Title page for ETD etd-04242008-155441

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Swart, Gerhardus Stephanus
Email swartg@unisa.ac.za
URN etd-04242008-155441
Document Title The role of preventive diplomacy in African conflicts : a case study of the Democratic Republic of the Congo : 1998-2004
Degree MA (International Relations)
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof H Solomon Committee Chair
  • political psychology
  • conflict prevention
  • preventive diplomacy
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • great lakes
  • conflict
  • conflict resolution
  • Rwanda
  • Uganda
  • Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement
  • Inter-Congolese Dialogues
  • SADC
  • South Africa
  • UN
  • conflict attitudes
  • psychological variables
  • social-psychological approaches
  • structural prevention
  • proximate prevention
  • ripeness theory
Date 2008-04-21
Availability unrestricted

The African continent has been beset with violent conflicts, civil wars and extended periods of instability. The continentís future depends on the capacity to prevent, manage and resolve conflict. Reacting to conflict has proven highly expensive for the international community and has strengthened the case for a greater focus on conflict prevention. This study will examine the role, relevance and success of preventive diplomacy in responding to and preventing violent and protracted conflicts in Africa, in particular recent international efforts to seek a concrete, comprehensive and all-inclusive peace settlement to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had resulted in what many analysts considered to be ĎAfricaís First World Warí. The aim and objective of this study will be to assess the role of preventive diplomacy, in particular efforts by the international community to resolve the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The study of the success of preventive diplomacy in responding to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo will cover three distinct phases. The first phase will assess the historical development of the crisis in the former ZaÔre dating back from 1997 to 1998 and initial steps that were taken to address the conflict. The next phase will cover the period dating from 1999-2000 following the signing of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, while the final phase will assess developments and efforts to secure peace by the international community from 2001 until 2004, while providing for a brief discussion on possible future developments. The research will commence by examining various theoretical contributions and insights produced on conflict prevention and the concept of preventive diplomacy. The examination of conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy will be rooted in theoretical insights produced by Michael Lund (1996) and other influential contributions on preventive diplomacy. The theoretical framework for this study will be based on Michael Lundís model of preventive diplomacy.

Although Lundís conceptual framework provides a valuable insight into the theory of preventive diplomacy an additional theoretical consideration may be included into his assessment. Lundís theoretical framework fails to address the impact of psychological variables and the extent to which prevailing conflict attitudes may exert a negative influence on a conflict situation. This may render the effectiveness of preventive diplomacy at the level of unstable peace obsolete if it fails to take prevailing conflict attitudes into account. This dissertation will also propose the inclusion of social-psychological approaches to augment the strategy of preventive diplomacy as developed by Lund. Very little conclusive and in-depth research has been conducted on how psychological variables, particularly conflict attitudes such as negative images, attitudes, perceptions and conflict behaviour can fuel and exacerbate a conflict situation, especially conflicts in Africa and how this may derail the success of preventive diplomacy in resolving such severe conflicts. In the numerous efforts to secure peace in the embattled Democratic Republic of the Congo scant consideration, evaluation and analysis has been produced on the way in which conflict attitudes such as misperception, fear, distrust, hostility and suspicion, became not only a major stumbling block to the peace process, but also negatively affected the outcome of the various peace agreements that were negotiated.

One of the core arguments this dissertation will posit is that preventive diplomacy has not been successfully applied in resolving conflicts in Africa, and will continue to fail, unless greater emphasis is placed on structural prevention, that includes an assessment and strategy for responding to conflict attitudes, such as misperception, hostility, suspicion, fear and distrust. It could be argued that preventive diplomacy initiatives when taken alone and independently of a broader strategy of conflict prevention are likely to fail unless they are linked to measures and actions that tackle the deeper or structural causes of conflict. Greater emphasis should be placed on timely and adequate preventive action, through the vigorous promotion of preventive diplomacy, particularly structural prevention. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is intermittently erupting and will continue to do so, unless the structural causes of the crisis and the various conflict attitudes are effectively dealt with.

The study will commence with the theoretical and conceptual framework of the study, consisting of a discussion of conflict, preventive diplomacy, and conflict prevention. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be discussed as well as the underlying factors that contributed towards the brutal and excessively violent nature the conflict came to assume. The study will also examine the international response to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as the immediate diplomatic efforts initiated to resolve the crisis from 1998-1999, which culminated in the signing of the Lusaka Cease-Fire Agreement on 10 July 1999. An assessment of the intervention efforts initiated by the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other key African states, in particular South Africa will also be undertaken. The impact of psychological variables and the importance of assessing the crucial contribution of social-psychological approaches towards understanding and resolving conflict will be briefly considered with particular reference to the protracted tensions which persisted between Rwanda and the DRC, despite the conclusion of numerous peace agreements between both countries.

The final chapter will form an evaluation of the prospects for peace in the DRC beyond 2004 and will conclude the study with particular reference to the extent to which the research questions have been adequately addressed with final recommendations on the role of preventive diplomacy in addressing conflict.

© University of Pretoria 2008


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