War in West Africa

TitleWar in West Africa
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsS.D.K. Ellis
Secondary TitleThe Fletcher Forum of World Affairs
Pagination33 - 39
Date Published2001///
PublisherThe Fletcher Forum
Place PublishedMedford
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, civil wars, Country, diaspora, violence, West Africa

West Africa, affected by war since the outbreak of hostilities in Liberia in 1989, is peering into an abyss of violence. The various theatres of war in the region are connected in ways characteristic of a new generation of wars, like those in central Africa and central Asia. Firstly, although governments in various West African countries support armed groups in neighbouring States, they generally do not call for any change in internationally recognized borders; none of the groups deployed in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea is calling for secession. Furthermore, although it is often said that these wars are all about greed, economics is only part of the explanation. These wars are also about ideas, some of them originating among the African diaspora in America and Europe. They convey a streak of pan-Africanist ideology, the idea that all Africans should unite to free their continent from the vestiges of colonial rule. Another notable characteristic is the mixture of formal and informal activities. Many of the leading players in West Africa take formal positions in their capacities as heads of State or government ministers, but simultaneously make full use of informal or even criminal techniques. The epicentre of the West African conflict today is Sierra Leone, which has been host to various foreign armies for a decade. The alarming degree of social collapse in the country has led many Sierra Leoneans to the conclusion that the country needs to be run by an international partnership for the medium term


Met noten - Overdr. uit: The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs; vol. 25, no. 2

Citation Key1834