P 27

Processes of Re-Spatialization Around Violent Conflict in West Africa

Please note that this panel has merged into P 31. For further information see P 31.

Panel abstract
Recently, processes of re-spatialization around violent conflict in West Africa have gained considerable attention by highlighting complex African connections. Two interesting cases in point are, first, the secessionist attempts by groups of armed Tuareg in Mali in 2012 coupled with other violent actors labelled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘Islamists’, and second, the continuing instability in Guinea-Bissau, among other things characterized by recurrent military coups and activities of transnational drug networks. Diverse actors, among them nation-states, international, and regional organizations are connected in their attempts to deal with these developments, at times competing at others cooperating, and have become part of the unfolding dynamics. To name but a few examples, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, but also the United Nations and the European Union have played key roles, simultaneously reacting to and shaping processes of re-spatialization. In this panel, we are interested in different spatial articulations, perceptions, and connections of such conflicts, explicit or implicit spatial references and imaginations of the involved actors, and the results of their intended or unintended spatializing actions.

Time: Friday, 29/06/2018, 2 - 4 pm
Venue: Seminargebäude, S 205

Katharina Döring (Leipzig University)
Jens Herpolsheimer (Leipzig University)

Vincent Foucher (National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris / Sciences Po Bordeaux, France)
Neema Chusi (Institute of Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Katharina Döring and Jens Herpolsheimer (University of Leipzig)

Linnéa Gelot (Folke Bernadotte Academy, Stockholm, Sweden)


Paper abstracts

Vincent Foucher
The Downfall of Yahya Jammeh, a Triumph of West African Regionalism? Preliminary Elements for a Realist Approach

The departure into exile of the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in January 2017 after 22 years of rule was hailed as a triumph for the Gambian people and for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as it was considered evidence of pro-democracy legal regimes currently forming in West Africa, supported by a regional institution able to back it up with significant military resources. This paper argues that this is only part of the story. Taking a closer look at the events in the Gambia and the regional response, it points to several contextual factors that help explain that particular conjuncture. It argues that if ECOWAS mobilized along a strong line and was successful, this was largely because the Gambian regime was a weak regime – and at a particularly low point then – and because Senegal, Gambia’s neighbour, made the regional organization into a vehicle for its interests.

Neema Chusi
The African Union’s Intervention Experience in the 2010-11 Post-Election Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) was established in 2002 as one of the organs of the African Union (AU) to manage peace and security affairs in Africa and succeeded the Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution Mechanism established late in the 1990s by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). A continuous item on the agenda of the PSC, ever since its operationalization in 2003, have been subsequent conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire. In 2011, after the political opposition rejected the results of the presidential election, Côte d’Ivoire glided into a violent post-electoral crisis. Like before, the PSC got involved, however, it also had to deal with several other actors, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UN. To shed some light on the dynamics around conflict intervention in Côte d’Ivoire, based on decisions and reports of the PSC, I will discuss how the conflict has been managed subsequently by the OAU and the AU. More specifically, I will look at how the PSC played its role in the Côte d’Ivoire conflict in 2011, vis-à-vis other pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the West African sub-regional organization and international partners, especially the UN.

Katharina Döring and Jens Herpolsheimer
(Re)Spatialization During Conflict Intervention: Intervention Experiences of ECOWAS and the AU

Since the 1990s, a steadily growing number of scholarly contributions have dealt with conflict interventions by African regional organizations all across of Africa, but specifically in the various crises in West Africa. While this literature covers a wide variety of issues, it still lacks reflection on the entangled nature of intervention experiences of African peace and security actors as well as their relation to continuous policy development (e.g. on unconstitutional changes of government, professionalization of mediation, and post-conflict reconstruction). Moreover, despite omnipresent references to spatial imaginaries, like ‘state’, ‘territory’, ‘region’, or ‘architecture’, space as a central dimension of social interaction is rarely considered explicitly. This paper starts to address these gaps. Drawing on an exploratory overview of ECOWAS and AU interventions in West African conflicts since the early 2000s, the paper sketches out how these efforts have related to the recent processes of (re)spatialization in West Africa. Introducing a notion of space based on insights from critical geography, it argues that ‘space’ offers a useful analytical lens to better comprehend and explain the complex interactions among different actors, practices, and agendas during conflict intervention. Thus, the paper aims to contribute to a more theoretically guided debate on the politics of African peace and security.