In spite of a strong preference for African solutions to African conflicts within the African system of states, non-African third parties are frequently involved in mediation in Africa, most frequently in cooperation with African third parties. Yet, the factors that explain the outcomes of non-African involvement remain largely understudied. This article addresses this gap in research through employing a comparative case study between the Naivasha peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement that led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 and the Abuja peace process between the Government of Sudan and the Darfurian rebels that led to the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006. These cases suggest that non-African leverage coordinated by African third parties enhances the prospects for mediation success, while uncoordinated non-African leverage seems to supplant efforts of African third parties. The phrase African solutions to African challenges should therefore be understood as a division of labour, rather than an excuse for non-African third parties to ignore Africa’s problems or African third parties acting on their own. While African third parties should take the lead in resolving civil wars in Africa, non-African third parties should support these processes by lending additional strength.
Dr. Allard Duursma is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich. His research interests include international mediation, the termination of proxy conflicts, local peacemaking efforts in the context of peacekeeping missions, and early warning and conflict prevention. He uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods.