In This Review

Security Dynamics in Africa's Great Lakes Region
Security Dynamics in Africa's Great Lakes Region
Edited by Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Lynee Reinner, 2006, 231 pp.

Africa's Great Lakes region includes the countries to the east and north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have been involved in a complex set of violent conflicts that started with the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and have resulted in well over five million casualties since then. Low levels of economic development and extremely poor infrastructure -- as well as highly polarized ethnic conflict, weak and illegitimate states, and the not-always-helpful role of outside powers -- have abetted the continuation of conflict. Khadiagala has put together a solid collection of essays that examine the current impasse from the perspective of the different countries involved and the outside powers that have sought to mediate the conflict. The book lacks a true analytic framework, and too much of the material is now more than half a decade old, and so it is unlikely to prove useful to policymakers. But the book does provide an excellent introduction to what some observers have called Africa's first world war. The authors emphasize the indivisibility of the conflicts across the countries involved. Progress in one country typically is not possible without progress in neighboring countries. The essays also make clear that regional peace and, eventually, economic development are highly unlikely without external assistance. South Africa's efforts at mediating between the Hutu and Tutsi groups in Burundi, well documented in a chapter by the South African scholar Chris Landsberg, offer some useful insights in that regard.