From 5-7 October 2022, KAIPTC, in partnership with the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and the Institute of Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa, jointly held an international research workshop on the theme; “The Role of Coercion in Peacebuilding: Insights from Africa in an Interregional Perspective”.
Over 30 researchers from the following institutions were in attendance; University of Witwatersrand, German Institute for Development and Sustainability, IDOS, International Peace Support Training Centre, Kenya, Roskilde University, University of Liverpool, Georgetown University, University of Pretoria, University of Ibadan, Graduate Institute Geneva, African Leadership Centre, University of Edinburgh, N’Zarama Center for Peacebuilding, Abidjan, University of Manchester, and the African Peacebuilding Network.
The three-day event created a space for exchanges on the role of coercion in peacebuilding and took a critical look at the concept of coercion as it is applied to peacebuilding, the coercive features of different types of peacebuilding activities, and identified different theoretical and methodological approaches that shed light on the role of coercion in peacebuilding.
To allow for in-depth discussions of underlying research perspectives and ideas, the programme was organized in five (5) thematic panels. The first panel assembled scholars who have worked on varied aspects of coercion in peacebuilding, using different theoretical and methodological approaches, with the aim of conceptualizing coercion. The second and third panels dissected coercion by drawing from empiric case studies. The fourth panel focused on regional organizations in peacebuilding, and the fifth panel looked at non-traditional or new state actors in peacebuilding. The latter three panels analysed the approaches of new or non-traditional actors, how they differed from interventions by traditional peacebuilding actors, focusing on how coercion plays out in interventions of these actors.
Sharing the background to the event at the opening ceremony, Dr. Sabine Mannitz, Head of Research Department 5 and Member of the Executive Board of PRIF shared that “the idea to highlight the ambivalent aspect of coercion in the debates surrounding peacebuilding came up at PRIF in the context of our current research program entitled ‘Coercion and Peace‘. Put in simple terms the question we want to raise here – and which we also want to discuss with you in the following three days – is whether the much-debated crisis of liberal peacebuilding may be connected to either too little or too much or else the wrong forms of coercion”.
She added that, instead of compiling another desk study, PRIF wanted to explore and discuss the ideas on coercion in peacebuilding with scholars and experienced practitioners in the field. She thanked KAIPTC for hosting the event in collaboration with PRIF and PSS based in Ethiopia.
The Commandant of KAIPTC, Maj Gen Francis Ofori noted that the quest to build lasting peace in Africa will come to nothing if peace and security practitioners and actors do not collaborate and engage on their mutual goals on peace and security on the continent.
According to him, the three-day workshop thus provide a platform for robust engagement on coercion in peacebuilding, and for participants to share experiences and insights and harness their collective efforts at conceptualizing coercion, its role in peacebuilding focusing on interventions by traditional actors, non-traditional actors and regional organizations in peacebuilding.
A report on the main outcomes of the workshop would be shared with key actors in peacebuilding to enrich further research, dialogue and interventions on the application of coercion in peacebuilding.