By David Harris
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Extra info for Civil War and democracy in West Africa : conflict resolution, elections and justice in Sierra Leone and Liberia
E. 109 A reliance on civil society, a theme that emerged in national conferences and generally in the 1990s, is, however, fraught. 110 There are certainly very important societal processes, notably the contribution to conflict resolution of elders’ councils in Somaliland and local cathartic processes in many post-war settings. However, to place the peace-making onus on civil society is asking too much of non-combatant, embryonic and often marginal organisations. Decentralisation has featured in some thinking111 – the unhealthy concentration of power and aspirations at the core may be addressed in this way.
Related to violence against civilians, coercion has played a lead role in explanations of rebel success in recruiting fighters. Although this is clearly a factor, and a tragedy in the case of the many forcibly recruited child soldiers, it is not clear how rebel groups are able to function for prolonged and relatively successful periods, albeit often against poorly organised opponents in typically low-tech wars, if few of the foot soldiers are voluntary. 52 The state may thus be less and less able to control its internal territorial space and becomes more vulnerable to outside penetration.
Indd 12 7/25/2011 5:27:57 PM INTRODUCTION 13 The conclusion here is that the main rationale for war does not centre on the discourse of ‘group grievances beneath which intergroup hatred lurks’. 32 The demarcation of greed and grievance, however, has particular difficulties. 33 First, for example in Sierra Leone, the collapse of the previously lauded education system had much to do with the outbreak of violence. However, then to assume that those who chose or were persuaded, as opposed to those who were forced, to take up arms did not have a grievance against the incumbent government or local administration may be an assumption too far.