: University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal Press, 2016. 338 pp. $31.50 (paper), ISBN 978-1-86914-306-0.
Reviewed by Kenneth Omeje (University of Bradford)
Published on H-Diplo (August, 2016)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa is an edited volume that reflects on why some peace agreements fail while others succeed. As the analyses of the seven country case studies and the well-crafted introduction by the principal editor Grace Maina demonstrate, there are no easy and straightforward answers to this puzzle. The book is a product of the strategic partnership between academic peace researchers from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden and African-based policy researchers affiliated to or commissioned by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), the famous Durban-based African policy think-thank. The foreword is authored by Vasu Gounden, the founder and executive director of ACCORD. The book is grounded in rigorous empirical fieldwork research.
The introduction by Maina clearly sets out the driving objectives, conceptual parameters, and analytical context of the book. Relevant concepts like peace, conflict, peace processes, peacemaking, peace agreements, success of peace agreements, and failure of peace agreements are all operationally defined or elucidated within the framework of the book’s research project. She notes that peace agreements in areas affected by armed conflict are research worthy because they are “necessary and legitimate tools of resolving conflicts and bringing about durable peace” (p. 3).
In providing a conceptual road map to the volume, Maina argues that to succeed, peacemaking and the correlated peace agreements need to meet five requirements. First, a peace agreement must contain clear, realistic, and feasible provisions that can be achieved by the warring parties. Second, the peacemaking process must be launched at a time when the conflict is practically ripe for negotiation, meaning the conflict has culminated in “the right moment when parties reach a mutually hurtful and costly stalemate” (p. 4). Third, to stand a chance of successful implementation, peace agreements have to be as inclusive of all conflict parties as possible and the outcome has to be based on substantial compromises (for example, power sharing in the reconstituting of the state) in order to forestall the possibility of excluded armed groups acting as spoilers to stall the peace process. Consequently, “for any peace process to be successful, there must be a ceasefire commitment from all warring parties” (p. 6). Fourth, strong political will and leadership capability is required from signatories to any peace agreement to guarantee successful implementation, including local and international actors and parties. The multiplicity of local and international actors involved in the implementation of a peace agreement makes effective coordination and coherent purposeful actions imperative for achieving set targets and goals. Fifth, political expediency is important in pursuing the goal of transitional justice; hence, in negotiating certain peace agreements, expediency could demand that some undefeated warring parties are granted amnesty from judicial prosecution for war crimes. A right balance must be struck between political expediency and justice so that amnesty does not become a harmful vehicle for impunity.
In chapter 1, Justin Pearce evaluates the various peace accords signed during Angola’s civil war between the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government and Jonas Savimbi’s rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the allies of these warring parties between 1988 and 2002. The author interrogates the notion of “success” credited to the 2002 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the government and UNITA rebels that saw the end of the civil war after the failure of previous peacemaking efforts and peace agreements. Notable among the previous peace initiatives that failed include the Bicesse-Portugal Accord of May 1991, the Lusaka-Zambia Accord of November 1994, and the series of agreements signed in February 1999 with the leadership of a splinter group of UNITA known as the UNITA-Renovada. Pearce argues that the 2002 MoU, which ended the Angolan civil war, was an agreement crafted and executed in government terms and that the government took advantage of the weakening of UNITA militarily and the death of its domineering leader Savimbi to broker a war-winning accord with the rebels. The 2002 MoU granted an unconditional amnesty from war crimes charges to all individuals and parties involved in the war, a measure lampooned by many critics but that paradoxically contributed in great measure to postwar peace building and national reconciliation.
In the second chapter, “Peace and Peace Agreements in Burundi: When the Right Time Comes,” Gregory Mthembu-Salter examines the phasal paradigm of warring stakeholders’ engagement and inclusion adopted by regional mediators that negotiated the famous Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 2000 that, among other things, adopted a consociational ethnic-power sharing constitutional arrangement to end the protracted civil war in the country. “Ironically,” argues the author, “the main beneficiary of the political settlement embodied in the Arusha Accord was the [National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy] CNDD-FDD, an ethnic Hutu rebel group active in the civil war, which went on the win the general elections of 2005 by a landslide, despite never signing the peace agreement” (p. 47). The chapter argues, in hindsight, that the Burundian peace process has been greatly vitiated by the weak commitment of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD government to building credible and independent state institutions capable of rising above the partisan interests and whims of the government to regulate the political behaviors and maneuvers of the elite. Apparently, the issue of institution building was overlooked or underestimated by the Arusha peace negotiators, a defect that has haunted the fragile post-2005 peace process in the country, reaching its most pernicious climax in President Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run for a third presidential term in 2015 against the spirit of the Arusha Accord and all regional and international entreaties. There has been no shortage of mass protests and state military crackdowns in Burundi since Nkurunziza’s inordinate third-term rulership agenda.
In chapter 3, Siphamandla Zandi and Charles Nyuykange analyze the spate of peace agreements that the government of Idriss Deby in Chad has signed with opposition parties and anti-establishment rebel groups, as well as with the country’s war-torn northern neighbor Sudan aimed at ending the civil strife in Chad and at achieving sustainable peace. The authors indict the Chadian peace agreements of lacking the vital ingredient of inclusivity and for being largely driven by elitist self-serving interest of the Deby regime and the externalist hegemonic and imperialist interests of the European Union, France, and Libya’s late strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Exploiting the relative weakness of the local opposition parties and rebel groups, the Chadian president has refused to create conditions for sustainable peace by failing to embrace major political and institutional reforms capable of dismantling the highly personalized neopatrimonial and authoritarian rule of the embattled president. Chad is surrounded by war-ravaged neighbors (Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and northeastern Nigeria) and a significant proportion of the country’s rebel groups operate from neighboring countries, which leaves the country in a deplorable security nightmare.
In his chapter, Osita Agbu analyzes the historical and political contexts of the civil war and peace process in Cote d’Ivoire. The author evaluates the major peace agreements signed by the parties in the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire in relation to durability, namely, the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement of January 2003, the 2004 Accra III Agreement, the Pretoria Agreement of April 2005, and the Ouagadougou Agreement of March 2007. Virtually all the peace agreements aimed to resolve the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire failed ostensibly because of the lack of inclusivity and the unpreparedness of one or more key players to abandon armed struggle and commit wholeheartedly to achieving peaceful resolution and reconciliation. The obduracy and inordinate determination of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo to cling to power at all cost is underscored by the author as a major contributor to the frustration and unraveling of the Ivorian peace initiatives.
In chapter 5, Germain Ngoie Tshibambe explores the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the aftermath of the regionalized war that besieged the short-lived regime of President Laurent Desire Kabila who succeeded the brutal dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko. A constellation of factors enabled the peace process: notably, the efficacy of African diplomacy within the framework of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, the war weariness of the conflict parties occasioning the “ripeness” of the conflict for external mediation and intervention, the inclusive nature of the famous 2003 Global and All-Inclusive Agreement that ended the military contestation for state power, and the post-ceasefire stabilization role of United Nations peacekeepers. Given the continued dispensation of fragile peace in the DRC, the author argues that sustainable peace cannot be achieved without combating the reign of impunity within the state, society, and economy, as well as embedding distributive justice in the political system to enable ordinary people to enjoy the benefits of democracy in tangible ways.
In his highly incisive chapter, Kasaija Philip Apuuli explores the conundrum of why Somalia has failed to achieve peace in spite of a multiplicity of peace agreements (notably, from Djibouti I of 1991 to Djibouti IV of 2008-9, Addis Ababa I of March 1993, Sodere process of October 1996, and Nairobi peace agreements of 2002-4). From his findings, the author attributes the failure of most Somali peace agreements to a nexus of factors, prominent among them being clan rivalry, the proliferation of spoilers, the negative impact of external interventions (regional and international), and the lucrativeness of the war economy that has emerged and flourished since the collapse of the Somali state in 1991.
Anyway Sithole evaluates the elusive peace in Sudan, specifically analyzing the politics surrounding the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Southern Sudanese rebel movement, as well as the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which, among other things, paved the way for sovereign statehood in South Sudan following the January 2011 referendum. The chapter analyzes the commendable mediation roles played by various local, regional, and external stakeholders (including religious groups, neighboring governments, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, African Union, United Nations, United States, European Union, etc.) both in the Machakos peace process in Kenya that culminated in the CPA and the turbulent period of implementing the peace agreement. The post-separation fragile peace between Sudan and South Sudan, concludes the author, remains challenged by the “economics of peace” (p. 254), notably, continued fighting over ownership of resources, including the oil-rich Abyei region and the implosive personality-centered ethno-political violence in the South.
The last chapter by Lesley Connolly and Maina explores in great depth the failed Juba peace process conceived to resolve the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda (1987-2006). The Juba negotiations were rendered unsuccessful when Joseph Kony, leader of LRA, failed to sign the final peace agreement in 2008, a failure that has not depreciated the militarily won peace in northern Uganda by the government forces. The chapter further examines the impact of the indictment of Kony and other key LRA commanders by the International Criminal Court and the US-led international manhunt for Kony in the vast rain forests of Central African Republic, northern DRC, and South Sudan where the LRA’s highly disabled rebel insurgency has incubated in recent years. The case of the achievement of peace without a peace agreement in northern Uganda, according to the authors, underscores the point that there is no single formula for achieving peace in a conflict situation.
The conclusion summarizing this edited volume is written by Erik Melander. “The nuanced conclusion that emerges from this volume,” writes Melander, “is that analysts and practitioners must ask what approaches to peacemaking apply to the particular case on which they are working” because there is no universal formula for peacemaking (p. 295).
This book fills a significant intellectual void in the conceptual and practical discourses on peacemaking and peace agreements in violence-affected countries and areas of Africa. It is an audacious and well-researched volume, which I consider “a must read” for all students, policymakers, researchers, and lecturers interested in understanding the socio-legal and political ramifications of peacemaking, peace agreements, and post-conflict peace building in Africa.
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Kenneth Omeje. Review of Maina, Grace; Melander, Erik, eds., Peace Agreements and Durable Peace in Africa.
H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews.
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