In the midst of deep crisis, cooler heads rarely hold sway — at least in the public discourse. Thus it was that just a year ago, we heard from many experts — and joyous activists — that globalization was on its deathbed: The global economy was on the verge of a great and permanent unraveling. It was to be an inexorable and exact reversal of everything that defined the go-go globalization of the 1990s, replete with social and political unrest of the highest order. In effectively re-enacting the Great Depression of the 1930s, we even faced the incredible prospect of […]

KIGALI, Rwanda — Walking the streets of Rwanda’s tidy capital, it’s easy to forget that just 16 years have passed since this country’s grisly genocide. In this modern city of approximately 1 million, roads are smooth, sidewalks clean, and the crime, pollution and hassle of most African cities absent. Across Kigali, rising office towers reflect GDP growth that has averaged 8 percent over the last five years. In the countryside, though poverty remains rife, small-scale farmers have seen tangible benefits from the creation of cooperatives, increased use of fertilizers, a revival of the export coffee industry, and a unique system […]

Popularly, Madagascar is known as an exotic and verdant island populated by cheeky animated characters voiced by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. But politically, it remains one of Africa’s most volatile countries, regularly awash in coups, plots and prevarications that keep its tourist-dependent population in grinding poverty. The latest installment in the Indian Ocean island’s saga of political exploitation would seem to combine the two, pitting a yogurt salesman against a radio disc jockey in the battle for supremacy. In March 2009, following weeks of anti-government protests, Andry Rajoelina — the fresh-faced mayor of the capital, Antananarivo — ousted President […]

Congo wants the U.N. peacekeepers out. Eleven years after one the world’s biggest peacekeeping forces deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a bid to tamp down on insurgent violence and oversee the resolution of a bloody civil war, DRC President Joseph Kabila has grown uncomfortable with the sometimes corrupt and ineffective blue-helmeted troops. “Don’t do anything for us,” Lambert Mende, Kabila’s information minister, told the U.N. “We will do it ourselves.” Kabila’s call for an end to the Mission of the U.N. in Congo (MONUC) comes at a time of renewed international interest in the DRC’s overlapping conflicts, […]

A new piece of legislation signed into law on Monday, May 24, by President Barack Obama has the potential to end one of Africa’s longest-running insurgencies. The “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Reconstruction Act” requires the Obama administration to prepare a multilateral strategy to eliminate the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group originating in northern Uganda that has terrorized civilians in numerous African nations since the late 1980s. To be successful, however, policymakers charged with designing this strategy need to understand why the Ugandan government has failed to defeat the LRA in the past […]

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A Malawian couple became the latest gay rights activists to face a judicial backlash for their public stand on sexuality this week, when they were sentenced to 14 years hard labor for “gross indecency.” Western governments and human rights campaigners around the globe, including 1980s gender-bending pop icon Boy George, have leapt to the couple’s defense. Malawian authorities arrested Tiwonge Chimbalanga and his partner, Steven Monjeza, on Dec. 26, 2009, after the two participated in a traditional engagement ceremony. Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa sentenced the pair on Thursday, following their convictions on charges of “gross indecency” and “unnatural acts.” “I will […]

Peacekeeping is a tragic business. That may seem obvious, if only because, when reading about United Nations peacekeeping operations, you come across the word “tragedy” a lot. It describes what happened in Bosnia and Rwanda all too neatly. There’s no better word for what took place in Haiti, where more than 100 U.N. personnel were among the 250,000 dead in January’s earthquake. But, as English professors have tried to explain to generations of dozy students, “tragic” is more than just a synonym for “awful.” Great tragedies — Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, Scarface — aren’t just about suffering. They center on protagonists […]

It is now widely recognized — including in the highest-level policy statements of the United Nations, European Union, African Union and NATO — that managing conflict requires a multidimensional, comprehensive, whole-of-government or integrated approach. All these approaches have a similar aim: to achieve greater harmonization and synchronization among the international and local actors, as well as across the analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation phases of the program cycle. One-dimensional or single-facet conflict-management responses are now viewed as superficial and counterproductive, in that they address only some aspects of a wider system. They thus tend to distort, shift or redirect tensions […]

A subtle evolution of United Nations peacekeeping operations is underway. If the first of these missions kept an agreed-upon peace, and later missions sought to make peace, several countries now use these operations to advance their foreign and economic policy agendas, and raise their global profile. This shift, selective as it is to date, may potentially raise the standard of conduct in U.N. peacekeeping operations increasingly fraught with charges of criminal behavior, corruption, lack of accountability, and general ineffectiveness. However, there are significant downsides to this approach. The global movement of people, information, goods, and services creates new opportunities, but […]

Get a .pdf version of this report. In his state of the nation address to parliament on June 3, 2009, although speaking against a bleak recessionary backdrop, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was at pains to stress policy continuity, referring to the country’s “functional constitutional democratic system” as the basis for celebrating “our culture of continuity and collective responsibility . . . [which makes] us a unique country in many respects.” Zuma further committed South Africa, among other things, to prioritizing Africa, strengthening regional integration in southern Africa, and supporting peace on the continent. His address was all the more […]

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Last month, after negotiations to establish the World Bank-funded Nile Basin Initiative faltered, seven of the nine countries that share the Nile Basin agreed to form a permanent negotiating body to resolve questions of resource-sharing for the world’s longest river. In an e-mail interview, Aaron Wolf, a professor at Oregon State University specializing in water resources policy and conflict resolution, explains the longstanding issues and prospects for Nile Basin water-use negotiations. WPR: What is the current status quo of water use in the Nile River basin? Wolf: The last actual treaty signed on the basin is one between Egypt and […]

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo — Were it not for the convoys of blue-helmeted soldiers, one would hardly guess this lakeside town is the nexus of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Though its rutted streets are a stark contrast to the newly surfaced, tree-lined avenues across the nearby Rwandan border, the capital of eastern Congo’s North Kivu Province is abuzz with new construction, a testament to Goma’s status as a bastion of stability in a region defined by conflict. On a recent Friday night, cigarette-smoking ex-pats downed Primus beers at Petite Bruxelles, a kitsch new establishment and ode […]

MONROVIA, Liberia — Almost a year ago, President Barack Obama used his long-awaited speech in Ghana to address a question with which the African continent is all too familiar: corruption. “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves,” Obama lectured his audience in the Ghanaian Parliament. Since then, the question of corruption has taken on added urgency, and not just in Africa. The visit this week to Washington by Afghan President Hamid Karzai highlighted the degree to which U.S. concerns over widespread Afghan corruption have taken a back seat to war-time priorities. […]

It was a rare refuge in a country that had known only war for 19 years: In Afgooye, a town just a few miles outside Mogadishu, the staff of the Dr. Hawa Abdi camp offered food, medical care and protection to as many as 6,000 Somali families at a time. Through two decades of war and occupation, the staff and its charismatic director carefully maintained their neutrality — and managed to preserve the camp’s delicate infrastructure despite the chaos that raged just beyond the walls. On May 5, all that changed. A faction of Islamic fighters occupied the camp, killed […]

The rigid-hull inflatable boat with 10 U.S. Navy sailors aboard pulled up alongside the blue-and-white dhow on the choppy, sapphire waters of the Gulf of Aden. The dhow’s six occupants, dressed in sandals, loose pants and t-shirts, stood to meet the heavily armed Americans. Seeing the sailors’ assault rifles, some of the dhow crewmen raised their hands to show they were unarmed. So began an encounter last December between suspected pirates and the men and women tasked with hunting them. With their hulking, gray home vessel, the destroyer USS Donald Cook, looming in the background, the sailors tried to initiate […]