Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Politics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 June 2022

Ghana: The Military in Transition from Praetorianism to Democratic Controllocked

Ghana: The Military in Transition from Praetorianism to Democratic Controllocked

  • Eboe Hutchful, Eboe HutchfulDepartment of African American Studies, Wayne State University
  • Humphrey Asamoah AgyekumHumphrey Asamoah AgyekumDepartment of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
  •  and Ben KunbourBen KunbourLecturer, University of Ghana Law School

Summary

With the end of the Cold War and onset of democratization, the academic field of “civil–military relations” (CMR) has arguably gone into relative decline, replaced by the new global template of “Security Sector Reform and Governance” (SSR/G). This is a notable shift in several senses: firstly, from a narrow focus on the military (and coups in particular) to the “security sector” as a whole; and secondly because the two “fields” have been driven by different imperatives, priorities, and methodologies, in part shaped by changing historical contexts. In contrast to the CMR scholarship, SSR/G has been much more of a “policy and operational science” than an academic discipline, primarily oriented toward norm development and formal institution building in response to imperatives of democratization. This “policy praxis”—driven by sovereign actors and often delivered by consultants and private contractors with a primarily technical focus—has not always prioritized evidence-based research or interrogated real power dynamics. And while the nation-state remains the core actor, external powers (bilateral partners and international and multilateral institutions) have emerged as a critical supporting cast in SSR/G, evolving their own normative and policy frameworks and providing the financial resources to drive reforms (paradoxically, these are usually the same powers that conduct humanitarian interventions and extend security assistance to contain the proliferation of terrorist attacks in the region).

Nevertheless, there are strong linear links between the two “disciplines,” as CMR legacies have shaped the SSR discourse and agenda. An offshoot of the SSR focus has been the implementation of practical programs to address some of the weaknesses of the defence sector exposed in the CMR literature, evident in a set of technical and “how to” tools, such as defence reviews, security sector public expenditure reviews, the “Defence Anti-Corruption Index” (pioneered by Transparency International), and a variety of “toolkits” designed to enhance military professionalism and strengthen civilian oversight bodies and institutions. Academic research has also reflected this shift by broadening out from the analysis of the military and coups to encompass other agencies in the formal security sector (police and intelligence in particular), as well as looking much more closely at nonstate security and justice providers and their interaction with state security institutions and actors, through the prism of concepts such as “hybridity” and “hybrid security governance.”

Even so, militaries per se have never strayed far from the center of the discussion.

Militaries have not only remained the focal point of SSR efforts—in the process even acquiring new roles and missions and (undoubtedly) sources of influence—they have even been propelled back to center stage, as the security landscape has shifted and African states and armies (particularly in the Sahel) have struggled against a growing proliferation of armed groups and terrorist attacks, and as coups have threatened to make a comeback.

However, both the theory and practice of these African transitions defy neat delineations and linear interpretations. Their many commonalities notwithstanding, these transitions have been multifaceted, ambiguous, and contested, as well as fragile and subject to reversal, nowhere more so than in the CMR arena. Nevertheless, three elements stand out:

1. A growing trend over time toward “illiberal democracies,” as a variety of African leaders have made willful efforts to hollow out democracy, cultivating or (over time) perfecting the tools to evade or erode the strictures of democracy, an activity in which security forces are increasingly implicated.

2. A consensus in both the academic and policy literature about the fragile foundations of CMR in these transitions, which have been replete with “democratic deficits” and operational weaknesses, addressed only selectively by SSR, and likely to be further aggravated by the trends toward “soft authoritarianism” in the region.

3. Importantly, democratization in the region has coincided with (if not spawned) a proliferation of terroristic activity and new forms of armed conflict which African states have been unable to contain, triggering “humanitarian interventions” and security assistance from a variety of external actors. This has been dubbed the new “global militarism,” accompanied by a reorientation (rollback) of SSR in favor of “hard security” and operational capacity building (“Train and Equip”).

Subjects

  • Contentious Politics and Political Violence
  • Governance/Political Change

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription