Democracy in Africa: Moving Beyond a Difficult Legacy


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Like many young men, he joined in hopes of escaping poverty. But he went into the military for another reason as well, a reason common to black men: Dad hoped that if he served his country, his country might finally treat him as an American. The Army did not end up being his way out. He was passed over for opportunities, his ambition stunted. He would be discharged under murky circumstances and then labor in a series of service jobs for the rest of his life. Like all the black men and women in my family, he believed in hard work, but like all the black men and women in my family, no matter how hard he worked, he never got ahead.

So when I was young, that flag outside our home never made sense to me. How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner? It deeply embarrassed me. It seemed that the closest thing black Americans could have to cultural pride was to be found in our vague connection to Africa, a place we had never been.

That my dad felt so much honor in being an American felt like a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of our subordination. Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag. In August , just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, Va. The pirates had stolen them from a Portuguese slave ship that had forcibly taken them from what is now the country of Angola. Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American slavery.

They were among the Almost two million did not survive the grueling journey, known as the Middle Passage. Before the abolishment of the international slave trade, , enslaved Africans would be sold into America. Through backbreaking labor, they cleared the land across the Southeast. They taught the colonists to grow rice. They laid the foundations of the White House and the Capitol, even placing with their unfree hands the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.


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They lugged the heavy wooden tracks of the railroads that crisscrossed the South and that helped take the cotton they picked to the Northern textile mills, fueling the Industrial Revolution. It was the relentless buying, selling, insuring and financing of their bodies and the products of their labor that made Wall Street a thriving banking, insurance and trading sector and New York City the financial capital of the world.

But it would be historically inaccurate to reduce the contributions of black people to the vast material wealth created by our bondage. Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom. The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie.

Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals.

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Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all. The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free. Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century.

In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military. My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand: that the year is as important to the American story as It was common for white enslavers to keep their half-black children in slavery.

Jefferson had chosen Hemings, from among about enslaved people that worked on the forced-labor camp he called Monticello, to accompany him to Philadelphia and ensure his every comfort as he drafted the text making the case for a new democratic republic based on the individual rights of men. At the time, one-fifth of the population within the 13 colonies struggled under a brutal system of slavery unlike anything that had existed in the world before.

Chattel slavery was not conditional but racial. It was heritable and permanent, not temporary, meaning generations of black people were born into it and passed their enslaved status onto their children. Enslaved people were not recognized as human beings but as property that could be mortgaged, traded, bought, sold, used as collateral, given as a gift and disposed of violently. Enslaved people could not legally marry. They were barred from learning to read and restricted from meeting privately in groups. In most courts, they had no legal standing. Enslavers could rape or murder their property without legal consequence.

Enslaved people could own nothing, will nothing and inherit nothing. They were legally tortured, including by those working for Jefferson himself. They could be worked to death, and often were, in order to produce the highest profits for the white people who owned them. For this duplicity, they faced burning criticism both at home and abroad. Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.

By , Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere. In London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade. This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South. The wealth and prominence that allowed Jefferson, at just 33, and the other founding fathers to believe they could successfully break off from one of the mightiest empires in the world came from the dizzying profits generated by chattel slavery.

In other words, we may never have revolted against Britain if the founders had not understood that slavery empowered them to do so; nor if they had not believed that independence was required in order to ensure that slavery would continue. Jefferson and the other founders were keenly aware of this hypocrisy. Instead, he blamed the king of England for forcing the institution of slavery on the unwilling colonists and called the trafficking in human beings a crime. Yet neither Jefferson nor most of the founders intended to abolish slavery, and in the end, they struck the passage.

There is no mention of slavery in the final Declaration of Independence. Similarly, 11 years later, when it came time to draft the Constitution, the framers carefully constructed a document that preserved and protected slavery without ever using the word. In the texts in which they were making the case for freedom to the world, they did not want to explicitly enshrine their hypocrisy, so they sought to hide it. The Constitution contains 84 clauses. Six deal directly with the enslaved and their enslavement, as the historian David Waldstreicher has written, and five more hold implications for slavery.

With independence, the founding fathers could no longer blame slavery on Britain. The shameful paradox of continuing chattel slavery in a nation founded on individual freedom, scholars today assert, led to a hardening of the racial caste system. This ideology, reinforced not just by laws but by racist science and literature, maintained that black people were subhuman, a belief that allowed white Americans to live with their betrayal.

By the early s, according to the legal historians Leland B. Ware, Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy. On Aug. It was one of the few times that black people had ever been invited to the White House as guests. The Civil War had been raging for more than a year, and black abolitionists, who had been increasingly pressuring Lincoln to end slavery, must have felt a sense of great anticipation and pride.

The war was not going well for Lincoln. The president was weighing a proclamation that threatened to emancipate all enslaved people in the states that had seceded from the Union if the states did not end the rebellion. Like many white Americans, he opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality.

That August day, as the men arrived at the White House, they were greeted by the towering Lincoln and a man named James Mitchell, who eight days before had been given the title of a newly created position called the commissioner of emigration. This was to be his first assignment. After exchanging a few niceties, Lincoln got right to it.

He informed his guests that he had gotten Congress to appropriate funds to ship black people, once freed, to another country. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. You can imagine the heavy silence in that room, as the weight of what the president said momentarily stole the breath of these five black men. The Union had not entered the war to end slavery but to keep the South from splitting off, yet black men had signed up to fight.

Enslaved people were fleeing their forced-labor camps, which we like to call plantations, trying to join the effort, serving as spies, sabotaging confederates, taking up arms for his cause as well as their own. And now Lincoln was blaming them for the war. Nearly three years after that White House meeting, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. By summer, the Civil War was over, and four million black Americans were suddenly free. Beneath its sod lie the bones of our fathers. Here we were born, and here we will die.

They did the opposite. The South, for the first time in the history of this country, began to resemble a democracy, with black Americans elected to local, state and federal offices. Some 16 black men served in Congress — including Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who became the first black man elected to the Senate. Demonstrating just how brief this period would be, Revels, along with Blanche Bruce, would go from being the first black man elected to the last for nearly a hundred years, until Edward Brooke of Massachusetts took office in More than black men served in Southern state legislatures and hundreds more in local positions.

These black officials joined with white Republicans, some of whom came down from the North, to write the most egalitarian state constitutions the South had ever seen. They helped pass more equitable tax legislation and laws that prohibited discrimination in public transportation, accommodation and housing. Perhaps their biggest achievement was the establishment of that most democratic of American institutions: the public school. Public education effectively did not exist in the South before Reconstruction.

The white elite sent their children to private schools, while poor white children went without an education. But newly freed black people, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write during slavery, were desperate for an education. So black legislators successfully pushed for a universal, state-funded system of schools — not just for their own children but for white children, too. Black legislators also helped pass the first compulsory education laws in the region. Southern children, black and white, were now required to attend schools like their Northern counterparts. Just five years into Reconstruction, every Southern state had enshrined the right to a public education for all children into its constitution.

In some states, like Louisiana and South Carolina, small numbers of black and white children, briefly, attended schools together. Led by black activists and a Republican Party pushed left by the blatant recalcitrance of white Southerners, the years directly after slavery saw the greatest expansion of human and civil rights this nation would ever see.

In , Congress passed the 13th Amendment, making the United States one of the last nations in the Americas to outlaw slavery. It codified black American citizenship for the first time, prohibited housing discrimination and gave all Americans the right to buy and inherit property, make and enforce contracts and seek redress from courts. In , Congress ratified the 14th Amendment, ensuring citizenship to any person born in the United States. Today, thanks to this amendment, every child born here to a European, Asian, African, Latin American or Middle Eastern immigrant gains automatic citizenship.

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The 14th Amendment also, for the first time, constitutionally guaranteed equal protection under the law. Ever since, nearly all other marginalized groups have used the 14th Amendment in their fights for equality including the recent successful arguments before the Supreme Court on behalf of same-sex marriage. For this fleeting moment known as Reconstruction, the majority in Congress seemed to embrace the idea that out of the ashes of the Civil War, we could create the multiracial democracy that black Americans envisioned even if our founding fathers did not.


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  • Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country, as does the belief, so well articulated by Lincoln, that black people are the obstacle to national unity. The many gains of Reconstruction were met with fierce white resistance throughout the South , including unthinkable violence against the formerly enslaved, wide-scale voter suppression, electoral fraud and even, in some extreme cases, the overthrow of democratically elected biracial governments.

    In , President Rutherford B. Hayes, in order to secure a compromise with Southern Democrats that would grant him the presidency in a contested election, agreed to pull federal troops from the South. With the troops gone, white Southerners quickly went about eradicating the gains of Reconstruction. Democracy would not return to the South for nearly a century.

    White Southerners of all economic classes, on the other hand, thanks in significant part to the progressive policies and laws black people had championed, experienced substantial improvement in their lives even as they forced black people back into a quasi slavery. It means using processes that build on people's strengths and aspirations. It means creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.

    The first question is: 'Security for whom? Human security takes individuals and their communities, rather than territory, states, or governments, as its point of reference. It uses the effects on people as the criteria for assessing the success or failure of actions and policies. While not denying the importance of state security, human security complements the latter in specific respects, as will be shown later.

    The second key question in respect of human security is: 'Security from what? The first category — military — includes, among others, intra-state war, small arms proliferation, communal-based violence, insurgency, rebel activity, and civil war. The second — non-military — can include serious human rights violations, famine, environmental degradation, violent crime, illicit drugs, economic collapse, infectious diseases, and natural disasters.

    Human security highlights the complex interconnections among what were once deemed to be disparate issues e. It recognises that many of the challenges to the survival and safety of people are global phenomena in their origins and their effects, and that they result in mutual vulnerability. The security of people is interdependent.

    Human security needs to be situated in relation to state or national security. A fundamental point of departure is to see it neither as an alternative to, nor divorced from, national or state security. From a human security perspective, the security of the state is not an end in itself: it is a means of providing security for people.

    Thus, human security complements state security in four important respects:. Its concern is the individual and the community rather than the state. Menaces to people's security include threats and conditions that have not always been classified as threats to state security. The range of actors is expanded beyond the state alone. Achieving human security includes not just protecting people, but also empowering people to fend for themselves UN Commission on Human Security 4. A further important question to ask is: 'Where do human security and state security overlap?

    States with similarly strong, effective, and democratic characteristics enhance human security through their respect for human rights and their ability to meet basic human needs. The likelihood is greater that such states would foster international peace and security. A further question that can help to situate human security in relation to state security is this: 'How does a human security perspective affect approaches to state security? In exploring the relationship between human and state security, one can ask: 'Is state security a sufficient condition for human security?

    Saddam Hussein's Iraq, apartheid South Africa, Israel , or where they are incapable of effective governance Somalia, Sudan , they constitute a major source of human insecurity. The sad reality is that too often, state security has been used as a justification for actions and policies that have ultimately undermined rather than enhanced human security. The security of states is increasingly insufficient to safeguard human security.

    At both the conceptual and practical level, additional questions can be posed. For example: Must human security concerns wait until state security has been assured? Is there a hierarchy of security concerns where the demands of the state inevitably take precedence over individuals? Could the advancement of human security actually threaten international peace and security by undermining the legal norm of non-intervention?

    While war inevitably results in human insecurity, human insecurity does not always result in war. Under what conditions does human insecurity cause violent conflict? Human security and human development together address freedom from fear and freedom from want. Human development is defined by UNDP as 'the process of widening the range of people's choices', while human security can be seen as the ability to pursue those choices in a safe environment.

    But how do the two concepts interrelate? Since both take people as their principal point of reference, the two agendas are essentially complementary and mutually reinforcing. Human security is a necessary or enabling condition for human development, while promoting human development is a principal strategy for advancing human security. For example, eradicating malaria, currently responsible for 2 million deaths annually and affecting to million people, will require alleviating widespread poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Galtung's concept of 'structural violence' provides a possible conceptual link between human security and human development. Vulnerability and insecurity are experienced not only by people who live in extreme poverty, to paraphrase the recent report of the UN Commission on Human Security Human security is greatly diminished by food insecurity and lack of access to safe water and adequate sanitation. Major investments in education and skills training are being lost, and the number of households headed by women and children is increasing.

    Much of the burden falls on the more vulnerable section of the population — women and children. While the alleviation of poverty is clearly a key concern of both human security and human development, one may wish to ask: 'What does a human security perspective add to approaches to poverty alleviation already in existence?

    One useful attempt to integrate gender into the wider equation of human security has been the UN Study on Women, Peace and Security. This important study explores the impact of war on women and girls. In particular, the study shows that women suffer economic dislocation and lose their access to land, food, and water, all of which deepen their poverty. Women and young girls are especially at risk, while peacekeepers who are predominantly male sometimes play an active part in the transmission of the virus.

    Renewed interest in human security is not due to the emergence of 'new' conflicts and threats.

    Most of the challenges to the security and survival of people considered under the rubric of human security have been there for centuries. Due to globalisation, however, many threats to human security are increasingly transnational in their origins and their effects particularly environmental concerns. Their intensity, too, is increasing. The post-Cold War agenda has created the opportunity to draw attention to these challenges and to place them on the global agenda.

    Advances in information and communication technology have greatly facilitated more international attention on these challenges. The contribution of civil society to advancing the human security agenda, too, continues to grow. While the engagement of non-governmental actors has a long history, new and innovative partnerships with governmental actors are becoming increasingly common. Broadening the definition of security, a process of the past three or more decades, is resulting in a more integrated conceptualisation that provides the theoretical foundation for a more comprehensive and integrated security agenda.

    At the same time, however, one needs to sound a word of warning. A broadened security agenda, while desirable, particularly in a developing context, holds potential dangers. One of these is the risk that 'security services' appropriate responsibility for development matters once they designate these as 'security concerns'. This would inevitably collapse the development agenda into a security agenda. Conceptually, it is important, as Waever and Buzan, Waever, and De Wilde have reminded us, that the concept of human security has as its primary referents the values and cultures of individuals, as well as how these relate to state security.

    Security is conceptually and practically different from development. Enhancing the human security project requires co-operative, and often multilateral, responses, and approaches that are multi-sectoral emphasise preventive action and engage new partnerships.

    Human security is advanced through the protection of human rights, respect for the rule of law, democratic governance, sustainable human development, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Many international treaties, agreements, and norms provide a foundation for human security: these include the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Charter of the UN. Notwithstanding these conventions, the UN is premised on collective security, which is state-based. In the European context, the development strategy of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, 'Shaping the 21st Century', contains key elements for building human security.

    The security architecture of SADC, too, provides a foundation for enhancing human security at the regional level, but the original SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security, established in , failed to move the sub-regional institution closer to a realisation of its core common security objectives. At the organisation's August summit in Blantyre, however, SADC adopted a Protocol on Politics, Defence, and Security Co-operationand reached important decisions on integrating the SADC organ more closely into the institution's other structures, and strengthening its accountability and operability.

    The protocol also lists various policy objectives. Most of these concentrate on collective security; collective defence; governance, democracy, and human rights linked to human security ; development of common foreign policy approaches in international forums; and building joint capacities in areas such as peacekeeping, disaster management, and co-ordination of humanitarian assistance also aspects of human security.

    A number of related protocols, such as the Protocol against Corruption and the Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition, and Related Materials, embody similar principles, more particularly in the area of governance and collective security. A mechanism to deal with disputes arising between member states is also to be established following the signing of the Protocol on Tribunals and the Rules of Procedure Thereof. Still, substantial work remains to be done before these principles can be fully internalised as part of SADC's efforts to promote peace and human security actively Baregu and Landsberg Both of these initiatives recognise a link, however complex, among democracy, human security, and development.

    This exploratory chapter has examined the core ideas of democratic politics. These are democracy as a value, democracy as a social process, and democracy as political practice. Democracy is a process, and different states find themselves at various positions along a complex trajectory. There is also the ever-present risk of democratic reversal. Human security was defined as safety for people from violent and non-violent threats. This implies that human security is multidimensional and, like democracy and human development, actualising.

    However, democratisation does not in itself result in enhanced human security. The chapter has also provided reasons for the renewed scholarly and political interest in the concept of human security and its relation to human development. In this respect, it has been argued that human security and human development together address freedom from fear and freedom from want. As both concepts take people as their principal point of reference, the two agendas are complementary and ultimately mutually reinforcing. It has also been argued that human security is neither an alternative to, nor divorced from, national or state security: it complements state security in important respects.

    From a human security perspective, however, the security of states is not an end in itself: it is a means of providing security for people. Finally, giving operational import to human security will differ from context to context. In some cases it will involve affirming development targets and agendas already established; in others it will involve reinforcing or strengthening what has already been developed; and in others it will involve setting and developing new agendas or building state and governance capacity.

    Regions or sub-regions can be defined in many different ways: through geographic propinquity or intensity of interactions, such as trade; through internal or external recognition and formal declaration as such; politically; historically; or culturally and in terms of 'civilisational areas'.

    Democracy in Africa Moving Beyond a Difficult Legacy

    Some regions are even defined in terms of river basins or shared seas or mountain ranges. In general, however, since this chapter is about formal security co-operation, regions are defined politically and in the context of the global collective security system personified by the UN. Chapter VIII of the Charter of the UN is quite explicit about the security functions of regional organisations: 'The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority' art.

    Regional organisations thus represent instances of first resort as far as the peaceful resolution of conflicts is concerned, but it is also underlined that different rules apply to the use of non-peaceful means: 'No enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council' art. The division of the world into regions is not as clear as the UN charter might have envisaged, however, and is further complicated by the development of sub-regional organisations, especially in Africa, where the regional organisation, the AU, is shadowed by a number of sub-regional organisations.

    Nevertheless, there has been a palpable rise in political collaboration, economic co-operation and integration, and security co-operation on a regional basis since the end of the Cold War. Hettne, Inotai, and Sunkel have argued that the recent expansion is different in quality as well as quantity from the efforts that preceded it. The characteristics of the so-called 'new regionalism' are summarised as follows:. It is characterised by multidimensionalism or multifunctionalism, combining economic, political, social, cultural, and security aspects, and thus going beyond the 'traditional' forms of free-trade regimes or security alliances.

    It is driven by a combination of economic or security imperatives, as well as by ecological and other developmental objectives. It involves not merely states, but a wide variety of institutions, organisations, and movements, and to some extent is driven from the bottom up. It is outward looking, or 'open', in that it seeks to integrate organisations' member states into the global political economy rather than erecting tariff barriers.

    It varies widely in the extent of institutionalisation, with some organisations deliberately avoiding the construction of bureaucracies. It sometimes spans the divide between the developed and developing world, e. An absolute distinction cannot be made between old and new regionalisms. Some long-established organisations have taken on many of the features of the more recent ones, but it is nevertheless evident that the globalisation process has necessitated the construction of new types of inter-state organisations. With this in mind, a number of old as well as new questions regarding the construction of regional organisations with security functions might be posed, which will inform this study.

    Debates on regionalism of the old type often revolved around the issue of whether regional organisations were building blocks for the construction of the global collective security system the UN and attendant organisations , or stumbling blocks to that process. Similarly, some argue that the new regionalism in developing countries may allow states to protect themselves and their people from the pernicious and inequitable effects of globalisation, while others argue that it simply speeds up the process of globalisation and facilitates the penetration of exploitative capitalism, and still others President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, for instance think it is the only way that developing countries can prosper in the current era.

    In relation to security, since the terrorist attacks in the United States of 11 September , the UN collective security system has been placed under tremendous pressure by the rise of US militarism and the inclination of the Bush administration towards unilateralism. The role of regional organisations in this context will be highly contested. Is regional collaboration best led by economic, political, or security considerations? Is there a spillover effect, so that progress in one may lead to progress in another, as trust is built? Whatever the case, there is an undeniable tendency for regional organisations to move toward multifunctionality, and to link the various dimensions in what is hoped will be a relationship of synergy.

    Furthermore, is co-operation driven by mostly negative features e. Buzan's idea of a 'security complex', i. Of course, a security complex does not a region make, let alone a regional institution, but security interactions of this nature are bound to have a profound effect on regional organisation. Furthermore, as regions move toward higher degrees of institutionalisation and develop common values, a much closer correlation between security linkages and political co-operation emerges, for obvious reasons.

    This may eventually lead to the construction of a 'security community' Deutsch ; Adler and Barnett , where armed conflict between states has become inconceivable, e. Is the presence of a regional hegemon, both able and willing to exercise its military and economic muscle, a desirable or even a necessary condition for the evolution of regional organisations? Neo-realists would tend to argue that it is; others regard this as a negative feature. The answer to this may be context-specific. It might also be the case that at different stages, or under certain conditions, hegemony may either accelerate or retard organisational development.

    Whatever the case, it is a critical issue in many regional organisations. Security collaboration can take several different forms, each of which may require a different process of construction. These include:. Should developing countries follow the European Union EU model of building an extensive array of institutions supported by a bureaucracy, or should a more flexible, less institutionalised approach be followed? Put another way, should regional organisations evolve as inter-state structures or as supra-national institutions?

    A related issue is that of multiple institutionalism: is it possible or even desirable to have more than one regional organisation with overlapping memberships as in Europe? This debate is closely related to that of how best to deal with hegemonic powers. As institutionalisation progresses, particularly in the security area, the issue of managing the periphery becomes more pressing.

    Certain forms of security co-operation can act as 'force multipliers', potentially threatening neighbouring states and leading to counter-bloc formation. And successfully institutionalised organisations will inevitably create demands for new members, as with the EU. While there have not yet been any examples in modern history where regional organisations have ended the sovereignty of member states, there is no doubt that they inevitably — as with any international regime — require that states agree to work within certain limits, which may become progressively restrictive as institutionalisation progresses.

    This is particularly the case in multifunctional organisations. Furthermore, states are naturally very concerned not to lose their ability to act independently in security matters. Under what conditions will states be willing to 'trade' some of their sovereign decision-making capacity for the benefits of inter-state co-operation?

    While the principle of 'non-interference in internal affairs', entrenched in the UN Charter although also potentially contradicted by the assertion of universal human rights , may have utility in terms of confidence building, in the long run it could be argued that it feeds instability, as it may result in tolerance of human rights violations, authoritarianism, and the like.

    Even more importantly, it demands the following question. Most of the organisations in this study are essentially state-driven projects, and in many cases the motivations for security co-operation appear to be driven by the mutual insecurities of state elites. They may have contributed to stability — essentially, maintenance of the status quo — and to the security of the regimes involved, but have they contributed to socio-economic development and to the security of their citizens — in other words, to human security?

    It can be asked whether regional security co-operation has merely shored up undemocratic regimes, or contributed to, and been built on the basis of, democratic values. This inevitably leads to a consideration of the arguments centred on the 'democratic peace' theory: if all countries in a region are democracies, can this lead to peaceful interactions and assist in building a security community?

    And is security organisation possible in contexts where democracies are not the norm? This chapter will seek to answer all these questions by examining, in a selected way, the experience in the developing world of building regional organisations with security functions.

    The emergence of regional security co-operation organisations in the Western Hemisphere has been overshadowed by the hegemony of the United States. Nevertheless, like Europe and Africa, the Americas have evolved a continental security structure and a number of sub-regional ones, as well as a major trading organisation, NAFTA, which also has a limited political and security role. Like Africa, Latin America is littered with the corpses of failed sub-regional co-operation and integration organisations.

    The primary focus of MERCOSUR is on trade, and it has succeeded in substantially increasing inter-regional exports, but it has also increasingly taken on political and security functions. One of its first actions was to implement a nuclear weapons-free zone a process that started with the Treaty of Tlatelolco of ; it has facilitated joint military exercises and joint meetings of chiefs of staff; and in it declared itself a 'Zone of Peace', and member states agreed to enhance co-operation and promote CSBMs. This process has been facilitated by the demilitarisation of the region, with all countries moving — albeit in different ways and at different speeds — to reduce military power and influence in domestic and foreign policy, and to cut defence spending substantially.

    It has not sought to develop large supra-national institutions, and it has no standing security co-operation mechanism. This has created some problems. In the words of one commentator: 'The absence of any community entity with any advisory or decision-making power gives rise to conflicting responses that must always be resolved a posteriori through political decisions, which are not always transparent' Pereira On the other hand, this lack of institutionalism has necessitated continuous and informal high-level contact, which has helped to build trust and has allowed for flexibility.

    Heads of state and senior officials remain in regular contact with each other to discuss issues as they arise. MERCOSUR emerged at a time when all the member states were undergoing processes of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, and there was a conviction — which is common in many new regional organisations — that democracy would provide a firm foundation for inter-state peace.

    This may not really be true, as the chapter's conclusion argues, but an argument can certainly be made that MERCOSUR has assisted in stabilising and consolidating the democratic transitions in its member states. That the organisation is mostly concerned with trade, rather than politics or security, has not necessarily blunted its effectiveness in stabilising relations among states.

    One of the oldest regional organisations in the world, and one of the few to bring together developed United States, Canada and developing countries Latin America , the OAS has as its main feature the complete dominance of the United States. Multi-functional in nature and highly institutionalised, the OAS also has a mutual assistance function, through the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, better known as the Rio Pact, in terms of which members are required to assist another member under attack until the OAS or the UN Security Council can recommend a course of collective action.

    And when the OAS has not suited its purposes, e. Despite the failures, efforts have been made since the early s to revitalise the concept of mutual assistance, and a Permanent Hemispheric Security Commission was incorporated into the OAS's institutions, ensuring that security — along with a commitment to democracy — was mainstreamed in the organisation.

    It has also developed mechanisms for preventing military coups, by establishing procedures for co-ordinated responses Mills, Shelton, and White 10; Hurrell The security challenges facing Asian countries are as diverse and often as complex as the countries themselves, and have been compounded by the strategic 'overlay' of the Cold War and interventions by external powers.

    These factors, as well as the interpenetration of conflicts, have made it difficult for regional security co-operation to emerge. In North-East Asia, competition among the four major powers influencing the region the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan , as well as the conflicts over Taiwan and Korea, have in the past prevented the emergence of regional co-operation Alagappa In Central Asia, the overlay of the Cold War was the major security feature, and the new states that have emerged since then have not yet found their way towards substantive security co-operation, although there is some progress through the Commonwealth of Independent States.

    The most successful effort at regional co-operation has been in South-East Asia, and an effort has also been made in Indian-dominated South Asia. Even the original members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand were extremely diverse in size, culture, ethnic composition, colonial history, religion, and political system military rule, authoritarian rule, and democracy , and the organisation's diversity has increased as it has expanded to include countries such as Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

    But ASEAN is a classic case of states drawing together because of shared threat perceptions and common convictions about how to counter the threat. All the founding states were faced with communist insurgencies and believed that their regimes were threatened. They also all believed that they could 'buy' their way out of domestic crisis through growth and economic development. ASEAN was essentially about regime survival at a time when Western-leaning states in the region were made profoundly insecure by domestic insurgencies, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the Vietnam War.

    Because of political sensitivities, the original members concerned themselves initially more with economic than political and security co-operation, even though security was one of the main motivations for collaboration the predecessors of the EU and SADC took a similar course Than and Singh As time has gone on, however, ASEAN has become quite institutionalised and now involves itself in a wide range of issues, including security.

    That the original communist threat has largely evaporated has not led to the organisation's demise; instead, the benefits of regional co-operation have become so evident that it is highly unlikely that there will be any turning back. But ASEAN's weaknesses have all been exposed through its failure adequately to address the major challenges that have faced it in the past several years Henderson 36— Essentially — and this stems in large part from the organisation's diversity and the fact that it has always had non-democratic or semi-democratic member states — this practice may be summarised as follows:.

    There can be little doubt that in the first 20 years or so of its existence, these principles allowed ASEAN to emerge on the basis of a rather unlikely partnership of states and to create some stability in an otherwise turbulent region. However, since the end of the Cold War, and with the complex economic and political challenges facing ASEAN states, the organisation has been less successful. The principle of non-interference in particular has come under pressure. Critics have argued that it has resulted in ASEAN in effect collaborating with massive human rights abuses, such as those perpetrated by the Indonesian regime in East Timor or the abuses of the Myanmar military rulers.

    Whatever the case, it is clear that the principle of non-interference is difficult to uphold and has proved inadequate for dealing with the more recent crises. ASEAN effectively began 'interfering' as long ago as , when it delayed Cambodia's admission for two years — under strong Western pressure — after the Hun Sen coup. If ASEAN is to prosper in the new century, it will need to find a way of balancing its traditional respect for sovereignty with effective intervention strategies for upholding human rights and promoting democratic practices: not easy when member regimes include paranoid military juntas such as that in Myanmar, or nominally communist regimes such as that in Vietnam, which cling tenaciously to the principle of 'non-interference'.

    In line with its informal, non-institutionalised approach, ASEAN has not developed comprehensive multilateral institutions to deal with security issues. Co-operation tends to take place bilaterally, and typically involves intelligence exchanges, exchanges between military staff colleges, joint military or policing exercises, and co-operation in fighting transnational crime such as narcotics. A complex web of security interactions has thus been established, contributing significantly to building confidence, especially among the longer-standing members Than and Singh A non-aggression regime has also been put in place through a number of treaties.

    One of the most innovative security and political initiatives was the establishment in of the Asian Regional Forum ARF , with the aim of enhancing ASEAN's ability to deal as a bloc with strong external powers, and to build confidence in the region and, unspoken, to rein in China, which was then aggressively pursuing territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, it adopted the same approach as ASEAN — and many other regional organisations — in that it concentrated on economic, social, and technical issues, even if its aim was to enhance security, and tried to avoid dealing with contentious and bilateral issues.

    This has not been easy, however, given the regional fears of Indian hegemony, and the long and apparently intractable conflict between India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, it has chalked up some successes, including a bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan not to attack each other's nuclear facilities, a preferential trade agreement, and settlement of some complicated bilateral disputes Alagappa In general, however, SAARC has largely failed to break the mould of a zero-sum or relative-gain approach to security by South Asian states, and it has also been largely unsuccessful in promoting intra-regional trade.

    This is in large part because its activities have been overshadowed by the Indian—Pakistani conflict, in which it has been unable to play any major role, given the weakness of the other member states. The asymmetric nature of SAARC, coupled to a dyadic conflict, appears to have inhibited its development. The conflict-ridden Middle East which straddles two continents and in its widest definition extends east—west from Morocco to Iran, and north—south from Turkey to the Sudanese—Egyptian border, and takes in the Arabian peninsula is the homeland of some of the world's great religions and civilisations.

    For the rest, conflict formations and the penetration of great-power interests have prevented the emergence of substantive regional organisations. As with so many regional organisations, it was a specific security threat that triggered co-operation: in this case the Iranian Revolution and its domestic overspills, and the subsequent Iran—Iraq War Tow 45— The GCC is thus yet another example of states coming together on the basis of shared threat perceptions and regime insecurities. Again, however, the initial emphasis was on 'economic security', with military and other forms of security co-operation being dealt with more quietly — in part to avoid the impression of military-bloc formation.

    Nevertheless, the GCC states have entered into a mutual defence pact, established a small multinational regional defence unit, carried out joint military exercises, and worked towards setting up a common air defence mechanism Tripp — As such, the GCC is one of the most advanced examples of military co-operation among regional organisations in the developing world. But — typically of such pacts — when it has come to the crunch, with Iraqi and Iranian threats, the member states have been largely unable or unwilling to act.

    Instead, the GCC states have largely relied on external security guarantees, chiefly from the United States Tripp —3. The GCC is also an example of a regional organisation dominated by one power, Saudi Arabia, the gross domestic product of which exceeds that of the others combined. Lawson 10 argues that this has provided stability — not so much because of Saudi dominance, but because the relative balance of power among the member countries has remained consistent over time.

    Like the OAU, the Arab League is driven by an ideology of a shared identity and a common past and future; unlike the OAU, however, it is based not on a geographical framework, but on a 'civilisational' or ethnic commonality, although some of its 22 members — Sudan, for example — include sizeable populations that are not Arab. One of the oldest regional organisations, it was formed in and its members entered into a collective defence agreement in , through the Treaty for Joint Defence and Economic Co-operation, which typically states that an act of aggression against one member should be regarded as an attack on all Al-Bab n.

    Much of the Arab League's security focus has been on Israel Palestine is a member state , and it has been fairly successful in keeping this issue alive, even if it has not always projected a common position and felt obliged to expel Egypt after it signed the Camp David Accords. It has been far less successful in mediating disputes between member states, nor has it succeeded in presenting a common front against external interventions — it was unable, for example, to play a significant role in preventing the US-led attack on Iraq in March Most of the 'Arab world' remains highly militarised and tensions among states are high.

    Just as in the OAU, political divisions centred on the national interests of states have proved more important in security terms than an assumed inclusive commonality: Arab states — like African ones — are very heterogeneous, and the differences among them are replicated by differences within them, thus inviting interventions and fomenting tensions Farer The Arab League remains a weak organisation because 'mutual distrust is high, both between regimes and their citizens and between regimes themselves' Aarts Africa appears at first glance to be far more developed than Asia or the Americas in terms of security co-operation, and far more logically organised, with an overarching regional organisation and — at least at present — a fairly neat division of sub-regional organisations with security functions more or less organised according to Africa's five geographical divisions North, Southern, East, West and Central.

    As in the Arab world, there is a strong inclination towards an inclusive African identity — despite the vast cultural, ethnic, and other diversities of the continent. But on closer inspection, it becomes clear that Africa's ruling regimes are just as wedded to the concept of national sovereignty as regimes anywhere else in the world, that many regional organisations are weak or even empty shells, and that more than 30 attempts have been made at constructing regional organisations, often through grandiose plans, most of which have failed.

    Many of these have been overlapping, and development has been haphazard. Furthermore, a pattern of intervention by individual states or ad hoc coalitions has been established Furley and May Most of the 'civil wars' that have plagued African states since independence have in fact involved other states. Seldom has a formal commitment — to 'noninterference in internal affairs' — been more honoured in the breach than in the observance, and yet this fiction has been one of the longest-standing principles of African unity, and has only recently been revised.

    Nevertheless, commitment to regionalism remains probably stronger in Africa than anywhere else, except Europe, and it is the intention of Africa's leaders that the new AU should rest on five or possibly more strong sub-regional organisations, each with a security management system that to some extent mirrors that of the AU itself, and which in turn is based on and integrated with the UN system. It is to these seven organisations with the exception of SADC that the chapter now turns its attention: other overlapping organisations will continue to exist, but as time goes by they are likely to become less important in security management terms.

    It should be noted that other sub-regional organisations, notably the Manu River Union, have taken on security functions and developed institutions for security management. The AMU, the weakest of all the putative sub-regional building blocks of the AU's security system, is moribund, and its presidential council has not met since Established in by all five Maghreb states — Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia—the AMU is a multifunctional organisation that deals with issues as diverse as sanitary standards and taxation, but the 'trigger' for its formation, and one of its chief preoccupations, was the need to engage with the EU.

    It was also seen as a building block for Arab unity, a cause then being espoused no longer by President Gadaffi of Libya. The AMU has no functional security structures although, as in many regional organisations, member states have entered into a mutual defence pact.

    Political and security co-operation has been hampered by the dyadic conflict between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara. Some analysts argue that the problem with the AMU is that it is too small whereas the Arab League is too big : when two member states disagree, the three others are too weak to intervene collectively. Whatever the case, it is clear that considerably more will need to be done if the AMU is to become one of the building blocks of the AU's Peace and Security Council.

    But this will depend on the resolution of political divisions and on the mercurial will of Gadaffi. In contrast, ECOWAS has the most sophisticated security management system in Africa, and the most experience in terms of peacekeeping and peace making. As in many other regional organisations, ECOWAS member states have signed both a non-aggression treaty and a mutual military assistance treaty whereby an attack on one is deemed to be an attack on all, but the principal objective is described as regional economic integration.

    Through a somewhat ad hoc succession of military interventions, coupled with ex ante formalisation and institutionalisation — always led by Nigeria — ECOWAS has evolved a sophisticated but functional system for security management. However, its strength — that it has been activated by a regional hegemon — is also its weakness: if Nigeria is unable or unwilling to act, then ECOWAS is fatally weakened, and this is compounded by anglophone—francophone divisions.

    Furthermore, it is deeply ironic that ECOWAS has intervened to 'restore democracy' in war-torn states when the leading power, Nigeria, itself was not a democracy. This may increasingly be the case, given the growing political tensions within Nigeria Berman Primarily an economic grouping, the member ECCAS has recently taken on security functions and is envisaged as part of the AU's security architecture. The apparently mandatory mutual military assistance pact has also been signed. With assistance from external powers, some joint military exercises aimed at developing the regional peacekeeping capacity have been carried out.

    Member states do not agree on the relationship between the security and economic functions of the organisation, and a number of countries retain membership of other regional organisations as well IPA Considerable work will have to be done if ECCAS is be a substantive building block for continental security, and this will require political will.

    Originally a functional co-operation agreement focusing on drought and development issues, IGAD began to take on conflict resolution activities in the mids notably the Sudan peace process and is now developing more elaborate security arrangements. IGAD intends to establish a conflict early warning and response mechanism, but its capacities remain very limited.

    It has been unable to intervene significantly in the Eritrean—Ethiopian conflict or the Sudan conflict, for example, and commentators have remarked that 'IGAD member states seem more willing to devote significant scarce resources to actively undermine their neighbours than to help bring about a sustainable peace' Berman and Sams The potential status of these two organisations as sub-regional building blocks within the AU's emerging security architecture is somewhat unclear, as most of their member states are also members of other sub-regional organisations mostly IGAD and SADC , and there is thus a high degree of overlap.

    The EAC is a resurrection of the earlier community of the same name, and involves the same three countries: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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    It has economic as well as security functions, and a memorandum of agreement has been signed among the defence forces of the three countries, which, among other things, provides for joint training, joint operations, and the sharing of intelligence; the organisation also aims to conclude a defence pact Berman and Sams COMESA, the largest sub-regional organisation, with 20 member states, was originally formed to promote economic co-operation through trade, and grew out of the Preferential Trade Area.

    But like so many such organisations, it has also taken on security functions in the belief that peace and security are essential for investment, trade, and development. COMESA member states have made a series of commitments to non-aggression, respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and so on.

    It has managed to establish a number of semi-autonomous and ad hoc arrangements to deal with regional conflicts IPA However, its main achievements have been in reducing trade barriers, and tensions have arisen among member states over trade imbalances and other issues, as well as the overlap with SADC, with some members leaving in order to concentrate scarce resources on SADC instead. Its future as a sub-regional building block for African security thus remains uncertain.

    Far more research will have to be done if the complex questions posed at the beginning of this chapter are to be answered satisfactorily. In many cases, no clear patterns have emerged, and it appears that answers may have to be context-specific. Nevertheless, a few general points may be made on the basis of this brief and selective survey, and we thus return to the key issues posed at the beginning of this chapter.

    In virtually all cases, sub-regional organisations in the developing world appear to have acted more as building blocks for regional and global collective security than as stumbling blocks. This is seen perhaps most clearly in Africa, where a conscious effort has been made to construct a regional security mechanism on sub-regional organisations. However, it can also be seen — e. It is clear also that regional organisations are increasing in scope and extent as a direct response to globalisation.

    But the 'new' type of regionalism emerging is far more about opening up regions than closing them off. As such, these organisations can be seen both as a response to and providing further impetus for globalisation. Whether they serve to mitigate the exclusionary effects of uneven global development, however, is unclear. It could equally be argued that they serve to accelerate inequalities by servicing neo-liberal economics through their outward orientations. The vast majority of organisations surveyed started out with the stated aim of economic co-operation, but took on political and security co-operation tasks.

    In probably a majority of cases, however, the actual motivation for initiating the regional organisation was a shared regime threat perception, often triggered by a particular event or by a shared fear of a hegemonic or revisionist power, or by a common perception of domestic security threats. In quite a number of cases, economic co-operation was promoted in order to address the actual issue of regime threat perception, and this seems to be by far the most important driver in the initial stages of institution building.

    But it need not remain so: some regional organisations have continued to thrive on the palpable benefits of multifunctional co-operation, even when the initial threat disappears. Such 'spillover' is a product of increased levels of inter-state communication. Moreover, as Waever has argued, as regional organisations progress towards security communities, interactions may become increasingly 'desecuritised'; i.

    This brief survey has shown that regional hegemons can play a critical role in promoting regional co-operation, either by utilising their military and other power to secure a type of peace Nigeria in ECOWAS or more subtly Indonesia in ASEAN. At the same time, hegemonic powers weakened by internal divisions Nigeria and Indonesia both can slow the growth of regional organisations, and may also so distort relations within them that the organisations become hollow, as member states seek bilateral arrangements with the regional power.

    In other words, the benefits or drawbacks of regional hegemonism appear to be context-specific, and quite likely time-specific as well. In the early period of regional formation, powerful states that can provide leadership and 'a sense of purpose' seem to play an important role Adler and Barnett In most of the organisations studied, hegemonic powers were present and, despite their sometimes negative roles, it seems that they can play an important part in the establishment of functional regional security organisations, although it is unlikely that they are a necessary or sufficient condition.

    A key driver in this seems to be the need to 'embed' hegemonism by constructing agreements that serve to rein in the regional power; of course, they may also serve to consolidate that power. This study has reaffirmed a general truth about mutual assistance pacts: they don't work.

    Political realities tend to take precedence over treaties when push comes to shove, and if a regional power is involved, its calculation of national interests is likely to override any pledges it might have made. There are few examples of successful defence alliances that have been put into operation in the developing world. Nevertheless, mutual assistance pacts seem to be vital to the process of institution building, as virtually all the organisations examined have developed them, always in conjunction with non-aggression treaties.

    As confidence-building measures, they are probably a necessary stage. However, the most effective form of co-operation seems to be collaborative security, moving on through time to common security. Some organisations have been successfully built on the basis of informal interactions 'loose' organisations , while others have failed because they have not developed a high enough level of institutionalisation.

    Again, this probably varies over time. Informality may work for some years, but in due course some type of institutionalisation will be needed to take co-operation to a higher level. Institutionalisation — in the form of agreements or organisations — may also be required in situations where a hegemon is involved, in order to establish checks and balances and to rein in the dominant power, as argued above.

    Size matters, but it is not clear how. Arguments have been put forward that small organisations, with, say, four or five members, cannot deal with conflicts between two members because the others are collectively too weak AMU ; alternatively, it is argued that small organisations can build confidence and common values MERCOSUR , and that very large ones encompass too many political divergences to succeed the Arab League or COMESA.

    It would be expected that the type of security organisation would affect the challenge of the periphery, with military alliances posing a threat to non-member neighbours and collaborative security regimes being much less threatening. This has not been empirically proven in this study, possibly because there are in practice few effective military alliances in the developing world, and mutual assistance pacts are usually ineffectual and seen to be so see below.

    Many of the organisations studied here work on consensus, or at least pretend to do so. While this may slow down institutional progress, it also makes it much more difficult for countries to back out of agreements once they have been made. Furthermore, institutions seem to evolve on the basis of 'sunk costs' — as the effort put into regional organisations increases and the costs of extraction grow, stability seems to set in.

    The principle of non-interference has been a stabilising and confidence-building factor within some regional organisations at some usually early time. Often, however, especially in Africa, principle and practice have borne little relation to each other, and states that have signed up to such principles have blatantly violated them. There seems to come a time when progress toward regional co-operation or integration is hampered by an over-insistence on national sovereignty. Further development will come to depend on states being willing to cede some sovereignty in order to reap the greater benefits of co-operation.

    It is also evident that many issues remain unaddressed if the principle of non-intervention is made into a shibboleth, and it can be a fig leaf for the tolerance of dictatorship and human rights abuses. However, if the principle of 'non-interference in internal affairs' is to be ditched in regional organisations, it is obviously desirable that some other principles are put in place to govern relations between states, especially in situations where there is a regional power.

    Such principles could typically be based on democratic and human rights norms, and opposition to non-constitutional changes of government and military interference in governance as in MERCOSUR. This cursory survey has strongly suggested that the principal driver of regional security co-operation is shared regime threat perception both internal and external and a common interest among regimes — be they democratic or not — in supporting each other against sources of threat to internal and external security.

    As such, regional security co-operation in developing countries is clearly aimed at stability and regime security.

    Democracy in Africa: Moving Beyond a Difficult Legacy Democracy in Africa: Moving Beyond a Difficult Legacy
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