Seminar: Stability and Security in Africa: The Role of Hard and Soft Power
Defining power is complex and ambiguous but understanding its elements and implications on
national and foreign policies remains central to the study of international relations. Both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ powers are employed to pursue political and strategic goals through military, economic, diplomatic and others ways of conquering hearts and minds, to create convincing incentives and exercise influence.
Introduced in 1990, the notion of soft power refers to a country’s ability to spread its influence and effectively persuade without the use of coercion and traditional force. However, while on the aftermath of the Cold War this concept exclusively referred to the cultural and economic force of persuasion of the United States in the international scene, currently, the use of soft power is no longer specific to US foreign diplomacy. In fact, emerging powers such as China and India are also using their soft power resources including investments, foreign aid and cultural products to bring forward their national interests and strategic goals abroad.
The use of military, economic or diplomatic tools to leverage diplomatic efforts continues to represent a perennial issue in the field of international relations. The dichotomy between hard and soft power has also been revisited and questioned as some argue that a “grey” area exists where both means are used by states to defend in their interest. The growth of violent extremism and the challenge this represents to the existing international order has also called for an inclusive and comprehensive approach that brings together hard and soft power tools. These mechanisms have been increasingly taken into account within the African continent, where policy makers do not only count on the effect traditional power can have in ending crises and conflicts.
The promotion of good governance practices, stronger economic cooperation and the availability of alternative narratives to the extremist discourse combined with relevant diplomatic tools to promote social justice and equality, quality education, better infrastructure, social empowerment and fair job opportunities for the youth is often going hand in hand with military means in order to find sustainable and effective solutions to security threats and conflicts. In addition, food also, has the potential to become a dominant political issue worldwide and mostly in Africa where the population is set to double by 2050.
The OCP Policy Center in partnership with Al Akhawayn University are organizing a seminar during which they invite the selected participants to the call for paper on “Stability and Security in Africa: the Role of Hard and Soft Power” to present the content of their research papers. The seminar will allow participants to discuss the structure and outcome of their research with the members of the scientific committee and the audience ahead of the final selection round.
For more information about this seminar, please send your questions to the following email address: email@example.com.