YASN Conference 2016: Transitions’ from what to what? Justice and Reconciliation in Africa

The 2016 Yorkshire African Studies Network (YASN) Conference is scheduled for Friday 18th November 2016 at the University of Bradford and is supported by JEFCAS.

The conference aims to subject to scrutiny the realms of criminal justice, social justice and reconciliation in Africa. This is not envisaged as a narrow field; the conference is designed to include all elements of international criminal justice, truth and reconciliation commissions, localized notions of retributive, restorative and re-distributive justice, and ideas of social justice linked to themes as broad as poverty, gender, land and societal cleavages. The conference, however, aims also to interrogate the notion of ‘transition’. Often applied to societies deemed in need of change, the important questions of what is envisaged and what actually happens are accompanied by an even more fundamental uncertainty as to whether ‘transition’ is indeed an appropriate term for these processes.

Guest speaker: Dr Phil Clark (SOAS)

We welcome applications from PhD students, researchers and academics focusing on the above issues in any part of the African continent from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. Please submit 300-word abstracts for papers to be presented at the conference to Dr David Harris (d.harris7@bradford.ac.uk) by 30th September 2016. We will let you know as soon as possible after the deadline whether your paper proposal has been accepted.
This call for papers is open to all academics, researchers and postgraduate students whether they are based in Yorkshire or elsewhere.

Times and schedules will be confirmed in due course.

The Yorkshire Africa Studies Network is comprised of the Universities of Bradford, Durham, Hull, Leeds, Leeds Trinity, Sheffield and York. Find out more about YASN at http://lucas.leeds.ac.uk/yasn/.

 

University of Bradford – Mount Kenya University Capacity – Building Partnership

Professor David Francis visited the Mount Kenya University in Nairobi, and the University main campus in Thika between 27- 28 June, 2016, where he held meetings with the University Vice Chancellor Professor Stanley Wando and other Senior administrators on the prospect for capacity –building partnership with the University of Bradford.

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The envisioned partnership will support the development of curricula in context-relevant areas of Peace and Security studies starting with the Master of Science in Peace and Social Enterprise, an international conference on Peace and Security in Africa, as well as an International Journal of Peace and Social Enterprise.

MKU offers a variety of programmes in peace and security studies through its Institute of Security Studies, Justice and Ethics. University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies, which Professor Francis heads, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014. The two institutions have agreed to work together on Staff capacity training/mentorship and exchange programmes. “Lack of information on available opportunities has been a hindrance to African academics,” said Professor Waudo. “But this relationship opens a treasure trove of information. Our staff, for instance, will now have information on Commonwealth scholarships available.” Professor David is a Commissioner for the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

 

Joint Federal Government of Ethiopia – University of Bradford 50th Anniversary Africa Regional Conference, 23 – 24 June 2016

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the University of Bradford (UoB) held a two-day joint regional conference on Global Education for Peace in Africa to mark the 50th anniversary of the University of Bradford. The conference was held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 23rd and 24th June 2016. The Conference had three main objectives:

  • To bring together high-level continental agencies, strategic partners, political leaders, policy makers, practitioners, students and University of Bradford alumni to share ideas and develop a concrete programme of action on Global Education for Peace in Africa.
  • To strengthen the role of the University of Bradford in promoting global education for peace with particular reference to the African region.
  • To celebrate the University of Bradford’s 50th Anniversary with our International Partners and Alumni.

The official opening of the conference was performed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and a distinguished alumnus of the University of Bradford H.E. Dr Demeke Mekonnen. Speakers at the historic conference include:

  1. H.E. Dr Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia
  2. Professor Brian Cantor, Vice Chancellor, University of Bradford
  3. H.E. Ato Shiferaw Shigutie, Ethiopian Federal Minister of Education
  4. Dr Getachew Engida, UNESCO Deputy Director-General, Paris
  5. Dr Admasu Tsegaye, Addis Ababa University President, Ethiopia
  6. Professor Donna Lee. Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bradford
  7. Professor David Francis, Head, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford
  8. Dr Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Head Crisis Management and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Division, Peace and Security Department, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  9. Peter Hare, Peacekeeping English Project Adviser, British Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  10. Selamawit Alemayehu, Regional Programme Manager, Schools Programme, Sub-Saharan Africa, British Council, Nairobi, Kenya
  11. Prof Pamela Machakanja, Director, Institute for Peace, Leadership and Governance, Africa University, Mutare, Zimabawe
  12. Dr Arthur Bainomugisha, Executive Director, Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, Kampala, Uganda
  13. Professor Oshita O. Oshita, Director-General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Office of the Presidency, Abuja, Nigeria

The conference theme of peace and the regional focus on Africa are key areas of strength for the University of Bradford as a leading Technology University. 40 years ago, the University established the School of Peace Studies, which has emerged not only as a global brand but also the world’s largest academic centre of excellence for peace and conflict research. Its internationally recognised Africa Centre (the John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies [JEFCAS]) has established education-for-peace capacity-building programmes and institutes at 25 universities in 20 African countries.

The golden jubilee anniversary conference was divided into four plenary panels. The first three plenaries explored thematic issues on the global education for peace, the African context of peace education, the impact of the University of Bradford as a world-leading technology university on peace, education and economic development; the historical role of the African Union in peace-making on the continent, the contribution of UNECSO-Africa in education-for-peace, the impact of African universities in promoting Education-for-peace, the interface between the British Council’s schools programme in Sub-Saharan Africa and peace education, the flagship role of the federal government of Ethiopia in mainstreaming and institutionalising peace education into Ethiopian schools system, etc.

The last conference plenary was a University of Bradford’s Alumni special forum on the ‘Global Evidence of Making Knowledge Work.’ The panellists discussed in significant detail their academic experiences as post-graduate degree students at the University of Bradford and how they have applied the academic knowledge and skills acquired from Bradford in contributing to national and regional conflict intervention, security, peace-building and development. The various plenaries were followed by highly interactive and engaging question and answer sessions.

One of the key policy recommendations of stakeholders at this epochal golden jubilee anniversary conference was the need to mainstream peace education into the curricula of schools and other educational institutions on the continent using a regional framework. Uganda was chosen to host the first in the series of the follow-up conferences to develop modalities for this important regional peace education project. The Ugandan follow-up conference on Global Education for Peace in Africa (Phase 2) has been tentatively scheduled to take place in Kampala in October 2017.

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New article by Emma Jones on pragmatic peace and East African insecurity

Emma Jones is a Programme Assistant with Advocates Coalition of Development and Environment (ACODE). In this below piece she writes about the necessity of peace perspectives in framing security in East Africa, and presents a review of a recent 2-day conference in which JEFCAS was involved.

http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/675349-does-east-africa-appreciate-the-possibility-of-pragmatic-pea.html

From a Refugee Camp to Bradford University

[Eritrea's diaspora is one of the largest refugee communities in the world; in Israel (above protest) they are among many immigrants subject to draconian policy and detention]

Tesfalem H. Yemane is a current Peace Sutdies MA at the University of Bradford. Originally from Eritrea, he is a scholar at risk and refugee.

Tafaslem (1)Fear and uncertainty have been the biggest enemies of mine since I left my country in 2010. But now, I find myself sitting in the office of

Professor David J Francis, a man of overflowing and reassuring academic aura. After months of nail-biting wait, I am offered a place at the Division of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Going through the memories of the past five years of my life, I whispered, “I should be wary of resting on my laurels now.” For a person of my background, education and hard-work are the only gateways for countless opportunities. I should be grounded!

My life journey is that of many Eritrean youths’. At independence, the country was dubbed by many as the beacon of hope and renaissance in Africa. Its leadership, along with those of Uganda’s Museveni, Ethiopia’s Zenawi and Rwanda’s Kagame, was touted as the new breed in African leadership. In the heat of such euphoria and jubilations, we ostensibly boasted on turning the new nation into ‘the Singapore of Africa’. Those dreams have been shattered and we tuck Professor Gaim Kibreab’s book, ‘Eritrea: A Dream Deferred‘ under our pillows. The book explores the national euphoria at independence and the disappointing disjuncture that has resulted in a dystopian society thanks to the regime’s siege mentality.

In the aftermath of the devastating 1998-2000 Ethio-Eritrea war, the country has turned into a giant prison wherein forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and severe curtailment of freedom of expression and movement are the norm. There is zero tolerance to dissidence and any legal procedures have been a hard sell to the ‘democratic novices’, to borrow Professor Chandra L. Sriram’s phrase. Under the pretext of existential threat, from its favourite bogey, Ethiopia, the regime has employed a pervasive security apparatus that has virtually controlled every aspect of the citizens’ lives. Eritrea is a society under siege and the dream of making the country a major trading terminus in the strategic part of the Red Sea has been sorely deferred.

The leadership’s anti-intellectual culture has forced many bright minds into exile. The only university that operated with an internationally accredited academic standard was deliberately dismantled in 2006, and with it, the hope of nurturing a mass of critical thinkers in the Eritrean body politic poignantly gone. Accompanied by media concoctions, six sub-standard and militarized colleges were hastily grafted in different parts of the country. And in an invasive manner, parallel party and paramilitary structures were put in place to create a numbing duplication of tasks and tight control of the Eritrean youth.  

A state of a crumbling economy, indefinite military service and the lethargy of oppressive hopelessness have forced the youth to ‘vote with their feet’ and embark on the perilous journeys. It was in this context that I decided to vote with my feet in April 2010, never to set foot again. Because of the regime’s imprudent macroeconomic and impulsive diplomatic decisions, the state of the economy was very precarious in the 2000s. In fact, the brunt and wrinkles of the notorious coupon economy were so humiliating that I was excited to find out basic food commodities were in good supply when I first arrived in Sudan. I spent more than two months in the Hobbesian-like and desolate refugee camp in the periphery of eastern Sudan before I was smuggled to the capital.  

Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.
Khartoum, Sudan in 2011.

While in Sudan, I envied the relative freedom of expression presentin the East African country. I bore witness when many Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum, rattling, “The people of Sudan are hungry!” in April 2012. Having said this, however, I should be cautious of vindicating the authoritarian government in Khartoum. As oppressive as it is, Khartoum’s strong handedness pales in comparison with Asmara’s.

In Uganda, a country infamously known for its rampant corruption, I bore witness to people taking to the streets to demand their President heed to public concerns and corrupt officials be held accountable. I also noted many newspapers publicising information about corrupt officials, police officers and the government.

My time in China was an eye opening cultural and intellectual ride. Those late night discussions, debates and questions about the merits and demerits of a developmental state and state capitalism shaped my worldview. Those many discussions about the dialectics of Washington Consensus and Beijing Consensus were reconciled by the synthesis of Geneva Consensus during my memorable years in China.

The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.
The Bird’s Nest Stadium, Beijing, 2014.

However, there was a downside to such a pleasant experience in China-that I was a refugee in a student’s body. I had to struggle to conceal my story from many of my wonderful classmates; because I did not want to have a different identity. I lacked the emotional and intellectual maturity to come out and share my story and the story of my compatriots. And that was the most painful episode of my amazing time in China.

I also realized the mismatch between the China of Mao as emulated in Eritrea and the current China and its politico-economic policies. The Eritrean regime serenades in the past achievements of the armed struggle while China has moved away from Mao’s disastrous policies. And thanks to the Isaias Afewerki’s short politico-military training in China in the late 1960s, we sing the ‘Red’ song louder than the Chinese do. The Eritrean leadership still dances to Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’ rhetoric while the Chinese themselves have moved on and started reaping the rewards of Deng Xiaoping’s economic vision.

On Eritrea, I still remain positive that my country will have its Godsend Lee Kuan Yew sooner than later-a leader who rectifies the malaise the nation finds itself in and Professor Alex de Waal is convinced to backtrack his Museum of Modernism tag on the current state of affairs in the country.

 

Upcoming JEFCAS Seminar- NATO’s Tim Randall speaks on stabilization efforts in Mogadishu

This coming WednesdayNATO’s Stabilization Planner, Tim Randall, will be leading the December JEFCAS seminar his organization’s work in the Somali capital.

Read the abstract for the seminar here.

The seminar will take place Wednesday 2nd December, 4-6 pm, in Pemberton building room 2.11.

 

Rusty and Golden Radiators- the winners are in!

Last year we briefly featured the Rusty Radiator Awards. Now they back again for 2015! Basically put this organization takes nominations for the best (Golden Radiator) and worst (Rusty Radiator) of aid and charity campaign advertising, critiquing the harmful reproduction of stereotypes and the applauding the agency of “victims”. The runners-up also offer compelling examples of the “good” and “bad”.

Here is the Rusty Radiator winner (think harmful stereotypes).

And, the Golden Radiator winner.

With a runner-up from Burkina Faso,

The Politics of Diversification and Brand China: Alex Vines on the Challenges of African Econimcs

Since graduating from Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in 1995, George has  worked with with Oxfam, The Prince’s Trust and chaired Berneslai Homes, Barnsley’s Social Housing Group. His NGO and UK based charity experience have been used to teach/lecture in FE and HE programmes in London and  in Wakefield and Leeds Met University, in areas such as – Politics, International issues, war and conflict, Public Services, Business behaviour, Sport and global politics, and UK social issues. He  also works  with community groups in Barnsley as part of Barnsley Voluntary Acton supporting the growth of community charities, and social enterprises in South Yorkshire.

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Dr Alex Vines, at Chatham House

Understanding the Politics of Diversification was the central theme of Dr. Alex Vine’s seminar. It includes a shift from centralised state power as displayed by China (but not exclusive to China) in its relationship with Africa over the last two decades to a recognition that any of the emerging powers would benefit from accepting a new relationship model. This “detént” considers that African nations are more sovereign, African economic blocs are welcome, the role of Multinational Corporations (MNC’s) is  to be more equal as they front the extraction of resources in African states, (New African MNC’s emerging?  – Outside of South Africa!). Many of these have only single commodity revenue steam resources including,  Angolan Oil, Zimbabwean Diamonds, Zambian Copper and Mozambique’s ports.

Additionally “diversification” reflects the need for a level of state pluralism. The development of real and influential civil society groups, trade unions, women’s groups and students as well as the encouragement of genuine political liberalisation, a sort of “African Spring” if you may (without  the chaos- but never guaranteed),  reducing the power of African elites doing business with a self-serving state. Underpinning this new paradigm, also includes  the sustained role of the UN, BRICS, the AU and EU as power centres that seek influence, again reducing previously unequal and security threatening single state power relationships, as they advocate an “Africa First” approach to development. New sources of influence create genuine opportunities for debate and transparency in the development dilemma facing Africa today.

These efforts at “equalising” the future unilateral and multilateral relationships with African nations will be key to supporting future wealth distribution, creating a genuine middle class and ensuring taxation, value added economic growth, with new sources of taxation being raised and directed at development internally within African nations.

“The Politics of Diversification”, as Vines suggests is the new “real politic” in Global Politics, played out increasingly by an assertive and powerful China, as the lead “emerging nation” seeking to influence African development. China with its size and leverage leads the pack of emerging nations but as Vines cautions even it is now seeking to modify its position in the world. Downplaying its past as a nasty exploitative neo-colonial player on the African continent, extracting resources at any price to feed an insatiable Chinese economy.

But, as a now, “equal” partner aligning both unilaterally and multilaterally with African nations and global partners offering “real” development partnerships. Therefore improving and supporting the UN’s MDG’s and new Sustainable Development Goals for example, and offering a new focus on pluralism and diversification which actively seeks new partnerships in future African development. Precedents for these collaborations are now being set: Ebola brought many nations together to fight this disease and eradicate its threat to the East Africa region.

These other “partnerships” will seek to include a State that offers more than the same old, same old, of perpetuating elite power. In effect seeking out some level of political liberalisation or semi-democratic characteristics (but without descending into anarchy as we have seen in South Sudan and CAR lately). Including the managing of future MNC’s influence with a focus on taxation and development by these powerful actors.  Civil society influence, including trade unions and women’s groups all seeking to improve development and by proxy security with African states and in key regions also.

This diversification of “input” into future development then allows a more transparent and open process of engagement, with a less unequal focus and opportunities for wealth redistribution. Many African states possess huge amounts of raw material resources but lack the value added strategies on their own to improve wealth redistribution supporting an emerging middle class and in turn managing security within state’s and in regions. Stable countries attract investment, not unstable nations.

Dr. Vines considers that improved governance and transparency within China, or at least a well-publicised crackdown on corruption, and the re-embedding of values advocated by President Xi’s own vision as a “man of the people” has brought him absolute state and party power; this model may benefit African nations.

As China seeks better global relationships (downplaying its human rights record and considering that economic growth seems to be the only real game in town!) and also a recognition that global interdependency  is unavoidable. The latter is therefore much more beneficial than previous exploitative “African” relationships that will only encourage poor media coverage.  Even China cannot prohibit the influence of a social media revolution, where eventual lack of  cooperation with individual states who seek a more equal development  relationship is demanded

This position offers the concept of “brand China” and a new  “Panda” diplomacy in future summits within Africa. China has clearly recognised the West still wants a level playing field in Africa and China’s acquiescence to global standards is “expected” if it wants to play a real “tangible and responsible” part in future development.  This also could reduce the global security issues raised by mass migration, as fairer development  may reduce conflict and in turn help manage migration to Europe and even the emerging nations that have real and growing wealth may now become attractive destinations as the ending of migration is not a real possibility but a redistribution of numbers sought is.

The Politics of Diversification offer a new model where the traditional dominant central power relationship is now diffused and reflects the pluralism of a newly emerging civil society, private sector influence,  an entrepreneur class,  public sector infrastructure, and a confident civil society that offers a balance of power and a new appreciation of the weakness of concentrated power.

Africa’s new  security and development deal can only happen if  cooperation is genuine between actors and a manageable level of political liberalization supports this paradigm shift. Africa can be at the top table but needs to ensure its own house can manage security weaknesses and react quicker to such challenges, including peace building and enforcement, challenging those long term dictators and seek the rule of law as a mechanism and instrument of state building. Transparency and governance will take time, but emerging nations can support this positive narrative and fully benefit from relationships that previously have little colonial baggage and suspicion attached.

Further Reading:

Dr Alex Vines OBE biography, Chatham House

Vines, Africa Looks West Once Again, The World Today

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