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Volume 23 Number 4
1 December 2014

This issue revolves around the concept of agency – that is, the ability of an agent (be it a person or other entity) to act independently in the world. Agency may either be classified as unconscious, involuntary behaviour, or an intentional, goal-directed action or activity – and it can be positive or negative. In reality, agency intersects at various and multiple points with social constructs (such as class, gender, race, law, politics, ethnicity, religion, etc.), which have the effect of limiting or influencing the opportunities and free choices that individuals or entities have. This issue explores some of the ways that, within the framework of social constructs, individual or entity agency affects and is affected by human security.

Starting with the theory, Jonathan Powell posits that some civil conflicts in Africa occur within the framework of deliberate decision-making by leaders to coup-proof at the expense of national security. His article investigates civil conflict as a product of the survival strategies of African leaders.

Moving to specific case studies, Theo Neethling argues in his article on rebel movements in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that armed movements and militia are using their agency to fill power vacuums in ungoverned spaces. Kasaija Phillip Apuuli attempts to explain the (il)legality of Uganda’s recent intervention in the current crisis in South Sudan. Apuuli argues that the intervention was in fact illegal because, far from being a neutral intervention force, once on the ground in South Sudan, Ugandan troops positioned themselves to fight on the side of the Kiir government. Komlan Agbedahin investigates the current paradoxical roles of border control agencies, arguing that border control agencies are, in fact, partly responsible for the current and increasing border porosity and the attendant security problems in this area.

Jo-Ansie van Wyk questions whether Africa has acted as an agent or bystander in the preparations for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Jonathan Maseng and Frank Lekaba’s contribution analyses the disunity among African states towards the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform, and attributes it mainly to the contest between two African powerhouses, South Africa and Nigeria.

Freedom Onuoha’s commentary focuses on an evolving dimension to human trafficking in Nigeria – that of baby 'farming’ and subsequent baby trafficking.

Lastly, Peter Fabricius takes a look at the recent United States-Africa summit. The announcement of the summit was greeted with considerable scepticism, with many critics believing Obama was simply playing catch-up with other countries and organisations that had been holding Africa summits for years.

Romi Sigsworth (Editor)

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