Conflicts Are Inevitable In Human Life Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

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Conflicts are inevitable in human life and existence and are a necessary part of life. Conflicts are necessary for change in human society since they help to build relationships in groups, establish a group's identity, build internal cohesion in groups and can lead to balance of power in society as well as create new rules and laws (Coser, 1956). However, when conflicts are violent, and depending on the nature and type of intervention schemes used, they remain unresolved and can become protracted disrupting policy-making and development since attention is diverted from issues that will otherwise improve the lives of people to the conflict.

Consequently, it is important to resolve violent conflicts to prevent these conflicts from diverting attention from issues of development. Historically, the first and second world wars resulted in massive destruction of property and human life and a decrease in levels of socio-economic development in poor nations (Blattman & Miguel, 2008). During the Second World War, for instance, about 60 million people died, a new wave of arms race arose and nations like Germany had many properties destroyed (Blattman & Miguel, 2008). Then came the Cold War with its manifestations of proxy and quasi conflicts in developing countries of Europe, Africa, Asia and America.

Violent conflicts poses serious threats to human security, peace, life, stability, social and economic activities; weakens institutions; breaks social cohesion; and causes humanitarian tragedies such as internal displacement, refugeeism and rape (Zeleza, 2008). Indeed, violent conflict is one main impediment to development because it can seriously hinder development efforts spilling over borders, reducing economic growth and prosperity (Ali, 2006). The examples of Haiti, Bosnia, Burundi, Sudan and Somalia are worth noting as development in these states has been seriously curtailed because violent conflicts have endangered people's lives and continue to worsen the poverty situation in these countries. During the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the country lost 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as losses in other economic indicators (Oelbaum, 2007). In the West African sub-region, countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, La Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea have had violent conflicts with their devastating consequences on stability, political and social development of these states (Adetula, 2006). More than 250,000 lives were lost in Liberia and millions worth of infrastructure destroyed (Adetula, 2006).

During violent conflicts, farmers cannot go to their farms to work for fear of losing their lives and farms are set ablaze leading to the destruction of farm produce. Traders and businessmen cannot engage in commercial activities leaving markets deserted. Properties of individuals and households are lost through arson and looting. Local revenue mobilizations are seriously curtailed due to the breakdown of commercial activities and security. Moreover, schools are closed down affecting the work of teachers and students since they cannot attend school which negatively affects academic performance. Businesses and most of the workforce also relocate to other places where there is peace (absence of violence). Consequently, many development efforts are negatively affected, because peace which is needed to ensure development is absent.

However, where peace prevails and there is no violent conflict, security is guaranteed and the environment becomes conducive for engaging in economic and agricultural activities and, peoples' livelihoods can be ensured (Francis, 2006). Many people can move about freely without restrictions since their security is guaranteed. Also, local investments and businesses are attracted to peaceful areas than places where there are violence and, generally, people are able to participate in the development process. Thus peace remains a pre-requisite for development since development can best be pursued in a violent free environment.

The end of the Cold War saw a spate of new and different conflicts in many parts of the world with specific causes with Africa getting her share of these conflicts. These were intra- state conflicts which included predominantly, ethnic conflicts between rival ethnic groups, conflicts over succession and power struggles within the state and conflicts over the control of state resources (Idowu, 2005). From 1946-2010, the world has had 243 conflicts, out of which 36 have been active since 2009 (Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), 2010). Most of these conflicts in several parts of Africa have often been driven by ethnic contest for power, land, resources and the struggle for identity and, in recent times, political infiltrations (Osaghae, 2005). These ethnic conflicts, such as the Sudanese, Burundian and Democratic Republic of Congo's conflicts, have created deep-seated hatred and destructions with their attendant manifestations of genocide, mistrust, inequality in the distribution of power and resources among ethnic groups in these states. Many of these intra-state conflicts became protracted and thus affected development with severe consequences not only for various nations but individuals and families.

Ghana has often been described at both local and international levels as an oasis of peace and stability in a continent besieged by conflicts. The peaceful organization of the 2008 general elections has made Ghana a beacon of hope for democracy, good governance, stability and peace in Africa. The American Fund for Peace in 2009 described Ghana as the most peaceful and stable country in Africa (Myjoyonline, July 15, 2009). Unlike her neighbours, Ghana remains relatively peaceful and has not experienced any violent conflict of a national scale.

However, Ghana's image as a beacon of peace in Africa is marred by some internecine ethnic, land and chieftaincy conflicts which sometimes result into violent ones with negative consequences for human lives and local level development (Gyimah, Kane & Oduro, 2009). Most conflicts in Ghana are localized inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic disputes that mainly result from disputes over chieftaincy, land, identity and resources and, in more recent years, political and economic connections (Kendie & Akudugu, 2010; Tsikata & Seini, 2004). Although some of these ethnic conflicts have always remained localized, they have often drawn national and international attention since their consequences have a toll on national resources and development (Agyeman, 2008). Resources such as financial allocations or revenue mobilizations which otherwise could be used for development are channeled into maintaining peace and security in these areas. Also, localized activities such as farming, industry, commerce, business investments and livelihoods are disrupted. The Konkomba and Nanumba/Dagomba conflict in 1994/95, for instance, resulted in the loss of 2000 lives and 18,900 animals, over 500,000 tubers of yam destroyed, 60,000 acres of crops set on fire, 144 farming villages burnt, 78,000 people displaced and millions of property belonging to the state and indigenes destroyed (Mahama, 2003).

It is worth noting that ethnic relations among many of the diverse ethnic groups in Ghana have remained cordial as compared to others in the continent such as Nigeria, Rwanda and La Cote d'Ivoire (Gyimah, Kane & Oduro, 2009). This is because ethnic relations among the ethnic groups in Ghana have not degenerated into conflict of a national scale as it is the case with Nigeria, Rwanda and Cote d'Ivoire. There have, however, been very devastating and protracted ethnic strifes among some ethnic groups in Ghana. Notable among these are the intra-ethnic conflicts among the Dagombas, the Ewes of Peki-Tsito and the inter-ethnic conflicts between the Kusasis and Mamprusis, Konkomba and Nanumba/Dagomba, Nkonya (Guan) and Alavanyo (Ewe) people, the Akropong-Akwapim and Abiriw people and Gonja and Nawuri people (Agyeman, 2008).

Many of these localized conflicts in Ghana have assumed a protracted nature with occasional flaring up of violence which has negative impact on local and general development in these areas (Akwetey, 1996). The Dagbon chieftaincy, Bunkpurugu-Yunyo, the Buipe chieftaincy and Akropong-Akwapem and Abiriw land conflicts are yet to be resolved, and occasional violence in these areas pose grave danger to localized development efforts and many poor and marginalized people become the principal victims of these violence. One such conflict also is the Bawku conflict.

The conflict is a deep-seated and longstanding ethno-political conflict between the Kusasis and Mamprusis in the Bawku Traditional Area of Ghana. The Bawku Traditional Area is one of the largest areas in the Upper East Region of Ghana located in the north-eastern part of the region and shares borders with Togo and Burkina Faso (, 2009, June 12). The economic base of the area is mainly agriculture, although trade and commerce are also conducted. Ethnically, the Bawku Traditional Area is occupied by Kusasis, Mamprusis, Busangas, Hausas, Mossis, Bimobas, Frafras and other minor groups with the Kusasis being the majority in terms of population (Bawku Municipal Assembly, 2006).

The Bawku conflict is identity-based, and revolves around the claim for traditional political power (chieftaincy) between the Kusasis and Mamprusis. The contest between the Kusasis and Mamprusis over the Bawku chieftaincy has its roots in colonial times. Since the 1930s, the conflict has taken different twists and has remained intense and unresolved, and therefore protracted. There appears to be apparent political interference in the conflict and this has intensified violence in Bawku, stalling development efforts in the area (Lund, 2003). The primary actors in the conflict - the Kusasis and Mamprusis - have taken entrenched positions making resolution efforts difficult and almost impossible.

Since the inception of the Bawku conflict, frantic efforts have been made at resolving it. The colonial government established the Opoku-Afari Committee in 1957 to help resolve the conflict when disputing claims for the chieftaincy started. The enactment of National Liberation Council (NLC) Decree 112 and Provisional National Defence Council Law (PNDCL) 75, which although were not directly intended for the Bawku conflict only, was also used in a bid to help end the conflict, but these have failed. Governments have also used mediation to help end the conflict. In 2008, the then President of Ghana, John A. Kufuor, invited both the Kusasis and Mamprusis to The Castle (seat of Ghana's Government) to broker peace between them but this failed. This was followed by mediation by the National Peace Council (NPC), but the conflict still continued. In March 2009, following the outbreak of violence, Vice President John Mahama embarked on a mediation mission to help resolve the conflict between the two factions but the violence still continued. This was again followed by a visit by President John Atta Mills to Bolgatanga to help broker peace between the two groups but it also failed to bring the desired peace. All these mediation efforts have thus failed to end the conflict.

The two ethnic groups have also resorted to the law courts to back their claim for the Bawku skin. These include writ filed by the Mamprusis at the divisional court to reverse the Governor General's decision in 1957; the Kusasis' counter writ at the Appeal Court in 1958 to overturn the ruling by the divisional court; and again the Mamprusis court action for their claim to the Bawku skin in 2003. All these court actions have apparently failed to bring an end to the conflict. Governments have also instituted internal peace-keeping operations by deploying security personnel to the area and used the imposition of curfews to manage the conflict, but the conflict still rages on.

A number of CSOs /NGOs since 2001 have also made efforts at mediating to end the conflict through peace building processes and conflict resolution mechanisms. These efforts include the Bawku Peace Accord reached between the stakeholders in the conflict at the Damongo Peace Agreement, which was spearheaded by a consortium of NGOs mediating in the conflict, including Action Aid Ghana, the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Advocacy Peace Group - IBIS (Ghana), the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Christian Council of Ghana and the Bawku East Women's Development Association (BEWDA). The National Peace Council (NPC) has also mediated and drawn up a roadmap to peace but has not helped to end the conflict. In addition, an Inter-ethnic Peace Committee was formed in 2010 by both ethnic groups to help resolve the conflict (WANEP, 2010). The aforementioned efforts have all failed to bring the needed resolution of the conflict and peace to the Traditional Area.

The protracted nature of the conflict has implications for development in the area. Its continuation poses threats to commerce, agriculture, education, healthcare, security and general development of the traditional area. When peace and security in the area is guaranteed, sustained development is likely to be pursued.

Statement of the problem

Violent conflicts have very devastating consequences on local level development because they produce a cycle of violence and depending on the nature and type of intervention, can result in the protraction of conflicts. The continuous violence in Bawku as a result of the conflict has consequences on the development of the area, as well as the resources of the nation in general. The violence in the area is a bane to agriculture, commerce, human lives, property and infrastructure, and is exacerbating the poverty situation in the area (Daily Graphic, June 8, 2008). Reports of the conflict indicate that there is general insecurity and lawlessness in the area, and this results in the imposition of frequent curfews which curtail free movement of people and the brutalization of civilians during curfew hours (Amnesty International Ghana, 2008). Localized development efforts like agriculture and commerce are curtailed. Besides, cross-border trading and other commercial activities in the Bawku area have also been affected.

The loss of lives in the area has become a daily routine as many lives are unaccounted for. There is also continuous destruction of property and infrastructure. In the wake of the violence in December 2007, 155 shops and many houses were burnt and several people displaced (Ghanaweb, January 7, 2008). The state continues to spend money and resources in deploying security personnel to the area to maintain peace. The conflict leads to proliferation of illegal arms which continue to be used in perpetuating violence. The overall impact of all these is deepening of the poverty situation in the area.

With the realization by government, CSOs/NGOs, some international organizations and even the indigenes of the area of the need for a final resolution of the conflict, many efforts have been made to resolve the conflict to bring sustainable peace to promote development in the area. However, efforts by government, NGOs and other stakeholders at finding a lasting solution to the conflict through committees of enquiry, mediation, inter-ethnic peace dialogues, peacekeeping operations, law and order and the use of the court system have not yielded the desired results at finding sustainable peace and a final resolution to the protracted conflict between the two ethnic groups.

Critical analyses of the protracted nature of the conflict bring into question what alternative resolution mechanisms can be used to resolve the conflict or complement both government and CSOs/NGOs efforts at finally resolving the conflict to enhance peace and development in the area. Besides, the protracted nature of the conflict and frequent eruption of violence directly have a relationship with development and hence the need to analyze the ramifications of the conflict on socio-economic development of the Bawku Traditional Area. It is in the light of the above that this study seeks to research into how the conflict in the Bawku Traditional Area affects socio-economic development of the area.

Objectives of the study

The general objective of the study was to examine how the ethnic conflict in the Bawku Traditional Area affects socio-economic development in the area.

The specific objectives of the study were to:

Ascertain the effects of the Bawku ethnic conflict on agriculture in the area;

Examine the effects of the conflict on commercial activities in the area;

Examine the effects of the conflict on general security in the traditional area;

Ascertain the effects of the conflict on education and health care in the area;

Examine the prospects for peace in the area; and

Make recommendations for peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Research questions

The study employed the following research questions in investigating the problem:

What are the effects of the Bawku ethnic conflict on agriculture in the traditional area?

What are the effects of the conflict on commercial activities in the area?

How is the conflict in the Bawku Traditional area affecting security in the area?

What are the effects of the conflict on education and health care in the area?

What are the prospects for peace in the traditional area?

Relevance of the study

The frequent recurrence of the Bawku conflict remains a source of worry to many people, the inhabitants of Bawku, government and NGOs. Despite government efforts and a lot of efforts by NGOs that have been made to resolve the conflict, the erratic and frequent outbreak of the conflict between the two feuding ethnic groups seem to elude any workable solution for a final settlement and sustainable peace and this tends to be negatively affecting local level development. It is claimed that government has spent more than GH¢648 million on maintaining security in northern Ghana alone since 2002 (Kumateh, 2005 cited in Aganah, 2008).

It has been the desire and pursuit of government and NGOs to resolve the ethnic conflict in Bawku and other ethnic conflicts around the country to minimize their impact on development efforts. The attempts over the years at resolving the conflict have all failed to bring lasting peace to Bawku. This study will provide and add to empirical knowledge on the nexus between ethnic conflict and development, as well as empirical information on the effects of protracted conflicts on development. The results of this study will also provide pragmatic information to help resolve the Bawku conflict and other protracted ethnic conflicts around the country. It is equally hoped that the findings and recommendations of this study would be of interest to government, who is a major stakeholder in the conflict, NGOs and other interest groups involved in conflict and development.

All researches on the conflict are aimed at how to resolve the conflict. This study examines the effects of the conflict on development to inform all stakeholders on the deleterious ramifications of the conflict in the hope that the protagonists would see the need for peace.

Organization of the study

The study is organized into six chapters. Chapter One presents the introductory part of the whole study which includes the background to the study, the statement of the problem, the objectives of the study, the research questions, the relevance of the study and how the study is organized. Chapter Two examines a review of relevant literature on the study. This covers relevant issues such as development, conflict, the impact of conflict on development and the relationship between conflict resolution and development. Theoretical bases and a conceptual framework of the study are also examined in this chapter.

Chapter Three examines the Bawku conflict into detail tracing its historical basis, dynamics, causes and current developments. Chapter Four deals with the methodology used in carrying out the study. It comprises a description of the study area, the study design, the population, the sample for the study, the sampling techniques, the data collection techniques and the data analysis procedure. The presentation and analyses of the results are the focus of Chapter Five. Chapter Six finally presents summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations.




This chapter reviews literature related to the subject matter of the study. These include the review of concepts as well as the theoretical and conceptual frameworks for the study.


The term development has been used and defined variously by different scholars at length. However, the term is generally about change and growth in human well-being at the individual, community, regional, national, or global circles. Historically, development used to be equated to economic growth and generally concerned with the ability of a country's economy to increase and sustain its Gross National Product (GNP) or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real items. In this way, development was measured in terms of real growth in per capita income (Schoeman, 1998).

Since the 1950s, the meaning of the term development has changed from merely looking at development as an increase in GNP or GDP. According to Stewart (2004), this is a very inadequate characterization and definition of the term 'development'. There is now a change towards alternative development strategies due to the inadequacy of the economic growth paradigm (Kendie, 2002). Development generally is about improvement and qualitative change in the lives of individual people or an entire society. Development, according to Todaro (1997, p. 9), is: "a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes and institutions, as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequality and eradication of poverty". This involves changes in human conditions which involve important facets such as economic well-being, security, reduction in inequality and poverty, the absence of violent conflict and its proper resolution and management.

Todaro & Smith (2009) observe that there are three important aspects of development:

Raising people's level of living - their incomes and consumption levels of food, education, medical services etc.;

Creating conditions conducive for the growth of people's self-esteem through the establishment of social, political and economic systems and institutions that promote human dignity and respect; and

Increasing people's freedom by enlarging the range of their choice variables by increasing varieties of consumer goods and services.

Stewart (2004) equally conceptualized development simply as a progress in human well-being. This includes well-being in the general life of human beings including peoples' health, education and security. The reference to security presupposes the absence of violent conflict and a proper resolution and management of these conflicts when they occur. Similarly, Ibeanu (2006, p. 10) posits that development: "is a process of improving the conditions in which human beings live". Ibeanu (2006) believes that these conditions emanate from a complex interplay of both the natural environment and the social or inter-human environment. These include peace, justice and security which are important tenets of development. Amartya Sen (1999) also sees development simply as 'freedom.' that is freedom in all forms - economic, social and political freedom. Sen believes that political freedom empowers individuals to build their capabilities for development.

One important tenet that can ensure development is human security - the ability of people to be safe. Violent conflict which constitutes an obstacle to security is a serious impediment to development, and development cannot be realized in an insecure and conflictual environment. The UNDP Human Development Report of 1994 notes that human security is an important part of development and development can only occur in a peaceful society (UNDP, 1994).

Human security

Security, according to Francis (2006, p.22), is "generally about the condition or feeling safe from harm or danger, the defence, protection and preservation of core values, and the absence of threats to acquire values." Security is about conditions that ensure human existence and survival. Peace, development and justice, especially in Africa, are important conditions of security since the absence of these can create conditions for conflict and insecurity (Francis, 2006). The security of humans remains a very important part of their well-being and development. The term 'human security' was first initiated in 1994 by the UNDP Human Development Report to focus security from the point of view of people, as opposed to that of the security of states (Jolly & Ray, 2006). Thus human security is 'people-centred security' or 'security with a human face', which places human beings-rather than states-as the focal point of security considerations (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), 2009). Since then, discussions on security have been focused on human security than states security.

In defining human security, the UNDP (1994, p. 3) states that: 'for too long, the concept of security has been shaped by the potential for conflict between states. For too long, security has been equated with threats to a country's borders. For too long, nations have sought arms to protect their security. For most people today, a feeling of insecurity arises more from worries about daily life than from the dread of a cataclysmic world event. Job security, health security, environmental security, security from crime, these are the emerging concerns of human security all over the world."

The simplest definition of human security, according to Jolly & Ray (2006, p. 6), is "primarily an analytical tool that focuses on ensuring security for the individual, not the state." Tadjbakhsh (2005) also conceptualizes human security as 'freedom from fear' and 'freedom from want'. That is to be secure is to be free from both fear (of physical, sexual or psychological abuse, violence, persecution, or death) and from want (of gainful employment, food, and health).

The UN Commission on Human Security (CHS) (2003) gives a broader definition of human security as the protection of the "vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment". According to the CHS, this means:

Protecting basic rights and freedoms;

Protecting people from severe and widespread threats and circumstance;

Motivating and empowering people to take their destiny into their own hands; and

Providing the necessary political, social, environmental, economic, military as well as cultural framework and systems within which people can live meaningful and dignified lives (CHS, 2003, p.4).

Thus, the key premises of human security contained in the UNDP 1994 Report (1994) are: (i) its focus on freedom from fear and freedom from want, and (ii) its four emphasis on universality, interdependence, prevention, and people-centredness. The elements of human security include violent conflict; poverty; humanitarian crises; epidemic diseases; injustice; inequality; fear; and wants (Alkire, 2003).

Violent conflict remains one major threat to human security in that it threatens peoples' opportunities for their well-being including their freedom from fear and want, and limit their opportunities for development. Violent conflicts deny humans the security to engage in their commercial, agricultural and other activities. According to the CHS (2003), some strategies must be put in place to ensure the security of people in relation to violent conflict. These include protecting people caught up in violent conflict through incorporating in the agenda of international, regional and security organizations, designing a holistic approach to protect people caught up in violent conflict and curbing further violence; empowering people recovering from violent conflict through conflict resolution and prevention and building social protraction systems for the poor after conflict.


Conflict is one of the most inevitable things in life and occurs at all levels of human society - at home, school, the family, society or at the work level. The term, however, has been defined and used differently. According to Lund (1997), conflict occurs when two or more parties pursue incompatible interests or goals through actions that the parties try to undo or damage each other. These parties could be individuals, groups or countries. The parties' interests can differ over access to resources, the control of political or traditional power, their identity and values or ideology (Maiese, 2003). The realization of these needs and interests by people can lead to conflict. When two groups or individuals such as ethnic groups pursue incompatible interests and needs which could either be political, economic, social or cultural, they can engage in conflict which can be violent.

In the opinion of Coser (1956, p. 121), "conflict occurs when two or more people engage in a struggle over values and claims to status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals". Coser seeks to argue that people in conflict are in competition or struggle over their identity, resources or power in which the conflicting parties attempt to undo one another. One thing that is worth mentioning in Coser's definition is the fact that it identifies the causes of conflicts which include struggles over people's identity, power and resources. Conflict, therefore, is a struggle which is either positive or negative between two individuals or groups in pursuit of interests and goals on which they sharply disagree.

Ethnic conflicts

According to Richardson Jr. & Sen (1996), an ethnic conflict is a struggle between rival ethnic groups who seek to get control of political power to maintain it. This is usually done through ethnicity, which plays an important role in mobilizing, structuring and managing ethnic groups and institutions. This definition recognizes that political power is the rationale behind ethnic conflict. Indeed, many ethnic groups fight over the control of political power which can either be state or traditional power in order to gain control over political institutions within the state or traditional area. However, many proximate causes such as the struggle for resources could also account for ethnic conflicts. Political power cannot, therefore, be the only cause of ethnic conflicts.

According to Maiese (2003), ethnic conflicts are conflicts over people's identity that are internal among or between ethnic groups within a country who tend to compete for resources, power or claims over their status and not between states. To this end, Irobi (2005) and Agyeman (2008) maintain that ethnic conflicts which are conflicts over race, identity and language become complex, and this makes it very difficult to resolve them primarily due to ethnicity which defines the totality of an individual's existence including his hopes, fears and sense of future. Ethnic conflicts have induced over 70 percent of conflicts in the world [Center for Development and conflict Management (CIDCM), 2009]. Africa, Asia, America and Europe have all experienced varying degrees of ethnic conflicts with dire consequences. In Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Ghana have experienced devastating ethnic conflicts. There are also longstanding ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Bosnia and former Yugoslavia.

Generally, ethnic conflicts result from historical legacies of mistrust and hatred handed down the generations through myths and socialization; victim mentality of past discrimination or atrocities; relative deprivation by another group; and leadership roles through ethnic bashing of group identities (Richardson Jr. & Sen, 1996). Similarly, Irobi (2005) maintains that competition over scarce resources, fear and insecurity of ethnic groups, memories of past traumas, the competition for power (political or traditional), land, relative deprivation and identity are causes of most ethnic conflicts around the world. One main factor that tends to protract ethnic conflict is the issue of identity. Ethnic identity exacerbates conflict as a result of past legacies of hatred, ethnic stereotypes and prejudices, relative deprivation and discrimination and fear and insecurity of one ethnic group against another. All ethnic conflicts, when polarized and deep seated, assume identity conflicts which are very difficult to resolve (Coleman, 2000).

Kendie & Akudugu (2010) observe that most of the chieftaincy and ethnic disputes in Ghana's rural areas are about access to land and the power that this confers on owners - traditional political power. They further opine that a major source of conflict among the divergent socio-cultural groupings of Northern Ghana is the issue of majority and minority groups. The authors (p. 5-6) state that: "Whereas the 'majority' ethnic groups continue to exert their superiority over the 'minority' groups, the latter continue to struggle for their independence and recognition which in most cases results in open confrontations and violent conflicts." Similarly, leaders of both the 'majority' and 'minority' groups continue to regard mediation processes as unfair (Kendie & Akudugu 2010).

Conflict and development

Conflict is intricately linked to development. The relationship between conflict and development is such that underdevelopment can cause violent conflict. Thus development reduces the potential of violent conflict. This view argues vigorously that conflicts are driven by underdevelopment, poverty and inequality (Subrke & Chaudhary, 2007). This view has its proponents mainly coming from the World Bank. In several of its studies on the nexus between armed conflict and development, the World Bank has emphasized that conflict is a bane to development since it tends to reverse development efforts.

Richardson Jr. & Sen (1996) note that ethnic conflicts have the potential of undermining economic development. This is because it slows down economic growth as resources are diverted to maintaining peace and security; it also destroys physical infrastructure; causes brain drain; and curtails foreign investments. This produces a cycle of violence which results in underdevelopment since ethnic violence leads to insecurity which affects investments, commerce, education and other sectors of development. They maintain that development is key in diffusing tensions between ethnic groups. This is why Ernest Gellier (1983, cited in Subrke & Chaudhary, 2007)) states that ethnic conflicts will become less pronounced with the growth and development of a country where poverty and spatial inequalities are reduced.

Some parts of Africa have had conflicts which arise from important components of development such as poverty and unequal distribution of resources and power. Liberia and Sierra Leone have had their development destroyed by conflicts as their economies were almost grounded, infrastructure seriously damaged and many of the workforces either killed or incapacitated for life (Zeleza, 2008). During their conflicts, Liberia and Sierra Leone had more than half of their population below the poverty level and their economies declined by an average of 1.8 percent per annum. Even the aftermath of conflict on development is so devastating such that households income, asserts and general well-being are negatively affected by conflict (Justino, 2008).

However, development is a conflictual process, and conflict is part of the development process (Subrke & Chaudhary, 2007). Development often intensifies ethnic tensions or conflicts in general and is part of the conflict process. This is seen in Emile Durkheim's theories of collective action which clearly states that people are often alienated in times of rapid change and this can lead to social tensions, thereby resulting in violence (Richardson Jr. & Sen, 1996). Emile Durkheim (cited in Richardson Jr. & Sen, 1996), argues that rapid economic growth and social change lead to an increasingly turbulent and fragmented society. Individuals living in such societies tend to be alienated, and this social alienation lengthens ethnic consciousness and receptivity to ethnic nationalist appeals.

Richardson Jr. and Sen (1996) argue further that inequalities and regional differences in development, lead to ethnic tensions. In times of development, there is increased job insecurity, unemployment and urbanization which put a strain on existing resources which all increase ethnic tensions. Thus, people excluded from participation in resource allocations and national benefits can result in the escalation of conflicts. For instance the Niger Delta conflict in Nigeria results from the exclusion of the people from the area in the oil allocations.

Change at times is needed through conflict. Coser (1957) believes that conflict is the force that can bring about reforms in institutions and establish new rules, norms and laws. Revolutions, for instance, which act as social movement for change, have been used to enhance development - the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution and the Islamic Revolution in Iran are all cases in point (Faron, 1996).

The view that ethnic conflicts can lead to development is generally looking at conflict from its positive sides where conflict can bring about change and a redefinition of power among groups. However, the view that ethnic tensions can lead to development fails to look at the negative consequences that violent conflicts have on development and also fails to see how unequal distribution of power and resources and poverty can result in conflicts.

Effects of conflict on development

Very often, conflict is seen as evil, unnecessary and pathological. However, conflict is not completely a bad phenomenon in human existence as it is a necessary, natural and inevitable part of human life which can serve as a positive change in society. Ali (2006) observes that conflict is a social necessity and a normal, functional and inevitable aspect of healthy function of all societies. Classical conflict theorists including George Simmel and Karl Max have recognized the fact that conflict is the force that binds groups and can also tear them apart when it is violent (Coser, 1956). Positively, Coser (1956) argues that: conflict establishes and maintains group identify; builds relationships; enhances internal cohesion in groups; create coalitions; maintains balance of power in society; creates new rules, ideas and laws in a society; and strengthens institutions of society which can result in people's welfare.

However, conflict can be destructive and negative when it is violent. Violent conflict is an obstacle to progress, political stability, economic prosperity and overall development (Ali, 2006). Violent conflict poses a great threat to security and a lot of humanitarian tragedies - loss of lives, refugees, internal displacement and rape (Zeleza, 2008).

According to the World Bank (1990), conflict is development in reverse; thus violent conflict reverses the trend of development efforts. This is because violent conflict destroys developmental efforts including infrastructure, people's livelihoods, production, economic growth, brings about insecurity, humanitarian crises, poverty and general underdevelopment. Funkude-Parr, Ashwill, Chiappa & Messineo (2008) maintain that continued violence poses threats to peace and security which are both needed to enhance development. On the other hand, when there is improved security and non-violence (absence of violence), development is vigorously pursued. Ibeanu (2006), therefore, stresses that as violence increases, development decreases.

Kusimi, Fobil, Atuguba, Erawock & Oduro (2006) report that violent conflicts have negatively retarded the development of some parts of Northern Ghana by diverting developmental resources to maintaining security; destroying physical infrastructure such as farms, houses and state property; retarding commercial activities, agriculture and businesses; affecting education; and contributing to migration of many youth to Southern Ghana. The Government of Ghana is reported to have spent about 6.5 billon old cedis on the Dagbon crisis when Ya Na Yakubu Andani was murdered in 2002 (Brukum, 2007). Decades of violent conflicts have dissipated developments in some countries of the continent, including Liberia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and Burundi.

Collier, Elliott, Hegre, Hoeffler, Reynal-Querol & Sambanis (2003) in a study for the World Bank on the relationship between conflict and development argue that society's development is at risk when there is violent conflict. This, to them, is because violent conflict is a bane to development efforts since physical infrastructure, resources and localized activities such as farming and commerce are destroyed in periods of armed conflicts. Aganah (2008) found in his study of the Bawku conflict that the conflict has affected agriculture and food production, disrupted economic activities, affected the Bawku Municipal Assembly (BMA) revenue mobilization and resulted in a high cost of insecurity. Zaur (2006) states that violent conflicts are major sources of food insecurity and productions in agriculture drops by an average of 12.3 percent per annum; transport systems break down; household livelihoods are destroyed; and agriculture infrastructure such as irrigation systems break down.

Jonsson (2007) believes that the relationship between development and ethnic conflict in the northern region is such that ethnic conflicts have seriously diverted government resources needed for development into maintaining security and negatively destroyed the region's resource. She mentions inter-ethnic conflicts such as the Konkomba and Nanumba/Dagomba, Gonja and Konkomba, Gonja and Nawari and the Dagomba conflicts which have contributed to stall development in the region. She states that ethnic inequality, poverty and the underdevelopment of the region are mainly responsible for these conflicts.

Justino (2009) argues that long periods of conflict affect students' performance, attendance and school infrastructure. Justino also believes that conflicts destroy family assets and livelihoods since it disables people from engaging in buying and selling as well as results in economic shocks such as price changes which impact negatively on household welfare and employment. Conflicts redirect resources from productive areas to military uses and increases insecurity through the breakdown of law and the displacement of populations (Degomme, 2005).

Conflict resolution, peace and development

Conflict and its peaceful resolution are linked with development since development thrives in a secure and violent-free environment. According to Richardson & Sen (1996), if development is to be enhanced, there must be proper ways to diffuse ethnic tensions since violent conflict has a lot of negative costs. They, therefore, insist that ethnic conflict resolution and management, which all are part of the peace process, must be made an economic policy goal and a development policy since violent conflict disrupts development efforts. Conflict resolution must also be an important facet of every institution within the state if development is to be enhanced. Kendie & Akudugu (2010) observe that the ability of the state to develop strategies towards the management and resolution of conflicts should be a critical component of its development agenda.

Irobi (2005) believes that ethnic conflict is likely to be properly managed and resolved in a country with reasonable economic growth and development. Irobi argues that South Africa's development and economic growth have put it in a better place to effectively manage and resolve conflicts than a country like Nigeria. Generally, development remains very key in conflict resolution because it can lead to poverty reduction and modernization of state structures which help to diffuse ethnic tensions. Africa's inability to resolve ethnic conflicts in some parts of the continent is underlined by the continent's underdevelopment and weak economic structures (Irobi, 2005). Thus, development helps to promote a speedy resolution of conflicts.

Linking conflict to its resolution and development, Lipchitz & Crawford (1995) argue that ethnic conflicts are not only caused by ethnicity or religion, but requires early warning systems and economic and political (development) transitions. Thus, Lipchitz & Crawford believe that when there are developments in both economic and political structures, conflict can be properly resolved and other areas of development vigorously pursued. They observe that peaceful areas are more likely to pursue development vigorously than areas marred by violence. This is because peaceful areas have a guaranteed level of security to enable economic activities and other development efforts be pursued.

Also, Dervis (2006) argues that the ability of a society to organize itself on the basis of consensus and inclusion in order to manage and grow its available resources in the best possible manner lead to development. He states that sustainable development and sustainable peace result from the same common variable: the social and political infrastructure of a society through which consensus is built across religious, social, political or ethnic lines on the basis of the society's assets. When a society lacks the infrastructure to manage and resolve conflict, they inevitably overwhelm the quest for both peace and sustainable development and this leads to mass violence.

Dervis (2006) further posits that conflict resolution involves, first of all, providing feasible and external mediation necessary to end conflicts and prevent them from turning violent and secondly, to resolve conflict to ensure development of communities. When a conflict is resolved effectively and totally, it leads to conflict transformation, which results in sustainable peace and post-conflict reconstruction. Conflict transformation asserts that "conflict can be a catalyst for deep-rooted enduring positive change in individuals' relations and the structures of human community" (UN DESA, 2001, p. 6). Thus, when conflict is resolved, it is transformed leading to peace which ensures that development efforts are pursued peacefully in the society.

Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other countries are going through post-conflict reconstruction (peace-building) after resolving their conflicts (Galadima, 2006). Although, the process of reconstruction has not been easy for these countries, security and development are now being pursued vigorously because of the minimum existence of peace. This is indicative of the need for conflict resolution to ensure sustainable peace which provides opportunities for development.

However, the argument that peace and the timely resolution of conflicts attract foreign investment and lead to development is not completely true. There remain many peaceful areas which still remain undeveloped. Canterbury & Kendie (2010, p. 6) argue that the Upper West Region is the most peaceful of all the regions of Ghana; yet on all indicators of socio-economic progress, it is the poorest. They believe therefore that: "peace is only tangential to economic growth so that if capitalism desires resources in a conflict prone region, it will braze the odds and invest in that resource exploitation."

Theoretical framework

Many theories of conflict exist in explaining the nature of conflict in society. The Economic Conflict theory, Human Needs Theory of conflict, Relative Deprivation theory, Protracted Social Conflict theory (PSC) and Psycho-cultural Conflict theory are the theoretical underpinnings of this study, since the Bawku conflict hinges on the issues that these theories deal with.

Economic theory of conflict

Economists, like all theorists, attempt to explain the occurrence of conflict in human society through economic explanations and basically see humans as rational beings who have the tendency to fight over things that are material (Faleti, 2006). This has led to the greed thesis and grievance thesis in attempting to explain conflicts in society. The greed thesis sees conflict in society as resulting from human greed and the desire of some people, called conflict entrepreneurs, to benefit from conflict that propels them to go to war (Collier, 2006). Collier gives the example of a rebel group in a country, which uses grievance as a bait to go to war in order to gain economic benefits.

The grievance thesis, however, believes that conflict in society is not just the result of greed, but a number of economic, social and historical factors (Collier, 2006). Collier (2006) observes that lack of economic opportunities such as employment, poverty, lack of educational opportunities and underdevelopment are factors that mainly cause conflict although the geography, history, ethnic and religious factors may also account for the existence of conflict in a society.

Also, Berdal & Malone (2000) opine that economic factors such as poverty, economic disparities and unemployment are the main factors that compel people to violence although a lot of other factors do exist. They believe that the contest for the control of economic assets, resources and systems are the basic causes of conflicts in human society.

Thus, economic theories attribute the existence of conflict in society to the contest for resources, unemployment, economic inequalities, poverty, human greed and underdevelopment. Some conflicts which arise from economic factors such as the fight over resources tend to affect development negatively because these conflicts become violent thereby leading to destruction of property and people livelihoods. As a weakness, the economic theory over-emphasizes economic factors as being the main reason for conflict in society. This is not so because a conflict could exist independent of economic factors unless we want to argue that man's reason for conflict is mainly economic in nature. New conflicts arising within many countries arise from other factors such as identity, ethnicity and religion other than only economic factors.

Human needs theory of conflict

The human needs theory of conflict is akin to the relative deprivation and the frustration- aggression theories of conflict. However, the main underpinning of the human needs theory is that humans have a plethora of needs which they seek to fulfill and any hindrance to the fulfillment of these needs can lead to conflict. Abraham Maslow (1970) in his hierarchy of needs identifies physiological needs (security), love or belongingness, self-esteem and self actualization as important needs that all humans tend to seek. These needs have been further developed by Burton (1990), Azar (1991) and Max-Neef (1991). Burton (1990) identifies response, stimulation, security, recognition, distributive justice, rational needs and the need for a sense of control as needs that are fundamental to humans. Manfred Marx-Neff (1990) also puts human needs in a hierarchical order consisting of nine namely subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, privacy, creativity, identify and freedom. All these needs these scholars identify are universal needs of humans which they seek in order to fulfill and are integral part of human existence (Faleti, 2006).

Max-Neef (1991) and Burton (1991) agree that needs may be peculiar to individuals, cultures or groups and humans all have the same basic needs which they seek. Marx-Neef (1991) in particular posits that the inadequate satisfaction of the fundamental needs results into pathology and this pathology can be expressed economically through unemployment or poverty and politically through crime, violence, xenophobia and marginalization. Human needs, he contends, are met through satisfiers (those things that are denied). These satisfiers can be compromised but the needs themselves cannot. Needs are inherent and fundamental to human survival and development, and have to be met or else, it results into violence (Burton, 1990).

Thus, the human needs theory sees the source of conflict and violence as resulting from the inability to meet human fundamental needs. The UN DESA (2001) states that the suppression of needs for subsistence, security, identity, affection, freedom and participation are very relevant for explaining ethnic conflicts. The needs of both the Kusasis and Mamprusis in Bawku include who owns the chieftaincy. However, they are deep interests which tend to derive these needs. These include political support and small arms. The needs of both ethnic groups remain very fundamental, uncompromising and non-negotiable.

The Human needs theory believes that conflict in society can be resolved when needs are met. This embeds needs-based negotiation which involves assessing the needs of the parties and meeting these needs (Barsky, 2000). Talking of the Bawku conflict, the needs of both Kusasis and Mamprusis move concurrently and for the conflict to be resolved, both needs must be met. This, however, seems difficult because the needs the two ethnic groups seek (the chieftaincy) are the same. This raises the question: when the need is one and indivisible between two parties, how it can be met? The human needs theory also fails to explain which needs should be met with appropriate satisfiers to resolve a conflict or prevent and even how these can be met from occurring (Faleti, 2006).

Relative Deprivation Theory

This theory is a corollary to the human needs theory of conflict, and mainly sees conflict as arising from the denial (deprivation) of the satisfaction of human needs. Unlike the human needs theory, the relative deprivation theory looks at the needs of two individuals or groups relative to each other. According to Rosati (1990), humans have basic needs which they seek to fulfill. The denial (deprivation) of these needs by other groups such as an ethnic group or an individual can lead to conflict between the two groups or individuals. Any attempt by one group or individual to prevent another group from satisfying these needs will result in strong resistance from that group through violence. Human needs are non-negotiable and cannot be compromised and therefore their deprivation leads to conflict (Burton, 1990). Needs such as subsistence, identity, freedom, security, participation and affection are fundamental to all people and cannot be countenanced. Thus, to provide access to one and deny access to another is comparable to complete denial and could make people to resort to violence (Faleti, 2006).

A group that has been denied access to power or a resource such as land that they claim legitimacy will find a way to defend that need. The group compares that need relative to another group and could resort to violence in order to satisfy their quest (need) for that power or resource. The ethnic conflict between the Kusasis and Mamprusis which is the subject of this research arises from expression of deprivation of their basic needs for identity, recognition, security, power (chieftaincy) and resource (land). These issues make that need uncompromising and non-negotiable. Both groups compare that need relative to each other and this makes the resolution of the conflict somewhat difficult. It is not possible to negotiate a settlement to a conflict that requires one of the parties to compromise a basic need (UN DESA, 2001, p. 16). The long quest for power which both ethnic groups hold on to remains very dear and totally attached to their whole-being. In sum, conflicts based on deprivation of one's basic needs are protracted and difficult to resolve since they are what Burton (1990) calls 'deep-rooted conflicts' which are far more intractable because they are caused by the frustration and denial of basic human needs. As a result their protraction, these conflicts tend to produce strings of violence a cycle of violence which results in insecurity, low productivity in economic activities and, thus affecting development.

The relative deprivation theory has some shortcomings. The denial (deprivation) or inability of people to satisfy their basic needs cannot be the only reason that accounts for conflict among groups. Both Ross (1997) and Deutsch (1991) observe that a multitude of factors come to play when attempting to understand social conflicts. In other words, no one reason can adequately explain social conflict. Thus, the theory over-emphasizes the deprivation of human needs as the sole factor for explaining social conflict to the detriment of other factors. The theory also places premium on some needs as being more important than others, which is not so. All human needs are equal and uncompromising. It is not only the deprivation of needs for identity, recognition, security, the right to belong and power that will result in conflict. Any need denied can also result in conflict. Also, conflict cannot be resolved by merely meeting needs, peoples' interest also matter a lot in conflict resolution (Frisher & Kreashly, 1990). Conflict resolution involves both needs and interest being adequately met.

Protracted Social Conflict theory

The protracted social conflict (PSC) theory, which also refers to in some circles as the social conflict theory, mainly has its underpinnings in Azar's Model of Protracted Social Conflict. Azar's (1990, p. 93) protracted social conflict theory simply refers to "…prolonged and often violent struggles by communal groups for such basic needs as security, recognition, acceptance, fair access to political institutions and economic participation". The protracted social conflict theory examines the root causes, effects and the implications of conflicts in a society or country which are protracted or intractable. Thus, the theory examines conflicts which keep recurring and seem almost irresolvable (Reiman, 2000).

To this end, Coleman (2000) says that an intractable conflict is one that is often intense, deadlocked and difficult to resolve. The common characteristics of intractable (protracted) conflicts are:

They are often intense, persistent and vicious with occasional outbursts of conflicts;

They involve values, identity and needs that the parties consider part of their survival;

The effects of the conflict are often pervasive affecting all aspects of a person or community's social, political and economic life and tend to also affect institutions;

There is hopelessness for a constructive resolution;

There is motivation to harm which creates a general insecurity and fear; and

There is resistance for a peaceful resolution of the conflict (Coleman, 2000).

The causes of intractable conflict usually include questions of values, claim to identity, cultural norms, power, resources, human needs, past history of ethnocentrism, discrimination, colonialism and abuse (Coleman, 2000).

The protracted social conflict theory identifies a plethora of factors as being responsible for intractable conflicts. This theory pays attention to ethnic and other forms of communal conflicts and emphasizes that the sources of these protracted conflicts are more internal (within a state) rather than external (Azar, 1990; Reiman, 2000). These sources, according to Azar (1990), include cultural, political, economic, colonial and institutional factors.

According to Azar (1990), there are four clusters of variables that are preconditions for protracted social conflict - the communal content, deprivation of needs, the role of the state and international linkages (dimension). Azar maintains that the communal content remains the most important cause of protracted social conflicts. This is seen in the identity group - racial, religious, ethnic, cultural among others. In multi-ethnic societies, when one group attempts to dominate or marginalize other groups and deprives them of their needs or there is a past history of ethnic marginalization, it breeds fragmentation, frustration and polarization which become very difficult to resolve (Azar, 1990; Reiman, 2000).

The second precondition for PSC is the deprivation of needs. According to Azar (1990), deprivation of individuals or groups from fulfilling their needs leads to grievances which are usually expressed collectively. Azar opines that needs are ontological and non-negotiable and makes conflicts arising out of needs deprivation intense, vicious and intractable. He states that human needs include development needs, security needs, political access needs and identity/acceptance needs (cultural and religious expression).

The state's role is also a precondition for protracted social conflict. Azar (1990) observes that the state lacks the ability to properly mediate in conflict by getting needs satisfaction for multiple communities or groups. He states further that the state at times takes certain policies that tend to discriminate against other groups based on their communal identity. For example, the political interference of the state in relation to multi-ethnic groups can lead to or exacerbate conflict, thereby making it protracted or when a group is deprived of their needs, it can lead to dissatisfaction and violent actions. Azar (1990) adds that the power monopolization by dominant communities or groups results in "crises of legitimacy" as a result of the state discrimination against other ethnic groups and this makes the state incapable of meeting the needs of the other groups. The last condition for PSC is the role of international linkage. The influence of the Diaspora supporting with arms to rival groups in a conflict tends to protract it.

In sum, the protracted social conflict theory is an all-encompassing theory that looks at conflict from the structural, cultural, ethnic, political, economic, religious, human needs as well as social factors. Mail, Ramsbotham & Woodhouse (1999) suggest that, in resolving protracted social conflicts, there is the need to properly manage ethnic dominance, provide economic opportunities for people and the state (government) should protect and provide minority needs and rights. Proper needs satisfaction remains important for resolving protracted social conflicts (Coleman, 2000). The Bawku conflict fits well into a PSC because its sources involve claim to values, identity, power as well as cultural contestation. The continuous and vicious cycle of violence in Bawku makes the conflict defy any workable solution despite all interventions that government and NGOs have made and are still making.

The Psycho-cultural Conflict Theory

The psycho-cultural conflict theory sees identity, particularly the one based on ethnicity, as the main basis of conflict in society. It also gives explanations on how ethnic identity affects conflict, development and conflict resolution. The theory argues that conflict in society is mainly culturally induced, which results from deep-seated attitudes of human action and identity (Ross, 1997). There are different types of identities, but the type of identity based on ethnicity and culture are at the core of conflicts in society. Ethnic identity, according to Chandra (2008, p. 5), "is a social category in which an individual is eligible to be a member." This is usually ascribed, in that one attains it from birth and remains first to every individual in the ethnic group. The theory further argues that when people are discriminated against or deprived of the satisfaction of their basic needs based on their ethnic or cultural identity, there is conflict which is often very violent (Faleti, 2006).

According to the psycho-cultural conflict theory, id

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