The study examined the relationship between mass uprisings and insurgencies and the impact of international involvement on escalation of mass uprisings into an insurgency. The research used the insurgencies of the LRA (Uganda); RUF (Sierra Leone), Boko Haram (Nigeria) and Al-Shabaab (Somalia) as well as the mass uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as case studies.
The study established that insurgencies in Africa that relied primarily on terrorism and violence explain criminal rather than political violence. While the mass uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya revealed normal patterns of conflict, it was established that the case of Libya was a hybrid of mass uprising and insurgent methods that leaned towards a description of a new category of insurgency.
The study further confirmed that internal conditions in a state and the nature of international involvement define the outcomes of a mass uprising or an insurgency in terms of escalation, duration and termination. The comprehensive humanitarian interventions in the insurgencies of the LRA, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and the R2P intervention in Libya escalated violence and conflict continuation. In contrast, the limited involvement in the mass uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt resulted in low levels of violence, while the intervention in Sierra Leone terminated the RUF insurgency in view of the associated DDR and institutional building programmes. The study recommends that since humanitarian and military interventions invariably escalate violence and increased fatalities, interventions to end conflicts (mass uprisings and insurgencies) must be based an incremental use of force as a complement to peaceful negotiations.