Category Archives: Africa

Dictator on Trial: Gbagbo at the ICC

It’s official: Laurent Gbagbo is the first head of state to be sent to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. He is currently being charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and rape — the allegedly systematic attacks committed in the four months after Gbagbo refused to admit defeat to his long-time rival, Alassane Outtara, in the Ivory Coast’s 2010 elections. But the story is far more complex than just that. Continue reading

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What Do Elections Mean for the DRC?

When, in 2006, Joseph Kabila became the first democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many Congolese and international observers felt assured that stability had finally come to the country. During the previous decade, Congo had been marred by widespread violence, including the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II — a conflict involving three Congolese rebel movements, 14 foreign armed groups, and countless militias; killed over 3.3 million Congolese; and destabilized most of central Africa. But, to put it simply, stability did not come to the country. Since 2006, clashes have killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of fighters and civilians and forced half a million people to relocate. Congo is now the stage for the largest humanitarian disaster in the world — far larger than the crisis in Sudan.

So what will the current elections mean for stability in the DRC? Could new leadership usher in a new era of tranquility and peace? Or could a second term for Kabila do the trick? Continue reading

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How Much Did the Arab Spring Cost?

$55 billion dollars, according to a new report released by consulting group Geopolicity. The report reveals that Egypt, Syria, and Libya were hit the hardest financially by the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. So what do these astronomical prices mean for the region now? Continue reading

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The Nobel Peace Prize, A Tool of Western Politics?

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Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last Friday in recognition of her work promoting the rights and safety of women. Sirleaf, standing as the first woman president to be democratically elected in Africa, took office in 2005 following a 14-year civil war. The Washington Post credits Sirleaf with alleviating 5 billion dollars of international debt, improving access to education and healthcare, and fostering peace within a wounded political environment. Continue reading

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How do we think about famine in Somalia?

Today,the International Red Cross began an enormous distribution of aide to one million people in famine zones in Somalia — the country with the highest malnutrition level in the world. The Red Cross is targeting areas controlled by Islamic militants; but will this kind of aide distribution be the solution to the 30,000 (and growing) people dying each day of famine?

Yes, al-Shabaab (Somalia’s largest Islamist militant group, which is currently fighting to overthrow the current transitional federal government) has been blocking foreign aide and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Yes, it theoretically makes sense to give food directly to those areas most affected by such a group. However, the notion that Red Cross aide and other foreign aide continue to propagate is that throwing money at the problem will somehow fix it. Continue reading

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“Dr. Death” Faces Charges in South Africa

Who is “Dr. Death?” Walter Basson, as he is less commonly known, is a South African cardiologist who earned his nickname as the head of the country’s secret project, Project Coast. A tool of biological and chemical warfare, Project Coast was conducted during the nation’s era of apartheid, a period of legal segregation enforced by the National Party government from 1948 to 1994. After having been suspended from his military post with full pay in 1999, Basson was acquitted in 2002 of 67 criminal charges. Now, however, he faces further charges, bringing new implications for those still seeking resolution in the wake of apartheid. Continue reading

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How Do You Understand the Congo War?

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The statistics wash over us: “Over five million people have died [due to the wars taking place in the Congo since 1996]” (Stearns 327); “Over 200,000 women have been raped in eastern Congo since 1998” (Stearns 263); “[In conflict areas throughout the Congo] a full 60 percent of all children died before their fifth birthday” (Stearns 250). Continue reading

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