By Tom Hart, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Tom Hart is the U.S. Executive Director of The ONE Campaign. The views expressed are his own.
The annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York isn’t usually the place where the bosses of big business are made to shift uncomfortably in their seats. But ONE campaign co-founder Bono seemed to do exactly that at the CGI’s opening session last week when he took on Big Oil for its opposition to more transparent deals with developing countries.
Here is the issue. Africa is a rich continent – rich in minerals, oil, and gas. Right now, big companies pay big money to countries in Africa to extract these resources – and yet so many Africans live in extreme poverty because the money goes missing. This phenomenon is so common that it has a name – the “resource curse.” But the curse is not the resources, it’s the corruption.
That is why we are backing a global initiative to compel companies to publish what they pay to governments for these resources, forcing any corruption into the daylight. When the public can see what’s being paid, they can hold their leaders accountable for how the money is used.
By Robert P. George, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Robert P. George is the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The views expressed are his own.
As Nigeria considers its future following this week’s celebration of its 53rd anniversary of independence, its leaders must confront a real and perhaps growing threat to the nation’s stability – Boko Haram. The radical Islamist group, whose name literally means “western education is a sin,” regards Nigeria’s federal and northern state governments, as well as the country’s political and religious elites, as morally corrupt. It rejects the West and secular democracy and seeks to implement its “pure” version of Shariah law. But overcoming the Boko Haram challenge will take more than a military response – it also requires an approach that addresses Nigeria’s tolerance of long-running sectarian violence, protects religious freedom and enforces rule of law.
For the past two years, Boko Haram has been the primary perpetrator of religious-related violence and gross religious freedom violations in Nigeria. In August of this year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which I chair, issued a report highlighting the recent toll of Boko Haram’s targeted assaults on religious institutions and leaders. The numbers are troubling.
By President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is the president of Somalia. The views expressed are his own.
The deadly attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi has reminded the world that terrorists don’t respect national borders, and people everywhere have a stake in stability and security in East Africa.
As my government marks its one-year anniversary as Somalia’s first democratically-elected administration in more than 20 years, we have made considerable progress, including driving the terrorist al-Shabaab network out of our capital, Mogadishu, and major cities and towns all around the country, as well as reforming our public financial management systems.
But the terrible assault in Nairobi underscores why the international community must continue to support state-building in Somalia. This is the message that I am bringing during my visit to the United States, including meetings with senior administration officials and members of Congress, as well as an address to the United Nations General Assembly.
In many important ways, our nation is pulling itself together after two decades of civil war. With the assistance of the African Union’s brave peacekeeping troops, we have weakened al-Shabaab while making great strides toward resolving inter-clan disputes and sharply reducing offshore piracy.
By Tom Goldstone, CNN
Editor's Note: Tom Goldstone is the executive producer of Fareed Zakaria GPS. This article originally appeared in September 2011. The views expressed are his own.
As America looked inward in the days, weeks and months after September 11, 2001, others around the world made extraordinary gestures toward the United States. We were all so focused on ourselves – understandably so – that many probably missed the fact that Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami condemned the attacks, that Ireland and Israel held full national days of mourning, that the Afghan Taliban told “American children [that] Afghanistan feels your pain”.
You are even less likely to have heard what could be one of the most touching reactions of all. This is the story of how a destitute Kenyan boy turned Stanford student rallied his Masai tribe to offer its most precious gift to America in its time of need. FULL POST
By Zama Coursen-Neff, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Zama Coursen-Neff is the executive director of Human Rights Watch’s children’s rights division. You can follow her at @ZamaHRW. The views expressed are her own.
“I thought I was dead,” Adam K. said, describing a mining accident the previous year, when he was 16 years-old. Adam, who started mining at age 12, was digging a horizontal mining shaft, deep in the ground. The tunnel collapsed in front of him, burying and killing two of his friends. “I was so scared,” he told me, “I just cried and despaired.”
But the accident didn’t stop Adam from mining. Having failed the exam at the end of primary school, which barred him from continuing his education, Adam had journeyed from one small-scale mine to another, seeking work where he could find it. When I met him in northwestern Tanzania, just south of Lake Victoria, he was working the night shift – 7p.m. to 7a.m. – digging another deep pit from the area’s red earth, using a pickaxe, shovel, and hammer. In return, he was paid with bags of rocks, which, if he was lucky, would contain traces of gold.
Thousands of children like Adam work in Tanzania’s small-scale gold mines, some as young as 8. (Small-scale mines are also called “artisanal,” although the work is a far cry from the elevated craftsmanship that word implies.) Following more than 200 interviews and other research over the last year, Human Rights Watch has found that children risk serious injury and even death from the work.
By Orji Uzor Kalu, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Orji Uzor Kalu is a former two-term governor of Nigeria’s Abia State and Chairman of SLOK Holdings. The views expressed are his own.
A deadly attack on a mosque in Konduga this week is a reminder of how Nigeria’s bright future is under threat from destabilizing conflict. News of the attack, which claimed dozens of lives and that many believe is the work of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is just the latest in a string of troubling incidents that the government seems unable to come to grips with. In June, at least 30 people were reportedly killed in an attack on a school, an incident that came soon after a state of emergency was called in three states. This worrying surge in animosity, fuelled by sectarian violence, has left many Nigerians wondering if the government can regain control.
Sadly, our leaders look incapable of rising to the occasion. Nigeria is being crippled by political infighting, creating tensions that too often lead to unhelpful and even damaging rhetoric. Political immaturity, and our failure to address differences amongst our diverse communities, is hurting the nation’s reputation in the international community, and is undoubtedly deterring future investment.
This immaturity was on display last month, when police issued an arrest warrant for lawmaker Chidi Lloyd. His alleged crime? Attacking another lawmaker during a free-for-all in the chambers of the Assembly. Regardless of the rationale, we should be united in our condemnation of such events, and demand that our politicians show greater respect for the rule of law.
By Inesha Premaratne
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been officially named the winner of elections held Wednesday. GPS Intern Inesha Premaratne speaks with John Campbell, senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former ambassador to Nigeria, for his take on the results and what they mean for Zimbabwe.
Can you give us some background on the election? Who were the major players? Why is this race so important to Zimbabwe right now?
The two leading candidates were Robert Mugabe who led the liberation struggle that resulted in Zimbabwe’s independence, and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition MDC and premier in the just-concluded government of national unity. Mugabe’s political party is the Zimbabwe African National Union- Public Front (ZANU-PF). Most Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF supporters are African peasants living in the countryside who have been the beneficiaries of his land redistribution policies. There’s also an important ethnic component here as the largest ethnic group in the country, the Shona, supports him. On the other hand, Tsvangirai’s party tends to be more urban and more concerned with the rule of law.
The rivalry between the two candidates is also intensely personal. In the last elections in 2008, Tsvangirai probably won the most votes but Mugabe controlled the security services. The result was widespread bloodshed and the intervention by other countries in the region, particularly by South Africa. They imposed a power sharing agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai that ended the violence and lasted up until this week’s elections.
Mugabe has been in power for 33 years. Would it be fair to think of him as the classic “African strong man”?
Not necessarily. First of all, he’s 89 years-old and he goes to Singapore for medical treatment all the time. The policy community is in fact divided on the question of whether Mugabe himself is actually running things or whether he is essentially a front for the security services and the army. Some fear that it’s actually a fairly shadowy group of generals and senior police who are running the country – not through institutionalized military rule, but rather as individuals who have often enriched themselves through access to diamonds and seized formerly white-owned farmland. So we can’t take as a given that Mugabe is a traditional African strong man.
By Michael Shank, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Shank is director of foreign Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, an advocacy group based in Washington, DC. The views expressed are his own.
Last weekend, in response to a deadly attack on the Turkish embassy in Somalia that killed three and wounded nine, the U.S. government responded by saying that, “this cowardly act will not shake our commitment to continue working for the brighter, more democratic and prosperous future the people of Somalia deserve.”
The statement followed not one bombing in Somalia, but two. This past Saturday’s bombing was the second in under a week; a few days prior, a bomb blew up in a lawmaker’s car, killing one.
But while such a positive American response is assuredly better than The Economist’s this summer, which described Somalia as “a byword for conflict, poverty and ungovernability,” it is still riddled with problems. Indeed, ironically, it is exactly this kind of U.S. government-issued statement that fuels the sort of resentment that ultimately leads to more bombings. The U.S. State Department, and the Defense Department for that matter, have never been in the business of working effectively for a brighter, more democratic and prosperous future for the people of Somalia. Their legacy heralds quite the opposite, in fact.
By Samba Sow, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Samba Sow is director general of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali, a collaborative enterprise between the Ministry of Health and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is also a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The views expressed are his own.
Power outages. Strikes. Security concerns. Equipment shortages. Rumors. These are the routine challenges of conducting scientific research in the developing world. And while researchers are used to working with these challenges, these difficulties are compounded when political instability is added to the equation.
In the past year, my colleagues at Center for Vaccine Development Mali and I have faced immeasurable challenges in keeping research efforts going while an insurgency threatened the capital city of Bamako, where our research center is located. We strive to train Malian health workers and scientists to conduct world-class research through clinical trials and other studies aimed at better designing life-saving interventions, such as new vaccines.
But leading our already complex research projects became even more difficult after the coup in March 2012. A curfew mandated that all activity occur between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Looting forced petrol stations to close, limiting car travel and transport of supplies. Sporadic gunfire kept most Malians indoors. My family was outside the country when the conflict began, and could not return home, nor could I visit them. Each day brought uncertainty and new dangers, and it was difficult to secure even the most basic supplies, such as kerosene.
By Gerry Simpson, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Gerry Simpson is Human Rights Watch’s senior refugee researcher and advocate. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Your government forces you into its army, whose conscripts spend years or decades on starvation wages in barracks and construction sites policed by corrupt and abusive superiors. You escape, creeping at night past border guards with shoot-to-kill orders. You reach a neglected refugee camp in a remote desert region of a neighboring country.
You are kidnapped and sold to traffickers in another country. They brutally torture you to extort thousands of dollars from your relatives, forced to hear your screams on a cell phone. You are released and evade more trigger-happy border guards to cross into another country, where soldiers take you to prison. You ask for asylum but it takes months to register your claim. And then a prison official says, “Write here that you want to go home and sign, or this prison is your new home.”
You wake up.
But for the 1,400 Eritrean asylum seekers detained in Israel’s Negev desert who could tell this story, this is no dream. They are living the nightmare. Having fled Eritrea for Sudan’s refugee camps, most will have faced months of torture and abuse by traffickers in Sudan and Egypt’s Sinai region, and now face a grim “choice” between prolonged detention in Israel or return to Eritrea. Israel calls it the “procedure for documenting the free will of infiltrators.”
By Caelin Briggs, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Caelin Briggs is an advocate at Refugees International. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Two years ago today, South Sudan gained independence from Khartoum, becoming in the process the world’s youngest country. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which today is South Sudan’s national army, was then just a group of rebels, fighting in the mountains and deserts for sovereignty for their people. But this independence day, many South Sudanese aren’t cheering the SPLA – they are running from it.
Reports of abuses by government soldiers in Jonglei State have streamed in during recent weeks, adding to a long list of major human rights violations since 2011. The time has come for South Sudan’s foreign backers to force major changes to the nation’s military. If they do not, then the SPLA could destroy the very country it helped create.
A month ago, I traveled with my colleagues from Refugees International to Jonglei State and met with some of those who had just fled their homes after SPLA attacks. Between January and June of this year, soldiers allegedly burned down hundreds of homes, looted and destroyed property belonging to Medicines Sans Frontieres and other aid groups, displacing tens of thousands of people across the state.
By Zeenat Rahman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Zeenat Rahman serves as Special Adviser to the U.S Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues. You can follow her @zeenat. The views expressed are her own.
President Barack Obama’s just-concluded trip to Africa was focused on some of the issues you might expect from any presidential trip overseas: strengthening democracy, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security. But with Africa’s emergence as a growing economic power, the president employed a strategy on his visits to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa that also seemed to recognize something that sets Africa policy apart – the need to engage with young leaders.
It is essential that we connect with – and invest in – the next generation of African leaders, and here’s why: on a continent of 1 billion people, more than 60 percent are under the age of 35. By 2050, one-quarter of the world’s workforce will reside in Africa. And six of the top ten fastest growing economies over the last decade are based in Africa. To remain competitive in the global marketplace, America needs to establish partnerships with African countries and Africa’s rising young leaders who are helping to fuel the growth of these economies.