Saturday, April 28, 2012

African Civil Wars

What is Civil War?
Intrastate conflicts in Africa have been common since the majority of African states gained independence in the 1960s from their colonial masters.  Civil war can be defined as “large-scale, organized, and sustained conflict between a state and domestic political actors,” “exclude one-sided violence,” and are “high intensity conflicts” (Hironaka, p. 3).  Civil wars also include major casualties and are resource intensive.  The Correlates of War, a group that catalogs statistical data on conflicts around the world, describes civil war as conflicts that generate over 1000 annual battle-related deaths (Sarkees, p. 1). Monica Duffy Toft used a more precise definition of civil wars in her examination of the outcomes of civil wars since 1940.  Toft’s six criteria for a civil war are:
(1) the focus of the war was control over which group would govern the political unit; (2) there were at least two groups of organized combatants; (3) one of the combatants was an internationally recognized state; (4) there were at least 1,000 battle deaths per year on average; (5) the ratio of total deaths had to be at least 95 percent to 5 percent, meaning the stronger side had to have suffered at least 5 percent of the casualties; and (6) the war had to have begun within the boundaries of an internationally recognized state (Toft, p. 12).
Many African states have experienced conflicts approached or exceed this threshold of civil war however sometimes this is difficult to quantify as government forces or the eventual victors may attempt to cover up atrocities and other evidences of casualties.  African data may be systematically unavailable or incomplete due to lack of record keeping or poor procedures (Lemke, P. 117).  Regardless of the official body count or reaching the status of an “official” civil war, conflicts that have generated mass casualties in Africa have stunted its growth and resulted in negative consequences for its inhabitants.
Why do Civil Wars Happen?
Many scholars and experts claim a number of reasons for the cause of civil wars and no one factor of combination of factors work in every case.  Research has shown that greed, grievance, ethnic and racial conflict, as well as political and religious differences have been cited by combatants are reasons for engaging in civil wars.  African wars have also been affected by colonial legacies and outside actors.  Secessionist movements can also be included in the family of civil wars although the unsuccessful movements usually have not generated enough casualties per annum to qualify as an official civil war.
Greed.  Modern economists such as Paul Collier have attributed civil wars to issues of greed especially in states that have rich mineral wealth that are easily lootable such as oil, diamonds, or gold (Collier 1999, p. 3).  The conflict could be caused by one group attempting to take control of a precious resource from the state but may also benefit by participating in the war.  For example, the Unita rebel group in Angola generated between $300 and $500 million per year by selling diamonds mined in the parts of Angola it controlled (Martin, location 7233).  During the cold war the United States and its allies as well as the Soviet Union were sending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund African governments and rebel movements.  In 1990 alone the US provided over $50 million to Unita in Angola to fight the communist backed government (James, p. 179).  Leaders of rebel movements that have defeated the government have also been handsomely rewarded with government jobs that allow them to enhance their personal fortunes through bribes, payoffs, misappropriation of funds, or other means of corruption and financial mismanagement. Collier also described greed as a personal motivator for members of rebel movements as rebel soldiers benefit from criminal activity, protection rackets, and predation (Collier 1999, p. 9). 
Grievance.  Rebel groups often try to appear more noble and motivated by grievances such as fighting more equitable distribution of wealth or resources, political rights, or past offenses committed by the government (Collier 1999, p. 4).  This is especially the case with autocratic and repressive governments where the people have no recourse or manner in which to address their grievances with the government.  Conflicts in Chad have been in part motivated by competition for scarce resources like good land and pasture and access, which has been manipulated by the government (ICG, 2009). 
Ethnic and Racial Conflict.  Civil wars based on ethnic and racial conflicts could in some cases also be considered as a grievance if the government has persecuted an ethnic or racial group.  Examples include the majority Hutu government massacring nearly a million Tutsis in Rwanda but also the Tutsi rebel forces that drove the Hutu génocidaires from Rwanda and took over the government in 1994 (Martin, location 6157).  The civil war in Sudan that resulted in the secession of South Sudan was often incorrectly oversimplified as a conflict between the Arabs in the north and Africans in the south (Mamdani 2009, p. 148).  Although not enough people died in the South African struggle against apartheid to be classified as a civil war, it was still a conflict between white settlers and black South Africans (Hironaka, p.3).
Political and Religious Differences.  African states gained their independence during the Cold War and were pressured by the Soviet Union and United States to choose sides with incentives of huge trade and economic packages.  Some states chose communism and espoused socialist ideals while others became democracies.  However, the US funded rebel groups that fought against communist governments and vice versa.  In Angola, communist forces from the Soviet Union and Cuba supported the government and the US funded the Unita rebel group in a civil war that lasted 41 years from 1961 to 2002 (Evans, p. 82).  The civil war in Sudan was also described as a religious war where the Muslim north was oppressing the Christian south (Alessi & Frazer, 2012).  The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda was also fighting to establish rule by the Ten Commandments (IRIN, 2007).  The Tuareg rebels in Mali were fighting to establish an Islamic state in secular Mali (Meo, 2012). 
Combination of Reasons.  Groups involved in civil war have a variety of reasons for engaging in armed conflict that they feel are worth risking their lives.  It’s a combination of greed and grievance and other outside factors and the reasons why combatants fight can change.  As already referenced above, the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan was partially ethnic, racial, and religiously based, but also economic, as the government of Sudan in Khartoum did not share the wealth from oil exports with the south until a 2005 peace deal (Brunwasser, 2011). 
Colonial Legacies.  During the colonial period in Africa, European governments established systems that often benefitted one group over others or divided groups and created a hierarchy of groups.  For example in Rwanda the Belgians issued identity cards to Hutus and Tutsis and decided that the Tutsis were more intelligent and favored them with government jobs and education.  Establishing the Tutsis as elites and superior created an ethnic tension, which was later exploited by the Hutu government as a reason to exterminate all Tutsis (Martin, location 1860).  The Belgians also established tribal authorities in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where certain groups were designated as tribal authorities and given responsibility and the power to rule in their areas and all other groups were subject to the tribal authorities (Mamdani 2002, p. 237). 
In many cases the arbitrary colonial borders established at the Berlin Conference in 1885 split ethnic groups between countries or grouped former enemies into the same territory making democratic rule and cooperation difficult (Herbst, p. 77).  For example, President Deby in Chad is a member of Zaghawa ethnic group, which is mainly based in Sudan but due to ethnic allegiances felt obligated to support his ethnic group in rebellion against the government of Sudan (ICG, 2009).  The colonial colligation of different groups has also given rise to secessionist movements that seek to establish their own states as in the Casamance in Senegal, Cabinda in Angola, Azawad in Mali, and Katanga in DRC.  In the Casamance the people feel isolated from the government in Dakar and are physically separated from the rest of the country by Gambia (IRIN, 2004).  Cabinda is also physically separated from Angola by the DRC but provides much of the oil revenue for Angola (IRIN, 2011).  Rebels in northern Mali drove government forces from the region in April 2012 and declared the establishment of Azawad as a separate country (Meo, 2012).  Katanga attempted to secede after the DRC obtained its independence in 1960 but was forced to remain a part of the DRC after foreign military intervention (Martin, location 1200). 
Policy Options to Resolve Civil Wars.
Civil wars result in the deaths and injuries of thousands of combatants but also civilian populations that are in the line of fire or exploited and persecuted by either government or rebel forces as part of the conflict.  Civil wars also disrupt trade, markets, agriculture, and normal life where it may not be safe for civilians to go to school or work in the fields.  Marauding bands of soldiers and rebels can spread diseases including HIV/AIDS if they use rape as a weapon (Davenport & Loyle, p. 4).  Civil wars also can have spillover effects that spread into neighboring countries.  For example civil war in Liberia spread into Sierra Leone and affected parts of Cote d’Ivoire as well (Martin, location 6568).  Civil wars also cause the mass relocation of people as they move to avoid the conflict and become classified as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees if they manage to find refuge in another country.  Northern Kenya hosts several refugee camps that hold hundreds of thousands who have fled ongoing conflict in Somalia (Associated Press, 2012).  One estimate puts the cost of a civil war to the country and surrounding neighbors at $64 billion (Collier 2007, p. 31).
Negotiated Settlement.  The international community has sought to end civil wars and conflicts in order to save lives by forcing the combatants to reach a settlement at the negotiating table.  Third party actors such as the United States, France, Great Britain, and the United Nations have brought groups to negotiate the end of war through bribes, coercion, and offers of immunity.  For example in Liberia the civil war brought to an end by offering President Charles Taylor immunity for his crimes in Liberia and a “soft-landing” in exile in Nigeria (Martin, location 6794). 
Since the 1990s negotiated settlements has been the method of choice for ending civil wars but have been largely ineffective.  Monica Duffy Toft surveyed 137 civil wars between 1940 and 2007, of which 22 wars of 19% of the total ended in negotiated settlements (Toft, p. 13).  She found that these wars resulted in “significantly more deaths,” lasted longer, and are more likely to reoccur (Toft, p. 20).  Toft also discovered that wars that end in negotiated settlement are less likely than other ends of civil war resolution to develop democratic governments and had no economic advantages over wars that ended in other ways (Toft, p. 27).
Total Victory.  The second policy option in the resolution of civil wars is to allow the combatants fight the war to victory where one force subjugates the other and achieved dominance.  This would be a bloody option where many will die as the one force overwhelms and defeats the other but achieves the result of a clear winner who can rule and establish a government to run the country.  Monica Duffy Toft determined from her research that civil wars that end in victory “were nearly twice as likely to remain settled than those concluded through negotiated settlement or a cease-fire/stalemate” (Toft, p. 16).  In civil wars that flared up again, those that followed negotiated settlement were nearly twice as deadly as those that followed a victory (Toft, p. 20).  This may be in part because in achieving a victory the opposition lost significant capacity to wage war in troops and equipment whereas many times negotiated settlements are often used as rearming and reequipping periods where combatants prepare to fight again without losing significant capacity. 
Stalemate. A third possible outcome for civil wars is a stalemate or ceasefire where neither side is able to achieve an advantage and destroy the other nor able to meet at the bargaining table for a negotiated settlement.  North and South Korea fought to a stalemate in the 1950s and despite a ceasefire agreement are still technically at war (Department of State, 2012).  Somalia is an example of a stalemate where no one group has been able to assert its dominance over the country and the fighting continues.  Recently neighbors and the African Union have sent forces into Somalia to try to help the government suppress the fighting and reassert its authority but the government controls little territory outside the capital (Sheikh & Omar, 2012).  A stalemate or ceasefire can flare up again if one side believes it has acquired the capacity to gain the advantage and victory through the acquisition of new technology, weapons, or assistance or if their enemy has somehow been diminished.
Recommendations.  According to the research by Monica Duffy Toft it appears the best outcome in the long term is to allow combatants to fight to victory and to work with the victors.  This course of action may not be politically acceptable, as it requires outsiders to observe and not interfere as people are being killed and civilians flee or are caught in the crossfire.  However, foreign governments, multinational corporations, and nongovernmental agencies have also supported either the government or rebel groups in consideration of their own interests.  For example, European nations and NATO forces provided funding, weapons and air support to rebels in Libya in their overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011 (NATO, 2012).  The Cold War also saw many governments and rebel groups supported by different interests.
Rebuilding African States.
Once civil wars come to an end the rebuilding process begins.  In order for rebuilding to take place in earnest the underlying reasons for the war should be resolved.  In the case of a victory the victor can establish policies to resolve their issues.  However, if the concerns of the vanquished are also not considered malaise will persist and be manifested by disobedience, rebel actions, and a possible return to open conflict (Mkandawire, p. 208).  For a government to be successful it needs a process by which the population can address its concerns and changes can be made to avoid the renewing of bloodshed.  A negotiated settlement to end a civil war also requires the creation of a new government that incorporates both parties and addresses their issues as agreed upon in the settlement.  The military has to incorporate rebel combatants as to not give the government an advantage if there was a return to open conflict.  An important part of standing down the rebel army is also to provide a process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) so the rebel soldiers have an incentive to stop fighting  (Walter, p. 134.)  Outside agents can be a huge boost for the rebuilding of the state as they can provide security to guarantee a negotiated settlement as with the UN in Liberia where 15,000 troops have maintained a general peace (Harris, p. 377).  Foreign donors and NGOs can also assist with rebuilding institutions and infrastructure in order to allow the state to resume function and project authority throughout its territory. 
Just as integration of the government and military are key for achieving unity, integration amongst the population is also vital.  Collier discovered that “social fractionalization as a combination of ethnic and religious divisions… significantly reduces the risk of conflict,” creating societies that are “safer than homogenous societies” (Collier 1999, p. 6).  The partitioning of a country and separation by groups can accentuate differences, increase violence, and generate new conflicts as people are moved against their will (Kaufmann, p. 123).  Leaders of the partitioned area of a homogeneous group would also have incentive to accentuate the differences from the others, leading to intolerance, rhetoric, and conditions that could lead to a renewed conflict.  The partition of Sudan and the creation of the new state of South Sudan has not solved the conflict and fighting continues between the two countries (Alessi & Frazer, 2012).
Other things essential for the creation of an ideal government are representative elections, a constitution and body of laws that protects the rights of the minority, the establishment of the rule of law, transparency, and accountability.  Checks and balances in the government that allow for the curbing of powers and removal of persons who violate the rules is also critical to avoid rise of an autocratic government.  Civilian control of the government and values training for the military will also diminish the possibility for the military to state a coup and commit abuses against the civilian population.  Economic prosperity and sharing of the wealth among the population will also decrease many of the grievances that are accentuated by poverty.  The development of a civil society and institutions not linked to the government also provides space for discourse, development of the community, and support networks that can decrease the need for government assistance and programs.  Reconciliation and transitive justice are also important to integrate former combatants and communities in order to allow the country to move on. 
Summary.  Civil wars caused by greed, grievance, intergroup tensions, and exploitations by the government have resulted in the deaths of millions across the African continent.  Research into the outcomes of civil wars have revealed that wars ended in victory by one group has resulted in fewer deaths, greater stability, and a reduced likelihood of renewed conflict as compared to negotiated settlements.  Once war has come to an end it is important to integrate the government, military, and civilian population and restore institutions and infrastructure to allow the country and society to function again.  A safety release valve or method of redress with the government is also essential to allow the people to address their concerns and effectuate change without having to resort to violence. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

IMF in Africa

The International Monetary Fund has loaned billions of dollars to African countries yet most Africans remain in poverty.  These IMF loans have come with conditions attached requiring borrower nations to reform their economy in specific ways in order to receive the full loan amounts.  The conditions are a source of controversy as some charge that the IMF is interfering in the sovereignty of borrower nations but also often result in higher prices as the government restructures policies.  Higher prices often lead to popular unrest, demonstrations, and sometimes riots as the people struggle to pay higher prices with no changes to income or visible benefit from the IMF required changes.  For example, Nigeria eliminated a fuel subsidy in January 2012 following recommendations from the IMF and Nigerians protested violently as prices on fuel, food, and many other products doubled or more.  Under popular pressure Nigeria partially restored fuel subsidies but prices remain high on essential commodities.  Ghana, Cameroon, and Gabon have also begun to cut fuel subsidies under pressure from the IMF.  

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was created on 22 July 1944, along with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now known as the World Bank), as part of the Bretton Woods Agreements in New Hampshire, USA.  44 countries signed the agreements including African colonial powers France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, but also South Africa.  The original role of the IMF was to monitor and maintain exchange rates between western industrial nations but over the years the role of the IMF has evolved (Vreeland 2007, p. 5).  The IMF’s focus in now stabilizing balance of payments whereas the World Bank focuses on programs to promote long-term development.  Both the IMF and World Bank have worked together in Africa and elsewhere in order to develop programs to assist developing countries (Stein 1992, p. 83).
Currently, the IMF has 188 member countries and functions as a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with its own charter and rules of governance.  Each member country contributes funds to the IMF which is the basis for the number of votes each country has in the decision making process.  Industrialized or wealthy countries that contribute more to the fund have a greater say in IMF decisions and the US maintains the largest share of votes (IMF 2012, Membership). 
Most African nations became independent in the 1960s and were shortly thereafter incorporated into the IMF.  For example, Nigeria joined the IMF on 30 March 1961, seven months after becoming independent on 1 October 1960 (Department of State, 2012). In total, African voting share in the IMF is not very significant, adding up to only 119,995 votes or 4.77% of the total 2,512,807 votes in the IMF.  The US by itself has 421,961 votes or 16.75% of the voting share of the IMF (IMF 2012, IMF Executive Directors and Voting Power).  All 53 African countries are members of the IMF, including newly independent South Sudan, since July 2011, who was admitted to the IMF on 18 April 2012 (IMF 2012, Press Release 12/140). 

Evolution of the IMF
Loans. The original loans or financial lending from the IMF came with no conditions attached, as the role of the IMF was to assist with exchange rates. In the 1970s the IMF began to loan to poor countries by concessional financing through the Trust Fund (IMF, 2004). However, during the administration of United States President Reagan the US began to push the IMF to attach conditions to IMF loans.  The primary conditions imposed by the IMF were to reduce trade and investment regulations, cut public expenditures, and push exports in order to improve the investment climate, reduce government deficits and enhance foreign exchange earnings (Neu, Rahaman, Everett, & Akindayomi, p. 405).
The new IMF loans created in 1986 were known as Structural Adjustment Facility programs (SAF) and were lent at subsidized interest rates (0.5% interest rate) to poor countries.  In 1993 the SAF was enlarged and extended, thus becoming the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) programs.  In total, more than 80 countries were eligible for assistance under ESAF.  Eligibility for SAF/ESAF loans was based primarily on the country’s per capita income, and during the lifespan of the ESAF $10.1 billion was lent to eligible countries. In 1999, the ESAF was replaced by the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) in order to focus more on the recipient country’s economic policy formation and focus more on poverty reduction and economic growth.  The PRGF program was also designed for greater involvement by the borrowing country in forming the goals and the involvement of civil society in order to achieve the country’s objectives   (IMF, 2004). 
Conditionality. Conditions are still attached to IMF loans but they are negotiated between the country and the IMF and should therefore reflect the political agenda of the recipient country (Dreher, 2006).  Common conditions are: removal of government subsidies and price controls, significant devaluation of the local currency, cuts in public sector expenditures, privatization of government owned or controlled businesses, relaxation of foreign exchange controls, increases to interest rates, withdrawal of protectionist measures, the introduction of user fees, tight control of credit, and increases in the prices of agricultural products (Stein, p. 83).  Repayment of loans is always a necessary condition.  Adherence to these conditions can come with risk to the stability of the government if they had been manipulated by the government to gain favor or stay in power.  For example, the government may have subsidized fuel prices to keep the cost to consumers low in order to gain political favor.  Removing the subsidy could cause the leaders to lose support, especially if the opposition promises to reinstate the subsidy.  A current example in Senegal is where newly elected President Macky Sall, elected in March 2012, reduced prices on rice, sugar, and oil in order to consolidate his political gains (Dore, 2012).  Senegal had been advised by the IMF to not attempt price controls on food or subsidies (IMF 2011, p. 11) and prices had climbed, resulting in protests (Ba, 2008). 
Donor Interference.  The primary donors to the IMF are the United States, France, and the United Kingdom among others.  As major donors the US and two other former colonial powers use the IMF to accomplish their national agendas and have intervened on behalf of their African partners at the IMF (Stone, p. 587).  Program interruptions are automatic (suspension of disbursement of funds) when targets are missed, but major patrons have influenced the duration of the punishment duration.  Members of the CFA French common currency zone in Africa, mainly composed of former French colonies that use a common currency, have recorded punishment intervals 17 months shorter than non-CFA African countries.  African members of the British Commonwealth generally have punishment periods 12 months shorter than non-members.  The US has also intervened on behalf of countries it regards as most important or compliant with US objectives.  US objectives in Africa are generally related to economic policy and democracy promotion, but also terrorism or security related.  These US allies also the largest recipients of US foreign aid.  African countries with strong ties to donors experienced a type of moral hazard where they had more frequent program interruptions, were undeterred by short punishments, and were “free to flaunt the IMF’s conditions” (Stone, p. 590).

IMF in Africa
In the early years of the IMF the fund did not lend much to Africa as most of the continent was controlled by European colonial powers.  Even post-independence most African countries were not major borrowers from the fund, however business soon picked up and IMF loans to Africa tripled from 1975 to 1982, accounting for 28.6% of IMF loans (Boughton, p. 678).  46 African states borrowed from the fund in the 1980s, averaging $1.5 billion in loans per annum.  In the 1990s, 41 African nations borrowed an average of $1.3 billion per year from the IMF (Boughton, p. 682). 
Part of the reason for increased IMF activity in Africa starting in the 1980s was the selection of Michel Camdessus from France as the IMF Managing Director and Chairman in 1987.  Camdessus led the IMF until his retirement in 2000 and was committed to keeping Africa on the Fund’s active agenda and personally visited 30 African nations during his tenure.  Under Camdessus, Africa received more technical assistance than any other region (Boughton, p. 683). 
African Regional Technical Assistance Centers (AFRITAC).  In order to assist the African nations with economic policies and planning the IMF established four regional technical assistance centers on the continent starting in 2002.  East AFRITAC was established in Tanzania (2002), West AFRITAC in Mali (2003), Central AFRITAC in Gabon (2007), and South AFRITAC in Mauritius (2011) whereas the IMF has only five other Regional Training Assistance Centers scattered throughout the world (IMF 2012, IMF Regional Technical Assistance Centers).  The office of the managing director has also kept Africa as a priority despite the recent concerns over the global economic crisis and Eurozone crisis.  Shortly after taking office as the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde went on an African tour to visit Niger, Nigeria, and South Africa to talk priorities and economic assistance programs.  During the course of her tour the IMF announced a fifth technical assistance site to be located in West Africa to assist non-francophone countries (Lagarde, 2011).  

African Exceptions
Not all African nations were in a hurry to borrow money from the IMF.  Some African nations were suspicious of conditions attached to IMF loans and were hesitant to accept conditions that obligated the country to follow IMF guidance.  Three notable African nations stood out in their resistance to IMF loans: Nigeria, post-apartheid South Africa, and Angola.
Nigeria.  Nigeria is the largest non-borrower African member of the IMF and was a major creditor from 1973 until 1982 when the price of oil dropped, negatively affecting the Nigerian oil-based economy (Boughton, p. 686).  President/Major General Ibrahim Babangida entered into negotiations with the IMF for a loan but suspended talks in September 1985 after threats of a general strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress if Nigeria accepted an IMF loan (Van de Walle, p. 491).  Babangida submitted the question of an IMF loan to the people who overwhelmingly rejected the IMF loan and its attached conditions.  Western debtors and the IMF wanted Nigeria to devalue the Naira by 30%, terminate domestic subsidies of petroleum products, reduce state expenditures, sell off state enterprises, and liberalize trade restrictions.  Given the opposition to the IMF, the Babangida government developed its own financial restructuring program that included many of the key IMF components, but was more acceptable to the people and satisfied the IMF and Nigeria’s lenders.  Also, instead of using the unpopular IMF to monitor the program, Nigeria turned to the World Bank to monitor compliance.  This allowed Nigeria to reschedule its debts and qualify for a $3 billion IMF loan, which Nigeria never used (Ojo & Koehn, p. 9).  The government of Nigeria withdrew subsidies for the domestic sale of petroleum, dismissed some public servants and trimmed the salaries of many it retrained, imposed a new levy on imports, and allowed the devaluation of the Naira.  Government actions such as removing the petroleum subsidy, which almost doubled the price of fuel at the gas stations, caused hardship for Nigerians who accepted the hardships and Nigerian program as a better and less painful program and than the program offered by the IMF (Ojo & Koehn, p. 22).  Nigeria also arranged loans with the IMF in 1989, 1991, and 2000 but did not draw any money from the available funds and allowed the financial arrangements to lapse without implementation (IMF 2012, Nigeria: Financial Position in the Fund). 
South Africa.  As one of the original signatories of the Bretton Woods Agreements, South Africa began as a creditor country due to its gold production and exports.  However, due to increasing isolation in the 1970s due to international objection to apartheid and domestic disturbances South Africa arranged for Standby Agreements with the IMF.  South Africa drew funds in 1976-77 and again in 1982-83 before it was cut off from the IMF by anti-apartheid international sanctions (Boughton, p. 691).  As the apartheid government of South Africa began to make movements to move towards a system of majority rule in the early 1990s, it also began to negotiate another loan from the IMF.  The UN lifted sanctions against South Africa in 1993 after South Africa began to prepare for national elections and the IMF Executive Board approved a loan of $850 million to the apartheid government ran by President de Klerk on 22 December 1993 (Boughton, p. 694).  The following year Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa and the formerly outlawed African National Congress (ANC) took over the government.  The IMF continued to approach Mandela to take out additional IMF loans but was rejected by the ANC due to the IMFs former support to the apartheid government.  The new government of South Africa was also concerned that IMF loan conditions would restrain their ability to make economic policies and thought IMF conditionality threatened the sovereignty of South Africa (Boughton, p. 695).  In June 1996 South Africa launched its own Growth, Employment, and Redistribution policy (GEAR) to improve fiscal policy, stabilize the exchange rate, and liberalize the economy in order to promote investment and employment opportunities.  The IMF prepared an assistance program to build on GEAR by requiring further monetary tightening and deeper structural reforms and was initially accepted by Mandela but in the end was vetoed by the ANC (Broughton, p. 698).  The last loan by the de Klerk government was paid back by South Africa in 1999 and South Africa has drawn no funds from the IMF since the end of apartheid in 1994 (IMF 2012, South Africa: Transactions with the Fund). 
Angola.  The former Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau were late joining the IMF as they did not win achieve their independence until 1975.  Mozambique however joined the IMF nine years later in 1984 and Angola fourteen years later in 1989 due to their allegiance to the Soviet Union and Cold War politics (Vreeland 2005, p. 13).  Guinea-Bissau joined the fund in 1977 and has drawn consistently from the Fund (IMF 2012, Guinea-Bissau).  Until recently Angola refused financial programs from the IMF in part due to its mineral wealth but also due to lingering effects of the Cold War in Africa where the US and South Africa supported rebel groups that fought against the government of Angola.  However, in May 2000 relations between Angola and the IMF began to thaw when Angola consented to an IMF staff-monitored program (Boughton, p. 687).  2009 saw the first IMF disbursement of funds to Angola, continued to disburse funds in 2010, 2011, and 2012 (IMF 2012, Angola).  In total, Angola drew $1.33 billion from the IMF under a Stand-By Arrangement as part of program to restore macroeconomic stability.  Under this program, Angola underwent a “fiscal adjustment, settled large domestic arrears, rebuilt foreign arrears, rebuilt foreign reserves, stabilized the exchange rate, and reduced inflation.”  The IMF program also worked with the government to improve transparency in oil revenues, accountability in the state oil company, and increase public investment (IMF 2012, Press Release 12/109). 
Others.  Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993 and joined the IMF in 1994 and has not drawn any funds from the IMF (Broughton, p. 687). 

“Developed” African Countries
Several African nations are considered well enough developed by the IMF to be considered ineligible for concessional loans although a great part of their populations still live in poverty.  Botswana and Libya are creditors to the IMF and have never taken any loans from the IMF.  Namibia has also never taken an IMF loan but has undertaken consultations with the IMF (Broughton, p. 688).  Mauritius took IMF loans in the 1980s but repaid them by 1991 and has not since received another loan from the IMF (IMF 2012, Mauritius).  The Kingdom of Swaziland also previously took loans from the IMF but paid them off by 1986 and has not drawn any other funds since from the IMF (IMF 2012, Swaziland).  Seychelles was considered a “good” African country with the IMF but since the recent global economic downturn has drawn loans from the IMF annually since 2008 (IMF 2012, Seychelles).  Other “middle income” countries such as Algeria, Gabon, Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia had borrowed occasionally in the past but most of the money in the 1990s went to four main borrowers: Algeria, Zambia, South Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire.  Together they accounted for over half of the gross lending by the IMF in Africa or $7.3 billion of the $13.2 billion borrowed in the 1990s (Broughton, p. 688).

Has the IMF Helped Africa?
Are African Countries Doing Better?  The heavily indebted countries for the most part still remain in debt.  Lending by the IMF and World Bank has not succeeded in adjusting macroeconomic policies and growth outcomes.  Evrensel found in her 2006 study of countries that participated in IMF programs that “extreme imbalances in inflation, budget deficit, current account, inflation, and real overvaluation of the exchange rate are not affected by the time spent under the structural adjustment programs and the number of programs received by the countries” (Evrensel, p. 279).  Those with mineral wealth (Angola and Nigeria for example) still encounter economic problems and need economic guidance and assistance. Some countries that were independent have turned to the IMF for assistance since the economic financial downturn that began in 2008.  Axel Dreher, in his 2006 article, argued that IMF programs are failures as the conditions do not affect economic policy and are the outcome of bargaining process between government and IMF (Dreher, p. 781).  Dreher and Walter followed up his research in 2010 and determined that IMF involvement benefits the recipient country but found that fund dispersal was not necessary to achieve a benefit for the country. The mere existence of the IMF program produced benefit.  However, the IMF advice and technical assistance program have proven effective as well as the IMF “Seal of Approval” conveyed by the approval of an IMF program that allows the country to refinance debt if necessary, arrange other financing, or make other desired changes in the name of the IMF (Dreher & Walter, p. 11).  The Nigerian case where they had arranged financing with the IMF but never drew any funds would demonstrate the effect of the IMF Seal of Approval.  Once the loans were obtained with the IMF, Nigeria was able to reschedule debts with the Paris and London Clubs, including the discounted buyback of $3.4 billion of London Club debt on the secondary market in 1991 (Lewis & Stein, p. 13).  Nigeria paid off the last of the $30 billion it owed the Paris Club of official creditors in April 2006 but was also able to write off $18 billion through negotiations with creditors (Okonjo-Iweala, 2008).
IMF as Cause of Problems. Conditions attached to IMF loans have caused controversy, protests, riots, and regime changes as the people are most affected by conditionality have expressed their discontent.  In addition, the loans have resulted in increased foreign debts and the heavy burden of servicing or paying off the debts (Ihonvbere, p. 142).  The ineffective nature of IMF programs and the ease of obtaining further IMF loans creates a moral hazard where the IMF will bail out countries that haphazardly apply economic policies (Evrensel, p. 265).
Following current IMF Director Christine Lagarde’s visit to Nigeria and several other African nations in December 2011, Nigeria cut its subsidy for petroleum products in January 2012.  The fuel subsidy cost Nigeria $8 billion in 2011 and was expected to increase again in 2012 with the increase in fuel prices globally.  In budget terms, the fuel subsidy accounted for 30% of all government expenditures, 4% of the gross domestic product, and 118% of the capital budget.  In comparison, Nigeria had only budgeted $2.2 billion for education and $2 billion for health care (Songwe & Mayo, 2012).  Fuel prices increased by 115.4% after the removal of the subsidy causing nationwide protests and general strikes.  10 Nigerian protesters were killed by federal government security troops who opened fire on the crowds of protestors (Odunlami, 2012).  The Nigerian government capitulated to restore most of the fuel subsidy after the strike shut down oil production.  Fuel prices had risen from $1.70 per gallon to $3.50 during the protest, but the Nigerian government agreed to reduce the price to $2.75 per gallon (Associated Press, 2012). 

International financial institutions like the IMF have not been effective in changing macroeconomic policies on the African continent in order to benefit the lives of the average African.  Billion of dollars have been spent in Africa but African economic growth averaged only 0.8% between 1965 and 1990 whereas the rest of the developing world averaged 1.8% during the same period (Sachs & Warner, p. 336). Research has shown that conditionalities on macroeconomic policies as conditions for loans have not made much positive effect and IMF recidivism demonstrates the required changes were insignificant.  Nigeria again serves as an example, despite never cashing an IMF loan.  In 1986 the government instituted its own policy changes along the lines of the IMF recommendations including eliminating the fuel subsidy and prices gradually began to increase on 31 March 1986 in order to minimize the effect of the price increase.  Fuel prices increased three more times before 1993 when the price was stabilized.  Nigeria again revisited fuel subsidies in 2002 by removing subsidies on crude oil and then fuel in 2003.  Fuel prices increased in 2003 from N26 to N55 per liter as a result of the subsidy removal.  The most recent fuel subsidy removal resulted in a price increase from N65 to N140.01 per liter, demonstrating that the price of fuel had stayed roughly the same since the 2003 removal of the fuel subsidy (Odunlami, 2012).  The goal of removing the government subsidy for fuel was to allow market demand to set the fuel prices, but in effect each time the subsidy removal served only to set a new higher price and indicated a lack of will to let market forces set prices on a politically valuable commodity. 
Since Nigeria and South Africa have repeatedly implemented financial reform programs similar to recommendations by the IMF without any contractual obligations it seems that African governments have accepted loans or made economic policies for their own interests.  Ankomah Buffour, Ghana’s Foreign Minister illustrated this point by saying “our position and views as a centrist government happen to coincide on many occasions with the positions and views of the IMF/World Bank…Its much more a meeting of the minds” (Odunlami, 2012).  If leaders only implement the policies that they want and actively participate to negotiate the conditions of IMF loans to get what they want it appears that the monetary contributions to these countries has only benefited the leaders politically and economically.  The failure of the implementation of these programs to lift African countries and stop the cycle of recidivism demonstrates the need to change or end the program.  However, the connection between donors and IMF program countries and their influence on punishment for lack of compliance with conditionalities suggests that the IMF monetary assistance programs serve another purpose in allowing more powerful countries to buy influence with other countries.  The IMF creditor nations also financially benefit from extending loans to African nations.  In which case each sovereign country, both those offering the loans and others accepting loans, acts in their own best interests and manipulates its assets, economic, and political systems to achieve its own best possible outcome.  Given the lack of accountability and transparency in many African nations and the virtual monopoly of national assets by the leadership of these nations, the African state in many cases is acting in the best interests of the leader and close associates.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Transitional Justice in Uganda

The Republic of Uganda gained its independence in 1962 with Edward Muteesa as President and Milton Obote as Prime Minister.  Four years later in 1966 Obote deposed Muteesa in a coup d’état.  Obote was then overthrown by his Chief of the Army, Idi Amin in 1971.  During the rule of Idi Amin over 300,000 Ugandans were killed or disappeared and he was eventually defeated in 1979 when Tanzania invaded Uganda to eliminate Amin.  Obote then came back to power and ruled Uganda until another coup d’état in 1985 by General Tito Okello, who ruled for six months.  Okello’s forces were defeated by the National Resistance Army led by Yoweri Museveni, who assumed the leadership of Uganda in January of 1986 (TRIAL, 2012).  Museveni has since won several elections, the latest in 2011 despite claims of election fraud, and remains in power in 2012 (BBC, 2011).  Rebel groups, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), have fought Museveni since 1987 and are still actively pursued by Ugandan military forces (Chinko, 2012).
The violent changes of power in Uganda and thousands of lives lost in wars and under brutal regimes have necessitated some form of transitional justice to account for the violence and to seek some form of accountability.  Uganda has conducted two truth commissions, the first in 1974 under Idi Amin, and a second in 1986 under Yoweri Museveni.  Other attempts at transitional justice include the 2000 Amnesty Act and some forms of traditional reconciliation.
1974 Truth Commission
The “Commission of Inquiry into ‘Disappearances’ of People in Uganda Since the 25th of January, 1971” was founded by Idi Amin in June 1974 to investigate accusations of disappearances conducted by military forces during the initial years of the Amin government.  The commission held generally public hearings and recorded testimony from 545 witnesses and was able to document 308 disappearances (Hayner, p. 612).  A Pakistani expatriate judge, two police commissioners, and an army officer headed the commission.  The commission was authorized to compel witnesses to testify and call for evidence from official sources, however it encountered persistent opposition and refusals to cooperate.  The police provided 90 case files of previous disappearances, but only one file was provided by the military police, and no files were provided by military intelligence.  The commissioners emphasized that they were not conducting a military trial but still did not achieve much cooperation, as it was likely that the only witnesses to disappearances would be coconspirators (Carver, p. 399).  Investigations by the commission were complicated by the fact that they were investigating the current government, police, and military organizations that were still in power and committing abuses (Hayner, p. 613).
The commission issued an 836-page report with multiple appendices that detailed all the testimonies, witnesses, and correlated multiple accusations against individuals.  The report recommended charges against specific individuals by name for implications of disappeared persons (Uganda 1974, p. 787) and recommended government assistance or allotments to families who had no visible means of subsistence as a result of the disappearances (ibid, p. 799).  The commission also stated in the report “everything possible must be done to re-organize the Police Force” and recommended the “summary dismissal” of implicated officers (ibid, p. 800).  The report further recommended the reorganization of the Public Safety Unit and included pages of specific recommendations for changes to police and military procedures.  For example, on page 809 the commission stated “intelligence officers who have worked together for long in one station, like the trio in Gulu, should be split up and be transferred separately to other places and should always be strictly supervised by their Commanding Officer.  In no case should they be allowed to stay in one place for more than twenty four months.”
The government ignored the results of the commission and the official report was not distributed to the public.  The commission’s conclusions were distorted in reports on the government-owned radio and disappearances attributed to guerilla actions or individuals fleeing into other countries.  A few of the security officers mentioned in the report stood trial before a military tribunal but were acquitted, partly because the chair of the tribunal was also implicated in the report and was an associate of the defendants (Carver, p. 399).  The biggest impact the report had were reprisals on the commissioners who authored the report as one was fired, another framed for murder and sentenced to death, and a third fled Uganda to avoid arrest (Hayner, p. 612).  While the report was not widely distributed, it did document abuses by the government and slightly diminish the occurrences of abuses while the commission was conducting its investigation.  However, abuses soon escalated again and continued unabated until Amin was toppled in 1979 (Carver, p. 400).  After Amin, Obote was elected to a second term in power, often referred to as Obote II, and many of the same violent practices and abuses continued TRIAL, 2012). 
1986 Truth Commission
The Commissions of Inquiry Act (Legal Notice No. 5) of May 1986 created a five-member commission to “inquire into all aspects of violation of human rights, breaches of the rule of law and excessive abuses of power, committed against persons in Uganda by the regimes in government, their servants, agents or agencies whatsoever called, during the period form the 9th day of October, 1962 to the 25th day of January, 1986 and possible ways of preventing the recurrence of the aforesaid matters.”  This commission of inquiry in violations of human rights (CIVHR) was also directed to inquire into “mass murders,” “arbitrary arrests, consequent detentions without trial, arbitrary imprisonment,” denial of trials, torture, abuse by law enforcement agents, “massive displacement of persons,” discrimination, or anything similar.  The commission was given authority to call witnesses and evidence and required to work within Uganda and directed to start work right away (Uganda, 1986). 
Commission hearings were generally held in public with some broadcast on television or radio (USIP, Truth Commission: Uganda 86).  During the course of the commission 608 witnesses were interviewed in hearings held in 17 districts and recorded in an 18-volume set.  The final report exceeded 720 pages of testimony, lists of victims, analysis, and recommendations by the commission (Quinn 2004, p. 407).
The 1986 CIVHR encountered a number of problems that affected its ability to complete its mandate.  Some Ugandans saw Museveni’s talk about democracy, given that he had just taken power in a coup, and the creation of a commission to investigate crimes by past regimes as nothing more than “window-dressing” and insincere (Quinn 2004, p. 406).  Political will to support the commission was limited “to the extent that it might appease internal opposition and curry favour with foreigners who might…provide additional funding” (Quinn 2004, p. 411).  The process and commission had no significant impact on Uganda and few recommendations were implemented.  Another problem for CIVHR was the wide scope of the mandate to cover abuses over 25 years that had hundreds of thousands of victims at the hands of multiple brutal dictators.  Each dictator had its supporters who often exacted revenge upon the supporters of the previous leader and often based on ethnic differences, which influenced testimony.  One issue the commission encountered was that people were not aware of what constituted a human rights abuse or what their rights were.  Also recorded evidence disappeared from CIVHR and commission members were provided with bodyguards and police escorts (Quinn 2004, p. 413).
The commission’s work took longer than expected due to funding issues (USIP, Truth Commission: Uganda 86).  CIVHR offices were moved several times and lacked sufficient storage facilities.  When the commission was established no provision was made for its funding and on occasion witnesses were asked “to provide their own paper and pen in order for the testimony to be recorded” (Quinn 2004, p. 414).  Without adequate funding the commission had periods of stoppage while they awaited funding.  The Ford Foundation in 1987 donated $93,000 to continue CIVHR’s work and was later augmented by further funding from the Swedish International Development Agency, the Danish International Development Agency, the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Government of Australia (Quinn 2004, p. 415).  Despite foreign aid, financial problems continued to plague the commission resulting in another complete stoppage in February 1991 (Hayner, p. 619).
The length of time to complete the commission may have resulted in the loss of evidence and potential witnesses, but also contributed to the rise of rebel groups such as the Holy Spirit Movement and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda (Quinn 2004, p. 415).  The CIVHR spent only four days in Northern Uganda, and only accessed the area five years after the founding of the commission as rebels controlled the region and the CIVHR was seen as an extension of Museveni (Quinn 2004, p. 421). 
The CIVHR also competed with several other commissions in operation including the 1986 Commission of inquiry into Local Government, the 1988 Interim Electoral Commission, the 1991 Constitutional Commission, and the 2001 Amnesty Commission.  The Amnesty Commission also investigated past abuses but offered amnesty in exchange for testimony (Quinn 2004, p. 419). 
The truth commission of 1986 has largely been forgotten by the conclusion of the commission and the report was not widely circulated.  A pamphlet was produced by CIVHR that summarized the results of the commission but was also not circulated due to budget concerns and lack of interest (Quinn 2003, p.21).  Commission members retained some of the only copies of the report and emphasized that no one was concerned about their investigation or report.  Museveni remains in power and “has emphasized that Uganda should not dwell on the past” (Quinn 2004, p. 424). 
One thing the CIVHR did accomplish was contributing to the numeration of human rights in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda (Quinn 2004, p. 419). The commission also urged the creation of a permanent human rights commission in Uganda and the ratification of the International Covenant for Civilian and Political Rights (Bakayana, p. 11).  However, overall the commission was considered a failure and many believed the government had no intentions to follow up on the report or implement the commission’s recommendations (Quinn 2003, p. 17).
2000 Amnesty Act
In 2000 the government of Uganda established an Amnesty Commission to explore providing amnesty to rebels who laid down their arms and returned to their villages.  Religious groups like the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), worked with the Amnesty Commission to ensure it applied to all rebel groups (Apuuli, p. 122).  The Act provided amnesty for “any Ugandan who has at any time since the 26th day of January, 1986, engaged in or is engaging in war or armed rebellion against the government of the Republic of Uganda.”  The amnesty provided was that the person “shall not be prosecuted or subjected to any form of punishment for the participation in the war or rebellion for any crime committed in the cause of the war or armed rebellion.”  In order to qualify for amnesty the person, referred to in the document as a “reporter,” would have to report to a government official, renounce and abandon “involvement in the war or armed rebellion,” surrender immediately any weapons, and in return would be issued a “certificate of amnesty.”  If the reporter was already in jail or in custody they could still apply for and would be granted the same amnesty, however they could still be held for crimes outside of the scope of the amnesty.  The Amnesty Act also created the Amnesty Commission and directed it to monitor programs for the demobilization, reintegration, and resettlement (DDR) of reporters, as well as public information and dialogue (Uganda, 2000). 
The World Bank Multi-country Demobilization and Reintegration Program (MDRP) provided a $4.2 million grant for a reintegration program that began in January 2005 and provided resettlement packages of household items and agricultural tools.  As of May 2006 when the last group received its resettlement packages from Amnesty Commission, 12,950 former rebels had been reintegrated through the program. (MDRP, 2006). 
Mato Oput.
In conjunction with the 2000 Amnesty Act, traditional methods of reconciliation have the potential to resolve conflicts in Uganda.  Mato oput or the bitter drink is a ceremony where former offended parties share a bitter drink after a resolution has been negotiated.  Gomo tong or the bending of spears is another ritual that symbolizes the termination of conflict between groups that takes place after discussion and truth telling (Afako, 2006).  Nyouo tong gweno is another ceremony used to welcome back child soldiers by stepping on an egg on an opobo twig.  A number of other cleansing rituals are used by different groups in order to reintegrate former combatants back into the community.  Other Ugandan customs and practices to resolve conflict include “arbitration, social teaching, reconciliation, and compensation” (Quinn 2007, p. 398). 
LRA Truth Commission?
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from the primarily Acholi regions of Northern Uganda has maintained its fight against the Museveni government since 1987 and has a horrendous record of human rights abuses.  The LRA became famous for its use of child soldiers among other war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 to prosecute gross violations of human rights and in 2003 Museveni referred the LRA case to the ICC for prosecution.  The ICC issued arrest warrants for the five primary leaders of the LRA in 2005, which complicated attempts to negotiate with the LRA to end the conflict peacefully (Finnstrom, p. 135).  Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA and his commanders were charged with “crimes against humanity, including inter alia sexual enslavement, rape, and murder; and war crimes including inter alia enlisting children, pillaging, and murder (Apuuli, p. 117).  The Ugandan parliament had passed a blanket amnesty law in 1999, under which other rebel groups such as the Allied Democratic Front and West Bank Nile Front surrendered as well as some senior LRA rebels (Finnstrom, p. 137).  However, with the ICC arrest warrants LRA leaders do not want to surrender for fear of trial at the ICC and some have vowed to fight to the death (Finnstrom, p. 150). 
Peace talks between the LRA and government of Uganda took place in 2006 in Juba, South Sudan but failed as the LRA refused to sign the peace accord.  The LRA argued that it would not sign a peace deal while the ICC warrants were still active and the government of Uganda argued that it could talk to the ICC about the warrants after the peace deal was signed (Apuuli, p. 117).  Acholi leaders and the ARLPI have called for the withdrawal of the ICC indictments in order to foster the peace process, but the ICC has persisted, arguing for accountability for the LRA and against amnesty (Apuuli, p. 125). 
Since the failed peace talks in 2006, there have been increased calls by religious leaders for a new truth and reconciliation commission for Northern Uganda to address atrocities committed by both the LRA and government forces.  Many northerners fear future retributions and continued conflict if all involved do not “confess their wrongs” in an effort to reach reconciliation.  However, Museveni has told “religious leaders to stay out of politics and governance” (Makumbi & Eriku, 2011).  In 2006, Miria Obote, President of Uganda People’s Congress and widow of former two-leader of Uganda Milton Obote, sent an open letter to Museveni demanding a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate all war crimes from 1962 to the date of the commission.  In the letter she accused Museveni of atrocities in Uganda and demanded his accountability for the invasions of Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  She argued, “only a Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be able to ferret out the facts and lead to a healing process” and concluded “failure to urgently act will…exacerbate tension and conflict in Uganda” (Obote, 2006). 
Efforts at conflict resolution and transitional justice in Uganda have not been successful in reconciliation and allowing the country to move on.  Uganda has passed through a violent history of leadership transition by combat with leaders coming to power by ousting those before him.  Ethnic or tribal allegiances have been used to pit groups against each other as leaders influenced groups to support them, which have turned into reprisals as new groups came to power.  Since Museveni came to power in 1986 there has been 26 years of relative peace or at least absence of a violent transition of power.  However, underlying ethnic tensions remain as some groups are favored over others. 
Uganda has attempted to address in the past some issues through the truth commissions of 1974 and 1986 but the recommendations of both were ignored and the general public did not see any results or change.  The first of 1974 was a sham that resulted only in reprisals against the commission.  The second commission in 1986 was more of a publicity act to gain influence with the outside world and appease donors.  The 2000 Amnesty Act and commission even undercut the 1986 commission by offering amnesty to all who would lay down their arms and renounce armed rebellion.  The constant financial problems also demonstrated that the 1986 commission was not a priority to the Museveni government.  However, the Amnesty Act may have had the most success in reintegrating former combatants as nearly 13,000 completed the DDR process.  Local tribal and reconciliation rituals have allowed former combatants to reintegrate into society. 
Interestingly, or perhaps due to the general populations lack of knowledge about the two previous truth commissions, there has been a growing call for a new truth commission to resolve the continuing conflicts involving rebel groups in northern Uganda.  Religious and other leaders have determined that after 25 years of military efforts to exterminate the LRA that a military solution will be difficult to achieve and are strengthening the call for a negotiated solution and peaceful reconciliation.  However, the ICC arrest warrants instigated by Museveni have proven to be an effective barrier to a peace agreement.  Museveni has also recently escalated the fight against the LRA, who have fled Uganda and are now operating in the border regions between Southern Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the DRC by convincing US leaders to commit US soldiers to find Kony (Chinko, 2012).  If Ugandan troops are able to capture or kill the LRA leadership the tensions in Uganda will persist because the underlying issues still have not been resolved.  Some sort of reconciliation is necessary for peace and progress in Uganda.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda at BU

The Honorable Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia and recently elected Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) addressed an audience at Boston University on 13 April 2012.  After a short speech on the purpose of the ICC and explaining that she would take over as the new Chief Prosecutor in June 2012 she responded to questions from the audience.  The first question was from a lady from Sri Lanka who began to read a full-page typed statement about the need for the ICC to take action in Sri Lanka but was told by Mrs. Bensouda that since Sri Lanka was not a member of the ICC they couldn't do anything unless the case had been referred from the UN (the UN has not referred the case to the ICC).  There were a couple other people in the audience wearing t-shirts against the government of Sri Lanka as well.  Some questions were about the scope of the ICC (can only investigate crimes that took place after its creation in 2002), what crimes it could investigate (serious crimes like genocide), and if it had demonstrated any deterrence effect (she didn't have a convincing answer), but the questions kept coming back to Africa.

In the course of the questions an African in the front row asked why the ICC was only dealing with African cases and what she, as an African, would do about it.  Mrs. Bensouda responded that the ICC is not anti-African and the ICC came into existence because of African nations and their support. She continued that Africa constitutes the largest block of countries in the ICC and their support was critical for the formation of the ICC, otherwise it might have taken longer to solidify. The first ratifier of the ICC was Senegal and the first countries to refer cases to the ICC were African.  And for the most part the people referring cases to the ICC are African countries.  In the cases where the UN had referred cases to the ICC African states were present on the Security Council and voted in favor.  Mrs. Bensouda summed up her argument by saying that the most important part of this are the victims, African victims, and this has been going on too long and we need to protect Africans.  "We can not go on protecting the perpetrators, the victims are also African."  During the question and answer period Mrs. Bensouda also mentioned that the ICC is investigating cases in South American and Afghanistan.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Otelo Burning

Wow. This looks like an amazing film about black South African surfers in 1989 who find freedom surfing during the struggle against apartheid. The surfing sequences in the trailer are awesome and give you a sense of being on the waves and the rest of the story looks interesting too!  Will this becoming to Boston theaters soon or where can i find the film?  Website: