POLITICS AND PLUNDER: Civil war and regional intervention in Africa

Author: Deanna Katherine Gross

Gross, Deanna Katherine, 2007 POLITICS AND PLUNDER: Civil war and regional intervention in Africa, Flinders University, School of History and International Relations

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Over recent decades, civil wars in Africa have taken millions of lives and caused widespread destruction of whole states and regions. The living standards of peoples residing in such states in Africa which have been devastated by war are often deplorable, with violence, disease and poverty characterising life there. Lawlessness is another feature of such wars, making these states optimal places for international terrorist groups to operate in, and from. For both the above reasons, the West should not turn a blind eye to this issue. These wars that have occurred in a number of African states, including Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan, have often become regionalised with surrounding states increasingly becoming involved. This is particularly the case when economic gain can be sought through involvement in the civil war. The introduction of regional actors into domestic civil wars frequently serves to intensify and prolong the conflict, through an increase of arms and troops entering the fighting. The surrounding state actors largely claim to be involved for political reasons, namely to provide security to their own state. However, numerous credible reports have shown that vast plundering of natural resources has been carried out in war-time by surrounding states in the war-torn state. Consequently, this thesis examines the motives of surrounding state actors when deciding to participate in domestic civil wars of their neighbours. To do this, I compile case studies on both Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo since both states had been ravaged by violent and drawn-out civil wars involving regional actors. Furthermore, the regional actors in both cases (Liberia in Sierra Leone, and particularly Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe in the DRC) have been accused of participating in the wars for economic gain. The case studies showed that while political motivations largely drive the initial decision by regional actors to participate in civil wars in their region, it is subsequently economic gain that both allows and compels them to continue their involvement in the civil war. Henceforth, in the final chapter, I put investigate policy suggestions for the future including: prevention of resources being used to fuel warfare through controlling their access to legitimate channels; the use of aid to reduce the likelihood of those in poverty turning to war in pursuit of sustenance, including opportunities to target aid and use compliance with particular peace agreements as a prerequisite for attaining the funding; diversification of the economies of these weak states through development assistance to reduce risks produced by a high dependency on primary commodity exports for income and financial sanctions in the form of freezing of assets or asset blocking. These policy suggestions seek to address both the political and economic motivations of the surrounding state actors in participating in civil wars in Africa.

Keywords: sierra leone,democratic republic of congo,resources,war,intervention,regional

Subject: Politics thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2007
School: School of History and International Relations
Supervisor: Dr Tanya Lyons