Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. Akanmu G. Adebayo
Dr. Samuel Abaidoo
Dr. Christopher C. Pallas
Numerous studies have argued that civil society organizations (CSOs) have positive effects on society, an argument often defended by reference to the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting development, labor solidarity, democratic accountability, and post-materialist causes in the developing world. Contemporary scholarship is strongly committed to the idea that CSOs play a strongly positive role in facilitating democracy and development. Today, CSOs are actively engaged in every sector of conflict management and development. From pre-conflict, conflict, to post-conflict phases of societal disintegration and rebuilding, CSOs deliver essential services, lobby the power system, advocate on behalf of the marginalized and monitor human rights abuses. Because they come in all capabilities and persuasions and operate at every layer of the social system, CSOs have far reaching effects on expanding peace consolidation activities in general, and strengthening peacebuilding processes in particular. Conversely, critics of CSOs posit that excessive group mobilization aggravates social tensions and can delegitimize a functional state; that CSOs’ direct connection with the state can usurp the state’s moral imperative to govern in times of crisis and promote inefficient governance; and that CSOs can produce cleavage structures, creating organizations that are subversive, radical, seditious, insurgent, and revolutionary. CSOs have further been accused of inflaming genocidal proclivities that divide societies. Against the backdrop of these diametrically opposed views about CSOs, this dissertation evaluates CSOs’ peacebuilding activities in the context of the protracted conflict between the Kusasi and Mamprusi ethnic groups in Bawku East Municipality (BEM) in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
The study asked the question: Were CSOs assets or liabilities? If they were assets, they would use their seven traditional functions of protection, advocacy, monitoring, socialization, social cohesion, facilitation, and service delivery to mitigate the effects of the conflict and bring about peace in BEM. On the other hand, if they were liabilities, then they would exacerbate the conflict. The study focuses on CSOs because in spite of the establishment of a military base in BEM in 1983 coupled with a police post in the center of Bawku, the conflict occurred and recurred from the 1950s to the late 2000s. The role of government in peacebuilding had also been minimal because of its perceived complicity in the conflict. The proliferation of CSOs and their peacebuilding activities between 2008 and 2013 therefore provides a viable option for evaluating their impact.
The study uses a concurrent mixed methods approach, comprising interviews, focus group discussions, and survey instruments. Data was sourced from both international and local CSOs and participants from the BEM population. The study triangulates these sets of data in its analysis using the “before” (2008) and “after” (2013) framework. Among others, the study finds that the CSOs contributed positively to the peacebuilding process between 2008 and 2013, the focus of the study: they facilitated dialogue and improved relationships between Kusasis and Mamprusis, rehabilitated infrastructure and built new ones, among other activities that reduced tension in BEM and reinvigorated the society to normal life. This made them assets, and not liabilities. The study concludes, on the strength of evidence adduced from the data, that the positive impact of CSOs on BEM was complemented by the security services and the receptive posture of the population.
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