On April 24, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated a committee charged with opening negotiations with militant group Boko Haram and preparing for a possible amnesty deal. In an email interview, Jennifer Giroux, a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich who specializes in conflict in energy-producing and transit regions, explained what the process might entail as well as the obstacles it faces. WPR: What would the amnesty proposal currently under consideration for Boko Haram involve? Jennifer Giroux: At the moment there is not an amnesty deal but rather the organization of resources to develop an amnesty […]

The death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012 marked the end of an era in contemporary Ethiopian politics. After defeating the brutal Derg regime in 1991, Meles headed the powerful ruling party that led the country of more than 80 million through a massive transformation. But it is a mistake to think of his tenure as a period of one-man rule or his death as creating either a political vacuum or an opportunity for liberal reform, as power, authority and resources never rested in Meles’ hands alone. Meles’ Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) created an Ethiopia based […]

The United Nations may be on the verge of launching a new wave of peace operations, beginning with a blue helmet force in Mali in July. Further deployments to Somalia and Syria are also on the horizon. Yet the U.N. still has a huge amount of unfinished business to complete in countries where peacekeepers are already deployed, ranging from Haiti to Liberia and Lebanon. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers look for the resources for a new generation of missions, they will face pressure to cut costs and downsize existing missions — even if that means leaving some fragile […]

Chadian President Idriss Deby announced Sunday that the country would withdraw its troops from northern Mali, after a suicide attack killed three Chadian troops Friday. The announcement reflects the uncertainties that surround Chad’s increasingly prominent role in efforts toward regional stability. In January, Chad deployed soldiers to assist the French military offensive in northern Mali. Chadian forces there, which currently number around 2,400, have seen some of the heaviest fighting in the war. Although French, Chadian, and Malian forces quickly conquered territory after the intervention began, the ensuing months have seen regular bombings and raids by Malian Islamists, as well […]

Zimbabwe’s political and economic decline since 2000 has been a major preoccupation for South African policymakers, severely testing Pretoria’s ability to juggle often contradictory narratives in its foreign policy discourse: on one hand, a commitment to democracy and human rights, and on the other, liberation solidarity, the promotion of an African consensus and a residual anti-Western sentiment in the ruling African National Congress (ANC). With Zimbabwe now on the cusp of fresh elections, this issue is set to return to the top of the South African agenda. The elections will take place under a new constitution overwhelmingly endorsed by Zimbabwean […]

A small sea of ink has been spilled lately over the “rise of Africa” as an exciting frontier market for investors from both advanced economies and other emerging markets. Africa’s relatively rapid growth rates, improved fiscal and debt management and improving political stability are painting a picture of the kind of robust economic prospects usually associated with India, China, Brazil and other middle-income economies. And despite remaining high risks associated with African markets, global investors increasingly find Africa’s potential returns compelling. For example, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, a hypothetical $100 investment in Africa’s 40 largest […]

The U.S. has recently made two high-profile moves to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which the U.S. has not joined and is barred by domestic law from supporting financially. In an email interview, Harry Rhea, assistant professor of criminal justice at Florida International University and author of the book “The United States and International Criminal Tribunals: An Introduction,” discussed U.S.-ICC cooperation and how the U.S. can bolster the court without joining it. WPR: Do recent U.S. moves to cooperate with the court — transferring Bosco Ntaganda to The Hague and including ICC suspects in the Rewards for Justice program, […]

Last month, newly minted Chinese President Xi Jinping toured Africa promising more investment, stronger people-to-people ties and a more dynamic trading relationship with the continent. Considering that China’s trade with Africa totaled nearly $200 billion last year, this visit was more than mere window-dressing. India also has been staking out an aggressive strategy of engagement in Africa, building on its historical ties to Eastern Africa. Last year, Indian trade with the continent neared $70 billion. Where does this leave Japan? For years, Tokyo maintained an impeccable reputation across the continent as a result of its generous supply of overseas development […]

Policy discussions about peacekeeping frequently get bogged down in technical details, such as the wording of United Nations resolutions, rather than tackling big strategic questions. This has been true of most commentary on the U.N. Security Council’s decision in late-March to mandate an “intervention brigade” to “neutralize and disarm” armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There has been a lot of talk about the council’s unusually aggressive language, and less about the new brigade’s role in the complex political struggle for access to the DRC’s natural resources. Peacekeeping experts are excited that the council has directed […]

Nigeria is no stranger to maritime disorder. In the mid- to late-2000s, the political and criminal insurgency waged by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) cost the country an estimated $1.5 billion in lost annual revenue through oil theft, attacks against petroleum infrastructure and piracy. A measure of peace arrived in 2009, when the government in Abuja introduced an amnesty program that provided skills training and cash stipends for some 26,000 former militants and rewarded their leaders with lucrative security contracts. By 2011, however, a new kind of maritime crime was emerging in the region: the […]

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In 2012, Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace ranked Zimbabwe the fifth most likely country to fail — putting it in greater danger than Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. World leaders frequently describe Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe as a pariah state. The United States, the European Union and Australia have all imposed sanctions against the Zimbabwean government for not respecting democracy and human rights, and the United Nations has proposed sanctions against Zimbabwe repeatedly. The country has lost many of its onetime allies and has found itself shunned by many in the international community. Despite all […]

Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan became acting president in February 2010 following the incapacitation of his predecessor Umaru Yar’Adua. Elected in his own right in April 2011, Jonathan now stands near the midpoint of his first full term in office. His People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has won every election since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, dominates the executive and legislative branches of the federal government and governs 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states. The advantages of incumbency and party dominance will likely assure Jonathan another term when Nigeria votes again in 2015. Yet insecurity, corruption and stalled policy implementation have provoked […]