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Dr Tinashe Jakwa

‘The state’ as a securitising concept: Statist norms and crisis in the Congo

I recently completed my PhD Candidature in Political Science and International Relations, and was awarded my qualification in June 2021. My project examined the factors that contribute to the failure of intergovernmental organisations to yield positive peace and security outcomes in their operational contexts. Specifically, it examined the sets of assumptions and conceptual frameworks the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DR Congo and the Southern African Development Community rely upon in their work and how they impact the efficacy of both organisations’ peace efforts.

I developed a novel analytical framework that reconceptualised and critiqued key concepts in my discipline and in the practice of international relations such as ‘the state’ and ‘fragile/weak states’, demonstrating the ways in which they undermine the efficacy of peace programming and providing recommendations for how to improve practices of peacebuilding and peace-making. I interviewed personnel of both organisations as part of my research fieldwork and I was able to carry out my project because of the strong supervision I had in Dr David Mickler, the Director of Australia’s very first Africa-focused research centre, the Africa Research & Engagement Centre (AfREC).

Dr Mickler has successfully built a leading and internationally recognised research centre that actively and globally engages with community, government, industry, not-for-profit, and intergovernmental stakeholders. This work has been undertaken in a national policy and higher education context where Africa-focused research is undervalued. It has attracted many students to UWA, including international postgraduate students. Consequently, UWA is now Australia’s leading higher education institution for Africa-focused research. If the restructuring proposal is approved, it will be impossible for researchers to continue this grossly under-funded work, and the university and Australia will lose extremely valuable intellectual capital.