Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Maureen Hiebert (University of Calgary)
Complex Dimensions of Conflict Resolution: Lessons from Afghanistan: Said Yaqub Ibrahimi (Carleton University) Abstract: Afghanistan is a crucial case in studying conflict and conflict resolution. War in Afghanistan is one of the longest asymmetric conflicts in modern history. The war of Afghanistan has lasted for over 40 years engaging superpowers, regional powers, and multiple domestic players. Afghanistan is also the case that marks the United States’ longest military engagement in a foreign country. Following the defeat of the Taliban as a result of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001, it was broadly proclaimed that Afghanistan was a post-conflict country. However, the optimism was challenged by the resurgence of the Taliban and the continuation of violence and terrorist attacks. Considering the persistence of the Afghan war, the main question for the United States and the government of Afghanistan today is: how to end the conflict? This paper, investigates the root causes of the current conflict and discusses possible conflict resolution scenarios in the war-torn country.
The Uses and Limits of Law in Mass Violence Genocides: Maureen Hiebert (University of Calgary) Abstract: In this paper I will draw on the comparative law and politics, law and society, and genocide studies literatures to offer an account of the role of law in mass violence genocides perpetrated by authoritarian regimes. Specifically, I will answer the following questions: why do only some authoritarian regimes use the law in the genocidal process while others do not? and why is law not used during the violent extermination phase of the process by any of these regimes? I hypothesize that even in extremely violent authoritarian regimes law can be bent to facilitate genocide, but it cannot be “broken” to publicly sanction extermination. This is because these regimes are committed to authoritarian rule by law. In rule by law regimes, the law is used to ensure public order, maintain regime legitimacy, and place constraints on the overt use of violence by the state. Mass violence extermination runs counter to the purposes of rule by law, thus the law must be abandoned in the extermination phase of the genocidal process. As for why some mass violence genocides by authoritarian regimes are extra-legal throughout the entire process of destruction, I hypothesize that these regimes engage in largely extra-legal, highly voluntaristic politics based on direct, mostly violent, action rather than rules. I will include two cases studies: the Nazi Final Solution (a rule by law mass violence genocide) and the Cambodian genocide (an extra-legal mass violence genocide).
Disrupting the National Narrative: South Africa's #FeesMustFall Student Protests: Kristi Kenyon (University of Winnipeg) Abstract: South Africa’s 2015-2016 #FeesMustFall student protests are a watershed moment in the South African story of democratic transition that may hold important findings for other states. These protests are the first large-scale mobilisation of the first post-apartheid generation and provide a challenge to a national liberation story centred on the governing African National Congress. Drawing on four months of fieldwork, extensive participant observation, analysis of media and artistic works, and 21 in-depth qualitative interviews with protest participants I argue that these students are disrupting the accepted national narrative in important and unexpected ways. Nationalism literature emphasises the need for national creation myths that highlight unity and minimise vilification and division. The story of the “new” post-1994 South Africa is one of a unified, reconciled “rainbow nation” with an omnipresent memorialisation of Nelson Mandela. Through a detailed analysis of references to political figures and key terminology, I argue that students find this ‘narrative of reconciliation’ oppressive rather than freeing. Viewing the story of liberation as marginalising, exclusive, incomplete and inaccurate these students argue they are not “born free” as they continue to live in an unequal society, that Mandela is not their hero, and that “post-apartheid” does not capture the ongoing resilience of discriminatory structures. In ‘speaking truth’ to their elders students are rejecting the accepted narrative of ‘who’ South Africans are, ‘when’ South Africa is on its historic timeline, and even ‘where’ South Africa is in the world.