Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development

Justice and Peace                                       

SummaryJustice and Peace

The sources of conflict in Africa are linked by a number of common themes and experiences. According to the UN Commission on Human Security (2003), causes of internal conflict include:

      • competition over land and resources
      • sudden and deep political or economic transitions
      • growing inequity among people and communities
      • increasing crime, corruption and illegal activities
      • weak and unstable political regimes and institutions
      • identity politics and historical legacies, such as colonialism

While these are different causes of conflict, there is a common human root to them all—the notion that violence is an acceptable behavior. Peace is elusive if there is not justice in a society. The pursuit of just solutions often requires concessions on the part of all parties, whether within a family, community, country, or region. Compromising is more difficult when there is as much poverty and resource scarcity as there currently is in Africa.

Main Idea

Build social institutions that do not use violence to address needs

Key Concepts

      • Social justice
      • Resource capture
      • Measuring the cost of civil conflicts


Knowledge of

      • the freedoms that are essential for human development
      • the roots of conflict in Africa

Understanding of

      • the universality of human rights
      • armed conflict, displaced people, and refugees
      • the effect of conflict on food production
      • the economic cost of displaced people
      • environmental issues as a starting point for regional cooperation

Ability to

      • explain how an element of popular culture can be used as an instrument of peace-making
      • describe how NGOs can promote justice in societies

Core Readings

  1. Africa Environment Outlook 2, Chapter 12: Environment for Peace and Cooperation, pages 375-376 and 386-393
    Natural resources as roots of conflict, but moving beyond simple formula of the “natural resource curse,” environmental issues can be a starting point for regional cooperation because they are shared interests; zero-sum resource capture can change to a value-added positive sum game (9 pages)
  2. Human Development Report 2000: Human Rights and Human Development – For Freedom and Solidarity, pages 1-2
    Alliance of human development and human rights (2 pages)
  3. Peace Overview
    Very brief collection of statistics emphasizing magnitude of conflict and calling for peace-building (1 page)

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Musicians Sing Out for Violence-Free Elections in Sierra Leone
    Musicians use music as a weapon to combat violence and voter intimidation (2 pages)
  2. The Experience of Social Watch Benin
    An example of participation, inclusion, accountability, alternative monitoring, and evaluations (3 pages)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Full text of the declaration (5 pages)
  2. Agricultural Development and the Cost of Conflict
    Cost in terms of lives and health of the agricultural disruption and military spending caused by conflict situations (9 pages)
  3. In Defense of the Environment - War, Poverty and the Environment
    Summary of environmental cost of conflict (3 pages)
  4. Health as a Bridge for Peace
    Health care as a technical space for cooperation between parties in a conflict situation (3 pages)
  5. Gender Mainstreaming
    Goals for UN peacekeeping operations (1 page)
  6. Origins of Peace Education
    Call for and description of peace education (2 pages)

Assignment Questions

  1. Interconnections: Justice and Peace & Natural Resources: Summarize an example from the readings of competition for natural resources contributing to conflict. Explain the concept of “resource capture.” What other sources of conflict play a major role in Africa?
  2. Justice and Peace: How do civil conflicts affect human development in the long term?
  3. Interconnections: Justice and Peace & Human Well-Being: Identify some of the key dimensions of human rights. How do the goals of promoting human rights and human development reinforce one another?