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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Negative' International Peace and Domestic Conflicts, West Africa, 1957-1996
Author:Kacowicz, Arie M.
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Geographic term:West Africa
Subjects:foreign policy
Politics and Government
Economics and Trade
Inter-African Relations
Abstract:Since the decolonization process in the African continent began after World War II, West Africa stands out as the only zone of 'negative' peace. This terminology implies that the formal absence of international wars has been precariously maintained on an unstable basis by threats, deterrence, and/or a lack of will or capability to enter into inter-State hostilities. This article analyses possible explanations for the absence of international wars in West Africa. 'Realist' explanations, including the presence of a hegemon, the formation of a regional balance of power, external threats, and lack of material means and/or the irrelevance of fighting inter-State wars, appear to be incapable of coping with the complex realities of domestic strife and regional peace. The extent to which 'negative' international peace in West Africa can be explained by liberal analysis ('democratic stability', economic underdevelopment, and economic interdependence arguments) is also relatively limited. The author concludes that the twin processes of regional peace and domestic conflicts owe a great deal to the existence of widespread satisfaction with the territorial status quo. Weaknesses as both States and as powers have led most countries to adopt a rational policy of respecting the 'uti possidetis' on a reciprocal basis, despite the apparent artificiality of their borders. Notes, ref.