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         The crucial condition for the viability of a state lies in its ability to provide socio-economic and political security for its citizens.  In functional and politically matured state, the provision of this security is regarded as a basic right of the citizens.  The failure of a state to provide these basic rights often gave rise to the feeling of insecurity which may lead to variances thus leading to conflict.

         Conflicts become more apparent when groups of people on security basis believe that they have to come together for their security and survival.   This feeling is a function of crisis pervading human society.  Considering the trend of crisis in the world today, conflict can be regarded as an inevitable phenomenon of human society.  Conflict is inevitable because it often emanates from individuals or groups in reaction to unpleasant socio-economic and political situation within the society. Conflict is therefore seen as a multi-dimensional social process which is common and an essential feature of human existence Isaac Olawale (1998:15). In its simplest form, conflict refers to the pursuit of incompatible goals by individuals or groups.  In essence, conflict situations arise when individuals or groups identify a goal, which they want to secure in order to satisfy material interest, needs or values.  When these perceptions lead to actions that come up against the interest, needs or values of others, a conflict occurs (Ibid:16).

         Globally, countries are increasingly involved in one conflict or the other.  This has taken different dimension with the advent of modern technology and the proliferation of arms struggle consequent to the end of the cold war.  Statistically, the current 18 wars and armed conflicts that are active and fought globally in different levels of intensity and at different stages of civil war, Africa accounts for 90 per cent, Evans and Newham (1992:52).  Consequently, there are heightened concerns about sustained violent conflicts in Africa since the end of the cold war. 

         During the 1980s, Africa was torn by 9 wars and almost half of the war-related deaths in the world were in Africa.  As a result, Africa accounted for over 8 million of the 22 million refugees world wide, Satgneth (1996:16). Conflicts in Africa have assumed alarming proportion and constitute impediment to Africa’s development (ibid:30).These conflicts have wrecked devastating consequences on Africa in terms of societal fragmentation and the regionalisation of domestic civil wars, which affect regional peace and security.  Consequently, some western media commentators like Riz Khan of Aljazeera among others have painted contemporary Africa as the ‘Heat of darkness, hopeless continent and the coming anarchy’ that is capable of threatening international peace and security (Ibid:25).

         In the last two decades, Africa has been plagued by intra-state conflicts.  Ethnic and religious clashes were common in most of African countries, with some escalating to full scale civil wars as in Darfur, Somalia, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’ Ivoire (Ibid:31). These alarming incidence of medium and high intensity conflicts had their own attendant consequences in deaths, instability, security and refugees.  This situation has given rise to serious breakdown of law and order in many societies, bringing in its wake, immense insecurity and human suffering of great dimensions. 

         In response to this changing context of conflict, several African conflict resolution initiatives have come to fore leading to the dictum, ‘African solutions to African problems Boutros Ghali (1992:16).  Some of these conflict resolution initiatives include the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the AU Standby Force. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) also made tremendous efforts to bring peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The AU is also spearheading efforts to bring peace to Darfur through her contribution of men and material to the AU-UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). 

         Sudan has the largest land mass in Africa with about 2,376 million square kilometers of land and 129,810 square kilometer of territorial water and a population of about 39 million people, United States of America Central Intelligence Agency (2004:168).The people are predominantly Muslims and their major occupation is farming (Ibid:169). The history of violent crisis in Sudan dates back to 1955 when the southerner part rebelled against the GoS and rebels from the southern part of the country clashed.  Since then, the GoS has been unable to quell the reflection, nor bring about peaceful resolution of the grievances of the southerners, thus the sporadic occurrence of crisis.

The current Darfur crisis erupted in 2003 when the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) launched attacks on government installations including military formations Collins (1996:284). The crisis is characterized with killings, looting and destruction of public and private properties. It is estimated that over 30,000 people have been killed in the Darfur crisis and about 1.2 million people rendered homeless with about 200,000 of them taking refuge in the neighbouring Chad Kagwanja (2005:27).

         The catalyst for the formation of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was the N’djamena Agreement.  The mission started with a Ceasefire Monitoring Commission (CFC), a military observer team and a small protection forces.  The force was beefed up by EU and US as well as parties to the conflict.  Shortly afterwards, it became clear that AMIS needed reinforcement, and on 20 October 2004, the African Union Peace and Security Council sent in reinforcement. In view of manpower and materiel constraints coupled with step up measures to resolve the Darfur crisis, AMIS rejuvenated into UNAMID in collaboration with United Nations (UN). International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs/NGOs) as well as other UN agencies have to plunge into Darfur to arrest the humanitarian menaces that toppled the Darfur conflict. 

         Conflict is one of the greatest challenges facing Africa today and the crisis in Darfur is no exception. The presence of conflict in one region triggers a spill over as witnessed in Darfur and Chad crises. Conflict resolution is a very costly venture.  Africa is cash trapped and sometimes have to depends on donor countries to finance conflict resolution initiatives.  In view of the foregoing, it would be prudent if Africa redoubles her effort to strengthen existing mechanisms for conflict prevention as well as its resolution.


         The AU as a regional organization has the responsibility to restore peace and stability in Darfur. Since the commencement of the peace mission in October 2004, the AMIS have strived to put under control the situation in the Darfur, yet reports from the region indicate persistent grave and unyielding atmosphere.

         In consequence to these negative reports on the unyielding situation in Darfur, the AU has to merge with UN to find amicable resolution to the Darfur conflict. In this regard the research would appraise the role of the AU/UN performance at resolving the conflict in Darfur.


         The objective of this study are as follows:

1.      To establish the pattern and central theme of the conflict situations on the continent with reference to the Darfur Conflict.

2.      To find out previous efforts of the AU and its precursor at resolving the conflict in Darfur.

3.      To analyse the performance of both AU/UN in bringing to an end crisis in Darfur.

4.      To explore ways of addressing the identified challenges of the AU/UN in restoring peace to Darfur.

5.      To formulate a workable mechanism for conflict resolution in Africa in the twenty-first-century.


         The paper will attempt to find answers to the following questions:

1.      What are the fundamental causes, nature, and dimension of the Darfur Conflict? 

2.      What can the AU and UN do to bring an end to the crisis in Darfur?

3.      What are the challenges of the AU and UN in    restoring     peace in Darfur?

4.      How effective is the current conflict resolution model in the continent?

5.      Is there any resolution mechanism which the regional and sub-regional organisations could adopt in handling such conflict situations in the continent?


         It is assumed that the fundamental causes of conflicts are the same in Africa.  These include corruption, ethnicity and Religious rivalry, marginalisation of political opponents and development as well as evenly share of the national cake.  Therefore, the study presupposed that the recommendations proffered in this paper would be adopted to avert future conflicts.


         The study is significant as a useful guide to African leaders in formulating, reforming and strengthening the mechanism for crisis resolution in Africa in general and Darfur in particular. In addition, the study will serve as a reference material for further research in AU crisis response initiative.


         In other to analyse the subject matter of this study effectively, the Marxist theory will be adopted to form the pillar upon which the argument in this study will be based.  In the mid-1840s Marx and Engels wrote that capitalist globalization was seriously eroding the foundations of the international system of states.

         Marx (1970) and Ake (2002), among other advocates of political economy approach, provide an adaptable framework for this study. The origin of this theory is associated with Karl Marx who first employed it for analysing and justifying the root causes of conflicts in human societies. He places premium on the primacy of material or economic conditions of society especially in his theory of dialectical materialism in which he posited that the economic structure known as substructure with emphasis on labour, is the essence of man’s existence. This is because economic activity is man’s primary concerns which decisively and invariably determine the superstructure known as politics, culture and ideological inclinations, socio-psychological consciousness, national security, etc. This line of argument was amply corroborated by Ake (Ibid: 2), thus:

Just as economic need is man’s primary need, so economic activity is man’s primary activity. The primary of work, that is economic productivity, is the corollary of the primacy of economic need. Man is first a worker or producer. It is by man’s productive activity that he is able to obtain the economic means which he needs to sustain his life.

         Against this background, the root cause of Africa’s conflict can be attributed to its dependent nature and structural weaknesses in the form of a monolithic economy. This can be seen in the reliance on the economies of the developed western capitalist countries characterized by imposition of neo-liberal policies on Africa which does not augur well for the people. This in turn precipitates conflicts in the continent.

         Applying this approach to our study, we observe that the determination of the strength and weaknesses of Sudan is contingent on it socio-economic formation or model of production which markedly affects its overall relationship with the international community. This is so because the economic system known as the base or substructure is extricably linked to, and decisively influences the strength of the domestic African countries which to a greater extent determines its influence on regional and global peace support operations

         The perspective of this study is in disagreement with the world Bank/IMF school of thought which sees the fundamental causes of the African crisis as being entirely domestic. For Africa, perhaps the most damaging consequence of this line of thinking is that it is partly the root of the failure of World Bank/IMF policies in the continent. The effect of this neo-liberal perspective on the African continent (through the policies which they inform) is all encompassing. The theoretical position that the roots of the African crisis are solely in Africa marginalizes the systemic and structural realities in the global system of production and exchange, thus leading to distorted policy conceptualization, formulation and implementation. Thus in order to fully understand the nature of conflict in Africa which calls for incessant peacekeeping, there is need to examine the internal political and economic contradictions within the context of the larger structure of the world economy.          


         This study will look at conflicts in Africa and the mechanism for its resolution from 1985 to 2010.  It will also examine the subject matter, going back to the pre-independence era of African states.  However, the focus of the study will be on Darfur region of Sudan. 

         The causes of the conflict and efforts made to resolve it will be discussed and assessed.  Finally the research would proffer suggestions or options for the resolution of conflicts in Africa. 


One obvious limitation in this study is the absence of authoritative primary data like interview with defence experts, staff of sub-regional organisations and the major players in the conflict.  Discussions were however held with Nigerian and Ghanaian officers that participated in peace support operations in Darfur. Also some staff of the Nigerian Army Peace Keeping training Centre (NAPTC) Jaji as well as Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training   Centre (KAIPTC) was consulted. Time constraint was also a major limitation in that it did not allow for a wider collection of secondary data.  

Another limitation was the inability of the researcher to make a personal visit to the Sudan for a field survey as a result of distance and financial implications. It was also impossible to visit the Embassy of Sudan to get more materials. The Darfur crisis is ongoing.  The subject is very dynamic and events continually to unfold while the study was in progress. Thus, there was the possibility that conclusion read, based on facts available at a point in time might change even as the work was submitted. This was a great limitation to the work as it was not practicable to consider such new facts as they arose which could have lead to a different conclusion.  Despite these constraints, the quality and the reliability of the research was not degraded.