Thursday, 18 August 2011

What exactly am I going to do in Bangui?

The previous posts have been much longer than I planned. From now on I’ll try to write a bit shorter. 

Tuesday I met with my supervisor at the DPCR in Uppsala. As I wrote I hoped that he would be able to help me do formulate something concrete out of my rather abstract thoughts and he did. We spoke for almost 1.5 hours and now I know what to do. My main research question is the following: Why does foreign supported SSR in post-war states contribute to law and order in some cases and not in others? It is a clear and straight forward question. In the thesis I will do a comparison of a number of cases and then the field study will be used to understand the causal mechanisms through process tracing . I will use the existing literature on SSR in post-war states to identify possible explanations and reasons for failure/success i.e. how come SSR contributes to law and order in some cases and not in others. 

Before leaving I’ll try to make a list of possible explanations which then can guide me as I come up with questions for the interviews. In Bangui I hope to be able to meet with EU, UN and other representatives for the international community, with people working for the government, civil society representatives and if I am lucky with personnel serving in the armed forces (police, military and gendarmerie). I already have some contacts so I am optimistic about it. 

I also need to operationalise the term law and order which means that I have to clarify what this concept means in this study. What signifies law and order or the lack thereof? Together with my supervisor I came up with a tentative definition which is the presence or absence of illegal organised armed groups. The presence of such groups means that the state does not have monopoly on violence and use of force, hence is unable to provide law and order. I need to develop the operationalisation of law and order and perhaps also use indicators like violence towards civilians. 

Now I have identified and operationalised my dependent variable as law and order and started to list possible independent variables (explanations) with help from the literature. The purpose of the field study is thus to understand what can explain the lack of law and order in the CAR which serves as a case of foreign supported SSR in post-war states.  The CAR is a case where there is no law and order outside the capital. Although the government agreed to a comprehensive peace accord in 2008 with the three main rebel groups APRD (Armée Populaire pour la Restauration de la République et la Démocratie), UFDR (Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement) and FDPC (Front Démocratique du Peuple Centrafricain) and signed a cease fire with the last rebel group CPJP (Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix) in June this year there are still several illegal armed groups operating in this vast country. One of them is the infamous LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) who are terrorising civilians. Furthermore road bandits, coupeurs de route or so called zaraguinas, harass the population which has resulted in the creation of various self-defence groups on the country side. Although a bit old this report gives a good overview of different actors in the conflict. 

The CAR is obviously an example where the SSR process seems to have had a rather limited impact on law and order, this however is something I’ll come back to once I have arrived in Bangui. Next week before I leave I’ll try to give a background to the conflict and the ongoing SSR process in the CAR.

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