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

Mid-Term Elections: What do they mean for Africa
Ivory Coast: How not to resolve a conflict
Johannesburg Summit's Empty Promises
Africa Advocacy Days
Saving Families and Communities
Recent AFJN Sign-Ons
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa

Dear AFJN Members and Friends

The Washington Post recently carried an article headlined Ivory Ban Has High Cost for Rural Africans [WP 11/10/02]. In Kenya elephants have destroyed $30,000 worth of crops and killed four people since April. The article exposes the dilemma confronting the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Southern African countries want to modify the ban on the sale of ivory. In theory, they want to sell their stockpiles. Countries in East and West Africa, with USA support, oppose such a revision.

Ban opponents complain about elephant resurgence. The Kenyan Wildlife Service is promoting a different management of both the elephant and human populations. This includes building more fences around nearby villages and transforming some local economies from farming to eco-tourism; in effect, trading coexistence with live elephants with carving wooden ones. Will this enhance local capacity for a sustainable economy? One might doubt it.

The elephant population in Kenya has doubled during the 13 years of the ivory ban to about 30,000 today, but less than a quarter of what it was 30 yeas ago. Meanwhile, the human population has risen from 21 to 34 million. Extension of agricultural zones has become a necessity. To make things worse, as Pauline Ginsberg of Utica College notes, many wealthy Kenyans have bought lands in rural areas, pushing farming activities further into elephant territory.

In an odd twist that may denote a solution by nature itself, Rob Shumaker of the National Zoological Park, DC observed an emerging presence of tusk-less elephants! This genetic mutation is likely to make debates at CITES obsolete and put to the test the sincerity of proponents of the ban revision.

Marcel Kitissou, Ph.D.
AFJN Executive Director
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2002 MID-TERM ELECTIONS: What do they mean for Africa?
By Katie Donohoe and Larry J. Goodwin

President George W. Bush's administration became only the nation's third to emerge from mid-term elections with strengthened party support in Congress. Republicans will retain control of the House and take charge of the Senate in the upcoming 108th Congress. Besides having the majority in both chambers, they will chair all committees and sub-committees, with power to set and control the legislative agenda for the next 2-years. What does this imply for the future of USA/Africa policy?

Committee control holds the key to how Africa policy will be shaped, especially in the Senate, which was under Democratic control in the last congressional session. The Foreign Relations Committee will change hands, with Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) stepping down, likely to be replaced by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN). Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), a strong advocate for AFJN-supported policies, will hand over his chair of the Foreign Relations/Africa Subcommittee but will likely stay on as the subcommittee's Ranking Member (senior minority party member).

Other Senate committees and subcommittees relevant to Africa and of principal interest to AFJN include the Appropriations Committee/Foreign Operations Subcommittee; Banking Committee/International Trade Subcommittee; and the Finance Committee/International Trade Subcommittee.

On the House side, the Appropriations Committee/Foreign Operations Subcommittee; Financial Services Committee/International Monetary Policy & Trade Subcommittee; International Relations Committee/Africa Subcommittee; and Ways & Means Committee/Trade Subcommittee are of particular importance to AFJN's agenda. For example, AFJN turned to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA35), as a member of the International Monetary Policy & Trade Subcommittee, to introduce the AFRICA Resolution last year.

In terms of Bush Administration initiatives toward Africa, an already conservative set of policies focused largely on neo-liberal free trade and USA security concerns will likely shift further to the right. Overall, Africa will likely remain a low priority on the administration's agenda, although a growing military presence in Djibouti linked to a possible attack on Iraq, perceived terrorist havens in Somalia and oil resources in the Horn of Africa region may portend greater involvement there.

The administration has involved itself in the Sudan peace process, notably through the Danforth initiative. It remains to be seen how much it will follow through on that involvement. AFJN and other NGOs were extremely disappointed that President Bush opposed a capital markets sanction provision in the Sudan Peace Act, which would have prevented companies with vested interests in the Sudan from trading on the USA stock market. Administration resolve to help end the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and between factions in Burundi seems lukewarm.

On USA economic policy toward Africa, the administration maintains the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as its centerpiece, despite the fact that oil imports and heavy equipment dominate USA/Africa trade relations. AGOA's purported benefits, particularly textiles, will feature prominently on the president's agenda in January when he attends the Africa Economic Forum in Mauritius. AGOA's promises regarding the textile advantages it offers to Africa are suspect. Less than half the AGOA-eligible African countries are entitled to textile benefits, and anyway experts expect that textile production will shift predominantly to Asia after 2004, when the world textile market will be fully liberalized. That will erase any gains African countries would have made under AGOA.

Additionally, only four African countries - Nigeria, South Africa, Angola and Gabon - account for 84% of USA purchases. Oil forms the bulk of African exports, with textiles amounting to only 4.5 percent.

Most recently, the administration has taken steps to begin negotiating a Free Trade Area (FTA) with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) - South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. An FTA would advance USA interests by offsetting EU trade advantages with Africa. In a November letter notifying Congress of the administration's intent, the USA Trade Representative noted that the administration aims to link trade to SACU development strategies, combat restrictions on USA service firms and push "Intellectual Property" provisions favorable to American businesses. It will protect USA agricultural subsidies while opposing African ones, and it will aggressively promote genetically-modified seed and crop technologies, dominated by the USA agrochemical industry.

There is little doubt that the Bush Administration and the 108th Congress are set to elevate USA economic advantage and security concerns significantly above humanitarian and conflict resolution interests in Africa. AFJN's task, in partnership with our colleagues here and abroad, is to remain resolute in our efforts to make human dignity and social justice the bedrock of our country's relationship with Africa.
Katie Donohoe is Development Coordinator at AFJN
Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN

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Walter Kansteiner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, sees the Ivorian situation as a dilemma between "partition and civil war" (Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent, 2180-2181).The reason? Despite efforts of the international community to bring peace, the parties involved in the political imbroglio don't seem ready to move toward a resolution of the crisis.

The latest trouble - one of a series in the last couple of years - began on September 19, 2002 as a mutiny by 750 soldiers supposedly loyal to General Robert Guei (the former military ruler) and subject to forced retirement. It spread to various garrisons in the capital city and quickly turned into an attempted military coup. Defeated by troops loyal to the government, the mutiny degenerated into a rebellion that took over the northern cities of Tiébissou, Bouaké, Korhogo, Ferkessédougou, Katiola, Odienné, Seguéla and Sakassou. It is, de facto, a partition of the country with the north controlled by rebels and supported by region-centered ethnic and political groups and Muslims; and the south under the government and backed by south-centered ethnic groups, politicians and Christians. The French army, "the only army of Cote d'Ivoire," as some would say, moved in to create a buffer zone, well guided by military instinct but less so by a clear political agenda. In the meantime, General Guei, his wife and many other people, including the Minister of Interior, were assassinated that day.

The inefficacy of the armed forces has been a surprise for many observers. In fact, the government had been more concerned with creating a coup-proof army than building an efficient one. If not for the French intervention, the situation may have degenerated into one of total chaos and freelance justice.

All the conditions thus created indicate that a quick military solution is not forthcoming; rather, a negotiated political outcome is needed. Unfortunately, most of those involved are not taking that path. In an apparent situation of "ranked ethnic groups" (to borrow an expression from Donald Horowitz of Duke University), Christians define themselves as superior to Muslims and southerners disdain northerners as being of dubious Ivorian identity. At the same time the government asserts its "legitimacy" through repression and the rebels portray themselves as underdogs, advocating for equality.

On October 25, a good faith mission by members of the ECOWAS (West African) Defense and Security Commission was in Abidjan, while French, UK and US military officers were in the rebel-controlled zone. Meanwhile, President Gbagbo (after having accepted the cease-fire of October 17) was stating: "I have equipped the army and it can fight. I bought weapons and will continue to do so." He requested the disarmament of the rebels, who in turn viewed this as a provocation and demanded new elections.

Old regional and international rivalry resurfaced. ECOWAS should have the upper-hand in dealing with the situation, not Morocco, which is not a member of the African Union, nor Gabon, which is not a West African country. Adding to the cacophony, leaders of the International Socialiste came to Abidjan on October 18 from Sénégal, Guinea, Niger, Cameroon, Angola, Togo, Morocco, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France and Chili (JAI 2182) to express their solidarity with "the democratically elected president" (Gbagbo).

The military situation on the ground requires a strong set of political, negotiation and mediation skills. The 3,500 West African troops being sent in will not bring peace alone. According to James Fallows (Atlantic Monthly, November 2002), "whether a country is big or small … the surrender of weapons by defeated troops seems to take about 120 days. Similarly, regardless of a country's size, maintaining order seems to take about one occupational soldier or officer for each 500 people - plus one supervisor for each ten policemen." Using these estimates as a gauge, 16 million Ivorians will need roughly 35,000 peacekeeping forces (ten times the size of the promised ECOMOG troops), including civil affairs specialists of the military, to set up courts and police systems to restore infrastructures and lead war-recovery efforts.

This description of a highly improbable solution means that Ivorians and their friends must use all of their creativity to find a way out of the dilemma of "partition or civil war." Anything else will be a nightmare.
Marcel Kitissou is Executive Director at AFJN
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In the last issue of Around Africa [Oct/Nov 2002], I reported on the August/September World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, that I attended on behalf of AFJN. I described how NGOs felt excluded from meaningful participation, the advent of controversial multi-stakeholder platforms and the impressive convocation of smallholder farmers, who unabashedly proclaimed that they are the solution to hunger in Africa, not part of the problem. In this article, I would like to offer a personal perspective on the summit's final document, the Plan of Implementation.

This is a plan very much at odds with itself. On the one hand, it is rife with wonderfully sounding principles and ideals. It reaffirms commitment to sustainable development and a caring global society. It defines economic and social development and environmental protection as the 3-pillars of sustainable development. In the spirit of the1992 Rio Conference, which the summit was ostensibly meant to advance, it links poverty eradication and safeguarding earth's natural resource base to creating a just world.

The plan admits to the global fault line dividing rich and poor and the growing gap between the developed and developing worlds. It repeatedly emphasizes women's rights and recognizes the need for broad-based participation in formulating development policies.

Food security, the rights of indigenous peoples, health, land rights, benefit sharing, mountains and oceans are all singled out for protection. If one were searching for a comprehensive listing of human and environmental rights, one could glean abundantly from this document.

Close inspection reveals another agenda embedded in the plan that counters its professed ideals. The principles are laced with caveats, like the ubiquitous phase "as appropriate" and its artful variations. For example, "Implement programmes to address, where appropriate, deforestation, erosion, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, disruption of water flows and retreat of glaciers" (IV,42.b). Exactly where would it not be appropriate to address deforestation, erosion and the others? Such phrasing really provides a potential escape hatch for environmental abusers.

A major criticism of the plan is its generic, goal-oriented language containing few targeted commitments. In fact, the only real target it sets is to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation (II,7.h). Sounds good, but when you read further you find that the plan calls for cost recovery of water services (IV,26.b). This is a favorite privatization condition, also known as user fees, laid down by the World Bank and IMF. Despite asserting that such recovery shouldn't become a "barrier … to safe water by poor people," communities in South Africa, for one, are suffering heavily because impoverished citizens get their water cut off when they cannot afford the fees [see Mother Jones, Nov/Dec2002, pg.39].

The document worries that developing countries are not benefiting from globalization, but never examines the fact that the global economic system itself is a cause of impoverishment and environmental degradation. It recognizes the widening gap between rich and poor, but does not critique the market system built on cutthroat competition and gross inequities in trade privileges that helps create that gap.

AFJN laments the absence in the plan of any recognition of community and farmer rights, the central tenet of African Model Law and of AFJN's Africa Grassroots Initiative. Allowing corporations to patent seeds and plants - basic components of our human heritage and life-support system - guts any genuine notion of sustainable development.

The document's true colors are perhaps best revealed in how it frames itself within World Trade Organization policies. The WTO is notorious for its corporate-led agenda and dismissal of people-centered development. The noble principles enunciated at the WSSD stand in stark contrast to the unfettered, profit-driven objectives of the WTO, exposing the unbridgeable dichotomy at the heart of the implementation plan.

Something died in Johannesburg when the UN handed over its environmental and sustainable development mandates to the market mavens of the USTR and the WTO. Call it a hope, trust, or even a yearning. Whatever, the summit left us with an outpouring of stirring words that only mask empty promises.

Where to find related documents:
Johannesburg Summit (under "Documents" click "Report of the WSSD"): The Plan of Implementation from the Aug/Sept 2002 UN Summit in Johannesburg
Agenda 21: The declaration from the 1992 UN Summit in Rio de Janeiro
WTO-DOHA: Statement from the November 2001 WTO 4th Ministerial in Doha
Monterrey Declaration: From the March 2002 Financing for Development Forum in Mexico
Larry J. Goodwin is Associate Director for Organizing at AFJN
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Africa Advocacy Days
February 23-26, 2003

An Educational and Advocacy Event for People of Faith Committed to Working for Just U.S. Policies toward Africa

You are invited to participate in an ecumenical gathering in Washington, DC, that begins Sunday evening, February 23, and ends Wednesday afternoon, February 26 .

Africa Faith and Justice Network, the Washington Office on Africa and the Lutheran Stand with Africa Campaign are joining with Church World Service and Churches for Middle East Peace in a gathering that offers two distinct learning and advocacy tracks, one focused on Africa, the other on the Middle East. Recognizing that advocacy approaches share much in common across regions, Africa and Middle East advocates have joined together in planning this conference.

At a time when Africa faces enormous challenges and crises, many rooted in decisions made by powerful outside forces and institutions, U.S. priorities toward the continent are glaringly inadequate. The Africa Track will provide challenging speakers, briefings on issues like HIV/AIDS, debt, African conflicts (and related items like landmines and child soldiers), economic justice vs. the U.S. trade agenda, and advocacy training workshops to help you understand and address U.S./Africa policies. The event will culminate in the opportunity to lobby your members of Congress directly on HIV/AIDS and economic justice for Africa.

For registration and other information, go directly to the event website at www.loga/advocacy2003.htm

You can also contact Anna Rhee directly at 301-384-3615 or e-mail Anna Rhee for further information
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A Proposal for a US Presidential Global AIDS Initiative

On his first journey to Africa in January, President Bush will certainly address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Many fear that he will propose only a modest initiative with no new money to fund it.

A broad cross-section of NGOs is urging the White House to offer instead a bold new initiative on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Humankind faces as many as 100 million infections before the decade has ended. A lack of leadership and funding can no longer be accepted.

AFJN joined other NGOs in signing this statement, presented to the White House on 18 November.

Endorsements of this letter will be collected until mid-January, when President Bush is scheduled to travel to Africa. If you would like to add your organization's name, e-mail: Larry J. Goodwin at AFJN.

US Presidential leadership is critical to galvanizing concerted global action to address the AIDS crisis. President George W. Bush has taken initial steps to expand US leadership in this critical area. To build on these positive steps, the undersigned organizations appeal to President Bush to use the occasion of his upcoming trip to Africa to propose a new US Presidential AIDS Initiative, taking leadership in a new, global initiative to control the scourge of AIDS, as well as tuberculosis and malaria.

This AIDS initiative must consist of new monies and policies that complement existing US-supported programs and are addition to the Millennium Challenge Account. The Initiative should consist of the following essential elements:

GOAL: A comprehensive initiative to save families and communities affected by the AIDS crisis, extend the parent-child relationship and secure the future of young people.

I. Ensuring Access to Affordable Medication:

  • a commitment to funding and implementing, by 2005, an equitable percentage of the World Health Organization's plan to provide anti-retroviral therapies to 3 million people in need of such treatment
  • support for a limited exception to international patent rules (and in future trade negotiations) to allow the export of a broad range of affordable generic medications to poor countries where such factors as lack of production capacity and insufficient market size inhibit efficient local manufacture.
II. Ensuring Prevention Services and Support for Affected Communities:
  • provision of medication to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child, as well as treatment to sustain and enhance the quality of life for mothers with AIDS, with a commitment to an appropriate US share of the goal of achieving by 2005, and sustaining thereafter, 80% coverage of the estimated 2 million women with HIV who give birth each year globally
  • a sustained, fair-share US contribution to support an annual global investment in comprehensive HIV prevention in low- and middle-income countries that increases from approximately $1.2 billion today to $4.8 billion in 2004, as called for by UNAIDS and supported by Global HIV Prevention Working Group. Such efforts should include effective economic, social, and public health strategies aimed at women and girls
  • support on a global basis for community based care and support services to reach by 2005 80% of children orphaned or left vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic, in accordance with, at a minimum, the UNGASS goals for orphaned and vulnerable children.
III. Ensuring Adequate Financial Resources:
  • inclusion in the FY04 Budget request of a provision for $2.5 billion for implementation of global AIDS programs, as well as additional funds to fight TB and Malaria. We urge at least 50% of funds for global AIDS programs be allocated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria
  • insistence on comprehensive debt cancellation for impoverished nations facing an HIV/AIDS crisis, with support for locally-determined processes to ensure resulting savings are re-channeled to social needs, and so that no such country should spend more than a maximum of 5% of total government revenues from internal sources on debt payments or future loans.
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18 September - Church World Service letter to US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick urging USA support for interpreting WTO trade rules in a manner that prioritizes public health, including access by impoverished HIV/AIDS sufferers to anti-retrovirals.

27 September - Debt Roundtable letter to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL06), Chair of the International Relations Committee. It urges the House HIV/AIDS measure to incorporate debt language from the Smith-LaFalce bill to lift the burden of debt that draws resources away from fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS. This includes that no HIPC be required to pay more than 10% of government revenue on external debt service and no more than 5% if it has a public health crisis.

30 September - Religious Working Group on WB & IMF letter to World Bank President James Wolfensohn prior to the WB's fall meeting. It called on the WB to open itself to public scrutiny; cancel impoverished countries' debts, notably in view of the AIDS crisis; end structural adjustment policies; and stop supporting socially and environmentally destructive projects.

07 October - NGO Coalition letter urging Congress to reject any resolution that authorizes preemptive, unilateral military action against Iraq.

16 October - Drop the Debt Campaign letter to Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, urging USA advocacy in support of the debt provisions expressed in the Smith-LaFalce Bill (see 27 Sept. item above).

28 October - International NGO Coalition letter to all parties involved in food aid to Africa. It calls on them to respect recipient countries' right to refuse GM food aid, condemning pressure on them to accept such aid when plentiful sources of non-GM food are available, and urging USAID to untie its food aid policies from support for the GM industry.

18 November - NGO letter to the White House urging President Bush to offer a bold initiative on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during his first trip to Africa in January. See article "Saving Families and Communities" in this issue.
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Formerly known as the White Sisters because their habits resembled the dress of North African women, MSOLA was founded to help Arab women and care for children orphaned by the Algerian famine of the mid 19th century.

Out of respect for the Muslim religion, Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers and MSOLA's founder, did not allow missionaries to proselytize the local population, but only to witness Christ's love through their service. To this day MSOLA continues its respectful dialogue with and service to Muslim women.

As Lavigerie turned his attention to the evangelization of Africa and eliminating the slave trade, sisters were recruited from Europe and North America for ministry and to counter the exploitations of colonialism. Adapting to Africa's needs, MSOLA started hospitals, schools and women's self-help groups, and founded 17 African sisterhoods, some of which became missionary in turn. Following African independence, MSOLA handed over the hospitals, schools and clinics to African congregations and other groups, and turned their attention once more to primary evangelization and pastoral work within the local Church.

Today, African bishops send more requests than the Sisters can fill. Recognizing MSOLA's proud history of work in Africa, they want the sisters to collaborate in strengthening local churches. The sisters continue to widen their recruitment pool, which now extends to Mexico and the Philippines, in addition to the African countries where they work. For further information e-mail: Sr. Beverly Lacayo
Sr. Beverly Lacayo, MSOLA, is Staff Associate at AFJN
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