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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Peace and Security - 2003-2004

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Nov 12, 2003  Liberia: Peace Process Implementation
    Implementation of the latest peace agreement in Liberia is now at a critical stage. While the nation's capital Monrovia is generally calm, insecurity continues in much of the countryside. The chances of further enhancing stability and of advancing rapidly in reconstruction depend not only on Liberians, but also on regional and international commitments.

Nov 20, 2003  Africa: Humanitarian Double Standard
    "But let me be clear: the aid we give them is not charity, it is their right. ... donors and citizens who can help have not only a moral responsibility to provide emergency and life-sustaining assistance, but an obligation to do so under international humanitarian and human rights law." - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Nov 28, 2003  Sudan: Oil and Rights Abuses
    While diplomats say there are good chances of achieving a peace settlement in Sudan by the end of the year, fighting nevertheless continues in western Sudan, and the United Nations has appealed for $450 million to support some 3.5 million displaced Sudanese. Human Rights Watch has just released an extensive new report documenting the complicity of oil companies with human rights abuses in Sudan, and warning that disputes over oil revenue have the potential to further prolong the conflict.

Dec 7, 2003  Zimbabwe: Civil Society Voices
    A six-nation panel including Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Mozambique, and South Africa today recommended continued suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, until the government of Zimbabwe meets minimal conditions indicating willingness to dialogue with internal opponents. News coverage of this issue has focused on the divergent views of governments, particularly the reluctance of some African states to maintain the suspension of Zimbabwe. The simplistic image of a split between Europe and Africa, however, ignores the widespread consensus in civil society in Zimbabwe and the region in favor of continued pressure.

Dec 18, 2003  Nigeria: Oil and Violence
    Delta State produces 40 percent of Nigeria's two million barrels a day of crude oil and is supposed to receive 13 percent of the revenue from production in the state, notes Human Rights Watch in a new report. Conflict over oil revenue lies at the root of ongoing violence, particularly in the key city of Warri. "Efforts to halt the violence and end the civilian suffering that has accompanied it must therefore include steps both to improve government accountability and to end the theft of oil."

Jan 11, 2004  Congo (Kinshasa): Peace & Transition
    "While significant progress has been achieved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ... the tangible benefits of peace have not yet filtered down to the war-weary Congolese population. Socioeconomic conditions remain dire throughout the country ... A key condition for success in national reconciliation will be a true partnership between the former belligerents in managing the transition."

Jan 22, 2004  Africa: Davos Report Card
    In his New Year's message for 2004, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, referring to HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other global issues, concluded: "We don't need any more promises. We need to start keeping the promises we already made." A report card prepared for the World Economic Forum now meeting in Davos, Switzerland has concluded that the international community is putting in barely one-third of the effort needed to achieve internationally agreed goals.

Jan 27, 2004  Horn of Africa: No War, No Peace
    Implementation of the peace process that was to resolve the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains stalled. The failure to move forward, as governments in both countries use the conflict for political advantage, is increasing the risk of return to war. Such a development would not only be a disaster for the two countries, but also a major setback to the peacemaking momentum in the region and other conflict zones on the continent.

Jan 31, 2004  Africa: Peacekeeping Trends, 1
    "The rising demand for UN peace operations risks overstretching not only our capacity to manage such missions, but also the resources that Member States are able or willing to make available. ... there is a manifest imbalance between the 30,000 NATO peacekeepers deployed in tiny Kosovo and the 10,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in Congo, which is the size of Western Europe." - UN Deputry Secretary-General Louise Frechette.

Jan 31, 2004  Africa: Peacekeeping Trends, 2
    "After so many years of destruction, something new is happening, at last. The killing has largely stopped. ... One point to note in all this: the peace processes are mostly home-grown" - Jean-Marie Guehenno, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations.

Mar 6, 2004  Sudan: Peace, No Peace
    As peace talks continue in Kenya between the Sudanese government and its principal opponent, the SPLM/A, the prospects of securing a sustainable peace are increasingly threatened by other issues not on the table in this process. These include intense fighting in Darfur in western Sudan and unresolved questions of democratic participation throughout the country. The humanitarian crisis of as many as one million people displaced in Darfur and across the border in Chad, is currently rated among the worst in the world.

Mar 31, 2004  Rwanda/UN: Acknowledging Failure
    "Some 2,000 personnel from several countries, including France, United Kingdom, United States and Italy, had come to evacuate their expatriates and though they were stumbling on corpses, they remained firm in totally ignoring the catastrophe." - retired General Romeo Dallaire, former commander, UN mission in Rwanda.

Mar 31, 2004  Rwanda/USA: "The System Worked"
    "In a sense, the system worked: Diplomats, intelligence agencies, defense and military officials--even aid workers--provided timely information up the chain to President Clinton and his top advisors. That the Clinton Administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda." - William Ferroggiaro, National Security Archive Fellow

Apr 7, 2004  Sudan: Action on Darfur?
    "American officials should not focus on whether the killings [in Darfur, Sudan] meet the definition of genocide ... they should focus instead on trying to stop them" - Samantha Powers, New York Times, April 6, 2004. Despite increasing attention from the media and international community, however, there are so far few indications that this will be sufficient to spark a meaningful international response.

Apr 30, 2004  Africa: Tragedy and Hope
    "Africa eludes us; it is so clearly outlined on the map, and yet so difficult to define. From afar, Westerners have long fancied it to be divided into 'black' and 'white,' in the image of their own societies, and yet observant visitors are more likely to be struck by Africa's diversity, and by the absence of any sharp dividing lines."

May 10, 2004  Sudan: More Reports, Little Action
    The United Nations Security Council met on Friday in private session and heard a report from the UN Commissioner for Human Rights documenting a "scorched earth policy" and "repeated crimes against humanity" by Sudanese militia and troops in Darfur, western Sudan. But they failed to take any collective action other than pledging to "monitor developments."

May 27, 2004  Eritrea: Human Rights
    Releasing its annual human rights report this week, Amnesty International charged that the U.S.-led "war on terror" has contributed to sacrificing human rights and turning a blind eye to abuses, without enhancing security. Among the African governments that has most enthusiastically embraced the anti-terror rationale is Eritrea, the subject of a new Amnesty International report released to coincide with the country's 13th anniversary of independence on May 24.

Jun 4, 2004  Sudan: Late Response, Limited Focus
    "We admit we are late - some agencies have been so slow, some donors have been so slow, the government restrictions have been so many." - Jan Egeland UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

Jun 10, 2004  USA/Africa: Peacekeeping Repackaged
    The United Nations last week approved a $2.8 billion budget for 11 peacekeeping missions for 2004-2005. New peacekeeping missions, including in Sudan, could increase this figure to as much as $4.5 billion. As of the end of April, however, member states owed $1.3 billion in arrears on their peacekeeping assessments. This included $480 million in arrears owed by the United States. The U.S. supplies just over one percent of the 53,000 military personnel involved in UN peacekeeping missions.

Jun 18, 2004  Sudan: Justice Africa Analysis
    As overwhelming evidence of atrocities in Sudan continues to emerge, there are new calls for action to stop the genocide. This issue of AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from a mid-May briefing by Justice Africa focusing on key elements needed to inform such action. These include identifying the political forces within the Sudanese government responsible for directing the violence.

Jul 22, 2004  Sudan: Questions of Responsibility
    "There has been a great deal of tough talk since the visits of Mr. Powell, Mr. Annan and others, but the UN Security Council so far has failed to act decisively [on Darfur]. It is time to move directly against regime officials who are responsible for the killing." - John Prendergast, New York Times, July 15, 2004

Aug 5, 2004  Côte d'Ivoire: Peacekeeping Continued
    West African leaders and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a late July summit in Accra, Ghana, won an unexpected new agreement from Ivorian leaders for a timetable to implement the peace settlement signed in January 2003. Some 3,500 UN peacekeeping troops, out of an authorized strength of 6,240, are in the country, with the largest contingents from Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. But the country is still divided, and it is clear that meeting the new timetable for disarmament and new election procedures will depend on continuing pressure on Ivorian leaders.

Aug 14, 2004  Zimbabwe: Test for African Responsibility
    "The Zimbabwean situation of starvation and malnutrition, willful political violence and intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by the Zimbabwean government demands stronger and transparent intervention by African governments through the AU [African Union]" - Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC)

Sep 12, 2004  Sudan: Darfur and Beyond
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement last week that the Sudanese government and its proxy militias have indeed committed genocide in Darfur caught media attention and incrementally increased the pressure on the Khartoum regime to rein in the violence. However, the Secretary of State also noted that the determination in itself dictated no new action by Washington. The political will of the international community to increase pressure remains in doubt. How best to focus such pressure is also under debate.

Sep 30, 2004  Uganda: Children, War, and Peace
    Optimism about prospects for peace in northern Uganda is growing. Recent news reports cite increased desertions from the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and some reduction in the number of displaced people. Nevertheless, making peace is no simple task. The population is traumatized by continuing violence, and HIV/AIDS rates in the conflict areas are almost double the national average.

Oct 21, 2004  Angola: From War to Social Justice?
    "Negative peace (cessation of hostilities) is far preferable to no peace at all but it ... leaves deficits and injustices in the social, political and economic structures, institutions and cultures largely unresolved. It fails to promote political negotiation and democratic processes." - Conciliation Resources briefing paper

Oct 24, 2004  Sudan: Peacekeeping without Peace?
    Last week's decision to expand the contingent of Africa Union peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region to more than 3,000 is the most substantial step yet towards an international presence that could deter continuing violence against civilians by government-sponsored militia. This measure is seen by almost all commentators as a necessary if not sufficient response to the crisis. Like the increased international humanitarian aid that has arrived in Darfur in recent months, however, it is unlikely to have more than a modest impact without simultaneous new advances on stalled peace negotiations.

Oct 31, 2004  Sierra Leone: Truth and Reconciliation Report
    The Sierra Leone and Reconciliation Commission issued its final report last week at the United Nations, culminating over two years of hearings of testimony from witnesses including large numbers of children who had been victimized by the 11 years of conflict between 1991 and 2002. The launch gave special prominence to a "child-friendly" edition of the report, the result of a process in which children themselves participated not only in providing testimony but also in the writing and editing process.

Nov 16, 2004  West Africa: Humanitarian Appeal
    The United Nations last week launched its humanitarian appeal for 2005, stressing "forgotten crises" and warning of the consequences of a global downturn in humanitarian funding. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland mentioned particularly Northern Uganda, because of the scale of the crisis, and Cote d'Ivoire, for which by this month the UN had received only 18% of its 2004 appeal.

Nov 16, 2004  Côte d'Ivoire: Containing the Crisis?
    The UN Security Council on November 15 voted to impose an arms embargo on all parties in Cote d'Ivoire. The measure was strongly supported by African leaders who fear not only new violence in the West African country, but also setbacks for peace in the surrounding region. Few observers have any confidence in the potential for France to promote reconciliation in its former colony. But even fewer believe that Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is willing to abandon the effort to crush his opponents by force, including recourse to hate appeals targeting not only the French but also the rebels and other West Africans.

Nov 22, 2004  Sudan: Credibility Gap
    At a high-profile United Nations Security Council meeting in Nairobi last week, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army pledged to complete their agreement for peace in southern Sudan by December 31. If successful, diplomats claimed, the agreement could provide a model for ending the violence in Darfur as well. But the Council failed to impose any sanctions on the Sudanese government for blatant continuing violence in Darfur, despite the presence of monitors from the Africa Union.

Dec 9, 2004  Africa: Laying Landmines to Rest?
    At the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World, held in the Kenyan capital from November 27 to December 3 to review the Ottawa Convention to Ban Landmines, Ethiopia became the 144th country to ratify the treaty. In addition to the signatories, the summit was also attended by 23 states that have not signed the treaty, including China, Cuba, India, and Egypt. The United States did not attend.

Dec 12, 2004  Liberia-Sierra Leone: Consolidating Peace?
    "The [multilateral] interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone are failing to produce states that will be stable and capable of exercising the full range of sovereign responsibilities on behalf of their long-suffering populations. This is essentially because they treat peacebuilding as implementing an operational checklist, involving [quick] fixes to various institutions and processes" - International Crisis Group

Dec 19, 2004  Congo (Kinshasa): Back to the Brink
    "In Iraq ...the 2003 aid budget was $3.5 billion or $138 per person. ... In spite of [the Democratic Republic of] Congo's rank as the deadliest recorded conflict since World War II, the world's humanitarian response in 2004 was a total of $188 million in aid or a scant $3.23 per person." - International Rescue Committee