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  • Author: Olivier Kambala
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
  • Abstract: This policy paper explores the situation of victims vis-à-vis transitional justice processes in selected African countries when COVID-19 appeared. It looks at the performance of these transitional justice processes and attempts to ascertain the prospects for the African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) to improve remedies for victims. It also suggests ways to orient the AUTJP's scope to alleviate victims' plight, including through synchronisation with other regional processes, during and beyond COVID-19.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Transitional Justice, Public Health, Pandemic, African Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Jasmina Brankovic, Augustine Njamnshi, Christoph Schwarte
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has created human suffering on a global scale, but also a window of opportunity to rethink how we live, work and play. For the time being, calls for a green recovery that builds back better by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment and creating a fairer, more equitable society have become commonplace. This could help to build new momentum in international efforts to combat climate change and rebuild lost trust and goodwill between parties in the intergovernmental negotiations through new collective approaches. If we are serious about creating a better future, transitional justice can provide some important guidance on the way forward. It would provide a framework to deal with past inequitable use of the global environment in a transparent and inclusive manner and shape a new path of international solidarity and collaboration. This paper provides a brief overview of the concept of transitional justice, its techniques and potential relevance in the climate negotiation context.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Cooperation, Transitional Justice, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Owen Mangiza, Joshua Chakawa
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: This Policy and Practice Brief (PPB) discusses the implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on border communities, principally in relation to border controls by governments and trans-border activities by community members living close to the border in Zimbabwe.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Border Control, Pandemic, Community, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Alexandre Kateb
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: According to official statistics, the African continent has been relatively spared by the Covid-19 pandemic compared to Europe, America and Asia. The factors behind the low incidence of coronavirus in Africa are not fully understood. According to the WHO, the African continent has benefited from certain structural factors such as the limited international connectivity of most African countries, with the exception of some regional "hubs" such as Johannesburg, Casablanca, Addis Ababa and Nairobi. Incidentally, the most 'connected' African countries such as Morocco and South Africa have incurred the highest prevalence rates of Covid-19, which may lend credence to this explanation.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Louise Riis Andersen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: With a global recession looming due to COVID-19,the large blue-helmet UN missions will be harder to sustain, both financially and politically. So the UN is learning to “think small”. Recommendations ■ The Secretariat should work with member states to improve the UN’s mechanisms for deploying bespoke, case-specific peace operations and SPMs at short notice. ■ Member states should stand ready to deploy small numbers of military and police personnel to serve in more flexible forms of UN operations and to offer specialized expertise and training as requested. ■ Member states should pay their respective share of the UN peacekeeping budget on time and increase their voluntary contributions.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, South Sudan
  • Author: Hans Lucht, Tekalign Ayalew Mengiste
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Following the 2018 peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea more than 60,000 Eritrean refugees arrived in Ethiopia. Thousands continue to arrive every month. They live under harsh conditions that call for humanitarian action. KEY TAKEAWAYS: Vulnerable Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, women, elderly, disabled, and children need urgent humanitarian assistance, including shelters, food, water, sanitation, energy, and health care. Funds are needed for UNHCR, partner organizations, and ARRA to address continuous refugee arrivals in Ethiopia and the challenges posed by COVID-19. Donor countries should put pressure on Ethiopia to reintroduce prima facie recognition and allow access to protection, while resettlement quotas abroad should be increased. Humanitarian support and emergency shelters should be provided in transit locations for smuggled and trafficked Eritreans in need of urgent protection.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Treaties and Agreements, Refugees, Peace, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Lockdown measures have been an integral tool in the fight against COVID-19. But they come at a high cost, given their impacts on economies, employment and incomes, education, food systems, mental health and even the potential for civil unrest. This policy briefing by Sarah Cliffe, Paul von Chamier, and Nendirmwa Noel examines how countries are balancing the need for lockdown with policy measures to alleviate their effects and plans for reopening. It provides comparative data on the stringency of lockdowns, showing that while there has been a convergence towards more stringent measures over time, there is also wide variation among countries—even among those in the same region, or income group. A brief case study of Sierra Leone and snapshot examples of policy from ten other countries illustrates the range of answers to the question of how much lockdown is enough.
  • Topic: Employment, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sierra Leone, Global Focus
  • Author: Sunguta West
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Al-Shabaab’s recent attack targeting Somalia’s head of the military is the latest indication of the Islamist militant group’s growing confidence in its battle for control of the war-torn country in the Horn of Africa. Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, has been waging a deadly insurgency in the country for 14 years. Its weapons of choice have ranged from improvised explosive devices (IED) and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), to deploying suicide bombers to target security forces, public installations, and government officials. Its war is largely asymmetrical, where it also relies on hit and run attacks, assassinations, and grenade attacks.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamism, Al Shabaab, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Loïc Bisson
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Countries in West Africa were quick to take strong prevention and mitigation measures to stem the spread of COVID-19. But border closure, curfew, market closure and limited internal movement already impact key value chains in the region and threaten livelihoods. It risks lowering decent working conditions and labour rights and increasing child labour and gender violence. Informal, migrant and female workers are especially at risk and are likely to take the brunt of the economic downturn. Disruptions in the food value chain also endangers food security in the region. Instability in West Africa threatens both European and Dutch economic, security and geopolitical interests. By virtue of being involved in various West African value chains, European and Dutch consumers and companies bear both leverage and responsibilities in regard to secure livelihoods, good working conditions free of gender violence and respect for labour rights in West Africa.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Fragile States, Global Value Chains, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, West Africa
  • Author: Loïc Bisson
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: In the Sahel, market closures, border closures and movement restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted the structurally weak pastoral sector, already made vulnerable by conflict. There are several signs of the negative impacts of COVID-19, such as difficulties in moving food and people, poor access to markets, rising food prices and loss of livelihoods. In Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, the pandemic adds to ongoing problems of conflict and political instability. The threat to pastoralists is to lose their herds through overgrazing, zoo-sanitary diseases or lack of income to feed the animals. If pastoralists go bankrupt, they could be forced to sell their livestock at devastatingly low prices to large landholders or wealthy neo-pastoralists. This scenario would aggravate an already-growing trend in the region – escalating economic inequality and the consolidation of wealth among an elite. This risks fuelling inequality and deepening existing fault lines. The priority for Sahelian governments should be clear: keep food coming and people moving, and develop a post-COVID-19 strategy to tackle the vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Poverty, Conflict, Pastoralism, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sahel
  • Author: Valerie Niquet
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China plays a significant role in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, where the current Director-General of the WHO was Minister of Health and then Minister of Foreign Affairs. This opaque influence and the support given by Beijing to Dr. Tedros seems to have weighed on the positions taken by the WHO in the face of the Covid 19 crisis. The consequences of these decisions are now being felt worldwide and contribute to undermining the credibility of a fragile multilateral system.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, United Nations, World Health Organization, Multilateralism, Soft Power, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Josep Borrell
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The pandemic will likely magnify existing geopolitical dynamics and test the strength of Europe’s democratic systems. Europe needs a new kind of globalisation capable of striking a balance between the advantages of open markets and interdependence, and between the sovereignty and security of countries. Europe should work to prevent the US-China rivalry from having negative repercussions in certain regions of the world – particularly Africa. European leaders need to focus on meeting the immediate needs of healthcare systems, providing an income for people who cannot work, and giving businesses guarantees. The European model will only mean something in the eyes of the world if we can successfully promote solidarity among EU member states.
  • Topic: Globalization, Geopolitics, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Mattes, Carolyn Logan, E. Gyimah-Boadi, George Ellison
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Not only did the COVID-19 disease arrive on Africa’s shores (and at its airports) later than in Asia, Europe, and North America (Loembé et al., 2020), but for months the numbers of infections and deaths also appeared to remain relatively low. As of early August, the continent had experienced more than 1 million confirmed cases and 23,000 deaths (Africa CDC, 2020), though these figures were increasing rapidly. At this point, the causes behind Africa’s comparatively low initial numbers are not completely clear. One reason may be that early and decisive responses on the part of many African governments prevented the virus from gaining an easy foothold (Beech, Rubin, Kurmanaev, & MacLean, 2020; Hirsch, 2020; Levinson, 2020; Moore, 2020; Loembé et al., 2020). Indeed, according to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (2020), 46 African countries took some form of official action – in the form of new legislation or executive orders and decrees – restricting or banning travel and public gatherings, enforcing quarantines, or in some cases imposing full “lockdowns.” But Africa, somewhat paradoxically, may also have benefited from a range of structural factors, such as the continent’s relatively limited international exposure, its relatively low rates of intra- and inter-state air travel (Marbot, 2020), a generally hot and humid climate, relatively lower levels of population density and urbanization (De Waal, 2020; Marbot, 2020), and its substantially younger populations (Binding, 2020). It may have also profited from cultural factors, such as the fact that older people tend to remain with their families, rather than being institutionalized in retirement homes (Marbot, 2020), though this also has consequences for residential density, or that it has a more collectivist, less individualistic culture, which, according to recent research, may make COVID-19 interventions more effective (Frey, Presidente, & Chen, 2020). Yet most public health experts remain wary, and still expect significant further transmission of the virus across the continent, requiring drastic public health responses and interventions, especially where governments eased initial restrictions and lockdowns. Indeed, some officials have expressed concerns that Africa’s low numbers merely reflect very low rates of testing (Sly, 2020) and even, in some countries such as Tanzania, deliberate under-reporting (BBC, 2020). Some press reports have described instances where local reports of death rates bear little relation to official data (MacLean, 2020; York, 2020). These concerns appear well-founded given that community transmission is now present in all African countries and the number of infections increased by 50%, and deaths by 22%, in the last two weeks of July (World Health Organization, 2020). And officials at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that Africa could well become the next epicenter of the pandemic (Loembé et al., 2020). If, as these events suggest, early interventions in African countries successfully erected a wall that kept the virus at bay, albeit temporarily, how well prepared are these countries if and when the virus penetrates their initial defenses? A wealth of Afrobarometer survey data suggests that Africans are especially vulnerable, in part due to lack of access to clean water and adequate health care (Gyimah-Boadi & Logan, 2020a; Logan, Howard, & Gyimah-Boadi, 2020). In this paper, we attempt to take the issue of vulnerability a step further by developing a more fine-grained approach, using insights from public health to examine different dimensions and components of vulnerability (Morrell, 2018). Specifically, we develop three inter-connected indices intended to capture the extent to which Africans might 1) run a heightened “risk of exposure to infection,” 2) face a heightened “susceptibility to illness” (once infected), and 3) face a “lack of resilience” (to recover once they become ill). In addition, a fourth index of “lockdown readiness” estimates the proportion of people who are more (or less) likely to be able to withstand the most severe forms of government health interventions, i.e. lockdowns or “shelter in place” orders, We then demonstrate how cross-country variations in the extent of exposure and susceptibility, and in the degree to which people are prepared for a lockdown, might help us better understand policy choices that African governments have made, and the extent to which these interventions were able to achieve desired reductions in mobility and contact. Finally, we briefly explore some of the soft assets that governments can bring to the table, such as legitimacy and trust, that may help increase compliance with restrictions on mobility, especially in countries we have identified as least able to tolerate lockdowns.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Helen Scanlon, Pravina Makan-Lakha, Molly Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 marked two milestones for women’s rights and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda: the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). Both of these international commitments stressed the importance of advancing women’s rights, particularly in relation to their participation efforts to achieve peace and security. However, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed existing plans to mark these achievements. Instead of allowing the pandemic to further disrupt the strides that have been made to advance women’s human rights over the last two decades, it is critical that peace and security activists reframe the circumstances created by the pandemic as an opportunity to secure meaningful change. Within this context, this Policy and Practice Brief (PPB) will critique the progress made in the WPS’ agenda since the adoption of UNSCR 1325 and provide African perspectives on what should be prioritised over the next 20 years.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Women, Peace, COVID-19, WPS
  • Political Geography: Africa