When Ethnic Diversity Becomes a Curse in Africa: The Tale of Two Sudans

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Biong Deng Kuol, Luka (2020) When Ethnic Diversity Becomes a Curse in Africa: The Tale of Two Sudans, Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations 21(1): 15–35.

​This article assesses when diversity becomes a curse in Africa. The review of literature on the causation of civil wars shows gaps, weaknesses and lack of holistic framework of analysis. It is argued in this article that the risk of violent conflict is better explained in Africa by absence of social contract as a manifestation of governance deficit rather than the presence of grievances and greed. Recognizing these gaps, this article uses the heuristic social contract framework to assess the drivers of diversity-related conflicts in Africa. Applying this social contract framework to analyze the case of the two Sudans that have been susceptible to recurrent diversity-related conflict, it is argued in this article that ethnic diversity is not a curse and it becomes a curse when there is governance deficit that is manifested in social contract and system of government that abhor and detest diversity. Transforming diversity to become a virtue requires forging a system of government and a resilient social contract that addresses the core conflict issues as well as building inclusive and accountable institutions that promote social cohesion and democratic governance.

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Luka Biong Deng Kuol

Luka Biong Deng Kuol

PRIO Global Fellow