African Great Lakes: Conflict Risk Assessment Report Sep 2002

from Carleton University
Published on 30 Sep 2002
Prepared by: Sonja Varga, Abdul-Rasheed Draman and Koren Mariott*
With the generous support of the Canadian International Development Agency
Executive Summary

This report draws two important conclusions with regards to the risk of further instability in the Great Lakes region. First, the distinct focal point of the current transcontinental crisis that afflicts the region revolves around the struggle for power and above all, access and control of the enormous natural wealth in the region, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which seems to be the epicentre of the crisis in the region. The key players in the current quagmire, which has been described as Africa s first world war are involved in the conflict mainly for economic reasons - to have their share of the diamonds and other resources that abound in the DRC. Second, apart from the issue of diamonds and resources, there are a wide range of issues that put all the six countries examined at a very high risk of degenerating into conflict and where conflict has occurred already, at a great risk of its recurrence. These include:

  • A lack of accountability and representation that limits the avenues through which grievances can be constructively and peacefully aired, thereby aggravating the risk of violence.

  • Following from bad governance, sporadic violent conflict, weak investment in infrastructure and overdependence on the export of natural resources, most of the countries in the region are in dire economic straights.

  • A high level of militarization in the region thanks to the ready availability of major conventional weapons. This region has long served as a conduit for small arms into, and out of, neighbouring countries.

  • A growing youth bulge that further complicates the issue of militarization. All the countries in the region have populations that are very young, thus making the age distribution a significant area of risk for the region as a whole.

  • The demographic issue is further complicated by the number of refugees and internally displaced persons two important factors that have a significant impact on regional potential for conflict. The flows of such populations have a destabilizing effect on countries in the afflicted region as well as negatively impacting areas such as living standards, human development, and the environment.

  • Population movements put two key groups in the region Hutu and Tutsi, who are spread across the region, at a very high risk. The mass movements of these groups continue to be a key destabilizing factor in the entire region. There is the urgent need for coherent policy to address these issues if the region is to be spared the troubles of further anarchy.

This report provides an indicators-based assessment of conflict risk in the six East African/Great Lakes countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The analysis crosses nine interrelated issue areas identified as underlying potential for conflict development: History of Armed Conflict; Governance and Political Instability; Militarization; Population Heterogeneity; Demographic Stress; Economic Performance; Human Development; Environmental Stress; and International Linkages.

CIFP risk assessment reports are regional in focus, under the premise that risk potential is a relative term, and that a regional comparative focus allows not only the identification of areas of concern within target countries but provides a means of assigning relative priority to different areas of concern on a regional basis.

CIFP assesses country risk by means of an overall country risk index. The higher the risk index, the greater the assessed risk of conflict development, escalation, or continuation that country faces. The risk index consists of the weighted average of nine composite indicators, corresponding to the nine issue areas outlined above, each of which consists of the average of its composite lead indicators. In all, 44 lead indicators are assessed as part of this index.

Risk indices occur on a scale of 0 to 12, where 0 to 3.4 are considered low risk, 3.5 to 6.4 are considered medium risk, 6.5 to 9.4 are considered high risk, and 9.5 to 12 are considered very high risk. The assessment provided in this report reflects the following overall country risk indices. These results from the indicator-based analysis serve to focus analytical attention on high-risk issue areas, in order to continue with more in-depth qualitative elaboration.

Note: * David Carment, Principal Investigator =A9 September 2002. Feedback is encouraged, and may be sent to <>.

Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP) Project, September 2002 The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University

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