Authors’ workshop explores coercion, peacebuilding in Africa

Authors from Africa, Europe and the United States have explored the intricate dynamics of coercion and peacebuilding approaches in Africa at a workshop in Accra, Ghana.

The workshop was a collaboration between three institutions, the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt (PRIF), the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), and the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

As part of the workshop, some broad chapters were developed and revised based on themes around coercion and peacebuilding to be put together into a collective volume in the middle of 2024 and published for policy makers, Scholars and the general populace.

Held at the KAIPTC, the workshop attracted 30 authors, scholars, researchers, and practitioners who discussed their respective roles in coercion and peacebuilding in the West African sub-region and the Horn of Africa.

Participants engaged in interactive sessions, exploring case studies and real-world scenarios to better understand
the complexities of coercion and its impact on peace initiatives.

The group of researchers studied the role of coercion in peacebuilding, specifically the role of different actors (new and emerging) involved in building Peace, including countries like Brazil, China, India, Brazil who have become important peacebuilders on the African Continent.

They discussed among other topics, the ‘Coercive Approaches in Peacebuilding: ECOWAS Foray into Sub-Regional Interventions’, ‘Coercive and Regional Peacebuilding in the Horn of Africa/IGAD Region’ and ‘Physical and Structural Violence: Shifting Notions of Coercion in Peacebuilding Across Time and Geopolitical Space’.

Dr Antonia Witt, Senior Researcher and Head of Research Group, PRIF, said the Authors had been working on the project for the past two years with a series of workshops, adding that the current workshop was to consolidate their work and come out with a joint publication.

She said in recent times, there were a plethora of actors in peacebuilding which
raised the question of the best approaches in peacebuilding but importantly the role of cohesion.

Dr Witt said, hitherto, there was the assumption that peacebuilding went without coercion and was a naturally noncoercion endeavour.

She explained that ‘Now we increasingly realise that maybe that assumption is wrong. On the one hand, we do see peacebuilding that is very close to coercive practices. We see the difference between peacebuilding, and it increasingly blurs. We see military components as part of peacebuilding, but we also recognise that maybe a certain measure of coercion is also necessary so that the peace that is built holds.’

That, the PRIF Senior Researcher said, necessitated the questions, ‘how much cohesion is necessary for peace to hold, how much coercion is good and is there a flip side where coercion turns into something that produces more conflict and violence and does not move away from the initial agenda of building peace.’

On the potential spread of violent extremism to coastal states
like Ghana, Dr Witt, also a Fellow at the University of Ghana, told the Ghana News Agency that there was a lot of attention being paid to the issue currently.

She said, as a matter of urgency, it was important to study how local conflicts drove vulnerability as a step to address those conflicts sustainably to avoid marginalisation and stigmatisation since those were ingredients that made radicalisation flourish.

Major General Richard Addo Gyane, Commandant, KAIPTC, whose speech was read on his behalf by Air Commodore David Anetey Akrong, Deputy Commandant, said the thorough examination of the central role coercion assumed in influencing the strategies employed by regional and emerging actors in the context of peacebuilding was key.

He said the KAIPTC, being one of the Training Centres of Excellence within ECOWAS, consistently served as a pivotal entity in the provision of comprehensive training programmes for military, police, and civilian personnel on a global scale.

The Commandant said its academic prog
rammes had a primary focus on the intricate dynamics of gender, conflict, and peace and security.

‘Your dedication to furthering the dialogue on peacebuilding is sincerely commendable,’ Maj Gen Gyane applauded PRIF and IPSS for the sustained effort at ensuring peace and security on the African continent.

Source: Ghana News Agency