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  • Author: Jacob Zenn
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On December 11, 2020, around 300 male students were kidnapped from a Kankara, Katsina State school in northwestern Nigeria (TheCable, December 13, 2020). The attack was inconsistent with typical northwestern Nigeria banditry operations involving smaller-scale kidnapping and extortion, pillaging, and assassination of local political enemies that have escalated in northwestern Nigerian in recent years. The attack was, however, consistent with the past activities of the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau. Shekau’s faction is responsible for the mass killing of male students in their dormitories in 2013 and the Chibok kidnapping of more than 200 female students in Borno State, northeastern Nigeria in 2014. Furthermore, the Kankara kidnapping reflected Boko Haram’s “affiliate system” because the attack was conducted by Boko Haram’s northwestern Nigerian “affiliate” in the Katsina-Niger-Zamfara state axis, which is comprised primarily of bandits (“Niger” refers to Niger State, Nigeria, not the Republic of Niger).
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde, Peer Schouten
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Pastoralism is the key to climate change adaptation in African drylands, but it is threatened by conflicts with farmers, regional insecurity and violent extremism. Stabilisation and development efforts should place pastoralism at the centre by strengthening pastoral livelihoods and should include herders as peacebuilding and development partners. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Strengthen pastoralist capacities to cope with risk and variability by boosting inclusive and equitable resource governance in new development programmes. ■ Include pastoralists as potential peace-builders in conflict resolution efforts. ■ Support dialogue between pastoralists and local and national governments in order to prevent the further marginalisation of vulnerable pastoralist groups.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Democratization, Development, Environment, Migration, Non State Actors, Fragile States, Economy, Conflict, Investment, Peace, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Adam Moe Fejerskov, Meron Zeleke
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Every year, several hundred thousand migrants return to Ethiopia, where they struggle to integrate back into society. They must deal with the traumatic events of their journeys while also facing social stigma and exclusion. KEY FINDINGS ■ All Ethiopian migrants using irregular routes have experienced or witnessed violence and trauma ■ Sexual violence and abuse are widespread among Ethiopian male migrants yet taboo, and psychosocial support should address the vulnerabilities of men ■ Livelihood interventions should address the problem of social stigma ■ Re-integration is difficult as social positions and relationships will never be as they were before migration
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Border Control, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • 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: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Africa strategy is rooted in three misconceptions about China’s African footprint—and a fourth about US-Africa economic relations—that are either factually incorrect or overstated in terms of the broader strategic challenges they pose to US interests: (1) Chinese engagement in Africa crowds out opportunities for trade and investment with and from the United States; (2) Chinese engagement in Africa is resource-seeking—to the detriment of US interests; (3) Chinese engagement in Africa is designed to foster debt-based coercive diplomacy; and (4) US-Africa economic linkages are all one-way and concessionary (i.e., aid-based). Hendrix finds little evidence to suggest Chinese trade and investment ties crowd out US trade and investment opportunities. China’s resource-seeking bent is evident in investment patterns, but it is more a function of Africa’s having comparatively large, undercapitalized resource endowments than China’s attempt to corner commodity markets. Chinese infrastructural development—particularly large projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative—may result in increased African indebtedness to the Chinese, but there is little reason to think debt per se will vastly expand Chinese military capacity in the region. And finally, US-Africa economic relations are much less one-sided and concessionary (i.e., aid-based) than conventional wisdom suggests.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Economy, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, North America, United States of America
  • 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: Martha Crenshaw
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The 2011 civil war in Syria attracted thousands of fighters from at least seventy countries to join the Islamic State. Al-Shabaab carried out large-scale attacks on civilian targets in Uganda and Kenya as retribution for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Somalia. In this report, Martha Crenshaw considers the extent to which civil war and foreign military intervention function as a rationale for transnational terrorism, and how understanding the connections between terrorism, civil war, and weak governance can help the United States and its allies mount an appropriate response.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Transnational Actors, Peace, Al-Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, Syria, Somalia, United States of America
  • Author: Arthur Boutellis, Michael Beary
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Since 2013, after years of near absence from the continent, a number of European countries, along with Canada, have again deployed to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. The European presence in UN peacekeeping in Africa is now nearly at its largest since the mid-1990s. These countries provide much-needed high-end capabilities, as well as political and financial capital, to UN peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, securing and sustaining European contributions to these types of peacekeeping operations remains an uphill battle for the UN. This paper draws lessons from this renewed engagement by European countries and Canada, both from their point of view, as well as from that of the UN Secretariat, UN field missions, and other troop contributors. It aims to explore how these bodies and other countries can best work together in a collective endeavor to improve UN peacekeeping’s efficiency and effectiveness. Toward this end, the paper recommends a number of actions to the UN Secretariat: Build peacekeeping operations around first-class medical systems; Focus on improving processes for casualty evacuation; Strengthen the UN’s capacity to foster partnerships among troop-contributing countries; Engage Europe strategically and politically; Be flexible and make European contributors (and others) feel included in planning; Continue educating European contributors about UN peacekeeping; Do not limit engagement with European contributors to high-end capabilities; Ensure European contributors adhere to UN standards; and Encourage European contributors to commit to longer deployments.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Canada
  • Author: Charles T. Hunt
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Since first deployed in 1960, United Nations police (UNPOL) have consistently been present in UN missions and have become increasingly important to achieving mission objectives. Since 1999, these objectives have often included the protection of civilians (POC), especially in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and South Sudan. But despite its rise in prominence, the protective role of UNPOL is generally undervalued and regularly overlooked, and missions have tended to overly rely on militarized approaches to POC. This report examines the roles and responsibilities of UNPOL regarding POC. It outlines UNPOL’s contributions to POC and perceived comparative advantages, using examples of their role as compeller, deterrent, partner, and enabler. It also identifies and draws lessons from challenges to police protection efforts, including ambiguous mandates, policies, and guidance; poor coordination; problematic partnerships; and deficits in capabilities, capacities, and tools. Drawing on these lessons from past and current deployments, the report proposes recommendations for how member states, the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and field missions can improve UNPOL’s efforts to protect civilians going forward. These recommendations include: Clarifying the role of UN police in POC through mandates, policies, guidance, and training to align the expectations of UN peace operations, the Secretariat, and member states for what UNPOL are expected to do; Involving all UN police in POC and giving them a voice in decision making and planning to infuse whole-of-mission POC efforts with policing perspectives and empower UNPOL to act more readily; Enhancing partnerships between UN police, host states, and other mission components to enable more responsive, better coordinated, and more comprehensive approaches to POC; and Providing more appropriate and more flexible capabilities, capacities, and tools to address critical capabilities gaps and adapt existing resources to better meet UNPOL’s latent potential for POC.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Reform, Rule of Law, Civilians, Police
  • Political Geography: Africa, Darfur, Mali, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo
  • Author: Christian Lara, Gabriel Delsol
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: In 2017, the UN launched a system-wide effort to support the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in Burkina Faso. Since then, a rapidly deteriorating security situation and an imminent humanitarian crisis have forced the UN, the Burkinabe government, and their partners to recalibrate their efforts. This ongoing recalibration, together with the changes resulting from the UN development system reforms, makes this an opportune moment to assess the state of efforts to sustain peace in Burkina Faso. This paper examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Burkina Faso, looking at what has been done and what is still needed. It focuses on the four issue areas highlighted in the secretary-general’s 2018 report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace: operational and policy coherence; leadership at the UN country level; partnerships with local and regional actors; and international support. Burkina Faso provides lessons for how the UN’s sustaining peace efforts can respond to growing needs without a change in mandate. Continued support for the UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso is necessary to ensure that these efforts are part of a holistic approach to the crisis, together with local, national, and regional partners. Such support could underpin Burkina Faso’s status as a buffer against spreading insecurity in the Sahel and make the country a model for the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in conflict-prone settings without UN missions.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Peace, Sustainability, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Agathe Sarfati
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The twin resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace adopted by the General Assembly and Security Council in 2016 made a breakthrough in the UN’s conception of peacebuilding. Significant work has since been undertaken to reconfigure the UN system to work toward the implementation of these resolutions, and the UN Peacebuilding Commission has launched a comprehensive review of the peacebuilding architecture to be completed in 2020. To inform this review, this issue brief synthesizes findings related to the operationalization of the peacebuilding and sustaining peace resolutions at the country level. These findings emerged from three case studies published by IPI on Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Burkina Faso. The operationalization of sustaining peace is assessed across four areas: (1) operational and policy coherence; (2) leadership, accountability, and capacity; (3) financing; and (4) partnerships. The paper concludes that much of the focus to date has been on improving the effectiveness of how the UN delivers its mandates on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. To fully realize the vision of the sustaining peace agenda, its operationalization must increasingly focus on the impact of these efforts. This requires questioning and testing the theory of change underpinning these operational reforms to ensure the UN is effectively helping societies build the foundation for sustaining peace.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peace, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Vane Moraa Aminga, Florian Krampe
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: There has been considerable attention on the conventional climate mitigation and adaptation debate in Africa, including the prominent efforts of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change in global climate forums. However, there is little understanding of how the African Union (AU) is discussing and responding to the security implications of climate change. This Policy Brief outlines key strengths of the African Union’s response, such as a rapidly evolving discourse around climate security and efforts to improve collaboration and coordination among different parts of the institution. But also, key weaknesses in the discourse around AU policy responses, such as the lack of tangible policy operationalization as well as financial unpreparedness and limited member state accountability. The Policy Brief makes recommendations highlighting entry points for advancing the understanding and response to climate-related security risks within the AU, such as: (a) develop and institutionalize coordinated responses to climate-related security risks, (b) develop strong climate security leadership within the African Union, and (c) change the narrative to focus on shared problems and therefore shared solutions—multilateralism rather than nationalism.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Multilateralism, Risk, African Union
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • 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: Audrey Hruby
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Global powers are jockeying for access to opportunities in African markets. In recent years, through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development, the Russia-Africa Summit, and many others, the world’s largest economies have sought to make headway in what are seen as fast-growing and lucrative new markets. In this environment, effective United States (US)-Africa policy requires greater focus on areas of American competitiveness and concerted efforts to educate, mobilize, and support US commercial success in African markets. In this update of her 2017 issue brief “Escaping China’s shadow: Finding America’s competitive edge in Africa,” Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby outlines recommendations for how to best utilize Prosper Africa and leverage American private sector competitiveness by focusing efforts on sectors in which the United States already leads.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Schmauder
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Malian peace agreement of 2015, known as the Algiers Agreement, aimed to improve relations between select representatives of northern Mali and central state authorities through decentralisation. Yet, in contrast to ongoing counterterrorism efforts, governance reform through the decentralisation process has received little attention from either the Malian government or its international partners. As a consequence, effective decentralisation in northern regions remains limited at this point in time. This policy brief contributes to the debate on decentralisation in Mali by illustrating how decentralisation in northern Mali has become an issue of contestation between central state authorities and armed signatories. Decentralisation remains captured in a logic of territorial control, in which the representation of armed signatories takes precedence before the needs and interests of marginalised tribes and communities in northern regions. Central state authorities and signatories have been reinforcing this logic of representation, each trying to hamper the influence of the other over territorial control in northern regions.
  • Topic: Governance, Fragile States, Conflict, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali
  • 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: Fransje Molenaar
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the course of 2019, and despite being located in a region marked by violent conflict, the Inter collectivité du Sourou achieved a unique feat in the West African region. It developed an Integrated and Sustainable Development Programme (ISDP) that defined concrete actions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Sourou river plain in Mali in an adaptive fashion and set itself up as the main coordinator for the implementation of this plan. Both achievements will help the region coordinate natural resource management – thereby addressing one of the region’s root causes of conflict. This policy brief outlines how the effective devolution of power was achieved through an inclusive rather than a ‘rubber stamp’ approach to the planning process and by having a donor that made the improvement of local governance a result of its own intrinsic value. For the long- term implementation of the ISDP, care should be taken to ensure the continued inclusivity and representativeness of local development and resource management while remaining mindful of the interaction of this new governance structure with existing governance and power structures.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Governance, Sustainable Development Goals, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, Sahel
  • 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, Pastorialism, 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: Amandine Gnanguênon
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Regional organisations have proliferated in Africa in recent decades, with many organisations attempting to address similar issues in similar parts of the continent. International donors have helped create this situation by funding new and existing African regional organisations without questioning the downsides of doing so. In recent years, African regional organisations have increasingly sought to concentrate on security issues, contributing to a rise in the use of ‘hard security’ solutions at the expense of ‘people-centred’ approaches. This proliferation comes with further costs, such as wasted resources, and ‘forum shopping’ by state leaders. Europeans and other international donors should take stock of the situation they have helped create. As a first step, they should agree a tacit ‘non-proliferation agreement’ before considering other options.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Regional Cooperation, Peace, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa