Guarding the guardians: Civil-military relations and democratic governance in Africa

guard the guardians Houngnikpo, Mathurin C.
Farnham (Surrey, UK) and Burlington (VT, USA), Ashgate 218 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781409404149
Reviewed by Jannie Malan, Senior Researcher in the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution 11 No. 3, 2011

 According to the author, the thrust of this book is to explore the question 'whether African militaries can ever accept civilian control' (p. vi). The fact that he phrases the essence of this publication in the form of a question – on the first page of the preface – reveals the probing way in which he approached his crucially important topic. His orientation towards searching for understanding is underlined by the first part of the title, which is based on a Roman satirical poet's ever-relevant question of twenty centuries ago: 'Who will guard the guardians?'

Promoting the African Union

promoting the au Kassim Mohammed Khamis
Lillian barber Press, 2010, 421 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0-936508-33-7

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."1 George Santayana's famous maxim could be one of the best ways to describe the approach used for Promoting the African Union, an insightful book by Dr Kassim Mohammed Khamis, a Tanzanian diplomat currently at the African Union (AU) and with many years of experience within the former Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Khamis stresses that his intention with this book is "to help readers understand why the African unity project has proceeded so slowly as against the intended establishment of the African Union" (p. xiv). In addition, he identifies the gaps and opportunities that Africa has in strengthening the African unity initiative.

Towards an African Peace and Security regime: Continental embeddedness, transnational linkages, strategic relevance

peace and security regime Ulf Engel and João Gomes Porto eds.
Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2011, 257 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780754676041
Reviewed by Candice Moore, Senior Researcher in the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 14 No. 2, 2014

The anticipated establishment of an African Standby Force (ASF) in 2015 and the interim African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), in the midst of new and continuing conflicts, have sparked renewed interest in the underpinnings of, and prospects for, the African Peace and Security Architecture. The unique African security environment, consisting of a revived continental organisation working to implement its policies through the capacities of eight recognised Regional Economic Communities (RECs), in the context of extensive external security sector involvement, presents questions for the sustainability and efficiency of this network of actors and their continued engagement. Answering these questions is the subject of this book.

Polarization and transformation in Zimbabwe: Social movements, strategy dilemmas and change

Polarization_and_transformation_in_Zimbabwe Erin McCandless 
Lexington Books, 2011, 270 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0739125953
Reviewed by Lesley Connolly, Programme Officer in the Peacebuilding Unit at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 13 No. 1, 2013

Polarization and transformation in Zimbabwe: Social movements, strategy dilemmas and change, written by Erin McCandless, attempts to illustrate how social movements and civic organisations face significant strategy dilemmas which can hamper their effectiveness and prevent such organisations from contributing to transformative peace and change. The book investigates Zimbabwe and two particular dilemmas which have caused political polarisation in the country.

Back from the brink: The 2008 mediation process and reforms in Kenya

back-from-the-brink-2008 Graça Machel and Benjamin Mkapa 
African Union Commission, 2014, 310 pp.
ISBN 978-9966-065-73-5
Reviewed by Charles Nyuykonge, Senior Researcher in the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 14 No. 1, 2014

 Although much has been written about triggers of post-electoral violence, and what needs to be done to prevent their resurgence in Kenya and Africa, insights into the architecture on which Kenya's post-2007 electoral institutions were built have not benefitted from the same amount of scholarly and policy attention. With early warning signs suggesting that growing elitism and the gap between the rich and the poor are set to widen, interest in democratic processes is also set to increase.

The new South Africa at twenty: Critical perspectives

20 Peter Vale and Estelle H. Prinsloo eds. 
Pietermaritzburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2014, 271 pp.
ISBN-13: 978 1 86914 289 6
Reviewed by Priyal Singh, Researcher in the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 15 No. 1, 2015

South Africa's democratic transition in 1994 remains one of the most analysed, lauded and respected political transitions, for numerous reasons, in modern times. The definitive character of the transition, with respect to a number of international and domestic factors, elevated the significance of the process, and ultimately assigned the country a status that was nothing less than the de facto poster-child of the emergent post-Cold War international system.

Integrated Peacebuilding: Innovative Approaches to Transforming Conflict

Craig Zelizer 
Westview Press, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0813345093

Acknowledging that the field of peacebuilding has grown from a small group of scholars, practitioners and organisations on the margins of international affairs to a phenomenon that is now beginning to influence official policy and practice in the halls of Washington DC, Paris, Addis Ababa, Geneva and elsewhere, Craig Zelizer magnificently interweaves a peacebuilding narrative from 15 academics and practitioners researching and working across a myriad of sectors, to highlight innovative approaches to transforming conflicts. This makes the case for integrated peacebuilding. The outcome is a compilation of 10 chapters that link different sectors to peacebuilding.

Civil Wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1960-2010

civil wars congo Emizet Francois Kisangani
London, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012, 221 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-158826-826-827-3
Reviewed by Martha Mutisi, Manager of the Interventions Department at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 13 No. 2, 2013

The book, Civil Wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1960-2010 by Emizet Francois Kisangani, is an analysis of the various civil wars in the Congo. As a point of departure, Kisangani gives the term 'civil wars' a new meaning because in this book, this term encompasses secession conflicts, ethnic wars, revolts, rebellions, invasions, and mutinies. After lumping these various forms of violence together as civil wars, Emizet Francois Kisangani tries to answer why the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has endured a history of protracted and changing forms of violence for the past fifty years.

Community of insecurity: SADC’s struggle for peace and security in Southern Africa

insecurity Nathan, Laurie 
Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012, 196 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781409430445
Reviewed by Marie-Christine Schwager, Intern in the Training Unit at ACCORD, South Africa, in the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 12 No. 3, 2012

What are the reasons for the Southern African Development Community's (SADC's) failure to establish a viable security regime and engage in effective peacemaking? Has SADC attained, or is it likely in the foreseeable future to attain, the status of a security community?

The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes

that enough moment

John Prendergast with Don Cheadle
Three Rivers Press, 2010, 304 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0-307-46482-8

Reviewed by: Linda M. Johnston, Executive Director of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics and Character at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2011

 This is the second book in which John Prendergast has collaborated with Don Cheadle. The first book, Not on Our Watch, was published in 2007 and was a New York Times bestseller. Prendergast is the primary author of eight other books, mostly dealing with conflict and post-conflict situations on the African continent. These books have included information on Sudan, Eritrea and Tigray, Somalia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.