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Major Flaws in Conflict Prevention Policies towards Africa. The Conceptual Deficits of International Actors’ Approaches and How to Overcome Them

By Andreas Mehler and Hans-Christian Mahnke


Current thinking on African conflicts suffers from misinterpretations (oversimplification, lack of focus, lack of conceptual clarity, state- centrism and lack of vision). The paper analyses a variety of the dominant explanations of major international actors and donors, showing how these frequently do not distinguish with sufficient clarity between the ‘root causes’ of a conflict, its aggravating factors and its triggers. Specifically, a correct assessment of conflict prolonging (or sustaining) factors is of vital importance in Africa’s lingering confrontations. Broader approaches (e.g. “structural stability”) offer a better analytical framework than familiar one-dimensional explanations. Moreover, for explaining and dealing with violent conflicts a shift of attention from the nation-state towards the local and sub-regional level is needed.Saharan Africa, Conflict Prevention, Conflict Factors, Root causes, Conflict Prolonging Factors, Escalation Patterns, Peace Order, Structural Stability

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