Africa

Africa Demands Climate Change Compensation

Under the U.N. Framework Conven­tion on Climate Change and the Kyoto Pro­tocol, a series of summits are uniting leaders to work toward an international negotiated climate change deal, which will be clinched in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

At the summit last August in Ghana, Nigerian Ewah Eleri said the onus lies on rich countries, which must commit funds to “compensate poor countries for the damage caused by their greenhouse gas emissions,” according to Ekklesia news service. Eleri and other African leaders asked for billions in compensation. “Palliatives will no longer do,” Eleri said.

Alison Doig of the U.K.-based organization Christian Aid, also in attendance at the Ghana summit, told Sojourners that industrialized countries should support African civil groups. “In practical terms this will mean first and foremost the agreement of strong and binding emissions cuts from all industrialized countries to put them on the path to rapid reductions in carbon emissions,” she said. Christian Aid’s research predicts that 182 million sub-Saharan Africans could die of diseases attributable to climate change by the end of the century.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine January 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Continent of Hope

Forgive a typical American if she were to pay a visit to the West African nation of Sierra Leone and be confused by her surroundings. If she had ever heard of Sierra Leone before, it might have been while watching the movie Blood Diamond, which graphically depicted some of the worst depredations of the conflict there, such as the rebel group RUF’s amputation of limbs, the drug-crazed child soldiers, and the links between criminal diamond-dealing mafias and the war economy.

If this visitor to Sierra Leone had been reading occasional international news missives over the years, she might have remembered something about a rebel group that hacked the limbs off civilians to punish them for voting, or perhaps might have remembered that al Qaeda laundered money in the Sierra Leone diamond market before and after 9/11 to hide its assets.

Given that context, she certainly would have been quite astounded to have joined me on my visit to Tongo Fields in eastern Sierra Leone, the heart of the diamond-producing area and the site of some of the most intense fighting and horrific atrocities in the last century in Africa. What she would have seen in fact defied all expectations—the kind of low expectations that have come to mark international attitudes toward Africa in general.

Tongo Fields is a place crawling with former child soldiers, heavily contested by three political parties in last year’s election, and placed at further risk by a winner-take-all electoral process that dictates access to diamond profits as a result of victory at the polls.

Before Sierra Leone’s historic 2007 election, every conflict indicator was flashing a red alert. Africa “experts” around the world were predicting that Sierra Leone, only half a decade after the end of its brutal civil war, was perhaps heading back down an inevitable road toward a return to war.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Restoring America's Standing in the World

When President Bush leaves office in January, he’ll take with him the cadre of neo-cons who shaped the administration’s foreign policy over the last eight years. Their departure offers the hope that the U.S. will meet the world in a whole new way: Not as imperial conquerors, but as a willing member of the community of nations, acting in a spirit not of domination, but of cooperation.

For better or worse, Iraq and Afghanistan, and probably Iran, will certainly continue as center points of U.S. foreign relations. But the rest of the world matters, and the change of administration gives the opportunity to revisit our country’s whole approach to international relations.

Take Africa, for instance. What will it take to “decolonize” our images of Africa, and thus our way of relating to the continent, its varied nations and peoples? As best-selling author and human rights advocate John Prendergast explains, Africa—long portrayed in the U.S. as a desperate basket case—is actually a land filled with enormous possibility. The way the U.S. engages with Africa—in everything from aid and trade relations to patent laws to multilateral treaties—makes a huge difference in the lives of millions of people.

And few would question the central effect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on world relations. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, head of the Reformed Church in America, describes in his article (“Discovering Palestine,” page 18) how he gradually came to see Palestinian Christians as brothers and sisters—and how that transformed his understanding of what it will take for the U.S. to play an “honest broker” role in the region.

In that kind of transformation are seeds of hope for people the world over—a hope for new models of U.S. global behavior in the post-Bush era.—The Editors

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Don't Lose Hope

1. DON'T LOSE HOPE. Examples such as Sierra Leone and Liberia demonstrate that there are solutions to seemingly intractable problems. This is indeed true for Darfur and for Congo.

2. RPOMOTE DEMOCRACY in all its forms. Elections are scheduled for Sudan for 2009 and should be vigorously promoted, including through support to Darfurian civil society and political organizations. Congo had an historic election in 2006, but democracy is not just one vote. It is a process of institution-building that results in a functioning state that can deliver services and security for its people. If the U.S. wants to combat anarchy and extremism, that is where it should invest.

3. STEP UP PEACE EFFORTS. In most of the cases I’ve cited, negotiations played a key role in ending the suffering. Everyone knows the U.S. has the largest army in the world. What many don’t know is that it also has the largest diplomatic service in the world, and the next administration must revalue and reinflate the importance of the foreign service. The U.S. can lead from behind in both Sudan and Congo in constructing peace processes that can bring an end to destructive wars.

4. PROTECT CIVILIANS. While peace is being made and democratic transformations are being seeded, African Union and United Nations troops in Sudan and Congo should focus their resources on protecting people, or else the death rates will continue to mount.

5. DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY. Though it will be a controversial and complicated path, there must begin to be justice for the horrific atrocities that have made Sudan and Congo two of the deadliest places on earth during this past century. The Interna­tional Criminal Court is a fundamentally important institution and requires our support. —JP

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine December 2008
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe