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Selected Publications written or edited by William Minter

2011 - African Migration, Global Inequalities, and Human Rights: Connecting the Dots.
Current African Issues Paper for Nordic Africa Institute.

August 1, 2010 - Oped in Providence Journal U.S.-Africa 'reset' requires honesty about America's wrongs
President Obama has inspired hope in Africa and around the world. Africans who heed his call to build the future, however, must still reckon with the stubborn fact that the United States can be an obstacle as well as a partner.

Spring, 2010 - Foreword to issue of Articulate - End "Aid," Invest in Global Public Goods
Let us agree that the "aid paradigm" is fundamentally flawed, in that it is based on a model of the rich "helping" the poor. But the paradigm advanced by free-market fundamentalism, that poor countries and poor people can and should lift themselves up by their bootstraps, without benefit of support from the wider society, is also fallacious.

April, 2010 - Zimbabwe: Demystifying Sanctions and Strengthening Solidarity, by Briggs Bomba and William Minter
In the case of Zimbabwe today, both supporters and opponents of sanctions exaggerate their importance. The international community, both global and regional, has other tools as well.

October, 2009 - Africa: Climate Change and Natural Resources, by William Minter and Anita Wheeler
Africa will suffer consequences out of all proportion to its contribution to global warming, which is primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions from wealthy countries. But Africa can also make significant contributions to mitigating (i.e. limiting) climate change, by stopping tropical deforestation and ending gas flaring from oil production.

March, 2009 - Making Peace or Fueling War in Africa, by Daniel Volman and William Minter, for Foreign Policy in Focus html | pdf (283K)
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.

February, 2009 - Inclusive Human Security: U. S. National Security Policy, Africa, and the African Diaspora, edited for TransAfrica Forum html (150K) | pdf (2.8M)
Fundamentally, it is necessary not only to present a new foreign policy face to the world, but to shape an international agenda that shows more and more Americans how our own security depends on that of others. The old civil rights adage that "none of us are free until all of us are free" has its corollary in an inclusive human security framework: "None of us can be secure until all of us are secure. "

April, 2008 - Migration and Global Justice, pamphlet written for American Friends Service Committee html | pdf (379K)
"As the global economy drives global inequality, movement across borders inevitably increases. If legal ways are closed, people trying to survive and to support their families will cross fences or set sail on dangerous seas regardless of the risks. "

December, 2007 - "The Armored Bubble: Military Memoirs from Apartheid's Warriors," pp. 147-152 in African Studies Review html | pdf (70K)
"The books reviewed in this essay are a small sample of one genre of war literature: detailed accounts of battle from the perspective of those among South Africa's military veterans who have no question that they were fighting a just cause in defense of their country. "

Jan 31, 2007 - Oped in Providence Journal "Don't replay Iraq in Horn of Africa"
"Somalia is not Iraq, of course. ... But the similarities are nevertheless substantial. The United States and Ethiopia cut short efforts at reconciliation ... They disregarded Somali and wider African opinion in an effort to kill alleged terrorists. And while chalking up military "victories," they aggravated long-term problems."

Jul 8, 2002 - "Invisible Hierarchies: Africa, Race, and Continuities in the World Order" (pdf)
"The failure to acknowledge race as a fundamental feature of today’s unequal world order remains a striking weakness of radical as well as conventional analyses of that order. Current global and national socioeconomic hierarchies are not mere residues of a bygone era of primitive accumulation. Just as it should be inconceivable to address the past, present, and future of American society without giving central attention to the role of African American struggles, so analyzing and addressing 21st-century structures of global inequality requires giving central attention to Africa."
In Science & Society, July, 2005

Jul 8, 2002 - "Aid—Let's Get Real"
"There is an urgent need to pay for such global public needs as the battles against AIDS and poverty by increasing the flow of real resources from rich to poor. But the old rationales and the old aid system will not do. ... For a real partnership, the concept of "aid" should be replaced by a common obligation to finance international public investment for common needs."
In The Nation, July 8, 2002, with Salih Booker.

Nov 3, 1992 - Oped in Christian Science Monitor "Savimbi Should Accept That Democracy Worked in Angola"
"Just one month after Angolans peacefully thronged polling stations in their first multiparty election ever, the conflict-battered Southern African country is on the brink of all-out war. ... The international community, including the US, has been unanimous, in urging Savimbi to accept the election results, but Savimbi and his close-knit group of top officers remain both unpredictable and militarily potent. The new conflict, which appears to the starting, will be hard to contain."

April, 1988 - "When Sanctions Worked: The Case of Rhodesia Reconsidered", with Elizabeth Schimdt, in African Affairs html (97K) | pdf (3.4M)
"Sanctions, while not the only factor in bringing majority rule to Rhodesia, made a significant long-term contribution to that result. ... Moreover, more strongly enforced sanctions could have been even more effective. If Rhodesia's petroleum lifeline had been severed and if South Africa had not served as a back door to international trade, ... the country could not have survived for more than a matter of months."

1968 - "Action against Apartheid," in Bruce Douglas, ed., Reflections on Protest: Student Presence in Political Conflict
"But the government usually seems to be a very distant and unresponsive target [for anti-apartheid protests]. Therefore exposure of U.S.A. business involvement in Southern Africa - by demonstrations, withdrawal campaigns, etc. - is at least equally important.

End "Aid," Invest in Global Public Goods

Foreword to Articulate:Undergraduate Research Applied to International Development
Volume III Issue I Spring 2010

"Aid," like any other human endeavor, sometimes "works" and sometimes "doesn't work." It is easy to find examples to illustrate either conclusion, whether for official development aid or non-governmental programs. But nuanced accounts such as Roger Riddell's 2007 book Does Aid Really Work? make it clear that the only correct answer is "it depends." There are real achievements, but there are also profound structural flaws as well as ineffective or counterproductive projects. And there are no easy formulas to calculate the net effect or to distinguish "good aid" from "bad aid."

The critics on the right, like Dambisa Moyo and William Easterly, and on the left, like Jonathan Glennie and David Sogge, may concur in citing the deficiencies of both governmental and non-governmental aid establishments. But the alternatives they offer suggest radically different approaches to reforming or replacing "aid."

Let us agree that the "aid paradigm" is fundamentally flawed, in that it is based on a model of the rich "helping" the poor. But the paradigm advanced by free-market fundamentalism, that poor countries and poor people can and should lift themselves up by their bootstraps, without benefit of support from the wider society, is also fallacious. Whether within a nation, or in our ever more interconnected global society, the chances of eliminating poverty or reducing inequality depend on investment in public goods. The mechanisms that create poverty and inequality are national and global, not just individual, and the responsibility for fixing them (and paying for the fixes) belongs to all of us.

The current world order, in which one's life chances still depend on accidents of birth such as race, gender, and nationality, is constructed on a foundation of centuries of inequality. Slavery, apartheid, and colonial conquest are only the most visible examples of mechanisms imposed by force or custom in the past, which have left stubborn legacies felt by children being born today. National governments and powerful international agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund still impose rules biased toward the rich, as well as providing a steady flow of subsidies. Global and national economies pump resources from poor to rich, and profit-making enterprises avoid paying for "externalities" that damage our common environment.

The impact of climate change, for example, is most severe precisely for those countries that have contributed least to global warming. Yet there are no global mechanisms in place to force those most responsible for the problem to pay for the massive effort to reverse the present and future damage.

In a world in which climate change and economic trends know no boundaries, national boundaries stand as an indicator of global apartheid ( In the year 2000, according to the first comprehensive study of global wealth, the richest 2 percent of the world's adults owned more than half of the world's total household wealth (

There is inequality within every country. But today's inequalities, note Roberto Korzeniewicz and Timothy Moran in their recent study Unveiling Inequality, are overwhelmingly determined by national divisions. In such a world, it should be no surprise that people try to move to get a better deal, and that many are not deterred by laws, fences, or danger. The phenomenon is worldwide, wherever wealth and poverty coexist: Africans from around the continent find their way to South Africa, South Asians find work in the Middle East, Mexicans and Central Americans cross the border to the U.S. Southwest, people risk their lives on small boats from Africa to Europe, or from the Caribbean to Florida. The pattern is inescapably evocative of that of South Africa's apartheid, when authorities tried to confine blacks to their "homelands," except when their labor was needed elsewhere.

This systematic inequality in today's world, which condemns millions of people to grinding poverty and untimely death, should be as unacceptable as slavery, colonialism, and apartheid. In their time, these earlier systems appeared to be unshakable. Yet they eventually fell, overcome by generations of resistance that crossed national and continental boundaries. Another world, in which all human beings enjoy full and equal rights, is neither imminent nor predictable. Fundamental change will not be easy, and it may be long in coming. But it is a goal that this generation must envision as both possible and necessary.

There are signs, moreover, however fragile, that the necessary shifts in thinking may be beginning to emerge. A decade ago, before the Durban World AIDS Conference in the year 2000, both African and global policymakers assumed that AIDS treatment was "too expensive" for Africans, and that millions would just have to be left to die. The fight against AIDS is still far from victory, but mobilization by activists in Africa and around the world changed that assumption, leading to the formation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Significantly, the governing body of that fund, and the responsibility for reviewing results, includes both "donor" and "recipient" countries, as well as technical experts and people affected by the disease.

Such a vision of shared responsibility for global public goods does not guarantee results. And it has yet to penetrate the halls of the U.S. Congress or the studios of cable commentators. The funding is still largely at the mercy of the fickle politics of a handful of rich countries. But even in this realm the search for innovative sources of funding has produced some hopeful results. UNITAID is supplying medicines in over 90 countries with financing from an airline tax collected by Chile, France, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger and the Republic of Korea. A currency transaction levy is being debated seriously by international policymakers, although it is still anathema in the U.S. political arena.

The concept of "aid" is deeply embedded in conventional wisdom, in bureaucracies, in legislation, and in statistical data. But we should reject the false choice between continuing the status quo and "cutting aid" to rely on the invisible workings of an imaginary trickle-down market effect. The task is both to conceive a new order founded on the common good and universal human rights and to figure out the necessarily complex and diverse ways to pursue that vision.

William Minter
Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin