ACORD's Pan African Learning Forum : A look at the Role of Civil Society Organizations and the Challenges of Peace and Security in Consolidating Peace in Africa

Examining the history of armed conflict in Africa - particularly in West Africa - illustrates a variation of characteristics based on the era, causes and the parties to conflict. Wars of the Colonial era were centered on subjugation and control of African territories and its people by Northern nations. The liberation of African countries between the 1950’s and 1990’s, led to self rule and new tensions and challenges relating to governance. Evidently, there are two primary causes of armed conflict in Africa; control of natural resources (minerals, land and water) and those based on identities (ethnic groupings, religion, culture and religion). Often there are interlinkages which make mitigation responses difficult and complicated. These are mainly internal (civil war) and inter country in nature. Boundary disputes linked to demarcation of territories (or the lack of it) has been a primary source of prolonged conflicts. Colonial boundaries have divided people and resources beneficial to differing communities who opt to engage in civil or inter State conflict to assume control of boundaries. Ethiopia, Somalia, Senegal and Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Mali have been examples of territorial based interstate conflicts.