Article: Africa: Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Comparative Perspective

 in the January 2018 edition of Conflict Studies Quarterly.

by Nokukhanya Ntuli

Republished from Conflict Studies Quarterly
Issue 22, January 2018

Abstract. In many African countries, attempts to address poor access to justice, have led to the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in the form of mediation, negotiation and arbitration. The popularisation and promotion of ADR is done using “international best practices and standards” developed in countries such as the USA, Australia and UK. Yet, a closer examination of some of the challenges with access to justice in Africa, which ADR is attempting to address, reveal, among other things, that the use of foreign procedures, principles and languages, in the formal justice systems, alienate many people and have contributed in creating a real barrier to the accessibility of justice. By using a comparative approach, the purpose of this article is to raise caution that although ADR may have useful components to improve access to justice in Africa, it cannot be viewed or introduced as a new concept coming from developed countries. Doing so, it perpetuates imperialistic attitudes, disempowers millions of people by disregarding their cultural practices and invalidates systems which have been in use for centuries.

Link to the soft copy of the issue...

An Ethiopian religious festival transformed into a rare moment of open defiance to the government on October 1, 2017 in Bishoftu. (ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/Getty Images)

December 13, 2017

by Zekarias Beshah Abebe

Republished from The Global Observatory

Waves of protests and at times ethnic clashes have continued to roil Ethiopia in recent months. While there are legitimate security concerns that the government is seeking to address, the situation is more complex than approaches to national security account for. Despite the successes of the Ethiopian federal republic since its founding and the perception that the country is an “island of stability in a troubled region,” much of the population feels left behind. This sentiment, expressed in the form of protest, is the result of a country that has struggled to deal with its internal social and political upheavals and challenges.

At the heart of the issue is discontent among the numerically dominant ethnic groups who sense that ethnic Tigrayans, who make up some six percent of the population, control most of the government. Protests began in 2015 and were sparked by a development plan intended to integrate Addis Ababa and neighboring towns and villages in the state of Oromia. In 2016, a deadly clash between the federal security force and members of a committee promoting Amhara identity set off protests in the north. Close to 1,000 people have been killed thus far and the government was forced to institute a ten-month long state of emergency for the first time in over twenty-five years. The worst of the recent violence was the conflict between Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regions. Conflict on the borders of the region has happened before, although in this instance hundreds of people were killed and and an estimated 400,000 people displaced in perhaps the largest exodus since the Ethio-Eritrea war.

People cheer a passing Zimbabwe Defense Force military vehicle during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Zimbabwe's president on November 18, 2017 in Harare. (Photo by Belal Khaled/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)


November 20, 2017

by Nompilo Ndlovu

Republished from The Global Observatory

The events in Zimbabwe over the past few days have returned to the conversation an often disregarded stakeholder: the country’s citizens. On November 18, Zimbabweans—both within the country and in the diaspora—took to the streets en masse, with a palpable excitement and of their own accord, to take a public stance. They wanted to communicate to the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that as a people they can no longer be compelled to accept the ruinous leadership of President Robert Mugabe.

Despite the clear position of the public, the political dimension of this story has a complicated and lengthy backstory. Recent developments intensified long-standing factionalism within the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party in an uncontainable and public manner. What was originally an in-house political fight between the Generation40 and Team Lacoste factions—led by First Lady Grace Mugabe and former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa respectively—transformed into a national issue.

Akinola Ejodame Olojo
Akinola Ejodame Olojo

August 30, 2017

by Akinola Ejodame Olojo

Republished from African Security Review

Islamic clerics and scholars constitute one of the community actors affected by the Boko Haram crisis in northern Nigeria. This group is also one that is most familiar with the essential doctrinal elements required to deconstruct the narrative pushed by Boko Haram in a crisis where ideology represents a vital aspect. While not undermining the bearing which socio-economic and political issues have on the crisis, this paper frames the focus to emphasise the long-term battle where Islamic clerics are involved in winning hearts and minds. Drawing upon fieldwork conducted in Sokoto State and Borno State, this paper highlights the influential role of clerics in communal mobilisation and resistance against Boko Haram. It is suggested that a deeper integration of this community actor into the broader counter-insurgency struggle in northern Nigeria would be beneficial.


Reunification Monument - Yaoundé. Photo by Mark Fischer. Taken on September 22, 2013. CC BY-SA 2.0. No modifications have been made. Original photo available:
Reunification Monument - Yaoundé. Photo by Mark Fischer. Taken on September 22, 2013. CC BY-SA 2.0. No modifications have been made. Original photo available:

August 23, 2017

by Abimbola Opanike

Republished from Kujenga Amani

A new episode of what is commonly known as the “Anglophone problem”1 in Cameroon has been spurred by the demonstration of English-speaking lawyers, teachers, and students against the systematic marginalization of Anglophones in the legal and educational sectors in a supposed bilingual and bi-cultural country. The government’s response was initially characterized by Gestapo-style harassment and detention of leaders of Anglophone civil society groups, shutdown of the internet, and continued denial of any real “Anglophone problem.”2 It should be noted that other responses included a National Commission on the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism created by Presidential Decree in January 2017. Also, following some negotiations, the shutdown of the internet has been lifted, alongside reforms in the judiciary and educational sector aimed at increased inclusion of Anglophone Cameroonians in those institutions.

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