Ungoverned space (2)

This report is the second of two parts adapted from the recent Small Arms Survery report ‘Policing the Periphery: opportunities and challenges for Kenya police reserves’.

Many borders were created for political and administrative convenience by the colonial governments with little consideration of the distribution of ethnic groups, such that some communities now reside on both sides of an international border, and frequently move in and out of the countries involved without controls. This raises issues of citizenship and makes crime management difficult. Furthermore, unrelated communities are forced to live together.

Most ungoverned spaces are also associated with protracted social conflicts, which are intrastate as opposed to interstate, although they may spill over international and regional borders, as described above.

Ungoverned spaces may also harbour criminal actors and networks, and thus pose a risk
to state and regional stability and security.

Trade in arms and weapons proliferation among civilians are significant problems and relate to ‘ungovernedness’ in terms of supply across porous borders, few controls, and demand resulting from a lack of security.

Ungoverned spaces are often potentially profitable. For example, tourism is an important foreign exchange earner in rural parts of Kenya. Moreover, an NGO worker noted that nearly 63,000 square miles (much of Turkana) has been parcelled out as oil blocks to prospectors, which may cause conflict at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

There are also plans for the construction of an oil pipeline from South Sudan to Lamu and for opening up the northern region with a new port under construction in Lamu and a highway into Ethiopia.

Rapid development is likely as a result. At a regional level, there have been several discoveries of oil and gas, which could trigger territorial disputes. Into the melting-pot have come new donors, such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), whose economies are growing rapidly and whose demand for oil is increasing. Thus, as stakes rise and investors bid for finite resources, security dynamics become increasingly important.

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