Piecing it Together: Post-Conflict Security in an Africa of Networked, Multilevel Governance

Edited by: David K. Leonard

January 2013
Volume 44 Number 1

How do, could and should institutions responsible for security and the management of conflict in Tropical African societies respond to violent conflict? This IDS Bulletin is built on the observation that all governance (especially in Africa) is multileveled and networked – from the village to the international organisation, well beyond what is specified in formal government structures.

Thus the focus must be not only on the ways in which key conflict-management institutions evolve themselves but also on the changing ways in which the networks where they are embedded actually operate. This issue is about post-conflict reconstruction and the rebuilding of shattered states and societies, presenting fieldwork from articles covering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Somalia.

Post-conflict governance systems have become more multileveled and networked than in the immediate post-independence era, and these local systems and the resolution of their problems, are key to the restoration of order. International actors are also central, as their prominence in networks ensures resources for reconstruction and development.

Their presence means that a country's president no longer has the ability to set priorities and control the distribution of resources, and therefore local leaders, professionals, national NGOs and churches can challenge the president over policy and politics in a way that they could not previously. But this IDS Bulletin finds that these new or revitalised networks do not challenge the state as an institution itself – ultimately the key links in these networks are individuals and organisations that are embedded in the state and will not challenge its existence, unity or effectiveness.