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PEACE SETTLEMENTS AND ENDURING STABILITY: RETHINKING CONFLICT RESOLUTION MODELS IN EUROPE AND AFRICA

OUTLINE OF PEACE SETTLEMENTS IN EUROPE SINCE THE SEVENTEETH CENTURY

It is generally agreed that the evolution of the modern international system in Europe is generally dated to 1648 with the signing of the treaties of Muster and Osnabruck, collectively called the Peace of Westphalia, it is accepted as the first of such in the history of European politics and very fundamental to the history of Europe because it brought an end to a very destructive violent and long conflict, The Thirty Years War

The Peace of Westphalia established the precedent of peace established by diplomatic congress, and a new system of political order in Central Europe, later called Westphalian Sovereignty, based on the concept of co-existing sovereign states. Inter-state aggression was to be held in check by a balance of power. A norm was established against interference in another states domestic affairs. As European influence spread across the globe, principles, especially the concept of sovereign states became central to international law and to the prevailing world order.2

It must be noted that in this description terms like diplomatic congress, balance of power and international law, terms that prevail in the contemporary international system are mentioned. So it is fair to state that this was the origin of such negotiations for peace in the international system that was properly documented.

The article by Dr. Aworawo properly explains and states the events that came about as a result of these treaties, Sweden gained ecclesiastical principalities of Bremen and Verden as well as Pomerania. These are very important because, these events helped Sweden tom establish itself as a leading Baltic power under King Gustavus Adolphus.

Most importantly to note in this is the abandonment of the arrangement of a Christian commonwealth dominated by the Pope and the Emperor.

Western Europe was henceforth destined to be a society of catholic and protestant nations, no one of which was to be allowed to become powerful enough to dominate the others. Catholics and protestant states alike abandoned as impracticable the reunion of the West under its erstwhile leaders. Catholics have looked with disfavour on the peace. While it was being negotiated it was denounced by some Catholics as unjust and injurious to religion because it put the salvation of millions in dire peril, as peace which would only be the cause of worse wars and as an evil to be avoided at the risk of losing all. More recently, it has been condemned as a convention not negotiated but dictated by French cannons, as a decisive landmark in the destruction of true international law, as the secularization of politics and as offensive both to the medieval and to the modern mind.3

The book correctly stated that the treaties of 1648 were simply aimed at restoring peace in Europe which had been disrupted fpr decades, the provisions came to have profound consequences for the entire political structure and even ecclesiastical authority.

 

THE AFRICAN CONTEXT

Unlike Europe, Africa was not so bothered with religious disagreements but things like the struggle for power, control of territory, struggle for economic resources, dynastic squabbles, etc. were the reason for conflict.

War has been profoundly important in shaping Africa’s past, it has been both outcome and driver of broader political, social; and economic change. Throughout the continents recorded history, organized violence has been the product of the perennial struggle to maximize population-particularly critical in the context of Africa’s historical under population. As a relatively land-rich continent, African political and social development has been characterized by continual fusion and reformation, involving migratory movements and regional rivalries that have often been violent in their very nature. A common theme across much of the continent in the pre-colonial era was the constant creation and recreation of unifying and often coercive ideologies aimed at the maximization of productive and reproductive labour. The struggle, moreover, to domesticate hostile physical and climatic environment has been a crucial driver of warfare, leading to the violent quest to control resources (water, arable land, healthy pasture). Environmental and climatic change has both caused and been caused by warfare in certain regions. In terms of external influences, finally Islam would have an ideological, cultural and tactical impact, while the slave trades (most dramatically in Atlantic Africa but also on the eastern side of the continent have driven forward warfare, heightening levels of violence and leading to innovation in the organization of violence in part because of the adoption of new technologies acquired through such trade, notably firearms. Ultimately, the multitude of European invasions of Africa in the late nineteenth century led to the widespread violence, as well as ushering in a new phase in the continents military history.4

Each people, race, or identity group have their own ways of doing things especially as they concern conflict resolution. A lot of African societies relied on oath taking and divination in the pre-colonial times, it must also be stated that they managed to use some of the very modern means of conflict resolution models like mediation, adjudication, reconciliation, arbitration and negotiation

Mediation

Mediation is an old method of conflict management surrounded by secrecy. It involves non-coercive intervention of the mediators called third party either to reduce or……. go beyond or bring conflict to a peaceful settlement. The mediators usually endeavoured that peace and harmony reigned Supreme in the society at whatever level of mediation. Thus is also usually couched with the dictum of no Victor no vanquished.

Elders are respected as trustworthy mediators all over Africa, because of their accumulated experiences and wisdom. Their roles depend on traditions, circumstances and personalities, accordingly. These roles include pressurizing, making recommendations, giving assessments, conveying suggestions on behalf of the parties, emphasizing relevant norms and rules, envisaging the situation if agreement is not reached, or repeating of the agreement already attained.

Adjudication

In traditional African society, adjudication involves bringing all disputants in the conflict to a meeting usually in the chambers or compound of family heads, quarter heads and palace court as the case maybe.

Reconciliation

This was the most significant aspect of conflict resolution. It is the end product of adjudication. After the disputants have been persuaded to end the dispute peace was restored. This restoration of peace and harmony was always anchored on the principle of give a little and get a little. This idea buttresses the idea of the disputing parties to give concessions. A feast was usually organized to confirm the readiness of the conflicting parties towards reaching points of compromise.

Negotiation

Negotiation, the secret to harmonize the interests of the parties concerned. Thus, even when the conflict involves a member against his or her society, there is an emphasis on recuperation and re insertion of errant member back into its place in society. The recovery of a dissident member can just as well be seen as the restoration of harmony and integrity of the community, as the assertion of views consensus and social cohesion, so that the management of the conflict favours the concerns of both parties.5

In the post-independence period negotiations has changed because of the emergence of International Governmental Organizations and the fact that in the world of today whatever happens in any part of the world affects every other part of the world one way or another, this serves as a check for the activities of states, and the criteria for joining international governmental organizations is to uphold international law and security this has been a way through which Interstate conflicts have been reduced to a minimum

IMPROVING THE MECHANISM FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION

It is true that the centrality of conflicts to domestic and international politics have created the need for the articulation of models and principles to guide their resolution, so we can clearly say we have some ways through which we approach these situations in the contemporary international system.

The methods used in conflict resolution must be improved compared to those of before, this is because experiences have changed. It is of upmost importance to note that power is the real international currency in today’s international system so it is impossible to isolate this. States more powerful will always be at an advantage in conflict resolution, states that act as mediators, will always have something they seek to gain. As a result, everyone is looking after their national interest, the survival of each state is the most important. So as a result of this, the mechanisms for attaining conflict resolution is not as straightforward as before. Now there are a lot of back door meetings, assurances, re assurances, and of course all the parties have to add their signature to whatever agreement they come up with.

 

The problem with this is as a result of all the processes involved it might take a long period before the parties can come to an agreement and more damage could come up as a result of the slow paced nature of these negotiations.

Scholarships try to say there is a way to deal with each situation of conflict resolution making use of diplomacy, arbitration, compilation, mediation, negotiations, etc to solve conflict, but the reality is these methods do not guarantee that the conflict will be solved  there are cases of very irrational leaders that are not interested in anything you bring to the table, an example is Sadam Hussein who developed nuclear weapons, even while telling the world there was nothing like that, this is an example of a ruler that irrespective of what the world wanted was determined on making sure his state became a nuclear state

The end result was the United States of America had to invade Iraq. So the question is in such a case did all the models for conflict negotiations not fail? Yes they all did. The explanation for this is every case is unique in its own and you cannot necessarily say there is a particular way of solving these issues, as they arise, the world needs to one together to find ways to solve them, the most important thing in mechanisms for conflict resolution should be respect for fundamental human rights and preservation of lives at all cost

CONCLUSION

It is true that the causes, nature and dimensions of conflict in Europe and Africa reveals a great deal of differences, although some similarities exists as well. The methods of resolving conflicts all around the world still remains same just that you have to consider the uniqueness of each situation. It is important to note, it’s not about the system of government it’s not substantial to say democracy is the best system of government, we have seen states in the international system that were not based on democracy or religion and we’re successful, the most important thing is whenever a situation arises in whatever part of the world, we need to know the individual or individuals that make decisions on behalf of the conflicting parties, because if you can understand these individuals the result of conflict resolution is almost sure.

 

 

 

 

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