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AfricaFocus Bulletins on Peace and Security

Talking Points

  • Leaders in Africa and around the world give lip service to addressing underlying causes of terrorism, violent internal conflicts, criminal violence and other threats. In practice, they prioritize militarized responses that are not only abusive of human rights but also ineffective and counter-productive.

  • African conflicts are most often seen in terms of simplistic narratives and applied to the entire continent. But each country is distinct. Most are at peace, afflicted not by war and warlords, but by the less visible kinds of violence that prevail around the world: violence against women or the everyday violence of crime and discrimination against immigrants.

  • When there is open war, as today in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria, or the Central African Republic, the causes are complex. Finding explanations in "age-hold hostilities" is wrong. But so is seeing external powers such as the United States or France as the primary contributors to violence. Violent Islamic extremism is present in some places, but not in others. In either case, standard global counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies are almost certain to be counter-productive.

  • Security forces, both of African governments and multilateral organizations such as the African Union and the United Nations, are required to protect civilians from violence from non-state actors. But peacekeeping actions are often underfunded, misdirected, or both. The responsibility for funding and accountable management of such missions should be global as well as regional and national.

  • There are no simple or "one-size-fits-all" solutions. There must be more attention to addressing long-term causes and preventive diplomacy. But people in need now also need both humanitarian assistance and accountable, adequately funded protection from immediate violence.

Bulletins on peace and security

January 23, 2023  Update from Editor on Future Plans
    When President Barack Obama hosted his US-Africa Summit in August 2014, my roundups in AfricaFocus Bulletin featured critical analysis of the likely outcome and the issues that were likely to be ignored, as well as alternate viewpoints by civil society groups.

November 15, 2022  Africa/Global: "Daughter of Africa" Steps Up to Lead on Global Crises
    At the climate summit in Egypt last week, President Biden pledged that the United States would take the lead on the climate crisis. But his speech was eclipsed the same day by a powerful call to action by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados.

October 10, 2022  AfricaFocus 3.0: Not ´A Nation of Immigrants´
    Coming in 2023: AfricaFocus 3.0

July 20, 2022  Africa/Global: Oligarchs of All Nations
    "Biden Concedes Defeat on Climate Bill as Manchin and Inflation Upend Agenda" - New York Times, July 16, 2022

June 9, 2022  Africa/Global: Ukraine, Africa, and Our Planet
    “An end to this terrible war based on dialogue must be the international community’s highest priority. Support to the people of Ukraine must be matched by efforts to advance Russian/Ukrainian negotiations, European security dialogue, and wider risk-reduction measures to prevent nuclear escalation.” - The Elders, May 25, 2022

March 25, 2022  Africa/Global: Updates from AfricaFocus
    This is the first AfricaFocus Bulletin since January. Towards the end of that month, major issues with my home office computer systems crippled the interface which I normally use to publish the Bulletin, and catching up on a variety of medical issues also limited what I could do. Nothing life threatening, but lots of doctor appointments.

August 26, 2021  Mozambique/Global: “Most Egregious Corruption Case of the 21st Century”
    “In my view the hidden debt scandal is the most egregious corruption case of the 21st century.  In dollar terms, the Malaysian 1MBD case is larger, but Malaysia is far wealthier than Mozambique, ranked 47th out of 185 countries on GDP per capita whereas Mozambique ranks 180.“ - Richard Messick, senior contributor to the Global Anticorruption Blog and pro bono legal counsel to the Budget Monitoring Forum, a civil society coalition in Mozambique.

July 27, 2021  USA/Global: Let Cuba Live!
    The Biden administration has now been in office for six months, along with a narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card. I offered my evaluation in another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today, entitled “Building Back Better? Or Not?” But as I was finalizing that Bulletin, I realized that the rising U.S. attacks on Cuba are a key indicator of how things are going.

July 27, 2021  USA/Africa: Building Back Better? Or Not?
    Last week marked six months for the Biden administration and for the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. So it seems an appropriate time for a report card on U.S. Africa policy. And that also means a review of U.S. policies on today's most pressing global issues, on which the negative effects fall disproportionately on Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.

May 31, 2021  Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption
    “The scandal of Mozambique’s “hidden debts” has already cost the country at least 11 billion US dollars, and has plunged an additional two million people into poverty, according to a detailed study of the costs and consequences of the debt published on Friday by the anti-corruption NGO, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), and its Norwegian partner, the Christian Michelsen Institute. The term “hidden debts” refers to illicit loans of over two billion US dollars from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014 to three fraudulent, security–linked Mozambican companies – Proindicus, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).” - report by Centre for Public Integrity (Mozambique) and Christian Michelsen Institute (Norway)

May 31, 2021  Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity
    “No amount of international military assistance will, within two years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in place in 2025.” - Joseph Hanlon

March 22, 2021  Sahel: Questioning Counterterrorism?
    “In the context of complex and protracted conflicts, it is time to rethink the role of the international community and acknowledge its limits. Today, success depends first and foremost on the willingness (much more than on the capacity) of corrupt leaders to reform and renew their social contract with citizens, especially in rural areas. International efforts will fail as long as impunity prevails and local armies can kill civilians and topple governments without consequence.” - Chatham House Research Paper

February 8, 2021  Ethiopia: No End to War in Devastated Tigray
    “It feels strange to write about a humanitarian crisis in this day and age with barely any pictures, videos or witness testimonies from the ground. But that is what the situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has come to. Since the conflict between the federal government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the regional government’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), began in November 2020, access to the region has been extremely limited. Internet and telephone connectivity was cut off as soon as the fighting began, disconnecting about 5 million people. Months later, the internet remains down and telephone communication has only been restored in a few main towns. Journalists and human rights monitors are still denied entry and cannot report to the world the full scale of the violence which has left at least hundreds of people dead and more than 470,000 displaced, according to the UN.” - Vanessa Tsehaye, Amnesty International

November 30, 2020  USA/Africa: Build Back Better on Africa Policy
    “President Trump's overt contempt for Africans is encapsulated in his famously crass remark about African countries. But the principal damage to Africa has stemmed from his administration’s broader policy choices, such as the disastrous rejection of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris climate accords; harsh curbs on legal immigration and asylum; and gutting of gender equality programs. … Nevertheless, the Biden administration should not merely go back to the pre-Trump status quo. … We argue that an even more fundamental questioning of U.S. Africa-related policy is needed.” - Imani Countess and William Minter

November 18, 2020  Ethiopia: Not Too Late to Step Back from War?
    “We, the undersigned citizens of countries of the Horn of Africa, condemn in the strongest possible terms the outbreak and escalation of open warfare in Ethiopia. We are saddened by the attendant losses of life, property, infrastructure and opportunities. We deplore in equally strong terms further stoking of the conflict. … This conflict will not have winners; the only winners in war are those who are wise and courageous enough to avoid it.”

October 23, 2020  Nigeria: A New Generation Steps Up
    “The protest is for our lives, it’s for our future. We want SARS to end but SARS is just the beginning. They should just wait for us. We’re not quiet anymore.” [This response appears] typical of the critical mass of protesters who are around 18-22 years old, are particularly fearless, and are protesting for the first time. - Ayodeji Rotinwa, Deputy Editor of African Arguments

September 28, 2020  USA/Global: Millions Displaced by US Post-9/11 Wars
    “Wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences. Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others. Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced.” - Brown University Costs of War Project

September 23, 2020  USA/Global: Overhauling U.S. Foreign Policy
    The most consequential election year in most of our lifetimes has featured stark crises unspooling against a backdrop of vigorous activist mobilizations and simmering public outrage. While the first essential step for progressives is to prevent the reelection of President Trump, that will not be enough. We need fundamental change rather than a return to the status quo ante.

August 24, 2020  USA/Global: Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, Part One
    The notion of policing as a war, in which more lethal force will lead to more security, is not a recent development, but is deeply rooted in U.S. history. The police and the military share the country’s legacy of white supremacy and violence against racial others, which has also given rise to mob and individual violence by white civilians. Both domestic law enforcement and the conduct of foreign wars continue to reflect the history of conquest, slavery, and U.S. empire of earlier centuries.

August 24, 2020  USA/Global: Divest from Violent Policing and Endless Wars, Part Two
    The notion of policing as a war, in which more lethal force will lead to more security, is not a recent development, but is deeply rooted in U.S. history. The police and the military share the country’s legacy of white supremacy and violence against racial others, which has also given rise to mob and individual violence by white civilians. Both domestic law enforcement and the conduct of foreign wars continue to reflect the history of conquest, slavery, and U.S. empire of earlier centuries.

June 8, 2020  Africa/Global: Thinking Post-Covid-19
    “Calls for debt relief—or more timid debt service moratorium—are drops in the ocean. Something much more ambitious and radical should be envisaged. This crisis allows us to think big. … [F]or these exceptional times, we need exceptional solutions. This virus does offer Africa an opportunity to exercise agency and embark on a more robust structural transformation process. Building on the gains of the last few years and the resilience of its population, there will probably be no better time to fast-track change.” - Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

June 8, 2020  USA/Global: Racial Pandemic and Viral Pandemic
    The twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus are colliding, in reality and in metaphor. Anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi writes in the Atlantic of “the racial pandemic within the viral pandemic.” And the meme of “America's two deadly viruses” has gone viral on Twitter. But while one is a literal (and new) virus and the other an endemic condition that has persisted over centuries, the scope of each spans the range from local communities to the entire planet.

April 13, 2020  Mozambique: Cumulative Shocks, Local and Global
    As of April 10, Mozambique had registered only 20 cases of covid-19, and was carrying out an active program of screening, testing, and contact tracing for all entering the country. The success of containment was still fragile, however. In addition, 10 of the tests were traced to a worker at the multinational natural gas company Total in Cabo Delgado province, in the far northeast. In that same province, reminding us that the pandemic comes on the top of other urgent crises, jihadist insurgents are now expanding their offensive and extending their attacks inland.

January 13, 2020  Russia/Africa: Upping Its Stake in Multi-Player Field
    The Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia in late October 2019 prompted a flurry of news coverage, highlighting such headline figures as sales agreements amounting to more than $12 billion. But it was not clear how much this was a real sign of significant expansion of Russian influence or primarily a public relations gloss on more limited involvement. Among the more analytical articles covering the summit was a well-informed article by Joe Penney in Passblue on October 28, which noted that ”While many memorandums were signed, actual contracts were few and far between, inviting speculation as to whether the summit was more about power projection than real business.”

September 18, 2019  Horn of Africa: Interview with Kassahun Checole
    For over 36 years, Kassahun Checole has shepherded hundreds of manuscripts into publication through his twin publishing houses Africa World Press and Red Sea Press. He is widely respected among scholars and activists in Africa and around the world as one of the giants of African and African American publishing. Yet his own keen insights on Africa´s past and present, particularly on Eritrea and Ethiopia, are hardly to be found in print or on-line.

September 12, 2019  South Africa: Xenophobia, Deep Roots, Today´s Crisis
    “In the early years after I got 'home,' it took me some time to figure out how to respond to the idea that Africa was a place that began beyond South Africa's borders. I was surprised to learn that the countries where I had lived -- the ones that had nurtured my soul in the long years of exile -- were actually no places at all in the minds of some of my compatriots. … Though they thought themselves to be very different, it seemed to me that whites and blacks in South Africa were disappointingly similar when it came to their views on 'Africa.' … This warped idea of Africa was at the heart of the idea of South Africa itself. Just as whiteness means nothing until it is contrasted with blackness as savagery, South African-ness relies heavily on the construction of Africa as a place of dysfunction, chaos and violence in order to define itself as functional, orderly, efficient and civilised.” - Sisonke Msimang

September 12, 2019  South Africa: Spotlight on Gender-based Violence
    “Our nation is in mourning and pain. Over the past few days, our country has been deeply traumatised by acts of extreme violence perpetrated by men against women and children. These acts of violence have made us doubt the very foundation of our democratic society, our commitment to human rights and human dignity, to equality, to peace and to justice. … Violence against women has become more than a national crisis. It is a crime against our common humanity.” - President Cyril Ramaphosa, September 5, 2019

June 19, 2019  AfricaFocus Updates: Sudan, Ebola, Mozambique
    AfricaFocus Bulletin normally contains material on one topic only, as in bulletins earlier this year on Mozambique in January and March, Sudan in March , and Ebola in April. Each provides substantive excepts from current material as well as links for ongoing coverage.

February 11, 2019  Nigeria: Many Candidates, Few Alternatives
    “The presidential contest ... will likely be a straight contest between incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and challenger Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Dozens of other candidates will be competing. These include: Oby Ezekwesili, the former minister and founder of the Bring Back Our Girls movement; Professor Kingsley Moghalu, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; and Omoyele Sowore, the owner of the media outlet Sahara Reporters. But when it comes down to it, it will be a two-horse race.” - Idayat Hassan

January 30, 2019  USA/Africa: Paradigms of Foreign Intervention
    “[In her new book Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War, Schmidt´s] aim is not to provide a comprehensive narrative or advance an explanatory theory, but to introduce a series of case studies, taking into account global narratives and common factors as well as the particularity and nuances of each case. … As Schmidt explains, global narratives are both essential and misleading in explaining the course and outcomes of intervention in specific conflicts.” - AfricaFocus Editor William Minter

January 30, 2019  USA/Africa: China, Bolton, and Jimmy Carter
    When National Security Advisor John Bolton presented the administration´s "New Africa Strategy" at the conservative Heritage Foundation on December 13, the Washington Post headlined Bolton´s warning that “´predatory´ China is outpacing the U.S. In Africa" ( And, according to the New York Times, "Bolton Outlines a Strategy for Africa That’s Really About Countering China" ( But however prominent the theme of U.S.-China competition in current news, neither this framework nor any other overarching theme is likely to prove a reliable guide as either a description or prescription for actual policy.

July 30, 2018  East Africa: Ethiopia/Eritrea Peace Hopes, Cautions
    For those seeking good news from Africa, there is no better recent example than the dramatic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Pictures and videos of the overjoyed crowds in Asmara and Addis Ababa greeting the other country's leaders on mutual visits circulated rapidly on social media as well as in international news coverage.

April 23, 2018  Ethiopia: Wax, Gold, and "Ethiopianness"
    The appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia on April 2 was met with relief and with high expectations by Ethiopians as well as internationally. Although he is a leader of one of the parties in the ruling coalition, he is young (he turns 42 today) and has a reputation as someone open to inclusion and diverse views. Yet the structural problems he and the country face are profound. Ethiopians as well as other informed observers are cautious about predicting to what extent promises will meet expectations, or, in a classic Ethiopian expression, how much gold there is beneath the wax.

February 12, 2018  Sudan: Perilous Crossroads on Refugee Map
    Sudan is one of the central crossroads for African migrant journeys, particularly for refugees from Eritrea and other counties in the Horn of Africa. The international media spotlight falls most often on the deadly crossing of the Mediterranean or slave auctions in the Libyan dessert. But the vulnerability and deadly perils facing those forced to flee by war, repression, or the struggle for economic survival extends to a far wider terrain, of which Sudan is one example.

January 29, 2018  Africa/Global: Humanitarian Attention Deficits
    The international system of response to humanitarian crises is flawed. And the often-repeated call to focus on addressing causes of crises and structural flaws in the system, instead of only providing short-term relief, is undeniably justified. But current trends, paralleling austerity programs and cuts in services at domestic levels in the United States and around the world, are not moving in the direction of fundamental reform. Instead, they are further diminishing the already inadequate resources devoted to saving lives.

December 18, 2017  Cameroon: Speech, Rights, and Aging Autocracy
    Cameroonian-American writer Patrice Nganang, an acclaimed novelist who writes in French and teaches at the State University of New York, Stonybrook, remains in prison in Cameroon after his detention at the airport on December 6. His friends and colleagues around the world have mobilized protests, which has evoked international attention and pressure. But the aging autocracy of Cameroon President Paul Biya is pressing charges against him, and is even more resistant to addressing the issues of discrimination he highlighted in an article just a day before his arrest.

November 13, 2017  USA/Sahel: Questions Asked, Unasked, Half-Answered
    The U.S. military presence in Africa, which has been growing steadily since the years following the 9/11 attack, has been having a spotlight in U.S. media after the death of four U.S. soldiers in Niger on October 4. But despite numerous questions raised, and the prominent attention given to the characteristically obtuse and insensitive response from the White House, the questions raised have been at best half-answered. And fundamental questions about counterterrorism strategy and U.S. policy were left unasked in the Washington-focused debate.

November 13, 2017  Africa/Global: Counterproductive Counterterrorism
    What strategies work to counter terrorism effectively, whether in Africa or anywhere else in the world? Few would claim to have a convincing answer to that question. However, there is some real evidence of what strategies do not work and are even counterproductive. For example, a new UNDP study studying recruitment to violent extremism, based on interviews with former extremists in Nigeria, Kenya, and Somalia, found a number of factors underlying the growth of violent extremism. Particularly striking was the finding that 71 percent of recruits interviewed said that it was some form of government action that was the 'tipping point' that triggered their final decision to join an extremist group.

October 30, 2017  Africa/Global: Recent Books Read & Recommended
    As with other publications largely focused on current events, AfricaFocus Bulletin is confronted with an exponentially increasing bombardment of daily news. My approach as the editor is to select a particular topic of interest, sometimes highlighted in the news and sometimes not, and try to put it into context for readers with excerpts from the most relevant sources. But I also find it essential to try to step back and refresh my understanding of the wider context. For that, I find I must turn to books.

October 19, 2017  Somalia: Not Only a Somali Tragedy
    "I think it's really quite tragic that a strategy run from Washington, D.C., and from the European headquarters in Brussels pays so little attention when over 300 people are killed, massacred, and another 500 people are struggling for their lives, and that very little support comes from the United States and the European Union to help the Somali government clean up this, help the people who have been injured or people who have lost their parents or their children." - Dr. Abdi Samatar

August 23, 2017  USA/Africa: No Policy? Bad Policy? Or Both?
    "Africa is terra incognita for the Trump Administration: a continent it cares little--and understands even less--about. With no dyed-in-the-wool Trumpian Africa hands available, the administration appears ready to cede Africa policy making to career civil servants and a few mainstream Republican appointees." - Matthew T. Page

May 24, 2017  Nigeria: Corruption Undercuts Boko Haram Fight
    "Nigeria's corrupt elites have profited from conflict; with oil prices at a record low, defence has provided new and lucrative opportunities for the country's corrupt kleptocrats. Former military chiefs have stolen as much as US $15 billion – a sum equivalent to half of Nigeria's foreign currency reserves – through fraudulent arms procurement deals." - new report on "Weaponizing Tranparency"

April 3, 2017  South Africa: Rising Outcry for Zuma to Go
    "We call on Ministers and leaders of the ANC who care about the future of democracy and the Constitution to speak up and call on the President, in the best interests of the country, to step down. We call on the parliamentary leadership of the ANC, supported by all opposition parties, to insist that parliament be recalled immediately to debate a motion of no-confidence, proposed by the ANC leadership in parliament. We call on all members of Parliament to unite and support a motion of no-confidence." - Statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, March 31, 2017

March 28, 2017  Liberia: Mining, Displacement, and the World Bank
    "The roots of the New Liberty Gold project stretch back before 1995, when a resource extraction license was issued by former warlord turned president Charles Taylor to a mysterious company called KAFCO. The permit changed hands a few times and, today, Avesoro holds its permit via a wholly-owned subsidiary, Bea Mountain Mining Corp – a company created in 1996 by Keikurah B. Kpoto, one of Taylor's closest associates. In 1998, foreign interests bought Bea Mountain Mining. The beneficiaries of the sale were well hidden. According to a document IRIN procured, three quarters of its capital belonged to a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The rest was held by owners of bearer shares." - IRIN investigative report, March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017  Africa/Global: Scaling Up Solar
    Even in the United States, where action on climate change is under threat from aggressive assault by climate deniers in the Trump administration and Congress, renewable energy is projected to continue to advance rapidly, on the basis of its still growing cost advantages over fossil fuels. According to a report just released by GTM research, the US total solar market, already supplying the largest share of new power production, is poised to triple over the next five years. The prospect for renewable energy to power increased access to electricity in Africa is also dramatic, according to a new report from the Africa Progress Panel.

March 14, 2017  Africa/Global: Invisible Crises, Failing Safety Nets
    "Famine 'largest humanitarian crisis in history of UN': UN humanitarian chief says 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria face starvation and famine," says the headline in Al Jazeera, echoed in the BBC and other international media, but easily ignored without the high-intensity spotlight that occasionally targets disasters with greater geostrategic centrality. In the United States, while headlines rightly focus on the 24 million who would lose health care under the Republican Trumpcare plan, no one has yet calculated the toll from a proposed 50% cut in the U.S. budget for support of the UN.

May 5, 2016  Uganda: Accountability and Child Soldiers
    "After two decades spent fighting in the bush, Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), faces trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on seventy counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. ... the first time that a former child soldier will be prosecuted at the ICC and the first time that an accused faces charges for the same crimes perpetrated against him. As such, the Ongwen trial raises myriad questions and poses difficult dilemmas regarding the prosecution of child soldiers." - Justice in Conflict symposium

April 27, 2016  Nigeria: Shapes of Violence, 1
    The realities of violence, whether in Nigeria, other African countries, or indeed in rich countries such as the United States as well, are often far more complicated than the stereotypes that often prevail among those observing them from a distance. Thus, violence in Nigeria is often simplistically characterized as "religious conflict" between Muslims and Christians. A new collection of empirical studies released this year by Nigeria Watch, based in Ibadan, Nigeria, provides a more complex perspective, documenting, for instance, that intra-Muslim conflict is more common that conflicts between Muslims and Christians, and that much of the conflict involving both Muslims and Christians is based on secular rather than religious motives.

April 27, 2016  Nigeria: Shapes of Violence, 2
    "It has been two years since the world's deadliest terrorist organization – Boko Haram – abducted 271 girls from their high school in the town of Chibok – a tragedy that would shine much needed international attention on conflict in northeastern Nigeria. Sadly, the Chibok girls are only one part of a much larger story of violence against women and girls in the northeast. ... the needs of all those whom the Chibok girls symbolize – thousands upon thousands who have suffered gender-based violence at Boko Haram's hands – are being unaddressed." - Refugees International

March 16, 2016  Africa: Tolerance and Intolerance in Perspective
    In results published on Zero Discrimination Day (1 March), Afrobarometer reports that survey respondents in 33 countries exhibit largely tolerant attitudes toward social differences, with the major exception of homosexuality. Even so, homophobia is not a universal phenomenon in Africa: At least half of all citizens in four African countries say they would not mind or would welcome having homosexual neighbours. Tolerance scores vary widely by country/region, and analysis points to education, media consumption, and exposure to a diverse population as major drivers of increasing tolerance on the African continent." - Afrobarometer

February 29, 2016  USA/Africa: Rising Opposition to Tax Evasion
    "We said we were advising an African minister who had accumulated millions of dollars, and we wanted to buy a Gulfstream Jet, a brownstone and a yacht. We said we needed to get the money into the U.S. without detection. ... the results were shocking; all but one of the the lawyers had suggestions on how to move the funds." Global Witness (see excerpts from report below, as well as link to full report and video documentation)

February 16, 2016  Africa: Ghosts at the African Union Summit
    "Our organisation acts as it has for the past 20 or 30 years: we meet often, we talk too much, we always write a lot, but we don't do enough, and sometimes nothing at all." - new African Union chair President Idriss Déby of Chad

December 1, 2015  Africa/Global: Changing "the Media"
    "I've thought a lot about the outrage over unequal media coverage when it comes to attacks in the Western world vs death in 'other' black and brown countries. I cringed when Barack Obama called the Paris attacks an attack on 'all humanity'--as if brutal attacks in Pakistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia and Mexico are not quite up to that benchmark. I agree that we in the media need to do a better job ... [but] I can't help but think that the 'Why didn't the media care about _____' stories will come, generate outrage clicks and shares, and pass, without people really taking the time to examine their own media consumption habits. ... the stories were written, you just didn't click." - Karen Attiah, Nov. 17, 2015

October 28, 2015  South Sudan: Hard-Hitting Report from African Union
    "Based on its inquiry, the Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that acts of murder, rape and sexual violence, torture and other inhumane acts of comparable gravity, outrages upon personal dignity, targeting of civilian objects and protected property, as well as other abuses, have been committed by both sides to the conflict."

July 29, 2015  USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
    In analyzing high-profile presidential visits, it is difficult to sort out symbolism from substance in the sheer volume of news coverage and commentary. And despite the flurry of announcement of "deals" at each stop, the main lines of policy are rarely altered and often reflect continuity not only within one presidential administration but also from one administration to another. The content of private conversations of lower-level officials as well as others involved in the visits may be just as significant as the formal meetings of presidents. Even more significant may be the issues not discussed because common assumptions go unquestioned on both sides.

July 14, 2015  Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short
    As Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni travels to Burundi for yet another attempt to mediate in the crisis caused by the determination of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in the elections now scheduled for July 21, it is clear that international diplomatic efforts are still failing to reverse increasing repression and escalation of violence. Despite multiple mediators and international declarations of concern, most recently calling for disarmament of the pro-government militias and commitment to a government of national unity, the incumbent president has good reason to conclude that he can continue to resist the pleas of his international critics as well as to repress internal opposition.

April 27, 2015  Burundi: On the Brink?
    "The prospect of a third term for President Nkurunziza calls into question the preservation of peace in Burundi. The president is risking it all by trying to force his name on the ballot, against the Catholic Church, civil society, a fraction of his own party and most external partners. The opposition's survival is at stake and the security forces are unsure how to react in case of violent crisis. The situation is much more serious than the failed 2010 elections: what lies behind this new electoral cycle is the upholding of the Arusha agreement as the foundation of Burundi's regime." - International Crisis Group

April 22, 2015  South Africa: Saying No to Xenophobia
    "Finally, one word about 'foreigners' and 'migrants'. No African is a foreigner in Africa! No African is a migrant in Africa! Africa is where we all belong, notwithstanding the foolishness of our boundaries. No amount of national-chauvinism will erase this. No amount of deportations will erase this. Instead of spilling black blood on no other than Pixley ka Seme Avenue (!), we should all be making sure that we rebuild this Continent and bring to an end a long and painful history - that which, for too long, has dictated that to be black (it does not matter where or when), is a liability." - Achille Mbembe

April 14, 2015  Europe/Africa: Deaths at Sea
    According to the International Organization of Migration, at least 480 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. in 2014, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees, at least 3,500 lost their lives. Yet, says the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, the European Union program for search-and-rescue at sea is "woefully inadequate," in comparison to the previous Mare Nostrum program run by Italy, which ended late last year.

April 8, 2015  Garissa: Not Just Numbers
    "I want to go to a place. A piece of ground, also a place online, where we can find the names of all those who have died for Kenya since 1963. I want to know their names. I want to walk and walk, listen and witness, know the lives of those no longer visible to me, but whose blood mattered." - Binyavanga Wainaina

January 13, 2015  Nigeria: Elections/Security Disconnect
    "These images from Northern Nigeria should be searing the conscience of the world. Some two thousand innocent children, women and elderly reportedly massacred in Baga. A young girl sent to her death with a bomb strapped to her chest in Maiduguri. And lest we forget, more than two hundred girls stolen from their families, still lost. Words alone can neither express our outrage nor ease the agony of all those suffering from the constant violence in northern Nigeria. But these images of recent days and all they imply for the future of Nigeria should galvanize effective action. For this cannot go on." - UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, January 11, 2015

December 8, 2014  Africa: Reflections from an Elder Statesman
    "In recent years, Africa has had strong economic growth records largely attributed to the comparative advantage that we have on natural resources and the demands fuelled by the strong growth in the largest emerging economies in Latin America and Asia. However, this growth has not translated into further reduction of poverty nor income and wealth inequality as we expected. ... The wealth and resources of our countries must be used to serve our people and not benefit a few individuals." - H.E. Salim Ahmed Salim

December 1, 2014  USA/Nigeria: Uneasy Alliance
    "Boko Haram poses no security threat to the U.S. homeland, but its attack on Nigeria, and the Abuja response characterized by extensive human rights violations, does challenge U.S. interests in Africa. ... If Nigeria's civilian government is to forestall an implosion involving Boko Haram and the 2015 elections, and to resume its positive regional role, it needs to end ubiquitous human rights abuses by official entities, orchestrate humanitarian relief to refugees and persons internally displaced by fighting in the north, and ensure credible elections that do not exacerbate internal conflict." - John Campbell, Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria

July 31, 2014  Africa/Global: Talking Points on Common Issues
    As African leaders and corporate CEOs gather to meet with President Obama and U.S. government officials, a wide variety of civil society activists will also be meeting in Washington, some in officially recognized side events, others in alternative venues. Many more will be issuing statements and communicating their views, some appropriating the twitter hashtag #AfricaSummit used by U.S. government officials, thus inserting their views as well into that hashtag stream.

July 14, 2014  Africa: Understanding Organized Crime
    "We have concluded that drug use must be regarded primarily as a public health problem. Drug users need help, not punishment. We believe that the consumption and possession for personal use of drugs should not be criminalised. Experience shows that criminalisation of drug use worsens health and social problems, puts huge pressures on the criminal justice system and incites corruption. ... We caution that West Africa must not become a new front line in the failed "war on drugs," which has neither reduced drug consumption nor put traffickers out of business." - West Africa Commission on Drugs

June 23, 2014  Central African Republic: Still A Forgotten Crisis
    "The crisis that has plagued the Central African Republic (CAR) since December 2012, particularly predation by both authorities and armed groups, has led to the collapse of the state. ... Ending this cycle of predatory rule and moving peacefully to a state that functions and can protect its citizens requires CAR's international partners to prioritise, alongside security, economic revival and the fight against corruption and illegal trafficking. Only a close partnership between the government, UN and other international actors, with foreign advisers working alongside civil servants in key ministries, can address these challenges." - International Crisis Group

June 9, 2014  Nigeria: Beyond the Hashtag Debates
    "As is often the case in situations of widespread insecurity and violence, the displacement caused by Boko Haram and the [Nigerian] army's operations against it has reduced people's ability to feed themselves both directly and indirectly. Not only have IDPs exhausted their own supplies, making them dependent on their hosts' resources, but over 60 per cent of the region's farmers have been displaced just before the start of the planting season, making food crops scarcer and setting the scene for protracted shortages." - Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

May 19, 2014  Kenya: Refugee Crackdown "Counter-productive"
    "Harassment and forced repatriation [of Somali refugees in Kenya] is likely to incite acute hatred against Kenya and entice more youth to join the Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group. This strategy is counterproductive. The government's decision to take this route has provoked anger. Somalis, whether from Kenya or from Somalia, and the Muslim community have suffered brutal police actions. This suits Al-Shabaab propaganda and alienates a community that can help fight terrorism," Nuur Sheikh, expert on conflict in Horn of Africa, in interview with Inter Press Service.

April 17, 2014  Mali: Polls Show Turn to Optimism
    "In an Afrobarometer survey in December 2012, three quarters of adult Malians were worried that the country was moving in 'the wrong direction.' At that time, at the depths of a profound national crisis, most Malians thought the future looked bleak. A year later, however, a follow-up survey reveals newfound hope in the future. By December 2013, two thirds of all Malians now consider that that the country is headed in the 'right direction.'"

April 7, 2014  Nigeria: Security Forces and Insecurity
    "Boko Haram is both a serious challenge and manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria's security. Unless the federal and state governments, and the region, develop and implement comprehensive plans to tackle not only insecurity but also the injustices that drive much of the troubles, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country. Yet, the government's response is largely military, and political will to do more than that appears entirely lacking." - International Crisis Group, April 3, 2014

March 13, 2014  USA/Africa: Military Perspectives
    Last week the U.S. Department of Defense released the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), outlining the overall strategic perspectives for the U.S. military for the next four years. The release came together with White House release of the government's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget. Neither the budget nor the QDR provide details about Africa, but the ratio of proposed spending totals is revealing. The proposed budget for peacekeeping, which falls under the Department of State, is $2.5 billion, while the budget for the Department of Defense is $496 billion, almost two hundred times as great.

March 13, 2014  Central African Republic: UN Force Delayed
    The situation in the Central African Republic is "extremely grave," according to Valerie Amos, the top UN humanitarian relief official. Last month the UN Secretary General called for a full peacekeeping force to be mobilized, as well as immediate additional support for overstretched African and French troops trying to protect civilians. A favorable UN Security Council vote is expected later this month, but the force is not expected to be available until September. And, as of this month, only 20% of the $547 million in humanitarian assistance needed for 2014 had been raised.

March 4, 2014  South Sudan: Deadly Conflict Continues despite Ceasefire
    Both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have just documented extensive killings of civilians as well as other abuses during the last two months of fighting in South Sudan. And incidents of violence are continuing despite a formal ceasefire agreed with regional negotiators. While negotiations as well as development of plans for more effective ceasefire monitoring continue, the prospectives for sustainable peace still seem remote. Meanwhile, international agencies and civil society continue efforts to reduce violence and address immediate humanitarian needs.

February 17, 2014  Burundi: Rising Threats to Democracy, Peace
    The UN Security Council voted unanimously last week to renew the mandate for the UN peacebuilding mission in Burundi until the end of the year, despite the position of the country's ruling party that the mission is no longer needed. The decision was phrased in diplomatic language. But it was a clear signal that the international body shares the concerns of Burundi civil society and political opposition voices about rising authoritarianism and political mistrust, as the ruling party attempts to consolidate its position before elections in 2015.

February 8, 2014  Africa: New Development Goals
    "Global income inequality stands at a very high level: eight per cent of the world's population earns half the world's income, with the remaining 92 per cent earning the other half. Such a distribution is rightly viewed by global civil society networks as unacceptably high, as it is both unjust and undermines development progress." - Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

February 5, 2014  Somalia: Threat to Remittances Lifeline
    "Collateral damage" from the war on terror takes many forms. Civilian deaths from drone or missile strikes are the most dramatic when they come to light. Damage from the "financial war on terror" is less visible but also deadly. As illustrated in the case of Somalia, regulations intended to curb financing for terrorism end up threatening sources of income vital for survival, such as remittances and humanitarian aid. The effects, although indirect and rarely noted in the media, are systemic and large-scale.

January 13, 2014  South Sudan: Reflections on Crisis
    Negotiations and fighting are both continuing this week in the conflict in South Sudan which erupted into open violence on December 15. It may be that coordinated international pressure will soon bring about a ceasefire. But both South Sudanese and foreign sources stress that any long-term solution must deal not only with the political competition between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, who was dismissed at Vice President along with others in the Cabinet last July, but also with fundamental issues of the South Sudanese state.

December 19, 2013  Central African Republic: Violence Continues to Spiral
    According to two new reports, by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, violence in the Central African Republic continues to spiral upwards, with armed militias identifying with both Muslim and Christian communities guilty of indiscriminate massacres of civilians. Existing international forces, consisting of an AfricanUnion -led force reinforced by French troops, are insufficient, the human rights groups say, calling for a more robust United Nations presence both for security and for humanitarian assistance.

November 27, 2013  Central African Republic: Whose Responsibility to Protect?
    In the Central African Republic, the scale of the humanitarian crisis is undeniable; the threat of even greater escalation of violence and chaos is real. And there is a consensus that greater international action is essential. But the questions of who does what when, and who pays, remain unanswered. France is sending additional troops to reinforce the African peacekeeping force now in place, but the processes for funding and coordinating African Union and United Nations multilateral actions are still in slow-motion mode.

October 27, 2013  Nigeria: Cycle of Violence in Northeast
    The cycle of violence in northeastern Nigeria, confirm two new Amnesty International reports this month, is fueled by indiscriminate killings both by Boko Haram and by the Nigerian military's Joint Task Force (JTF). More than 950 people are reported to have died while in detention by the JTF in the first six months of 2013, while Boko Haram has continued deadly attacks on schoolchildren and teachers.

June 5, 2013  Nigeria: Counterproductive Counterterrorism
    As Nigerian security forces increase their drive against extremist Islamist groups in northern Nigeria, a wide range of Nigerian and international critics, from human rights groups and scholarly experts to the United States government, have been speaking out. The critics argue that the indiscriminate nature of the counterterrorism efforts not only results in violation of human rights and deaths of innocent civilians, but also fuels the violence rather than reducing it.

May 28, 2013  Africa: Interventions in Historical Perspective
    "This book has demonstrated that during the period of decolonization and the Cold War (1945-91) and the first two decades of its aftermath (1991-2010), foreign intervention in Africa strongly influenced the outcome of conflicts and the fate of African nations. However, foreign powers did not simply impose their will on a passive continent or use African actors as proxies for their own interests. Rather, external powers interacted in complex ways with African societies. While foreign governments took advantage of divisions within African societies to promote their own interests, African actors also used external alliances for their own ends." - Elizabeth Schmidt, Foreign Intervention in Africa, 2013

May 23, 2013  Congo (Kinshasa): U.S.-Trained Battalion Implicated in Rapes
    "A Congolese army battalion that received its formative training from the U.S. military went on to commit mass rapes and other atrocities last year, a U.N. investigation has found. Members of the 391st Commando Battalion, a unit created in 2010 with extensive support from the U.S. government, joined with other Congolese soldiers to rape 97 women and 33 girls as they fled a rebel advance in eastern Congo in November, according to the United Nations. U.S. Special Operations forces had spent eight months training the 750-member battalion in a bid to professionalize Congo's ragtag military, which has a long history of rights abuses, including raping and killing civilians." - Washington Post, May 13, 2013

Mar 26, 2013  Mali: Listening without Drones
    "Mali is neither Somalia, nor Afghanistan, nor an 'Africanistan.' ... We hope President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are wise enough not to let analogy do the work of analysis. ... The problems bedeviling Mali are long-running and multi-faceted. They cannot be droned out of existence. The best way the U.S. government can help Malians realize their aspiration for substantive-- not just formal--democracy is to listen carefully, and let them take the lead." - Gregory Mann and Bruce Whitehouse

Mar 19, 2013  Africa: Curbing the Arms Trade?
    The United Nations began new meetings this week to finalize negotiations on an international treaty governing trade in conventional arms. But enacting a strong treaty without major loopholes faces many obstacles, not least the fact that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are among the largest exporters of conventional arms. And, in the United States, the powerful National Rifle Association is campaigning against the treaty.

Feb 9, 2013  Kenya: Elections Ready or Not, 1
    The experience of the primary elections in late January, commented Kenya Human Rights Commission chair Makau Mutua, "made one thing crystal clear. Kenya is illprepared to conduct free and fair elections in March." The elections, he argued, should be postponed and the electoral authorities accelerate plans to manage the election and the government prepares to contain possible violence.

Feb 9, 2013  Kenya: Elections Ready or Not, 2
    Violence in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan elections which claimed 1,300 lives shows just how vital it is Kenyan police are properly prepared ahead of polls this March, Amnesty International said in a new report, Police Reform in Kenya: A Drop in the Ocean. The report details how delays in implementing new laws on policing mean that many of the same police structures in place during 2007-8 post-election violence will be responsible for security for the 4 March vote.

Feb 5 2013  Africa: Towards Reality-Based Talk
    Almost a decade ago, Republican strategist Karl Rove disparaged what he termed the "reality-based community" of his critics, claiming he and his friends had the power to create their own reality. The slogan has become a catch phrase justifiably used to illustrate the distance of Rove's party from reality. Yet, on African issues, commentators of all political persuasions, Africans as well as non-Africans, not infrequently fall back on dubious generalizations about the entire diverse continent.

Jan 23 2013  Africa/Global: Half of World's Food Lost to Waste
    "The world produces about four billion metric tonnes of food per year, but wastes up to half of this food through poor practices and inadequate infrastructure. By improving processes and infrastructure as well as changing consumer mindsets, we would have the ability to provide 60-100% more food to feed the world's growing population." - Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Jan 15, 2013  Mali: No End to Conflict in Sight
    fighting in the North and the East, with French forces in the lead, will open up a whole new set of dangers. With Islamist forces on the attack, foreign intervention was necessary, and many Malians at home and abroad welcomed it enthusiastically. Still, this remains a dangerous moment all around. Second, while the latest crisis might not break the political deadlock in Bamako, it has already changed the dynamic. And third, despite the sorry state of mediation efforts to date - both within West Africa and beyond - savvy diplomacy is needed now more than ever." - Gregory Mann, commenting on January 14 on the situation in Mali.

Dec 20, 2012  Africa: Books New & Notable
    This annual books issue contains 22 books that have come to my attention that seemed to me to be of particular interest. It's hardly a systematic selection, and I've only read a couple of them so far. But they cover a wide range of topics, and I think most AfricaFocus readers will find at least of a few ot them well worth their time.

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 2
    "The 'International community' invested in an army, but after all these years the FARDC [Congolese national army] has remained much more a part of the problem then a part of the solution. Programs and policies meant to reinforce democracy and security were designed and implemented by people in offices far away from the complex realities on the ground, by people with very limited understanding of them." - Kris Berwouts

Nov 28, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): War in the East, 1
    In a statement issued earlier this week, a coalition of Congolese organizations has called for sanctions against Rwanda, Uganda, and any other individuals or entities that threaten the territorial integrity of the DRC. They also called on the UN to urgently appoint - in consultation with the African Union - a special representative for the Great Lakes.

Nov 15, 2012  USA/Africa: A Rare Policy Success
    "In 2011, the number of successful pirate attacks fell by half compared to 2010. This year, in 2012, the number of successful attacks off the Horn of Africa has continued to decline. To date, pirates have captured just ten vessels this year, compared to 34 in 2011 and 68 in 2010." - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro

Nov 5, 2012  Nigeria: "Security" Forces Escalate Insecurity
    Even as new reports from international human rights groups document a pattern of major offenses against human rights by both Boko Haram extremists and government security forces in northern Nigeria, new incidents in the most affected area of Nigeria's northeast include execution of some 40 people by security forces in Maiduguri and the assassination the next day of retired General Muhammadu Shuwa. Boko Haram has denied government charges that they were responsible for killing the general.

Oct 15, 2012  Mali: No Shortcuts to Security
    With thousands of nationalist demonstrators in Bamako calling for military intervention to regain control of the north of Mali from Islamic extremists, and a unanimous Security Council resolution, initiated by France, approving in principle action by an ECOWAS force with support from the African Union, United Nations, and France, one might think that such an intervention is imminent. Those appearances are almost certainly deceptive. Significant skeptical voices, including UN officials, U.S. diplomats and military officials, Mali's northern neighbor Algeria, and expert civil society analysts say an "ill-prepared" intervention could be catastrophic.

Sep 16, 2012  Somalia: New Start, Stubborn Realities
    The unexpected election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, an educator and civil society activist, as the new president of Somalia, has aroused hopes of a new start in that country. But the stubborn realities he and other Somalis face include not only the continuing threat from Al Shabaab, which launched a suicide assassination attack on the new president on September 12. Even more daunting is the challenge of embedded corruption in the government he will head, which has been fostered by a long history of external dependence.

Jul 31, 2012  Mali: Warnings against Escalation
    "The reason West Africans and others make the Afghan comparison [for Mali] is to sound the alarm over an emerging Islamist safe haven in the Sahara that could be used as a launching pad for international attacks. ... The Saharan debacle is serious stuff, no doubt, and it has implications well beyond the boundaries of the countries that share the desert. But here's one Mali-Afghanistan comparison that does work: It represents a golden opportunity for outsiders to turn a nasty mess into a complete disaster." - Gregory Mann

Jun 20, 2012  USA/Africa: Reject "Terrorist" Designation for Boko Haram
    Bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in May, if passed, would require the U.S. Secretary of State to present a report on whether Boko Haram in Nigeria should be formally declared a "Foreign Terrorist Organization." Such a move, which would be a change in U.S. policy advocating a multifaceted approach to the threat from Boko Haram, would be a counterproductive mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for both Americans and Nigerians.

Jun 1, 2012  USA/Africa: Rising Pressures for Militarization
    "The committee believes that activities that utilize U.S. Special Operations Forces and an 'indirect approach' that leverages local and indigenous forces should be used more aggressively and surgically in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in close coordination with and in support of geographic combatant commander and U.S. embassy country team requirements. The committee believes that current indirect activities are not fully resourced and underutilized to counter gains and preclude the expansion of Al Qaeda affiliates in these regions." - Report of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Apr 25, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Call for Real Security Reform
    An impressive array of Congolese and international civil society organizations have issued a new call for real security sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be impelled by more coordinated pressures from African and other international partners as well as Congolese civil society.

Mar 29, 2012  Congo (Kinshasa): Democracy Still Deferred
    African and world leaders have celebrated the democratic election in Senegal this month, and moved quickly to condemn the coup in Mali, urging a return to democratic rule. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), however, there is hardly any international attention to the post-election crisis following last November's election. This despite the prominent role of the United Nations and "donor" countries in sustaining the government of this strategically located country, the largest by area in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mar 14, 2012  Africa: KONY 2012, Military Realities
    "Chasing the leaders, which seems to be the strategy preferred by both the Ugandan People's Defence Force and the US military, is a hit or miss approach that will call down more attacks on unprotected civilians as the LRA instrumentalise them to send their twisted message and replace battlefield losses by abducting new fighters. While the Ugandan/US strategy has produced some attrition, it has also generated a bloody response and a massive recruitment campaign that seems to have gone unnoticed." - Philip Lancaster, co-author of Diagnostic Study of the Lord's Resistance Army, and former military assistant to Gen. Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda

Mar 14, 2012  Africa: KONY 2012, Selected Reflections
    "The reason why the LRA continues is that its victims - the civilian population of the area - trust neither the LRA nor government forces. Sandwiched between the two, civilians need to be rescued from an ongoing military mobilization and offered the hope of a political process. Alas, this message has no room in the Invisible Children video that ends with a call to arms." - Mahmood Mamdani, Professor and Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University, New York City.

Jan 30, 2012  Sudan/South Sudan: A Lose-Lose Scenario
    Sudan and South Sudan seem to have entered a "lose-lose" scenario, precipitated by failure to agree on payments for transport of oil from fields in South Sudan through the pipeline in the north to the Red Sea. Despite African Union mediation and pressure for compromise not only from Africa but also from the United Nations, China, and the United States, South Sudan has closed the oil fields, with likely disastrous economic and humanitarian consequences for both countries.

Dec 12, 2011  Africa: Books New & Notable 2011
    It's past time for one of our too infrequent book issues. I've organized this one into three groups of new books I've come across this year: three books on current priority issues that I recommend to readers as "must reads," new and notable books by AfricaFocus subscribers, and other new and notable books on a variety of topics.

Nov 3, 2011  Somalia: Economies of War
    "Al-Shabaab's resilience, despite its lack of popular support and the chronic divisions within its leadership, is principally due to the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government, and the latter's failure to broaden its political appeal or share power with other de facto political and military forces in the country. The endemic corruption of the leadership of the transitional federal institutions ... is the greatest impediment to the emergence of a cohesive transitional authority and effective State institutions." - UN Monitoring Group

Oct 7, 2011  Sudan: Civil War in the North?
    "New thinking is required to take into account a Khartoum regime now in the hands of Sudan Armed Forces generals, a unifying opposition that seeks regime change, and an international community that seems to be losing the ability to engage coherently on Sudan's problems. Continuing with the current ad hoc approach to negotiations and short-term arrangements to manage crises will not address the underlying causes of conflict." - International Crisis Group

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Mamdani, Cole
    "Whereas the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali directed our attention to internal social forces, the fall of Gaddafi has brought a new equation to the forefront: the connection between internal opposition and external governments. Even if those who cheer focus on the former and those who mourn are preoccupied with the latter, none can deny that the change in Tripoli would have been unlikely without a confluence of external intervention and internal revolt. ... One thing should be clear: those interested in keeping external intervention at bay need to concentrate their attention and energies on internal reform." - Mahmood Mamdani

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Reflections, Zeleza
    "That the West has always had a nefarious agenda in Africa is not news--we all remember the slave trade, colonialism, and structural adjustment. But we give the West too much power when we absolve our dictators because the West likes or detests them ... Our peoples' struggles and fundamental interests for well-being and freedom should be our only principled guide in supporting struggles for change. In focusing on NATO's role in the Libyan campaign it is tempting to underplay the role of the rebels themselves and the struggles and desires of the majority of Libyan people for freedom from Gadhafi's despotism." - PT Zeleza

Sep 19, 2011  Libya: Observations & Questions
    As was the case for Tunisia and Egypt, there has been no shortage of day-to-day news coverage (often contradictory) and impassioned international policy debate on the Libyan component of the Arab Awakening. But there has been much less solid analysis, as the popular overthrow of Libya's dictator was complicated not only by the turn to armed conflict but also by the decisive role played by NATO air power and significant external assistance to the rebels, primarily from France, Britain, and Qatar.

Sep 12, 2011  Africa: Dead End for Diamond Monitoring?
    According to a new analysis from Partnership Africa Canada, the Kimberley Process, a joint government-industry-civil society group intended to monitor "conflict diamonds" is "unable and unwilling to hold to account participating countries that repeatedly break the rules." Unless governments are willing to support significant reforms, which seems unlikely, activists must seek other mechanisms to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations.

Aug 5, 2011  Somalia: Updates and Reflections
    It is difficult to get beyond dichotomies. Either focus on responding to undeniably massive life-threatening famine or on understanding the multiple causes and the reasons that it is happening again. Highlight one cause or another among the factors responsible: drought, global warming, war, failures of governments and international agencies, and more. Nor is it sufficient to say "all of the above."

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: UN Debate
    Northern and Southern Sudan today [June 20] signed an agreement to pull their troops out of the disputed central Abyei region, scene of fierce fighting over the past few weeks, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki announced as he urged the Security Council to move quickly to ensure implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two sides. - United Nations

Jun 22, 2011  Sudan: New Violence, Uncertain Future
    "The remainder of [Sudan] remains saddled with the 'Sudan Problem', where power, resources and development continue to be overly concentrated in the centre, at the expense of and to the exasperation of the peripheries. A 'new south' is emerging in the hitherto transitional areas of Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that -- along with Darfur, the East and other marginal areas -- continues to chafe under the domination of the NCP. Unless their grievances are addressed by a more inclusive government, Sudan risks more violence and disintegration." - International Crisis Group

Jun 14, 2011  Guinea-Bissau: Drug Trade in Broader Context
    "In Guinea-Bissau, drug trafficking ... is a consequence of the pre-existing lack of stability that allows smugglers to establish their networks in the region and operate to and from there. Ignoring the structural causes of the problem (endemic poverty, corruption, impunity) will have an even deeper impact on the local population than the illegal drug trade, and will leave unaddressed the very conditions that continue to foster trafficking opportunities in the future." - February 2011 report from Norwegian Peacebuilding Center

Jun 10, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: No War, but No Security
    "Between May 13 and 25, Human Rights Watch interviewed 132 victims and witnesses to violence by both sides during the battle for Abidjan and in the weeks after Gbagbo's arrest. Killings, torture, and inhumane treatment by Ouattara's armed forces continued while a Human Rights Watch researcher was in Abidjan, with clear ethnic targeting during widespread acts of reprisal and intimidation." - Human Rights Watch

Mar 5, 2011  North Africa: New Threats to Migrants
    "Sub-Saharan African workers [in Libya] are in dire need of evacuation because of the threats they face. The people most in need are mainly from poorer countries in Asia and Africa... whose governments have apparently been unable or unwilling to rescue them" - Human Rights Watch

Feb 28, 2011  Cote d'Ivoire: Crisis Facts & Debates
    There is a real threat of return to open civil war in Côte d'Ivoire, driven primarily by the failure of former President Laurent Gbagbo to admit electoral defeat. But despite a broad international consensus on the election results, the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, and active mediation efforts, there is no consensus on what measures would actually help rather than run the risk of accelerating the turn to violence.

Feb 28, 2011  Côte d'Ivoire: Human Rights Reports
    "The political stalemate resulting from the elections has been characterized by the use of excessive force by supporters of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, including elements of the security forces loyal to him, to repress public demonstrations, harassment and intimidation, incitement to ethnic and political violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings." - Report by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, February 2011

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 1
    "Both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM have made the solemn and vitally important commitment that should the people of South Sudan vote for secession, they will work to ensure the emergence and peaceful coexistence of two viable states, informed by the objectives of renewed friendship and cooperation between the people of the North and the South." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Khartoum, January 5, 2011

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 3
    "I do not believe that either the ruling National Congress party (NCP) in Khartoum or the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which governs the south, want to fight. War would almost certainly bring an end to NCP rule in the north and devastate an already impoverished south. Leaders on both sides are smart enough to know that." - Mo Ibrahim

Jan 10, 2011  Sudan: Reflections, 2
    ?In this context we should also remind ourselves that Sudan has always been a multi-ethnic African state. Should it divide into two countries, it will divide into two diverse, multi-ethnic African states. Some writers on Sudan have spoken of an 'African' south and an 'Arab' north. However we are firmly of the view that both Southern and Northern Sudan are equally African." - Thabo Mbeki, University of Juba, January 7, 2011

Dec 14, 2010  USA/Africa: Wikileaks Highlights, 2
    It should be no surprise to anyone that South African diplomats been been frustrated both with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, or that Kenya and the United States have enjoyed close military to military ties despite vocal U.S. criticism of the Kenyan government. Wikileaks cables released to date, such as the ones included in this AfricaFocus Bulletin, provide some nuances and may be embarrassing, but provide no "smoking guns" or startling revelations.

Nov 17, 2010  Western Sahara: Violence Brings Rare Attention
    "On November 8, Moroccan occupation forces attacked a tent city of as many as 12,000 Western Saharans just outside of Al Aioun, in the culminating act of a months-long protest of discrimination against the indigenous Sahrawi population and worsening economic conditions. Not only was the scale of the crackdown unprecedented, so was the popular reaction: In a dramatic departure from the almost exclusively nonviolent protests of recent years, the local population turned on their occupiers, engaging in widespread rioting and arson." - Stephen Zunes

Oct 14, 2010  Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues
    "It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!" - Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir

Aug 6, 2010  Africa: Migrant Rights Updates
    "An astounding 100 deportees a month come to ARACEM [in Mali] for shelter, food and clothing. They are expelled from Libya, Morocco and Algeria as they make the way from Central and West Africa in an attempt to find work. These three North African countries have signed agreements with European countries to act as external border control agents to prevent migrants from reaching Europe."

Aug 6, 2010  South Africa: Xenophobia & Civil Society
    "Virtually every author concludes that violence against African migrants will continue and increase unless some profound socio-economic and attitudinal changes occur. This text thus sounds a loud warning bell to South Africa about our future. And it does so not merely based on the opinions of the authors, but because of the views of ordinary South African citizens that informed the research. ... survey after survey, focus group after focus group, have shown deeply xenophobic attitudes rising steadily over time." - David Everatt in introduction to report on South African Civil Society and Xenophobia, July 2010

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Africa: New Evidence on Lumumba Death
    "A 1975 U.S. Senate investigation of alleged CIA assassinations concluded that while the CIA had earlier plotted to murder Lumumba, he was eventually killed 'by Congolese rivals. It does not appear from the evidence that the United States was in any way involved in the killing.' It is now clear that that conclusion was wrong." - Stephen R. Weissman, author of new article "An Extraordinary Rendition"

Aug 2, 2010  Congo (Kinshasa): UN Peacekeeping in Question
    For more than a year and a half, UN peacekeepers have continuously supported military operations conducted by the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) against the Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in North and South Kivu. This policy has failed, says International Crisis Group analyst Thierry Vircoulon. Despite pledges to protect civilians and reduce abuses, there has in fact been an increase in human rights violations.

Aug 2, 2010  USA/Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Minerals Law
    There is little doubt that exports of "conflict minerals" -- including cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold -- controlled by rebel groups and by units of the Congolese army itself contribute to ongoing conflict in eastern Congo. It is more difficult to say how much difference the new legislation requiring transparency from U.S. companies about the supply chain of these minerals will make.

Jul 6, 2010  Africa: Book Notes
    This AfricaFocus contains a diverse selection of recent books likely to be of interest and new to AfricaFocus readers. You will find, for example, new books by Africa's distinguished elders, such as Achebe, wa Thiong'o, and Mandela. Selected new books from publishers such as Africa World Press, HSRC Press, and Aflame Books. Books on topical themes such as SMS activism and other ICT developments, on India and China's relations with Africa, and on xenophobia and migration. And more.

Jun 29, 2010  Western Sahara: Forgotten Conflict
    The Western Sahara conflict, notes analyst Yahia Zoubir, is now in the 35th year, with no sign of resolution. While the United Nations is ostensibly responsible for its resolution, France and the United States provide implicit support for Moroccan occupation of the territory, failing to support a referendum which might include the option of independence. The issue continues to poison relations between Algeria and Morocco, blocking hopes of regional economic integration in the Maghrib.

Jun 18, 2010  Zimbabwe: Whose Diamonds?
    Zimbabwe's diamond wealth, which could potentially provide a decisive boost for economic recovery, is instead still a resource shared by diamond smugglers, army officers and police, and by cliques of top officials in the country's security apparatus, says a new report from "conflict diamonds" researchers at Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).

May 31, 2010  South Africa: Israel/Apartheid Connections
    "Polakow-Suransky puts Israel's annual military exports to South Africa between 1974 and 1993 at $600 million, which made South Africa Israel's second or third largest trading partner after the United States and Britain. ... He puts the total military trade between the countries at well above $10 billion over the two decades." - Glenn Frankel in review of new book "The Unspoken Alliance"

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: No Easy Ways Ahead
    "A vote for secession [in the 2011 referendum] is a foregone conclusion - given overwhelming Southern popular sentiment - but the time remaining to ensure that the process is orderly, legitimate, and consensual is desperately short. The potential flashpoints for a new war are many. Any new armed conflict runs the risk of becoming rapidly regionalized and difficult to contain, let alone resolve." - Alex de Waal

Apr 25, 2010  Sudan: "Too Big to Fail?"
    In the minds of its sponsors, the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] is "too big to fail." ... The bailout is simple: support the SPLM/NCP to muddle through no matter how flawed or sham the elections may be. - - Ahmed Elzobier in Sudan Tribune, April 21, 2010

Mar 30 2010  USA/Somalia: Engage or Disengage?
    With continuing conflict in Mogadishu, and reports of a forthcoming Transitional Federal Government offensive to gain control of areas of the city now controlled by Al-Shabaab rebels, debate about the extent of U.S. involvement intensified this month. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson held a press conference to refute media reports of direct U.S. involvement in the anticipated offensive, and a Council on Foreign Relations report called for "constructive disengagement."

Mar 30 2010  Somalia: Somali-Led Peace Processes
    "How do Somali communities deal with their need for security and governance in the absence of a state? The reality is that since 1991 numerous Somali-led reconciliation processes have taken place at local and regional levels. Often these have proven more sustainable than the better resourced and better publicized national reconciliation processes sponsored by the international community." Pat Johnson and Abdirahman Raghe in new report from Conciliation Resources and Interpeace

Mar 30, 2010  Somalia: Situation Reports
    "The current military stalemate in southern Somalia is less a reflection of opposition strength than of the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government. Since the nomination of Sheikh Sharif to the presidency and the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia early in 2009, armed opposition groups -- Al-Shabaab in particular -- have lost their popular support base and been gravely weakened. ... Despite infusions of foreign training and assistance, government security forces remain ineffective, disorganized and corrupt." - UN Monitoring Group on Somalia, March 2010

Jan 24, 2010  Rwanda: Beyond Reasonable Doubt
    "The April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was the work of Hutu extremists who calculated that killing their own leader would torpedo a power-sharing agreement known as the Arusha Accords. The landmark deal would have ended years of conflict by creating a broad-based transitional government and an integrated Rwandan army. ... Despite the far-fetched conspiracy theories that have circulated over the years, the assassination plot was relatively straightforward. Colonel Bagosora was intimately familiar with the president's travel schedule and sufficiently powerful that the night before the summit, he was able to change the composition of the Rwandan delegation to ensure that Army Chief of Staff General Deogratias Nsabimana - who opposed Bagosora's genocidal plans - would be on the president's plane." Mutszinzi Report,

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Fueled from Many Sources
    "Minerals and arms smuggling worth millions of dollars persists in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) despite international sanctions, fuelling rebel strength despite national army operations, and army and rebel soldiers continue to kill civilians, according to a new United Nations report that calls on the Security Council to take action to plug the gaps." - UN News, reporting on independent Group of Experts on sanctions on DRC

Dec 22, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Militarization of Mining Well-Entrenched
    "The illicit exploitation of natural resources is not a new phenomenon in eastern DRC. It has characterised the conflict since it first erupted in 1996 and has been well documented by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the United Nations Panel of Experts and Group of Experts, journalists and others. Twelve years on, the patterns remain the same, and despite abundant evidence of these activities, no effective action has been taken to stop this murderous trade." - Global Witness

Dec 18, 2009  Africa: New Books from AfricaFocus Subscribers
    This AfricaFocus Bulletin has recent books (2008 and 2009) from AfricaFocus subscribers, including authors, editors, contributors, and publishers. It's a very substantial list, but I'm sure some have escaped my notice. If you are an AfricaFocus subscriber, check this out for your own books and those by the your fellow subscribers. If you are an author or editor and don't find your recently published book here, do let me know (at, and I'll add it below.

Dec 15, 2009  South Africa: 30+ New Books
    The most popular of these new books from and about South Africa is undoubtedly that by John Carlin on Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, now available in two editions as well as in the newly released Clint Eastwood movie. But probably the one most in need of greater international attention is the one edited by Tawana Kupe and colleagues - Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa. This photographic and analytic portrayal of the xenophobic violence of 2008 poses fundamental questions about the shape of today's South Africa.

Oct 23, 2009  Guinea (Conakry): More than an Inquiry?
    "Three weeks after over 150 people were killed in a military crackdown on demonstrators in the capital Conakry, with women and girls raped, Guineans are coping with the aftermath, some still searching for disappeared relatives' bodies. Uncertainty and tension reign." - UN IRIN News, Oct. 21, 2009

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: African Union Panel Reports
    "Repeatedly during our process of consultation, the Darfurians insisted that the Panel would fail in its mission if it did not identify and address what they called "the root cause of the crisis in Darfur". ... a gross imbalance between a strong centre and a marginalised periphery, which resulted in political power and wealth being concentrated in the centre, with the consequent negative consequences on the periphery." - African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Policy Debates and Dilemmas
    In the debate on international policies towards Sudan, analysts as Alex de Waal and Mahmood Mamdani have convincingly critiqued Save Darfur movement and the International Criminal Court for counterproductive "humanitarian fundamentalism." After recent years of alternating bluster and failure to put real pressure on the Sudanese government from the U.S. under President Bush, the Obama administration and the "international community" seem to be gearing up to give diplomacy a serious chance. But the unanswered question is whether even forceful and skillful diplomacy can overcome Khartoum's long-practiced strategies for delay and deception.

Oct 11, 2009  Sudan: Between Peace and War
    The pace of diplomacy on Sudan is increasing, with talks set to resume on Darfur and active engagement by the African Union, the United Nations, and the United States in efforts to move Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement forward as it approaches the last year of a projected 6-year interim period. But, says veteran Sudan analyst John Ashworth, in fact the agreement "is not Comprehensive, nor Peace, nor an Agreement. Its failure could ignite a new war even more deadly than the two previous conflicts in Southern Sudan.

Sep 15, 2009  USA/Somalia: Slippery Slope
    A U.S. commando raid in Somalia on Sept. 14 reportedly killed Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, accused of links with al-Qaeda and of responsibility for a terrorist truck bomb at a Mombasa hotel in 2002. It is being applauded as a win by U.S. counter-terrorism officials, not least for its success in avoiding civilian casualties. But critical observers warn that its impact could nevertheless be counter-productive, producing new recruits for extremist groups in Somalia and reinforcing accusations that the fragile Somali government is too close to Washington.

Aug 4, 2009  USA/Kenya: What Kind of Partnership?
    "Many people had hoped that Kenya's 2007 presidential elections would cement Kenya's democratic progress and would provide a solid foundation for the country to break out of its economic doldrums and begin to achieve some of its enormous economic potential. Instead, the 2007 elections brought trade and commerce to a halt, polarized the country along regional and ethnic lines and for a brief moment nearly brought the country to the edge of civil war." - Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa

Aug 4, 2009  Kenya: National Government of Impunity?
    On July 30, only days before this week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to Kenya, the first stop on her 7-country Africa trip, the Kenyan Cabinet decided to reject special prosecution of those responsible for post-election violence in 2007 and 2008, whether under a domestic special tribunal or by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the case has been referred. Kenyan human rights advocates have been scathing in their critique of the Cabinet decision, and will be closely parsing the signals from the Clinton visit.

Jul 21, 2009  USA/Africa: After the Speech
    President Obama's speech met with mixed reviews. In Africa as well as in the United States, there was applause for the criticism of corrupt African rulers and the inspiring rhetoric calling for Africans to take responsibility for their future. But many commentators also called for a reality check.

Jul 10, 2009  USA/Africa: Obama in Ghana, What Kind of Change?
    President Barack Obama's trip to Ghana, beginning today, will be rich in symbolism. But those hoping for a new direction in U.S. Africa policy are tempering their hopes with skepticism. The issue posed, parallel to that in other policy spheres, is to what extent change will remain symbolic or reflect substantive shifts, even if small, away from U.S. policies based on unilateral geostrategic goals or unexamined economic policy assumptions.

Jun 24, 2009  USA/Uganda: Recovery from Conflict?
    "We applaud the commitment of the bill [in the U.S. Congress] to bring about stability and development in the region. However, we as the Acholi religious leaders whose primary concern is the preservation of human life, advocate for dialogue and other non-violent strategies to be employed so that long term sustainable peace may be realized. Let us learn from the past experiences where we have seen that violence only breeds more violence." - Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Midterm Results Disappoint
    "Every Nigerian hopes Yar'Adua's administration will start delivering those political goods which every society is entitled to, and what Yar'Adua promised in his Inaugural Address. But the strength of the hope dwindles with each passing day. As Nigerians, we must raise our voices to demand for these goods, and pray for our leaders to appreciate that they are in office to solve societal problems - not just to make a few friends, relations and cronies better off." - Nasir El-Rufai

Jun 12, 2009  Nigeria: Delta Violence Past & Present
    "It is impossible to separate the actions of the oil multinationals operating across the Niger Delta from the actions of the Nigerian government in the region. ... In exchange for the oil removed from the Niger Delta, the oil companies, with the support of the Nigerian state, have left behind an ecological disaster, reducing whole towns and villages to rubble, causing death by fire and pollution, and the guns of the Nigerian military." - Sokari Ekine and Firoze Manji

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 1
    "Our first demand in our new campaign ["Demand Dignity"] is to the G-2 leaders, USA and China. The United States does not accept the notion of economic, social and cultural rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. We call on both governments to sign up to all human rights for all." - Irene Khan, Amnesty International

Jun 1, 2009  Africa: Economy and Human Rights, 2
    "There is still an enormous gap between the rhetoric of African governments, which claim to protect and respect human rights, and the daily reality where human rights violations remain the norm. ... So many people are living in utter destitution; so few of them have any chance to free themselves from poverty. Their dire situation is exacerbated by the failure of governments in the Africa region to provide basic social services, ensure respect for the rule of law, address corruption and be accountable to their people." - Amnesty International, 2009 annual report

May 25, 2009  Africa: Arms & Air Transport
    "Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report reveals that 90 per cent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used ... to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment." - SIPRI

May 14, 2009  Africa: New Books 2009
    This issue of AfricaFocus features brief notices of 15 books published so far in 2009 that I think AfricaFocus readers are likely to be interested in. This listing, including 10 on continent-wide issues or countries outside South Africa and 5 on South Africa, is far from comprehensive. But it includes a good selection of thoughtful analyses by both African writers and experienced non-African observers of the African scene.

Apr 21, 2009  Rwanda: Genocide Anniversary Reflections
    "Before the 10th anniversary, the international movement known as Remembering Rwanda was motivated by a fear that the genocide was being forgotten by the rest of the world. That concern has proved premature. Rwanda is probably as well known today as any tragic event very far from western countries, and causing direct harm to none of them, can be. ... Yet at the same time, as in virtually every other genocide, denial is alive and kicking." - Gerald Caplan

Mar 25, 2009  Kenya: Crisis Renewed
    "I am shaken. I am shocked. And that is, apparently, the intent. For all of us to be shaken. For all of us to be shocked. For all of us to hear the threat, heed the warning. The threat and the warning implicit in last week's assassinations of Kingara Kamau and John Paul Oulu of the Oscar Foundation." - L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Kenya Human Rights Commission

Mar 18, 2009  USA/Africa: Making Peace or Fueling War
    "Will de facto U.S. security policy toward the continent focus on anti-terrorism and access to natural resources and prioritize bilateral military relations with African countries? Or will the United States give priority to enhancing multilateral capacity to respond to Africa's own urgent security needs? If the first option is taken, it will undermine rather than advance both U.S. and African security." - Daniel Volman and William Minter, in new special report from Foreign Policy in Focus on AFRICOM and alternative policy frameworks.

Mar 9, 2009  Sudan: Into Uncharted Territory
    "Sudan has entered uncharted waters as a result of the ICC [International Criminal Court] arrest warrant against President Omar al Bashir. And indeed it is a nothing less than roll of the dice, a gamble with unknown consequences. Yesterday marks a turning point. We cannot say for sure in which direction Sudan will turn but there are many reasons to be fearful." - Alex de Waal

Mar 1, 2009  USA/Africa: Waiting for Change
    "While low visibility for Africa policy may not be entirely unexpected, considering the multiple crises the President faced entering office, it has disappointed many who had hoped the administration might quickly mobilize the high level attention that is needed to spur action on vital issues." - Reed Kramer,

Feb 16, 2009  Somalia: First Steps in a New Direction
    "The shortcomings of [the previous U.S.] approach are abundantly clear: violent extremism and anti-Americanism are now rife in Somalia due in large part to the blowback from policies that focused too narrowly on counter-terrorism objectives. The new U.S. national security team must make a clean break by defining and implementing a long-term strategy to support the development of an inclusive Somali government." - Ken Menkhaus

Jan 28, 2009  Congo (Kinshasa): Risky Steps towards Peace
    The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has announced that it is providing logistical support for the joint Congolese-Rwandan military operation in eastern Congo, to maximize protection of civilians and reintegration of rebel forces into the Congolese national army. MONUC was not informed of the operation in advance, and there are real fears for the consequences for civilians. Nevertheless, most observers see the move, reflecting new agreement between Rwandan and Congolese governments, as a prerequisite for more fundamental peace-making measures.

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.

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

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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."

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

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.

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.

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 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

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."

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.]

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

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.

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.

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

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

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 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

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.

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 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 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.

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

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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."

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.

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

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

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

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.

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 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,

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.

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

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.

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

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

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 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

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?

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.

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."

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.

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.

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 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

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.

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.

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"

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

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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 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

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.

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.

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)

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.

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

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.

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 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

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.

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."

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."

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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."

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."

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.

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.

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 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.