When hundreds of thousands of Darfuri refugees flooded across the Chad-Sudan border in 2003, fleeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing orchestrated by the Sudanese government and its militia proxies, the U.N. and various aid groups raced to help. Humanitarian workers built a vast and sophisticated network of refugee camps to house as many as 300,000 people. The European Union and, later, the U.N. deployed peacekeepers to protect the camps. By 2008, the refugee camps in eastern Chad had become a self-contained society, one of the biggest and seemingly most permanent in all the world. It was also a major reason […]

For several decades, a number of factors in Africa — including ideological differences among the continent’s young states, the unfinished nature of its liberation, and profound external, non-African interference — prevented any meaningful regional cooperation in the field of peace and security. But with the end of the Cold War, the concomitant proliferation of conflicts throughout the continent, and Africa’s sudden marginalization in world affairs, the states of Africa were galvanized into regional security cooperation in the late 1990s. Since then, much has been achieved. Regional organizations like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African […]

WPR on France 24: The World Last Week

I had the pleasure of participating on France 24’s discussion panel, The World This Week, on Friday to recap the stories of the week: the G-20 summit, the McChrystal firing, the elections in Guinea, and the politicization of soccer. The other guests were Matthew Saltmarsh of the IHT, Célestine Bohlen, and Michael Kirtley. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here. This was one of the rare times I’ve participated on this program where, upon leaving the set, I wasn’t immediately struck by everything I should have said, or how I might have expressed what I […]

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — For the capital of a country just years removed civil war, this steamy lakeside city is surprisingly cosmopolitan. Though Burundi, according to IMF statistics, has the lowest per capita GDP in the world, no one would guess from Bujumbura’s celebrated nightclubs or its colonial era Art Deco buildings. In the hills that rise from the plain of the city center, shantytowns have been razed to make room for McMansion-style houses, reflecting a growing middle class that’s also on display at the city’s lakeside. There, on a recent Sunday, throngs of urban Burundians, ex-pats and international travelers lounged […]

In terms of foreign policy rhetoric, the Mediterranean has always represented a “special” interest for Italy, in part due to its geographical location. But the amount of resources and commitment Rome has mobilized for its Mediterranean foreign policy has never been commensurate with its declared ambitions. In practice, Italy’s Mediterranean policy since the end of the Cold War has been a function of its bipolar domestic political system, and largely linked to the role Rome has tried to play in the other two, fundamental pillars of Italian interests: the transatlantic partnership and the process of European integration. Although far from […]

With a smile, a wave and an exhortation to Kenya’s 38 million people that they alone controlled their future, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Nairobi on June 10 to represent the United States at the opening of the World Cup in South Africa. Reform is good, he said, and a planned vote on August 4 to overhaul the independence-era constitution is in the country’s best interest. “As you prepare to write a new history for your nation, resist those who try and divide you based on ethnicity, or religion, or region and above all, fear,” Biden said. His admonishments […]

South Africa in the Human Rights Spotlight, Too

The 32 teams battling it out on South Africa’s soccer fields for a shot at glory aren’t the only contenders in this year’s World Cup. Amnesty International is also fielding a team of human rights defenders and joining other rights groups in examining the host country’s rights progress. Stand Up United’s 11 team members include representatives from China, Cameroon, Iran, Kenya, Pakistan, Serbia and South Africa. It’s a powerful roster of rights advocates working on issues ranging from war crimes and extrajudicial killings, to indigenous and migrant community rights. South Africa is expressing understandable pride over hosting the tournament for […]

The World Cup, which began on Friday, comes at a time when South Africa, regarded in some circles as a first-world country in a third-world continent, has been on a steady slide in all aspects of its national identity.Over and above all the sporting and cultural benefits that come with hosting the world’s most-lucrative sporting event, South Africa hopes to use the accompanying high profile to mend its increasingly fractious politics, a deteriorating economy and a social system that is becoming more dysfunctional. In its first decade after apartheid, South Africa rode high on a wave of international goodwill, thanks […]

Despite my reputation as a fierce defender of globalization’s many benefits, I have always been of two minds on the human desire for connectivity in all its recently emergent possibilities. After all, my narrative on globalization began as the “Pentagon’s New Map” — not Google’s or Goldman’s. Even there, I was never under the impression that connectivity was an instant fix regarding human conflict — quite the reverse. And I knew instinctively that the primary motive for increased connectivity throughout history has been individual greed for resources, opportunities, influence and — most importantly — an improved standard of living. I’ve […]

Global Insider: Chad-Sudan Relations

In late May, the leader of a Darfur rebel group, Khalil Ibrahim, was denied entry into Chad — a country that has long been a host for Ibrahim’s rebel forces. In an e-mail interview, Roland Marchal, research fellow at the Center for International Studies and Resarch (CERI), explains the current state of Chad-Sudan relations. WPR: What is the current state of Chad-Sudan relations? Roland Marchal: An armed peace. To a certain extent, we are back to the pre-2005 situation when Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir were cooperating to secure their common borders and consolidate their regimes. […]

Global Insider: Russia’s Stake in Africa

In late May, Russia announced that it would invest $1 billion in uranium exploration in Namibia. In an e-mail interview, Raksha Maharaj, a director at South Africa-based Emerging Market Focus, explains Russia’s renewed interest in Africa. WPR: What is the extent and nature of Russia’s current economic involvement in Africa? Raksha Maharaj: In recent years, Russia’s sphere of influence in Africa has been largely diluted by the increasing activities of countries like China and India, as well as the continued involvement of Western countries. Russia’s trade with Africa has grown an estimated 14.9 percent since 1992, and amounted to $8 […]