New publication on elections and conflict prevention

Dear reader.

Happy new year, and thank you for being so loyal.

I wanted to share a new peer reviewed publication, titled ‘The Africanization of democracy – Elections and conflict prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa’. It is co-authored with Ratha Khuon, M.Ed. from Teachers College, and published in  Sociology and Anthropology, 6(1), pp. 152 – 175. doi: 10.13189/sa.2018.060114.

This paper explores the lessons learned from the nexus between elections and conflict prevention. It underscores that electoral processes are linked to democratic control by the citizens and, thus, paramount to good governance and accountability of political actors. These factors contribute legitimacy to the governments and, ultimately, promote conflict prevention, conflict transformation, and peace infrastructures. Drawing on the cases of Benin and Uganda, this study will examine the conditions and variables of the contexts that either support or hinder leaders to relinquish power according to constitutional term limits, explore the role of political parties and non-governmental organizations as intermediaries of civic dialogue between the governments and their citizens, and elaborate on the prospects of project democracy and its linkages to peace infrastructures and conflict prevention.

Elections, Conflict, Prevention, Africa, Benin, Uganda, Democracy, Governance, Political Parties, Complexity

Access here:

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All the platforms for my books…

… are listed herein:

1.) IGI Global:

2.) Lambert Publishing:

3.) Amazon UK:

4.) Amazon Germany:

5.) Amazon US:

…and chapter contributions in:

1.) Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Peace Building in Africa:

2.) Guest blog on

3.) Interview with American Bar Association:

4.) Conference proceeding: Conference Report: The Legacy of Armed Conflicts: Southern African and Comparative Perspectives, in: Africa Spectrum, 51, 3, 123–134.
ISSN: 1868-6869 (online), ISSN: 0002-0397 (print)

…and handbooks:

1.) African Union Mediation Support Handbook:

2.) ECOWAS Dialogue and Mediation Handbook: Forthcoming 2017

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The mediator’s most important skills…

…are: (1) Good people skills, (2) Good management skills, and (3) Good luck.

First, good management skills pertain to the process considerations of the mediation process. Whereas skills, such as active listening and reframing, and competences, such as cultural and social intelligence, are vital, knowing how to manage conflicts and how to manage people is crucial. Good conflict management relates to the importance of understanding the different ways on how conflict is expressed and on how to choose from the most appropriate approaches to overcome impasse. Similarly, the ability to extract concessions, to forge coalitions, create alliance and to foster confidence building measures, is a key feature of any efficient mediation process. In addition to managing conflicts, the mediator also needs to manage his own team and other mediators. One characteristic of international mediation is the prevalence of a range of mediation actors, from individuals to states to institutions. At times, the mediation space is ‘overpopulated’ through the presence of co-mediators and an increasing number of conflict parties. In this situation (and as we will see from the case study), the mediator cannot simply rely on her skills as a mediator, but she has to become a manager as well, as if she were to lead a team. It is interesting to observe that it is often these managerial skills that lead to a disastrous mediation process and I have observed that it is something not taught in mediation programs. Secondly, a mediator needs to have good people skills. By that, I mean that she needs to employ and to apply common sense. This can start by knowing who to talk to first, who to invite to the table and who to leave out, and to know how to make use of appropriate language. Yet, beyond cultural paradigms and communication skills, the mediator has to remember at all times that she is dealing with people. She needs to recall that people are driven by passion, courage but also fear, anger, and frustrations. And when these frustrations and fear are unchecked, that the negative energy can explode and find other ways of expression. She needs to understand how deep seated and unresolved grievances between people, between groups, between tribes, between religions can bring about havoc and destruction. She also needs to remember that she is not void of any emotions that are similar to the ones she is supposed to mediate or to help resolve.

She needs to be aware and sensitive to her own personal demons and relate to them. This can be a crucial point to better research and learn about. Conventional training and research teaches us that a mediator needs to be neutral or impartial at all times. While this may hold true for commercial or domestic mediation, i.e. in those settings where the mediator has a certain degree of authority conferred by the parties, it may not be helpful for a mediator in an international or intercultural setting to display neutrality or impartiality and it may be difficult for her to remain so. Trust is an often overlooked and misunderstood dimension, yet a valuable cultural enabler. Therefore, understanding the cultural context of as well as verbal and nonverbal communication is a competence the mediator cannot do without. Thirdly, and finally, he needs to have good luck. As experience and research shows, one can be the best mediator in the field and he can still not bring the parties to stop fighting. Nor will he able to overcome impasse if the parties do not have the will to do so, no matter what tricks and skills the mediator employ. This is due to the nature of mediation, which relies heavily on communication. Each communication pattern is unique and provides a distinct set of interactions. No communication is equal and none can be replicated. Thus, and as much as we would like to think that a good process will lead to satisfactory outcomes, there are too many variables that a mediator cannot control. And he should not attempt to be doing so anyway.

More at:

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New handbook out now: The International Mediator

Dear reader.

After a long time of promises and little bite size intellectual snippets, I have been able to write it all down and I am able to now offer you a glimpse into a soft-launch price offered by one of the platforms supported by the publisher:

International mediation is both an art and science. In order to shed some light and to learn from instances of political mediation, this study will focus on political mediation as a means of conflict regulation, whereby a violent conflict is terminated and the mandated third party assists the parties in finding new or different structures and mechanisms to address their underlying grievances. Based on 5 distinct phases, the handbook will attempt to illustrate and demonstrate the general mechanisms of the mediation process, from starting the mediation process to reaching a mediated outcome. Finally, a complex case study of the Sudan Mediations will be used to make sense of the presented mediation model. The handbook will then conclude with some key lessons learned from the case study and general overall final thoughts. As such, it is dedicated to inform the curious one, to serve as a thinking companion for the more learned practitioner, and to provoke further conceptual designing and innovation with the policy maker in order to continue working toward the establishment of a basic epistemology of mediation.

Therefore, if you can purchase a few books also for your local library to spread the message, please check the site, get your discount and then spread the word.

Always looking forward to your comments, feedbacks, critical thinking!




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My new handbook is out soon!

Dear reader.

It has taken me some time to come back to this site. As you certainly will know, the fact of accumulated experience sometimes drives you to re-evaluate the way the knowledge is being distributed, reflected on and processed.

After posting a lot of insights on this webpage, I thought that the best way to continue the conversation is to start from a position of proposition. And, this is now coming true. Due to my relentless editor and great support from my family and local community, I can say that the first attempt to get out and to start a conversation is to provoke. Which is why I decided to work on and publish about international mediation in the form of a popular and non-scientific approach to an art of conflict management which is more and more become science.

I will advertise is it on all relevant social media and I will be returning to this website as soon as the product is finally available.

Looking forward to be reading about your comments and suggestions.

See you around.


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Presenting at MPSA 2017 in Chicago

Dear reader!

Time to get back into the field of academia and research and share with esteemed colleagues the latest from the field.

This year, one can find me at the 75th annual MPSA conference to be held in Chicago from April 6th – 10th, 2017 at the Hilton Palmer House.

With a packed schedule, you can listen to my findings in the following tracks:

1.) On political mediation: Political Mediation

2.) On the Africanization of democracy: Elections

3.) On International Relations in Africa: International Relations in Africa

4.) On non-violent resistance and the Battle for Freedom: Non-violent resistance

And follow me under @urduz and #MPSA17

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Prudence or caution? ECOWAS interventions

Dear reader.

Good to have you back.

Many of the African experts wonder whether ECOWAS’ most recent intervention in The Gambia marks a turning point in the history of the community’s unstable dealing with challenges to peace and security in the region.

Likely not.

The overall trend in West Africa suggests that ECOWAS takes political crisis case by case, and that its m.o. is to proceed with caution.

Three cases in point:

1.) In Niger in 2009, then President Mamadou Tandja forced through a referendum under flawed voting conditions that lifted the country’s two-term presidential limit. In response, ECOWAS said it no longer recognized Tandja as Niger’s president and demanded that he step down – but a military intervention was not in the works. Tandja was ultimately removed by his own military, which turned over power to a new civilian government in 2001.

2.) In Senegal in 2012, when then President Abdoulaye Wade was running for a third term, Wade argued that Senegals’ two-term limit did not apply to him, since his first term had started before the limit was imposed. His opponents viewed his candidacy as unconstitutional. ECOWAS promised a compromise: If elected, Wade should serve a two year term and then hold elections. Military intervention was, again, not on the table. Perhaps fortunately for ECOWAS, Wade list the election, rendering the compromise moot.

3.) In Mali in 2012, a complex crisis took shape that included a coup against the outgoing president, a separatist rebellion and a jihadi occupation of the northern cities. After the coup, ECOWAS swiftly imposed sanctions that pushed the coup leaders to step down in exchange for amnesty. Putting Mali back together again, however, was more difficult. The coup leaders initially retrained significant influence in politics, and northern Mali remained in jihadi hands for months. ECOWAS slowly prepared for a military intervention, but in January 2013, when the jihadis pushed into Central Mali, it was France that invaded.

While a bit of a different context, the case of Guinea-Bissau shows ECOWAS becoming more embroiled as an actor to the conflict than as an actual mediator.

In the Gambia, a many supporting factors came together, not without mentioning the fact that Jammeh did successfully negotiate immunity for himself.

Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali still need to see a stronger and more robust ECOWAS take responsibility and overcome the internal schism created among its members.

See you then.



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