Getting Along: Managing Diversity for Atrocity Prevention in Socially Divided Societies
Dr. Pauline Baker
The Stanley Foundation
Dr. Pauline H. Baker is president emeritus and board trustee of The Fund for Peace.
(…) Most proposals for preventing mass atrocities and genocide in conflict-affected states tend to focus on externally generated diplomatic, economic, or military interventions. For earlier and more durable long-term prevention, attention needs to be given to internal measures that can make political systems more responsive to diverse constituencies.
Based on the experiences of Nigeria and South Africa, this paper examines how states may promote a greater level of protection against the threat of mass-atrocity violence. An atrocity-prevention lens is used to consider how diversity might be effectively managed through inclusive political processes, institutional mechanisms, and governance policies.
In structuring political participation and processes, the governments of Nigeria and South Africa have taken proactive measures designed to diffuse intergroup tensions and encourage national unity. Not all of these measures have succeeded in reducing tensions; some, in fact, exacerbated tensions, though perhaps unintentionally. (…)
It is important to note at the outset that the issue of political structuring and diversity management is relevant to all heterogeneous societies. (…) Yet, importantly, not all societies with racial, ethnic, or religious divisions experience mass atrocities.
Nigeria and South Africa have faced such challenges and have taken different paths to diversity management. Their stories illustrate the benefits, risks, and other consequences that may arise from such efforts. This analysis provides insights that could be useful not only for other states grappling with similar problems but for peace builders, state builders, and countries adopting strategies consistent with pillar two of the Responsibility to Protect framework to “assist states under stress” before atrocity threats and crises develop. (…)