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Volume 21 Number 3
1 September 2012

It is well recognised that threats to human security require a coherent, integrated and sustained response in order for the least harm to be done to those under threat: this response usually entails the formulation and then implementation of some form of policy by interested or involved parties. However, humans can be harmed by a vast range of threats, and each threat requires a different policy response from the stakeholders invested and involved in that particular threat: as such, formulating and implementing a policy response becomes a question of attributing the most suitable decisions and actions, from the appropriate national, regional and/or international body(ies), to the security threat. Some pertinent questions must be asked, however, before an appropriate and effective policy response can be formulated and then successfully implemented. Is there agreement on the nature of the problem? In other words, is there widespread recognition that there is a problem and what its causes are? If no such agreement exists, it is questionable whether an adequate policy response is at all possible. Is the problem assessed differently by groups with different levels of involvement, different agendas for being involved, and different expectations of the outcome of the policy implementation? What is the timeframe for the policy response? Is it a short-term intervention or have arrangements been put in place for a longer-term intervention should the need arise? With implementation representing a critical aspect of the policy process, do those implementing the policy have the necessary tools at their disposal in order to be able to implement effectively? Many of the articles in this issue of the African Security Review deal with policy responses to very different human security issues across Africa.

Aleksi Ylà¶nen`s commentary on the issue of conflict diamonds speaks to the need for agreement on the nature, extent or definition of the problem before an effective policy response can be established. The commentary explores the current state of conflict diamonds and the ailing international efforts aimed at reducing their procurement and trade. Ylà¶nen  outlines how the global checks and policy responses put in place to restrict conflict diamonds from entering the world market are increasingly hampered by both the lack of agreement on what constitutes a conflict diamond and the global diamond economy`s shift towards Asia.

The recent crisis in Libya showcases how the same problem (in this case gross human rights violations and the need for civilian protection during conflict) can attract different assessments and responses from different parties. For example, the African Union (AU) outlined and pushed for a political resolution of the Libyan crisis – in contrast with the international coalition of states that advocated military intervention to protect civilians and ultimately to aid regime change – because of the regional body`s deep conviction that the military approach was doomed to result in dire security threats both within Libya and to the entire Sahel region. Focussing on the AU`s policy response to the Libyan crisis, Solomon Dersso`s article questions whether a particular policy response is appropriate to the problem: he asks whether the normative and policy frameworks of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) have adequately equipped the AU to pursue a principled, effective and timely policy response to events such as the popular uprisings in North Africa in 2011, given their potential domino effect on the rest of the continent and the resultant challenge to stability and peace. Dersso argues that in the policy-making processes of the peace and security strategy of the AU, otherwise known as the APSA, prominence needs to be given to problems of pervasive democratic deficit and socio-economic injustices. He maintains that, although the normative and policy framework of the APSA adequately covers the issues that precipitated the uprisings, it has nonetheless not proffered clear guidance to pursue a principled response to the actual uprisings themselves. But he also points out that the limitations of the AU`s response also need to be assessed in terms of the character of the AU as an intergovernmental entity and the resultant constraints of consensus-building among, and political will of, member states and their commitment to implement the normative and policy commitments they made as members of the AU.

In his article ‘Outsourcing the prosecution of Somali pirates to Kenya: a failure of international law, or a response to domestic politics of states?`, Emmanuel Obuah speaks to the problems of policy implementation by outlining the international community`s policy response to the threat to maritime security posed by the Somali pirates off the eastern coast of Africa. He examines the failure of the international community to establish effective prosecution machinery for the trial of captured Somali pirates, and the implications for Kenya of holding that country responsible for the prosecution of pirates. Obuah argues that the policy of outsourcing – as constructed, conceived and implemented at present – is morally and legally wrong, leaving a weak and poor country to shoulder the responsibility of the international community.

This issue also includes two country-specific pieces, one speaking to the current conflict and terrorism threat in Nigeria, and one speaking to the past conflict of the Portuguese colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. In their article ‘Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria: man, the state, and the international system`, Hakeem Onapajo and Ufo Okeke Uzodike endeavour to explain the phenomenon of Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria at three levels of analysis: the individual, the state and the international level. As such, the authors argue that Boko Haram terrorism has its roots in the ideology and motivations of its founder and members, the failures and deficiencies of the Nigerian state, and the modern trend of religious terrorism in the international system. Stepping back in time to re-analyse the Portuguese colonial wars, Jeffrey Treistman assesses the outcomes of these conflicts prior to the 1974 coup d`état in Lisbon and proposes that it was by no means inevitable that Portugal would have been defeated in all three theatres of war had the coup not occurred: he argues that, while Portugal was defeated in Guinea-Bissau, the country actually achieved military victory in Angola and Mozambique.

In the Africa Watch section, Kisiangani Emmanuel gives an overview of governance trends and the process of democratic consolidation on the African continent over the past two decades. Kisiangani notes that, while the record of leadership and democratic consolidation in Africa is mixed, there is no doubt that progress has been made at national, regional and continental levels towards improving democratic governance across the African continent. He cautions, however, that the issue now is not whether or not African countries need democracy; it is how to stop most of the African leaders from eroding the gains of democratic consolidation on the continent.

Romi Sigsworth (Editor)

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