Editorial

Patrick Van Damme
2008 Afrika Focus  
Africa is riven by conflict. Armed violence in DRC/Kivu -with Rwanda/Burundi hovering in the background -Sudan and Uganda, receive almost daily headlines and are just a few of the many ongoing conflicts in the continent. The causes and consequences of these conflicts are numerous, but they all share the same base of a problematic socio-economic divide, a fact that is exploited by ruthless politicians. The opportunism oflocal warlords is often challenged, but can also be supported, by economic
more » ... rted, by economic liberalisation and global commercial and financial flows. Geopolitical strategies and rationales conflict with local/regional logic, and lead to so-called protracted crisis situations (e.g., in Somalia and the DR Congo). These crises are commonly identified with various levels of violent armed conflict, "criminal" economic violence, and ultimately state collapse. In such situations, non-state actors should or could take over from the state important tasks, such as economic redistribution and security. These practices of'governance without government' can lead to important reconfigurations of political power in African crisis zones. Practices of governance and regulation change, governments loose there grip on how to manage societies, whereas non-state actors are often, and more and more, included into decision-making processes. Increasingly, the outcomes of these processes impact on peacemaking and state building projects on the continent, in particular in the context ofinstitutional (re)construction. This issue of Afrika Focus presents a selection of papers presented at the 'Governance without government in Africa's protracted crises' conference, organized by the Ghent University Conflict Research Group together with Egmont, the Royal Institute for International Affairs. The papers discuss several key questions. First: how can "emerging" forms of non-or para-state governance in Africa's conflict areas be detected, and what could be appropriate instruments of analysis? Second: what types of security arrangements have emerged in the non-state sphere in such crisis situations, and how do they modify the state's theoretical monopoly on violence? Third, to what extent can we say that African governance has been re(al)located to different authority levels, and how does this process affect local and regional political orders? Fourth, how do these reconfigurations and relocalisations of political power potentially impact on projects of state and society (re) construction in Africa, and what does this tell us about the future of statehood in general? Finally, what might the role of the international community (specifically the EU and UN) be in (re)directing and influencing these processes and what are the lessons learned? This issue of Afrika Focus is also the first that is directly made available via the Internet. Increased access offers the prospect of opening up the publication to a wider readership. Hopefully, it will also attract new articles, and new young researchers willing to share their findings with a wider and interested public. The good news is that with this latest innovation all the articles in the back catalogue of Afrika Focus and its predecessors are now available online. This opens up a wealth of knowledge that will hopefully inspire present-day research(ers). With this issue we have also revamped the instructions for authors. They will hopefully provide 'proper guidance' for would-be authors, and should also facilitate the review process, and yield greater uniformity in presentation of results over disciplines.
doi:10.1163/2031356x-02102002 fatcat:atuj5orchfdstlhg6jxa67yqmq