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“Africa, the tragedy; Africa, the challenge”* NEPAD and the new humanitarian agenda

  • Garth Abraham

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1 More than 40% of Africa's 600 million people live below the internationally recognized absolute poverty line of US$1 per day; Africa's share of the world's absolute poor grew from 25% to 30% in the 1990s. See: Mills, Greg, Poverty to Prosperity: Globalisation, Good Governance and African Recovery, Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2002, p. 87.

2 250 million people – 40% of the continental population – lack access to safe water. Ibid., p. 87.

3 200 million people – 33% of the continental population – have no access to health services; 165 persons per 100,000 die each year from malaria (at the start of the twentieth century the figure was 223/100,000); 70% of the world's AIDS cases are to be found on the continent. Ibid., p. 87.

4 The first three years of the new millennium have witnessed violence of some kind in Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, the Sudan and Zimbabwe. According to Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, of the 45 countries on the African continent in which the UN DP had operative programmes in the last decade of the twentieth century, 18 were experiencing civil strife, while political crises of various kinds occurred in a further 11. See: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New York, 2000, p. 23.

5 Cited in Cornish, Paul, “Terrorism, insecurity and underdevelopment”, Journal for Conflict, Security and Development, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2001, p. 49.

6 Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, has characterized most incidences of the violence as “internal, total and protracted”. See: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, op. cit. (note 4), p. 23.

7 According to ICRC sources (World campaign forthe protection of victims of war”, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 282, May-June 1991, p. 308) – cited in Forsythe, David P., “The International Committee of the Red Cross and humanitarian assistance: A policy analysis”, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 314, 1996, p. 512 Footnote 2 – during the First World War 15% of the victims were civilians; this percentage increased to 65% during the Second Worid War; today the percentage is 90%.

8 News Flashes from Africa, The Africa Institute of South Africa (NFA 139/2003, 28/07/2003).

9 This was the view of Sergio Vieira de Mello, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Inter-Agency Standing Committee. See: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, op. cit. (note 4), p. 11.

10 Such action is to be distinguished from foreign aid by virtue of the fact that it applies in circumstances of emergency, cf. Hardcastle, Rohan J. & Chua, Adrian T. L., “Humanitarian assistance: Towards a right of access to victims of natural disasters”, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 325, 1998, p. 592.

11 Louw, Liesl, “The harmful effects of handouts in Africa”, eAfrica: The Electronic Journal of Governance and Innovation (SAIIA), No. 1, October 2003, p. 16.

12 Sergio Vieira de Mello, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. See: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, op. cit. (note 4), p. 13.

13 Ibid., p. 9.

14 Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Ibid., p. 23.

15 Ibid., p. 24.

16 Ibid., p. 24.

17 The occasion was an address by Thabo Mbeki at an Africa Day celebration in Johannesburg, South Africa, to mark the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity on 25 May 2003. The address is available at: <http://www.allafrica.com/stories/printable/200305250002.html>.

18 New Partnership for Africa's Development, October 2001, para. 1. This document is available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/nepad_english_version.pdf>.

19 Ibid., para. 60.

20 Richard Kamidza et at., “The role of the state in development in the SADC region: Does NEPAD provide a new paradigm?”, Third World Network Africa, article available at: <http://www.twnafrica.org/print.asp?twnlD=225>.

21 <http://www.uneca.org/itca/ariportal/docs/lagos_plan.pdf> OAU, Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa 1980–2000, Geneva, 1981.

22 World Bank, Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action, Washington DC, 1981.

23 Interventions by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

24 Kamidza et at., op. cit. (note 20).

25 While recognizing the veracity of Lord Acton's comment that it constitutes ‘“the most penetrating and subtle treatise on the history of civilisation that exists in literature’” (cited in Gooch, G. P., History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century, Longmans, London, 1920, p. 583), see, for example, the many criticisms levelled against Jacob Burckhardt's use of the term to describe the cultural flowering of Quattracento Italy in Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien in 1860 (Ibid.).

26 See Melber, Henning, “The new African initiative and the African Union: A preliminary assessment and documentation”, Current African Issues, No. 25, 2001, p. 4.

27 <http://www.dfa.gov.za/docs/nepa275a.htm>. Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa, NEPAD, 20 May 2002.

29 Cited in Melber, op cit. (note 26), p. 4.

30 Ibid., p. 5.

31 Own correspondent, Business Day, 23 July 2001.

32 However, Ross Herbert argues that “[r]ather than diminish the momentum of NEPAD, the events of 11 September 2001 and their aftermath seem to have contributed to a heightened awareness among Western powers that Africa should not be allowed to follow in the path of Somalia and other failed states. Not only would further African decline provide fertile ground for the emergence of groups like al Qaeda, but it would also provoke greater waves of refugees and demands for emergency relief.” Ross Herbert, “The African Union and Nepad in 2002: A pivotal year”, South African Yearbook of International Affairs, 2002/03, p.242.

33 Own correspondent, Business Day, 1 October 2001.

34 Declaration 1 (XXXVII).

35 Own correspondent, Business Day, 23 October 2001.

36 New Partnership for Africa's Development, op. cit. (note 18), para. 49.

38 Baimu, Evarist, “Human rights in NEPAD and its implications for the African human rights systemAfrican Human Rights Law Journal, No. 2, 2002, p. 305.

39 Ibid., p. 305.

40 This decision was subsequently endorsed by the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union: Assembly/AU/Decl. 8 (II). The Resolution, in terms of para. 9(ii) of the “Declaration on the Implementation of the NEPAD”, envisages the NEPAD Secretariat operating outside the headquarters of the African Union for a “transitional period of three years as from July 2003, or until such time the relevant structures of the African Union are fully operational, whichever comes first”.

41 Editorial, “The NEPAD African peer review mechanism: Prospects and challenges”, African Security Review, Vol. 11, No, 4, 2002, p. 2.

42 Yoh, John G Nyuot, “NEPAD and the AU: problems and prospects”, Global Dialogue, Vol. 7, No. 2, July 2002, p. 26.

43 Para. 23 of the “Communiqué issued at the end of the Second Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Abuja, 26 March 2002”; and, again, in para. 17 of the “Communique issued at the end of the Third Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Rome, Italy, 11 June 2002”. Documents available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

44 New Partnership for Africa's Development, op, cit. (note 18), para. 5.

45 Herbert, op. cit. (note 32), p. 241.

46 Ross Herbert, “Becoming my brother's keeper”, eAfrica, op. cit. (note 11), p. 9.

47 Para. 9 of the “Communiqué issued at the end of the Seventh Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Abuja, 28 May 2003”. Document available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

48 News Flashes from Africa, The Africa Institute of South Africa (NFA 131/2003, 16/07/2003).

49 Para. 18 of “Communiqué issued at the end of the Eighth Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Maputo, Mozambique, 9 July 2003”. Document available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

50 Such as the development of a fully fledged African stock exchange by doubling Africa's saving rate by the year 2015, and doubling the number of stock exchanges in Africa by 2010 – at present only 12 of Africa's 54 countries have stock exchanges.

51 “The African Peer Review Mechanism: Process and procedures”, UNECA, African Security Review, op. cit. (note 41), p. 9.

52 Editorial, Ibid., p. 2.

53 AHG/235 (XXXVIII) Annex 2.

54 “African Peer Review Mechanism Organisation and Processes” (NEPAD/HGSIC-3–2OO3/APRM/Guideline/O&P), 9 March 2003. Document available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

55 AHG/235 (XXXVIII), Annex I. The Declaration was adopted by the HSGIC at its Rome meeting on 11 June 2002 (para. 8 of the “Communiqué issued at the end of the Third Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Rome, Italy, 11 June 2002”) for presentation to the forthcoming Head of State and Government Summit of the AU. See: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

56 Para. 3 of “The African Peer Review Mechanism” base document. See: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

57 On 28 May 2003 six persons were selected by a NEPAD “Heads of State” meeting to sit on the Panel of Eminent Persons. The six appointees are: Chris Stals (former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank), Graça Machel (widowed former Mozambican First Lady and now wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela), Adebayo Adedeji (Nigerian economist), B.A. Kipglaat (a former Kenyan diplomat), Marie-Angélique Savane (former Senegalese UN development official), and Dorothy Njeuma (a Cameroonian educator).

58 Herbert, op. cit. (note 46), p. 6.

59 Editorial, African Security Review, op. cit. (note 41), p. 1.

60 Herbert, op. cit. (note 32), p. 253; Editorial, African Security Review, op. cit. (note 41), p. 1.

61 Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo; Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Herbert, op. cit. (note 44), p. 6.

62 South African Broadcasting Corporation, 27 June 2003.

63 Other disturbing developments have, over the past year, added to this perception: Africa's nomination of Libya to head the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), and the united continental front in refusing to support UNCHR investigations into human rights abuses in Zimbabwe or the Sudan.

64 For example, the UN Development Programme, Canada and Japan have pledged directly to fund the NEPAD Secretariat. Ross Herbert, “Recovering Africa”, Mail & Guardian, 30 May to 5 June 2003, p. 36.

65 See United Nations General Assembly Declaration (A/RES/57/2) and Resolution on the NEPAD (A/RES/57/7).

66 Herbert, op. cit. (note 32), p. 248.

67 Ross Herbert observes that the fact that the policies of existing committee members are often at variance with those ideals was not addressed. Ibid., p. 248.

68 Own correspondent, Business Report, 3 July 2003.

69 A failure conceded in para. 17 of the “Communiqué issued at the end of the Second Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of the NEPAD, Abuja, 26 March 2002”. Document available at: <http://www.touchtech.biz/nepad/files/documents/>.

70 Herbert, op. cit. (note 64), p. 36.

71 Ian Taylor, “The New Partnership for African Development and the global political economy: Towards the African century or another false start?” Third World Network Africa, 04/26/2002, article available at: <http://twnafrica.org/print.asp?twnlD=211>.

73 Thus, suggests Ross Herbert, the attempt by some African states to curtail the effectiveness of the NEPAD Secretariat. Herbert, op. cit. (note 32), p.252. Herbert suggests that, apart from the imposition of an initial, unrealistic, limit of five persons for the full-time staff complement of the Secretariat, a further indication of possible continental disquiet includes the attempt to move the Secretariat – sooner rather than later – from Midrand to Addis Ababa.

74 Nyuot Yoh, op. cit. (note 42), p. 7.

75 eAfrica, op. cit. (note 11), p. 12.

76 Vicki Robinson, “Talking left and acting right”, Mail & Guardian, May 30 to June 5 2003, p. 39.

77 Sammy Wambua, “Is NEPAD the answer to Africa's problems?”, Third World Network Africa, 15 May 2002, document available at: <http://twnafrica.org/print.asp?twnlD=214>.

78 We do not accept NEPAD! Africa is not for sale!”, Global Dialogue, Vol. 7, No. 2, July 2002, p. 8.

79 Robinson, op. cit. (note 76), p. 39.

80 Herbert, op. cit. (note 46), p. 7.

81 Herbst, Jeffrey, States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2000.

82 Englebert, Pierre, State Legitimacy and Development in Africa, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Colorado, 2000, p. 151.

83 Taylor, op. cit. (note 62).

84 Abraham, Garth et al. , A New World Order? The Implications of 11 September 2001, SAIIA, Johannesburg, & Centre for Defence and International Security Studies, Lancaster, 2002.

85 Herbert, op. cit. (note 46), p. 7.

* “The continent is a tragedy; it is also a challenge”, said Henry Kissinger, in: James H. Billington & Henry Kissinger, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century, Simon & Schuster Inc., New York, 2001, p. 210. “Africa's variety inhibits concerted action; the scope of its crises nevertheless demands significant response”, cited in Greg Mills, Poverty to Prosperity: Globalisation, Good Governance and African Recovery, Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2002, p. 86.

** MA (Natal) LLB (UCT) LLM (Wits), Associate Professor of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Attorney of the High Court of South Africa; IHL Legal Advisor: University Liaison, Pretoria Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The article reflects the views of the author alone and not necessarily those of the ICRC.

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“Africa, the tragedy; Africa, the challenge”* NEPAD and the new humanitarian agenda

  • Garth Abraham

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