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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Peace and Security - 2005-2006

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Jan 23, 2005  Sudan: United Nations Update
    Can the spirit of the peace agreement signed in Nairobi early this month for southern Sudan give momentum to peace in Darfur as well? Or will it be used as a cover for continued and even escalated conflict there? Even the optimists in the international community, eager to use carrots rather than sticks to pressure the Sudanese government, admit that either outcome is possible. Pessimists say that only sanctions or the credible threat of sanctions will force Khartoum to keep its word on the south and act on Darfur as well.

Feb 3, 2005  Sudan: Darfur Report
    "Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity." - International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur

Feb 15, 2005  Africa: Tsunami Side-Effects
    Donations to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) operations in Africa dropped by 21 percent in January 2005 compared to the first month of 2004. Warning of an apparent 'tsunami effect' rippling across Africa, WFP executive director James Morris called for new efforts to counter donor neglect of urgent humanitarian needs on the continent.

Mar 25, 2005  Sudan: More Delay on Darfur
    On March 24, the United Nations Security Council approved a peacekeeping mission of more than 10,000 personnel to help implement the peace agreement in southern Sudan. But it postponed action on measures that have been proposed to deter ongoing killing and displacement in Darfur, in western Sudan. The resolution mentioned strengthening the African Union mission in Darfur, but made no specific commitments to do so. Other measures are still blocked by U.S. opposition to referring Darfur to the International Criminal Court, and by Russian and Chinese hostility to any new sanctions.

Apr 4, 2005  Congo (Kinshasa): Peacekeeping Steps
    As the United Nations Security Council last week approved another six-month extension for the peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo linked to the 1994 genocide declared their willingness to disarm and enter a UN plan for repatriation. And militia in Ituri district in northeastern Congo continued to enter UN camps for demobilization, while the commander of the UN force in the Congo said that those who did not disarm voluntarily would be disarmed by force.

Apr 8, 2005  Mozambique: Tree of Life
    The Tree of Life, a half-tonne sculpture made entirely of weapons reclaimed after Mozambique's long post-independence war, is among the major features in a year-long series of exhibits and events in the UK highlighting African culture and art. A project called Transforming Arms into Tools, which has collected more than 600,000 weapons in nine years, gets people to hand in old guns in exchange for goods such as sewing machines, building materials and tools. These weapons are then chopped up and used to build works of art.

Apr 27, 2005  Sudan: Promises and Plans
    "Time is running out for the people of Sudan. We need pledges immediately converted into cash and more protection forces in Darfur to prevent yet more death and suffering. If we fail in Sudan, the consequences of our actions will haunt us for years to come." - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan

Apr 30, 2005  Africa: Security Council Expansion
    Debate is heating up on expansion of the United Nations Security Council to 24 members. Under one of two options proposed by a highlevel panel on UN reform in December and by Secretary General Kofi Annan last month, there would be six new permanent seats, two for Africa. The proposals are to be discussed this year, but disputes over details mean that further delays are very likely.

May 15, 2005  Africa: Discrimination in Humanitarian Response
    "Let us agree on one fundamental issue. A human life has the same value wherever he or she is born. There should be the same attention to northern Uganda as to northern Iraq, the same attention to the Congo as there was to Kosovo, and that is not the case today." - Jan Egeland, United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs

Jun 3, 2005  Congo (Kinshasa): Gold and Violence
    "The lure of gold has fueled massive human rights atrocities in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published [on June 2]. Local warlords and international companies are among those benefitting from access to gold rich areas while local people suffer from ethnic slaughter, torture and rape." - Human Rights Watch, releasing new report "The Curse of Gold"

Jul 1, 2005  Africa: Polls and Policy
    The Program on International Policy Attitudes has released new poll data, from the United States and from eight African countries, showing wide public support for stronger international action to confront African problems, including United Nations intervention to stop "severe human rights violations such as genocide" and fulfillment of the pledge by rich countries to spend 0.7% of national income to combat world poverty.

Jul 19, 2005  Sudan: Peace Steps, Peace Gaps
    This month Sudan has taken several new steps towards peace: a new government of national unity in Khartoum, a new declaration of principles agreed between Khartoum and rebels in Darfur on future negotiations, and arrival of additional contingents of African Union peacekeeping troops for Darfur. But even the force of 7,700 expected to be in place by the end of September is widely agreed to be insufficient to protect civilians in most of Darfur.

Oct 5 2005  Sudan: "Deteriorating Situation in Darfur"
    "In the light of our experience in the past fourteen months we must conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties. ... we find it utterly incomprehensible that the GOS [Government of Sudan] Forces which had hitherto not only shown restraint themselves, but used their considerable and known influence on the Arab/Armed militia to restrain them as well, suddenly decided to abandon such responsible behaviour and posture and resorted to the violent destructive and overwhelming use of force not only against the rebel forces, but also on innocent civilian villages and the IDP camps." - Baba Gana Kingibe, African Union Special Representative

Oct 10, 2005  Liberia: Elections Necessary, Not Enough
    With frontrunners including soccer star George Weah and experienced international official and banker Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberians are set to choose among 22 candidates for president as well as new legislators. "This country has to finish with war," a shopkeeper in Monrovia told a New York Times reporter as the election approached. Despite hopes for a new start, however, both Liberians and international observers are well aware that much more is needed beyond elections.

Oct 31, 2005  Uganda: Calls for Peace, Justice
    The International Criminal Court has issued its first arrest warrants ever, against the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. The group has conducted a systematic campaign of terror for almost two decades in a conflict that has gained relatively little international attention. But observers disagree on whether the indictments will help or hinder the search for peace as well as for justice.

Nov 6, 2005  Horn of Africa: War Clouds Gathering
    The commander of the UN force on the disputed border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Maj-Gen. Rajender Singh, last week described the situation as "tense and potentially volatile," the strongest language used by UN Mission officials in the five years the force has been in place. When pressed by a journalist to be more explicit, General Singh stressed that urgent action was needed by the Security Council to avoid the threat of a return to war.

Dec 4, 2005  Congo (Kinshasa): Peace or Stalemate
    The Democratic Republic of the Congo is preparing for a referendum on an new constitution on December 18, part of a long peace process scheduled to lead to an elected government by June of next year. Nevertheless, the transition to peace and stability in the country is precarious. According to the International Crisis Group, "Reunification has been plagued by government corruption and mismanagement, failure to reform the security sector, the ongoing threat of the Rwandan Hutu insurgency FDLR based in the eastern Congo, and a weak UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) that is not adequately protecting civilians."

Dec 21, 2005  Rwanda: "Peace Cannot Stay in Small Places"
    "Peace cannot stay in small places," said Ndagijimama Abdon, an elder Gacaca judge in Gisenyi, "it is good when peace reaches everywhere." The Alternatives to Violence project of the Rwanda Friends Peace House focuses on workshops for judges in the local Gacaca process dealing with lower-level genocide perpetrators. One key issue, as this participant told evaluators, is how such small-scale projects can have a wider impact.

Dec 21, 2005  Rwanda: Gift for Life
    In Rwanda, as around the African continent, people's lives depend not only on governments and on global policymaking, but most directly on their own efforts and those of countless small organizations that make it their business to provide help for survival and finding new ways to rebuild lives and communities. One such effort, focusing on genocide survivors in Rwanda living not only with the aftermath of rape but also with HIV/AIDS, is Gift for Life, a campaign initiated by African Rights in Rwanda.

Jan 16, 2006  Africa: From Rwanda to Darfur
    In Rwanda, says Gerald Caplan in an analysis of "lessons learned" from Rwanda to Darfur, the international community excused its failure to respond by hesitation to apply the term genocide. When the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration in 2004 declared the slaughter in Darfur to be "genocide," therefore, many expected that this would be a signal that the international community would take effective action. Unfortunately, Caplan concludes, that expectation was false.

Jan 16, 2006  Sudan: African Union on the Spot
    "The African Union should not reward the sponsors of crimes against humanity," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. "How can the African Union be seen as a credible mediator in Darfur if one of the warring parties hosts its summit and becomes the head of the organisation as well?

Mar 19, 2006  Liberia: Johnson Sirleaf in New York, Washington
    "Listening to the hopes and dreams of our people, I recall the words of a Mozambican poet who said, 'Our dream has the size of freedom.' My people, like your people, believe deeply in freedom - and, in their dreams, they reach for the heavens. ... I ran for president because I am determined to see good governance in Liberia in my lifetime. But I also ran because I am the mother of four, and I wanted to see our children smile again." - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking to the U.S. Congress, March 15, 2006

Mar 23, 2006  Africa: Arms Embargoes
    UN arms embargoes are systematically violated and must be urgently strengthened if they are to stop weapons fueling human rights abuses, according to a report presented to the UN Security Council last week. According to the Control Arms Campaign every one of the 13 UN arms embargoes imposed in the last decade has been repeatedly violated. And despite hundreds of embargo breakers being named in UN reports, only a handful have been successfully prosecuted.

Mar 27, 2006  Sudan: More Resolutions - Actions Delayed
    "The international strategy for dealing with the Darfur crisis primarily through the small (7,000 troops) African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is at a dead end. ... the international community is backing away from meaningful action. ... If the tragedy of the past three years is not to be compounded, the AU and its partners must address the growing regional crisis by getting more troops with greater mobility and firepower on the ground at once and rapidly transforming AMIS into a larger, stronger UN peacekeeping mission with a robust mandate focused on civilian protection." - International Crisis Group, March 16, 2005

Apr 20, 2006  Uganda: The Costs of War
    "Since 1986 northern Uganda has been trapped in a deadly cycle of violence and suffering. After 20 years the war shows no real signs of abating, and every day it goes on it exacts a greater toll from the women, men, and children affected by the crisis. ... The Lord's Resistance Army, the Government of Uganda, and the international community must act ... without delay ... to secure a just and lasting peace." - Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda

May 4, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): Elections and More
    The first round of presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now scheduled for July 30, after repeated delays. South Africa is taking responsibility for producing the ballot papers, while the European Union will send over 1,000 troops to aid United Nations forces in maintaining security during the elections. The elections, observers stress, are only one of the essential steps for consolidating peace in the country.

May 15, 2006  Sudan: Opportunity for Peace
    "This is the triumph of Africa doing what it should be doing with the support of the international community. [but unless there is] the right spirit, the right attitude and the right disposition, this document will not be worth the paper it is written on." - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, commenting on signature of peace agreement on Darfur

Jun 19, 2006  Somalia: Renewing Diplomacy
    After several months of escalated fighting in Mogadishu prompted by U.S. covert funding for a warlord alliance against Islamic militia, a victory for the militia has led to unaccustomed calm. After a heated internal debate, U.S. policy has shifted to support of multilateral diplomacy. But the threat of renewed violence comes both from multiple internal divisions and the risk that even multilaterally decided external involvement could accentuate rather than relieve internal divisions.

Jul 23, 2006  Sudan: Darfur Peace Agreement Detailed
    The real problem with the Darfur Peace Agreement, contends one of the advisors to the negotiations, is not its detailed provisions, which are both substantive and the result of significant input even from factions that eventually refused to sign. It is the lack of will to implement the accord, whether on the part of the government of Sudan, the rebels in Darfur, or the international parties that must guarantee its implementation,

Jul 23, 2006  Sudan: Still Delaying on Darfur
    Despite wide consensus that the current African Union force is inadequate to stop the violence and ensure implementation of peace agreements in Darfur, there is no sign that the international community is willing to escalate pressure on Khartoum to accept its replacement by a stronger United Nations force, "The United Nation Security Council has threatened us so many times, we no longer take it seriously," a Sudanese official remarked early this month.

Jul 30, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): A New Beginning?
    In the best scenario, today's elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with more than 25 million voters, will demonstrate the will of the Congolese people for peace and the possibility of increased stability. In the worst case, the elections themselves may prove a stimulus for further violence. In any scenario, the fundamental issues of building a government that works and fighting poverty and corruption lie ahead.

Aug 13, 2006  Nigeria: Swamps of Insurgency
    "Over the past quarter century, unrest in the Niger Delta has slowly graduated into a guerrilla-style conflict that leaves hundreds dead each year. The battle lines are drawn over the region's crude oil and gas that make Nigeria the number one oil producer in Africa and the world's tenth largest crude oil producer." - International Crisis Group

Sep 6, 2006  Sudan: Diplomatic Denialism?
    "This is no way to run a peacekeeping operation. Morale is low, we cannot pay our troops and the [Sudanese] government makes sure we are unable to do our job." - Senior African Union official

Oct 11, 2006  Africa: "New News"
    "I am constantly confounded as to why American media don't find Africa an exciting place to report from and about. I think there's a perception that audience interest is limited. That's certainly not been true in my experience. ... I don't have a problem with reporting death, disease, disaster and despair, because all of the above exist. But that is not all there is to Africa." - Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Oct 31, 2006  Congo (Kinshasa): From Votes to Security?
    Voting went peacefully in presidential runoff elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 29. And both contenders have promised not to resort to force to contest the results. But there is still a significant threat of violence as the votes are counted.

Nov 30, 2006  Somalia: Getting It Wrong, Again
    "Unfortunately for Somalis, the United States and other members of the UN Security Council are taking actions that make war more likely, not less. The State Department wants to loosen a UN arms embargo and allow deployment of a regional peacekeeping force, a move that will be viewed as an act of war by the Council of Somali Islamic Courts. ... [the resolution] would bring the UN into the coming conflict on the side of Ethiopia and give a green light to Ethiopia's deployment in Somalia."

Dec 29, 2006  Sudan: Why Doesn't Bush Act on Darfur?
    "The crisis in Sudan's Darfur region is intensifying without a meaningful response from the White House [despite President Bush's promise not to allow genocide 'on his watch'] Perhaps Harvard professor Samantha Power's tongue-in-cheek theory is correct: The memo was inadvertently placed on top of the president's wristwatch, and he didn't want it to happen again. But if Bush's expressions of concern for the victims in Darfur are genuine, then why isn't his administration taking real action?" - John Prendergast

Dec 29, 2006  Sudan: Darfur Peace Talks Analysis
    "Military intervention won't stop the killing. Those who are clamouring for troops to fight their way into Darfur are suffering from a salvation delusion. It's a simple reality that UN troops can't stop an ongoing war ... Moreover, the idea of Bush and Blair acting as global moral arbiters doesn't travel well. The crisis in Darfur is political ... is a civil war, and like all wars it needs a political settlement." - Alex de Waal