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Between Protection and Stabilization? Addressing the Tensions of Contemporary Western Interventions in Africa: An Introduction


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Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Conflict, Displacement and Transformation

This special issue sets out to analyze—from different epistemological perspectives and based on different case studies—tensions that have arisen in a number of recent security interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. The character of international peace and security missions in the Global South has changed significantly after the end of the Cold War. On the one hand, we witness a greater willingness to engage in order to terminate or prevent violent conflict. This willingness is grounded in a broader understanding of security in which the protection of the population is prioritized over the claim to security of a sovereign state. A state’s sovereignty is increasingly interpreted as entailing a responsibility to protect the citizenry. On the other hand, a broadened international will to intervene in conflicts in the Global South raises a number of controversial questions regarding when and how and on whose behalf to intervene. What should be the projected end state of such liberal interventions? What does a responsibility to protect entail, conceptually and in practice? Who are the principal actors in complex and ambitious missions aimed at creating stability, peace, or (human) security? When should a stabilization mission end? What are the consequences when (short-term) security or humanitarian interests and (long-term) state-building or development interest are all legitimized through a discourse of protecting vulnerable populations? And, perhaps most importantly, what stakes do the actors directly affected by the conflict and the international response have? These are some of the questions the contributors address and analyze in this special issue.


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