Koen Vlassenroot

Koen Vlassenroot
Ghent University | UGhent · Department of Conflict and Development Studies

PhD

About

183
Publications
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1,952
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 1993 - present
Ghent University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (183)
Article
Full-text available
Discussions of African responses to Covid-19 have focussed on the state and its international backers. Far less is known about the role of a wider range of public authorities, including chiefs, professional associations, faith-based and civil society organisations, humanitarians, criminal gangs, local security services and armed groups. We begin to...
Article
In this paper, we investigate the nexus between ethnicity and violent conflict in the Congo. We make three interlocking arguments. First, we argue that ethnicity is a defining political resource in the Congo's politics and violent conflicts, which we call 'ethnic capital'. Second, we argue that the high political value of this ethnic capital is sus...
Book
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African-European connections today are at a crossroads and under critical scrutiny. Calls are being made for the restitution of African cultural objects housed by European museums yet acquired during colonial times. Movements such as Black Lives Matter remind us of the direct connection between colonialism and racism, mobilising thousands of people...
Article
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This article discusses the social mobility of combatants and introduces the notion of circular return to explain their pendular state of movement between civilian and combatant life. This phenomenon is widely observed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where Congolese youth have been going in and out of armed groups for several decades...
Article
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This article analyses the production and reproduction of traditional chieftaincy in war-torn eastern DR Congo, through the case of a succession dispute in Kalima (South Kivu). Kalima has gone through two decades of political instability and violent conflict involving a plethora of local, national and regional actors. During this period of uncertain...
Book
Elles et ils sont universitaires, qualifiés, expérimentés, motivés. Inlassablement, ils collectent sur le terrain d'inestimables données, dans des conditions jamais faciles et parfois très risquées, par exemple dans des zones de conflit armé. Et pourtant, leurs voix sont inaudibles, leurs visages invisibles, leurs noms inexistants dans les publicat...
Chapter
Dogu’a Tembien’s inhabitants derive their major income from agriculture. Here, we present the socio-demographic profile of this agrarian society. As the society is very dynamic, changes in livelihood are also addressed, in which due attention is given to the local social security system (which is food aid under different forms). Hence, we criticall...
Article
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This article examines the smuggling of coltan into and out of artisanal mining areas in northern Katanga where the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi), a policy on conflict minerals, tries to improve transparency in trading tin, tantalum (coltan) and tungsten. The article approaches smuggling from a sociology of economic life perspective, clos...
Article
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People are affected by different kinds of insecurity in the Ituri Province in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This article investigates donor-driven attempts to improve security governance there. More specifically, it investigates bottom-up approaches to security governance in Ituri’s capital of Bunia and in Irumu...
Chapter
The European Union has been a key crisis managment actor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mobilising a broad array of civilian and military instruments to support peace and stabilisation efforts. Human security precepts have framed much of the EU’s engagement in the DRC, although it has not been overtly articulated as such in EU discourse a...
Article
Almost twenty years on from the decade of voluntary repatriation, Jolien Tegenbos and Koen Vlassenroot explore how scholarly understanding of the process of ‘return’ has evolved and how it has largely been determined by policy priorities.
Article
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Ethiopia has experienced more than five major droughts in the past three decades, leading to high dependency on international food aids. Nevertheless, studies indicate that asset depletion has not been prevented; neither did food insecurity diminish. Since 2004/5, the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) has been implemented to improve food secur...
Chapter
This contribution analyses the role of taxation in the constitution of authority in the conflict-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a multitude of authorities alternately compete and collude over the right to extract resources. Taxation ranges from simple plunder, to protection rackets, to the material reciprocation of the recog...
Chapter
Full-text available
More than ten years after the official conclusion of the peace process, more armed groups are operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo than during the two Congo Wars (1996–1997, 1998–2003), their numbers showing a steady increase over the past few years. However, the nature of armed mobilization is changing. Currently emerging groups (whic...
Article
This contribution analyses the role of taxation in the constitution of authority in the conflict-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a multitude of authorities alternately compete and collude over the right to extract resources. Taxation ranges from simple plunder, to protection rackets, to the material reciprocation of the recog...
Research
Full-text available
There has been a slow, but growing awareness among external actors that some local non-state security actors should be involved in security governance in conflict-affected situations. Already in 2006, the OECD published a report that called for a 'multi-layered' approach to reforming actors and institutions that provide security and justice service...
Article
In this paper, we focus on insecurity perceptions in conflict-affected areas. We apply sociological theories on the determinants of perceived security risks and test hypotheses concerning theories on social and physical vulnerability, social disorder and social integration in the area where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has operated. We use data...
Article
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Key points • Current interventions in land conflicts are focused on conflict management rather than conflict resolution. • Land conflicts are part of a wider governance problem and need political rather than technical approaches. • Conflicts over land are related to wider conflict dynamics, which are the result of an interplay between struggles for...
Article
Full-text available
There has been a slow, but growing awareness among external actors that some local non-state security actors should be involved in security governance in conflict-affected situations. Already in 2006, the OECD published a report that called for a ‘multi-layered’ approach to reforming actors and institutions that provide security and justice service...
Article
Full-text available
The closely intertwined notions of territory, identity, and authority are at the heart of conflict dynamics in the eastern DR Congo. Focusing on the territorial aspirations of the Banyamulenge community in South Kivu, this article looks at the ways in which the nexus of territory, identity, and authority shapes and is shaped by armed mobilisation....
Article
The past two decades have witnessed growing concerns in policy circles about the role of natural resources in conflicts in the Global South. New frameworks of intervention have been designed with the aim of cutting the assumed links between armed groups and resources, and promoting transparent models of resource governance. This article argues that...
Article
The state of the Congolese state has been subject to a heated debate, with some arguing that it remains mostly irrelevant outside its capital or even that there is no such thing as Congo. Others contend that there is no lack of state order in Congo, but that this order is characterised by predatory rule and (privatised) extortion. This paper wants...
Article
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But the dominant understanding of the reasons behind Congo's war is not without critique. Different experts have raised their concerns about the too narrow scope on conflict dynamics in the DRC.
Article
This paper challenges traditional studies that explore border sites from a central or capital city perspective. Focusing on expressions of identity in the border city of Goma, it illustrates how the struggle for political, social and economic control affects local urban life and has broader implications for regional relationships and realities. The...
Book
Full-text available
This Usalama report by Koen Vlassenroot outlines the historical dynamics behind the armed movements in South Kivu, focusing on the period before and leading up to the First Congo War. The province of South Kivu has been at the heart of the conflict in the eastern DRC. Since the end of the Second Congo War (1998–2003), the province’s potential to ca...
Article
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Using an examination of three NGO interventions in post-conflict Burundi, this article questions community-based reconstruction as a mechanism to rebuild social capital after conflicts, particularly when direct livelihood support is provided. The authors demonstrate a general shortcoming of the methodology employed in community-based development (C...
Article
What are the links between natural resources and violent conflict? How do formal, informal, and ‘hybrid’ governance arrangements shape those links? What is the impact on the position of conflict-affected populations of these arrangements? This paper conducts a systematic review of the evidence base of peer-reviewed and ‘grey’ literature on resource...
Article
Land issues are an example of the larger argument about conflict layers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is need, however, to understand local as well a supra-local levels of dispute in a comprehensive analysis, not overlooking the interconnectedness and complexity between the different layers of dispute.
Article
The failure of food security and livelihood interventions to adapt to conflict settings remains a key challenge in humanitarian responses to protracted crises. This paper proposes a social capital analysis to address this policy gap, adding a political economy dimension on food security and conflict to the actor-based livelihood framework. A case s...
Article
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With more than 70 million views, KONY 2012 has achieved its aim of meeting a mass audience. But the film is a quintessentially American fable printed on an African canvas, one that will turn out to be a brief diversion, just a but of internet chatter.
Article
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This article provides a detailed analysis of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel movement that is operating from Congolese soil but so far has attracted very limited scholarly attention. Having its roots in Ugandan Islamic community, it has become part of larger transborder dynamics of rebellion and resistance. It is argued that alt...
Article
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This paper analyses how Ugandan army commanders have mobilised transborder economic networks to exploit economic opportunities in eastern DRC during the military intervention of the Ugandan People's Defence Force (UPDF) in Congo's wars (1996–97; 1998–2003). These transborder networks are the starting point of our evaluation of the informal politica...
Chapter
When naked Mayi-Mayi fighters temporarily took control of the border post between Goma (eastern Congo) and Gisenyi (northern Rwanda) in 1997, it was the first time they revealed themselves to the outside world. For most observers the images of these fighters were bitter proof that the eastern parts of Congo were descending further into anarchic vio...
Article
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Americans should not have been surprised by Obama's recent announcement that he would send a small number of troops to Uganda. This is only the latest chapter in a feeble, decades-long U.S. attempt to take out Joseph Kony and his militia.
Article
Contrary to widespread belief, the collapse of ‘government’ does not automatically entail the collapse of ‘governance’. In a setting of ‘unstable’ livelihoods, households’ coping strategies, coupled with the social entrepreneurship of non-state actors create new local, arguably more contentious, ‘governances’. In this setting, even if weakened, the...
Conference Paper
In order to assess the remarkable paradox of Goma’s dynamic development and transformation from a peripheral town into an important regional economic hub in a generalized context of state collapse and armed conflict, this article tackles the city as a zone of contestation and a centre of opportunity. The semi-autonomous development observed is stro...
Article
This paper examines the impact of the presence of international humanitarian organisations on local urban transformation processes in the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Rather than evaluating the direct effects of humanitarian interventions and strategies, it focuses on the indirect but profound effects of the presence of thi...
Article
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The Lord's Resistance Army is Africa's most extraordinarily persistent and notorious 'terrorist' group. Since their rebellion in northern Uganda began in 1987, the group is estimated to have abducted an estimated 30,000 children as well as committing a series of massacres and other horrific human rights abuses against the local population. Led by t...
Article
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War in the Democratic Republic of Congo has increasingly been explained as a means to get access to natural resources and as a strategy to get control over informal trading networks linking the DRC with global markets. In most of these accounts, the complexity of war economies is underestimated. One element that is often missing is that systems of...
Article
Full-text available
The protracted crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that lasted from 1996 till 2003 aggravated processes of land alienation and reduced market access. Field research conducted in 2005 in three eastern DRC areas shows that these processes made rural households increasingly vulnerable and deepened structural causes of food insecurity. House...
Article
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Article
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This innovative paper from the Crisis States Research Centre challenges traditional studies that explore sites located on borders from a central or capital city perspective. Focusing on processes and expressions of identity in the city of Goma, (capital of the North Kivu's, DRCongo), this paper illustrates how the struggle for political, social and...
Article
Full-text available
It has been said repeatedly: the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) remains only a shadow of its former self, a typical case of state failure and collapse. Closer observation suggests a different image, however: not only has this country demonstrated “a remarkable propensity for resilience” (Englebert, 2003), its administration and regul...
Article
Full-text available
This article introduces a collection of papers that treat the question of governance in conditions of protracted crises in Subsahara Africa. Contrary to the widespread belief that African conflicts are little more than (undoubtedly complex and intractable) instances of anarchy and chaos, the authors present the reader with tangible evidence of the...

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