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African solutions to African problems: assessing the African Union's application of endogenous conflict resolution approaches.

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This dissertation advances the discourse on Africa’s substantive values and priorities in conflict resolution. This is done by exploring the principles of ‘African solutions to African problems’, particularly in conflict resolution, and the implications of the identified ‘African solutions’ for the African Union’s conflict resolution efforts. The thesis is premised on the background that the maxim ‘African solutions to African problems’ was developed in the context of growing misgivings about the reliability, motive and efficiency of external interventions in Africa. This is coupled with the belief among African thinkers and politicians that the lasting solutions to Africa’s challenges can only be secured by African-oriented solutions. However, there have been inadequate explorations of what constitutes African solutions and its influence on Pan-African conflict resolution interventions. Using a constructivist framework and a qualitative methodology with reliance on interview data from African peace and security experts as well as literary discourses on African indigenous conflict resolution, this dissertation explores the substantive value of the maxim ‘African solutions to African problems’ and the implications for the interventionist outlook employed by the African Union. The research employs the case study of the African Union’s intervention in Somalia to assess the achievements, challenges and prospects in the application of African solutions. The findings of the dissertation highlights that ‘African solutions’ in conflict resolution does not refer to unique elements. Rather they refer to Africa’s prioritized values in conflict resolution that may be in consonant or discordant with those of other geopolitical regions, but significant enough to advance self-determination, local ownership and the quest for sustainable solutions in Africa. Although it emerged from the misgivings about external impositions and interventions in Africa, the maxim ‘African Solutions to African problems’ indicts African actors for their failure to exhibit appropriate agency in terms of advancing context-sensitive solutions to the continent’s challenges. In line with the theoretical framework of constructivism which argues that the international system is influenced by prevailing ideas, the ideals of African solutions obliges Africa to critic and enhance its values and priorities, and negotiate them within the prevailing theory and practice of conflict resolution without being constrained by the dictates and approaches of dominant powers. Keywords: Pan-Africanism; Constructivism; African Union; Indigenous conflict resolution; African solutions to African problems; African Peace and Security Architecture; Identity.


Doctor of Philosophy in Social Science University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2016.


Conflict management--Africa., Conflict management--Somalia., Theses--Social science.