news analysis advocacy
tips on searching
   the web  


AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Peace and Security - 2007-2008

Select another time period: All Years|2003-2004|2005-2006|2009-2010|2011-2012

Jan 16, 2007  USA/Africa: Constructing a Terror Front
    "Notwithstanding the lack of evidence, Washington saw a Saharan Front as the linchpin for the militarization of Africa, greater access to its oil resources (Africa will supply 25% of U.S. hydrocarbons by 2015), and the sustained involvement of Europe in America's counterterrorism program." - Jeremy Keenan

Jan 16, 2007  Somalia: Creating Another Iraq?
    While U.S. congressional debate focuses on the best way to withdraw from a failed war in Iraq, and President Bush plans for a surge in troops, U.S. policymakers seem determined to replicate the Iraq experience in Somalia. If that outcome is averted, it will be due not to better U.S. planning or strategy, but to the Somali desire for peace and to diplomatic efforts that U.S. action has made more difficult.

Feb 18, 2007  Guinea (Conakry): State of Siege
    Army violence against civilians has escalated after declaration of a state of siege in Guinea (Conakry) on February 12, despite condemnation of the move by leaders of the West African regional organization ECOWAS and the African Union, as well as local and international non-governmental organizations. Fears are mounting that the violence may not only undermine hopes of change in Guinea itself, but also fuel further conflict in Guinea's neighbors.

Apr 9, 2007  Somalia: Escalation and Human Rights Abuses
    More than 100,000 Somalis have fled fighting in the capital area in the last two months, according to UN reports. As many as 400 civilians were killed in the most recent attacks by Ethiopian and Somali government troops on areas said to house insurgents, and a European Union observer has warned that "war crimes" may have been committed.

Apr 22, 2007  Sudan: Walking Loudly, Carrying a Toothpick
    "The UN Security Council, the EU, and the Bush administration are expert at threatening to punish those who commit atrocities and obstruct peace-building efforts, but equally skilled at not following through. It's business as usual in Sudan. For the U.S. in particular, instead of walking softly and carrying a big stick, the Bush administration has been walking loudly and carrying a toothpick." - John Prendergast

Apr 22, 2007  Sudan: International Media Ignore Sudanese Voices
    The janjaweed militiamen are used "by a racist regime that is in many respects worse than the apartheid regime in South Africa, which at least had the dignity not to employ rape as a tactic of suppression." Did this scathing remark appear in the New York Times or Le Nouvel Observateur, two newspapers known for criticising the Sudanese government? No, surprising as it may seem, it was made in an editorial in the Citizen, a Khartoum daily, on 18 March. And there was no angry reaction from the government. - Reporters without Borders

Jun 12, 2007  Africa: Global Peace Index
    A new Global Peace Index, researched by the Economist Intelligence Unit and based on 24 indicators of both international and domestic "peacefulness," includes 121 countries, 21 of them in Africa, for which data was available. The United States ranked 96th, between Yemen and Iran, while South Africa ranked 99th, between Honduras and the Philippines.

Jun 24, 2007  Somalia: Blind Alley, Mounting Casualties
    "The current western-backed Ethiopian approach to Somalia will lead to a mountain of civilian deaths and a litany of abuses. ... Washington, London and Brussels are in a blind alley in Somalia. They should rethink a policy which is encouraging serious abuses, and come up with one which prioritizes the protection of civilians." - Tom Porteous, Human Right Watch, London

Aug 1, 2007  USA/Africa: Questioning AFRICOM, 1
    With the nomination in July of General William E. Ward as the first chief of the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the long-discussed new command took another step toward full operation, now scheduled for October 2008. But the controversy about what this military reorganization means for U.S. military involvement in Africa is just beginning.

Aug 1, 2007  USA/Africa: Questioning AFRICOM, 2
    "Like its predecessor, anti-communism, the GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) is a timeless, borderless geopolitical strategy whose presumptions lead to defining all conflicts, insurrections and civil wars as terrorist threats, regardless of the facts on the ground." Lubeck, Watts, and Lipschutz in report from Center for International Policy

Aug 10, 2007  China/Africa: Civil Society Meeting
    "In China, attitudes toward Darfur are evolving rapidly - so that instead of being part of the problem, it could play a significant role in the solution. ... China does not want to be perceived globally as a defender of authoritarian regimes that perpetrate or are oblivious to human suffering." - Gareth Evans and Donald Steinberg

Aug 22, 2007  Somalia: Shell-Shocked
    Based on dozens of eyewitness accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch in a six-week research mission to Kenya and Somalia in April and May 2007, plus subsequent interviews and research in June and July, this [Human Rights Watch] report documents the illegal means and methods of warfare used by all of the warring parties and the resulting catastrophic toll on civilians in Mogadishu.

Sep 14, 2007  Congo (Kinshasa): Averting the Nightmare Scenario
    "Between 1996 and 2002, the two massive wars fought in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were arguably the world's deadliest since World War II. With almost no international fanfare, Congo is on the brink of its third major war in the last decade, and almost nothing is being done to stop it." - Enough Project

Sep 23, 2007  Zimbabwe: Pan African Response
    "For anybody genuinely concerned about the future of Africa there can be no politics of convenience. To be sure, the Zimbabwean crisis is not the only crisis in Africa ... [But it] is arguably the only ongoing crisis in which one side (the incumbent government) and its supporters have mobilised African support and silenced many by asserting more or less that its critics are sympathisers, supporters or agents of foreign interests and former colonial masters. This has wrongly narrowed the framework of the debate on the Zimbabwean crisis." - Rotimi Sankore

Sep 23, 2007  Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution?
    "Six months before scheduled elections, Zimbabwe is closer than ever to complete collapse. ... An initiative launched by the regional intergovernmental organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to facilitate a negotiated political solution offers the only realistic chance to escape a crisis that increasingly threatens to destabilise the region. But SADC must resolve internal differences about how hard to press into retirement Robert Mugabe ... and the wider international community needs to give it full support." - International Crisis Group

Oct 30, 2007  South Africa: RIP Lucky Dube
    "The tragic death [of Lucky Dube] shocked reggae adherents across the continent. Since the news of his death was announced on Friday, his legion of fans in The Gambia and abroad, jammed radio stations and media houses, with calls expressing shock and dismay at the violent killing of their hero. ... [he sang] many crime related songs and has died by the crime that he helped to fight, through music." - Daily Observer, Banjul

Nov 15, 2007  Somalia: Journalists and Civilians under Attack
    The Ethiopian-backed Somali government has closed down three independent radio stations, a media crackdown that coincides with escalated fighting in Mogadishu and an estimated 173,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) newly fleeing from Mogadishu. Human rights and media rights groups in Somalia and around the world have condemned the assault on journalists.

Nov 15, 2007  Horn of Africa: Mixed Signals on Border Conflict
    The Security Council has called on Ethiopia and Eritrea to implement without delays or preconditions a 2002 border ruling, But observers warn that the conditions are ripe for a return to war. The U.S. voted for the resolution. But many critics say that the chances for war have been significantly increased by U.S. officials who have labeled Eritrea as a supporter of terrorism and failed to pressure Ethiopia to implement the binding arbitration decision of 2002.

Dec 13, 2007  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict, Displacement Escalate
    As fighting escalates between Congolese government troops and the dissident forces of General Laurent Nkunda, UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon has called attention to the "massive displacement of mistreatment of the population" in North Kivu. But UN forces have a complex mandate of both protecting civilians and aiding the Congolese army in reestablishing control.

Dec 13, 2007  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Background Analyses
    "North Kivu has been the epicentre of Congo's violence since the conflict began more than fifteen years ago. Now is the time to address this major gap in the Congolese transition and end a crisis which is producing immense suffering and continues to carry wider risks for Congo and its neighbours." - International Crisis Group

Jan 8, 2008  Africa: Talking about "Tribe"
    The Kenyan election, wrote Jeffrey Gettleman for the New York Times in his December 31 dispatch from Nairobi, "seems to have tapped into an atavistic vein of tribal tension that always lay beneath the surface in Kenya but until now had not provoked widespread mayhem." Gettleman was not exceptional among those covering the post-election violence in his stress on "tribe." But his terminology was unusually explicit in revealing the assumption that such divisions are rooted in unchanging and presumably primitive identities.

[Update January 17, 2008: Since this Bulletin was written last week, Gettleman's coverage of Kenya in the New York Times has avoided the indiscriminate use of the word tribe in favor of "ethnic group," and has noted the historical origins and political character of the continued violence in the country, as well as its links to ethnic divisions. Thanks to those AfricaFocus readers and others who contacted the New York Times about its coverage.]

Jan 8, 2008  Kenya: Causes and Solutions
    "It is the Kenyan People Who Have Lost the Election," headlined Pambazuka News in its special Kenya election edition on January 3. "But the real tragedy of Kenya," the editorial continued, is that the political conflict is not about alternative political programmes that could address ... landlessness, low wages, unemployment, lack of shelter, inadequate incomes, homelessness, etc. ... [instead] it boils down to a fight over who has access to the honey pot that is the state. ...[citizens] are reduced to being just being fodder for the pigs fighting over the trough."

Feb 1, 2008  Kenya: More Pressure Needed to Stop Violence
    "The deep frustrations that are felt on all sides of the Kenyan divide are understandable. There is no doubt that much more work remains to be done for Kenya to become a more equitable and democratic society. But Kenya has come too far to throw away decades of progress in a storm of violence and political unrest. We must not look back years from now and wonder how and why things were permitted to go so horribly wrong.- Senator Barack Obama, on Kenyan radio, January 29, 2008

Feb 13, 2008  Chad: Civilians at Risk, Outside Roles at Issue
    "The Chadian civil war is often described as a "spillover" from Darfur. That is a simplification. Darfur's war actually began as a spillover from Chad more than twenty years ago and the two conflicts have been entangled ever since." - Alex De Waal

Feb 21, 2008  USA/Africa: Images and Issues
    As President Bush winds up his 5-day trip to Africa, the initial focus on his legacy in the fight against AIDS and malaria has been enlivened with debate on the new and highly controversial AFRICOM military command (See, for example,, Commentators have also highlighted the contrast between Bush's itinerary (Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, and Liberia) and unresolved crises in Kenya and Sudan. But from AIDS to AFRICOM, coverage of the trip was also revealing for points hardly mentioned by either Bush boosters or critics.

Mar 14, 2008  USA/Africa: Africom vs. Peacekeeping
    The Bush administration budget for fiscal year 2009 (Oct 2008 to Sep 2009), yet to be approved by Congress, allocated $1,300 million for bilateral military programs related to Africa, including $400 million for the new AFRICOM military command, covering all of Africa except Egypt. In comparison, $1,497 million is proposed for the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping operations, leaving the U.S. $1,772 million in arrears on its UN peacekeeping obligations, in addition to some $700 million in arrears on the regular UN budget.

Mar 20, 2008  Kenya: Post-Crisis Agendas
    "The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation between the political parties provides Kenya's leaders with a historic opportunity to step back from the brink and to reform and establish institutions that can help build long-term stability. ... However, challenges remain in ensuring that the institutions created actually deliver accountability for recent and previous violence, correct injustices ignored by previous administrations, and tackle the systemic failure of governance that gave rise to the recent crisis." - Human Rights Watch

Apr 6, 2008  Somalia: "Most Neglected Crisis"
    Forty humanitarian agencies appealed to the international community late last month to pay attention to the crisis of some one million displaced on ongoing fighting in Somalia. Refugees International termed it currently "the most neglected crisis in the world," And Donald Payne, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa told the New York Times (, "We're Baghdad-izing Mogadishu and Somalia."

Apr 20, 2008  Africa: Internal Displacement Update
    In 2007, close to half of the 26 million internally displaced people worldwide were in 20 African countries, according to the annual survey released on April 17 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council. The countries most affected by new displacement in 2007 were Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), while the countries with the highest totals of displaced people were Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, the DRC, and Uganda.

May 2, 2008  Congo (Kinshasa): Still No Peace in the East
    "On January 23, 2008, after weeks of talks, the Congolese government signed a peace agreement in Goma, North Kivu, with 22 armed groups committing all parties to an immediate ceasefire and disengagement of forces from frontline positions. Yet since the signing, scores of civilians have been killed, hundreds of women and girls raped, and many more children recruited into armed service ..." - report from 63 Congolese and international NGOs

May 30, 2008  Sudan: Abyei Aflame
    "The town of Abyei has ceased to exist. Brigade 31 of the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, has displaced the entire civilian population and burned Abyei's market and housing to the ground. These events were predicted, and absent effective word and action, they became inevitable. [but] as this report goes to the press, the United States has not even made a public statement regarding the violence Khartoum instigated in Abyei." - Roger Winter

Jul 16, 2008  Nigeria: Curse of the Black Gold
    "This book lays out the dynamics of oil and development in Nigeria and Africa. It reveals the complicity in this perfect storm of international oil companies, foreign governments, corrupt oil-producing states and U.S. consumers. ... the future of oil in Nigeria is now in question in an unprecedented way. As we speak, something like 25 percent of Nigerian oil is locked in or deferred because of the attacks by militants." - Michael Watts

Jul 21, 2008  Sudan: Darfur, Justice and Peace
    "Part of the reason Darfur has remained locked in crisis for years is that the international community has been slow to acknowledge what has always been painfully obvious: The janjaweed militias that have terrorized and decimated Darfur have been directed by the Sudanese government. The militias were financed by the government, and received direct battlefield support from the Sudanese military. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is doing no more than acknowledging the plain, painful truth of Sudan's tragedy. The prosecutor should be congratulated for recognizing that turning a blind eye to war crimes is not helpful." - Enough Project

Jul 21, 2008  Sudan: Darfur, Justice vs. Peace
    On July 14, 2008, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) asked the court to indict the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. "Will this be a historic victory for human rights, a principled blow on behalf of the victims of atrocity against the men who orchestrated massacre and destruction? Or will it be a tragedy, a clash between the needs for justice and for peace, which will send Sudan into a vortex of [further] turmoil and bloodshed?" - Alex de Waal

Sep 13, 2008  USA/Africa: New Policy Prospects?
    "If the United States takes a narrow view of Africa, as a recipient of charity, a place to pump oil, and an arena for fighting terrorists, then African hopes being evoked by the Obama candidacy will almost certainly be disappointed. If, however, the United States takes a long view, understanding that its security depends on the human security of Africans, then there are real prospects for a new era of collaboration and good will." - Merle Bowen and William Minter, commentary in Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette

Sep 27, 2008  Angola: Election Free and Fair, Sort Of
    "Election free and fair, sort of," was the headline from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) news service after Angola's long-awaited parliamentary election early this month. The news service notes that its stories do not represent the position of the United Nations, and there was no official United Nations observer team. But the comment was an accurate summary of the consensus of observers from Africa and Europe.

Oct 11, 2008  Congo (Kinshasa): War Goes On, Little Pressure for Peace
    The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, site of the United Nations' largest peacekeeping operation, attracts little attention from the world's media. Conditions vary from place to place in that vast country. But violence continues at high levels in parts of the country, particularly North Kivu, and efforts to rebuild functional state security and oversight over the economy still face enormous obstacles.

Oct 15, 2008  Western Sahara: Nonviolent Intifada; Diplomatic Impasse
    In 1975, as the last prolonged stage of Africa's decolonization process began with the fall of Portuguese colonialism, Portugal's neighbor Spain decided to dispose of its colony of Western Sahara by handing it over to Morocco and Mauritania, defying a World Court decision in favor of self-determination. For thirty-three years, Morocco has continued its occupation, with military and diplomatic support from the United States and France.

Nov 11, 2008  Kenya: Call for Accountability
    "We are witnessing a situation where the politicians in government are satisfied that they are now sharing power and that it is business as usual. It is disturbing that they prefer to push all issues that contributed to the crisis under the carpet ... We as Kenyan civil society are certain that the crisis we witnessed is not over. These same politicians will certainly break this country if they go unpunished. We demand the full implementation of the Waki recommendations and immediate disbandment of the Electoral Commission of Kenya." - Kenyans for Peace through Truth and Justice

Nov 22, 2008  Somalia: Piracy and the Policy Vacuum
    "While the responsibility for this crisis [in Somalia] lies first and foremost with the Somali leadership, the international community, principally the U.S. government and members of the UN Security Council, has also failed ... They have failed repeatedly to take a principled engagement to solve the crisis, acknowledge the power realities on the ground, support peace negotiations without imposing external agendas, or provide independent humanitarian assistance." - Refugees International

Nov 27, 2008  Africa: Gift Books Issue
    Looking for gifts that are not too expensive, but still attractive, enjoyable, and perhaps even educational as well? Take a look at the 15 books below and click on the links below each book for more information - or to view all the images, just go directly to

Dec 14, 2008  USA/Somalia: Obama's First Africa Test
    With so many crises calling for attention, it may seem strange to single out any one of them as the "first" test for the Africa policy of the incoming Obama administration. Yet Somalia stands out not only because it represents an international failure to respond (as also in Darfur, the Congo, and Zimbabwe), but also for the fact that in recent years short-sighted United States policy has actively contributed to worsening an already desperate situation. This policy disaster, moreover, has occurred with practically no public debate, and no signals as yet that incoming officials plan to change course.