chapter  10
23 Pages

Africa II: peacekeeping in stateless terrain

In a number of African territories peacekeepers have been deployed in conditions that were different from those examined in the previous chapter. In parts of the continent internal conflict – with and without external interference – reached a point where the state to all intents and purposes ceased to exist. Here it was not just a question of a challenge being mounted to the state with a consequent impact on its effectiveness; the underlying weakness of the state meant that the challenge brought about its collapse. The role of the peacekeeper, therefore, has been to fill a violent – literally ‘anarchic’ – vacuum rather than to facilitate peacemaking between the state and its opponents. The line dividing these two peacekeeping roles is not a firm one. By the end of the 1980s, for example, the Frelimo state in Mozambique was so beleaguered by the challenge from Renamo and its foreign backers that it barely performed the minimum functions required of statehood. Similarly, the control of the MPLA regime in Angola during the war against UNITA did not extend over the state’s territory in its entirety. But in neither case did the state ‘collapse’; in both countries the primary role of peacekeeping was to oversee settlements designed to draw things back from such a disaster. In contrast, in Somalia, in Liberia and in neighbouring Sierra Leone, as well as in the Congo where the UN had its first experience of peacekeeping in Africa, the disintegration of the state had gone much further.