From the CIAO Atlas Map of Africa Map of Europe 

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CIAO DATE: 03/02

Europe and the Crises in the Great Lakes Region

Bjørn Møller

Copenhagen Peace Research Institute
August 2001


The paper is devoted to the possible role of the European states and the European Union (EU) in the Great Lakes Region and its several interlocking crises and violent conflicts.

As a preliminary to this, however, a framework for regional analysis is provided as a tool for understanding how the various crises and conflicts interact with each other and how the Great Lakes Region fits into the larger frameworks of Africa or at least Sub-Saharan Africa. This is followed by a brief account of the historical background of the current crises, from pre-colonial times via colonization to liberation — or rather: a few glimpses into this history are offered, as an exhaustive account would both be beyond the author's expertise and the scope of the present paper.

A tentative analyses of the causes and dynamics of the various crisis follows, highlighting the roles of ethnicity, state-building and resource scarcity. Having thus identified (some of) the root causes of both actual and possible future conflicts, the next question becomes what Europe can do, premised on the assumption that Europe is both obliged to and actually willing to become involved. In the analysis thereof the main emphasis is placed on the recent initiatives of the European Union, which are assessed as promising, even though some proposals for improvement are offered.