bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 5, Issue 13 — 6 July 2012
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AU summit highlights pan-African weaknesses
The decision by the African Union (AU) to shift its bi-annual Summit from Lilongwe, Malawi to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in response to Malawi’s refusal to allow the participation of Sudanese Head of State Omar al-Bashir has thrown into sharp relief the potential conflict between African regionalism and international mechanisms to promote and protect rule of law, justice, and respect for human rights. Bashir is the first Head of State to be charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and faces arrest warrants for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The situation is highly complex. On the one hand, rule of law, justice, and human rights are at the core of the AU’s Constitutive Act (2000), as well as ground-breaking standards such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981).
However, the extent to which AU members adhere to these laudable norms and standards in practice varies widely. On the Bashir question, Malawi has broken ranks with the official AU line, which is not to honour the ICC warrant. While some observers view this latest episode as yet another indication of the AU’s inability to practice what it preaches and what its member countries have signed up to, others argue that the problem lies with the ICC itself.
As it celebrates its tenth anniversary, there is a persistent refrain from the ICC’s critics that by focusing almost exclusively on pursuing and prosecuting Africans, the Court has shown itself to be complicit in an international conspiracy – led by Western nations some of whom have refused to sign the Rome Statute that established the ICC. With the exception of a handful of African states, Malawi being the latest, the AU community has consistently opposed the ICC.
Most recently, Kenya (with two presidential candidates facing ICC allegations of crimes against humanity) has sought to lobby for the ICC to be set aside in favour of regional alternatives – notably the Arusha-based African Court of Justice and Human Rights, and the East African Court of Justice. Neither of these bodies however has yet demonstrated an appetite to sanction offenders.
The decision to move the AU summit has sparked considerable debate. As Edge Kanyongolo argues in the July 1 edition of Malawi Today: “When African political leaders turn on their own citizens and subject them to oppression, violence and plunder, what should be the response of the genuine pan-Africanist? Surely, it cannot be to jump to the defence of those leaders in the name of pan-Africanism.” Malawian opposition leader, Friday Jumbe, is just as unequivocal, stating: "We cannot be forced to host a summit on the condition that al-Bashir, who everybody knows is hunted by the international community, should come to Malawi.”
Beyond Malawi, other civil society actors have seized on the controversy to step up demands for increased accountability from their governments on this front, including in Kenya, South Africa Uganda and Zambia.
It is unlikely that the ICC debate will be resolved overnight. That said, and as further episodes of the story unfold, African and non-African states alike will be forced to confront the apparent contradictions between their rhetorical support for rule of law, good governance and human rights on the one hand, and what happens in the day-to-day realpolitik of international relations on the other.
The African Union should not abandon its promise to fight impunity. Unless indicted war criminals are held to account, regardless of their rank, others tempted to emulate them will not be deterred, and African people will suffer.
- Egyptians are unsure of what to expect in the coming months, following last week’s swearing in of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's first Islamist president. Analysts argue that the country’s first free presidential election is a historic step forward on Egypt's rocky path to democracy.
- Just a few days before the historic parliamentary election is to be held in Libya since nearly five decades, there have been calls in the country's second largest city of Benghazi to boycott the vote. These growing tensions and violence in Libya threatens to undermine the electoral process, which is expected to lead to the formation of an assembly of 200 members, a government and a new constitution.
- Charity organization Save the Children warns that poor rainfalls and on-going conflict threaten to push hundreds of thousands of Somalis back into hunger, just months after the country recovered from a devastating famine. The charity calls for an urgent increase in aid as a huge number of families in Somalia are still unable to cope with the effects of drought.
- As delegates from around the world meet in New York for a month-long arms treaty negotiations, hoping to bring more regulation to the $60 billion a year industry, deep divisions amongst countries on key issues remains an obstacle to efforts to forge any agreement.
- AfDB pledges to commit $1 billion a year to Africa’s energy sector at Rio+20
- The AfDB approves road improvement and transport facilitation project on Lomé-Ouagadougou corridor (article in French)
- AU condemns twin terrorist attacks in North Eastern Kenya last week
- AU deploys an observer mission to Libya
- AU slams destruction of Timbuktu tombs
- EAC Court of Justice’s jurisdiction to be extended
- EAC cited as transit route for drugs, according to the 2012 World Drug Report
- The Heads of State and Governments Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have committed themselves to pursue efforts aimed at harmonizing budgetary and fiscal policies among member states in order to ensure greater macroeconomic convergence
- ECOWAS Commission President, Ambassador Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, officially sworn in
- EU sees South Africa’s pledge to IMF as sign of solidarity
- EU grants Morocco €45 million to promote gender equality
- EU offers to help Zimbabwe address mounting concerns over corruption in its diamond sector
- U.N. World Heritage Committee calls for a special fund to protect Mali's cultural heritage, after militants destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu
- UNFPA chief sees need to put family planning back on global ‘radar’
- UN Secretary-General announces significant commitments to action in support of achieving sustainable energy for all
- UN and partners note roadmap progress in Somalia, voice concern over missed deadlines
- UN and African envoys present regional plan to halt LRA attacks
- Jim Yong Kim takes helm as World Bank leader
- World Bank provides $90 million grant to increase cotton exports, mining revenues and food reserves in Burkina Faso
- Over 270,000 Ugandans to benefit from improved access to water and sanitation services through $135 million IDA credit
- World Bank provides $100 million to support Niger’s reform program for shared growth
- The 2012 DATA report reveals that some of the poorest people are paying the price of the economic crisis. Aid from the European Union declined last year for the first time since 2002, with fourteen EU countries cutting their aid. Aid promises to Africa are well off-track.
- The world has become more peaceful for the first time since 2009, according to the 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI). This year, for the first time in the history of the GPI, sub-Saharan Africa is no longer the least peaceful region in the world. Infact, Mozambique remains among the world's top 50 most peaceful nations, taking the 48th position, for the second consecutive year.
- According to Gallup Polls from 2009 to 2011, sub-Saharan Africans with a secondary education are less likely to live in poverty, stressing the need for universal access to this level of education.
- A woman's lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15 year old girl will ultimately die from a maternal cause – is 1 in 3,800 in developed countries but 1 in 150 in developing countries, according to Save the Children’s report entitled “Every Woman's Right: How family planning saves children's lives.”
- A leaked UN report accuses the government of Rwanda of arming M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and providing recruits, findings Rwanda denies.
- The global number of illicit drug users is likely to grow by 25% by 2050, with the bulk of the increase expected to take place among the rapidly rising urban populations of developing countries, according to the 2012 United Nations World Drug Report.
- A World Bank report on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), cities, and natural disasters in Africa, titled "Municipal ICT Capacity and its Impact on the Climate-Change Affected Urban Poor: The Case of Mozambique," highlights the role of ICT to prevent the effects of climate change-induced emergencies in Africa.
- Report on nutrition development policy calls for EU to develop more efficient strategy and significantly raise budget to €1bn to tackle malnutrition worldwide. In calling for a big EU push on nutrition, the report said: "The EU is already the world's largest donor – now is the time to show that it is also the most effective aid actor.
- allAfrica.com: World Bank – Transformation issues, 3 July 2012 – Professor Chinua Akukwe argues that in light of global efforts against poverty, the World Bank needs to reorient their operations. He discusses four possible transformation strategies the Bank could employ.
- The Atlantic: These 600-year old heritage sites might be rubble by August, 3 July 2012 – Max Fisher discusses the recent destruction of many of Timbuktu’s ancient shrines. He includes photos and stories of some of the city’s most important historical sites.
- The New York Times: Africa on the rise, 30 June 2012 – Nicholas D. Kristof challenges the (American) perception of Africa as just a place for safaris and humanitarian aid. He argues that as the continent becomes more democratic, more technocratic and more market friendly, it is also becoming one of the best places to make money.
- SACSIS (Johannesburg): The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse - G8 corporate power, 27 June 2012 -According to Glenn Ashton, the “pledge of corporate assistance” for African Agriculture made at the June 2012 G8 meeting convened by President Obama, is merely yet another tactic to coerce Africa into opening up its doors to exploitation portrayed as assistance. He further stressed that Africa must demonstrate authoritative leadership to direct how this assistance is provided in order to have any meaningful impact.
The parallel pursuit of justice and peace does present challenges, but it can be managed... We must be ambitious enough to pursue both, and wise enough to recognize, respect and protect the independence of justice...
- Kofi Annan while addressing the First Review Conference of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, May 2010
In the blogs...
- From Poverty to Power: Where are development’s venture capitalists? 4 July 2012 – Duncan Green questions whether a venture capitalist approach of high risk/high return could work in development. He offers an Oxfam project in Tanzania as evidence as to why he thinks it could.
- The Impatient Optimists: A blueprint to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, 3 July 2012 – Jean-Philippe Stijns, an economist with the OECD Development Centre, argues that in order to achieve the MDGs, better policies as well as more resources are needed.
- African Arguments: China in Africa – Dambisa Moyo fails to uncover a more complex situation, 2 July 2012 – Jolyon Ford at Oxford Analytica argues that Dambisa Moyo’s recent opinion piece in the New York Times fails to interrogate some of the most basic questions in the China-in-Africa story.
- The Huffington Post: Chronic crisis in the Sahel calls for a new approach, 2 July 2012 – Nancy Lindberg at USAID argues that while it is not possible to prevent droughts from happening, it is possible to create better solutions and build greater resilience among the most vulnerable. She discusses four ways USAID is currently trying to do this.
- Rebuff to AU may backfire on Julia Gillard in UN vote
- Senator Bob Carr first Australian Foreign Minister to visit Algeria
- Ethiopia and a Chinese company sign a $ 1.5 billion railway agreement to build a new railway line in the northern part of the Horn of Africa
- In an attempt to improve ties with Algiers, French President finally appears ready to express regret over one of the bloodiest episodes in its colonial history
- Japan injects $50 million into three South Sudan projects
- Japan gives Ghana $7 million grant to start solar energy project at Noguchi Centre for Medical Research
- The Korea International Cooperation Agency says it will launch a new rural development projects over the next 18 months that will further help tackle hunger in African nations
|7 July||Libya Parliamentary Elections|
|9 July||South Sudan: 1st year of Independence|
|9 July||Global Dialogue on HIV and the Law: New York, U.S.A|
|9 July||AFDB High Level Policy Dialogue on Youth Employment in Africa: Lusaka, Zambia|
|9-16 July||19th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on “Boosting Intra-African Trade:” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|9-27 July||UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 52nd Session: New York, U.S.A|
|11 July||London Summit on Family Planning co-sponsored by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with support from UNFPA and other partners: London, United Kingdom|
|15 July||Republic of Congo Parliamentary Elections|
|16 July||Promoting Youth Employment in North Africa, organised by the AfDB and the OECD Development Centre: Tunis, Tunisia|