Focus on | Armed conflict

5 November 2013 | ResolutionPossible

This is the first blog in our two-week series on armed conflict, which will explore the ways we are connected to on-going conflicts and military interventions. The series complements the Armed conflict pages on our website, which go into more detail about the topics covered in this blog.

Weapons handed in by former rebels are piled up in Congo, which has been battered by war for years. Jason Beaubien, NPR

Weapons handed in by former members of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country’s eastern region is now best known for its violent conflicts. (Photo: Jason Beaubien, NPR)

Those who are fortunate enough to live in peaceful countries frequently see images of war in the media, but unless we have personal experience of living or fighting in a war zone it feels like something from another world, disconnected from our own everyday lives.

We may not be on the front lines, but we are all directly linked to numerous conflicts going on in the world right now. To facilitate constructive conversations about these connections, our website offers an overview of current and past conflicts in the central and eastern Africa region and examples of how we often perpetuate conflict without actually meaning to.

Images like this are all over our media. We know people in Africa are suffering, but we don't really understand why. It's like there has always been fighting Africa and there always will be, that's just the way it is. (Photo: Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012 by James Akena - Reuters)

Images like this are all over our media. We see people in Africa are suffering, but we don’t always understand why. (Photo: Mugunga IDP camp outside of Goma, November 24, 2012 by James Akena – Reuters)

The cause of a conflict is never straightforward, and there are always multiple factors. Conflicts have historical baggage, often resulting from previous conflicts or tensions. In central and eastern Africa, the situation in many regions has been unstable for decades. Before colonial times there was already turmoil, but there was a certain sense of balance, structure and hierarchy. When the colonialists settled in the region, this balance was disturbed and a new hierarchy developed. During the struggle for independence and in the post-independence years, the newly independent countries experienced internal unrest as well as foreign interference from countries with political and economic interests. The Cold War saw many parts of Africa used for strategic positioning, and the region’s coveted natural resources have been the subject of an ongoing power struggle.

We believe better understanding is the first step towards building a better world, and it starts with acknowledging that many choices we make in our own everyday lives will have an impact on someone on the other side of the world. It’s not easy or comfortable to accept that the way we live may be making someone else’s life worse. But we are not defeatist. We believe that exploring how these connections fit together will help illuminate what we can do better.

If you followed our Minerals series over the past two weeks you’ll notice that certain things sound familiar. This is exactly what we hope to illustrate: the overlap and interconnectedness of different aspects of our daily lives. 

Click through the presentation below to view some of the connections we will be exploring throughout this series.

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