Dear AFJN Members and Friends
As the saying goes, change is the one constant in life. Here at AFJN we extend thanks to Caroline Obonyo for her work with us this past year, especially in helping us to significantly improve our membership and resource databases. We wish her blessings as she leaves AFJN to seek new challenges and opportunities for herself. At the same time, we welcome Carole Collins as our interim Policy Analyst. Carole is filling the gap left by Ezekiel Pajibo, who is off to Zimbabwe and a new career, until we complete the reconfiguration of staff positions. Carole comes with considerable experience in Africa and an extensive and impressive policy background. We're glad she's here!
One of the biggest changes facing us, of course, is the presence of a new administration in Washington, DC following the much-contested elections last November. What does it portend for Africa? We begin grappling with that question in this issue by profiling some of the people who will be key shapers of US Africa policy in the coming years. We strongly urge you to contact President Bush immediately on the two action items included, which relate to HIV/AIDS in Africa and debt cancellation. Please take note of the March land mines event too. We'd love to see a strong AFJN turnout for that. Peace to all of you!
Larry J. Goodwin
Congress, a New US Administration
As we go to press, few people have been officially selected by the Republican Administration to fill Africa-related policy positions at the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), National Security Council (NSC) and Pentagon.
One exception is the NSC, where Jendayi Frazer, an African-American professor at Harvardís Kennedy School, will become the NSC Africa Director. Frazer is reportedly an expert on security issues.
At the State Department, several people have been mentioned as possible candidates to become the Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, replacing Susan Rice. If Colin Powell opts for a career diplomat, the top contender reportedly is Johnnie Carson, current Ambassador to Kenya. A career diplomat, Carson has served as Ambassador to Uganda and Zimbabwe. He formerly headed the staff of the House Africa subcommittee under Howard Wolpe in the late 1970s, and he was involved in setting up diplomatic relations with the newly independent government of Mozambique in 1975.
Other candidates with links to earlier Reagan and Bush administrations and Congress are also being considered. AFJN will give a full report on the eventual appointee. Up to now, candidates for lower positions have been barely mentioned.
At USAID, the Washington Post reports that Andrew Natsios, a Republican from Massachusetts, former head of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and coordinator of the Somalia relief operations in December 1992, is the top candidate. Another candidate is Catherine Bertini of the World Food Program. No one has been clearly suggested to coordinate aid to Africa.
Last week Congress finally designated its Senate and House Africa Subcommittees:
Senate: Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs
House: International Relations Subcommittee on Africa
Nairobi, 19 January 2001
We, the Comboni Missionaries working in the "liberated areas" of Southern Sudan, gathered for our annual assembly, have painfully analysed and evaluated the present tragic situation of war and violence.
We have come to the unanimous conviction that the situation of war in Sudan at the present stage has become immoral and a tragic farce. It is not any longer a struggle for freedom of the Sudanese people and for the defence of human rights. The war has become a struggle for power, business and greed. Many heartless people are taking advantage of it and enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. Global interests have the Sudanese resources at heart, not the well being of the Sudanese people. Religion is distorted and misused as a means for other interests.
The number of victims is escalating, especially among women and children. Spiritual, human and cultural values are getting lost. Corruption, tribalism and fratricidal hatred are fostered. Degradation, underdevelopment and anarchy increase. Humanity in Sudan is getting lost.
The word "liberation" is abused. What improvement do we see? Oppressors and the oppressed are running for their lives. Northerners against Southerners, Northerners against Northerners, Southerners against Southerners, Nuer and Dinka are fighting against Arabs. Nuer and Arabs are fighting against Dinka. Dinka against Dinka. Nuer against Nuer. Didinga against Dinka. There are no winners. All are losing. NGOs and churches prolong the fighting through the relief aid that unknowingly supports also the warring factions.
The country has so much wealth and natural resources that would guarantee a good livelihood for all Sudanese.
We Comboni Missionaries, working in the Liberated Area of Southern Sudan, have decided to "break the silence" and intensify our commitment against the injustice that fuels the war in Sudan. We appeal to you leaders of the warring sides: "In the name of God, lay down the guns! Stop fighting!"
We appeal to all people of goodwill: "Break the silence" and intensify your mediation for peace in Sudan!
We appeal to you, political and economic powers of the world, "Give up your greed and your selfish interests! Help Sudan to regain its lost humanity and identity."
For all the 30 missionaries present:
Is Lui of military significance and hence a legitimate military target?
Except for the short duration when GOS had stationed its military units in Lui from 1995/96 - 1997, I know and categorically state herein that this place (Lui) has always been, and still is, a civil population centre best known for its religious and education life. It also hosts a church hospital of repute. By repeatedly bombing this civilian settlement, what objective is GOS pursuing? Is it the manifestation of callous disregard for the life of people whom GOS does not regard as 'quite human'? Or is this simply an act of senseless terrorism?
These acts of senseless violence and reign of terror against civilian populations must be treated with the contempt they deserve and their perpetrators condemned in the strongest possible terms.
I again appeal to the international community, especially the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Security Council to restrain the Government of the Sudan from committing atrocities of genocidal proportions against the people of Southern Sudan and other war affected areas. It would a be shame on humanity in general and OAU, UN Security Council in particular, to watch, hands folded, while genocide is committed before their eyes. With the recent events in Rwanda, Indonesia and central Europe still fresh in mind, the international community cannot afford to stand by and allow a repetition of genocide.
I appeal to the universal Church to pray for the people of the Sudan in their time of need. I believe it is within your power and means to help bring a just and lasting peace to the Sudan.
I appeal to the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches to use their good offices to raise the profile of the Sudan situation and vigorously advocate for a quick, just and peaceful resolution of the longest war on the African continent.
Rt. Rev. Bullen A. Dolli
Compulsory licensing involves authorizing a government or company to make and sell a product (such as a drug) without the permission of the patent holder. Licenses are generally issued on the basis of public interest, in this case, the health of an immense population. The practice is entirely legal under World Trade Organization rules. Parallel imports involve a nation's "shopping around" for the best prices for a particular drug, as prices of the same drug may vary tremendously from nation to nation.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) secured an amendment to the Africa trade bill, passed in the last Congress, that intended to prevent the U.S. from taking retaliatory steps against African nations legally securing affordable medicines under WTO rules. The U.S. sought to take such steps against South Africa several years ago. Under pressure from pharmaceutical corporations, the amendment was removed from the bill. President Clinton immediately issued the amendment as an executive order.
Discerning our actions
1. The nations of Africa should not be impeded from responding to this emergency by a Western response that treats health care as an economic commodity rather than a right.
2. The US government has been an aggressive opponent of the use of compulsory licensing of patents on medicines by developing countries. It does not accept the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS] of the WTO as appropriate for African action on HIV/AIDS drugs. It seeks much higher levels of protection - so called "TRIPS plus" levels of protection. This stance is itself a seeming violation of WTO rules, for article 1 of TRIPS says that "members shall not be obliged to implement in their law more extensive protection than is required by this Agreement. Members shall be free to determine the appropriate method of implementing the provisions of this Agreement within their own legal system practice."
3. Drug companies argue that compulsory licensing will reduce the pharmaceutical companies' incentives to do research and development, but much of this research has been funded by the US government, and Africa only accounts for about 1.3 percent of the worldwide pharmaceutical market anyway.
Write to the President at once, urging him to retain President Clinton's executive order. Ask him
to demonstrate sensitivity to the African struggle to address the tragic AIDS pandemic across the
continent and respect the rights of African nations to employ compulsory licensing and parallel
imports as a means to secure affordable medications. Note that this is a commitment by the US to
respect international trade provisions to which it is a party.
Write to President George W. Bush at:
You can also call the White House at 202-456-1111.
Write to your senators at:
Write to your representatives at:
For further information call or write to WOA
Globally, the J-2000 campaign organized national campaigns in over 70 countries, generating an unprecedented level of popular scrutiny of and debate about unpayable foreign debt and how it affects ordinary peoplesí lives. It educated and mobilized a uniquely broad and diverse global mass movement -- from workers to elected officials, pop stars to religious leaders such as the Pope -- which forced major economic powers to commit more resources to canceling poor country debt. It pressed for a greater voice for debtor countries and civil society in setting the terms and conditions for this debt cancellation.
In the US, J2K/USA finally moved the US Congress and Administration to cancel 100% of the bilateral debt of over 30 heavily indebted poor countries, most of them in Africa. These two measures represent a ten-fold increase from 1998 in US spending on debt relief. In addition:
While J2K/USA applauds these moves by policymakers, we are still far from achieving the goal of definitive debt cancellation.
Unfinished agenda items include:
In addition, J2K/USA seeks to press creditor governments and international financial institutions to:
The J2K/USA movement remains deeply troubled by the flawed concept and implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process adopted by the IMF and WB after the Cologne summit in 1999. It questions the central role played by the IMF, which has no expertise or competence in the area of poverty reduction. The process merely adds poverty reduction on top of other externally imposed economic conditions, without questioning the role some of these imposed policies play in perpetuating or increasing poverty. For more about the PRSP process, visit the J2K/USA web site at: http://www.j2000usa.org
In 2001 J2K/USA plans to continue pressing for deeper cuts in poor country debt as well as a more genuinely democratic and transparent, neutral and open debt arbitration. In addition, it feels greater attention must be directed to canceling "odious" or illegitimate debts contracted by un-elected governments, often used for purposes that did not benefit the people of that country.
What can AFJN do now?
A summary chart of specific countries included in the current debt reduction initiative and how much each will benefit, can be found on the J-2000/UK website: http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/media/endyear211200.html
On Jan. 15, Laurent Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was assassinated by one of his bodyguards. Given the over-centralization of government powers in his person, Kabilaís death created a political vacuum that those close to him (most having joined his government after years abroad, with little base inside the country) had to scramble to fill.
After delays in announcing his death, his closest advisers declared that Kabila was to be succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila, head of the DRC army. While some Congolese supported this as a temporary necessity, others have contested his imposition as undemocratic and have renewed calls for a genuine Inter-Congolese dialogue.
Last week, both Kabila Jr. and Rwandan President Paul Kagame were in Washington seeking to win US support: Kagame for more military aid and Kabila for humanitarian assistance and private investment. In addition to meeting separately with Secretary of state Colin Powell, they also met privately together. Many believe Kabila Jr.ís statements thus far indicate a greater willingness than his father to implement the Lusaka Peace Accord signed in 1999.
Catholic Archbishop Monsengwo of Kisangani also visited Washington the same week for talks with members of Congress, the State Department, Great Lakes Policy Forum and Catholic Task Force on Africa. Monsengwo actively urged rapid convening of an inter-Congolese dialogue that would build on the work of the Sovereign National Conference (CNS) but be smaller (perhaps only 100 representatives, not the CNSís 2600) and resolve all issues within 30 days to pave the way to free elections.
These meetings came against the backdrop of worsening conflict in east Congo, where vicious
ethnic fighting left over 300 people dead in Bunia and thousands of refugees fleeing into Uganda to
escape the violence. Fighting has also continued in the north and southeast.
U.S. Committee to Ban Landmines
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
March 6 - 11, 2001
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) are holding legislative action events including
... and much more!
For information on scheduling,
lobbying, events, lodging and transportation, contact USCBL at 617 695 0041 or email:
As part of this event, the USCBL is collecting shoes to place in a huge pile during the event. The shoes will symbolize the cruel maiming, mostly of non-combatant children, women and men, caused by these brutal, indiscriminate weapons.
Express your revulsion of landmines by helping to grow the pile.
Send shoes -- any size, color or condition -- to:
The first EAC collapsed in 1977 after 10 years. Efforts to revive it again began in 1993. Tanzania and Uganda are also seeking to join the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but how that will affect plans for the EAC is not clear. Rwanda and Burundi have expressed an interest in becoming part of the EAC too. Concerns about their internal situations would seem to preclude that possibility for the time being.
The three presidents said that their countries are committed to pro-market and pro-liberalization economic policies. Many East African churches, NGOs and civil society groups have questioned the fairness of unregulated market policies, especially for the continent's poor majority.
25 heads of government, delegations from other African countries and representatives of international organizations met to discuss globalization and its implications for Africa at the 21st Franco-African Summit in Yaounde, Cameroon on Monday, 22 January.
The summit basically outlined a framework for future negotiations on the issue. Prominent among the reflections was the reality and inevitability of globalization, respective responsibilities of African and industrialized nations, and recognition of the dangers inherent in it. A number of the delegates pointed out that without safeguards, Africa stood to lose much by a one-way form of globalization that favored the dominant powers. Participants noted that resolving Africa's debt crisis and creating appropriate financial structures to address poverty were essential for Africa's development.
For full text of the summit's final statement in email or printed form, contact AFJN.
Hunger Hot Spots
The World Food Program issued an ominous warning about hunger as the New Year gets underway. Catherine Bertini, WFP's Executive Director, forecast that millions of people are trapped in hunger "hot spots" around the world, many of them in Africa.
War and natural disasters continue to plague some of the world's poorest countries, including in
Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone and Guinea. She warned that this trend could actually
increase in 2001. One of the most striking statistics she mentioned was that over two thirds of
WFP's total projected emergency food aid needs are designated for the Horn of Africa alone this
year. She noted that the international community needs to demonstrate much more resolve and global
political will in order to prevent starvation and humanitarian crises.
The United States formally introduced a UN resolution on January 18 calling for an international embargo on all diamond and timber exports from Liberia. The sanctions seek to end Liberia's support for Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group.
The U.S. based its resolution on a hard-hitting UN report last month that accused Liberian
President Charles Taylor of obtaining diamonds from the RUF and selling arms to them in return. The
RUF has a brutal record of abusing civilians, gaining notoriety from their practices of maiming,
raping and killing even young children. The report comes as the UN is trying to evacuate hundreds of
thousands of refugees from southern Guinea due to chaotic fighting by numerous factions from that
country, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Fareth Sendegeya, a Tanzanian friend, and I were in Mauritius together a few weeks ago, having a meal in that fascinating setting where myriad cultures blend together. Such a setting sparked a conversation about hospitality. Not, mind you, hospitality in the superficial sense to which that word has been reduced, but in its profound sense of context for deepening human relationship.
Fareth was telling me that in his own area of Kagera Ė nestled on the borders of Burundi and Rwanda Ė he would cut some bananas from the trees around his house and take them with him when he went to visit a friend. His friend, Fareth pointed out, had his own bananas. He didnít need Farethís. But Fareth brought them nevertheless.
Similarly, when his friend returned the visit, he brought Fareth some beans. Fareth had beans in his own garden. He didnít need those from his friendís. But they exchanged these gifts nevertheless. It was a sign of their relatedness, of their friendship, of their being in community together.
I think this rather simple story captures a critical element in our talk about economic justice. The dominant economic mindset these days would reduce Farethís story to one of the exchange of commodities. It was an exchange that could not be assessed in terms of "advantage," comparative or otherwise, for there was none. It was thus a meaningless act in economic terms, and why else, the reasoning goes, would anyone exchange goods? But there was a purpose to the exercise. The bananas and beans held a value irrespective of the economic meaninglessness of the exchange. It reminded them, and us, of something we already know, namely that our need to be related takes us far beyond whether it is in our material self-interest to do that which we do with our material resources.
It seems so obvious. And yet our economic justice struggles these days are repeatedly up against
a system and an attitude that declares economic considerations not merely to be paramount but
singular in decisions about local and global society. Can a nation take exceptional steps to protect
the environment? Not if it restricts trade. Can an African nation protect fledgling local industries
against international giants? Not if it wants to secure the "benefits" of the African
Growth and Opportunity Act. Can Africans take steps legal even from the standpoint of international
trade regulations to secure affordable medicines to confront the AIDS tragedy? Not if they want to
keep in good stead with the US government. Can they offer free health care and education to an
impoverished people? Not by the standards of the international financial institutions. Sure, there
are gestures here and there that offer exceptions to these queries. But the sanctification of the
free market economy persists in reducing us all to economic entities. If it makes sense economically
to do something, we do it; if it doesnít, we donít or canít. And taking bananas to someone who
has them becomes just silly. Of course it isnít. Sad, though, that we have to keep saying itís
Below are key web sites, which provide useful analyses and information on breaking developments across Africa. We will expand this list in upcoming issues of Around Africa.
<Http://allafrica.com> news by country/region (in French and English) from wire services [IRIN, PANA], BBC, African newspapers. Also profiles key issues such as AIDS, trade, special conferences, etc.
<http://africawire.com/africawire.html> articles (in French and English) from international and African radio, wire services, newspapers and magazines (the Wash. Post, IHT and CNN + newspapers across the continent)
<http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/index.phtml> Key U.N.-funded source for tracking humanitarian crises and political/economic developments by region or country. It has daily & weekly reports on Central/East Africa, Great Lakes, Horn of Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa.
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/default.stm> BBC Africa news.
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