The Military and Human Rights in a Post-Cold War Africa

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In many parts of Africa, dictatorships and the blatant violation of human rights are under challenge by democratic reforms. The potential for a serious conflict between democratic pressures and brutal and selfish militarism abounds in many parts of the continent. The events that have been unfolding in Togo and Zaire since the latter part of 1991 serve as a grim warning that the trend towards democracy and its accompanying emphasis on respect for human rights is not irreversible. The transitional governments or democratic forces may have to deal with a large, powerful, and disgruntled military that perceives itself as losing its exclusive privileges acquired under the old order. This article focuses on how and to what extent human rights observance could be threatened by: (1) the inevitable interaction and clash between political and economic democracy; (2) the tension created between the intersection of domestic African economic policies and external major power requirements; and (3) institutional insecurity emanating from the actual and potential conflicts between entrenched privileges (the desire to protect and enhance corporate interests) enjoyed by the military and the current push for economic and political human rights embedded in the drive towards democracy in Africa.

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Armed Forces & Society, v. 21, issue 1, p. 69-87