Current thinking on African conflicts suffers from misinterpretations (oversimplification, lack of focus, lack of conceptual clarity, state-centrism and lack of vision). The paper analyses a variety of the dominant explanations of major international actors and donors, showing how these frequently do not distinguish with sufficient clarity between the 'root causes' of a conflict, its aggravating factors and its triggers. Specifically, a correct assessment of conflict prolonging (or sustaining) factors is of vital importance in Africa's lingering confrontations. Broader approaches (e.g. "structural stability") offer a better analytical framework than familiar one-dimensional explanations. Moreover, for explaining and dealing with violent conflicts a shift of attention from the nation-state towards the local and sub-regional level is needed.
Sub-Saharan Africa Conflict Prevention Conflict Factors Root causes Conflict Prolonging Factors Escalation Patterns Peace Order Structural Stability