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Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, Bullets and Ideas.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 17, 2021 17:25

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Military deployment in Africa’s trouble spots – this is getting boring after so many decades. How can peace be made and kept if people seek recourse to weapons as a last resort? In Africa and elsewhere democratic ideas are suppressed by force. It will not work.

We, the peoples of these United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The 1945 Charter of the UN stipulates how the organization could enforce peace and how it could keep the peace where parties to a conflict has reached agreement to cease hostilities.

The UN tried to make peace in Korea in 1950. Both North and South are rattling sabres once again. 

North and South Korean leaders, 2018. Wikipedia. http://www.kogl.or.kr/open/info/license_info/by.do 

More recently the UN Mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) came close to peace-making when the countries of the region agreed on a framework to settle the conflict by proxy-forces. A Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) quickly out-gunned the conventional M23 rebel army and peace resulted, for a while.

The UN now contemplates reconfiguring the FIB as guerilla forces allied to a number of movements in the forests and mountains exploit numerous governance deficits to gain popular support. The DRC Government’s reaction to increasing conflict and killings in the east was predominantly military. Interventions by the Congolese Army saw combatants relocating. Many towns, previously relatively unscathed by violence, saw a dramatic increase in civilian deaths.

Observers believe that the causes of the conflict in eastern DRC are deep and numerous. Military means cannot solve them, reforms of governance are needed. This suggests the classic ‘fish in the water’ insurgency model. 

Destruction of weapons in Burundi. Photo United Nations. https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/civil-society-organisations-democratic-republic-congo-call-complete-ceasefire-across-country 

A few thousand miles to the east the conflict in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique has taking on a new dimension. A reminder: after years of neglect by government and the sale of agricultural land to foreign mining houses with compensation only to corrupt government officials the youth of this province turned to Islamist sources for training and weapons. A violent insurgency closed down oil installations and forced Russian and South African contractors as well as government forces to retreat.

Deployment of Rwandan soldiers at the invitation of President Filipe Nyusi saw a surge of attacks against rebel positions, as well as the death of several prominent critics of the Rwandan Government in exile in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. The reaction was not long in coming: an attack by land mines and rocket propelled grenades against a Rwandan convoy signalled an entirely new phase in this conflict.

In South Africa Government is contemplating military support for police in the face of rising political dissent. It is tragic irony that, twenty-five years after democracy arrived, a colonial model of suppressing political dissent is considered when the ruling party cannot handle conflict between rival factions in its midst. 

But increasingly the social contracts that form nations seem to be questioned. People with access to the vote seek to use violence against their precious democratic institutions, and Governments, instead of the voice of reason increasingly seek to suppress political expression by force. 

Peace can be kept if people agree. Peace cannot be enforced by guns. Bullets cannot kill ideas.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 17, 2021 17:25

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Source: Al Jazeera
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While leader Carrie Lam hails 'return to peace', riot police hit streets to deter expected pro-democracy march.

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