n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Rectifying horizontal inequalities : lessons from African conflict

Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In Africa, the decade of the nineteen nineties was characterised by civil war and interstate conflict, but as the decade came to a close and a new millennium emerged many of the protracted conflicts in Africa had officially come to an end. The official resolution of conflict in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire has helped stem the rampant instability that has plagued the continent for most of its postcolonial history. With the newly established peace agreements comes an even more critical and difficult challenge of creating peaceful societies in these war-ravaged nations. In order to rebuild a nation, one must examine and acknowledge the root causes of the conflict. One of the most prevalent and underrepresented root causes of conflict in Africa and worldwide is that of horizontal inequalities. In that light, the goal of this paper is to provide practical solutions for the long-term resolution of conflict by addressing one of its root causes, that of horizontal inequalities. Reference will be made to solutions proven successful in past cases where conflict emerged as a result of group inequalities, namely Rwanda and Mali. The paper will take the following form: Section one will look at the current literature on conflict and demonstrate the link between horizontal inequalities and conflict. Section two will focus on the two case studies providing background to the conflict, and the action taken after violent conflict ceased. Section three will be dedicated to the lessons learned from the Malian and the Rwandan experience, including policy recommendations that should be instituted for any nation where horizontal inequalities are a major catalyst of conflict.

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