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All rights reserved. Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions. Remember me on this computer. Cancel Forgot your password? Showing all editions for 'Managing conflicts in Africa's democratic transitions'. But more often than not, the military just ends up undermining democratic development, as in Pakistan. Political parties end up looking to the military instead of voters for their blessing. Get elections right. That means not holding them too early, or too late, and understanding they are not an endgame.

Elections in divided societies, or in the absence of strong, impartial institutions and the rule of law, carry the risk of increased conflict. High-stakes contests for power can spark violence: politicians may use it to influence outcomes or protest results; spoilers attack the process itself. Elections almost always reflect, rather than transform, deeper societal trends. Without the rule of law the powerful win office.

Corrupt countries suffer electoral fraud. Authoritarian rulers skew the playing field or manipulate elections to their own ends. Dominant executives dominate elections. It sounds obvious, but the extent to which expectant new electorates and donors hope for polls insulated from broader negative trends is astonishing. Often it will be better to build elections from the ground up — starting with local elections before moving to parliamentary or presidential polls, as local democracy helps build capacity.

The US did not persuade Mubarak to leave, nor could the Saudis convince him to stay — the Egyptian army decided. Whether Gaddafi stays or goes will depend on the internal revolutionary forces, not the international community. Where outsiders may have a role is in supporting any transition after the initial stages, but even here influence is likely to be limited. Over the longer term there will be a role for the international community in supporting fragile states as they grapple with their new-found freedoms and longstanding problems: particularly in addressing economic injustice, providing humanitarian and development support and so on.

The focus should be on building institutions over preferred individuals. In fact, a focus on chosen individuals often contributes to the lack of development of institutions for fear that they will undermine or constrain the chosen leader.

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But perhaps the starkest case study is the U. My final point.

In the end, so much of it comes back to prevention. Conflict prevention matters. The long term, painstaking work of investing in institutions, building the rule of law and developing civil society may be the most effective way for outsider actors to influence these transitions, in the years before they occur.

Those countries with more developed institutions and more entrenched rule of law will likely stand a better chance of a stable transition than those without — think Jordan, or even Egypt, as compared to Libya. But this requires policymakers to commit the necessary resources — political, diplomatic and financial — for many years, without much evidence, let alone certainty, of a return. This Friday, the UN hosts the Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference, an opportunity for politicians and diplomats to fill gaps in blue helmet missions.

This is the latest edition of a series of conferences that former U. Vice President Joe Biden had chaired a trial run the previous year. The basic idea is to get senior figures together to pledge military units, or other forms of help like training, to UN Peacekeeping. The president used his convening power to get other leaders to pledge high-grade units from advanced militaries that the UN was unlikely to attract otherwise.

The initiative, which included defence minister-level talks in the UK and Canada in and , has worked quite well. Well-established UN contributors, such as Rwanda, have also upgraded the range of forces and types of units — like helicopters — that they offer the UN. We are likely to see some additional steps in that direction this week. One hundred and twenty countries will participate, but only half are sending ministers.

Nonetheless, there are still countries that want to get involved in blue helmet operations. Mexico, for example, will make its first concrete pledge of a fully-fledged peacekeeping unit this week. While peacekeepers often get stereotyped as shambolic and ill-disciplined, the overall picture is actually rather better. Only a limited number of troop contributors — mainly under-resourced African militaries — now consistently deploy ill-equipped or untrained contingents.

These ministerial meetings have helped raise the overall standard of forces. More broadly, the UN is able to be somewhat selective about which troops to deploy, as the total number of peacekeepers worldwide has dropped in recent years. When President Obama hosted his peacekeeping summit in , the organisation was responsible for , soldiers and police officers worldwide, and UN officials had to scramble to find even quite basic infantry battalions to meet this level of demand.

That figure has dropped to 88, as missions in places where they are no longer needed, like those in Liberia and Haiti, have closed down. This has allowed the UN to reject particularly ill-prepared contingents. The global number of peacekeepers is likely to drop further — the Security Council is slowly winding down its mission in Darfur, which has been a huge drain on the UN and is now well past its prime. Nonetheless, the UN still has difficulties finding enough troops and military equipment for especially risky missions.

Mali, where over personnel have been killed in hostile acts by jihadist insurgents, is the most pressing case. They also need helicopters there, but these aircrafts are perennially difficult to find, and governments often place burdensome caveats on how these costly assets can be used. Gary C. Africa and the ICC. Abel S. Minding the Gap. Pamela Aall. Ladi Hamalai.

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