A critical analysis of alternative dispute resolution mechanism and its effectiveness in the alavanyo-nkonya conflict in the volta region of ghana
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Africa has the strange reputation of being the world’s most violent, war-torn, impoverished, disease-ridden, and unstable continent. It’s no surprise that conflict management academics view it as a significant testing ground for experiments and theory development.
Throughout the post-Cold War era, Africa was plagued by brutal and apparently intractable wars (Eghosa & Robinson, 2005). The genocide and ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and, to a lesser degree, Burundi, civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, and Somalia are only a few of these conflicts. Minority upheavals in Nigeria, as well as separatist movements in Cameroon and Senegal, serve as focal areas for African wars (Zartman, 2000).
The reasons of these disputes have been examined from several perspectives, and some of the factors include land, power, and natural resource management (Zartman, 2000). As the causes of war in Africa, disputes over land, money, and other resources take on greater symbolic significance (Department for International Development, 2001). Inequality between groups is most likely the root of African strife. Inequality between groups, not individuals, is what raises the likelihood of violent conflict. It occurs on three levels: economic, social, and political, all of which are mutually reinforcing. Political authority and its advantages were monopolized by one group in nations like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda. As a result, authority and access to resources and money were distributed unequally (Department for International Development, 2001).
One of the primary reasons of violence in Africa has been recognized as economic issues. Competition for finite resources, according to theorists, is a common feature in nearly all ethnic wars in Africa. Ethnic communities struggle brutally for property, rights, employment, education, language, social amenities, and decent health care facilities in multi-ethnic nations like Nigeria and South Africa. Nnoli (1980) used empirical examples in his study to relate socio-economic variables to ethnic strife in Nigeria. “The working of economic forces makes for tension between groups with competing interests,” according to Furnival, cited in Nnoli (1980:72-3). Mare (1980) confirms that ethnicity and ethnic conflict appear to be a response to South Africa’s uneven development, which caused ethnic groups to mobilize to compete for resources along ethnic lines. As a result, multi-ethnic countries are more prone to have wars.
Furthermore, disputes are exacerbated by the availability or lack thereof of resources. As a result, Africa is home to two forms of resource-based conflict: those involving scarcity of resources and those involving excess of resources and who has the right to use or possess them. Countries whose economy are reliant on natural resources such as oil and minerals, on the other hand, are prone to war. As in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, factions struggle for control of these resources, which become the “reward” for governing the territory or state and can lead to violent confrontations. Unfair exploitation of resource-rich regions might also result in never-ending wars. External involvement might be enticed by abundant resources. In the instance of Nigeria and Cameroon’s fight over the Bakasi Peninsular, this has the potential to lead to violent confrontation (Eghosa & Robinson, 2005).
High levels of unemployment among young males and poor educational levels are two further variables that contribute to violence in African countries. Conflicts across Africa have attracted a pool of disadvantaged or socially alienated young males, the majority of whom are unemployed. The genocide and massacres in Rwanda are the result of excessive unemployment fuelled by the ethnic component of Tutsis and Hutus. Liberia’s conflict was once again waged by socially disadvantaged young men who were essentially jobless (Eghosa and Robinson, 2005).
Ethnic animosity has been increasingly used by political leaders and aggressive Africans, resulting in disastrous wars. The story of Dagbon in Northern Ghana is a classic illustration of how long-term violence produces long-term divides that limit the efficacy of peace-building efforts. The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a prime example of ethnic discrimination. Ethnic divisions have been used by elements of Uganda’s military forces in order to profit economically from the war (Eghosa and Robinson, 2005).
These wars have a wide range of repercussions, from the collapse of entire economies to the loss of human lives and family breakup. Development programs cease to function efficiently as a result of violent conflicts, and economic retrenchment occurs. Instead of being used for growth, scarce resources are frequently redirected to preserve peace and security, as well as the restoration of devastated buildings and infrastructures (Department for International Development, 2001). The problem is exacerbated by a negative attitude and viewpoint toward confrontation, which makes any attempt to address it seem like a preemptive strike. The argument is that, despite the fact that violent conflicts have been long-running and plainly harmful to progress, most people do not consider conflict to be an issue.
The rivalry between the two neighboring towns began in 1923, and the main reason was a territorial delineation drawn as part of the Volta Togoland by the colonial German administration. The land appears to run between Alavanyo and Nkonya. This piece of land became a point of contention, and they fought over it until 1958, when a Supreme Court judgment decided in the Nkonya people’s favor. People from Alavanyo contested it, stating they had never been fully involved.
Mineral riches abound on the roughly 10-square-mile plot of land (Ho Diocesan Peace Committee, 2010). Evidence shows that the terrain is rich in woods and minerals, as well as being ideal for farming. As a result, each side sought to gain control of the land, and this has been the point of dispute throughout the battle, which has lasted more than four decades.
Peace-building initiatives began in 2006 by well-intentioned community members. They utilized an Alternative Dispute Resolution process since the indigenous techniques employed previously had failed. This technique developed a three-part peace process framework, which included a mediation team, a consultative committee, and community peacemakers. The Alavanyos and Nkonyas reached an agreement through these structures.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
When contradictory circumstances are studied, it becomes clear that, wherever they exist and whatever their causes, attempts to settle them have always been made. Other individuals must be involved in finding solutions, as they attempt to negotiate acceptable terms and circumstances between the disputing parties. The South African ‘‘miracle,” Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism, Botswana’s democratic stability, sub-regional approaches to conflict resolution through the use of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and more recently the African Union (AU) have all embraced various mechanisms aimed at tackling conflicts in a durable manner (Clapham,2001).
However, these groups’ efforts have not always been fruitful, since many formerly resolved hostilities have resurfaced as more deadly wars. Indeed, some experts have given up and advocated for a ‘‘rethinking” of the African state, which includes the breakup of so-called problematic and unviable governments, as well as various conflict settlement options (Clapham, 2001). Others have advocated for novel and creative ways, such as adapting different conflict resolution procedures, models, and practices (Zartman, 2000).
More inventive and alternative ways to conflict resolution, according to the researcher, are the definite cure for Ghana’s various conflict situations. The difficulty is that conflict management literature does not sufficiently represent or appreciate the efforts of many accessible conflict resolution techniques, such as alternative dispute settlement (Zartman, 2000; Clapham, 2001). Despite the fact that an increasing number of international agencies, governments, and private organizations have entered the “business” of conflict resolution, it is clear that most interventions in African conflicts have done little to prevent the continent from continuing on its debilitating path over the last decade.
Many disputes in Africa, ranging from ethnic conflicts to civil wars, are primarily resolved through the judicial system, which is typically adversarial and does not take into account African customs and beliefs. This explains why the court system, or formal legal system, has failed to resolve the continent’s various conflicts.
These initiatives’ failure highlights the need for more innovative methods to dispute resolution. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) initiatives have the potential to help Ghana resolve its problems. The goal of this study is to evaluate the efficiency of ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya dispute in Ghana’s Volta region.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this research is to assess the effectiveness of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism as a peace process in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict in the Volta region. Thus, below are the specific objectives;
- To ascertain reasons for use of ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict case.
2.To examine the structures adopted in the framework of ADR as a conflict resolution mechanism.
- To identify the strengths and challenges of the ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict resolution case.
- To assess the level of peace in the two communities.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions guide this study;
- What are the reasons for the use of ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict case?
- What are the structures adopted in the framework of ADR as a conflict resolution mechanism?
- What are the strengths and challenges of the ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict resolution case?
- What is the level of peace between the communities?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
In the field of conflict resolution in Africa, particularly specifically Ghana, there are several strategies and methodologies. However, the strategies that work best in a given conflict scenario vary by culture. Every civilization’s culture includes dispute resolution, and certain ways are preferred over others in each group. Although each culture is distinct, each culture has its own distinctive tacit agreement or system that governs how conflicts are resolved. As a result, the instance of employing ADR in the Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict settlement aims to enhance the process while also showing the method’s applicability for Ghana’s and the Volta region’s particular circumstances.
This study is important because it highlights the use of nonviolent ways to resolve disputes in Africa and Ghana. The Dagbon war, the Bawku fight, the Ga and Christians in Accra conflicts, and the Alavanyo and Nkonyas conflicts are only a few examples of Ghana’s violent conflicts, which are generally brutal and never-ending. The adoption of the ADR contributed to the current state of peace in the Alavanyo and Nkonya dispute. This study will highlight the benefits of various conflict resolution methods and stress the usage of nonviolent conflict resolution in Ghana. It contributes to the little literature on conflict resolution strategies in Africa and Ghana.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will only cover the use ADR as a tool for resolving the conflict between the Alvanyo’s and the Nkoya’s. The reasons behind the adoption of the ADR as dispute resolution mechanism between the two communities will be looked into as well as the strengths and challenges of the ADR. This study will only conversethe conflict between the two communities.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to the Alvanyo’s and the Nkoya’s and the conflict between the two communities. The researcher was also limited by availability of funds to delve deeper into the reasons behind the conflict between the communities.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION:Also known asExternal Dispute Resolution (EDR), typically denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties had not to come to an agreement short of litigation: a collective term for the ways that parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party.
- CONFLICT:Refers to a disagreement between two individuals or groups, in this case, it refers to a disagreement between two communities.