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Title: African solutions to African challenges : explaining the role of legitimacy in mediating civil wars in Africa
Author: Duursma, Allard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 8312
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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The current scholarly literature on the international mediation of armed conflicts predominantly draws on a rationalist-materialist perspective. This perspective suggests that the ticket to mediation success is the material manipulation of the bargaining environment by third parties with a high degree of economic and military resources. In this dissertation I argue against those that highlight material power when explaining outcomes of international mediation processes. Indeed, this dissertation shows that legitimacy, far more than capacity, determines outcomes of mediation. The reason why legitimacy matters so much is that if a mediator has legitimacy, it can continue to look for a mutual satisfactory outcome and try to pull the conflict parties towards compliance, but if a mediator loses legitimacy, no amount of material resources will prove sufficient in mediating the conflict. In other words, material capacity in the form of economic and military resources may be useful to successfully mediate a conflict, but it is rarely sufficient. Through scrutinising international mediation processes in civil wars in Africa, I develop a theory that explains how mediators are effective because of a high degree of legitimacy rather than military or economic capacity. More specifically, I show how legitimacy matters through comparing the effectiveness of African and non-African third parties. African third parties are typically referred to as ineffective because of a low degree of economic and military capacity. However, African third parties are effective in mediating civil wars in Africa because of a high degree of legitimacy, which is a result of a strong conviction within the African society of states that African mediation is the most desirable type of mediation in conflicts in Africa. Drawing on data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program supplemented with unique data, which together cover all mediation efforts in Africa between 1960 and 2012, I find quantitative evidence supporting the effectiveness of African third parties. Compared to non-African third parties, African third parties are far more likely to conclude peace agreements and these peace agreements are more likely to be durable. Two case studies, in which several mediation efforts in civil wars in Sudan are examined, further probe the causal mechanisms that I put forward to explain the effectiveness of African mediation. While I do not claim causal generalisability on the basis of these two case studies, the mediation efforts in Sudan nevertheless suggest that third party legitimacy is central to mediation success. This is the first systematic study that compares African and non-African mediation efforts. Theoretically, this study deviates from much of the literature that solely puts forward rationalist-materialist explanations of mediation success. By bringing legitimacy to the forefront, this dissertation overcomes key limitations in the current mediation literature, in which material sources of power are emphasised and social structures are ignored.
Supervisor: MacFarlane, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Civil war--Africa ; Sub-Saharan ; Postwar reconstruction--Africa ; Sub-Saharan ; International relations ; Peace-building--Africa--International cooperation ; Africa ; Sub-Saharan--Foreign relations