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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA: Summit Documents, 4

USA: Summit Documents, 4
Date distributed (ymd): 000323
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This set of two postings on the National Summit on Africa continue the series of three posted in February by APIC. Please note that, as has always been APIC's policy for this electronic list, the responsibility for the views expressed is that of the original source of each document. As the guidelines posted on APIC's web site indicate, "selection of a document for reposting implies that it is considered a useful resource for wider public debate, but not necessarily that APIC endorses all the views expressed in reposted material." Neither the previous postings nor the two today should be misconstrued as an "APIC statement."

As a matter of record, APIC has not made and does not yet have a formal statement of opinion on how the important dynamic of the National Summit on Africa process should continue in the future. This is far too serious and complex a subject, involving not only the responsibilities and directions of many different groups, but also many individuals around the country and indeed around the world, for us to reach quick conclusions or prematurely adopt firmly defined positions. APIC is convinced that the primary arena in which such a position should be defined is among the very diverse strands of concerned people who have been engaged in the Summit process at many levels.

APIC's electronic distribution list is not the appropriate vehicle for continuing these important discussions. For the ongoing debate -- to the extent it is available on-line -- we recommend two primary sources. One is the Summit web site ( The other is an on-line discussion entitled "Africa Matters," initiated in December with an core group of many summit delegation chairs, and opened to the public following the summit. This forum -- -- is available on-line for sign-up and viewing of the archive at To sign up by e-mail, send a blank message to If there are other such public fora that are open to a wide audience, please let us know and we will find a way to insert a notice of their existence through the distribution list or the Africa Policy web site.

This posting contains a letter from Herschelle S. Challenor, Chair, Board of Directors and Leonard H. Robinson, Jr., President and Chief Operating Officer, which includes a response to criticisms in the February 25, 2000 Progressive Response article by Jim Lobe and Jim Cason ( The letter was also posted by the Foreign Policy in Focus project in the March 17, 2000 issue of Progressive Response, along with a response by Cason and Lobe

The other posting sent out today contains the Summit's Top Ten Action Priorities, just released, as well as selections from recent on-line comments by chairs of state delegations.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Letter to the State Chairs, Co-chairs and State Delegations Of the National Summit on Africa

Herschelle S. Challenor, Chair, Board of Directors
Leonard H. Robinson, Jr., President and CEO

March 7, 2000

For more information contact:
National Summit on Africa
1819 H St., NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-861-8644
Fax: 202-861-8645

The National Summit on Africa held February 16-20, 2000 was a powerful testament to your hard work, dedication, commitment and investment in the critical cause of strengthened relations between the United States and Africa. Your passionate commitment to a mutually beneficial U.S. African partnership over the past two years and at the National Summit in Washington had a profound impact on U.S. policy makers and the American public at large. The Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright and other American and African officials recognized that you are a bona fide, serious, potential political force. Their presence at the National Summit reflected this awareness. They now understand that Africa Matters to a broad spectrum of the American people. Without you, these dynamics would not have been possible!

Although much has been accomplished, a more difficult phase of our work has just begun. The National Policy Plan of Action must be implemented. For this to occur within a reasonable time period, we must work together and develop a viable education and advocacy action strategy that will require support from the State Delegations and thousands more across the United States.

During a meeting with Chairs of State Delegations midway through the Regional Summit process and ever since, you the delegates and participants around the nation have pressed the Summit Secretariat to address the question of a post-Summit mechanism to implement the Plan of Action. [This expectation reached its zenith when the Summit's Dialogue and Celebration of Africa exceeded our aspirations.] In reacting responsibly to your expressed sentiments and the call for definitive follow-up action, the Summit Secretariat, consistent with policy directives from the Board of Directors, initiated an internal process to formulate a realistic way forward. Our very preliminary plans to sustain the Summit's work were bolstered by the ringing mandate echoed by thousands of participants at the National Summit on Africa in Washington. Rest assured that we will consult with a cross section of State Chairs and Delegates in reaching final decisions related to structure, methods of communication and the nature of the relationship between the Summit Secretariat and the states. Moreover, in concert with plans to restructure the Board of Directors, we will reserve six Board positions for one representative from each of the six regions. We have already consulted with some of you by telephone concerning the future plans of the Summit Secretariat. Following the special meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board held this weekend, this consultative process will continue through a series of conferences calls. In the final segment of this letter, we find it necessary to address issues raised by some recent communications sent to you. While it is the policy of the National Summit on Africa not to respond to commentary that criticizes its actions, in the interest of transparency, we do feel constrained to provide some observations on a recent electronic article by Jim Lobe and Jim Cason, which contained several false statements and half-truths. The allegation that the National Summit on Africa used a "top-down approach that failed to adequately consult with existing local groups and long established NGOs with national networks..." is simply false. First, eleven of the major Africa focused groups or groups with Africa as a major area of concern, are members of the NSOA Board of Directors (AAI, the Africa Fund, APIC, Africa News Service, the African Studies Association, the Constituency for Africa, the Corporate Council for Africa, International Human Rights Law Group, the Modern Africa Fund Managers, USA for Africa, the Africa Office of the National Council of Churches). Reverend Leon Sullivan, Randal Robinson of TransAfrica and C. Payne Lucas of Africare are National Co-Chairs. The labor movement is also represented on the Board. Secondly, the six Regional Summits were democratic and open to all persons, including Africans, residing in the states within a given region. Indeed a special effort was made to ensure that a cross section of the American people would be represented including youth, academics, faith based communities, non-governmental organizations, women's and environmental groups, elected officials, the corporate community, resident Africans and ordinary citizens. This search for diversity was made quite clear to the institutional partners in the six regions, as well as to state representatives when they convened to elect their delegates. Indeed from the very outset of operations, the Summit's stated philosophy and practice has been of inclusion, diversity, bipartisan, and completely open to everyone. Finally, while the NSOA Secretariat did provide a Draft Plan of Action (DPA) based upon a set of thematic issue papers researched and written by African and American academics, NGO representatives and the policy relevant community, all participants in the Regional Summits and delegates at the National Summit were free to modify the document as they saw fit, with no interference from the Summit Secretariat. In citing the support for the African Growth and Opportunity Act by the President Clinton, the Secretary of State, Senior Director for Africa at the NSA, and Secretary of Transpiration Slater, Messrs. Lobe and Cason neglected to point out that every single African official who spoke at the Summit including the Secretary General of the OAU, the Secretary General of the Economic Commission for Africa, the Vice President of Nigeria, the foreign ministers and the Ambassadors to United States from Senegal and South Africa, voiced their firm support for the Africa Trade bill and called for its rapid passage. Indeed we support the African leaders in their desire for a trade bill. The charge cited in the article that the National Summit was being Acontrolled by people with an emphasis on trade and investment and that "... these are the new colonizers" is intriguing, since a colonizer is one who settles in a colony. In contrast, it is perhaps those who think they know what is best for Africa, despite Africa's clear statements to the contrary, that are acting in a paternalist manner characteristic of the former colonial powers.

The allegation that the National Summit is "being hijacked by a leadership with a corporate friendly agenda" or will be dominated by corporate interests is silly at best. In October 1998, the Board of Directors adopted a policy with respect to corporate funding that states, inter alia" in identifying and evaluating prospective donors, the Summit will take into account the overall governance and corporate responsibility record of each corporation. In researching corporations special consideration will be given to human rights, workplace and diversity issues, environmental record, operations abroad, and corporate giving history." Every corporation that was approached for funding was checked in advance through a due diligence procedure at the Secretariat's fund-raising secretariat based at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Upon completion of this review process, the file was submitted to the Board of Directors for its approval. All corporate gifts received were approved if not by the unanimous consent, then by the vast majority of the Board.

The lion's share of the financial support has come from the Ford and Carnegie Foundations. To suggest that a diverse group of corporations who gave a total of $315,000 in the five weeks preceding the National Summit would have any serious influence when even those that provided $6.8 million tried in no way to influence the substantive positions in the Draft and the final National Plan of Action, simply makes no sense. Virtually all non-governmental organizations seek and accept funds from corporate donors and have corporate representatives on their respective Boards of Directors. All of the NGOS, including Africa focused groups, actively seek and receive foundation grants, which are, after all, resources generated from corporate profits.

The report that the "final assembly was clouded with charges by many grassroots and non-governmental organizations rooted in the antiapartheid (sic) movement that the mobilizing effort put into the Summit risked being hijacked by a leadership with a "corporate friendly agenda," is untrue. Only one individual read a document for which signatures were being sought during the conference. The delegate from New York was given the opportunity to speak, not to avoid a disruption as implied by reporters, but rather because the National Summit supports the articulation of diverse points of view. The fact that no petition was presented at that time suggests that this was a position of a very small minority. Moreover, apartheid in South Africa was sui generis involving clear racial, class and ideological cleavages. The democratization of South Africa can be attributed not only to the struggle waged by the African liberation movement, but also to the sustained, valiant and effective efforts of the anti-apartheid movement in the US and other parts of Europe. That battle has been won and the role played by American anti-apartheid groups, including most of the individuals on the Summit Board, should be commended. However, the issues that challenge the rest of Africa are more complex and require different analyzes and responses.

With respect to the personal attacks against the President of the National Summit on Africa, it is important to note for the record that Leonard Robinson was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in 1983 with responsibility for U.S. economic and commercial policy toward sub-Saharan Africa, not Southern Africa and the controversial policy of constructive engagement. Inside the Department of State he repeatedly warned fellow policy makers that American policy toward Southern Africa was wrong and that the Free South Africa Movement would succeed in mobilizing American public opinion against the constructive engagement policy. He left the Department of State in 1984 when it became clear that his warnings were ignored to become the first President of the U.S. African Development Foundation. Initially, Congressionally funded with an appropriation of $1 million, by the time he left in 1990, its Congressional funding had risen to $17 million. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1990 to 1993, his portfolios included West and Central Africa, narcotics, democracy and terrorism. In 1992-93, 62.4% of all drug traffickers arrested at JFK International Airport were Nigerian. Illicit drugs interdicted through these arrests were headed for the streets of our inner city communities and constituted a threat to U.S. national security.

In 1993, Leonard Robinson, while working for the then law firm of Washington & Christian, the firm, with the encouragement of U.S. authorities, agreed to assist the Government of Nigeria in establishing a drug interdiction program, including initiating a polygraph system for all police officers, security personnel and border guards, and to help formulate an official drug policy. Leonard Robinson and others presently working with Africa focused organizations, worked on this project. This work was conducted in the national security interest of America.

As noted by the reporters, the National Summit on Africa process was modeled after the United Nations world conferences. One of the cardinal principles of the UN system is sovereign equality, which is rooted in the belief that every nation, despite the views and actions of its government, should be treated with courtesy and respect, and has the right to articulate its views before the world forum. Ralph Bunche, former Under Secretary General of the UN, once said that there are no crosses or tombstones on the battlefield of debate. The accepted practice to express dissent is to leave the room, rather than disrupt a session, which intrudes upon the rights of others. The Summit extended an invitation to every African Head of State with whom the United States has diplomatic relations. President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, with the encouragement of the Department of State, accepted the Summit's invitation. Several other nations like Benin, Senegal, Tanzania and Mozambique were in the midst of electoral campaigns or had just held elections. For reasons of protocol, many other African Heads of State were reluctant to make a commitment to attend the National Summit, prior to the confirmation that President Clinton would address the Summit. The article by the reporters quotes heavily from a confidential internal document requested by the Board of Directors in November 1999. It was a discussion paper and was not projected as official policy. Leaking this document to the press represents a breach of confidence. As it turned out, the Board of Directors considered a set of recommendations from the Executive Board at its meeting in February 2000 and decided by a vote of 16 for, 4 against and 1 abstention to agree in principle to the establishment of a Phase II of the National Summit on Africa for the purpose of implementing the National Plan of Action, following broad consultations with Africa focused groups and other interested constituencies.

In this connection, perhaps the most puzzling position cited in the article was that the National Summit on Africa was established with the understanding that it would end with the completion of the National Summit and that, therefore, to prolong it is a breach of faith. Does that mean that the Constructive Engagement position of the Reagan Administration should never have been reversed? No organization, university, corporation or government policy is static. Dynamism requires that institutions respond to new realities. The delegates from around the country energized by the Summit process have forcefully called upon the Summit to continue its work - - especially to educate Americans about Africa and to ensure implementation of the National Policy Plan of Action - - and to keep them involved in it. Why invest significant resources and work to create a constituency if you are not prepared to sustain it? The very essence of effectiveness is to always follow-through on what you initiate.

In conclusion, the National Summit on Africa has been in existence only slightly more than three years. Growing pains and other challenges not withstanding, it admittedly is not perfect. As has been publicly acknowledged, there is room for improvement and strengthening of operations, including communications with those you who comprise a vast and growing network. However, what took place in Washington two weeks ago was no mirage, you experienced it, you made it happen. Do not allow anyone to challenge this reality - - nor its historic, constructive impact. Nothing worthwhile in life is gained with out vision, determination, good luck and the right mix of a dedicated core of people to a common purpose. In the final analysis, all the National Summit on Africa seeks is that the realities of Africa be known and understood by the American people; that the support base for Africa in the United States expands dramatically and that American policy towards the nations of the African Continent be responsive to their legitimate needs and our respective mutual interests. As over 600 papers around the world have reported, you have demonstrated the Africa Matters to Americans. There is no turning back. We must all stay the course.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen international policy debates around African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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