Complexities of international mediation at sub-regional levels in Africa: lessons from South Sudan

Published date11 April 2022
Date11 April 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorIbrahim Sakawa Magara
Complexities of international mediation at
sub-regional levels in Africa: lessons
from South Sudan
Ibrahim Sakawa Magara
Purpose The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been mediating the South Sudan
conflict since 2013. IGAD’s intervention in South Sudan is anchored on its founding norm of peaceful
settlement of regional conflicts and in reference to the principle of subsidiarity, under the Africa Peace and
Security Architecture (APSA). However, it is puzzling how violence continued unabated even as conflict
parties negotiated and signed numerous agreements under the auspices of IGAD. The parties to conflict
seem unwilling to implement the 2018 peace agreement, which is arguably un-implementable. Yet, it appears
that IGAD mediators were privy to this situation all along. The question that then arises is why IGAD would
continue engaging in a mediation process that neither ends violence nor offers a promise of a resolution?
Drawing out on empirical data, this paper argues that IGAD’s organisational structures and functionality are
key to understanding and explaining the South Sudan phenomenon within broader discourses on peace and
security regionalism in Africa. This paper suggests the need to pay attention to the embeddedness of political
power dynamics in the structures and functionality of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs), such
as IGAD, as one of the ways to (re)thinking and (re)orienting norms and practices of regional conf lict
management within the APSA and in pursuit of the ‘‘African solutions to African problems.’’
Design/methodology/approach Data for this paper was obtainedthrough document reviews and 39
elite interviews. The interviews were conducted with representatives of IGAD member states,
bureaucrats of IGAD and its organs mediation support teams, conflict parties, diplomats and other
relevant experts purposively selected based on theirrole in the mediation. The physical interviewswere
conducted in Ethiopia,Kenya and Uganda, with others conducted virtually. Analysisand presentation of
findings are largely perspectival, highlighting coexistence of contending peacemaking ideas and
practices. The discussions centre around inter-linked themes of IGAD’s conceptions of peace and
approachesto peacemaking as informed by its structural and functionaldesigns.
Findings Findings illustrate the complexity of the peace process and the ce ntrality of power politics in IGAD’s
peace and security arrangements. In view of the findings, this paper ech oes the need for enhanced and
predictable collaborative framework between IGAD and the African Union (AU ) as central to the operationalisation
of the APSA and pursuit of the African solutions to the African problems. Hence, this paper suggests transforming
IGAD’s political program into a robust political bureau with predictable interl inkages and structured engagements
between IGAD’s heads of state and government and the APSA’s Panel o f the Wise (PoW).
Originality/value The study is based on empiricaldata obtained through the researchersown framed
questions, and its argument is basedon the researchers own interpretations innovativelyframed within
existing theoreticalframework, particularly hybridpeace theory. Based on the findings, this paper makes
bold and practical recommendations for possible workable collaborative framework between IGAD and
the AU underthe APSA framework
Keywords Africa, IGAD, APSA, South Sudan, Mediation, Peace, Conflict, Security
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are playing an increasingly important role
in the continent’s peace and security agenda. They are meant to function under the
Ibrahim Sakawa Magara is
based at the Department of
History, Politics and
International Studies,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, UK.
Received 7 January 2022
Revised 21 January 2022
Accepted 21 January 2022
Other than the generous grant
from the International Peace
Research Association
Foundation (IPRAF) of US
$5,000 for fieldwork, the author
conducted this research while
on a generous studentship from
Loughborough University,
which covered part of the costs
as well as insurance.
Ethical approval: This study
was approved by
Loughborough University’s
ethical sub-committee on 08
July, 2019 as study R19-P116.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-01-2022-0669 VOL. 15 NO. 1 2023, pp. 51-65, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 51

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