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Focus on African Countries


Talking Points on Peace and Security

  • Despite the image of a conflict-ridden continent, most African countries are at peace. They are afflicted not by war and warlords but by the less-visible kinds of "everyday" structural violence that prevail around the world: violence against women or migrants, for example, as well as abuses in police and prison systems, street crime that disproportionately affects the poor, or, more generally, systematic inequalities in access to basic social rights.

  • African civil conflicts, where they are occurring, are most often interpreted in terms of simplistic narratives applied to the entire continent. But each country is distinct. When there is open war, as in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria, or the Central African Republic, the causes are complex. Using explanations such as "age-old hostilities" or "tribalism" is wrong. But so is seeing external powers such as the United States or France as the primary contributors to violence, although colonial and Cold War histories, as well as current arms sales, have decisively influenced the context of today's conflicts.

  • In responding to internal conflict, terrorism, and criminal violence, leaders in Africa and around the world most often rely on militarized responses that are ineffective and abusive of human rights. Although leaders give lip service to addressing the root causes, it is standard formulas of repression and funding for security forces that take priority in practice.

  • In those countries where violent Islamic extremism is present, standard global counter-terrorism strategies are almost certain to further inflame the situation. "Wars" on drugs and crime, as well as higher walls and deportations against migrants and refugees, have likewise been consistently ineffective and counterproductive, producing more rather than less violence.

  • Security forces, both of African governments and of multilateral organizations such as the African Union and the United Nations, are needed to protect civilians from violence carried out by 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.

People internally displaced by conflict in South Sudan find only vulnerable shelter - UN Photo/Isaac Billy

  • There are no simple or "one-size-fits-all" solutions to violence and terrorism. Greater efforts are needed to address long-term causes and exercise preventive diplomacy. But people affected by conflict also need immediate help, both humanitarian assistance and accountable, adequately funded protection from violence.

Recent bulletins on peace and security


AfricaFocus Bulletin

February 1, 2016  Africa/Global: Accounting Tricks with Coca-Cola
    "The Cayman-based Conco is one of more than 25 entities located in tax havens -- just over 30 percent of the [Coca-Cola's] total 'financial' subsidiary disclosures.. Of those based in tax havens, almost half use Delaware, including the parent Coca-Cola company, incorporated there since 1919. ... Delaware's secret formula is the total tax exemption for all income related to intangible capital. In fact, the Delaware Code specifically highlights the advantages of holding companies for intangible capital that "charge" their own global subsidiaries a 'fee' for use of the trademarks and other intangible capital." - Khadija Sharife, in "Coca-Cola's Hidden Formula for Avoiding Taxes"

January 25, 2016  Africa: Charting the Digital Gender Gap
    New research from the World Wide Web Foundation reveals new details about the enduring digital gender gap in Africa's urban cities, despite the unprecedented expansion of access to mobile phones among women as well as men. In poor neighborhoods of six African cities, the study shows, "women are almost as likely as men to own a mobile phone of their own, but they are a third less likely than men of similar age, education level and economic status to use their phones to access the Internet. " The cities included were Lagos, Nairobi, Maputo, Kampala, Yaounde, and Cairo.

January 19, 2016  Africa: Stealth Assault on African Seeds
    "There is a renewed and stronger assault on seed ... based on legal systems that permit exclusive rights over seeds on the spurious contention that plant varieties were 'discovered' and improved on. But these 'discovered' varieties are the product of the whole history of collective human improvements and maintenance carried out by peasants. To assert exclusive rights over the whole on the basis of small adjustments is nothing short of outright theft." - SouthSouth Dialogue, Durban, South Africa, November 2015

December 10, 2015  Africa/Global: Beyond the Paris Climate Talks
    As the climate talks in Paris draw to a close this week, the countries present are still far from full agreement. Among the latest surprises was the announcement by the Marshall Islands and St. Lucia of a "Coalition of High Ambition Countries," spearheaded by small island states which are the most at risk of being submerged due to climate change. The coalition includes over 100 countries, including the European Union countries and the United States, but notable exceptions are the largest developing countries, such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.

More on: politics&human rights|peace&security|health|economy|ict

AfricaFocus Archive: by date | by place | by topic

December 1, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Changing "the Media"
November 19, 2015  
    Africa: Boosting ICTs
November 11, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Follow the Money
November 5, 2015  
    Europe/Africa: Dialogue Unlikely at Migration Summit
October 28, 2015  
    South Sudan: Hard-Hitting Report from African Union
October 20, 2015  
    Africa: Tax Tricks, Mobile Phones, and Beer
October 13, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Health Challenges & Threats
October 6, 2015  
    South Africa/Global: Piketty says "Tax the Rich"
September 30, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Climate Action Beyond Paris
September 21, 2015  
    Africa: Internet Usage Rising Rapidly
September 14, 2015  
    West Africa: Tax Giveaway Follies
September 8, 2015  
    Mozambique/Africa: "The Eloquent Peasant"
August 3, 2015  
    Africa/Global: Climate Change Roundup
July 29, 2015  
    USA/Africa: Obama Visit Roundup
July 21, 2015  
    Africa/Global: "Stop The Bleeding"
July 14, 2015  
    Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short

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Africa News
Feb 10, 2016
AllAfrica | Conflict, Peace and Security
Africa: Rwanda Calls for "Maturity" Over Burundi Crisis
Uganda: On Patrol With Uganda's Controversial 'Crime Preventers'
Uganda: Police Deployed As Besigye Holds Rallies in Kampala
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