Research Clusters

Research Clusters

Migration Research Cluster

Migration has become a major global issue of our time. Migration in Africa represents both an opportunity and a challenge and migration issues are central to Africa’s Integration. The African Continent is characterized by movements of people within and beyond its borders. People tend to move because of historical, economic, social and political factors anticipating the prospects of a better life and better opportunities. Of recent, there has been an increased wave of mixed migrants from sub-Saharan Africa crossing through various routes including the Mediterranean, the Gulf Aden, and Southern Africa, in search for better opportunities. These routes put the migrants at the highest possible risks including death, slavery and torture. It is important to note that while well-managed migration may bring development in both the source and host countries, the failure to manage migration may create security challenges and create huge inequalities. Migration globally is rapidly evolving, and new knowledge needs to be generated and shared with policymakers.

The IPSS research cluster on Migration focuses the following sub-themes:

  • Understanding why migration has more positive outcomes in some contexts while there are more negative outcomes in others
  • Implications of Migration for Developing countries
  • The Political Economy of Migration and Refugee Protection
  • AU and EU partnerships on Migration and how to harness the potentials
  • Understanding Voices from the Ground on the Push and Pull Factors

Research Cluster on the Nexus between Governance, Peace, Security and Development

Most current wars in Africa are intra-state conflicts, which have often had far-reaching regional and international dimensions. Such conflicts not only retard a country’s development but they are usually inversely related to a country’s economic development and per capita income in those places of conflict. The nexus between development and security as well as peace and governance is an important one that IPSS Research unit seeks to understand. Issues of concern include examining and understanding how the AU, RECs and international actors have acknowledged and addressed the nexus between socio-economic, political, environmental and security challenges in Africa.

Good practices and lessons learnt in the nexus between governance, peace and development also need to be documented. Many transitions from conflict to peace on the continent have arguably been consolidated, as reflected in several successful election cycles in countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria. Since the establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have deployed more than a dozen peace operations and special political missions. Many of these missions have subsequently transitioned into UN peacekeeping operations, but the continent still has a number of conflicts to contend with, especially in the Horn of Africa, Great Lakes, Lake Chad and the Sahel regions. The governance and development dimension of these efforts is not well explored. The Research cluster on the Nexus between Governance, Peace, Security and Development seeks to undertake grounded research and explore what good practices and lessons can be identified from the African peace operations and post-conflict reconstruction and Africa’s development experience over the last decade. What Governance practices seem to be working and why? What lessons can be learnt? What are the best practices in post-conflict peace-building for Africa? These are some of the key questions this research cluster seeks to address.

Border Issues Research Cluster

Border disputes are incredibly difficult to manage. However, many, including the African Union, hold that the likelihood of peaceful interactions increase when states delimit and demarcate their borders. In many cases, borderlands are the most conflict-prone and likely to escalate into inter-state wars. Such disputes are also the most difficult to resolve.

The IPSS Border Issues research cluster seeks to facilitate enhanced understanding of border areas and disputes in Africa and contribute to the generation of knowledge for effective policymaking and peaceful resolution of boundary disputes. This borders cluster seeks to create a better understanding of the changing nature of sovereignty, territory, citizenship and the political organization of space between and among African countries. Our areas of focus include:

  • Border conflicts in Africa and intervention strategies
  • Borders and Borderland studies including everyday life in border regions across Africa
  • Community governance around border areas
  • Resource Extraction, Trade and Logistics across borders

IPSS has a partnership with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) to support research and outreach activities on border governance in Africa. The first colloquium on African border issues with eminent experts on border governance came up with policy recommendations for strengthening the AUBP. The IPSS has published 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. The second colloquium on African Borders brought border experts, academics, and researcher to discuss and forward recommendations on border management policies at the regional and continental level as well as on the nexus between border management and the establishment of peaceful relations between states and local populations among others.

Countering Violent Extremism Research Cluster

The CVE research cluster at IPSS undertakes high-quality research and exchange of ideas among scholars and practitioners (both local and international) working in countering violent extremism. Violent extremism presents a serious and growing threat to security, development and welfare across Africa and globally. The CVE research cluster aims at contributing to CVE Research, practice and policy through evidence-based research. Through its CVE research program, IPSS works with local, regional, and international partners to promote holistic responses to violent extremism that underscore the critical importance of human rights, the rule of law, and community engagement. IPSS’s CVE research program focuses on undertaking context-specific research to inform CVE policy and practice.

Among these context-specific experiences are an underlying doctrine that provides for youth in Africa and what they perceive as a viable response to their grievances such as poverty, unemployment and bad governance. This cluster examines critically the appeal of such doctrine and how it can be deconstructed and transformed into a positive, nonviolent and peaceful doctrine for change. The main objectives in this wing of the cluster are:

  • To understand the doctrinal foundation of violent extremism in the name of Islam;
  • To understand its appeal as a response to grievance factors amongst the youth;
  • To understand the possible response to such doctrine using Doctrine Revision or other similar models to reform the youth;
  • To develop policy recommendations to prevent the spread of violent doctrine in neighbouring or at risk countries amongst the youth, and to offer viable responses where it has gained hold.
Pastoralism and Climate Change

Climate change has become a major feature of development and conflict discussions among pastoralist communities across Africa. Pastoralists live in a context of environmental uncertainty and have developed a diverse range of strategies, institutions and networks to exploit this unpredictability and risk to their advantage. Despite their proven value, these strategies are still poorly understood and integrated into policy design. This research cluster on Climate Change and Pastoralism at IPSS tries to understand these strategies in light of increasing climatic variability, growing competition for land, rising population and decentralization. To develop policy suggestions and recommendation, the research cluster tries to get a better understanding of how different categories of pastoral people in East Africa and the Horn are adapting, in practice, to human-made and climate changes.

Research on Regional Conflict Clusters 

Although the levels and intensity of conflicts in Africa has reduced, the number of conflicts on the continent has increasingly become clustered in certain regions. Many of these conflicts were clustered among neighboring countries. For example in 2016, of the 67 conflicts that took place on the continent, 26 were concentrated in East/Central Africa and 14 took place in North Africa. The remaining 21 were in West Africa. Meanwhile, Southern Africa which was consumed by many civil wars during the 1980s, had only 6 conflicts in 2016 (APSA Impact Assessment Report 2017).

These conflicts tend to cluster for a variety of reasons. State leaders such as former Liberian president Charles Taylor (a former rebel leader himself) support rebels in other countries to destabilize their foes. Rebel groups from neighboring countries (e.g. Nigeria and Niger) work together (or fight each other). Soldiers, arms, and refugees flow across borders. Civil war in one country disrupts trade and investment in its neighbors. All of these things lead to regional clustering of conflict. In addition, there has been a recognition in the peace research in recent years that many other phenomena beyond conflict are clustered regionally. Democracies tend to border other democracies, and non-democracies are more likely to be surrounded by other non-democratic states. Countries are more likely to be wealthy if their neighbors are wealthy. This research on Regional conflict Cluster tries to understand why this clustering occurs and how to respond effectively to these conflicts. Resolving civil war in one country for instance, may not involve just understanding and responding to that war, but taking into account the larger regional context within which it occurs.