Academic and Applied Research

Research Projects

Migration Dialogue Platform Based on “African Voices from the Ground”

The African continent is arguably the most affected continent due to the high numbers of migrants and refugees caused by migration and forced displacement. The increasing flow of migration worldwide has created a new momentum for policy dialogues and opened new avenues to discuss the topic in a more comprehensive way. The debate about migration is no longer confined to only Africa or Asia, but has now reached global fora at the levels of the G7, G20 and others.

Migration is a highly complex topic in today’s globalized world that should be discussed by a diverse group of stakeholders. The reasons behind migration, both forced and voluntary, are multifaceted. People move due to violent conflict, political oppression, family ties abroad, search for a better life, environmental degradation, etc. In order to develop long term approaches that address migration and flight properly, it is important to discuss, unpack and understand its root causes.

This research aims at understanding voices from the ground on the issue of migration in five African regions, namely the North (Senegal), West (Mali), East (Ethiopia) and South (South Africa). The research focuses on collecting information from citizens and civil society organizations, in addition to government officials and professionals working on migration issues in those communities.  The data gathered will concentrate on “the voices from the ground” as they relate to:

  • Motives for migration among members of those communities
  • How risk is managed and calculated as part of the migration process
  • The benefits to the community from the migration of its individuals
  • The actual impact (benefit and loss) of migration on those communities.

The research data collected from the five regions will be holistically and regionally analyzed. The results will be evaluated through a policy focus, leading to findings and suggested recommendations suitable for deliberations among scholars, practitioners and policymakers in migration platforms in both Africa and Europe.

This is a special project jointly implemented by IPSS and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

Beyond Push and Pull Factors: Violent Doctrine and Doctrine Revision in Islam

Countering the threat of violent extremism has become a major issue in most countries since the 9/11 attacks in the United States. In Africa, religion-based violence has risen significantly over the last decade, from Boko Haram in Nigeria to al Shabaab in Somalia and ISIS in Libya, among others. In a majority of these groups, it is mainly the youth who continue to join their ranks. What drives these youth to join such groups? What are their motivations and how can they be counteracted?

This research project will investigate the underlying doctrine that drives these decisions and explore what they perceive as a viable response to their grievances stemming from poverty, unemployment and bad governance. It will critically examine the appeal of such doctrines and how they can be deconstructed and transformed into a positive, nonviolent and peaceful doctrine for change. The research will focus on four countries representing one of the epicentres of these crises, namely Somalia, Kenya and those at risk (Uganda and Tanzania).

The effective research questions are:

  • What doctrinal elements of violent extremism are used to propagate radical approaches and recruit youth to their cause?
  • What are the appealing dimensions of the radical doctrine to aggrieved youth and how does the doctrine justify itself as a viable response to their grievances?
  • How can a “Doctrine Revision” approach transform the hearts and minds of radicalized youth and prevent more Muslim youth from joining violent doctrines and groups?
  • How can such approaches be combined with responses to the wider socio-political and developmental grievance factors (poverty, unemployment, inequality, illiteracy, bad governance, etc.)?

This is a special project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

African-centered Solutions (AfSol) Workshop Series

The AfSol workshop series has been launched to define and develop the concept of AfSol in peace and security that is tailored according to the needs and realities of the continent. The workshop series offers platform to discuss and debate the concept and possibly provide a way forward for its practical implementation. The outputs from the workshop series will be compiled into a working paper series. The workshop series is also used as a basis to establish a core group of experts on the issue. The first African-centered solutions workshop was held on Sept. 26-27, 2014 on the theme defining and redefining AfSol.

Post 2015

The Common African Position calls for the inclusion of peace, security and governance issues to be include in the post- 2015 development agenda. The Common African Position advocates that peace and security play a crucial role in realizing African development ambitions. IPSS as an Institute working to contribute to a peaceful Africa supports and promotes the Common Africa Position on post-2015 development agenda and the integration of peace and security into the development framework. In order to achieve this, IPSS is working with the African Union and other partners to strengthen the African voice in this matter.

Border Programme

IPSS has formed a partnership with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) in 2012 to support research and outreach activities on border governance in Africa. A first research colloquium with eminent experts on border governance has led to policy recommendations for strengthening the AUBP. Additionally, IPSS is working to publish a Border Anthology to enrich the on-going debate around border management, control and integration in Africa. The anthology brings together some of the best works of scholars on African border issues. The anthology is edited by Professor Anthony I. Asiwaju, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Lagos. IPSS is also working with the AUBP with the development of a guidebook for AU Member States on border dispute settlement in Africa.

South Sudan Research Programme

IPSS, in collaboration with the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission (SSPRC), is working to produce a comprehensive CPMR strategy document for the Government of South Sudan (GoSS).  The project is recognition by IPSS of the challenges SSPRC and other institutions face in developing a comprehensive Conflict, Prevention, Management, and Resolution (CPMR) strategy in a situation of on-going crisis.

The SSPRC is an institution of the GoSS mandated to spearhead peace and reconciliation at national level with a focus on supporting local processes and capacities and to coordinate CPMR efforts among the different state and non-state actors involved. In the face of numerous on-going conflicts, the SSPRC’s approach to CPMR has mostly taken the form of a “fire brigade” approach.  The capacity of the SSPRC in analysing the conflicts and identifying context-specific CPMR strategies is also limited.   It is with these critical issues in mind that IPSS has undertaken this project with the full participation of the SSPRC where the research and analysis process is expected to enhance the capacity of SSPRC in CPMR.

The project will look at and explore the following areas:
– Conflicts: through mapping and creation of a conflict database;
– Interventions Inventory: inventory of CPMR activities, both by state and non-state actors;
– Programming: matching the conflicts with the resource for intervention;
– Monitoring and Evaluating;
– Learning review: identification of best practices and develop paradigms/policies/ approaches for a comprehensive CPMR strategy document

Project Methodology
The conflict scenario in South Sudan is very volatile and dynamic. Available information is usually fragmented and not fully reliable.  Institutional capacity is nascent and there is no established mechanism for communication and information exchange. There is also no common “language” between diverse actors responsible for CPMR. As a result of these challenges, the project is designed in a holistic manner following a cyclical iterative approach.

This approach helps unpack the complexity of the conflict further at successive iterations.  It will also ensure up-to-date information regarding conflicts, actors, interventions, and trends are included at every subsequent cycle. The successive iterations when taken in their entirety throughout the project cycle help in arriving at a comprehensive understanding of the conflicts in South Sudan and pave the way for a cohesive and integrated design of a CPMR strategy for the SSPRC and the GoSS in general.