|About Wars and Post-War Conflicts
There are currently fifteen African countries involved in war, or are experiencing post-war conflict and tension. In West Africa, the countries include Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo. In East Africa, the countries include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda. In Central Africa, the countries include Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda. In North Africa, the country is Algeria and in South Africa, the countries include Angola and Zimbabwe.
The Base of the Wars
At the base of these wars is the rich natural resources each of these poor countries hold of timber, oil or diamonds, compounded in many cases by the foreign extractive industries presence, their opaque, unreported payments to the governments and the governments' opaque, unreported use of the money to create and fund wars. The wars serve the purpose of creating a distraction, as the countries and their fleeing, displaced citizens are robbed of their countries' natural resources, easily converted to cash, for the personal use and fortunes of ruling parties. Tribal conflict is deliberately antagonized, so it can be blamed for the conflict. See Countries in Conflict News for up to the half hour country-specific news.
A necessary first step in the prevention of future atrocities, human rights abuses and mass waves of human displacement in Africa, it is imperative for multinational extractive industries to make public the net taxes, fees, royalties and other payments they make to the governments of the countries in which they have operations. Below are organizations working toward this end.
- The "Publish What You Pay"campain, a coalition of 170 non-governmental and civil society organizations, is a call for mandatory disclosure of payments to and transactions with governments by multinational natural resource companies, their subsidiaries and business partners.
- GlobalWitness.org: Co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, GlobalWitness.org works to emphasize the link between the exploitation of natural resources and the human rights abuses, particularly where timber, diamonds and oil are used to fund and perpetuate conflict and corruption.
Transparency International Official Web Site: Transparency International (TI), the only international non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption, brings civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition. In the international arena, TI raises awareness about the damaging effects of corruption, advocates policy reform, works towards the implementation of multilateral conventions and subsequently monitors compliance by governments, corporations and banks. Read TI's Corruption Perceptions Index 2003.
Partnership Africa Canada: Co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) is a coalition of Canadian and African NGOs working together on issues of human rights, human security and sustainable development. Visit their web site's Africa Issues section, under the topic of Natural Resources to understand how foreign extractive industry practices in Africa have been the source of horrific blood shed, human displacement and human rights abuses. Learn what is being done to curb the practices.
- Business-Human Rights.org
Monitor Africa's multinational extractive industries corporations by visiting the web site of the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, an independent organization in participation with Amnesty International Business Groups and leading academic institutions.
Black Market Gun Running in Africa
The abundant supply small arms, ammunition, light weapons and explosives circulating in some African states since the end of the cold war, has made easy the escalation of tensions between groups in disagreement. Bloody massacres and massive human displacement become quick problem solutions when black market gun running is rampant. Working to block the illicit brokering of small arms, ammunition, light weapons and explosives used in human rights abuses is:
- The Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers. NISAT combines the resources and networks of its partner organizations to help block the spread of small arms to areas where they are likely to be used in warfare, armed violence or human rights abuses.
The NISAT web site is an important one. Search the Small Arms Databases for country profiles, black market archives and publications. Read their Small Arms News from West Africa archive, learn about the West African Arms Moratorium, and about the inner-workings illicit arms brokering to learn how to control illicit arms transfers. Download the full text of their publication on arms brokers, illegal arms deals and recommendations for governments to control these middlemen.
Other Africa Peace Efforts
Additional groups working in different ways to bring peace to Africa are the following:
- Special Initiative for Africa: "African Solutions for Africa" is a report from the Ford Foundation on its Special Initiative for Africa (SIA). To help overcome obstacles to sustainable peace, the Ford Foundation two years ago set up the Special Initiative for Africa. It is dedicated to finding African solutions to three regional challenges: peace and conflict, citizenship and identity, and economic integration. As a result, about 50 African organizations and institutions are now working together to strengthen the enforcement of regional policies and treaties and to establish a place for marginalized voices in this work. The Special Initiative will document and disseminate successful African approaches to small arms control, peace negotiations, immigration barriers and regional trade.
- African Center for Peace and Education. The African Centre for Peace Education (ACPET) is dedicated to developing a comparative curriculum that will encourage a preventive policy, taking into account socio-political, economic, cultural and technological issues. By doing so, they can mobilize all available human and material resources for ensuring a purposeful and peaceful corporate existence and pressurize their government to reduce arms and defence expenditures, re-allocate financial resources for science and technology, as well as education in general.