The Management of Border Disputes in African Regional Subsystems: Comparing West Africa and the Horn of Africa

In Africa, the management of border disputes varies from sub-region to sub-region. Most puzzling is the difference between West Africa and the Horn of Africa. In the latter, border disputes are much more likely to escalate into war than in the former. Seeking to solve this puzzle, this study argues that different configurations of primary norms, secondary norms and identity account for the different patterns of border dispute management. West African States have selected the territorial integrity norm, because the norm was compatible with the primary norm of decolonization. In the Horn, by contrast, the primary norm has clashed with the secondary norm of territorial integrity. The study departs from existing accounts of the territorial integrity norm in two ways: first, it does not choose the region but the sub-region as the level of analysis. Second, it does not isolate the territorial integrity norm from its social context but analyses the interplay of the norm with the social structure in which it is embedded. It concludes that the territorial integrity norm in West Africa is part of a social structure different from that in the Horn of Africa. It is this difference that explains the different patterns of conflict management in the two sub-regions. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.

Title: The Management of Border Disputes in African Regional Subsystems: Comparing West Africa and the Horn of Africa
Author: Kornprobst, Markus
Year: 2002
Periodical: Journal of Modern African Studies
Volume: 40
Issue: 3
Period: September
Pages: 369-393
Language: English
Geographic terms: West Africa
Northeast Africa
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3876042
Abstract: In Africa, the management of border disputes varies from sub-region to sub-region. Most puzzling is the difference between West Africa and the Horn of Africa. In the latter, border disputes are much more likely to escalate into war than in the former. Seeking to solve this puzzle, this study argues that different configurations of primary norms, secondary norms and identity account for the different patterns of border dispute management. West African States have selected the territorial integrity norm, because the norm was compatible with the primary norm of decolonization. In the Horn, by contrast, the primary norm has clashed with the secondary norm of territorial integrity. The study departs from existing accounts of the territorial integrity norm in two ways: first, it does not choose the region but the sub-region as the level of analysis. Second, it does not isolate the territorial integrity norm from its social context but analyses the interplay of the norm with the social structure in which it is embedded. It concludes that the territorial integrity norm in West Africa is part of a social structure different from that in the Horn of Africa. It is this difference that explains the different patterns of conflict management in the two sub-regions. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.