Accepted Paper:

Conflict precipitated by human security: the interplay of group identities, territorial demarcation and the role of the state in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria  


Olayinka Ajala (University of York)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the roles played by group identities, land issues as well as the central state on human security in resource endowed regions and how this invariably leads to violent conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, there has been an increase in violent conflicts in Africa. Although the outbreak of conflict is not peculiar to the African continent, empirical evidence has shown that conflicts in the continent have fairly increased when compared to other 'developing continents'. Issues of territorial demarcation, group identities and the role of the states are some of the factors that lead to violent conflict especially when natural resources are involved. Contrary to the 'traditional causes' of greed and grievance in the escalation of conflict, this paper will argue that the interplay between land issues/territorial demarcation, group identities and the role played by the central state can combine to alter the human security of a community and in response generate violent conflict. Using the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria as a case study, the paper will analyse the role played by the three players in the conflict; the Nigerian state, the Multinational Oil Corporations (MNCs) as well as individual communities in the outbreak and escalation of conflict in the region. The paper will analyse how the availability of natural resources can shape the composition and behaviour of a community depending on the community's relationship with the central state. The paper will then examine the relationship between group identity, political representation or the lack of it and how these lead to human insecurity which invariably leads to conflict. Using theoretical literatures and empirical evidence, the paper will show that the conflict in the region has its root in the resultant human insecurity

Panel P027
Territory and community: the scalar dimensions of political authority, identity and conflict in contemporary Africa