Coping with Vulnerability: State Resilience to Armed Conflict in Guinea
Bah, M. D. (2014). Coping with Vulnerability: State Resilience to Armed Conflict in Guinea (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9161
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9161
The aim of this study is to explain why peace has prevailed in Guinea despite the presence of unfavourable conditions. Guinea exhibits many of the major risk factors commonly associated with the onset of civil war and/or armed conflicts, including deep ethnic divisions; a politicised military; an abundance of natural resources alongside extreme poverty; and being located in a conflict ridden neighbourhood. Yet, the country did not descend into civil war and/or armed conflicts. During the 1990s, the outbreak of civil wars in Guinea’s neighbouring countries was added to the availability of a large amount of abundant natural resources, and the extreme poverty among its population which was deeply divided along ethno-regional affiliations. From the standpoint of existing models of civil war onset and/or armed conflict, this makes for a dangerous combination against sustaining a country's peace and stability. Likewise, the threat to Guinea’s stability was exacerbated in the 2010s by the reintroduction of multiparty politics which produced a system whereby political parties were mainly based on ethnic and/or regional affiliations. The literature on theories of recent civil wars identifies the presence of one or more of the above variables as significant triggers of civil war onset and or/armed conflicts, particularly in West African nations since the early 1990s. In Guinea, however, the constant presence of these violence risk variables has failed to ignite a broader violent conflict or to destabilize the central power structure of the state, therefore sparing the nation from the types of armed conflicts often associated with similar contexts in many West African nations. This raises the question as to why armed conflict has not been a feature in Guinea since independence despite the presence of unfavourable conditions for peace. Using qualitative data, the study identifies mitigating factors against the onset of armed conflict in such contexts and explains why Guinea has been spared from armed conflict and/or civil war despite these unfavourable conditions. The thesis reveals that the presence of these conflict risk variables have failed to be associated with the onset of large-scale violence in Guinea largely due to measures taken by the Guinean state and its international partners. This outcome contrasts with much literature on the incidence of armed conflicts in such contexts. The research results are presented in four papers for publication in refereed international journals. The papers refer to different academic debates, yet there are connecting links between them: they all point to an aspect associated with state resilience to armed conflicts, thereby connecting the Guinean case to a set of African states which managed to maintain peace despite the odds. As such, the study contributes to the research on what make peace resilient in an African state as opposed to the ‘failed state’ literature.
University of Waikato
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