Dynamic Conflicts and Static Promises: Shifting Advantage, the Political Marketplace and Broken Ceasefires

In the past half-decade, multiple peace agreements and ceasefires have been implemented in various African countries to solve ongoing political conflicts on the continent. The most notable examples during this period are Mali, Central African Republic and South Sudan. In spite of direct engagement from the international community as mediators, and often-willing participation in negotiations…

Rape as a Weapon of Political Violence, Part 1: Trends Across Africa

Sexual violence as a weapon of political conflict is a serious, present-day atrocity affecting millions of people (primarily women and girls)[1] with grave health implications, both physical and psychological (Bastick, Grimm, and Kunz, 2007; UN, 2015). It is frequently a conscious strategy employed by armed groups to torture and humiliate opponents; terrify individuals and destroy…

Tensions among soldiers in Ivory Coast

Contrary to the recent tensions in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast has experienced a period of relative stability in 2014. With the exception of an outbreak of violence in May 2014, when pro-Gbagbo militia fighters stormed the South-western village of Fetai killing three soldiers and ten civilians (Aboa, 2014), overall conflict levels and…

Terrorism: A review of differences in definition

The existence of multiple, contrasting and even contradictory definitions and conceptualisations of terrorism in policy, legal frameworks and academic research is well-documented. The plethora of competing legal definitions has been likened to the Bermuda Triangle (Dedeoglu, 2003), and attempts to develop consensus around a single one, to ‘the quest for the Holy Grail’ (Levitt, 1986).…

Resource-Related Conflict in Africa

Natural resource extraction by mining (including oil, diamonds, copper, and cobalt) has tremendous positive economic potential for states. However, these resources can also do more harm than good if used towards ulterior motives including corruption, the unequal distribution of wealth, and to fuel violence. Valuable resources can both fuel violence through competition for territorial control,…

Intra-Tuareg Militant Violence and Islamist Insurgency – The Overlapping Crises of the Conflict in Mali

Following the short but deadly burst of fighting in May, Mali has generally seen a decreasing trend in overall events over the past few months (which follows a broader trend in decreasing violence since this time last year), with a spike in fatalities during July (see Figure 1). However, although the number of violent events…

Remote-Violence, Bombings and Conflict Part 3: Overall Trends in the Use of Improvised Explosive Devices

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in conflict zones across has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years (Norton-Taylor, 3 July 2014). Conflict in Africa mirrors this global trend, as the number of discrete events involving IEDs grew from 9 reports in 2005 to 468 in 2013. The number of fatalities resulting from…

What do the Mpeketoni attacks say about conflict in Kenya?

Both conflict events and reported fatalities increased in Kenya this month, with the most intense violence associated with an attack on civilians in Witu, Lamu island, in Kenya’s Coastal region. The attack incorporates several key complex dynamics in contemporary Kenyan political violence, each of which is worth unpacking in turn. The first is the spectre…