Regionalism and peacebuilding in West Africa: addressing the challenge of roaming combatants

M'Cormack, Freida Ibiduni (2017) Regionalism and peacebuilding in West Africa: addressing the challenge of roaming combatants. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis provides insights into approaches to regional peacebuilding with reference to the Mano Union River region of West Africa, comprising Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. Using the case of the interrelated conflicts in these countries, particularly of regional fighters that fought in two or more countries, it investigates the constraints of conventional peacebuilding theory and practice in addressing regional conflict.

Drawing largely on a constructivist International Relations approach, it argues that state-centred perspectives of conflict and peacebuilding, undertaken by institutions made rigid by ritualised practice, preclude an understanding of cross-border conflicts as localised conflicts, within the framing of a micro-region, and also block their effective engagement with the narratives articulated by combatants about their motivations for participating in cross-border conflict. Fieldwork was largely undertaken in Liberia, with the analysis supported by in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with regional combatants of Sierra Leonean, Liberian and Ivoirian descent, based in Liberia, as well as an institutional ethnography of United Nations peace operations, drawing on participant-observation, interviews and documentary analysis.

The thesis demonstrates that while economic motivations feature prominently in regional combatants’ motivations, they also subscribe to other motives, in part mediated by socially constructed regional identities. These motives, however, receive limited or misguided attention from peacebuilding institutions, resulting in responses that are, in turn, limited in scope and effectiveness. A key lesson is the importance of understanding the opportunities and challenges arising from localised yet transnational imperatives that translate into violent cross-border movements in marginal border areas, to ensure adequate responses and sustain peace in the region in the long term.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations > JZ5511.2 Promotion of peace. Peaceful change
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2017 15:06
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2017 15:06

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