Territorial disputes: Africa (Part 13) [Post 148]

Territorial conflicts and Africa: conflict and society

The post yesterday introduced a report by the World Banks that combined several elements: colonial background, ethnicity, borders, poverty and development. To a different extent, they have all contributed towards the current socio-political situation in Africa at large. The post todays centers the attention on a related point addressed by the report: conflict.

Over the past 40 years, especially in the last two decades or so, Africa has experienced a debilitating descent of states into persistent internal conflict that has become an all-too-familiar phenomenon across the region. In fact, conflicts are now arguably the single most important determinant of poverty in Africa. 

According to IISS (the International Institute for Strategic Studies), in 1999 Africa played host to more than half the world’s conflicts as instability not only brewed within countries but spilled over into neighboring states, resulting in catastrophic wars within and among countries. While growing nationalism and ethnicity has typified these conflicts, other factors such as abject poverty, lack of opportunities, and corruption have contributed significantly.

Conflicts are bad public goods. They affect not only the countries involved, but also neighboring countries through the flow of refugees, drug activity, loss of remittances, and the loss of export proceeds. Research shows that neighboring countries lose about 43 percent of GDP and since the average number of conflict neighboring countries is 2.7, the total cost of a conflict in one country is 115 percent of initial GDP of neighboring countries.

On average, each country shares borders with four countries, often with different trade and macroeconomic policy regimes. Forty percent of the population lives in landlocked countries with high transportation costs and poor trade facilitation.

The next posts will present reports (The World Bank and UNESCO) related to African Growth and poverty.

Challenges of African Growth (The World Bank)

Link to the complete document


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.


Territorial disputes, colonial past and present poverty in Africa.

Wednesday 21st October 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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