Burundi: Conflict Prevention As Pragmatic Response to a Twofold Crisis - Liberal Interventionism and Burundi

President Pierre Nkurunziza celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the independence of Burundi at Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium.

Contemporary conflict prevention depends on information gathering and knowledge production about developments within the borders of a state, whose internal affairs have been deemed precarious by external actors. The international community, especially the United Nations (UN), calls this early warning and early action. However, for governments whose affairs are considered in need of monitoring, preventive endeavours--and the knowledge production they entail-- can be seen as 'early aggression'. In this article, we argue that seeing knowledge production as having power effects reveals contemporary conflict prevention as an interventionary practice. Through an analysis of the international community's preventive diplomacy vis-à-vis Burundi (2015-2016) we highlight three unintended power effects: privileging the UN's knowledge production created resistance to international involvement from the Government of Burundi, it led to a change in patterns of violence and to a backlash against the institutionalization of international monitoring beyond Burundi, and it enabled arguments for further, more forceful, intervention possibilities. This framing enables us to understand the recent return to conflict prevention not as a retreat from liberal interventionism, but as a pragmatic response to its purported crisis. Crucially, although conflict prevention falls short of military intervention, it nonetheless leaves important interventionist footprints.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Chatham House

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.