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  • Author: Sonya Sceats
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Human rights abuses on a massive scale continue to afflict the lives of millions of people across the continent of Africa. As in other parts of the world, the obstacles in pursuing justice are currently insurmountable for most victims. Against this troubling backdrop, the African Union (AU) has decided to add a human rights section to its new court which has been agreed upon but not yet set up. This court is called the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. In the meantime, another pan-African human rights court, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, has recently opened in Arusha, Tanzania. This court will be wound down to make way for the African Court of Justice and Human Rights but is expected to operate for the next few years at least. These two courts represent the third instalment in efforts since the Second World War to create regional human rights courts. Because they have broad powers to enforce socio-economic rights and the collective rights of peoples, they may be setting an example for new developments around the world. This briefing paper focuses on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, but it also explains key features of the interim African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. It addresses questions including: Can victims of human rights abuses bring cases? Will the Court be able to try African heads of state? Will governments comply with judgments?
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare, Torture
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Claire Spencer
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: North Africa may not be as stable as it looks: socio-economic and political pressures are fracturing the consensus between governments and governed and may overtake terrorism and criminality as the region's main destabilizing forces. With political leadership in the region effectively a lifelong position, the growth of authoritarianism is undermining the prospects for achieving political and economic liberalization. Despite the worsening global economic climate, a window of opportunity exists to accelerate socially sensitive and productive domestic investment and open space for greater autonomous political and economic development. Success depends on renegotiating the social contracts on which North Africa's states are based. A broadening of participation, above all through the extension of legal employment, targeted investment on education, health and skills, and the establishment of independent legal and regulatory frameworks, will go some way towards addressing socio-economic stresses. A change in the political environment, however, requires a re-evaluation of how the region's security climate is seen from outside, with adjustments in the kind of support given to regional governments by its key international partners, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Islam, International Security
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The report of the government-constituted Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, submitted to Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua on 1 December 2008, offers an opportunity to reduce violent conflict significantly and begin longer-term regional development in the oil-rich region. The government needs to respond urgently and positively, in particular by accepting a third-party mediator to facilitate discussions of amnesty and demobilisation of militants, in order to dispel growing misgivings in the Delta, save the region from further violence and organised criminality, and ensure Nigeria's continued reliability as a leading source of energy for the world.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Oil, War
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Olga Martin-Ortega, Chandra Lekha Sriram, Johanna Herman
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre on Human Rights in Conflict
  • Abstract: Rule of law promotion is integral to peacebuilding, but not always well integrated It is important to distinguish between technical delivery of rule of law assistance and access to justice as perceived by the population Rule of law promotion and transitional justice may be complementary, or competitive Despite emphasis on the formal sector, informal justice processes are often most accessible to the vast majority Such informal processes may be transformed both by conflict and by peacebuilding activities Emphasis on state institutions in rule of law promotion can inadvertently undermine equal access to justice Given these challenges, the international community faces serious dilemmas about whom to engage, and particularly whether to engage the informal sector at all.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Peace Studies, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Oliver Bakewell
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Today there is great interest in diasporas' role in development across Africa and much enthusiasm for identifying policies that can maximise their contribution. In this new DIIS Brief Oliver Bakewell, senior research officer at the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford, raises four questions that challenge uncritical enthusiasm for diasporas' increased involvement in development: 1) Who is in the diaspora? 2) Where is the diaspora? 3) How does diaspora engagement affect accountability? And 4) What ideas of development are being used?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Migration
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Nauja Kleist
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Diaspora and migrant associations are often praised as new 'agents of change' for their contributions to development in their countries of origin. While much is known about Latin American hometown associations, there has been less focus on African diaspora associations. This DIIS Brief examines Somali and Ghanaian migrant associations in Denmark and their involvement in development. It shows how associations involve themselves on the basis of particular loyalties and emphasizes the importance of local partners and collaboration.
  • Topic: Migration, Poverty, Diaspora
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Denmark, Latin America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In 2007 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that US companies that had done business with apartheid South Africa could be found liable for monetary damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) of 1789 (Khulumani v. Barclay Nat. Bank Ltd., 504 F.3d 254 [2d Cir. 2007]). Liability arises, the Second Circuit declared, from their possible connections with human rights violations committed by South Africa during the apartheid era. Firms named in the suit include Bank of America, IBM, Coca-Cola, and General Motors. The governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland all opposed the lawsuit, as did the government of South Africa, which argued that the suit ran counter to its policy of reconciliation. The Bush administration also opposed the suit, but the Second Circuit rejected the argument that the cases could be dismissed for foreign policy reasons.
  • Topic: Apartheid, Human Rights, International Law, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, United Kingdom, America, South Africa, Germany
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The assassinations of the chief of defence staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, on 1 March 2009 and Presi- dent Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira early the next day have plunged Guinea-Bissau into deep uncertainty. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was quickly sworn in as interim president pending the election the constitution requires. That the killings occurred only months after the acclaimed November parliamentary elections, however, indicates that, in current circumstances, the democratic process cannot cope with the rule of the gun, as well as the extent to which the military's use of force has overwhelmed state institutions. Without outside help to end military involvement in politics and impunity, it may be impossible to halt a slide into further violence. Elites need to stand up to the military, but they require support. The international community should work for an international or hybrid commission of inquiry into the killings. Security system reform needs to be improve d by better international coordination and creation of a national commission with enhanced autonomy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea-Bissau
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 4 mars 2007, les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise ivoirienne signaient l'accord politique de Ouagadougou (APO). Ce compromis a, dans un pre-mier temps, apporté un environnement de paix en Côte d'Ivoire. La ligne de démarcation entre les deux pro-tagonistes a été démantelée. Un nouveau gouvernement a été formé et les bases ont été jetées pour apporter une réponse aux deux questions-clés du conflit : l'identité et la citoyenneté ivoiriennes et la légitimité du pouvoir. Mais, plus de deux ans après son adoption, l'APO va mal. Une sortie de crise sera possible uniquement si les engagements pris dans la capitale burkinabé sont enfin suivis d'effets. Sortir la Côte d'Ivoire de sa décen-nie de crise ne nécessitera pas seulement l'organisation d'élections crédibles mais impliquera également des progrès significatifs dans le processus de désarmement ainsi qu'une véritable réunification de l'administration. Ceci demandera la remobilisation de la facilitation burkinabé et une pression accrue des partenaires inter-nationaux sur les acteurs du conflit.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Peace Studies, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Caroline Pearce, Sébastien Fourmy, Hetty Kovach
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has been democratic since 1991, and the international community considers it to have, overall, a well-performing government and economy. But this should not mask the huge scale of the challenges facing Mali in realising even the most basic rights of its citizens. This challenge is increased by the country's vulnerability to shocks, such as the food and fuel crises.
  • Topic: Education, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali
  • Author: John Magrath, Elvis Sukali
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: A wind of climate change is blowing through the southern African nation of Malawi, bringing confusion to fisherfolk and farmers alike.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Gender Issues, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Malawi
  • Author: Emily Alpert, Melinda Smale
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In July 2008, world food prices reached their highest peak since the early 1970s. Food stocked on grocery store shelves was out of reach. Riots ensued. Millions were afflicted. Another 100 million people were pushed into the ranks of the hungry, raising the total to nearly one billion worldwide. And these numbers could climb again as food prices remain high, and continue to rise in many local markets.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Poverty, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The semi-autonomous north-eastern Somali region of Puntland, once touted as a success of the “building blocks” approach to reestablishing national stability and widely viewed as one of the most prosperous parts of Somalia, is experiencing a three-year rise in insecurity and political tension. At its roots are poor governance and a collapse of the intra-clan cohesion and pan-Darood solidarity that led to its creation in 1998. Intra-Darood friction has eroded the consensual style of politics that once underpinned a relative stability. The piracy problem is a dramatic symptom of deeper problems that, left untreated, could lead to Puntland's disintegration or overthrow by an underground militant Islamist movement. A solution to the security threat requires the Puntland government to institute reforms that would make it more transparent and inclusive of all clans living within the region.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia, Puntland
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis 2003, l'exploitation du pétrole a contribué lourdement à la détérioration de la gouvernance interne au Tchad, menant à une succession de crises politiques et de rébellions. Les retombées financières du pétrole – 53 millions de barils rapportant 1,2 milliards de dollars à l'Etat en 2007 – ont attisé les appétits au sein du régime qui ont, à leur tour, nourri des dissensions et débouché sur des rébellions rapidement soutenues par le voisin soudanais. Les revenus du pétrole ont par ailleurs donné au président Idriss Déby les moyens de rejeter tout dialogue politique véritable, et de répondre aux menaces de renversement venues du Soudan par le surarmement. L'enthousiasme suscité par l'exploitation du pétrole a fait place à un désenchantement généralisé. Pour sortir de ce cercle vicieux et susciter les conditions d'une stabilisation durable du pays, le gouvernement tchadien doit redéfinir un consensus national autour de la gestion des revenus pétroliers, et ses partenaires principaux, la France, les Etats-Unis et la Chine, doivent conditionner leur soutien au régime à cette politique, tout en oeuvrant à la stabilisation complémentaire de ses relations avec le Soudan.
  • Topic: Corruption, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Myriam Benraad
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last month, Kamal Hassan, a Somali-American living in Minnesota, pled guilty to training and fighting with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia. In July, two other Somali-Americans in Minnesota pled guilty to similar charges, with the FBI continuing to investigate more than a dozen others who may have traveled from the United States to Somalia. The FBI also recently arrested seven individuals in North Carolina on terrorism-related charges, including one who had spent time in Afghan training camps. These and other recent events have raised new concerns in the United States about the threat of homegrown radicalization.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, Washington, North Carolina
  • Author: Joel Negin, Jolyon Ford
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Zimbabwe's long night is by no means over. Nearly a year after the violent and disputed March 2008 elections, and months after the September signing of a 'Global Political Agreement' with the ruling ZANU-PF party, the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) agreed in February to take part in a coalition government in which its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, became Prime Minister. The state apparatus in Zimbabwe is currently shared uneasily by reformers and reactionaries with each of the MDC and ZANU-PF having half of the cabinet seats. Hardline ZANU-PF elements remain in government and control the security services, and a quiet but intense power struggle continues.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Development, Foreign Aid, Food
  • Political Geography: Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea's stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars. The military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), is denying its evident responsibility and playing for time by offering what it calls a “national union government” to opposition parties. But with the mood on the streets hardening against the junta, worse trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to force the soldiers from power.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Author: Nick Martlew
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In 1984, one million Ethiopians died during a catastrophic famine. The government at the time hid the scale of hunger until a shocking BBC television report ignited a massive relief effort, supported by the Band Aid movement. Though this was too late for too many, thousands of lives were saved.
  • Topic: Foreign Aid, Food, Famine
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Steve Jennings, John Magrath
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The timing of rain, and intra-seasonal rainfall patterns are critical to smallholder farmers in developing countries. Seasonality influences farmers' decisions about when to cultivate and sow and harvest. It ultimately contributes to the success or failure of their crops. Worryingly, therefore, farmers are reporting that both the timing of rainy seasons and the pattern of rains within seasons are changing. These perceptions of change are striking in that they are geographically widespread and because the changes are described in remarkably consistent terms. In this paper, we relate the perceptions of farmers from several regions(East Asia, South Asia, Southern and East Africa, and Latin America) of how seasons are changing, and in some cases, how once distinct seasons appear to be disappearing altogether, and the impacts that these changes are having. We then go on to ask two critical questions. Firstly, do meteorological observations support farmers' perceptions of changing seasonality? Secondly, to what extent are these changes consistent with predictions from climate models? We conclude that changing seasonality may be one of the major impacts of climate change faced by smallholder farmers in developing countries over the next few decades. Indeed, this may already be the case. Yet it is relatively unexplored in the literature. We also suggest some of the key adaptation responses that might help farmers cope with these changes.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, East Asia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In 2009, the world is faced with a dire economic situation. No one hesitates to call this situation a crisis, most governments have rushed to prioritise it, and, in response, wealthy countries have pledged $8.4 trillion in bank bailouts.
  • Topic: Education, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States