Title page for ETD etd-09232010-153651

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Coleman, Craig Douglas
Email colemanc2@dirco.gov.za
URN etd-09232010-153651
Document Title Resolving intrastate conflicts : a case study of Sierra Leone
Degree MDiplomatic Studies
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof K N Miti Supervisor
  • military intervention
  • conflict
  • Sierra Leone
  • intraste conflicts in Africa
Date 2010-09-01
Availability unrestricted

This study set out to examine the interplay of negotiations and military intervention in the resolution of the conflict in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002, and to draw lessons from this process for the resolution of intrastate conflicts in Africa. To achieve this, a more detailed analysis was undertaken on: the evolution and progress of the conflict in Sierra Leone (Chapter two); the various military interventions (Chapter three); and the various peace agreements (Chapter four).

What has come to light is that it is important to distinguish between the triggers to the conflict and the drivers of the conflict. In the case of Sierra Leone, the trigger was ECOMOG’s entry into Liberia – an event that was mistakenly seen as the main cause of the conflict and leading to wrong decisions on how to end the conflict. It is also clear that greed was at the centre of the conflict in Sierra Leone since control of natural resources appear to be the main push factors behind most of the fighting. Control of these resources gave the holders an advantage. Progress in negotiations was determined by demands and concessions by those in control of the resources. An additional dimension that was common to many conflicts in Africa was control of the country’s capital city. Possession of this bestowed visible power to the holders. It is because of this that Freetown became the centre of many bouts of conflict.

The study highlighted a number of issues that impact on the duration and outcome of intrastate conflicts. The first concerns the risks of sidelining the army that had played a significant role in governing the country. To do so, in favour of a civilian militia, was inviting trouble. This mistake extended the conflict by at least another two years.

Also important was the issue of the over-militarisation of society. As the state structures failed, patronage and resources acted as drivers for the formation of other armed factions. The proliferation of armed factions made finding a solution more problematic. Increasing militarisation was further driven by the role of by neighbouring countries. This complicated the search for a political solution, as members of the regional group, ECOWAS, actively supported various sides in the conflict. While it was encouraging to see ECOWAS attempting to resolve the conflict, it could not sustain the role of being both a player and referee at the same time. As a result of this, ECOWAS itself contributed to the prolonging of the conflict.

The intervention by the United Kingdom demonstrated that actors with superior force are in a position to make decisive interventions to help end conflicts. At the international level, the question on leaving conflict management to regional bodies is not a panacea for solving intrastate conflicts. The United Nations Security Council initially relied on ECOWAS to manage the conflict, but was later forced to take over the active peacekeeping role. It was also only when the United Nations began reflecting on earlier peacekeeping failures, such as Rwanda and Somalia, that new peacekeeping approaches began to emerge. This reflection also generated the continuing debate on the “Responsibility to Protect” vulnerable populations in intrastate conflict.

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Coleman, CD 2010, Resolving intrastate conflicts : a case study of Sierra Leone, MDiplomatic Studies dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09232010-153651/ >


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