Zimbabwe’s Diamond Killing Fields Raise Ghosts of Past

Rights advocates are urging the Zimbabwean government and international community to act to end forced labor and bloodshed related to diamond-mining operations in the country’s east. “The police and army have turned this peaceful area into a nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence. Zimbabwe’s new government should get the army out of the fields, put a stop to the abuse, and prosecute those responsible,” HRW’s Africa director, Georgette Gagnon, said in a statement. Military forces are involved in a systematically bloody campaign to control diamond mines in Zimbabwe’s eastern Marange district, Human Rights Watch charges in a June 26 report, […]

Guinnea-Bissau’s Narco-State

On any other continent, the tit-for-tat killings of the president and head of the military in what is suspected to be a rivalry over revenues from drug trafficking would have captured the world’s imagination. But when the country in question is Guinea-Bissau — a tiny, obscure, former Portugese colony on the west coast of Africa — those remarkable events barely raise an eyebrow. Yesterday, the International Crisis Group called for international support and intervention to help the political elites in Guinea-Bissau stand up to the military and return to the path of democracy. Just prior to the March 2009 killings […]

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), modeled after South Africa’s approach to moving beyond the violence and repression of apartheid, moved into its final stages last week. At a final conference on the outskirts of Monrovia, 400 representatives from around the country and the Liberian diaspora met to discuss findings from the thousands of hearings conducted so far, and to determine the path ahead. That, many agree, will not be an easy task. The commission was established in 2005 to address the legacy of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1989 to 2003. The roots […]

Waning Moon

This week’s Economist paints a rather dispiriting portrait of the tenure of U.N. head Ban Ki-Moon. (“More Secretary, than General,” opines one quoted wag.) Although the article is critical of the “first-half” performance of Moon, it is nothing compared to the hit he takes from Jacob Helilbrunn, who in the latest issue of Foreign Policy calls Moon, only half in jest, “the world’s most dangerous Korean.” Given the intensely political nature of the secretary general appointment and the incredible number of constituencies that have to be satisfied, it’s a wonder they can ever find someone willing to take the position. […]

Omar Bongo, the 73-year-old president of Gabon, in West Africa, died of natural causes on June 8, after 42 years in office. He was the world’s longest-serving, elected head of state, as well as one of its wealthiest — having carefully tailored the nation’s laws to both keep himself in office and fatten his many foreign bank accounts. Bongo left behind a country so accustomed to his rule that his death sparked a nationwide security clamp-down . . . as well as a furious scramble, by his scores of close relatives, to pilfer Bongo’s stashes of cash and to position […]

Blood Diamonds and Conflict Minerals Exact Heavy Price

As the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme kicks off a three-day meeting today in Namibia, rights advocates are questioning the efficacy of the system designed to prevent diamonds from conflict areas from reaching international markets. To combat the widespread illicit trade in blood diamonds, campaigners charge, the Process must find better monitoring mechanisms to address non-compliance, corruption, smuggling and human rights abuses in diamonds fields. “The clock is running out on Kimberley Process credibility,” said Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness, one of the groups behind the original 1990s blood diamond campaign. “The work it was set up to do is vital […]

Indonesian workers at Duta Text sarong factory in Pekalongan, Indonesia, March 12, 2018 (Photo by Dadang Trimulyanto for Sipa via AP Images).

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, better known as the 1995 Beijing Conference, gender-equality advocates around the world are taking stock to assess what should come next. An honest reckoning that recognizes accomplishments, challenges and opportunities suggests that while progress has been made at policy levels, difficulties persist in translating policy into practice. Nevertheless, resources at the implementation level, if recognized, offer opportunities for gender equality to contribute not only to the well-being of women and girls, but also to more effective social and economic development. A Pervasive & Persistent Challenge: Defining Gender […]

Foundations are stepping up their engagement in Sub-Sahara Africa. But will that fundamentally alter the dynamics on the ground? When Warren Buffett donated $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a few years ago, many observers heralded the arrival of a new age of private philanthropy in the Carnegie and Rockefeller tradition. Particular attention has been paid in recent years to the growing engagement of philanthropic foundations in international development, and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Enthusiasts have pointed out that foundations offer a new and significant source of financing for development, with the potential to outstrip official development […]

China’s rapid rise as a global economic power was brought into sharp relief during the March 2009 G-20 finance ministers meeting when, for the first time, pundits speaking about the event used the label “G-2” to signal that the world — economically speaking — now had two contending powers: China and the United States. China’s rise has, in turn, sparked enormous interest in its development model and the contrast that presents to much of the “Washington Consensus” on development policy. At the same time, the Chinese have sharply increased their foreign assistance, most visibly in Sub-Saharan Africa, after a lull […]

Kenya’s Somalia Dilemma

As the world was riveted to the events in Iran last week, the beleaguered government of Somalia put out an S.O.S. for international military support in its deteriorating fight against al Shabab guerrillas and other radical opposition forces. Thus far, only Kenyan government officials have publicly responded with threats of military intervention. But there remains the possibility that troops from Ethiopia, Djibouti, the Sudan and Uganda might be deployed in a combined warmaking/peacekeeping operation under the banner of the African Union and other international and regional organizations. More than 5,000 peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are currently deployed to protect […]

Global Economic Woes Driving Human Trafficking

The global economic crisis is driving increasing numbers of impoverished individuals into the hands of human traffickers, according to this year’s Trafficking in Persons report released by the State Department this week. “Trafficking weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in Wednesday’s Washington Post. Clinton warns: “The problem is particularly urgent now, as local economies around the world reel from the global financial crisis. People are increasingly desperate for the chance to support their families, making them more […]

Obama’s Plan to Corner the Uranium Market

It was reported this week in the Boston Globe that President Barack Obama, as part of a broad nuclear arms reduction initiative, will call for the creation of an international supply house for uranium that will be open to nations that want to pursue peaceful nuclear power projects, but denied to anyone wishing to make a bomb. While not specifically aimed at nuclear “rogues” Iran or North Korea, the idea is obviously meant to put to the test their claims, at least in Iran’s case, that their nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful. According to an unnamed administration official quoted in […]

Killings Highlight Albinos’ Plight in Africa

Trials for 18 people accused in gruesome murders of albinos got underway this week in Tanzania and Burundi, leading to calls for greater efforts to end widespread discrimination against those with the condition. While it might sound like the plot of a Dan Brown novel, the murder of albinos and sale of their body parts to witch doctors is very real — and a booming business on the continent. Dead albinos as young as 8 years old have been discovered with their organs removed, and heads and/or limbs removed. The body parts are worth thousands of dollars to witch doctors, […]

War is Boring: Attacks on Somali Media Underscore Lawlessness

On Sunday, gunmen ambushed two of Somalia’s most respected journalists, while the two men were walking in Mogadishu’s Bakara market. Muktar Mohamed Hirabe, long-time director of Shabelle Radio, was killed; his companion Ahmed Omar Hashi, a senior producer for Shabelle, was wounded in the hand and stomach. On Monday, World Politics Review spoke to Hashi by phone, from his Mogadishu hospital. He said he didn’t know who was behind the attacks, or what their motive might have been. In recent years Somalia’s media has been targeted by all of the country’s warring parties, including criminal gangs, Islamic extremists from the […]

Oil Industry Drilled Over Human Rights

Royal Dutch Shell agreed Monday to pay $15.5 million in an out-of-court settlement, in compensation to families of Nigerian victims of alleged human rights abuses committed by the company in the 1990s. The move came just days before a New York court was scheduled to hear the case and despite company claims of no wrongdoing. Ten Nigerian plaintiffs, including the son and brother of slain writer/activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, brought suit against the oil giant over the execution of eight anti-Shell environmental activists by Nigeria’s military rulers in 1995. The suit was filed in U.S. courts under a 200-year-old law that […]

Tsvangirai Hits the Road

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s embattled prime minister, will leave Harare soon for a three-week visit to the United States and Europe, where he hopes to convince Western governments to lift current sanctions against Zimbabwe, as well as to appeal for a new round of foreign investment. Though Western leaders should be polite and listen, they should never forget who the real boss is back home in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai’s visit comes on the heels of a meeting between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, chairman of the congressional committee on Africa and Global Health. Payne met with Mugabe in […]

Security and Development Intertwined in Africa

Harvard professor and Kenya native, Calestous Juma spoke at U.S. Africa headquarters. “I would like to argue, and I have publicly argued that in fact the militaries in African countries need to play a much bigger role in providing the foundation for economic transformation. A lot of it has to do primarily with the first part, which is infrastructure development. Secondly, the ability to safeguard trade routes; and thirdly I think that really there is a very important part to play in the area of technology transformation,” Juma said.

Showing 1 - 17 of 201 2 Last