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Theo Neethling and Heidi Hudson’s Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa Launched – UCT Press

November 15, 2013

Theo Neethling and Heidi Hudson’s Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa Launched

by Sandy on Oct 30th, 2013

Guests attending the celebration of the latest title from UCT Press were treated to an unusual book launch at The Castle of Good Hope. The late afternoon clouds pouring over Table Mountain formed a majestic backdrop to the traditional guard of honour that stood to attention as dignitaries were escorted to the Dolphin Room. There they were greeted by the joyful sounds from the quartet of musicians belonging to the KaribaRimba band.

Co-editor of Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, Role-players, Policy and Practice, Theo Neethling, was joined by one of the book’s peer reviewers, Hussein Solomon.

Publisher, Sandy Shepherd, recalled her delight when UCT Press was announced as the successful tender to publish this title. She highlighted the press’ strong and reputable list of scholarly titles, with a special interest in the social sciences, and research in the humanities from an African perspective. The editorial board is made up of UCT academics who consider the appropriateness of prospective titles and a rigorous assessment is applied. She explained the peer review process where a text is subjected to independent experts in the field.

Deputy Chief of the Army, Major General Les Rudman, took the podium. He highlighted the suitability of The Castle of Good Hope as a place to launch the book, “because the aim of PCRD (post-conflict reconstruction and development) is not only to bring practical solutions to security problems, but also to bring a good measure of hope for sustainable development on the continent.”

The book’s publication was initiated by members of the Directorate: Army Strategic Direction, who were responsible for the formulation of SA Army strategies, and also for the conduct of research in support of the development and implementation of such strategies.

He said the concept was one of the crucial elements of the SA Army’s approach to and successful conduct of peace missions and peace-building on the continent and had become one of the focus areas for research and development. Although the concept was not new, it had been the focus of a great variety of academic research. “It has proven to be an extremely complex, contested and value-laden field of study that in most cases provides more questions than answers,” he said.

Apart from the relevance of the implications for the SA Army, PCRD has been a stated aim of the UN’s post-Cold War peacekeeping missions and mandates. It now includes a far broader range of tasks when compared to traditional peacekeeping missions of the past. He said this was a priority area of the African Peace and Security Agenda since the adoption of the African Union PCRD policy framework in 2006.

Since then, PCRD has become one of the tools designed to curb the severity and repetitive nature of conflict in Africa. These developments have prompted a number of visits by members of the SA Army to SADC countries, including Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania, and to the headquarters of the African Union, in Addis Ababa.

History and academic research show that the operationalisation of the PCRD concept requires a holistic rethinking of the concepts and strategies that are being developed for PCRD. He suggested this required new thinking about how the military needed to organise, prepare and equip itself to contribute successfully to post-conflict reconstruction, to provide basic services and to sustain the progress. “This in turn required a reassessment of the strategies, force design, force structure and capabilities, as well as resources of all 21st century African militaries.”

Rudman said the book assisted in developing new insights into the capability requirements for militaries to participate in PCRD, and to clarify the roles and functions of members of the SA Army within the concept of PCRD. “It aims at defining the future trajectory and capability requirements to fulfil PCRD tasks during peace missions on the continent,” he said. He valued the insights offered by the contributing authors, which showed a holistic appreciation of the processes, functioning, operational and policy implications of PCRD in Africa.

He welcomed and thanked professors Theo Neethling (co-editor) and peer reviewer, Hussein Solomon, who discussed the pertinent aspects of the book in thoughtful and conscientious detail. Their fascinating reflections on the book and its contributors confirmed that this scholarly title will be useful – not only for the SA Army – but for local and international academics interested in political science, international relations and African studies. It will also be of great interest to the general public interested in military affairs, current affairs and peacebuilding in the African continent.


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