APIC/Africa Fund: Questions for Policymakers, 10/16/00

APIC/Africa Fund: Questions for Policymakers, 10/16/00

APIC/Africa Fund: Questions for Policymakers Date distributed (ymd): 001016 APIC Document

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+

+security/peace+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents: Please find below the text of a joint APIC/Africa Fund brochure distributed before the U.S. presidential debates to the debate moderator and other media professionals. We were pleased that in the second debate the moderator at least posed a question about Africa. We were not at all satisfied with the answers from either candidate.

We are distributing the questions more broadly because most of the issues posed apply, with appropriate changes in wording, not just for candidates in the U.S. elections, but also for policymakers here and elsewhere after the election.

We follow the questions with (1) very brief excerpts from two critical Washington Post editorial comments appearing after the second presidential debate, and (2) links to poll data showing that the public differs sharply from the conventional wisdom. Polls consistently show that the public is far more favorable than political insiders assume to support for UN peacekeeping, increased spending on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, and similar measures of interest to Africa.

Another posting also sent out today contains a letter just mailed to APIC members from APIC/Africa Fund director Salih Booker.

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Questions on Africa Policy for Candidates and Policymakers

The questions here are addressed to candidates in the November 2000 election in the U.S. They also apply more generally to rich-country policy makers whose actions or indifference shape the international response to issues such as debt, HIV/AIDS, economic development, security and human rights.

Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 509 Washington, DC 20002

American Committee on Africa/Africa Fund 50 Broad St., Suite 1701 New York, NY 10004 (212) 785-1024

Four decades after the first wave of African independence and less than a decade after the end of political apartheid in South Africa, the African continent risks being trapped in an updated system of global apartheid. Initiatives to expand genuine political and economic freedoms are widespread across the diverse continent. But their chances for success depend not only on local efforts but also on global structures dominated by a minority of rich-country elites.

Recognizing Africa's Importance

(1) Thirteen percent of Americans trace their ancestry to Africa. The US imports 14 percent of its oil from Africa. Overall US trade with Africa is greater than with the former Soviet Union. Yet, according to the New York Times, "Mr. Bush has not yet made a priority of Africa, which has been discussed more extensively by his rival, Mr. Gore. Like Mr. Clinton, however, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Gore has suggested that they would change the American position that there is no strategic interest in Africa..."

What interests do you think the US has in Africa?

Achieving Economic Justice

(2) Despite years of international promises to provide debt relief for impoverished countries, African countries are still spending more on debt payments to wealthy countries than they invest in health. The World Bank/IMF Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative has only been implemented for a few countries, and even for them provides no sustainable exit from debt bondage.

Do you support canceling Africa's unsustainable debt as was done for European countries in economic crisis such as Germany and Poland? What new measures do you propose to achieve this?

(3) Many decisions about economic policy for African countries are being made by global institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF, the World Trade Organization, and the "Paris Club" of creditor countries. These decisions are weakening African governments' capacity to provide essential public investments like health and education infrastructure. In recent years, public pressure has resulted in more public information, but neither African governments nor African civil society have effective roles as participants in these decision-making processes.

What measures do you propose to increase democratic participation and transparency in global economic institutions, so that they are accountable to those affected by their decisions?

(4) According to UNAIDS, Africa, with about 12 percent of the world's population, accounts for 80 percent of the world's deaths due to AIDS. Ninety percent of the world's deaths due to malaria are in Africa. In the last decade, life expectancies in many African countries, which had been improving, have begun dropping sharply largely due to AIDS. African governments are struggling with woefully inadequate public infrastructure and resources to address a broad spectrum of health needs. These include primary health care, as well as AIDS-specific education, prevention, research, treatment and care, and support for families and communities to strengthen their capacity to cope with the long term effects of the AIDS pandemic.

* In light of this global health emergency, especially devastating in Africa, do you support allocating public wealth - at least 5 percent of the US annual budget surplus - to a global health emergency fund to provide grants with distribution criteria based upon the seriousness of the health threat and the resources available to address them?

* What additional measures would you support to defeat AIDS?

Supporting Human Rights and Democracy

(5) Following decades of military dictatorship, Nigeria has an elected civilian government. President Clinton's trip to Nigeria was a signal of support for this new government, which is a major oil supplier for the US. Yet the majority of Nigeria's people suffer daily from the effects of crushing debt payments, environmental destruction, abject poverty, human rights abuses, and military repression, which continue to go unaddressed. The fate of Nigeria has repercussions far beyond its borders.

* What enforceable measures do you propose to promote corporate responsibility and ensure accountability from US and other foreign oil companies in Nigeria, including the clean-up of past pollution?

* What policies and practices do you propose to ensure that increased US aid supports civilian reconstruction and broad based economic development rather than military expansion?

* What measures do you support to cancel Nigeria's debt?

(6) Human rights for all are not only valuable in themselves, but are also indispensable to ensure sustainable and equitable economic development. Equal education and access to credit for women, for example, enhance children's health and agricultural production. Groups deprived of their rights, such as modern-day slaves in Sudan and Mauritania, are particularly victimized by conflict and poverty. It appears in many cases that US economic interests take priority over the promotion of human rights in US/Africa policy.

* What enforceable measures do you propose to ensure that governments and corporations benefitting from US aid and trade relations do not violate human rights in Africa?

Promoting Peace and Security

(7) Unresolved conflicts, such as in Angola, Congo and Sudan, and governments resistant to democracy, such as in C"te d'Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe, threaten to reverse the trend of democratization in Africa. There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. It is clear, however, that sustained international engagement designed to target the root causes of conflict makes a significant contribution to sustainable peacemaking. Efforts which support resolutions with long-term benefits for the broader society increase the potential for democratic initiatives to succeed in Africa.

* What do you propose to ensure that the US identify and pursue non-military measures to prevent conflicts and to support African campaigns for peace and democracy where conflict exists?

* Which countries would you give priority attention to, and why?

(8) US failure to pay its UN dues, particularly for peacekeeping operations, heightens the double standard resulting in neglect for humanitarian crises arising from African conflicts. In 1999, for example, UN humanitarian appeals raised $453 for each "target beneficiary" in Kosovo, and only $33 for each "target beneficiary" in Sierra Leone.

* Do you support full and immediate US payment of its obligations to the UN? Do you support increasing UN capacity for effective peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Africa?

Combating Racism

(9) Although there are more refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa than any other region of the world, the US has only one full processing site for all 54 countries of Africa. Ceilings for admission of African refugees are disproportionately lower than other regions and fewer processing sites ensure that fewer Africans will be approved for relocation to the US. 97% of immigrants detained in the US are people of color, yet the top five countries of origin for illegal immigrants are European. This stark reality has led to accusations that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is practicing "a decidedly racist pattern of detainment" - racial profiling. Once granted admission, Africans are less likely than Europeans to be given the status that qualifies them for support services such as English classes, job training and emergency food assistance, typically necessary for a successful transition to self-reliant participation in American society.

* What measures would you take to correct these discriminatory and harsh immigration policies disproportionately applied to African immigrants and asylum seekers?

* What new policies would you promote to ensure more equitable processing opportunities, ceilings for admission, and resettlement resources for African refugees seeking asylum in the US?

(10) Many people say countries which benefitted so tremendously from the slave trade should pay reparations to Africans and their descendants, comparable to restitution provided Holocaust and Japanese internment camp survivors. Reparations should be based not only on the historical exploitation and destruction caused by the slave trade and colonialism, but also the crimes of segregation and structural racism, as well as the Cold War support for apartheid and other brutal African dictatorships.

* Do you agree? If so, how do you think such reparations should be implemented in order to address this legacy of injustice? If you do not agree with reparations, why not?


Washington Post editorial October 13, 2000 (excerpts only: for full text

The Lesson of Rwanda

... when Rwanda came up during Wednesday's presidential debate, neither candidate seemed to have grasped even its most basic lessons.

Gov. George W. Bush got the first chance to reflect upon Rwanda. He declared that the Clinton administration was right not to send U.S. troops to stop the killing, and that in the future there should be early warning systems in places where genocide might happen. An aspiring president ought to know that, in the case of Rwanda, there was no lack of early warning. Beginning in January 1994, three months before the genocide started, the Canadian general in charge of the U.N. contingent in Rwanda sent five cables to U.N. headquarters in New York warning that a bloodbath was brewing and begging for reinforcements. In February Belgium pressed the same case at the United Nations too. All the major powers, including the United States, were well aware of these warnings. They ignored them.

Next, Vice President Al Gore commented. He said, rightly, that "in retrospect we were too late getting in there. We would have saved more lives if we had acted earlier." But Mr. Gore also sought to imply that the administration had not failed completely to act: "We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the humanitarian relief measures." But U.S. troops did not arrive in Rwanda until July, after the killing was finished. Mr. Gore also said the United States was right not to have "put our troops in to try to separate the parties." But that was not what a Rwanda intervention need have entailed. In much of the country, the genocide did not involve two armed bands fighting pitched battles. It involved thugs killing unarmed civilians.

Mr. Gore went on to say, "In the Balkans, we had allies, NATO, ready, willing and able to go and carry a big part of the burden. In Africa, we did not." This is not true either. In Rwanda, the United States could have built on help from the United Nations, which had a force of 2,800--before it was cut back in April, partly at American urging. In May, after the massacre had begun, the United Nations assembled an African force to go to Rwanda, and asked the United States to supply 50 armored vehicles. But the United States failed to deliver these for weeks, arguing over who would provide spare parts and maintenance.

It is bad enough that Mr. Gore, who claimed to espouse a foreign policy based on values, half-defends a failure for which even President Clinton has apologized. It is worse that Mr. Bush does not even see a policy failure in the way America allowed the genocide to unfold.

Washington Post opinion column by Colbert I. King October 14, 2000 (excerpts only: for full text

Asked by moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS's "NewsHour" "Why not Africa?" when it comes to U.S. intervention overseas, Bush invoked--unknowingly perhaps--the "Pinky" foreign policy doctrine.

For those too young to remember, "Pinky" was the 1949 film about a black girl, played by actress Jeanne Crain, who was able to pass for white. For many years following the movie's release, a line in the film seemed to get quoted without fail at every black dinner table and in black barber shops and beauty parlors across the country whenever talk turned to race.

In "Pinky," a black character, angrily commenting on the state of race relations at the time, told one of his friends that in America: "If you're white, you're all right. If you're brown, stick around. If you're black, git back!"

Those words, or at least the thought behind them, were put into play by Bush on Wednesday night in Winston-Salem.

Why American intervention in the Balkans, but not Africa, where 600,000 people died in Rwanda in 1994, Lehrer wanted to know. Bush agreed that the Rwanda genocide was horrible. "No one liked to see it on our TV screens," he said. "But there's got to be priorities," he declared.

Said the Texas governor: "Middle East is a priority for a lot of reasons as is Europe and the Far East and our own hemisphere." Drawing a line on the globe, Bush said, "Those are my four top priorities should I be the president."

Message to Africa, whence more than 30 million African Americans trace their roots: "Git back."

The "Pinky" doctrine is also operative closer to home. While Bush listed the American hemisphere among his top priorities, he explicitly excluded Haiti, the black nation in America's own back yard.

It's almost as if he doesn't believe--or care--that the yearnings for democracy and peace might be as strong in Zimbabwe as they are in Yugoslavia; that people of Ivory Coast hate being under the power of the gun as much as those in the Serbian province of Kosovo; that Nigerians, Kenyans and Liberians want to see freedom take hold in their part of the world as much as Mexicans, Koreans and Czechs.

Maybe Bush doesn't think the lives of an African mother and baby fleeing from a marauder's machete are worth as much as those of a European woman and child who are dodging a sniper's bullets.


Links to Poll Data

Africa-America Institute Remarks by Clay Ramsay, Research Director Program on International Policy Attitudes September 21, 2000

Summarizes polls showing, for example:

* 69% say Africa is "important" or "vitally important," 28% say " not important" or "not at all."

* 50% agree US is not doing enough on AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa; 33% disagree.

* 58% would favor international military action to stop genocide in Africa or in Asia, essentially the same as in Europe (60%).

Program on International Policy Attitudes/Center on Policy Attitudes and

Numerous online reports on polls on international issues

Report on September 2000 poll on budget issues, showing that, when voters were asked to allocate budget funds by percentage, UN and UN peacekeeping received the highest percentage increase of all programs. In contrast, voters opted for reducing defense spending by 24%.


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 09:36:38 -0500 Subject: APIC/Africa Fund: Questions for Policymakers

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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