Around Africa
May 2002 
A Publication of the Africa Faith and Justice Network


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Status of Legislation on Child Soldiers
Clean Diamonds Legislation in the Balance
World Summit on Sustainable Development
Monterrey Conference Sets Debates for G7 & WSSD
Angola: Winning the Peace
Recent AFJN Sign-Ons
Zimbabwe Turmoil Continues
AFJN 2002 Annual Meeting


DEAR AFJN MEMBERS & FRIENDS:
Africa's need for an adequate public health infrastructure poses a major challenge, particularly in view of the rising tide of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Less visible and understood are the consequences of a globalized market economy on the continent's public health system, from rising patient costs to cross-border spread of diseases to the migration of physicians.

Le Monde Diplomatique reported that in 2001 the South African government asked Canada to stop recruiting SA physicians for service in Canada's rural areas. In the US, 23% of its medical population have foreign diplomas - a growing number of them African. Only 360 of the 1,200 physicians trained in Zimbabwe in the 1990s were still practicing there in 2000. And half of locally trained physicians have remained in countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana and Zambia.

 

Globally there is 1 physician per 4,000 people. That figure masks a yawning gap between developed countries and impoverished nations. A ratio of 1 doctor per 500 people in the West to that of 1 per 25,000 in the world' s 25 poorest countries - most of them in Africa - reveals what some call global apartheid in health services.

 

There are many "push" and "pull" factors that shape African doctors' emigration. "Push" factors are political instability, bad governance, low salaries, poor funding for health infrastructure and medicines, and woefully inadequate working conditions. "Pull" elements pertain to market competition and professional opportunities.

 

Policymakers at national and international levels need to look critically at the consequences of a globalized market economy on Africa's public health system. In light of this hemorrhage of Africa's skilled medical professionals, policymakers need to reassess the commercialization of health services as well as the policies set in place by World Health Organization.

 

Marcel Kitissou, PhD
AFJN Executive Director
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STATUS OF LEGISLATION ON CHILD SOLDIERS
By Sr. Beverly Lacayo

 

On 07 March, Human Rights Watch advocate Jo Becker addressed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the need for the US to ratify the Child Soldiers Protocol. The protocol, which bans the use of child soldiers in conflict situations, was developed as part of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child. The hearing marked significant progress in a campaign which has involved AFJN for more than two years.

 

Other witnesses who addressed the committee included Michael Southwick of the State Department, Marshall Billingslea from Defense, and John Malcolm from the Department of Justice. Retired military personnel recounted the difficulties that the use of below-18 soldiers and sailors created in combat situations and indicated the military's willingness to support the protocol once agreement had been reached on certain of their concerns.

 

The US long refused to sign and ratify the treaty because US policy allows voluntary recruitment of 17-year olds. The US failure to sign a protocol approved by other Western powers set an example that African countries used in refusing to sign themselves.

 

Recruitment and even forced conscription of children as young as eight is common in many African conflicts. But the UN protocol upped the ante for those countries as well as for the US, since the previous definition of "child" was fifteen or under. Using this earlier definition, Jo Becker testified, helped many countries to conscript children even 12 or younger, arming them and teaching them to kill. In many conflicts, these young recruits have been placed in the front lines to absorb the bulk of casualties first downed by enemy fire.

 

In the chaotic economic and political situations of many African states at war, many boys and girls - with no schooling opportunities and jobs - often did not have to be conscripted. They were eager to gain income or status in the community by carrying a gun or cooking for the soldiers. This often alienated them from their communities and led to considerable sexual abuse of the girls.

 

When the UN General Assembly adopted the Protocol in September 2000, AFJN signed onto a letter (sent to all members of the Senate) to encourage swift support of the treaty. An advance in US policy came after a series of negotiations and compromises, under which the US agreed to not use under-18s in combat, although they would still be allowed to join the military on a voluntary basis. A final concession was made to allow the US to ratify the protocol as a stand-alone agreement without ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This paved the way for President Clinton to sign the protocol before he left office. President Bush has also signaled his agreement. The next and final step is for the Senate to ratify it, an outcome that the 07 March hearing hopefully has brought closer to reality.
________________________
Sr. Beverly Lacayo, MSOLA, is Staff Associate at AFJN
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CLEAN DIAMONDS LEGISLATION IN THE BALANCE
By Larry J. Goodwin

 

Last year the Bush administration seriously undermined the integrity of the proposed Clean Diamonds Trade Act-HR 2722-by gutting the mandate for the USA to prohibit the importation of conflict diamonds [Around Africa: Jan/Feb 02]. Hopes for passage of a bill that would mark a substantive step toward confronting the human tragedy in Sierra Leone and elsewhere - caused by conflicts fueled by international trafficking in illicit diamonds - seemed dashed.

 

While there continues to be some progress on an international plan for certification of "clean" diamonds through the Kimberely Process, the Bush version of the bill even undermines that. It makes an apparent gesture of respect toward international certification and UN Security Council resolutions on trade in conflict diamonds, but then turns around and allows rough diamonds to be excluded from the proposed import prohibition by the USA Customs Service.

 

After months of maneuvering, a Senate version of the bill (S 2027) has reopened the possibility that meaningful legislation may emerge from Congress after all. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) has drafted a bill that essentially restores the key legislative mandate the Bush administration removed. The Senate version says that "the President shall prohibit... the importation of rough diamonds" and puts the ban in the context of UN resolutions and the Kimberley Process.

 

It does not do all we might like regarding polished diamonds and jewelry, but it does impose a "name and shame" reporting requirement, where countries that export diamonds to the USA but do not follow effective methods to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds would be publicly identified.

In order for the Durbin bill to advance, constituents need to urge their senators to support it as a more just and effective alternative to the Bush bill passed by the House of Representatives.

Write to your senators urging their support of S 2027, the Durbin bill, at: US Senate · Washington, DC 20510 (see sample letter below). You can also contact them at 202/ 224-3121 or through electronic mail, which can be found at www.senate.gov/contacting/index.

 

Contact President Bush using the White House Comment Line at 202/ 456-1111, or by electronic mail at: president@whitehouse.gov.

 

Sample Letter
Dear Senator,
I urge you to support the Clean Diamond Trade Act (S. 2027). It is far more effective in confronting the human tragedy in Sierra Leone and elsewhere than the version passed in the House. S. 2027 allows reasonable presidential discretion while otherwise requiring that import prohibitions of conflict diamonds be imposed. It affirms the importance of the Kimberley Process, and it gives serious attention to polished diamonds and jewelry.

 

We need effective legislation to stop wars fueled by traffic in illicit diamonds. I urge you to insist upon passage of S. 2027.

 

This article is adapted from the Washington Office on Africa. For more in-depth details about the Bush version of the Clean Diamonds Act, see the Washington Office on Africa Action Alert at http://www.woaafrica.org/Diamonds8.htm.

________________________
Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
By Larry J. Goodwin

 

From 25 March to 05 April, the UN held its Third Summit Preparatory Committee (PrepCom 3) in New York, a penultimate step in preparing for the Aug/Sept World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. PrepCom 3's ostensible purpose was to continue the process begun in April 2001 of assessing progress since the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Earth Summit. Unlike the environmental agenda of 10 years ago, the thrust of PrepCom 3 deliberations was heavily marked by a focus on linking "sustainable development" to globalization and insinuating the private-sector into UN processes.

 

Are privatization and market solutions the answer to ecological accountability and sustainable development? Or should developing countries focus on local and regional food security and sovereignty, local livelihoods and public sector strategies to achieve a better economic and environmental quality of life for their people? These are fundamental questions at issue leading up to Johannesburg. Indeed, they are driving the global debate on the meaning of sustainable development and sound ecological policy.

 

The USA position at the PrepCom strongly favored private-sector approaches. It sees globalization as a positive force and the way forward for developing countries. With ninety delegates, lawyers and advisors, by far the largest contingent at PrepCom 3, the USA weighed in forcefully in support of market-oriented policies as the right approach to development and sustainability.

 

Many developing country delegates and nearly all civil society NGOs disagreed, pointing to enviromental damage and the marginalization of poorer countries in the unfolding saga of globalization. They claim that the benefits of globalization accrue to transnational corporations (TNCs) rather than to local communities and the environment. Abetted by the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank and International Monetary Fund, they say, TNCs gain access to resources in developing countries, which they exploit virtually unhindered to the detriment of people and the eco-system.

 

There was palpable frustration among civil society NGOs, who felt shut out from much of the PrepCom 3 process and saw it as a step backward from the 1992 Earth Summit. Rather than strong language on community and environmental rights, the Chairman's Statement - the plenary document being prepared for submission to the Johannesburg Summit - pointedly leaves out substantive references to human rights, farmers' rights and ecological agriculture, and the implementation of international development and environmental agreements.

 

In terms of AFJN's campaign supporting African smallholder farmers, the Chairman's Statement ignores community rights over agricultural resources (seeds, plants and food crops) and the growing corporate rush to patent them. It neglects the African Model Law, which offers an alternative to the privatization of Africa's agricultural heritage. It omits any reference to opposing the patenting of living organisms, and it fails to address the glaring contradictions between international treaties like the Convention of Biological Diversity and WTO regulations supporting privatization of natural resources.

 

One of the most controversial facets of PrepCom 3 was the push to forge multi-stakeholder partnerships between governments, the private sector and citizen groups to address poverty and development and preserve resources for future generations. While the USA, the European Union, Australia, Japan and Canada emphasized the potential of such endeavors, NGOs and some developing country delegates warned that they could lead to the privatization of UN and government responsibilities. Most NGO groups were extremely wary that the partnerships could undercut the UN and subvert environmental and development treaties. Others urged consideration of the partnerships, if carefully managed, as a positive approach to the development agenda. There was broad NGO agreement that the WSSD process marks a retreat from the 1992 Earth Summit's original environmental vision.

 

PrepCom 4 will take place in Bali, Indonesia from 27 May to 07 June. This will be the final preparatory session before the Johannesburg Summit, which will be held from 26 August to 04 September. Civil society NGOs are urging citizens and local communities to lobby their country delegates for progressive environmental and sustainable development policies.
________________________
Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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MONTERREY CONFERENCE SETS DEBATES FOR G7, WSSD
By Carole Collins

 

Last year 16 African governments launched the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Modeled on the US Marshall Plan for Europe after World War II, it seeks to raise $64 billion in yearly investment and proposes a number of policies, by African and donor governments and multilateral institutions, to help Africa's ailing economies achieve an annual 7% growth rate.

A NEPAD Draft Action Plan will be a major focus of the forthcoming June G-8 meeting in Canada and the August-September World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. It was widely discussed at the March UN International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Monterrey, Mexico.

 

Most African NGOs affirm the African-driven and African-led nature of the NEPAD initiative. However, many are critical of its flawed process (which Senegal President Wade conceded had ignored civil society) and of its specific proposals (which largely affirm market-driven policies that often hurt the poor).

 

Here are excerpts from responses to NEPAD and the Monterrey Consensus by African NGO representatives attending Monterrey:

 

Press release on Monterrey and NEPAD by the African NGO Caucus
[the Caucus included about 68 African NGO participants in the FfD process since the first PrepCom]

  • Sadly the path the Monterrey Consensus pursues is a continuation of the old discredited neo-liberal model... [It] does not include us nor the poor of our continent. The core flaw of this path is its fundamental presumption that what development needs is more finance, and that the market can be relied upon to equitably distribute wealth and resources in a sustainable manner
  • We protest the exclusion of civil society in the planning and implementation of the follow-up process, and demand to be fully included in any discussions on how the Monterrey process is to move forward
  • African civil society endorses the overall aim of NEPAD.... The Initiative is unique, in that it is an African driven, African owned and African led renewal and development program.... However, in its present form as the New Partnership, we need to caution about the inherent dangers.... [especially] the marginalization of civil society from the process. We are convinced that without popular participation, NEPAD will suffer the same fate as other past initiatives
  • The development of Africa lies in the hands of its people, both its poor and rich, as well as its state leaders and civil society. ... we are [also] concerned that our leaders are placing Africa's development in the hands of speculators, the gamblers of the global casino and the Bretton Woods institutions
  • Furthermore ... NEPAD's strategy of seeking foreign private capital to develop the service and infrastructure of Africa will subvert the Human Rights of our people; it would place basic social services and infrastructure in the hands of the private sector, which is dominated by foreign capital. We cannot allow the practice of putting profits before Human Rights to form the basis of Africa's development
  • On Debt, we think it is immoral and ... reiterate our demand for immediate and unconditional debt cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries. We reject any debt work-out mechanism that is accompanied by external conditionalities. We [also] have lost confidence in Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a source of development for Africa.
    ______________________
    Carole Collins is Senior Policy Analyst at AFJN
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    ANGOLA: WINNING THE PEACE
    By Carole Collins

     

On April 4 Angola's MPLA-led government signed a ceasefire agreement with the rebel UNITA movement. The agreement officially ended a 27-year-long conflict that has left almost 4 million of Angola's 15 million citizens displaced. The speed in reaching agreement following the February 22 battlefield death of long-time UNITA head Jonas Savimbi reflects the extent to which he had become almost the sole obstacle to peace.

 

A key question is whether Angola's ordinary citizens will 'win' the peace and enjoy real dividends from it. Angolan civil society - led in part by the InterEcclesial Committee for Peace (COEIPA), a joint Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical peace initiative - is working to ensure that non-violent means will be utilized to resolve future political conflicts. But Angola faces a number of formidable challenges and questions:

 

Divisions within UNITA: Serious divisions persist within UNITA between military commanders who supported Savimbi and those who supported peaceful settlement within democratic institutions. Can UNITA's leaders internally reconcile and transform UNITA into a democratic party with a credible program?

 

The demobilization process: There are early signs of progress in disarming UNITA forces; some commanders have already been integrated into Angola's army. Integrating almost 50,000 soldiers into the national army or back into civilian life will require major new economic resources. A National Reconstruction Service will coordinate efforts to economically absorb both demobilised government army and UNITA troops. Ex-combattants would help repair roads, railways, and other war-damaged infrastructure, as well as clear landmines.

 

Addressing poverty and corruption: Despite immense mineral wealth, Angola has the second highest infant mortality rate in the world. As Bill Minter noted on April 29 in The Nation, "Savimbi did not create the cleavages in Angolan society that he exploited. There is a profound gap between those who profit from Angola's links to the world economy [whether through government oil sales or UNITA's illegal diamond exports] and those with little chance to do so. This division...dates back to the colonial era." Reducing this inequality will require refocusing spending priorities on public services and infrastructure and ending patterns of corruption that are siphoning off almost a third of Angola's annual $3 billion in export revenues.

 

Overcoming a 'top-down' culture: Both the MPLA government and UNITA have been "slow and inconsistent", notes Minter, in "acceptance of the need for voices from civil society and the independent media." Despite government pledges to work with churches and civil society in national reconstruction, it has largely excluded them from planning. Overcoming this top-down institutional culture may prove central to successfully consolidating Angola's hard-won peace.

 

Humanitarian response: Angola faces a daunting humanitarian crisis. COEIPA observers report large numbers of rural Angolans emerging from the bush seriously malnourished and with other major health problems due to the years of conflict. The UN plans to play a major role in assisting those displaced but, Minter notes, by mid-March had raised only 10% of the UN's FY2002 $233 million consolidated appeal for Angola.

 

Given the US Government's past culpability in encouraging the armed conflict in Angola, the US should:

  • contribute generously to meeting Angola's current humanitarian aid needs
  • support Angolan civil society participation in government policymaking and back their calls for greater transparency and accountability of oil revenues and government expenditures.


________________________
Carole Collins is Senior Policy Analyst at AFJN
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RECENT AFJN SIGN-ONS

23 January 02 -- Drop the Debt Campaign letter to President Bush urging cancellation of 100% of multilateral debt of impoverished countries and reduction of debt stock sufficient to reduce annual payments on public debt to not more than 10% of annual current revenues from internal resources. And for countries suffering severe health crises such as an HIV/AIDS adult infection rate of 4 percent or more, not more than 5 percent of annual current revenues.
 

01 March 02 -- US Campaign to Ban Landmines letter to President Bush urging the USA to join the global ban on production and use of landmines by signing and ratifying the international Mine Ban Treaty.

 

05 March 02 -- Church World Service Interfaith Letter to congressional budget committees urging the USA Government to allocate $2.5 billion for global AIDS in the FY 2003 budget resolution.

 

11 April 02 -- Friends Committee on National Legislation letter to President Bush urging USA commitment to combating international poverty and disease by increasing financial support to the UN in FY 2003 rather than in 2004.

 

17 April 02 -- Friends Committee on National Legislation letter to Congress opposing a $27 billion FY2002 supplemental defense request. The letter also urges the USA to maintain existing human rights conditions for countries receiving foreign military aid, keep control of foreign military aid within the Department of State, maintain congressional oversight of foreign aid programs, and support improvement of basic health, education, agriculture income generation, infrastructure and governance in poor countries.

 

22 April 02 -- Interfaith Working Group on Trade & Investment letter to the US Senate opposing "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority on the grounds that it does not address the negative effects of trade agreements on vulnerable communities and the environment, diminishes congressional involvement in shaping trade agreements, and contradicts WTO provisions on essential medicines.
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ZIMBABWE TURMOIL CONTINUES
By Carole Collins

 

Zimbabwe's March 9-11 election failed to resolve the conflict between those supporting President Robert Mugabe and those backing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Nor did it confer legitimacy on Mugabe's "victory."

 

Despite severe government restrictions placed on their numbers and activities, foreign and Zimbabwe election observers - including Crisis in Zimbabwe (an umbrella structure of 300+ groups), the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe National Students Union and Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) - detailed a range of systematic electoral abuses by Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF supporters and the government. These included intimidation of MDC supporters and election observers alike; dropping voters' names from electoral rolls; severe cuts in the number of polling places in pro-MDC urban areas; media restrictions; disruption of opposition rallies; selective distribution of emergency food aid to ZANU supporters.

 

While most Western and some African observers (e.g. Commonwealth, European Union, Norwegian, Japanese, WCC, SADC Parliamentary and NAACP delegations) sharply criticized the election abuses and violence by ZANU and the government, several African delegations (e.g. Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, the OAU and SADC) and governments (Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique) said the election was legitimate, free and fair. These and other African governments in mid-April helped block a proposed UN Human Rights Commission inquiry into pre- and post-election violence in Zimbabwe.

 

Since the election, ZANU has launched a massive campaign of violence targeting MDC supporters and polling agents in both rural and urban areas; several have reportedly been tortured or killed. The government also has charged MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai and two associates with treason, and Mugabe signed into law a draconian media bill, which bars journalists from reporting on key government meetings.

 

The Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe from membership for a year. Most western governments, including the US, sharply rejected the election outcome. Several, e.g. Canada, Switzerland and the EU, moved to impose or tighten sanctions (including visa restrictions and asset seizures), targeting close cronies of Mugabe. Given Zimbabwe's current food crisis, many donors fear emergency food aid will likely be distributed in a highly partisan manner only to ZANU supporters.

 

The election left South Africa on the horns of a dilemma. Land redistribution is an intensely volatile issue in South Africa, which has been very reluctant to criticize Mugabe's land redistribution program, however flawed. But South Africa's economy is being weakened - and its food prices pushed higher - by Zimbabwe's continuing political turmoil. And international donor anger at African governments and groups defending the election as legitimate has threatened to undermine the credibility of the proposed New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), strongly supported by South Africa.

 

Many believe this is what led South Africa to support Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth. South Africa has suggested a national unity government as one way to reconcile ZANU and the MDC. But ZANU has shown little interest in ending its attacks on political opponents or releasing thousands of detained MDC supporters, a minimum requirement for Zimbabwe's political opposition to even consider this option.

 

Initially stunned and demoralized by the election outcome, many Zimbabweans have felt betrayed by those African governments that have backed Mugabe. A mass stay-away called by the trade unions at the end of March generated only weak support. Many now fear ZANU retribution, and others are preoccupied with surviving Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis.

 

The US Congress has begun discussing fuller implementation of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, which President Bush signed into law in December. One issue will be how to direct bilateral aid to civil society groups as allowed under the bill.

 

AFJN and other US NGOs are currently consulting with Zimbabwe civil society on what post-election responses would be most useful and what Zimbabweans want (e.g. a new election, an end to detentions, etc). The willingness of African leaders - especially South Africa and Nigeria - to pressure Mugabe may prove key in resolving Zimbabwe's current crisis. US NGOs are exploring how to work in tandem with civil society groups and movements in those African countries whose governments may carry some clout with Mugabe.
________________________
Carole Collins is Senior Policy Analyst at AFJN
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AFJN Annual Meeting 2002 Friday, 04 October - Saturday, 05 October in Washington, DC Save the Date!

Please plan to join us for our 2002 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, which we are holding this year at the Educational Design Center near the Catholic University of America.

We will send you the registration, program and lodging information you need well ahead of time.
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