Insurgency and national security: a perspective from Cameroon’s separatist conflict

Manu Lekunze* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the nature and factors associated with the onset of the conflict in Cameroon’s North West and South West regions to contribute to conceptual, theoretical and methodological debates in war/conflict studies. It used an explorative approach, examining the immediate political tensions prior to hostilities and major government policy areas. It shows that teachers’ and lawyers’ protests (beginning in 2016) and strategic miscalculations by the government and rebels are the immediate factors associated with the onset of the conflict. The underlying factors include greed, colonial heritage, a history of insurgencies, an internal geography conducive to group conflict and guerrilla warfare, poor macroeconomic performance, the ability to finance authoritarianism without relying on taxes, political decay, slow political development, a turbulent regional neighbourhood and unfavourable international relations. The results enable four main contributions to longstanding debates in war/conflict studies. First, an insurgency is a distinct type of war. Second, insurgencies occur due to several immediate and underlying factors unique to each case. Third, studying insurgencies requires a holistic approach, examining immediate and underlying factors. Finally, although rebel victory is impossible in an insurgency, multiple and widespread insurgencies can nullify the essence of a state, making insurgencies important national security threats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1173
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number6
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the T&F Agreement


  • war
  • insurgency
  • counterinsurgency
  • Anglophone problem
  • Cameroon
  • Africa


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