P177 – Is Regional Engagement Driving Security? Insights from the Horn and Central Africa
8 July, 16:00-17:30

De Vries Lotje / CICAM, Radboud University and IAA GIGA-Hamburg
Mehler Andreas / Institute of African Affairs (IAA) GIGA-Hamburg


Sources of security and insecurity are hardly ever the product of national dynamics alone, but very often influenced by cross-border or regional interests in resources, politics and military support. Regional actors have facilitated peace negotiations (e.g. IGAD in the case of South Sudan), set up peace-keeping operations (e.g. AU missions in Somalia and CAR), and pursued their own agendas militarily in neighboring states (e.g. Uganda’s pursuit of the LRA). So while “regional solutions for regional problems” has been the international community’s response to security challenges in the Horn and Central Africa, such engagement must be investigated from a critical perspective.

We welcome contributions that explore the various engagements of regional actors in other states and their impact on local security governance in areas where state-presence is limited. We are specifically interested in empirically driven research into topics such as unintended consequences of regional engagement, elements of mission creep, cross-border political economies, etc. and how these impact local security dynamics.


Paper 1

Lombard Louisa / Yale University

“We are not here to teach lessons, but…”: French military involvement in the Central African Republic

“Regional solutions to regional problems”: so goes the current orthodoxy on dealing with conflict in Africa. Increasingly, peacekeepers are organized and dispatched through regional organizations and the African Union, as the abstract for this panel suggests. But this catchphrase and the dynamics it describes overlook the international actors who are operating in front, beside, or behind the regional initiatives, whether by organizing and financing or by intervening themselves. With interventions in Mali and CAR and a close relationship with fellow-intervenor Chad, France has received both criticism and plaudits for its leading role in this regard. In this paper, I thank our French hosts for their hospitality by reflecting on the contemporary forms and transformations of francafrique. Are the French interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) resuscitations of older modes of politics, or are they departures from them? The paper focuses on CAR, where feelings about these developments are on all sides ambivalent and contradictory. Fighters in mobilizations usually glossed as pro-France may espouse anti-France rhetoric, at the same time as even these virulent critics accept literal and metaphorical coffee and cake offered by French soldiers. Why and how do they remain locked in these awkward embraces?

Paper 2

Glawion Tim / GIGA-Hamburg Institute of African Affairs / SFB700

Local, national and regional constellations of (in)security in Somaliland, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic

How do actors make or break security in peripheral areas of South Sudan, Somaliland and the Central African Republic?
Security issues in all three countries are not monopolized in the hands of state institutions. Consequently, the actors involved in making and breaking security vary across territory, political levels and functions. This creates an intricate web of (in)security actors, in which each pulled string can lead to vast, often unintended changes in the level of security.
The research sets out to decipher this complexity from a bottom-up perspective. The author travels to Raja in North-Western South Sudan, to Zeila in Eastern Somaliland and to one locality in the Central African Republic. In these localities, security perceptions, actions and constellations will be analyzed through structured interviews, focus group discussions, observations as well as continuous event logs by local research assistants.
Analyzing three areas with very different contexts grants comparative insights on crucial questions: Why do non-local actors move into certain areas? How do local security constellations change when new actors enter? When do local actors lose control over their security, when do they keep it, and how do they take it back? What impact do transnational and international actors have on local security dynamics?

Paper 3

Tamm Henning / Nuffield College, University of Oxford

The Logic of Mutual Interference in the Horn and Central Africa

While interference in the form of external support for rebel groups is a global phenomenon, mutual interference between neighbors occurs predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, and most frequently in the Horn and Central Africa. Between 1990 and 2009 alone, there were twenty pairs of neighboring rulers in the two regions that featured tit-for-tat support to rebels, comprising fourteen rulers from eleven states. This paper first provides a rational explanation for such mutual inference. It argues that rulers who face the risk of forcible removal from office through coups or rebellions have strategic incentives to preempt (and counter) external threats from neighboring rulers by arming neighboring rebels rather than by relying on domestic military capabilities alone. The paper then traces the postcolonial history of mutual interference first in Central Africa, then in the Horn, demonstrating both the explanatory power of a rational approach and the need to consider emotional and psychological factors to gain a fuller understanding of individual cases. These empirical sections draw on six months of fieldwork in Central Africa and a wide range of secondary sources on the Horn. The paper concludes by assessing similarities and differences between the two regions and by highlighting that current regional engagements should not blind us to the fact that cross-border dynamics have historically produced far more insecurity than security in both the Horn and Central Africa.

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