Horn of Africa: Ordering the security arena: peace and conflict in the world’s most failing states

tim glawion

Convener: Jason Mosley

Speaker: Tim Glawion (GIGA, Hamburg)

The Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan share the dubious honour of being ranked the world’s ‘most fragile states’ according to the last four years of the Fragile States Index. Taking the three countries’ alleged fragility as a starting point, I set out to discover the everyday workings of security on the ground. Between 2014 and 2017, I travelled to places few other researchers have ventured to gain insights from the people whose security is at stake: To South Sudan and the CAR during their ongoing civil wars, and into Somalia’s break-away state of Somaliland. While the observations from each of the three countries are in themselves unique, it is through the comparison of nine local contexts across the three countries that I wish to make an original contribution to the academic and policy debate. For this, I develop the concept of a security arena, wherein I investigate security as the outcome of actors’ local political ordering struggles. I examine these ordering struggles in the security arena through the opportunities provided by the shape of the arena as well as by investigating how different types of actors order the arena in pursuit of their aims. I find that neither stable nor fluid modes of establishing political order per se create security or insecurity. Rather, security is the outcome of complementary cohabitation of different forms of ordering, while insecurity arises when actors compete over who can order the arena and how.