Mercenaries or soldiers of fortune fighting wars on the African continent either on hire or in support of a particular ideology cum interest had better prepare for tougher times as Dr. Chris Kwaja, the Modibbo Adamawa University of Technology, Yola Peace and Conflict Studies scholar settles down to his job at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Dr Kwaja was announced yesterday as a member of the Working Group on Mercenaries. The decision was actually taken in the aftermath of his screening and interview on January 8th, 2018. The two other members are from each of Uganda and South Africa.
The University of Massachusetts, (aka U-Mass) trained expert on conflict management is set to work with regional bodies and states to address the menace posed by the activities of soldiers of fortune. Speaking on how he intends to proceed with his assignment in a brief interview with Intervention, Dr Kwaja said that legislation on that is the first step. According to him, the first attempt at legislation was in 1977 when the OAU initiated a protocol against mercenaries on the continent. “We have seen their activities in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Chad, Gambia, Libya, Niger, Mali and Nigeria since then”, he said, He classifies Africa’s experience with mercenaries into two folds. The first one has to do with the corporate mercenaries that are legal entities mostly from Europe and North America. They have been deeply involved in Africa and dominated its conflict and security landscape since the 1990. The second, he said, is the loose network of individuals and groups hired to support rebels or insurgent groups such as Boko Haram. There are strong concerns that they are also involved in the current armed attacks against communities in several states across Nigeria, hiding under what is currently known as the farmer and herder conflicts.
The line of business has taken a more complicated turn in the wake of the end of the Cold War and the rise of private military companies, (PMCc) as well as the associated commodification of violent conflicts around the world. It is not clear if there is that synergy among all those connected in one way or the other with stamping out mercenaries on the continent.