21 January 2019

CRIC researchers win 12 mio DKK grant from Danida for a four-year research project

Ole Wæver, Sylvie Namwase and Anine Hagemann in cooperation the Human Rights and Peace Center at Makerere, Uganda, have been granted 12 mio DKK for a research project examining Militarisation in Uganda. The project is funded by the Danida Fellowship Center for a four year period.

Violent conflict on the rise

"Sustainable, inclusive development, deeply rooted in respect for all human rights – economic, social, cultural, civil and political – is the world’s best preventive tool against violent conflict and instability" (Guterres, 2018). Yet after decades of global decline, violent conflict is again on the rise. Unbreakable cycles of conflict are the primary obstacle to development, and such conflicts are the cause of 80% of the world’s humanitarian needs (World Bank, 2018 a). A key component of the rise in conflict is increased militarisation (IEP, 2018). Paradoxically, the militarisation of societies is an under-explored phenomenon especially in developing countries, including its impact on development, growth and peace.

Militarisation

Militarisation involves ‘the enlargement of military establishment within society’ (Agbese, 1990; Scanlan and Jenkins, 2001) and is linked to increased levels of spending on defence as a percentage of GDP, the expansion of the armed forces, as well as the availability of arms and the existence of armed, non-state actors. All of these factors are correlated with the likelihood of emerging or escalating violent conflict (World Bank, 2002). The militarisation phenomenon is, thus, linked to peace and conflict. Militarisation is also closely linked to state-building. While there has been consensus among development partners on the importance of building strong state institutions, including the military, as part of peacebuilding efforts since the mid-1990s, qualitative democratic change has been harder to achieve and is still a challenge in the academic debates (Paris and Sisk, 2009; Chandler, 2012). Although military control over resources and implementation can be regarded in some contexts as a step towards achieving development, it may also undermine a country’s economic performance and could lead to increased instability, particularly in developing countries, where the oversight of military budgets and activities remains extremely opaque (Transparency International, 2011).

Uganda: a case in point

Uganda offers a case in point: Recent developments suggest that the country is militarising both public institutions and resource sectors, allegedly as a means to meet its ambitious development goals (SC-AAIF, 2017). Moreover, observers are beginning to see signs of crisis in the country and linking them to the military’s encroachment in key sectors (ICG, 2017). Militarisation and instability also affect the masculinisation of societies while often reinforcing the marginalisation of women (Anderlini, 2007; Cohn et al., 2004). Despite policy efforts such as UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 2000, §1) promoting their active involvement, women remain disproportionately excluded from decision making within the realms of peace and security in fragile countries (O’Reilly, 2016). The relationship between Uganda’s military and development in democratic accountability, gender, growth, stability and thus longer-term state-building remains highly understudied and is important to explore. While Uganda is a developing country in an increasingly fragile context, it has functioning state structures and institutions as well as a political climate which has fostered an active civil society. It is essential to increase knowledge about how contested processes of state- building impact already existing institutions, and are successfully brokered to transform societies peacefully. CRIC researchers believe this project is uniquely placed to contribute to filling this knowledge gap.

The research project

The rationale behind this project is to explore the current trend of militarisation in Uganda with a threefold aim: First, to better understand the militarisation phenomenon in Uganda and to analyse its scope and consequences; second, to contribute to theoretical conceptualisations of militarisation; third, to increase the dialogue and awareness among private and public partners in Uganda about how democratic accountability, protection of rights and state-building can be strengthened in an era of militarisation. These aims are important for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. They are also of high relevance to development partners’ investments in inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

The project is a collaborative venture between the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) and the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). The Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Makerere University, is the first human rights centre of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, working to increase understanding and respect for human rights, democratic governance and sustainable peace in Africa in general and the East Africa sub-region in particular through teaching, research and outreach. CRIC is among the leading Danish academic environments for research that bridges the gaps across policy and academia within the area of peace and conflict.