Reviewed in: The Journal of Modern African Studies, Volume 52, Issue 01, March 2014, pp. 160-161
The prospects for and numbers of 'developmental states' in Africa may be expanding but the continent still hosts more fragile or failed states than any other. This timely collection indicates how complex and problematic peacebuilding has become in the run-up to a post-2015 world of development. African agency may be growing but governance for peace and development remains elusive. This magnum opus of 15 chapters and 250 pages indicates ways in which 'liberal peacebuilding' is both deficient and misleading. But because it dates from 2009 it does not treat promising pre-emptive measures like the Africa Mining Vision and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or growing concern about land grabs. In short, it is silent about the impact of the BRICs on the governance of natural resources on the continent and any cost-benefit analysis of the African economic renaissance. But Comfort Ero cautions about 'the limitations of the global peacebuilding enterprise' (p. 232) and Devon Curtis suggests that China will be more concerned with stabilisation than democratisation (p. 12).
The co-editors contribute welcome book ends which provide an overview of both the collection and fields to which it contributes and insights from comparative Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) in Southern Africa. The focus on issues and institutions falls broadly into a 'human security' genre. In the first of a trio of parts, Eboe Hutchful and Paul Omach suggest limits to security sector governance and DDR - 'tools to exert control over the global South and maintain global order' (p. 87) - and in the second, Chris Landsberg throws light on a little-known Pan-African ministerial conference on governance which underlines the continuing gap between policy and practice.
But arguably, the most original analyses are concentrated in the third part. In chapter 10, Sharath Srinivasan treats the role of a rejuvenated and reoriented Intergovernmental Authority on Development in advancing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the Sudan leading to the difficult birth of South Sudan in mid-2011; in turn, Juba is increasingly part of a broader Eastern Africa energy region to be defined by pipelines and other supply chains. Rene Lemarchand identifies the broad range of actors in the regional conflict around the Great Lakes, cautioning that given history and political economy, no quick fixes are possible: 'peace diplomacy' (p. 225) cannot be authoritative when profits from 'conflict minerals' are so massive and the millions of deaths, rapes and 'internally-displaced' (pp. 213, 226) are admitted. And in a final afterthought, Christopher Clapham compounds the deceptions of peacebuilding in Somalia where there has been no state for decades. A third of the territory has developed its own governance, in Somaliland, but the rest is largely anarchy despite Somalis being 'among the most globalized of peoples' (p. 308): a 21st century 'transnational state' made possible by remittances and cellular technology which challenges myriad assumptions about global governance.
This well-informed but increasingly dated conceptual volume might be read alongside contemporary analyses of some of the challenges to peace and development arising from the continent, such as the 2013 Africa Progress Panel report on corruption, the novel West African Commission on Drugs and James Hentz's recently edited Routledge Handbook of African Security. In his Foreword, Adekeye Adebajo aspires to 'a more effective peacebuilding architecture on the continent in pursuit of Pax Africana' (p. xii). This is more imperative than ever to secure Africa's escape from the 'resource curse'. Chapter 13 on the half-century of escalating violence on the Niger Delta by Aderoju Oyefusi does not give rise to confidence that increasing revenue can be transformed into sustainable, peaceful development.
Timothy M. Shaw
University of Massachusetts