n Africa Insight - Displacement and cross-border mobility in the Great Lakes region - re-thinking underlying factors and implications for regional management of migration

Volume 48 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


This paper analyses the factors underlying the displacement and cross-border mobility in the Great Lakes region by problematizing the role of the Westphalian nation-state model, borders and governance structures on policies and legislative frameworks that inform various interventions concerning cross-border mobility at national and regional levels. Using data on displacement and cross-border patterns in the region, this paper examines the role of the Westphalian nation-state model as applied in the African context, and its influence on the migration dynamics linked to conflicts and state instability, the inter-state relations and the management of migration at regional level. The premise of this approach is the recognition of the complexities within the African context in terms of changes in the cultural, socioeconomic and political processes, which are tied to pre-encounters with other civilizations and contemporary social processes. In the foregoing, I argue that a limited focus on the implications of this blending of practices and contradictions generated by the Westphalia national state (the colonial model and its legacy in the governance structure and political practices) and the disruptions caused by artificial borders undermine internal and regional initiatives aimed at addressing migratory dynamics and their political and socio-economic consequences in the region.

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