Inaugural Lecture- Steve William Tonah

Prof Steve Tonah is a member of the Inter-faculty working group at the Centre for Migration Studies. He gave his inaugural lecture on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at the Great Hall, University of Ghana. He gave a lecture on the topic: The State, Chiefs and Civil Society: A Trilateral Configuration on the Management of Social Conflicts in Ghana.  After his presentation he was presented with numerous bouquets of flowers and parcels from many departments and centres as well as his family.

Abstract of his presentation is below
Although social groups generally seek to achieve consensus and harmony, conflict is inevitable and is always present in all human societies. Ghana has had its fair share of social conflicts. Whilst many of the conflicts are resolved peacefully, quite a number of them have remained intractable, defying several attempts at a resolution.
In this lecture, I examine some of Ghana’s most intractable social conflicts from theoretical and empirical perspective using illustrations from more than three decades of research into the phenomenon.  I focus mainly on ethnic/communal, farmer-herder, land and chieftaincy conflicts that have remained protracted, examine the role of the key players involved, explain why attempts at resolving these conflicts have proven futile and provide some suggestions on how to resolve, or rather, manage social conflicts in Ghana.
The state and its agencies have for a long time been seen as primarily responsible for the maintenance of social peace and the resolution and management of social conflicts. Traditional and religious leaders such as chiefs and priests have also complemented the efforts of the state, particularly in the rural communities. However, in recent times, with the proliferation on intra-state conflicts, the limit is the ability to resolve many of the social conflicts have become evident. In some instances, the state and traditional leaders are themselves the sources of these conflicts or are deeply entangled in them.
This lecture examines the strengths and limitations of the Ghana state and agencies as well as those of traditional and religious leaders in the management of intractable social conflicts and argues that with the increasing preponderance of asymmetrical conflicts, the state would have to collaborate closely with the civil society groups and independent conflict management experts to effectively manage such intractable social conflicts in the country.
Furthermore, I argue that while there cannot be a one-sized-fits-all recommendations and hence the need for some flexibility in dealing with Ghana’s intractable social conflicts, the absence of a clear and coherent state policy and the prevarication of successive governments have been largely responsible for the often intransigent posture of the conflict parties.