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Negative versus Positive Peace

West Africa this equation appears not to hold true. The so-called "resource curse" (Auty & World Institute for Development Economics Research., 2001; Basedau & Lay, 2009) or "paradox of plenty" (Karl, 1997) theses have been put forward as possible explanations of why economic growth based on natural resources such as oil do not translate into an increase of social justice and thus positive peace. These aspects appear to be particularly relevant with regard to the three countries under consideration. Moreover, whether democracy supports positive peace is, with regard to West Africa, likewise open for debate (Henderson, 2009, p.25).

The international community continues to consider the political and economic situation of sub-Saharan Africa as problematic. Moreover, since the "decolonization in the continent began after World War II, West Africa stands out as the only zone of negative peace" (Kacowicz, 1997, p. 367). Although Kacowicz's analysis only looks at the peace in West Africa from 1957-1996, this observation holds true even today. As he points out, after WWI the region enjoyed relative international peace. However, the Civil War in Nigeria (1967-70) and the Civil War(s) in Liberia (1990-2004) bear witness to the fact that domestic violent conflicts remained virulent and are serious threat to peace in the region. Even in the recent past Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia have largely failed to implement notions of social justice in their overall domestic political endeavors, which per definition characterizes the regions peace as negative.

In fact, as Henderson's (2009) empirical analysis of data from 1950-2001 has shown, states with politically more democratic governments are more likely to fight each other than states with states with authoritarian government. This "political inversion" thesis directly contradicts general assumptions about positive peace, as they have been formulated by Galtung and others and raise...

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