Saturday, June 18, 2011

USIP Special Report: Conflict in the Niger Delta

US Institute of Peace
Special Report
Conflict in the Niger Delta
June 2011 | Chris Newsom
This report, sponsored by the Centers of Innovation at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), draws on the experiences of the author and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) over the past four years in the Niger Delta. The report finds that neither Nigeria nor foreign donors are investing enough to end violent conflict in the Niger Delta.
While Nigerian officials opt to buy short-term cease-fires, such as the 2009 amnesty process, other governments spend too little in money and manpower to grow local civil society, engage core conflict issues, or adequately understand the region's problems. All parties likewise fail to focus on deeper trends when planning their anti-conflict strategies. This causes them to undervalue the potential costs of ongoing violence, as well as the importance of a peaceful Niger Delta to Nigeria's economic development and global energy security. A tragedy of the commons results.
The situation in the delta remains fragile and will likely return either to intermittent conflict or full-blown insurgency within six to eighteen months if a "business as usual" approach is taken to interventions. The amnesty process opened a door for stabilization but did not reduce the long-term potential for violence or deal with root conflict issues. Governance is both at the heart of the conflict and the best place to seek solutions. To best help catalyze peace in the region, donors should invest heavily in democratization and learn lessons from a decade of setbacks and poor investment choices.

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