European Colonial Legacy and Peace Durability
The Impact of European Colonial Legacy on Peace Durability in Congo- Brazzaville and the Central African Republic
Miriam Gauthier-Bouamrane Student nr. 13693875
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science in Political Science Master’s Programme International Relations
Supervisor: Dr. Said Rezaeiejan
University of Amsterdam June 2022
List of Tables
TABLE 1.SEVEN KEY ELEMENTS THAT ADDRESSED RESTORATIVE VARIABLE ... 26 TABLE 2.THREE ELEMENTS THAT ENSURE AND STRUCTURE THE APPLICATION OF RETRIBUTIVE VARIABLE ... 31 TABLE 3.KEY ELEMENTS OF THE STRUCTURAL PROCESS ... 37
Table of Contents
LIST OF TABLES ... I
INTRODUCTION ... 1
CHAPTER ONE: LITERATURE REVIEW ... 4
MATERIALIST AND ECONOMICAL EXPLANATION:RESOURCE CURSE ... 4
WEAK INSTITUTIONS ... 7
REGIONALIZATION OF CONFLICTS ... 8
CHAPTER TWO: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ... 10
PEACE DURABILITY ... 10
COLONIAL LEGACY IN POST-COLONIAL WORLD ... 12
IMPACTS ... 14
INTERNAL CONFLICTS ... 15
CONCLUSION ... 16
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ... 17
COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY ... 17
INDICATORS AND DATA COLLECTION ... 18
METHOD REFLEXION ... 20
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE ... 21
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ... 22
CONCLUSION ... 24
CHAPTER FIVE: EUROPEAN COLONIAL LEGACY AND PAST-LOOKING INDICATOR ... 24
RESTORATIVE INDICATOR ... 25
Congo-Brazzaville. ... 26
Central African Republic. ... 29
RETRIBUTIVE INDICATOR ... 30
Congo-Brazzaville. ... 32
Central African Republic. ... 33
CONCLUSION ... 35
CHAPTER SIX: ANALYSIS - FORWARD-LOOKING INDICATOR ... 35
STRUCTURAL INDICATOR ... 36
Congo-Brazzaville. ... 37
Central African Republic. ... 39
CONCLUSION ... 41
BIBLIOGRAPHY ... 44
With the rise of internal conflicts, civil war and internal infights after the end of the Cold War, scholars have begun to focus more on durable peace at a national level. Commonly understood as the absence of war or the recurrence of violence, peace durability involves compromises. Peace durability focuses thus on the process that comes in the aftermath of internal conflict, which is defined by empirical work as an internal armed conflict with violent hostility and includes civil wars. This process also involves the characteristics of the conflict, the actors involved in it, the role of third parties and the developments in the measurement.
With this new focus on the durability of peace, which involves the reconciliation of former combatants and includes rebuilding security, governmental and economic institutions in order to prevent the reprising of another internal conflict, there are common regional zone of analysis that arise as they are more prone to the recurrence of internal conflict. This is especially the case for the sub-Saharan African region, more specifically the Central African region, which is home to many of the least stable countries in the world (The Fund for Peace 2021). This region is also home to the countries with the least peace in the world (Institute of Economics and Peace 2021). As well as being considered as the least peaceful region, it is also generally considered as one of the poorest regions. All of the countries have experienced or are currently experiencing violent internal conflicts, while most of these conflicts are ranked in the list of the deadliest conflict since 1945 (Palik, Rustad, and Methi 2020). As such, between the years of 1997-2000, Congo-Brazzaville was home to one of the deadliest civil war since the end of World War II. Central African Republic has been in a civil war since 2012, and the government has only control of the capital. Close to it, Cameroon is also currently experiencing a civil war and Chad has been in a cycle of internal conflict and civil wars since 1965.
Many authors have offered an explanation on why this region is one of the least peaceful in the world. While some authors like Bara, Deglow and Baalen (2021), explain it by the vicious circle of civil war, as once a country experience civil war, its chance of recurrence is high, others have used an economical explanation (Dixon 2009; Collier and Hoeffler 1998). On the economical side, analysts, such as Justino (2009), explain the intersection of poverty and grief as determinants that undermines peace. Exacerbated by nationalism and ethnic identity, authors such as Vlavonou
(2016), have offered a more cultural and social approach to it: the cultural practice of neopatrimonialism and corruption is so deeply integrated into the structure of life that peace cannot prosper in the long term. On the other hand, postcolonialism also plays a role for other authors (Blanton, Mason and Athow 2001), as in it influences all of these aspects that are inherited by the colonial past and structures.
In short, postcolonialism has two congruent branches: firstly, on the historical side, it analyzes movement, processes, and phenomenon happening in the post-colonial world since the colonial end, and on the other is a critical theory that challenges the eurocentrism of knowledge and international relations. How societies, governments, and people in the formerly colonized regions of the world experience international relations, taken into account the impact of colonial and imperial histories in shaping a colonial way of thinking about the world and how western forms of knowledge and power marginalize the non-Western world. One simple example of postcolonialism that has lived past the colonial areas is Africa’s borders. They have been decided not on local sensitivities, like pre-existing social identities, geographical distributions of tribes and their way of living at the time, but on European power-sharing of the African continent. Another example of a postcolonial mechanism is the language used. Even with the upwards of thousands of dialects present in the African continent (Harvard University 2022), most official languages fall under French or English (Library of Congress 2022). For the Central African Republic and Congo, the official language is French, which was assimilated during the colonial period. Currently, French is still assimilated by using the French traditional school system (for example Lycée Français Charles-de-Gaulle de Bangui or Lycée Français Saint-Exupéry de Brazzaville). Another example is the currency, which is still from French influence (Franc CFA), and is used by all the French colonized countries in the Central African region (Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon Equatorial Guinea). Postcolonialism links the subjectivity of knowledge, as it is Eurocentric and colonial-based, and its legacy to colonial states. On the legacy front, not only does it translate into the example enumerated below, but also in the way the new colonial state is structured around European ideals and thinking. As such, institutions, power- sharing, ideals, and so on are based on the European experience and assimilated during colonial time. By promoting their ideas and by being involved in local politics, they help define the different commitments and variables to thrive for (Chacha and Stojek 2019; Parashar and Schulz 2021).
While the existing colonial legacy in a postcolonial world has such an impact on current Central African region societies for some scholars, it could also impact the durability of peace. As a result, if colonial legacy plays a role on the reason why it’s the least peaceful area in the world, it could also impact the conditions and context in which durable peace can be established. Against this background, this thesis explores the following research question:
How does the European colonial legacy impact the durability of peace after internal conflict in postcolonial Central African region?
To respond to this question, this thesis will compare the case between Central African Republic and Congo Brazzaville as most similar cases that differs in peace durability. They both offer a great comparison analysis, as they have both the same French European postcolonial legacy, close to the same population, both a majority of inhabitants living below the poverty line and both experienced internal conflict around the same time in the beginning of the 21st century. While they are mostly similar, they differ in the peace durability experienced in the aftermath of their internal conflict:
The Republic of Congo hasn’t had a recurrence of war since then, while the Central African Republic has had only five years of peace in between civil wars. These cases therefore offer a great angle on how European postcolonial legacy can impact peace durability differently in these two countries.
There is a series of questions derived that needs to be tackled in order to address the main question structuring the thesis. There is a number of indicators that influences the establishment of peace durability in the aftermath of a conflict. These indicators are central to address past grievances and forward-looking initiatives in order to prevent the recurrence of conflict. As such, to evaluate the durability of peace, we need to look at the influence of colonial legacy on each of these indicators that contribute to the sustainability of peace durability. These three indicators, as the restorative process, retributive process and structural process, are the main predicators and condition for peace durability. As such, we need to ask the subsequent question: How does European colonial legacy impact the restoratives, retributive and structural processes?
To tackle the issue and the question, this thesis will first focus on the existing literature of peace durability and the different actors and processes that have an impact on it. On the economical side, many authors have offered the Resource Curse explanation and the poverty complex as an
explanation for the lack of durable peace (Paine 2019). Others have used the weak institutions explanation as a hinderance to the sound management of resources and the conditions that foster peace institutionally in the long term (Knutsen and Nygard 2015). There is also great literature on the regionalization effect of conflict and its impact on peace durability. As a more encompassing and empirical response, some authors have brought forward the structure inherited by colonial time as a fuel to structural violence (Lange and Dawson 2009). After a brief presentation of the different empirical work made on the subject, this thesis will focus on the second part on the theoretical framework, the different concept intersecting the question, i.e. European colonial legacy in a postcolonial world, internal conflict and peace durability. After this, using a comparison methodology of most similar case and presenting the structure and data, I will present a brief empirical history on the Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic, then evaluate the influence of postcolonial legacy in light of the different indicators of peace durability of both cases.
Chapter One: Literature Review
Many authors have focused their studies on peace in Africa, more specifically on peace durability, the lack of it in some regions and the cycle of violence cycle in the Central African Region. Through this overview of the state of peace durability, many scholars have highlighted different factors and conditions that can better explain the phenomenon. Three main approaches are commonly used to explain peace durability or lack thereof: The Resources curse, the institutional explanation (weak institutions) and the regionalization effect. While these three different explanations are complementary to one and another, as weak institutions help to explain why the resource curse has such an impact in some specific region, and the regionalization effect explain the spreading effect of conflict and weak institutions, they offer a specific and distinctive approach to understand the issue in their own way. This chapter will thus focus mainly on those four most recurring explanations.
Materialist and Economical explanation: Resource curse
A number of studies that focus on the recurrence of civil war, more specifically in the Sub- Saharian region, and the lack of durable peace have pointed the resource curse phenomenon as the main culprit. In simple terms, the resource curse can be explained as a phenomenon where a country,
which is geographically resource-rich, is afflicted by conflict through the pursuit of the exploitation and extraction of these resources. As a result, the resources create a “curse” by which many groups want to gain access to it, but only a small number of individuals obtain the access to the economic gains of the exploitation of resources. Since these gains either are restricted to only a small fraction of individuals that have the capacity to exploit resources or are close to the people in power, it fuels war and conflict between individuals that want to have access to the economic benefits and return from resources and those who already have it. Furthermore, the demand and money from these resources allow to sustain rebellion and faction groups as well, by allowing the money gain from these resources to buy military arms and create military loyalties. It is considered a curse, because the abundance of resources creates a reverse effect in economic growth and stability: country with abundance of resources cannot translate their extraction in economic growth and development. War and conflict tend thereby to reoccur, since only a small percentage of the population have access to the money and societal advantages that these resources bring, and peace is not attractive as it is better for other faction to take advantage of natural resources on their own.
Using the resource curse explanation, some studies have focussed on the rise of the Congo civil war. As such, they focus on the reason behind the event and its core issues. By giving the reason for war, they also offer a potential explanation as to why it didn’t reprise. The resources curse approach, as suggested by Pierre Englebert and James Ron (2021), can explain why a statewide conflict didn’t reprise in Congo-Brazzaville. As such, in the beginning, the resource abundance in Congo, defined by the greed for petroleum rents, and the intersecting uncertain political context was a catalyst to the debut of the war (Englebert and Ron 2004, 62). Congo's governing class struggled for control over the country’s oil wealth after the 80s and the petrol crash.
Combined with the democratization process starting in the 90s and its following instability, it opened the door for militias to take advantage of the political instability. Sassou, the president at the time, was able to take advantage of it and created a stable neopatrimonial regime from petrol rents, i.e. a regime based on state resources. to secure the loyalty of groups and individuals to the regime. This means that states' resources (“patrimoine”) are used as a personal object to set in place a system of hierarchy and loyalties to the leadership, using the bureaucratic structure of the state to create this system (Pitcher, Moran and Johnston 2009, 145). The reason for no big uprising or turmoil since then can be explained by the reinsertion of rival militias into sector jobs, recreating class solidarity beyond ethno-regional ties, but also by putting in place rent loyalties to key rival
actors. The rents from the oil supply and its strategic instrumentalization by Sassou helped to elevate class interests over ethnic solidarity creating the win of neopatrimonial logic over ethnonational secessionism.
The resource curse is also an explanation for the recurrent instability in the Central African Republic. However, its angle is a bit different: because Central African Republic industries exploitation capacity is quite low, which hinders its revenue from it as well, the authors explain the impact of the resource curse on instability of the country in a multidimensional way. Its instability leading to war, and then again, the recurrence of it, can be explained by the intersection between unequal and scarce resource accessibility, amplified by the ethnic loyalty rents, and a widespread dissatisfaction of the population owing to the wage arrears in link with the decline of governmental services (Chauvin 2015, 483). Giving a primarily economical explanation, it also adds the role of the government and its insufficiency: since the capacity of exploitation of resources is so low, the pool of policymakers to maximize associated rents from these resources for themselves is also low (Yartey 2004, 114). In that case, this creates a separation between the capital, which is under the control of the government, and the rural region, with rebel factions using their own methods for extraction. This creates a cycle: since the government does not have enough capacity to create a stronger rent system and/or a stronger uphold of the country, they cannot put more resources in order to control the country, more regions becomes isolated from services and basic state protection, and rebellions create their own system of leaders in order to extrapolate resources themselves. In this explanation, CAR is thus in a loophole of violence, meaning that the lack of durable peace was in fact predictable: since state capacity and institutions were not reinforced after the first civil war, it was imminent that a second one would unfold (Chauvin 2018, 107). It also offers an explanation of why there are so little solutions since government capacity is so low that there is a need for a comprehensive approach to end the war to end and to hope for durable peace.
CAR is thus a case of penury of state resources as a cause and consequence of outbreaks, recurrences, and prolongations of armed violence (Chauvin 2015, 482).
While the resource curse can be one side of the explanation of the rise of war, it does not explain why neopatrimonialism is strong and why the capacity of state is low in the first place.
Furthermore, it lacks in the explanation of why some regions seem to be unaffected by the resource curse, such as diamond rich Botswana, and why other regions, such as Central African region, seems to be more affected. Moreover, Central African Republic, even if rich in resources, lacks
the capacity to fully exploit them, while Congo thrives from its petroleum extraction. It thus becomes in contradiction of the resource curse, as Congo is not in war currently and Central African Republic is. In addition, it does not take into account the complexity of international involvement, which are important actors that are trading these resources. As such, while the focus of conflict has shifted to become national, their implication and consequences are increasingly international. For example, Angola was a great supporter in military and personal resources to the Sassou regime during the civil war and France and Gabon, from which the president is married to Sassou’s daughter, supported its presidency afterward.
While the resource curse can explain how rebel movement and factions can sustain themselves for a longer period of time during conflict, it does not offer an explanation as to why there is a peace process to start from and how peace can become more durable. Furthermore, it lacks the explanation of how the extraction of natural resources is made and why it is not more effective.
Finally, it does not explain why countries rich in resources that have a loyalty program in place, such as Equatorial Guinea, are able to avoid internal conflicts. The institutional aspect allows to further explain these deficiencies. As such, institutions become central on how resources are exploited, how to redirect the money that comes from it. Knutsen and Nygard (2015), have foun that strong institutions allow for a better control of the revenue, hinders the risk of corruption and allows for a better distribution of the wealth emerging from it. Furthermore, strong institutions, even in a total dictatorial structure, tend to be stronger to control the rise of violence and prevent conflict from resource extrapolation. As such, the opposite can also be said: a lack of a strong government and functioning legal system led to the neglect of investments in most basic public services and distribution of wealth. A system based on extractive institutions, i.e., institution based mostly on the extraction of resources and nothing else, concentrate the power and wealth in the hands of those controlling the state, which thus open the door for unrest, strife and civil war. Those in power have incentive to keep it as it is, as it is at their own benefits.
While these offers a good explanation on the conjecture between the economic and political aspect, it doesn’t explain why some countries seems to, even with hard attempts, not be able to construct institutions that help control the resource curse. Central African Republic, even with outside funding’s, regional organizations help, and international involvement can’t seem to create
strong institutions, which would all be at its advantage since the government has only control of the capital region. This suggests a deeper laying issue that transcend the institutional explanation.
On the other hand, while Congo has stronger institutions, scholars were still alarmed by the election in 2021, which hint that it is not only strong institutions that foster durable peace or fuel conflicts.
More so, the democratization process tends to bring more internal conflict, which was the case for the first war of Congo as the democratization process failed and led to the first civil war. It also doesn’t explain why conflict seems to be so geographically specific: why ineffective extractive institutions affect so heavily the Central African region? Moreover, why do these cause civil war in the region but did not elsewhere, such as in Niger for example?
Regionalization of conflicts
The regionalization effect of conflicts comes as a response to the specific case of Sub-Saharan region and its lack of common durability of peace: conflict is regionalized through corridors movement. It is amplified by the economical gap, poverty and lack of institutions that would help to fight conflict. On the same front, Ghura and Mercereau (2004), along with other authors, also added the regionalization and geographical issue: since the Central African Republic is in the middle of three zones of turmoil, i.e. Chad lake region, north Cameroon and DR Congo, it has the effect to aggravate inherent instability and fuel war (Debos 2008; Chauvin and Magrin 2020). As such, during those peace years between 2007 and 2012, the Chad rebellion leader Baba Laadé settle his base in CAR in 2009 (Chauvin and Magrin 2020, 5). In the same year, LRA, a political rebellion movement from DR Congo and Uganda, took refuge in the southeastern region of RCA, a region with low governmental control and low population density (Chauvin 2018, 94-95). Moreover, in 2013, many of the fighters of cross war in eastern Tchad and Darfour integrated the Séléka branch, further increasing the hold of rebellion in border regions. This movement, in combination with the low-density population in the capital and the region, favored the lack of governmental development in the territorial region, creating a “negative centrality” (Champaud 1994, 223). The power of the state is not central but regionalized, thus rendering the possibility of recurring conflict inevitable and a durable peace as only temporary. What is interesting, but not further developed, is the colonial link and legacy adjacency of the authors. Incidentally, as he said, the administrative structure is
“horrendous since the colonial area,” thus further hinting the possible impact of the French colony on current administrative institutions. Furthermore, he points out to the fact that CAR is slowly
reprising its “precolonial function” as a punctual geographical space for rebels and external groups to move and establish themselves (Chauvin 2018, 96). African borders were created as a project to share power of the continent within European countries. As a result, borders are inherently a legacy of the European colonial area that is still sustained through these days, without attention to local sensitivities, further suggesting the European subjectivity.
To explain the differences between the Central African region as a whole, its relation to political instability and violence translating into war, and the rest of the Sub-Saharan region, Chauvin’s other article (2018) and Gudmundsson (2004) adds to the other arguments by emphasizing the political and regional violence aspects linked to colonial history. These authors put emphasis on the fact that, contrary to the other Sub-Saharan region where European thought was constructed opposing the return of violence, the Central African region was structured around political violence. European colonization stopped the slave system to replace it with a regional structure based on violence to control men and its territory. Since there was not a strong density population at that time, the colonial exploitation was realized by the force requisition of local people and the use of great scale statewide violence. This geographical aspect added with the failure of resource exploitation capacity led to the change from a regional colonial exchange economy that used to link polarizing states, to the regional exchange of violence and movability in the same corridors. In other words, widespread turmoil and violence became transnational, using the same network of transnational exploitation used in the colonial economy. Furthermore, it further suggests the political, social, and economic realities originated in the legitimacy crises faced by colonial and postcolonial states and transposed into the present conflict (Gudmundsson 2004).
While the regionalization effect complements the weak institutions by explaining the difficulties of creating strong institutions, it does not explain how bordering turmoil fueled so much internal conflict specifically in the Central African Region. International relations, on the positivist understanding, distance internal politics from international ones. Thus, what is happening in one country should not regionalize to the bordering ones. Furthermore, it actually might suggest an increase importance of the impact of the colonial legacy: while not mentioned explicitly in this literature, it set the ground for further research on the importance of the colonial legacy in the movement and regionalization of conflict. Colonial economy allowed the formation of those corridors, such as the Central African Region as a stopover for other bordering countries criminals like DRC and Chad.
As such, authors have tried to tackle why there is structural violence and lack of durable peace in the Central African region. However, these explanations do not tackle the structural causes, as in the deeper-lying issues which allow the status quo. Furthermore, they offer a positivist explanation, as it lacks in apprehending future changes to the context. As such, the research focuses more on the current specific phenomenon that limits the possibility of durable peace, such as the regionalization of conflict or lack of strong institutions but does not offer structural explanation behind how these contexts came to exist and how they are sustained or even how it can be changed or influenced. Incidentally, scholars have brought forward the impact of colonialism structure on local violence. As such, most studies focus on the grievance that colonialism brought forward, their stronghold on local violence, grievances and forward-looking building strategies. Ethnic discrepancy is an example as such that was used extensively by proponents of cultural determinist and postcolonial structure.
Chapter Two: Theoretical framework
To better tackle the question of this thesis, there are concepts that need to be framed in terms of theory. In other words, this chapter will lay down the framework of the main concept of this research: peace durability, European colonial legacy, impact and internal conflicts.
To evaluate the impact of the European colonial legacy on peace durability, it is important to understand the different concepts implied in the question. Firstly, peace durability is under the biggest conception of positive peace. Positive peace is defined by the absence of actual or threatened violence and instability because the roots of the original violence have been dealt with (Connolly and Maina 2016, 259). Furthermore, it implies institutions and policies that are actively working for more durable peace (Institute of Economics and Peace 2022). What becomes particularly relevant from this literature is its focus on African issues and states. As such, this kind of peace is dependent on pre-existing conflict and how it was dealt with. Against this background, the African state is located between the endpoints of a peace-war continuum and peace does not automatically imply an absence of violence per se (Connolly and Maina 2016, 259). These also
imply the creation of conditions for sustainable peace, before and after conflicts (Zondi and Nyukykonge 2016, 85-6). As such, the European postcolonial legacy could impact peace before the conflict becomes widespread, through past policy, by intensifying the division and exacerbating poverty, violence, and factions in colonial times. Furthermore, the postcolonial legacy can affect the peace process and its durability during the conflict and in the aftermath of the close ties that European power and their past colonies have. For example, French troops were involved until 2016 on Central African ground and have trained military troops in Congo (Pentland 2005; Fortna 2004;
Blanton, Mason and Athow 2001; Ogutcu-Fu 2021). European states tend to be more involved in their past colonies during conflicts and then during the peace process (Pentland 2005). In addition, during and after the conflict, their close economic, political, and social ties inherited from the colonial past could favor one person as a lead power, and/or bring resources for one faction and/or investment projects in the aftermath for a more durable peace (Pentland 2005).
Furthermore, in the aftermath, not only do these ties have an impact on the local apprehension of peace, but also on the relationship between the European state and the conflict- ridden country. As Ogutcu-Fu's analysis (2021) brought forward, state interveners continue to influence the decision and actions of their war-time allies in the post-agreement period, which indicates that intervener states’ satisfaction with the post-agreement status quo is a primary determinant of durable peace (Ogutcu-Fu 2021, 634). Additionally, this is a deeper and more meaningful understanding of peace: the different sources of the conflict need to be addressed.
Consequently, the different mechanisms that prevent the recurrence of conflict once it has happened, also meaning a more durable peace, such as the restorative, retributive, structural, and distributive variables, become central (Druckman and Albin 2011, 1138).
Furthermore, not only do they need to be addressed, but also for it to be considered
“resolved” by the international institutions there needs to be an agreement that structure the peace, either a ceasefire that fosters a long-term peace or a full-on peace agreement. As a result, intrastate conflict termination and its following peace are achieved when common grounds and agreements are reached. “Peace” longevity is thus measured from the moment this agreement starts until the point of civil conflicts reprise. For Congo, they signed the treaty at the beginning of 2000. Even if more violence occurred afterward, the official date of the civil war, and thus the end of it and peace, was from 1997 until 1999 when they reached an agreement. In the same line, the Central African Republic's first civil war is considered to have ended in 2007 when both factions reached a
compromise, and it was considered at “peace” for 5 years between the two wars even if the same factions were implied in the second one.
Colonial legacy in Post-colonial world
Postcolonialism not only exists in the current ties of tangible actions and relationship between European states and African ones but also impacts the discourse and language of such relations. As such, what is considered peace and treaties are defined in western European institutions, imposing a narrative congruent to colonialism on internal conflicts. External ideas and the methods of evaluation are thus imposed on local ground, which can create a discontinuity between the international discourse and the real underlying issues (Findley and Teo 2006). This could be seen as an advantage for European states since it conforms to their models (Jabri 2016). Since post- conflict peace requires an investment in prevention policies and policies for peace management, it requires a deeper change and support that might not be congruent with current European policies.
Furthermore, since previous lines of colonial legacies are rooted in many of the issues that sustain and fuel countries, construction around solutions and indicators as such can be short-sighted and superficial, even if they address institutionally, in theory, the main lines of those issues (Parashar and Schulz 2021, 876). More so, the construction of agreements, and what they should include to “resolve” issues are further linked to how western third parties structure the problem.
Consequently, they can decide the lines of the conflict and how to stop it, justifying an intervention or not.
The transnationality aspect of conflict can also affect and fuel the construction of solutions around intervention and indicators. Studies have shown the transnationality and transmutation of civil conflict in African states from various contexts and forms of violence (Cilliers and Schunemann 2013, 2). As previously shown in the literature review, there is a strong regional aspect to the violence and issues in the Central African region. Instability from one country tends to further fuel instability in the country bordering, thus creating transnational movements of support, such as Angola with Congo, or transnational rebel groups, such as the Central African Republic with the Séléka group. Narratives play thus a role in the compartmentalization and thus the treatment of peace as a whole.
Sartre argued that there is an impact of the colonization, as states attempt to reconstruct themselves: “The colonized – becoming a child of violence – draws from violence his humanity”.
In other words, the issues that fueled and sustain conflict have a colonial past: the omnipresence of structural and systemic violence translated into its systematic integration in the newly independent countries. The same could be said about the transnationality of conflict: it draws its origin from the structure put in place during colonial time. Once independent, countries keep reproducing the system of colonial violence that they have experienced. This thinking is further expanded by Mbembe with his analysis of the colonized human:
Peace is not necessarily the natural outcome of colonial war. In fact, the distinction between war and peace does not avail. […] All manifestations of war and hostility that had been marginalized by a European legal imaginary find a place to reemerge in the colonies. (2003, 25)
This further links the colonial past through inherited current violence, but also brings forward the question of how war, peace, and violence are seen in a post-colonial world on past colonies. In other words, violence that was common in past colonies transposed after independence and in the new state. It also imposed a European imaginary on what is considered as peace and what is not.
As the World Development Report 2011 states, “the remaining forms of conflict and violence do not fit neatly either into ‘war’ or ‘peace’, or into ‘criminal violence’ or ‘political violence’” (World Bank 2011, 6), which suggest a different understanding beyond the narrative of war/internal conflicts and what is not.
As such, there is subjectivity to postcolonial peace, as it implies a return to pre-colonial peace, an absolute peace, or the return to an original state of non-violence. However, as Mansfield conclusion from the analysis of critical authors (2011), these binaries do not translate into the postcolonial state, as the logic of opposition described as the origin prior to any deterioration or accident cannot be seen as something pure and normal existing before the corruption of the colonizer and the different mechanism used at that time to further be amplified it. These mechanisms, such as patrimonialism policy, i.e., seeing the state as an object to oneself, or reprimanding violently any uprising, were integrated into the newly independent state. It is not the absence of violence but is premised on the illusion of an original piece, which itself is a theoretical decision of Western metaphysics (Mansfield 2011).
Moreover, shaping it this way can influence the evaluation and discontinuity of structuring the issues to benefit a westernized understanding. As such, European colonial legacies shape peace durability through the narrative of what peace is and what it is not, thus, how to apprehend it and
the different indicators linked to it, matching it from institutionalized western bureaucracy and thus shaping the process of peace and its durability as a whole.
Many factors can impact peace durability. As such, we can define its impact in two different ways:
the longevity of peace, as defined by a lack of return to civil conflicts, and the strength of peace.
For the latter, it includes in the definition of peace as a whole: if the issues of the conflict are addressed in the first hand, then peace can be sustainable even more than just avoiding the return of a conflict. Incidentally, postcolonial legacy’s impact is dependent and evaluated by the longevity of peace and by the different factors that address the core issues of what brought the conflict in the first hand. For the latter, these impacts can be evaluated into three different indicators that are used to see if the core issue of the conflict is addressed. These three indicators, i.e. restorative, retributive and structural, which will also be discussed further in the methodology part, will thus be used as the impact of postcolonial legacy.
Conflict and countries' history thus impact how the internal conflict evolves, how it is apprehended, the factions and what needs to be done to address the deeper layers of the issues. As a result, not only the external aspect shape indicators of success, by mechanisms of implementation and surveillance, such as when outside countries like France are involved in the construction of peace agreements, or when they bring observers to define if the peace process is followed or not, but also internal processes that lead to peace and its durability. The internal process can be defined as what the country is doing internally to bring durable peace and can be influenced by past colonial legacy of violence. Incidentally, for example, neopatrimonialism and self-serving leadership has been a common occurrence in African states and have been linked to historical discrepancies and colonial legacy (Diop 2012). As such, for example, Congo is a great example of the transposition of colonial patrimonialism governmentality to current neopatrimonialism state operationalize. Poor governance and self-serving leadership affect the way agreements and conflict are approached:
structural, procedural, and distributive are all affected if states and institutions are perceived as one’s personal object (Cilliers and Schunemann 2013, 5). There is also a reproduction of inherited colonial violence (Besley and Reynal-Querol 2012; Parashar and Schulz 2021), which is correlated with an increased risk of recurrence of internal conflict (Cilliers and Schunemann 2013, 5). Furthermore, poverty and discrepancy, especially between ethnic factions as inherited from
colonial-style division (Blanton, Mason and Athow 2001) have also been correlated with internal conflicts (Cilliers and Schunemann 2013; Quinn, Mason and Gurse 2007, 188).
In addition, post-colonial ties have been associated with an increased likelihood of intervention, politically, socially, and economically by the past colonial state (Chacha and Stojek 2019). As such, this implies that European states are more involved in civil African states' conflict.
They are able to engage in economic and military intervention since they have more power and thus structure the outcomes and the resolutions of peace and its durability as a consequence (Chacha and Stojek 2019). They can also influence the evolution of such resolutions and impose a specific structure of operations. Recently, the European Union created new Funding for African Peace and Security, which replaces the former one and gives the EU the option to bypass the AU and directly pay for national and sub-regional military initiatives (International Crisis Group 2021).
This implies a big influence on local conflict without the regional organization approval. Even before, more than 90% of the previous funds were spent on peace support operations (International Crisis Group 2021, 3). They thus can invest, or not, in operations directly or indirectly through the AU in peace settlements, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, further proof of the influence post- colonial ties on current policies.
As a result, in the first part, the European post-colonial legacy can impact peace durability by inherited economic, social, and historical ties of the source of conflict, but also on currently active ties that increase the likelihood of intervention and implication in current conflicts. European post-colonial legacy impacts the different indicators of peace durability by the mechanism of intervention, prevention, and fostering an environment where settlement becomes more mitigated.
The definition of internal conflict and its following study field is large. From that field, many scholars use different definitions and theoretical framework to define what is internal conflicts and what is not. As such, unlike civil war where the common understanding comes from tangible value, i.e. more than 1000 deaths related in a year, the definition and structure is more flexible. Internal conflict refers to a situation of violence involving protracted armed confrontations between government forces and one or more organized armed groups, or between such groups themselves arising on the territory of the state. One of the two opposing sides is a non-State armed group.
Consequentially, civil war is a form of internal conflict, but at the highest level. Furthermore, civil unrest, internal disturbances and tension are not considered as internal conflicts, because they have
not reached an intensity qualifying the situation as an armed conflict and/or has a sporadic/isolated tenure and/or implies local armed groups not sufficiently organized. In this way, to reach the criteria of an internal armed conflict, the armed groups involved must show a minimum degree of organization and the armed confrontations must reach a minimum level of intensity. This level is determined by duration and gravity, local material indicators (types or weapons used, a number of fighters, extent of damage caused by the fighting), the number of casualties and type of governmental forces involved. While there is no tangible indicators, these types of requirement and intensity usually result in a minimum of 25 deaths (Feindouno and Wagner 2020). A minor internal conflict generates, usually, between 25 and 999 deaths, while the strict definition of civil war involves 1000 related deaths in a calendar year since the beginning of a conflict (Feindouno and Wagner 2020).
In brief, for this research, internal conflict will be defined with the minimum threshold of 25 deaths, which includes an organized non-state armed group and implies the intensity referenced above. As a result, there can be civil unrest, such as the one that followed the Congo-Brazzaville election of 2016, without it escalating to internal conflict or, moreover, civil war.
As such, postcolonial legacy structures the theoretical framework of this thesis and the apprehension of peace durability. Postcolonial legacy is inherited from past colonial structure, and influences the interventional part, the core issues of countries affected, and the conception of violence and peace locally. This also structure the way peace durability is seen, apprehended, and evolve, past colonial states such as European ones being more involved in local conflict, what is considered as peace and what is not, how it is addressed and if it is considered resolved or not.
Incidentally, the impact of postcolonial legacy links the longevity of peace as such, and the strength of it. This also requires a post internal conflict framework, since peace durability starts after the end of an internal conflict to evaluate it. A minor internal conflict can be defined as more than 25 death while civil war starts at 1000 related deaths in a calendar year since the beginning of a conflict.
Chapter Three: Methodology
With all the concepts defined, how does the European Postcolonial legacy impact peace durability after internal conflict? To evaluate its impact on the case of Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic, this thesis is going to use a comparative case study, as most similar case, as they arise from the same circumstances and background but diverge in peace durability. Since the conception of peace used in this thesis is based on positive peace, there are indicators that structure the process of peace in the aftermath of conflict, not only to foster durable peace but also to offer to reduce the risk of a recurring war. These indicators are a response to the source of the conflict that needs to be addressed, even after a peace agreement has been signed, in order to bring durable peace. In the same line of a peace continuum understanding, as Bigombe, Collier, and Sambanis (2000) pointed out, civil wars always end but they usually recur, thus the strategy should focus on conflict prevention and the maintenance of permanent peace.
On that note, there are some indicators and variables that are commonly used to prevent the reprising of a conflict and solidify durable peace. Moreover, after a conflict and in the years following, each country must endorse policies to end the conflict that usually enters the line of three categories that will be explained further on. To evaluate the impact of postcolonial legacy on the durability of peace in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo, this essay will look at the European postcolonial legacy on these three indicators and how colonial legacy shapes them.
Comparative case study
To answer the main question, this thesis will compare the peace durability in Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic, as they differ in peace durability outcomes. It will look upon the potential impact of European colonial legacy on the restorative process, retributive process and structural process1, by comparing the policies program and actions taken on both countries in the aftermath of civil war. Both these cases are similar on various factors and quite comparable. As such, economic factors, which tend to influence the recurrence of conflict, are similar, both
1 Each process contributes to durable peace and are complementary to address the core issue of a conflict. The restorative and retributive process address backward looking grievances, while the structural process addresses the forward-looking policies in order to prevent the recurrence of a conflict. They will be further developed in the comparison section, with their own policies and actions focuses.
countries having more than half of its population living under extreme poverty. Moreover, they are regionally close, both sharing borders with each other and other countries that are experiencing civil war like Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, etc. These are also factors that influence internal turmoil, since conflicts tend to have a regionalizing effect. Furthermore, on the cultural and social front, both have a similar percentage composition of ethnolinguistic groups and religion, none of them having a majority of the population in any allegiance. Incidentally, on the cultural determinist side, they both are quite similar. They also have the same colonial legacy, as they were both past French colonies and became independent during the 1960s wave.
They vary mostly in peace durability: while Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic both experienced deadly civil wars around the same time in the beginning of the 21st century, peace lasted in Congo-Brazzaville while another internal conflict arose 5 years later for Central African Republic. To better understand the variation in peace durability as the variable of outcomes and the differences between the two, this thesis will focus on impact of European colonial legacy and the main indicators of durable peace after a conflict, i.e., the restorative process, the retributive process and the structural process. These three indicators are the main determinant in peace durability after an internal conflict, as they sustain durable peace and address past-looking grievances and forward-looking prevention strategies.
Indicators and data collection
There are different variables that structure the analysis of both cases. Consequentially, to evaluate the impact of the European postcolonial legacy on peace durability, we need to use and define the different variables in play and what structures them in our research. First and foremost, the time frame of this study starts after the beginning of first internal conflict, i.e. the Congolese one, in 1997. While the study focuses on the years between 1997 and now, different factors, such as the independence or international intervention, could influence the restorative, retributive and structural process in the current timeframe.
Futhermore, there are the three main variables that are central to the durability of peace and are evaluated on this thesis. As such, these indicators address the grievances and forward-looking prevention strategies. Belligerents that struggle with enforcement issues tend to fall back in wars because of trust issues from the agreements, but also they choose war because they think it could lead to a better settlement (Werner and Yuen 2005, 288). Consequentially, there needs to be an
incentive and more comprehensive approach to peace, as in something that addresses the root cause of it. On all grounds, most peace studies that focus on peace durability have laid it out in an incentive and dissident way. On the incentive side, war and/or conflicts reprise when conditions for them are desirable, i.e. opportunity of gains or the current after-conflict status quo for factions is not desirable, which incentive war, as outcomes could be more desirable. On the latter, in simple terms, war is not perceived as desirable if the consequences of one are too much or the fallout possibility brings too many dissidents (Walter 2004). As a result, one of the strongest ways of evaluating maintaining durable peace is if the sources of conflict are addressed and resolved on a comprehensive and deeper level.
For this reason, the three indicators that are going to be evaluated through the lens of postcolonial legacy are the ones that addressed the sources of conflict and its resolution on a comprehensive and deeper level. The restorative process is the first indicator that addresses the grievances in the aftermath of a conflict, such as amnesty for crimes, prisoners release, etc. The retributive process is the second indicator for backward looking reparation, like trials and sanctions, are the first two indicators of addressing the source of the conflict. The third indicator is the structural process, as it addresses forward looking policies and changes in order to prevent the return of grievance and conflict, such as participation and power relations between the different factions, vetting and independent body commission (Druckman and Albin 2011, 1138). They, for once, address the punitive side, and on the other hand give incentive to peace as when the source of it is addressed, conflict is no longer needed.
Finally, to evaluate the influence of European colonial legacy on these indicators, this thesis is going to compare the impact and influence of European postcolonial legacy of each country on the three different indicators described before. To analyze the process behind it, this thesis is going to look as primary sources on reports and peace treaties that were publish after the internal conflict in Congo and in Central African Republic. Most of the reports are from either international organization, such as the United Nations or the World Bank report programs, international countries, like the USA national reports or the United Kingdom defences report or the French Defence ministry, or national independent reports for Congo-Brazzaville. While they offer great oversight of the context as it was unfolding, the policies taken at that time and the evaluation as well, they are still bias by outside agencies. However, they still remain the most important document as international watchers and national documents and report gives a closer access to the
situation unfolding. Furthermore, this thesis will also use the different follow up report and matrix that have been produce by university and independent body. These are useful as to see what was respected in the agreement and what was not and also includes languages of local leaders at that time, what was their position on it and to compare what was said versus what was done.
For this thesis, the main variable analyzed will be the relation between European postcolonial legacy as an independent variable and the four different indicators of durable peace, i.e. restorative, distributive, procedural, structural as dependent variables. Incidentally, we look at the mechanism behind the European postcolonial legacy and its impact on the resolution and addressing the core issue by using these three variables. Since we are only using both cases and using exploratory angle, i.e. examining without having a defined hypothesis, the reliability will be dependent upon the results obtained. However, because both cases are intrinsically similar on all other angle that tend to influence the uprising of violence and internal conflict, using the postcolonial angle as to see the influence is reliable by focusing on this small relation. Furthermore, it becomes relevant to look at the specific relations that have not been the focus of many scholars before, especially on the exploratory front. This provides a relevant background that could be further deepened since most of internal conflict touches countries that have a colonial history (Jabri 2016). While the replicability is more focused on the Central African region as it has some similar and particular characteristic, the replicability of the mechanism behind the influence of postcolonial legacy and peace durability could be further deepen.
On the other front, while the research uses a comparison between Congo and Central African Republic and thus, is too specific to be generalized, the specific influences of colonial legacy on the different process could be further generalize as an outcome. The specificity of both countries does not change the methodological possible relation between colonial legacy and the different indicators (restorative, retributive and structural) that address the core issue of an internal conflict. This research thus could offer a base ground on the different specific influence and link of colonial legacy in the African continent and the durability of peace.
However, one serious challenge is the limit of available digital data. While most international reports are available onset online, local national documents tend to have a more
difficult access, specifically for the Central African Republic. This limit the agencies and objectivity of the data, as most reports are based on external analysis and not local one.
Chapter Four: Empirical Background
To better understand the unfolding of both civil war and following peace durability, or lack thereof, this chapter is going to present the timeline of each country since independence. While our research focus on the first civil war, the historical background of both countries is useful to understand how the conflict arose in the first hand, the core issues, the factions implicated and how they were addressed.
Congo Brazzaville context and situation is quite good compared with other African countries: it has a better Global Peace Index than the African average (Institute of Economics and Peace 2021), it did not experience internal war since 1999, has not experienced a coup even after the unconstitutional change to the constitution allowing the extension of presidential power. Despite this event, Congo-Brazzaville offers a great image in comparison to its Central African neighbors.
Paradoxically, on paper, The Republic of Congo, commonly named by its capital Congo- Brazzaville, is quite stable compared to the rest of its bordering Central African countries.
Congo became independent from France in 1960 with the wave of independence in Africa in the 60s (Happi, Maphalala, Soumahoro and Kebede Reyissa 2021, 10; Gebremmicheal, Ababu and Alem Kidane 2018, 11). In the same line of the Central African Republic and other countries in the region, the first Congolese president was ousted with a popular uprising. The uprising ended with the military putting a new government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat. While the government tended to lean more on the far left, as a self-defined « scientific socialism » rule influenced by the east, there was still the same tendency of appropriating and personalizing the power as CAR (Happi, Maphalala, Soumahoro and Kebede Reyissa 2021, 10). There were also coup attempts, which led to the regime's end in 1968 and the new presidency of Mariwn Ngouabi.
While it did survive a coup in 1972, he was assassinated in 1977, and his replacement, Yhombi- Opango, was forced out of power two years later (Happi, Maphalala, Soumahoro and Kebede Reyissa 2021, 10). The new President Sassou Nguesso used political repression more than
patronage, a tendency that the Central African Republic had as well in later years. After the end of the cold war, Pascal Lissouba was elected as the first president of multi-party democracy.
The Republic of the Congo also went through a civil war. The war broke in 1997 when Lissouba and Sassou started to fight for power, Sassou proclaiming himself as the president and ordering his private militia to resist, while Lissouba government forces fought Sassou. It lasted until 1999, with a peace agreement signed at the beginning of the year of 2000 (Happi, Maphalala, Soumahoro and Kebede Reyissa 2021, 10). It is still considered one of the deadliest civil wars since the Second World War. Since then, Sassou has retained power in controversial elections, and a change in the constitution was done in 2015 to allow him to extend his presidency. While the change of constitution and the elections have created civil unrest, no other civil war broke, and the number of deaths following the election and local instabilities was quite low. While other countries in the region such as Central African Republic cannot seem to out itself from the spiraling civil wars, the Republic of Congo seems to be able to avoid such downfall. It is one of the most peaceful, as in the lack of internal conflict, in the region. While the Central African Republic, and other countries of the region that borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, were in the top 20 countries with the least peace in the world according to the Global Peace Index 2021 (Institute of Economics and Peace 2021). On the same ranking, Congo has a better rating than the African average on the peace index (Institute of Economics and Peace 2021).
Central African Republic
Looking on the other side of the border, the Central African Republic has been considered one of the least peaceful countries in the world and has the lowest peace index on the African continent (Institute of Economics and Peace 2021; Palik, Rustad and Methi 2020). It has been in a civil war since 2012. This war was followed the one that ended in 2007. Ever since its independence from France, the Central African Republic has been inflicted by conflict and instability. However, the Central African Republic has a similar historical background than Congo. Compared to other French colonies, CAR had a relatively peaceful upbringing to independence. Without any war or resistance, France agreed to give CAR its full independence in July 1960. While the first government followed trends of newly independent countries of that time, i.e. consolidating its power after taking office, it was overthrown in a bloodless manner. This consolidation trend increased with the newly appointed Bokassa government, transforming a relatively quiet African
country, into an authoritarian regime characterized by violence and numerous human rights violations (Glawion and Vries 2018, 282). Bokassa self-proclaimed monarchy was overthrown by Dacko’s return group, who was himself overthrown in 1981, two years after his bloodless coup.
General Kolingba, the head of the Military Committee for National Recovery, i.e. the new ruling military junta, became president a few years later and, under civil pressure, started the democratization process (Gebremmicheal, Ababu and Alem Kidane 2018, 11). However, the process proved to be quite restricted, and Kolingba tried to hold on to power. Finally, in 1993, Ange-Félix Patassé was elected president and changed the constitution. However, a few years later, widespread violence started again in the country against the government. This widespread violence culminated in two consecutive coups, the second one being successful and putting Général Francois Bozizé as the new ruler of the country, and then he was formally elected in 2005 (Gebremmicheal, Ababu and Alem Kidane 2018, 11).
While violence was widespread during all of this time in the Central African Republic, with numerous cases of human’s rights violations, mutiny, and one-sided violence, the first formal civil war broke out in 2003 when Bozizé seized power in 2003. Named the Republic Bush War, the war was between the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebels and government forces (Glawion and Vries 2018). On the claim that outside ethnic communities were excluded, marginalized, and obstructed throughout the state, UNFDR took up arms against Bozize in the Northern area of CAR. Led by Michel Detodia, the group signed a peace agreement in Birao in April 2007, in return for an amnesty, recognition as a formal political party, and eventual integration of its fighters into the army (Knoope and Buchanan-Clarke 2017, 6). In return, the government was allowed to regain territory of control and engage in non-violent interactions with rebels (Knoope and Buchanan-Clarke 2017, 6; Glawion and Vries 2018; Happi, Maphalala, Soumahoro and Kebede Reyissa 2021, 10). While violence patterns keep going after, as seen as inter-ethnic fighting and battle against rebel factions and government troops, CAR formed a new unity government in January 2009 and achieved peace, as in lack of formal civil war, until 2012.
The second civil war started in 2012 and arose when a new coalition of different rebel groups, known as Séléka, accused the government of failing the peace agreement agreed upon in 2007. Composed of a majority of Muslims, they took arms against the government. In the meantime, militia anti-Balaka, the group created in 2009 and composed by a majority of Christian, emerged as an opposition to the Séléka rebellion. Supported and exacerbated by Francois Bozizé
and his close relative, these villagers had the mandate to clean the Séléka rebellions (Glawion and Vries 2018, 438). All of these groups create factions and smaller rebellions groups that unfolded in the country. In 2013, Bozizzé’s government is overthrown by rebels; extreme cases of human rights violations and violence followed the event in the whole country and Michel Djotodia became the self-proclaimed president. The conflict is considered as one of the most complex and sub layered in the world. In 2017, 80% of the state territory was under one of the 14 rebel factions (Knoope and Buchanan-Clarke 2017, 14). To this day, the government has only a strong control of the Bangui region, the capital city, while the rest of the territory is unstable or under different faction’s control. There have been 7 different peace agreements that have been signed between factions, which were all unsuccessful (The United Nations Peacemaker 2022). With no prospect of agreement and resolution in sight, peace thus never settled for a long and tangible period of time, even with the multiple peace agreements and the short-lived peace in 2007.
Consequentially, as seen with the empirical background of each country, both Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic had a similar background. The conflicts involved a fight for power, which suggests a neopatrimonial vision of state power, and implied corruption, factionalized country and international support and interventions. For Congo-Brazzaville, peace remained after the civil war ended in 2000, but there have been instances of civil unrest since then. For Central African Republic, peace never lasted, and the turmoil led to a second civil war in 2012.
Chapter Five: European Colonial Legacy and Past-Looking Indicator At the end of a conflict, a country has to address the different grievances to begin the process of peace. Past looking indicators thus address what has been done during the war or what lead to it in order to bring justice to all the factions involved. This is part of bringing durable peace, as it tackles grievances directly and thus stop all incentives to the return of violence. This chapter will thus analyze the restorative process indicator and retributive one to treat the grievances, injustice and reconciliation in Congo and Central African Republic.