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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



2013 Democratic Governance Institute

Theme: Security and democratic governance
Deadline: 17th May, 2013
Session 2013
Date: 05 – 23 august 2013
Venue : Dakar, Sénégal

Call for Applications

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the 2013 session of its annual Democratic Governance Institute. It therefore invites researchers to submit their applications for participation in this institute to be held from 5th to 12th August, 2013 in Dakar, Senegal.

The Democratic Governance Institute, launched in 1992 by CODESRIA, is an interdisciplinary forum which every year brings together about fifteen researchers from various parts of the continent and the Diaspora, as well as some non-African scholars who are undertaking innovative research on topics related to the general theme of governance.


The activities of all CODESRIA Institutes centre on presentations made by African researchers, resource persons from the continent and the Diaspora, and participants whose applications for admission as laureates have been successful. The sessions are led by a scientific director who, with the support of the selected resource persons, ensures that the laureates are exposed to a wide range of research and policy issues. Each laureate is required to prepare a research paper to be presented during the session. The revised versions of such papers will undergo a peer review for publication by CODESRIA. The CODESRIA Documentation and Information Centre (CODICE) will provide participants with a comprehensive bibliography on the theme of the institute. Access to a number of documentation centers in and around Dakar will also be also facilitated.


The CODESRIA Democratic Governance Institute will be held in French and in English through simultaneous translation.

The 2012 Governance Institute : Security and democratic governance in Africa
The various crises that have affected the African continent in the past years, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sudan, the Delta and Northern regions of Nigeria, Mali, etc., bring acutely back, the issue of governance and democratic governance in Africa. If terrorism and fundamentalism occupy the headlines by defying the existence of the State, by imposing new constraints to the idea of living together in the framework of a nation, but also to State sovereignty, reflecting on the links between security, democratic governance and human security becomes a theoretical imperative in order to tackle the challenges of Africa in the 21st century.

In addition to being a major issue occupying national and local authorities across Africa, the question of security in Africa is one of the biggest concerns of international, regional and sub-regional organizations including the UN, the African Union Commission and regional economic communities. Promoting security has been brandished as a justification for some of the biggest incursions into the continent, including the colonial effort to ‘pacify warring tribes’ and present day interventions under the so-called Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Despite pervasive debates about the subject, the issue of security continues to pose very interesting challenges to social scientific research and remains an area where much work is needed.

A fundamental issue deserving of further attention is the conceptualization of security. In line with Realist conceptions of an anarchic international system in which states are the primary actors and their security of paramount importance, security was initially understood as state security. The security of people and societies was seen as subordinate to and a by-product of that of states. A vigorous critique of the state security paradigm led to the shift to the concept of human security in the early 1990s. The move was partly motivated by the realization that state security can coincide with insecurity for humans, that state security is sometimes pursued through the subversion of human security and that states, including very secure ones, can pose grave threats to the security of people.

The human security approach seeks to overcome these problems by putting human beings at the center of security discussions. This view sees the security of people as primary and that of states as subordinate and consequent to that of people. Human security came to be defined broadly as the safety of people from threats including illness, homelessness, hunger, crime, violence, environmental problems, joblessness, etc. Human security in many ways has come to have the same meaning as ‘sustainable development.’

This shift from state security to ‘human security’ has not come without its own conceptual and policy-related challenges. First, proponents tend to construct a dichotomy between state and human security that is doubly false. It overstates the mutual exclusivity of the two, failing to give credence to the deep interconnectedness of state and human security. It is also false in failing to recognize the possibility of other forms of security. Its trenchant anthropocentrism does not give due recognition to other approaches that advocate an equally central place to societies, the environment, wildlife, etc. in conversations on security. Second, because human security comes to take on the same meaning as sustainable development, it is legitimate to pose the question of whether it is a redundant, and even obfuscating, concept. Third, the securitization of issues including education, health, climate change and nutrition has not come without its own costs. In this marriage hardcore security concerns that focus on violent conflicts have, unsurprisingly, come to dominate other issues. Increasingly, issues such as climate change, famine and human rights are seen as threatening and are given attention only in the extent to which they threaten peace.

Beyond the problems with conceptualizing security, a significant challenge lies in explaining and dealing with the changing nature of security threats in Africa. The turn of the 21st century has coincided with a drastic decline in the wars that plagued many areas of the continent going back to the late 1950s. But efforts at reaping the gains from this decline in warfare have been stymied by new challenges. In many places, all disciplined and amorphous militias that espouse little ideologically coherent views have replaced the orderly, disciplined and ideologically driven rebel movements of earlier decades. Instead of cultivating civilian support, many of these groups prey on civilians, leading to a drastic increase in civilian casualties. Torture and gender-based sexual violence have become widespread in conflicts.

In addition to these is the issue of emerging threats. Cyber threats, climate change, piracy, terrorism, electoral violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, gang violence and money laundering are all challenges that are posing increasing problems for people, societies and states across the continent. The transnational, mobile and technology-savvy nature of their perpetrators, who often have diversified portfolios and intercontinental operations, make them challenging for state agents that are trained to combat traditional threats to deal with. Because they are relatively new as significant threats in Africa much social scientific work needs to go into understanding the character of these issues, their causes, how they interact with each other and with traditional threats, their impact on states and societies in Africa and the ways in which they could possibly be combatted.

In dealing with these new threats there has always been the danger of letting the new and ‘attractive’ – because of the fact that they are high on the list of priorities of the big players of the international community — eclipse old and persisting security challenges on the continent. These include longstanding issues of structural violence that draw little attention but are the source of immense suffering for many o n the continent. Gender inequalities, food and housing insecurity, the weakness of social security systems, threats posed by the mismanagement of waste and dwindling access to critical natural resources are all examples.

The issue of prioritizing security threats raises the thorny questions of who sets the security agenda in Africa and to what end. How are these agendas set and maintained? What is the impact of this setting of agendas on the lives of people on the continent? These questions are important given the fact that the quashing of security threats has often served as cover for many to pursue their interests in Africa, sometimes resulting in even more harm than that caused by the threats they were supposedly meant to eliminate.

Aims and Sub-themes

With the overall goal of understanding how efforts at improving security in Africa can become key aspects of democratic governance the 2013 Institute will cover a broad range of themes, with a view to:

• Pursing conceptual clarity in the definition of security to foster social science research and aid policy-making and implementation
• Revisit theories of governance and security in Africa;
• Examine current security challenges faced by the nation-state, the issue of borders and the conditions of political regulation
• Exploring the causes of threats to security in Africa with a focus both on how these threats originate and how they persist over time
• Shinning a light on structural violence with the goal of making it more legible and understanding its causes.
• Investigating the evolving nature of security threats in Africa while locating emerging threats within broader security discourses
• Mapping out new and innovative ways of dealing with security challenges in Africa that are rights-respecting, sustainable and in accord with democratic politics
• Investigating the problems with historical and ongoing efforts at dealing with security challenges in Africa
• Uncovering the histories of security issues and efforts at handling them in Africa with a view to subverting the ahistoricism that often obscures issues and cripples policy-making and implementation
• Investigating the security complex as a field of power relations at international, national and local levels
• Uncovering the gendered nature of human security
• Examining various forms of gender based violence, the human security challenges they pose, and the responses to these challenges
• Investigating interactions between the arena of security and related fields including development, democracy, governance and humanitarianism in Africa with the goal of achieving a much more holistic and deeper understanding of security issues in Africa
• Investigating the dominant methodologies deployed for studying security challenges in Africa

The Director

CODESRIA will select a senior scholar or researcher who has been conducting research for many years on issues of security and democratic governance in Africa to direct the 2013 Democratic Governance Institute. The director of the Institute will carry out the following tasks:
- Read and comment the proposals of the laureates before the beginning of the governance institute,
- Design the courses for the sessions, including specific sub-themes;
- Deliver a set of lectures and conduct a critical analysis of papers presented by the resource persons and the laureates;
- Submit a written scientific report on the session.
- (Co-) edit the revised versions of the papers presented by the resource persons with a view to submitting them for publication in one of CODESRIA’s collections. He or she will also assist CODESRIA in assessing the papers presented by laureates during the Institute for publication.

Resource Persons

Lectures to be delivered during the session are intended to offer laureates an opportunity to advance their reflections on the theme of the Institute. Resource persons should therefore be senior scholars or researchers who have published extensively on the theme, and who have significant contributions to make to the debates on it. They will be expected to produce lecture materials which would stimulate laureates to engage in discussion and debate around their respective lectures and the general body of literature available on the theme.
Once selected, resource persons must:
- Interact with the director of the institute and laureates to help the latter readjust their research questions and their methodological approaches;
- Submit a copy of their course materials for reproduction and distribution to participants no later than one week before they deliver their lectures;
- Deliver their lectures, participate in debates and comment on the research proposals and the papers of the laureates;
- Review and submit the revised version of their lecture notes or research papers for publication by CODESRIA not later than two months following their presentation at the Institute.


Applicants should be Masters students, PhD candidates or scholars in their early career with a proven capacity to conduct research on the theme of the institute. Intellectuals active in the policy process and/or social movements and civil society organizations are also encouraged to apply. The number of places offered by CODESRIA at each session is limited to fifteen (15). Non-African scholars who are able to raise funds for their participation may also apply for a limited number of places.

Application Procedures

Applications for the position of resource person should include:
1. An application letter;
2. A curriculum vitae;
3. Two (2) published papers
4. A proposal of not more than five (5) pages in length, outlining the issues to be covered in their three (3) proposed lectures, including one on methodological issues;

Applications for laureates should include:

1. An application letter;
2. A letter indicating institutional or organizational affiliation;
3. A curriculum vitae;
4. A research proposal (not more than ten (10) pages in two copies) including a descriptive analysis of the work the applicant intends to undertake, an outline of the theoretical interest of the topic chosen by the applicant, the relationship of the topic to the problematic and concerns of the theme of the 2011 Institute ;
5. Two (2) reference letters from scholars or researchers known for their competence and expertise in the candidate’s research area (geographic and disciplinary), including their names, addresses, telephone and/or fax numbers and email addresses.
6. A copy of the passport.

Application Deadline

The deadline for the submission of applications is 17th May, 2013. Selected applicants will be notified in the first week of june 2013. Laureates are expected to use the month of June to carry out their fieldwork or collect information to prepare a draft research paper to be presented during the Institute. This draft research paper should be submitted to CODESRIA not later than 12th July, 2013. Laureates will be expected to work on this document (and not on the abstract of the proposal) and prepare it for publication during the Institute.

Submission of Applications

All applications or requests for additional information should be sent to:

Democratic Governance Institute
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop x Canal IV
BP 3304, CP 18524, Dakar, Senegal
Tel.: (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23
Fax: (221) 33 824 12 89
E-mail: governance.institute@codesria.sn

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