Africa

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After Training African Coup Leaders, Pentagon Blames Russia for African Coups 

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/06/2024 - 3:03am in

Russia is to blame for coups in the African Sahel, according to a new analysis by the Pentagon’s top Africa researcher, which ignores the U.S. role in training leaders of these mutinies — and two decades of failed U.S. counterterrorism policies in the region. 

The article, which calls for “standing up to Africa’s juntas,” fails to mention that at least 15 military officers who benefited from U.S. security assistance have been involved in 12 coups in West Africa and the greater Sahel during the war on terror.

“An alarming string of military coups across the Sahel in recent years has greatly marginalized Western engagement in this important and highly volatile region,” wrote Jeffrey Smith, the founding director of the pro-democracy nonprofit organization Vanguard Africa, and Joseph Siegle, the director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Pentagon research institution, in a recent article published in the Journal of Democracy as well as the Africa Center.

Focusing specifically on the mutinies in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, they note, “Russia has had an active and not-so-subtle hand in coups in each of these three countries, which were preceded by at least a year of intensive disinformation aimed at destabilizing the democratically elected (and Western-leaning) governments in place.”

A series of reports by The Intercept found that military personnel who had received U.S. support were involved in coups in Burkina Faso (in 2014, 2015, and twice in 2022), Mali (in 2012, 2020, and 2021), and Niger (in 2023). U.S.-supported officers also played a role in coups in Mauritania (2008), Gambia (2014), Chad (2021), and Guinea (2021). 

The total number of U.S.-trained mutineers across Africa since 9/11 may be far higher than is known, but the State Department, which tracks data on U.S. trainees, is either unwilling or unable to supply it. 

The Pentagon is mandated to provide a briefing on coups carried out by U.S.-trained African partners to the Senate and House Armed Services committees but missed its March deadline. A source on Capitol Hill told The Intercept that the Pentagon eventually held the required classified briefing, but the Department of Defense failed to confirm the information. 

The U.S. has recently been forced into withdrawing its troops from Niger and Chad due to souring relations with these longtime allies and the former acolytes who now lead them. 

“While the juntas justify their coups — and continued strongman rule — based on the claim that they are uniquely able to restore security, episodes of violence linked to militant Islamist groups have doubled since these militaries have seized power,” wrote Smith and Siegle. 

Aside from a single sentence noting that “Western countries had been working closely with democratically elected governments in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali for more than a decade,” the report contains no substantive discussion of the billions in security assistance the U.S. government has pumped into the Sahel, nor the military training provided to many of the leaders of these coups. The failure of U.S. counterterrorism efforts and the far higher spikes in terrorist violence over the span of U.S. involvement also go unmentioned. 

Aside from a single sentence, the report contains no substantive discussion of the billions in security assistance the U.S. government has pumped into the Sahel, nor the military training provided to many of the coup leaders.

Throughout all of Africa, the State Department counted a total of just nine terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2003, the first years of U.S. counterterrorism assistance in the Sahel. Last year, the number of violent events in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger alone reached 3,716, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a crisis monitoring organization. This represents a jump of more than 41,000 percent.

This has been disastrous for the people of the Sahel. In that same period, the number of fatalities linked to Islamist violence has skyrocketed from the State Department’s count of 23 deaths in 2002 and 2003 to 11,643 in 2023 — a jump of more than 50,000 percent — according to figures provided by the Pentagon’s Africa Center.

Earlier this year, Gen. Michael Langley, the head of U.S. Africa Command, pushed back on any implication that U.S. support to African military personnel was linked to their rebellions. “There is no syllabus for overthrowing a government; not in our institutions,” said Langley. “It’s safe to say there’s no correlation or causation of U.S. training to a coup happening.” 

Siegle did not reply to a request for an interview sent to him via the Africa Center. Smith told The Intercept he was unsure if the rise in terrorism across the Sahel was higher during America’s interventions compared to the period of Russian involvement, but emphasized that this was “not an apology for or justification of failed U.S. policy for over a generation.” He also conceded that U.S. training of junta leaders, and abusive militaries in the region writ large, was “a fair criticism to raise.”

The post After Training African Coup Leaders, Pentagon Blames Russia for African Coups  appeared first on The Intercept.

Rishi Sunak Says no Rwanda Flights Will Take Off Before General Election – Spelling Likely Death of Toxic Scheme

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/05/2024 - 6:22pm in

Rishi Sunak has admitted that no flights will go to Rwanda before the general election, on July 4th.

The Prime Minister told LBC that the flights, designed to forcibly take hundreds of asylum seekers to the country, would now not be scheduled to take off until “after the election”.

The admission means that the scheme, which has already cost the Government hundreds of millions of pounds and been the subject of multiple legal and parliamentary battles, is unlikely to now go ahead given the state of current opinion polls.

The opposition Labour Party, which holds an average poll lead of more than 20 points over the Conservatives, has promised to scrap the scheme if they are elected in July.

Keir Starmer’s spokesman told this paper earlier this month that "we will not be sending any flights to Rwanda" under a Labour government.

The project, which was first announced by the former Home Secretary Priti Patel, under Boris Johnson, was ruled unlawful by the UK’s Supreme Court last year.

The court upheld a legal challenge against Sunak’s claim that Rwanda, which is a brutal dictatorship which was recently blamed for the bombing of a refugee camp in neighbouring Congo, would be a “safe” country to send refugees.

Despite this ruling, Sunak pushed ahead with the scheme by passing a new law which permanently redefines Rwanda as a safe place, no matter what conditions prevail in the country.

The passage of the law flew in the face of global perceptions of the country. Just last week a representative from Human Rights Watch was denied entry to Rwanda following the organisation's criticism of humanitarian infringements in the country.

The law also flies in the face of the UK’s own official positions.

Despite branding it a safe country, the UK has continued to accept refugees from Rwanda, while the Foreign Office’s own advice warns that LGBT+ travellers may experience "discrimination and abuse, including from local authorities”.

The scheme has become a kind of talisman for the Conservative Party, with former Home Secretary saying that her "dream" was to see flights take off to the country.

However, public opinion about it has remained split, with an opinion poll commissioned by this paper finding that just 26% of voters believed it would make any meaningful difference to immigration numbers.

The Prime Minister has continued to back the scheme as a "deterrent" against small boat crossings, despite the number of such crossings actually rising so far this year.

He also intends to make his support for it a central part of his coming general election campaign.

Just this morning Sunak told the BBC that he intends to push ahead with it, and cited support for the scheme from the Austrian Chancellor, who he met this week.

However, his admission that no flights will now take off to Rwanda before the election means that the scheme is now unlikely to ever take off at all.

That is likely deliberate. Despite all of the claims to the contrary, one of the biggest drivers of Sunak's decision to hold an election now was fears inside Downing Street that the supposed "deterrent" of Rwanda would prove to be a mirage once flights started taking off.

As Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper put it this morning, "Rishi Sunak's words [this morning] confirm what we've known all along - he doesn't believe this plan will work and that's why he called the election now in the desperate hope that he won’t be found out."

Whatever the motivation, after two years in which it has completely dominated political and moral debate in the UK, the fact remains that the Government's "dream" of sending desperate refugees to the brutal Rwandan dictatorship now looks all but over.

How Women Are Helping Their Neighbors Heal From Depression

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/05/2024 - 6:00pm in

Rhoda Phiri was having a hard time sleeping. She found it difficult to mingle with people in her community and at church. Even basic chores were hard. She was, she says, in a “dark corner.”

 Then one day in 2020, a couple of women knocked on the door of her home in Zambia. The women were with StrongMinds, an international nonprofit that provides support for depression, particularly among women and adolescents. She accepted the women’s invitation to join a group therapy program, held under a tree in an area near her home, and as she learned about depression, she recognized the signs in herself. 

“All the symptoms they were talking about, it’s like they were talking about me,” Phiri says. “It’s like they knew what I was going through.”

Women in Zambia gather for group therapy. Women in Zambia gather for group therapy. Courtesy of StrongMinds

Phiri is among the estimated 280 million people around the globe who experience depression. Ranging in severity, the condition can have big implications for people’s daily functioning and quality of life. But while depression is widespread, options for mental health treatment are scarce, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In Zambia, for instance, there was an estimated total of 25 psychologists and psychiatrists as of 2020.

Instead of relying on mental health professionals, StrongMinds offers group therapy facilitated by trained community members — often clients who have completed the treatment themselves, like Phiri. This group therapy model has proven to be an effective way to treat depression. Since the organization launched in 2013, half a million people have gone through the treatment program. Three-quarters of participants screened as being free of depression symptoms two weeks after completing it.

“What we’ve learned in 11 years is that depression treatment can be, what we call, democratized,” says StrongMinds founder and executive director Sean Mayberry. “You can take it out of the hands of doctors and nurses and give it to the community itself.”

Courtesy of Strongminds

Based on screenings, three-quarters of participants in StrongMinds’ interpersonal group therapy are depression-free two weeks after completing the program.

 

Mayberry started the organization after reading an article about how interpersonal therapy led by non-mental health professionals had proven to be an effective treatment for depression in villages in Uganda. Mayberry, who had a background as a diplomat and social marketer, saw potential to scale up this form of treatment to expand mental health support in places where it is needed.

Since its launch, StrongMinds has grown to be well-established in Uganda and Zambia, and has more recently expanded to Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and a pilot in the US

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Interpersonal group therapy, as the approach StrongMinds uses is known, focuses on identifying factors that trigger an individual’s depression, such as life changes like moving from a rural to an urban area, grief or social disagreements. Over six weeks, participants join a group of 10 to 12 people who share their personal experiences and help each other brainstorm strategies to address the triggers contributing to their depression. Participants try out strategies as homework, then share how it went with their group.

“It’s really taking away the mysticism around depression and giving it into the hands of the individual and leveraging the group,” Mayberry says. “It’s the group helping each other to get better.” 

Clarity, a member of a StrongMinds group, runs her own small business as a tailor in Misisi Compound, Lusaka, Zambia. Clarity, a member of a StrongMinds group, runs her own small business as a tailor in Misisi Compound in Lusaka, Zambia. Credit: Karin Schermbrucker / Cartier

StrongMinds focuses on treating women, in part because they experience depression at a higher rate than men. But there’s another reason, explains Mayberry. When women heal from depression, benefits ripple through their families and communities. Clients report higher rates of participating in work, and improvements in their families’ food security and their children’s school attendance. The organization has also expanded to work with adolescents, both male and female.

Almost 95 percent of group therapy programs are now run by “volunteers.” These are often former StrongMinds clients, teachers or community health workers, care providers who have lower levels of  medical training. These volunteers, who receive a stipend, are trained to screen potential clients and to facilitate therapy sessions.

Beyond expanding capacity for treatment, the community-based approach offers another important benefit, according to Chilufya Chimbala, peer therapy group program manager in Zambia. As members of the community, the volunteers help build trust. 

“Volunteers live in the community,” she says. “They understand the daily challenges.”

Courtesy of Strongminds

Women experience depression at a higher rate than men. And when women heal from depression, benefits ripple through their families and communities.

Chimbala sees a big need for mental health support in Zambia. StrongMinds reaches potential clients by going door-to-door through neighborhoods. It can be challenging, she says. Often, people who are depressed don’t want to engage. But it helps to meet people where they are and offer treatment right in their communities.

“There isn’t a lot of awareness of mental health,” Chimbala says. “So when you get in the communities to speak about mental health, translate the symptoms in the local languages that people speak, then they’re able to relate.”

 After Priscilla Chama’s husband died suddenly, she struggled. She couldn’t concentrate, and lost interest in doing any activities. 

When a woman working with StrongMinds came to Chama’s door, she decided to go to a group therapy session. During the first meeting, Chama didn’t feel comfortable speaking about her personal story. But as other women in the group began to share, she started to open up.

Esther, a member of a StrongMinds group, sells potatoes as a small business in Misisi Compound, Lusaka Zambia.Esther, a member of a StrongMinds group, sells potatoes as a small business in Misisi Compound. Credit: Karin Schermbrucker / Cartier

“You become friends with everyone there,” she says. “You learn from other people’s experience, you also tell them your experience.”

At one session, she was given homework to imagine her husband was seated in an empty chair and to speak with him. It was an intense emotional experience, she recalls. But the exercise helped her to accept her husband’s death.

Like Phiri, Chama trained to become a facilitator after she completed her own treatment. Both women now work in the area around Lusaka, Zambia’s capital and biggest city. It can be challenging to get women to participate. Many ask if they’ll get any compensation, and women often don’t have much time to go to the sessions.

Chama sees the positive impact the treatment has on the groups she facilitates. “It is really a benefit to the community,” she says.


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 StrongMinds isn’t the only organization that uses an approach of training people with little or no health background to provide mental health services. Friendship Bench, an organization based in Zimbabwe, similarly mobilizes lay people to facilitate mental health support. That use of community members is an “important innovation” to expand mental health support, according to Mark Van Ommeren, who heads the mental health unit of the World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Van Ommeren says StrongMinds is particularly notable for how the organization has been able to scale its services up, while adhering to an evidence-based model that has been tested and proven in African contexts.

 “There is an enormous amount of people that are suffering [from] depression, and also other disorders,” Van Ommeren says. “They’re making a difference.”

Women from a StrongMinds group pose together.“You become friends with everyone there,” Priscilla Chama says of the group therapy sessions. “You learn from other people’s experience, you also tell them your experience.” Courtesy of Strongminds

Maintaining the quality of StrongMinds treatment as the organization expands is a challenge, acknowledges Mayberry. Volunteers go through regular training refreshers. Surprise audits check in on the quality of programs. And the organization is rigorous about screening clients throughout treatment to gauge their symptoms and collecting data on outcomes.

Over the last decade, StrongMinds has refined its approach, and reduced the course of treatment from more than $400 per patient a decade ago to $40 — which the organization fully covers so participants receive treatment for free. While this is a relatively low price tag for mental health treatment, Mayberry says funding remains a limitation.

For women who struggle with depression, the group therapy can have a huge impact on their lives. Phiri, who went through the treatment in 2020, says it helped her to connect with people again. Now, she enjoys bringing that support to others.

“I really want to see people get out from depression,” she says. “It’s my passion.”

The post How Women Are Helping Their Neighbors Heal From Depression appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Moroccan Farmers Are Banking Traditional Seeds for a Hotter, Drier Future

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/05/2024 - 6:00pm in

Ibrahim Fajea’s family is one of 131 families remaining in a small community of subsistence farmers in Sidi Ifni on the west coast of Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Nestled in the north African country’s Guelmim province, Fajea’s land has suffered from a debilitating drought for almost six years, which drove many farmers away. 

Originally from Tighmert, about 75 kilometers south of Sidi Ifni, the 42-year-old and his family of five have been struggling to keep food on the table. 

“When the water dried up in the oasis many families were forced to leave,” Fajea says. “I worked with a few people in our farmers’ collective to dig three wells to use groundwater for irrigation.”

A view of the town of Sidi Ifni and the ocean.Sidi Ifni is a seaside town in Morocco’s Guelmim province. Credit: Tupungato / Shutterstock

But keeping farming alive in this region requires more than just wells. That’s why Fajea is one of a hundred farmers participating in an ecological seed bank initiative by Dar Si Hmad Foundation to help his farming community. Launched in 2021 in Sidi Ifni, the seed bank sources indigenous seeds from across Morocco and Europe. By focusing on traditional, drought-resistant varieties and carefully storing the seeds, the seed bank — and an accompanying training program for farmers — is helping to revive the land and improve the livelihoods of those who rely on it.  

A report published by the European Union’s Joint Research Council (JRC) in February warned that after six years of drought, including over two years of severe drought, Morocco has been designated as an area of “severe concern.” 

The drought has taken a toll on Morocco’s vital agricultural sector, which generates 14 percent of the country’s export revenue and employs about a quarter of the population, leading the government to implement emergency measures to address the economic and social repercussions. These include price inflation of agricultural products, low yields of food crops and rural exodus.  

A dry river valley near Sidi Ifni.A dry river valley near Sidi Ifni. Credit: Lars Spangenberg / Shutterstock

From 2018 to 2023, the country grew drier and drier, with average water flows falling by more than half, putting the majority of the country’s 155,000 hectares of farmland in jeopardy

Furthermore, small subsistence farmers, 88 percent of whom depend entirely on rain to cultivate their crops, face yet another challenge: reliance on expensive, imported, genetically modified seeds that are ecologically mismatched with Morocco’s critically parched reality.

According to a report by the International Energy Agency, the average annual temperature in Morocco increased by 1.7 degrees Celsius between 1971 and 2017, and in the past five years, the increase reached 1.8 degrees, leading to a crisis in both drinking water and water for irrigation, hence the threat of serious food insecurity. 

The situation will worsen as the country approaches the absolute scarcity threshold of water, which is 500 cubic meters per person annually, by 2030, according to a World Bank report.

Credit: Roserunn / Shutterstock

Morocco has grown increasingly dry in recent years, with average water flows falling by more than half between 2018 and 2023. Coupled with rising temperatures, this has led to a water crisis.

Yet despite government plans and a series of initiatives launched to raise awareness about water conservation, aquatic engineer Faisal Aziz believes it’s not enough.

“We need tight regulation to curb the depletion of natural resources,” Aziz says. “This means implementing strategic governance of human activity, specifically in agriculture.”

Aziz is addressing Morocco’s export-oriented government policy, which he says has exacerbated the country’s levels of water stress through the cultivation of lucrative export produce that consumes tremendous amounts of water.

“One kilogram of watermelon requires 45 liters of water using drip irrigation technology, which means that a 10-kilogram watermelon could consume 450 liters of fresh water,” Aziz explains. “The same applies to avocado, where one kilogram requires over 700 liters of water.”

Mountains of fruit at a market in Sidi Ifni.Mountains of fruit at a market in Sidi Ifni. Credit: mhobl / Flickr

Aziz says that both public and private sectors should invest in acquiring non-traditional water resources like wastewater treatment or desalination plants, in addition to supporting scientific research on sustainable solutions.

Fajea plows the land the way his ancestors did generations ago. “I use organic fertilizer produced from livestock and poultry,” he explains, as he extolls the benefits of agroecology, ecological agriculture that uses no chemicals and respects the rhythm of the seasons and natural biodiversity. Such practices are growing more popular in Morocco, albeit slowly: The most recent survey data shows that agroecology went up from 4,000 hectares in 2010 to 10,000 in 2020, accounting for just over six percent of Morocco’s total agricultural land.

“But it all begins with the seeds,” Fajea says. The seeds collected for the seed bank are meticulously stored in a specially designed space. Crafted from sun-dried clay, the space draws on historical Moroccan architectural methods. 

Rooted in tradition, the special climate conditions multiply the seed yield at a higher rate, preserving native seeds adapted to the local environment. Traditional varieties of corn, wheat and alfalfa, for example, are drought-resistant, and require fewer resources, enabling farmers to produce more with less.

Courtesy of Dar Si Hmad Foundation

The building that houses the seed bank was specially designed to maintain the climate necessary to preserve the seeds. It was made in a traditional style with sun-dried clay.

This seed library, which the foundation calls Tin’Amoud, Amazigh for “mother of seeds,” is the first of its kind in the region. It is a space for safeguarding local heirlooms and perpetuating the tradition of bartering and sharing seeds that are unique and adaptable to the dry and semi-dry local conditions, explains Ouafegah.

“The foundation retains half the quantity of the first and second generation of seeds for storage in the clay houses,” he said. “The other half is given to the farmers to cultivate. The third generation of seeds can be stored for two to three years.”

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These seeds are kept in jars with information cards, a traditional method that requires complete shade and temperatures that do not exceed 26 degrees Celsius. The only danger is insect infestation, which could result in poisoning the seeds, explains Ouafegah.

Rows of jars with seeds in them.The seeds are kept in jars in a shaded space at 26 degrees Celsius or lower. Courtesy of Dar Si Hmad Foundation

Though it will require several more seasons to fully measure how the seed bank initiative has improved yields, already, farmers have benefited significantly. Their produce is now fully organic, making it more marketable. And as the seed bank allows them to preserve more seeds with mother genes over the years ahead, they will grow increasingly self-sufficient, no longer relying on imported seeds, which require more water and the use of pesticides.

“Preserving the mother genes of these seeds is the best way to avoid a food crisis in the future,” Ouafegah says, lamenting the fact that 95 percent of seeds used in agriculture in Morocco are currently imported. 

As part of the initiative, Fajea and the other participants completed a farmer agroecological training program called Afous Ghissiki, an Amazigh phrase meaning “the hand in the abandoned land.” Afterward, Fajea says, the trainer from the foundation taught them how to market their organic products.

“We were introduced to foreign families and tourists who are more interested in buying our natural, organic products than the locals,” he says. 

The initiative creates sustainable livelihoods for both the farmers and their environment, Dar Si Hmad trainer Mustapha Ouafegah explains: “We teach farmers how to revive the land, using natural agricultural pesticides suitable for dry conditions and poor irrigation.”

When it comes to efforts like the seed bank, sustainability is only one advantage, says Jihad Malih, an expert in eco-farming. “These seeds have a greater ability to pass on their genes to subsequent generations of seeds and to adapt to any weather conditions, whether it’s drought, poor irrigation or even excessive heat,” Malih says. “They also have significantly more nutritional value compared to genetically modified seeds and are healthier for consumers.” 

Courtesy of Dar Si Hmad Foundation

Farmers who participated in the Afous Ghissiki ecological training program and now growing fully organic — and therefore more marketable — produce.

Malih refers to the famous study conducted by Donald Davis, professor at the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas in Austin, who compared data gathered by the US Department of Agriculture in 1950 and 1999 on the nutrient content of 43 fruit and vegetable crops. Davis found that six of 13 nutrients studied (phosphorus, iron, calcium, protein, riboflavin and ascorbic acid) had declined by between nine and 38 percent. 

“Genetically modified seeds also limit a farmer’s independence, who must buy new seeds every season,” says Malih. “Imported seeds also require more water and chemical pesticides.” 

Jamila Bargach, anthropologist and executive director of Dar Si Hmad foundation who holds a PhD from Rice University, has even bigger dreams for the farmers of Sidi Ifni. “Our aim,” she says, “is to produce seeds from local varieties and distribute them freely through a system of bartering and free sharing among farmers. This is how we create a new dynamic in the consumption and production chain and eventually achieve grain sufficiency and food independence.”  

This article was produced in collaboration with Egab.

The post Moroccan Farmers Are Banking Traditional Seeds for a Hotter, Drier Future appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Good Governance in Nigeria: Rethinking Accountability and Transparency in the Twenty-First Century – review

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/04/2024 - 8:00pm in

In Good Governance in Nigeria: Rethinking Accountability and Transparency in the Twenty-First Century, Portia Roelofs critiques conventional Western ideas of “good governance” imposed in Africa, and specifically Nigeria, through fieldwork and historical analysis. Stephanie Wanga finds the book a grounded and nuanced argument for alternative, locally shaped and socially embedded models of governance.

Good Governance in Nigeria: Rethinking Accountability and Transparency in the Twenty-First Century. Portia Roelofs. Cambridge University Press. 2023.

Good governance: a phrase laden with meaning and history. Good governance in Africa? Even more trouble at hand. Colonial and neocolonial projects in Africa have been justified in the name of good governance. However, to assume a sense of foreboding when one hears the phrase “good governance” is also to assume – and even to locate – its meaning in a particular provenance. This is exactly what Portia Roelofs, in her book Good Governance in Nigeria: Rethinking Accountability and Transparency in the Twenty-First Century, wants to trouble.

The author wants to draw out a re-conception of good governance: namely, as conceived of by everyday people rather than, say, the World Bank or other institutions whose projected definitions come with immense repercussions.

Roelofs, a lecturer in politics at King’s College London, has spent time in Nigeria, including undertaking research in the universities of Ibadan and Maiduguri. It is from her fieldwork in Nigeria that she wants to draw out a re-conception of good governance: namely, as conceived of by everyday people rather than, say, the World Bank or other institutions whose projected definitions come with immense repercussions. To do so, this work “places the voices of roadside traders and small-time market leaders alongside those of local government officials, political godfathers and technocrats…[theorising] ‘socially embedded’ good governance.” Using this method, she defends the argument that “power must be socially embedded for it to be accountable”, in opposition to those who cast social embeddedness as sullying politics and leaving room for all the varied forms of corruption that may hinder good governance.

If society and social demands might be seen as an enabler of corruption […] the necessary flip side is that it can also represent a constraint on the actions of those in power.

Indeed, Roelofs extends Peter Ekeh’s erudite analysis (in Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa) of a “third space” that defies the binaries of political science’s beloved public and private spheres. Ekeh presented a space from which Nigerian (and wider African) politics could be more fruitfully analysed, a space that was “neither absolutely rational-bureaucratic public authority [nor]…patrimonial authority conceived as the personal or individual authority of a Big Man’s private household”. Roelofs presents evidence that “points towards the existence of more social forms of governance which are neither personalistic […] nor ethnic, but speak to a more general sociality”, which provides the basis for the notion of governance that is “both public and yet includes some social elements and the further possibility that this may constitute good governance”. If society and social demands might be seen as an enabler of corruption (something that is not, the author reminds us, a uniquely African problem), the necessary flip side is that it can also represent a constraint on the actions of those in power. In fact, the insistence on detaching the state from its societal embeddedness increases the opacity and unaccountability of the state.

Roelofs’ methodology may be controversial to those devoted to hyper-abstraction, but for those of us who theorise as we live rather than save theory for the books, good governance must always be socially embedded. However, Roelofs is engaging with real biases that run deep in both political theory and development studies, and that have had immense consequences. As she writes, “While personal contact between voters and politicians is pathologized in scholarly analysis of Africa, it is celebrated by political scientists working in Western democracies.” Social-embeddedness has been a kind of dirty word in a lot of the mainstream writing on African politics – it is this entanglement of the political with the social that causes diagnoses such as “the cancer of corruption” and other terms that pathologise African politics every which way.

This is a book that is quite close to me in terms of method, as a person who roots herself primarily in political theory but believes ardently in the ways other methods and sources, including history and fieldwork, must educate political theory. Along with this, the book is supposed to demonstrate “the associated possibilities for decolonising the study of politics”. One might question the extent to which this book rigorously engages this latter goal, but it continues in the tradition of thinkers including Thandika Mkandawire (to whom the book is dedicated) and others like Ndongo Samba Sylla and Leonce Ndikumana.

Roelofs contests the dominant World Bank discourse on good governance that is projected as universally accepted and uncontroversial. She proposes an alternative mode of governance whereby the people decide for themselves the terms of engagement – something that the World Bank has in multiple, egregious ways denied the continent. This very act is noteworthy – the “problem” of African politics has been repeatedly deemed “too embedded in social and material relations”, leading to the oft-cited ills of neopatrimonialism, corruption, etc.

Roelofs is self-conscious of her position as a white woman trying to turn the tables on colonial, trope-filled discourse and asks for thoughts on how such a move might be more conscientiously made.

However, though this goal of challenging what good governance means is named explicitly at the outset, it would have been useful to see the precise ways in which the book operates as a (potentially) decolonial act. Roelofs is self-conscious of her position as a white woman trying to turn the tables on colonial, trope-filled discourse and asks for thoughts on how such a move might be more conscientiously made. Indeed, many have questioned how “Africanists” – often white, often working outside the continent – have positioned themselves at the centre of changing tides in African political discourse. The racial blindspots (or worse) underlying African Studies must be called out alongside those of the financial institutions; the neocolonial project is a concert of efforts.

The author hints at this issue, but often in diplomatic terms. As Robtel Neajai Pailey writes, one needs to “speak into existence the proverbial elephant in the room of development: race”. However, one must balance this move with the recognition that all of us, including white academics, are responsible for taking the decolonial bull by the horns – that one must not shirk responsibility via the false generosity of “making space” for “people of colour”. The hard work of taking responsibility and being responsible must be consciously and explicitly engaged.

Another danger the book sometimes falls into is to play up the narrative of what Africa can teach the world.

Another danger the book sometimes falls into is to play up the narrative of what Africa can teach the world. This viewpoint is problematic in that it may suggest a need to peg the meaningfulness of work done in Africa to its importance for the Big Bad West (and elsewhere). The greater purpose may instead be to unearth meanings that only have value locally, to study Africa for its own sake, and not for the West’s education. The question of where meaning should be focused relates to Toni Morrison’s observations on racism as a distraction. This burden leaves a person desperately trying to prove that they, too, are worthy; that they, too, have important things to show the world, unaware that by that very token they are upholding a particular standard of worthiness.

Despite this, Roelofs’ book serves as both rigorous, extended analysis of the good governance discourse and a worthwhile historical introduction to the troubles that have besieged state-making in Africa. Roelofs keenly dissects several key historical moments in Nigeria to tease out how they theoretically shape contemporary understandings of good governance.

 Roelofs’ book serves as both rigorous, extended analysis of the good governance discourse and a worthwhile historical introduction to the troubles that have besieged state-making in Africa.

To this end, she writes about how good governance in Nigeria is often tied to the person (and myth) of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who, to some, was the best President Nigeria never had. However, there is more to the picture than the “modernising, elite-led, progressive” elements that epitomise notions of good governance in Nigeria and that Awolowo represented. Working through the contested ideas that surround good governance, Roelofs comes up with what she calls the “Lagos model”. This is a homegrown approach, made of a shared set of reference points acting as a yardstick against which governance is evaluated. Roelofs names the reference points as “an epistemic claim to enlightened leadership, a social claim to being embedded in one’s constituency and a material claim about the sharing of resources”. Roelofs shows that the ideas of good governance grounded in epistemic superiority were in tension with more populist visions that emphasised the need for satisfying short-term economic desires and connecting with leaders. From this dialectic “a full and rounded picture of legitimate leadership as containing epistemic, social and material aspects” emerges. The struggle to balance each of these three aspects is what produces good governance, and the gaps in managing the give and take across the three is what gives various kinds of actors, nefarious and otherwise, entry to “fix” what appears broken.

Overall, the book is accessible and unpretentious, even while quite history-heavy. Though it may lack the poetry and passion of a Mudimbe or Mbembe, its appeal to democratise understandings of good governance demands the reader’s engagement reckon. It is a refreshingly democratic take on what it means to govern well, by rooting the definition in what everyday people in a specific context truly seek.

Note: This post gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Image credit: Tolu Owoeye on Shutterstock.

The Politics of Time: Imagining African Becomings – review

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/03/2024 - 11:24pm in

The Politics of Time: Imagining African Becomings, edited by Achille Mbembe and Felwine Sarr, stems from the second “Workshops of Thought” held in Dakar in 2017, which brought together African and diasporic intellectuals and artists to discuss topics from decolonisation to political transformation. Engaging variously and critically with African life and thought, Camila Andrade finds this interdisciplinary volume a vital tool for reimagining the continent’s future.

The Politics of Time: Imagining African Becomings. Achille Mbembe and Felwine Sarr (eds.). Translated by Philip Gerard. Polity Press. 2023.

 Imaginging African Becomings by Achille Mbembe and Felwine SarrWhat word or image comes to mind when you think about Africa? What academic and non-academic texts reflect (on) the African reality? Are they by African writers living on the continent or diaspora? The Politics of Time: Imagining African Becomings, edited by Achille Mbembe and Felwine Sarr, makes it possible to reflect on themes pertinent to the African experience that create future and imaginary possibilities beyond the stereotypes attributed to Africa.

Considering Africa involves grappling with a diverse, dynamic and thriving continent, with significant economic growth and a growing youth population. It also involves analysing its problems – such as the levels of inflation, the impacts of climate change, hunger and malnutrition – that have coincided with young post-independence states. It is noteworthy, not to mention ironic, that terms such as “failed states” and “Frankenstein states” are used considering that these African states entered the international scene at a radical disadvantage after being exploited by their former colonisers. From this historical scenario, it is essential to analyse the continent’s past and repoliticise time. And as Mbembe, Sarr and the authors in this volume demonstrate, this endeavour is crucial in the context of conceptualising Africa’s future.

It is essential to analyse the continent’s past and repoliticise time. And as Mbembe, Sarr and the authors in this volume demonstrate, this endeavour is crucial in the context of conceptualising Africa’s future.

The book’s title presents a reflection on the possibilities of plural times, since “[…] we are witnessing the emergence and crystallisation of a new cycle in the redistribution of power, resources, and value” (ix) in the world, as Mbembe and Sarr argues in the preface. There are different moves at a multiplicity of speeds, continuities and ruptures in time, which lead us to think about future possibilities for Africa. “Imagining African becomings” means recognising its past, understanding its present and conjecturing possibilities for the future. The continent has been gaining space in the international arena, whether by acting in international organisations, through the African Union and its regional economic zones, or by its individual state roles. Therefore, Mbembe and Sarr claim that “Africa is not merely the place where part of the planet’s future is currently playing itself out. Africa is one of the great laboratories from which unprecedented forms of today’s social, economic, political, cultural, and artistic life are emerging” (viii).

The book is divided into six parts, in addition to the preface, bringing together intellectuals from different areas who adopt different lenses on Africa’s history and future possibilities, both academic and non-academic, covering law, literature, anthropology and others. The sections comprise 20 chapters with fundamental and urgent themes, such as the movement of people, migration, religion, the African diaspora, African futures and decolonial African education.

The book is the result of “The Workshops of Thought” (Les Ateliers de la Pensée) held in Dakar in 2017, an initiative created by the editors to unite intellectuals to think about plural perspectives of Africa’s realities and its possible futures

The book is the result of the second “Workshops of Thought” (Les Ateliers de la Pensée) held in Dakar in 2017, an initiative created by the editors to unite intellectuals to think about plural perspectives of Africa’s realities and its possible futures. The first session, held in October 2016, produced the volume To Write the Africa World, of which The Politics of Time is a companion. The Ateliers initiative demonstrates the vitality of intellectuals in African Studies, especially those working in Africa and its diaspora, who aim to deconstruct myths about Africa and go beyond that with “[…] the freedom to imagine alternatives” (135), as Françoise Vergès offers in the chapter “Un/learning”.

The chapters are developed based on the guiding question of how to envision a politics of time in contemporary conditions (ix). Other relevant questions are posed for reflection throughout the chapters, such as: “How might one transform the present and the past into a future? How might one produce a bifurcation in the real? Imagine other African possibilities? […] These, we suspect, have been the questions at the heart of the modern study of Africa and its diasporas” (x-xi).

Reflecting on possible futures also involves the decolonisation of knowledge; that is, thinking about practices, methodologies and objectives that prioritise the needs of the African continent. Universities and other educational apparatuses are not neutral: they were and continue to be instruments of (neo)colonising ideals. It is important to have an education that frees the body and mind and that goes beyond the reproduction of Eurocentric models that elide realities not found in Western universality. As Souleymane Bachir Diagne argues in the chapter, “From Thinking Identity to Thinking African Becomings”, “Today, the principal form of Eurocentrism is not one culture’s assertion that its values can dictate the norms that all others must follow. It is, rather, the form that grants the West the exorbitant privilege of being the only culture capable of reflecting critically of itself” (8).

Imagining possible futures for Africa also involves having different narratives and a plurality of stories. It requires us to rethink political models and the nation-state model itself, imported by colonisation. As Felwine Sarr argues in the chapter, “Reopening Futures”,

“It is about leaving behind the Eurocentrism tied to linear, progressive schemas of History, and of dropping Europe’s master-narrative, whose model the world’s other peoples are condemned to adopt or unhappily repeat. It is about accepting the plurality of collective ways of being, the multitudinous forms of societal life, the diverse modalities for producing being that we call cultures – and it is about accepting the possibility of there being many worlds within the world” (119).

In Amefrica Ladina we are also undergoing a decolonisation of knowledge, and it is vital to exchange ideas and methods with our peers in the Global South on how we can envision prosperous futures.

In the chapter “Weaving, a Craft for Thoughts”, Jean-Luc Raharimanana reminds us that “Successive centuries of domination block the free narration of our relations with the world, but, in the end, those times were unable to efface us from the society of the Living [des Vivants]. Africa is here; Africa is in us” (49). As part of the African diaspora, geopolitically located in the Global South (Brazil), the connection between Africa and its diaspora caught my attention throughout the article, understanding the role of the latter in terms of society, development, history and ancestral connectivity. In Amefrica Ladina we are also undergoing a decolonisation of knowledge, and it is vital to exchange ideas and methods with our peers in the Global South on how we can envision prosperous futures.

In thinking through the means of creating these futures, the book becomes a fundamental tool for intellectual emancipation about and for Africa. It provides a rich overview of the ideas and challenges for thinking about multiple Africas contemporaneously. Just as the African Union’s Agenda 2060 presents its vision as “an Africa for Africans and by Africans”, The Politics of Time inspires us to go beyond a static future premeditated by outsiders, instead imagining utopian futures that can become realities.

This post gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Main image: Red Block, 2010 by Ghana born artist El Anatsui, on show at The Broad, Los Angeles; October 2022. Credit: █ Slices of Light ✴ █▀ ▀ ▀ on Flickr.

How Southern Africa’s Elephants Bounced Back

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/03/2024 - 7:00pm in

The sun is setting above the horizon in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, but it’s still 40°C (104°F). A large group of elephants has just arrived at a lagoon to refresh themselves and get their daily dose of water: Drink up 200 liters each, and they are good to go. They frolic a little in the water and then set off to search for leaves and grass in the parched savannah, only to be replaced by another herd with many young calves.

While most species’ populations are decreasing, elephants in southern Africa are doing well. A newly released study of 103 elephant populations from Tanzania southwards — the most comprehensive ever —  finds that conservation has halted the decline of savannah elephants in southern Africa over the last 25 years. To be more precise, as of 2020, the elephant population had rebounded to the same number as in 1995: 290,000. The scientists found that large, well-protected areas connected to other protected areas are far better than isolated “fortress” parks at maintaining stable populations.

Even though these outer areas don’t have the same level of protection so animals face a higher risk of dying, they are vital corridors that allow the elephants to migrate back and forth when core areas are too crowded or when facing threats such as poaching or unsuitable environmental conditions.

The post How Southern Africa’s Elephants Bounced Back appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Infrastructural South: Techno-Environments of the Third Wave of Urbanization – review

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/02/2024 - 10:30pm in

In The Infrastructural South: Techno-Environments of the Third Wave of Urbanization, Jonathan Silver explores infrastructural evolution in the Global South, extrapolating from case studies in urban sub-Saharan Africa. Taking a broad interdisciplinary view, the book effectively shows how technology, inequality, climate change and private versus public investment shape contemporary infrastructural landscapes, writes Dagna Rams.

The Infrastructural South: Techno-Environments of the Third Wave of Urbanization. Jonathan Silver. MIT Press. 2023.

When delving into developmental reports about infrastructure in Africa, one stumbles upon assessments that it is “lagging behind” or “missing”. While it might be easy to point to “infrastructural gaps” and sigh at the scale of what is to be done, it is more difficult to understand what is actually happening, why, and with what consequences. Jonathan Silver’s Infrastructural South: Techno-Environments of the Third Wave of Urbanization is the author’s attempt to conceptualise African infrastructures, focusing on the abundance of processes on the ground. Silver pays attention to the private investment being pumped into the continent, the government’s infrastructural spending, and the multiple individual and collective efforts to make the city work. The book is panoramic, using case studies from sub-Saharan urban Africa to extrapolate to the “Global South”. Its value comes from explaining how key trends such as growing inequalities, climate change and digital economies affect infrastructures, creating new path dependencies embedded in their material networks.

[The book’s] value comes from explaining how key trends such as growing inequalities, climate change and digital economies affect infrastructures

What is “third wave urbanisation” and what forms of infrastructures does it give rise to? What are the “techno-environments”? And how far does the “infrastructural south” reach? The jargon already present in the title foretells the author’s commitment to pair analysis with the coinage of new terms – at least one in almost every chapter. Their persuasiveness depends on their usefulness and ability to travel to other contexts far and wide.

Silver appropriates “third-wave urbanism” for the African context. Geography scholars might associate the term with its use to describe urbanisation propelled by the “knowledge” or “cognitive-cultural” economy – a process that moves cities away from their industrial past towards gentrification, impersonal office buildings and consumption based on lifestyle. Although never fully spelled out, the book tacitly situates the third wave after the colonial city-making which created racial and territorial divisions within cities (first wave?) and the independence-era modernisation and industrialisation that saw the building of some public housing (second wave?). The third wave is characterised by a dizzyingly rapid rise of the urban population amid the demise of the hitherto limited opportunities within the public and industrial sectors. The cities are landscapes of manifest inequality, most starkly between informal labour and the elites connected to extractive industries. Given the preponderance of these urban trends across the continent, the author sets out to explore the infrastructural outcomes they bring forth, or the condition of the “Infrastructural South”.

Private cities of Appolonia City outside Accra and Eko Atlantic outside Lagos [] represent new transfers of capital – from Asia and Russia – and ‘start again’ urbanisation for the ‘middle class’

The “Infrastructural South” is foremost characterised by different “techno-environments,” that is, infrastructural worlds characterised by distinct technological arrangements that alter environments. The most extreme examples of such “techno-environments” are the uncompleted but already materially present private cities of Appolonia City outside Accra and Eko Atlantic outside Lagos. They represent new transfers of capital – from Asia and Russia – and “start again” urbanisation for the “middle class”, promising a lack of congestion and reliable infrastructure. In contrast to these – still only – fantasies, ever more urban residents club to sprawling suburban neighbourhoods where houses precede infrastructure, and the latter is left for the people to figure out. “Techno-environment” is a useful coinage, especially amid climate change, when the extent to which people can harness the environment for their own projects or be exposed to its whims creates new social distinctions and a looming “eco-segregation” (56). Besides these, the book covers other transversal trends such as the development of “corridors” to increase infrastructural efficiency around areas of direct relevance to extractive industries or “disruptions,” that is, infrastructures created by technologies imposing new designs like Uber or harnessing what exists with the aim of making it more efficient like creating an app for booking an existing bus service.

The “Infrastructural South” is a condition that can be found anywhere

Though case studies from sub-Saharan Africa and three cities – Accra, Cape Town and Kampala – form the backbone of this study, the author emphasises that the “Infrastructural South” is a condition that can be found anywhere. To that point, the final pages look at the water pollution in Flint, Michigan and Camden, New Jersey as examples of the “Infrastructural South”. Here, like in other places visited in the book’s pages, much more is happening than a simple lack of money that drives a lack of infrastructure. For example, schools are given funding to buy bottled water for pupils to compensate for polluted tap water, and though fixes such as this are meant to be temporary, they create lasting path dependencies. Only some of the problems get addressed and the outcomes are variable (eg, while at school, kids do not drink polluted water, but may do so at home, especially if their parents are poor). The “Infrastructural South” is thus a condition of half-measures, half-funded, half-improvements that outsource ever more responsibilities onto the people and the private sector, undermining the promise of a “public” commonly associated with infrastructural investment.

The undeniable strength of the book is its ability to identify infrastructural trends and point in the direction of new research paths

The undeniable strength of the book is its ability to identify infrastructural trends and point in the direction of new research paths. Given the book’s reliance on case studies from the anglophone world, and specifically, destinations that attract financial capital such as Accra or Cape Town, there is also an important question about how the trends it identifies play out in other parts of the continent. In addition, the book strikes me as a particularly suitable introduction to the topic of infrastructure in urban Africa for interdisciplinary contexts, especially where students have had less exposure to post-colonial theory or critical urban studies.

Because of the broad scope of the research, the examples it uses – waste companies, public toilets, electricity solutions, private cities, and corridors – are outlined rather than explored in depth. The methodology relies on reports in the public domain and short visits to different infrastructural sites. The author states in relation to each visit whether he gave notice or arrived spontaneously, suggesting that the latter allowed him to pierce through appearances. One aspect in which the book leaves a reader wanting is with regards to the many people – infrastructure users and workers – who populate the pages: they are mentioned by first name alone and we learn very little about them other than the fact that their utterances support the author’s arguments. Given the number of people mentioned, I had a sense that the “Infrastructural South” is populated by crowds from Ablade Glover’s paintings – a multitude who are seen from enough of a distance to appear to be speaking in one voice, which does not chime with the picture of infrastructural inequalities and individualised strife otherwise represented in the author’s theory.

The durability of infrastructure means that it can have the power to define cities for years to come

The durability of infrastructure means that it can have the power to define cities for years to come, just as inequalities solidified in colonial infrastructures have defined contemporary urban fabric. Likewise, decisions made today can alter urban maps in ways that will be difficult to undo – a proposition that is especially consequential in the context wherein climate change preparedness plans emphasise the importance of resilience and adaptability. Infrastructures matter. As Silver’s book warns, it is important to interrogate whether the infrastructures touted, established and planned are meant to connect or disconnect urban populations, whether the material arrangements they create are based on solutions that see into the future of the public or fixes that favour private investment. The resounding worry of the book is that the latter is likelier, and that tendency is not only prevalent in urban Africa or even the Global South, but the world over.

This post gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Image Credit: Kehinde Temitope Odutayo on Shutterstock.

‘Untold Damage to the UK’s Reputation’: Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights Slams the Rwanda Bill

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/02/2024 - 11:03am in

Parliament’s most senior human rights committee condemns today the Government’s Rwanda Bill as “fundamentally incompatible with the UK’s human rights obligations.”

The Joint Committee on Human Rights – composed of MPs and peers – effectively rejects the bill in its entirety proposing no amendments after a line-by-line examination of all the clauses.

The report is published on the day the House of Lords starts its detailed examination of the bill which is expected to give a very rough ride to the government and the Prime Minister for introducing it as an emergency measure.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill facilitates the removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda. It was proposed by Rishi Sunak after the Supreme Court rejected Rwanda as a safe country and the European Court of Human Rights stopped a flight going to Rwanda last year.

The bill strips out virtually all protection for asylum seekers and immigrants who arrive illegally in the UK in boats across the Channel under the UK’s own Human Rights Act. It severely limits the courts to hear appeals against deportation, allows ministers and civil servants to ignore directions from the European Court of Human Rights and orders the courts to treat Rwanda as a safe country under a new treaty with the UK.

The committee is  “particularly alarmed” at the disapplication of part of the  Act that allows authorities to ignore human rights  granted under the  European Convention of Human Rights which the UK is a signatory.

Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Joanna Cherry QC MP said: 

“This Bill is designed to remove vital safeguards against persecution and human rights abuses, including the fundamental right to access a court. Hostility to human rights is at its heart and no amendments can salvage it. 

 “This isn’t just about the rights and wrongs of the Rwanda policy itself. By taking this approach, the Bill risks untold damage to the UK’s reputation as a proponent of human rights internationally.  

“Human rights aren’t inconvenient barriers that must be overcome to reach policy goals, they are fundamental protections that ensure individuals are not harmed by Government action. If a policy is sound it should be able to withstand judicial scrutiny, not run away from it.” 

The report is backed by the majority of the committee’s members who include Baroness Kennedy,  Baroness Lawrence, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham and Lord Alton.

Still, three of the committee’s Conservative members rejected the report’s findings by voting against clauses in the report. They are Jill Mortimer, MP for Hartlepool, who won the “Red Wall” seat in a by-election during Boris Johnson’s premiership; Lord Murray of Blidworth, a former Home Office minister and Baroness Meyer, the widow of Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to the United States. But they did not go as far as producing their own minority report to contradict the main report’s findings.

The committee is sceptical of the claims by the government that Rwanda is safe and that in practice asylum seekers sent there will be protected even if their claims to be allowed to enter the UK are rejected. The bill says they will be safe there but the committee and the Lords committee that examined international treaties could not find the mechanism to protect them.

The report is most scathing about the damage to Britain’s standing and reputation by passing the law saying it is “in jeopardy”.

“If the UK enacts legislation that fails to respect its own international human rights commitments it will seriously harm its ability to influence other nations to respect the international legal order.”

It also raises the issue of whether the action by the government over Rwanda undermines the Good Friday agreement and the Windsor agreement in Northern Ireland. This has been raised by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission which says the agreement says Northern Ireland has to follow the European Convention on Human Rights and immigrants must have access to the courts.

The Government denies the agreement is so far-reaching. The committee is not satisfied and asks for ministers to lay a report before Parliament on this before the bill reaches the Report stage in the Lords.

First Sub-Saharan Ethics Center Approaches 5th Anniversary; Seeks Funds for Conference

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/02/2024 - 11:55pm in

EthicsLab, a research center in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, is organizing a conference in celebration of its upcoming fifth anniversary, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help people attend it.

Created in 2019 and based at the Catholic University of Central Africa, EthicsLab (previously) is the first ethics center in sub-Saharan Africa. Its mission, in part, is

to amplify the African perspective on global and regional challenges, and to build connections between African scholars and scholars from other regions of the world. EthicsLab offers scholarships to young African philosophers, organizes academic conferences, and organizes debates on challenges facing Africa. It also organizes a summer school, the Yaoundé Seminar, which has become an international institution.

The conference will take place in June of 2024. It’s aim is to “bring together a large group of scholars from Africa and the rest of the world.” The organizers say,

The conference aims to provide an opportunity for academics from all over the world to engage with many of the talented scholars from across the African continent, and vice versa. In our view, there is far too little interaction of this kind, and the conference represents one way in which EthicsLab is aiming to facilitate more of it.

The fundraiser is “primarily to fund travel and accommodation expenses for philosophers based in Africa to attend the conference,” says one of the conference organizers, Brian Berkey (University of Pennsylvania). Funds will also be used to help keep EthicsLab in operation.

You can check out and contribute to the fundraiser here.

The post First Sub-Saharan Ethics Center Approaches 5th Anniversary; Seeks Funds for Conference first appeared on Daily Nous.

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