Tag Archives: Uganda

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Una legge democratica e religiosa. Come quella ugandese contro gli omosessuali.

A prima vista potrebbe sembrare un discorso imperialista o neocolonialista, ma la posta in gioco rimane troppo alta: non è possibile che una nazione democratica si faccia promotrice di morte e sofferenza. Si deve agire subito.

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[dropcap]N[/dropcap]el 2009 l’Uganda ha avanzato una proposta di legge contro gli omosessuali, il cosiddetto “Kill the Gays bill”. Il testo comprende due disposizioni che, in pratica, equiparano l’omosessualità all’omicidio, punendo con l’ergastolo coppie gay e trasgressori incensurati. È invece prevista la pena di morte per criminali recidivi, ovvero sieropositivi, figure autorevoli (genitori inclusi) e pedofili, ossia tutti coloro che intrattengano rapporti con minori di 18 anni. Si configura anche il reato di omessa denuncia, punito con una multa e fino a tre anni di detenzione.

Il progetto di legge, condannato dall’opinione pubblica internazionale, si è arenato varie volte all’interno del parlamento ugandese. Le pressioni politiche occidentali furono inizialmente inefficaci, ma a fine 2009 il testo venne smussato, eliminando la pena di morte. Per due anni, a partire dal marzo 2010, la bozza non è stata più discussa, nonostante un tentativo fallimentare avvenuto quell’agosto; adesso è tornata alla ribalta.

Perché insistere su questa legge? Perché “sono gli ugandesi a chiederla”.

A questo proposito, i mass media hanno sempre usato le virgolette, come se riportassero un’affermazione fasulla, da prendere con le pinze o a cui non credere affatto: cosa che invece viene smentita dai numeri. In teoria, se democrazia significa ascoltare le maggioranze, questa legge dovrebbe essere approvata.

Infatti, il 96% degli ugandesi vorrebbe bandire l’omosessualità. Il massiccio supporto popolare a favore di tale misura rispecchia un trend comune a tutta l’area sub-sahariana (escluso il Sudafrica, relativamente liberale): in questa zona, lo stato meno sfavorevole all’omosessualità è la Costa d’Avorio, che registra una percentuale dell’89% tra i contrari. Non che la situazione cambi molto in un contesto più esteso: in Medio Oriente lo Stato più tollerante è quello di Israele, in cui però solo un terzo della popolazione si dichiara aperta nei confronti dell’omosessualità; questa percentuale cala drasticamente in Egitto, fino a scendere all’1%. Il quadro è decisamente migliore in Europa occidentale, ma peggiora gradualmente procedendo verso est: nel sud-est asiatico l’unica eccezione che prevede una maggioranza “a favore” del riconoscimento degli omosessuali è costituita dal Giappone. Nel continente americano, sebbene via sia un orientamento progressista in materia, gli Stati Uniti dimostrano un’intolleranza che non ha eguali nel mondo occidentale.

Omofobia non è la parola giusta per descrivere comportamenti dettati, più che dalla paura, dall’odio, e l’ostilità statunitense attecchisce notevolmente a livello globale. Con i loro sermoni carichi di intolleranza, certi pastori ultraconservatori americani trovano molto seguito in Africa, dove le popolazioni locali sono indotte a temere un presunto contagio omosessuale tra i bambini, che dissemini sia il virus dell’HIV, sia pericolosi pensieri omosessuali. In aggiunta, numerose organizzazioni statunitensi, supportate da predicatori religiosi e corporations internazionali, sono preposte alla diffusione di programmi anti-abortisti ed anti-omosessuali.

Tuttavia, l’intolleranza statunitense non ha bisogno di essere emulata o esportata: piuttosto, questi predicatori ne capitalizzano la versione autoctona, basandosi sulle severe prescrizioni religiose delle vecchie società coloniali, e sul persistere di superstizioni ancora più antiche – che stigmatizzano, ad esempio, l’omosessualità e l’albinismo.

La mancanza d’istruzione ha fatto il resto: i principi sacri delle popolazioni colonizzate hanno finito per diventare ancora più ferrei di quelli dei colonizzatori. Al grido di “conversione o morte”, la cristianizzazione forzata determinò spesso massacri sanguinosissimi, al confronto dei quali appaiono poca cosa le guerre religiose combattute in Europa.  Queste ultime si originavano da questioni interpretative che volevano risalire a principi, stabiliti da Cristo, che regolamentassero società sorte molti secoli dopo la sua nascita – nonostante fosse scritto nei Vangeli che il mondo non sarebbe durato più di un altro secolo (Matteo  16:28, 23:36, 24:34, 26:64, Marco  9:1, 13:30, Luca 9:27, 21:32).

Nel corso della storia, i califfati islamici arabi e gli imperi cristiani adottarono e propugnarono una serie di pratiche sessuofobiche. Inoltre, nei libri della tradizione giudaico-cristiana sono annoverate molte norme in materia di rapporti e pensieri sessuali, talmente paranoiche e restrittive da risultare bizzarre. Nelle ex colonie, tali regole hanno continuato ad avere peso anche dopo che i Paesi industrializzati le hanno dismesse. Quando le popolazioni occidentali hanno iniziato a svincolarsi dai dettami della Chiesa, declassata a mero fattore di identità culturale, anche l’odio per l’omosessualità ha iniziato a svanire. Secondo una stima Gallup, gli Stati più aperti nei confronti dell’omosessualità sono anche quelli che, rifiutando una morale dettata dalla religione, mettono istruzione e libertà di pensiero al primo posto della propria scala di valori.

Così non è per l’Uganda, dove un’applicazione letterale del principio di democrazia tutelerebbe le leggi che mettono al bando l’omosessualità, fino a punirla in qualche caso con la morte. Gli ugandesi lo vogliono, così come la loro religione: di conseguenza, questa legge dovrebbe essere approvata in quanto ritenuta democratica? La risposta è negativa.

Una tale posizione potrebbe apparire imperialista o neocolonialista, ma la posta in gioco rimane troppo alta: non è possibile che una nazione democratica si faccia promotrice di morte e sofferenza. La tutela dei valori di libertà (di espressione, identità, sicurezza) rimane prioritaria rispetto al diritto delle maggioranze all’oppressione legale: un ordinamento democratico, da solo, non basta a rendere civile una società. La difesa dei suddetti valori non riguarda esclusivamente le sinistre, come vorrebbe un’opinione diffusa in Occidente: essi sono i principi fondanti delle stesse società occidentali. Pertanto, una demagogia intollerante, fondata su principi sacri, attecchisce particolarmente laddove l’istituzione della democrazia sia recente, e la morale completamente subordinata alla religione. Ingiustizie come quella ugandese devono essere stroncate sul nascere, per tutelare chi si macchi dell’unica colpa di amare in maniera diversa. Il diritto all’oppressione democratica ha già detto abbastanza: per contrastarlo, si deve agire subito.

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Articolo tradotto da: Antonella Di Marzio

Articolo originale: Uganda’s ‘Kill The Gays’ Bill? It’s Democratic. And It’s Religious.

Photo credit: Todd Huffman

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Uganda’s ‘Kill The Gays’ Bill? It’s Democratic. And It’s Religious.

Some may call it neo-colonialism, some may call it imperialism, but when the stakes are this high democracy based on ignorance and hatred cannot simply be allowed to plow on towards death and suffering. Action must be taken now.

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In 2009 Uganda proposed the “Kill the Gays” bill, or anti-homosexuality bill. In this bill two provisions are set out which essentially equate homosexual acts to the same level as murder. Single offenders or those in same-sex relationships are faced with a sentence of life imprisonment. Those considered serial offenders – those who are HIV-positive, paedophiles (in Uganda under-18) or authority figures (including parents) – will face the death penalty. Those who knew of any offenders and did not report it would face a fine and up to three years in prison.

The bill, in the face of widespread international condemnation, has bounced back and forth in status in the Ugandan parliament. By the end of 2009 the bill had been softened to drop the death penalty though claims of western pressure were rejected, and by May 2010 it had been shelved. An attempt that August to revive it was defeated, however two years later it is back.

Why? Because ‘Ugandans are demanding it’.

This use of quotation marks seems to have been used in every use of the phrase in media treatment of this story, as if it is not credible, to be taken with a pinch of salt or not to be taken seriously at all. This simply is not the case, and in the purest concept of democracy as rule according to the values and interests of the majority this bill should pass.

96% of Ugandans believe that homosexuality should be rejected from society. Not only is this overwhelming support for the suppression and punishment of homosexuality in Uganda practically beyond question, it is completely in line with the attitudes of the region in general. Outside relatively liberal South Africa the closest a sub-Saharan state comes to supporting homosexuality is the “small” proportion of rejection in the Ivory Coast: 89%.Neither is this a concept restricted to sub-Saharan Africa. Israel is the state most likely to support homosexuality as part of society in the Middle East, yet even here only a third of the population defend it. In Egypt only 1% do. Although Western Europe is overwhelmingly supportive, the further East you go the more this position struggles. In East and South Asia only Japan shows such support. Although the Americas are generally supportive the United States stick out among their neighbours with a rejection unique in what is understood as the “West”.

In fact, the hatred of homosexuality (I refuse to use the term homophobia, “fear” is not the correct term) of the United States is very much part of its influence worldwide. Many publications have chased the influence of ultra-conservative US preachers to Africa, highlighting their influence in hate-filled sermons to fire up local populations against the imagined threat of homosexuals in their drive to infect their children with homosexual thoughts and HIV. Entire US organisations are dedicated to spreading anti-homosexual and anti-abortion agendas worldwide through religious preachers and pressure of, and through, international corporations.

However these preachers are not “exporting” this hatred, no matter what some publications may claim. Instead they are capitalising on an ignorance and hatred which is already present in these regions, one which is created by a combination of a history of superstitious practices vilifying such differences as homosexuality and albinism and colonial rule which enforced strict religious rules.

These rules, enforced by the religious practices of Christian European Empires or the Islamic Arab Caliphates, are obsessed with sex. There is no set of moral rules more obsessed and paranoid about sexual relations and even thoughts than the bizarre declarations of the Judeo-Christian holy books. The effect of the massacres of the American and African populations who would not convert to Christianity dwarfed the religious wars which rocked Europe. Wars fought over different interpretations of how Jesus might have imagined society centuries beyond his birth despite predicting the world wouldn’t last past the first century. (Matthew 16:28, 23:36, 24:34, 26:64, Mark 9:1, 13:30, Luke 9:27, 21:32)

The influence of these extreme conversions or death was to create local populations even more dedicated to the iron rules of holy books than their conquerors. Magnified by the lack of education they benefited from these rules of ignorance and superstition remained even as developed states began to turn their backs upon them. As the West cast aside these foul rules and its populations began to reject the Church in all things but identity so too did the ignorant hatred of homosexuality fade. According to Gallup polling, those states who accept homosexuality as part of society are overwhelmingly those who also reject religion as the fundamental basis of morality, those which place education and freedom of expression and ideas first and foremost.

Uganda, by democratic remit, should enforce the law which bans homosexuality and sends many homosexuals to their deaths. It is what the Ugandan population wants and it is what is demanded by their religion. Should they be allowed to do so because such a measure is democratic? No.

Some may call it neo-colonialism, some may call it imperialism, but when the stakes are this high democracy based on ignorance and hatred cannot simply be allowed to plow on towards death and suffering. Socially liberal values, however they may be despised as left-wing by much of the West, are the fundamental values of western society. Freedoms of expression, identity and from persecution and death are far more important than the decratic right of majorities to oppress those they dislike as they see fit. The persecution of homosexuals across the world is evidence that democracy alone is not enough to produce a civil society. Corruption of morals and ideas by religion and intolerant demagogues are all too common in those societies where democracy is new and where absolute moral deference to authority demanded by religion is widespread. Everything must be done to prevent these injustices and save those who’s only crime was to be born and feel love in a way their neighbours do not understand. Enough with democratic right to oppress, action is needed now.

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Photo credit: Todd Huffman

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Corruption & Justice Reform In Uganda

There is little to no effort to educate the Ugandan people about their constitutional rights and what is contained in the many good laws that have been enacted by parliament. The end result is that many people continue to suffer silently.

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government led by President Yoweri Museveni took power in Uganda, significant inroads have been made in putting the country on a constitutional path. It is imperative therefore to examine how the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) - a sector wide approach that brings together 17 institutions responsible for administering justice, maintaining law and order and promoting the observance of human rights - has performed in the last 10 years.

Following the 5 year war and the accession of the NRM to power in 1986, the revolutionary body immediately suspended the existing constitution as is the case in most revolutions, and, among other things, vested the National Resistance Council (NRC) with the supreme authority of the government and the legislative powers of Parliament.

Legal Notice No. 1 – the document that established the legality of the NRM government - stipulated what kind of leadership the NRM wanted to implement. Since constitutionalism was one of the grievances that led Museveni and his fighters to the bush to wage a protracted war against what was perceived to be a dictatorial government led by the late President Milton Obote, it was planned that the country would employ a national constitution where the views of the people would be considered.

And in 1995 Ugandans came up with this constitution which effectively ended the operation of the NRM Legal Notice I. By any standards the 1995 constitution, which was promulgated after country wide consultations and fierce debate in the Constituent Assembly, was a good document. It provided for fundamental human rights, the separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature and the executive and more significantly provided for presidential term limits.

Once the constitution was in place, the government, through parliament, went ahead to enact many good laws to fight corruption, ensure public accountability and transparency, protect the environment and natural resources, ensure public order, security of persons and property and uphold the rule of law generally.

More still, the 10 ten last years have seen government implement two Strategic Investment Plans (SIP) and it’s now rolling out SIP III for the next five years 2012/13-2017, to ensure the rule of law and justice for all Ugandans irrespective of their gender, age and social status.

New innovations, some of which have won international awards, have been brought on board such as the Chain Linked Initiative to fast track justice, and community policing to prevent crime. On the whole it can be argued that great strides have been made in the realization of the rule of law and administration of justice. This is evidenced through the creation of specialised divisions of the High Court, including commercial, land, family, criminal, anti-corruption and others.

While the justice sector remains under-funded, the number of magistrates and judges on the bench has more than doubled and judicial facilities have been renovated and new ones constructed. But although government has made tremendous effort in ensuring a functioning and fair justice system in the country, there many inherent weakness and in some cases outright violations of the spirit of our national constitution: some of the subsidiary laws enacted have tended to take away some of the rights protected under the constitution .

The constitution itself has since been amended to remove term limits a decision that has been widely criticized. Since 1999 the Constitution has been amended 48 times setting a new record. Although, among other amendments to the constitution, was the establishment of a multi-party democracy. But on many occasions the presidential and local elections held under the pluralism system have been disputed for alleged lack of democratic political space, violence and voter bribery.

The government also seems weak in implementation of the many laws that have been enacted and once it has come out to apply the law it has been in many cases selectively done so.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG) report produced together with the Economic Policy Research Center of Makerere University in 2010 noted the poor implementation of laws that are supposed to ensure justice for all. It was reported that Uganda had almost 90% weak implementation of laws, especially anti-corruption legislation. There’s also poor facilitation of agencies that are supposed to provide justice and law. The police is poorly facilitated thus being ranked as one of the most corrupt institutions. In the process justice is defeated and hence denied.

The judiciary too has lamented over poor pay. The Chief Justice recently advocated an increase in the salary of judicial officers. This has affected the justice system in the country.

Last year the IGG’s report mentioned the judiciary as one of those agencies that have been hit by corruption. With poor pay of judicial officers corruption related cases have been reported against some judicial officers and yet they are supposed to be custodians of our laws. Justice cannot be delivered where the judiciary is perforated with corruption.

The IGG office was established to ensure accountability among public officials and fight the corruption vice. But the office started off on the wrong premise as it was placed under the President’s Office hence its independence was questioned. It is now a constitutional office. The Leadership Code is among the tools the IGG is meant to enforce against public servants so that none has ill gotten wealth.

It is still an uphill task to implement. Article 235A of the Constitution establishes the Leadership Code Tribunal to handle cases involving politicians that violate the Code, however 7 years later it has not been constituted. The Office of the Auditor General is now independently able to regulate its funds and recruit staff in order to monitor government expenditure. The office is still thin on the ground.

Proposals to amend the Constitution to deny the right of bail have gone a long away in threatening the justice doctrine enshrined in our constitution that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilt. Further still, there is little or no effort at all to educate the Ugandan people about their constitutional rights and what is contained in the many good laws that have been enacted by parliament. The end result is that many people continue to suffer silently.

Implementation of the enacted laws should be adhered to otherwise they cease to address the purpose for which they were enacted and end up being rendered redundant. Performance contracts should strictly be implemented and adequate funding towards JLOS institutions and their over site agencies should be revised upwards. Justice must be seen to be done.

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Kony & Justice: A View From Uganda

There is no option but for the UPDF to continue their pursuit of LRA until Kony and all his commanders are captured and have them answer charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC.

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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter all the mayhem visited upon the people of northern Uganda by the notorious Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army (LRA), it is unfortunate that there are those in the political realm who are pushing for amnesty to be granted to Major General Caesar Acellam, one of LRA’s top commanders, who was captured by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) this month.

This group of Kony and Acellam sympathizers need to be reminded of the horrendous crimes committed by the rag-tag LRA bandits against their fellow country men. The mobile LRA gang was started by Kony and his henchmen in January 1987 and went on to wreck havoc in northern Uganda for over 20 years, killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians and driving well over 2 million people out of their homes. One of their killing fields was at Purengo, where they executed 30 civilians in 1989 and later massacred another 400 in Lamwo county, Kitgum district. They did not even spare young children when they raided St. Mary’s college in Aboke Apac district on October 10, 1996 and abducted 139 students taking them as sex slaves and enlisting others in the LRA army.

Kony and his group of butchers have murdered an estimated 30,000 people during the execution of their two-decade, ruthless rebellion in the northern part of the country. Under Kony and the now captured Acellam’s command, the LRA used machetes and hoes to maim their victims, chopping lips and ears off their captives. They raided schools and forced students to fight and kill their own relatives. Many of the surviving victims will never recover from the trauma visited upon them by the blood-stained hands of Kony, Acellam and those under their command.

Because of this near unprecedented cruelty, Kony, Acellam, and the wider LRA deserve no sympathy in the civilised world.

It has been 12 years since the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute), the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome. The statute, which came into force on July 1, 2002 and has since been ratified by 110 countries including Uganda, has drastically changed international criminal law as we have come to know it .

The Rome Statute, and its implementing agency the International Criminal Court, has in the short period of its existence ensured that perpetrators of crimes against humanity do not escape the rule of law. And the list of indicted suspects grows by the day; the latest being those accused of perpetuating crimes against humanity during the 2007/8 post election violence in Kenya.

Kony’s deputies – Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Raska Lukwiya – have also been indicted but are yet to face trial at the ICC. They stand accused of 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people of northern Uganda in the last 20 years. Acellam, although not indicted by the ICC, was part of the criminal acts of Kony and the LRA for all these years: Acellam must not be allowed to hide from justice under the amnesty law.

Kony and Acellam have long duped the international community and the leadership in this country, costing the Ugandan taxpayer billions of shillings in wasted spending on the joke that was the Juba peace talks. It was clear from the onset of the talks that Kony – aware of the heinous crimes he has committed against humanity – would never surrender without putting up a fight.

That’s why there is no option but for the UPDF, supported by Uganda’s regional and international allies, to continue their pursuit of LRA until Kony and all his commanders are captured and have them answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC either here in Kampala or at the Hague.

Once a person has committed war crimes, as spelt out in the Rome Statute, then that person should not benefit from the provisions of our amnesty law. War crimes and crimes against humanity are international in nature and suspects can be picked from anywhere in the world by any spirited individual or state to arraigned them at the ICC for trial.

The UPDF should use all its capabilities and bring all resources to bear in this new effort to find Kony and his commanders to have them answer for their criminal acts. The UPDF should earn the support of the people of Uganda and hope our brothers and sisters in northern Uganda never suffer again the vicious brutality of Kony and the LRA.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY ON UN HUMAN RIGHTS

AFRICOM, Kony & African Peace

The position of AFRICOM within the Security-Development Discourse: the likelihood that AFRICOM could help establish peace in Africa.
{Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh}

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n 2008, the establishment of AFRICOM, by the United States (U.S.), as part of their National Security Agenda, was designed to coordinate US military command on the African continent and bring a new element of security to Africa (Ploch, 2011:2). Analysing its position in the security-development framework will allow us to assess the likelihood that it could help establish peace in Africa. This task is made difficult as most government agencies involved in development are ‘not fully clear how development and security policies should be integrated to address entrenched socio-economic problems for conflict prevention as well as post-conflict peace-building (Tschirgi (2009:1). AFRICOMs mission statement confirms that homeland security is foremost, followed by African state security, resource security and humanitarian security, all of which are crucial to the security-development debate. This essay first defines the security-development nexus, reviews two theoretical approaches (that of Kaldor, whose human security paradigm is an increasingly essential proponent of the security-development nexus and of Keenan who represents a large sector of academia that believe AFRICOM is imperialising Africa). These are then applied to an analysis of the status of AFRICOM and a detailed analysis of its first practical involvement in Africa, in Uganda.

Security-Development Nexus

‘Development is ultimately impossible without stability and, at the same time, security is not sustainable without development’ Duffield (2001:16).

To analyse the role of AFRICOM in the security-development discourse, the discourse itself must be introduced. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, increased academic attention has been directed towards security: ‘security is increasingly broadening its purview to include development issues’ (Denney, 2011:277). Regarding terrorism, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2004) acknowledged that the ‘chaos can no longer be contained by frontiers’. Threats are no longer insulated, due to globalisation and interdependence through travel and trade. Global insecurity can be addressed by ‘securing the development’ in areas of underdevelopment, which not only improves the safety of people in the developing world, but in the developed world (Denney, 2011:278). Duffield (2001:16) confirms this mutually binding and reinforcing relationship between security and development. The two concepts are becoming converged which means that it is difficult to separate new security regimes from development and humanitarian activities and vice versa (ibid). This has profound political and structural implications on the formation of AFRICOM and it’s role in providing security and development.

Theoretical Approaches

One of the ways in which we can analyse these implications is from the Human Security (HS) paradigm, which focuses on the ‘softer’ developmental aspects of security (Kaldor 2007). The HS places emphasis on five principles: primacy of human rights, legitimate political authority, multilateralism, a bottom up approach with a regional focus (ibid:185-190). The paradigm emphasis’s that individuals and communities should be protected as opposed to states and borders. So, the United States (US) post-9/11 ‘Global War On Terror’ (GWOT) would provide a legitimate reason to collaborate with African states in order to implement human rights thereby contributing to global human security. In the case of AFRICOM, this would mean a shared desire for a secure environment in order to create the conditions best for developing a civil society.

It is appropriate to employ Kaldor’s theory, as it is particularly relevant with regard to the operation of terrorism, which moves beyond state boundaries. Volman et al (2009:1) support this and suggest that AFRICOMs framework should be inclusive of HS. The HS model has to be globally inclusive and therefore implemented through multi-lateral action. This is closely related to legitimacy and this is what distinguishes the HS approach from neo-colonialism (Kaldor, 2007:188). For AFRICOM, this would mean working with the UN framework and the African Union (AU) and a ‘commitment to creating common rules’ (ibid). If this represented AFRICOM practice, it would mirror its successful application in the European Union (EU) development initiatives.

Due to the nature of ‘new wars’, military containment has to be viewed as ‘tactical’ power in support of protection forces (Duffield, 2001:8). This needs to be conceived of as international law enforcement, not actual military engagement. The U.S. can no longer deal with conflict according to old unilateralist ‘Spectacle Wars’ as carried out by Bush (Kaldor, 2007:84). The new complex realities of conflict should be dealt with by employing a more ‘cosmopolitan’ vision (ibid). What Duffield refers to as ‘liberal peace’ complements Kaldor’s HS. A new political humanitarianism emphasizing conflict prevention with reconstructed social networks, a strengthening of civil society and a promotion of the rule of law (Duffield, 2006:10).

Before AFRICOM was established, Kaldor (2007:74) asserted more generally that there is a mismatch between American domestic concerns, how the world is perceived inside America, and the reality in the rest of the world. She (ibid) indicates that American political culture and institutions are shaped by World War Two and Cold War experiences (ibid). The ideology of that period exerts a powerful influence on American perceptions and foreign policy today, which is not suited to the reality of a changed world in which we inhibit. For this reason, American policy-makers may be rational in terms of American domestic concerns, in attempting to dominate the American political landscape, however, America’s power to do ‘compellance’ can only be restored through the means addressed above (ibid). This needs to then be examined through AFRICOM.

The Keenan (2008:18) approach considers the ‘development’ aspect of the security-development nexus as a ‘guise’ for what is essentially a narrow militaristic agenda. The ‘development’ aspect then, conceals U.S. domestic strategic concerns that go beyond just focussing on servicing the GWOT. He thereby scrutinises the concept that AFRICOM will deliver security (to the African country it engages with) and thereby be able to deliver it. Drawing on the U.S. involvement pre-2008, Keenan assesses that this organisation has a tripartite agenda: to exploit Africa’s resources; to limit Chinese engagement in Africa, and to secure African countries as a counter balance in the GWOT (ibid:16). Keenan’s ideas are based on his research in the Sahel and the Maghreb regions of Africa, where after the GWOT was announced, an intelligence deception was created that spread the idea of terrorism. This was designed to create, he claims, the ideological conditions for U.S. ‘invasion’ of Africa to secure U.S. strategic, natural resources (ibid). This particular project came under the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI), which has been taken over by the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), which now comes under the umbrella of AFRICOM.

Keenan agrees with Abrahamson that the USA, like the UK in Blair’s ‘Commission for Africa’ (2005), are aiming at ‘securitizing’ Africa. This changes the security-development nexus, with the discourse shifting from one of ‘development/humanitarian’ to that of ‘risk/fear/security’ with Africa increasingly being mentioned in relation to the GWOT and the potential danger that it poses internationally (Keenan, 2008:18). By interpreting underdeveloped areas as dangerous, the role of aid and development has changed to containing the ‘threat’ thereby merging the security and development agendas so that they become indistinguishable (ibid). Keenan goes so far as to claim that the ‘overly militaristic’ role of EUCOM, which AFRICOM overtook responsibility from, has just been framed in a more seductive rhetoric of ‘development-humanitarian’ aims, especially since Obama’s inauguration (ibid:16).

AFRICOM

This section aims to establish where AFRICOM is in the security-development nexus. To do this, we need to examine how the framework negotiates and prioritises both security and development in its operation. Only then can we assess the likelihood that AFRICOM will contribute effectively to peace in Africa.

AFRICOMs creation will first be contextualised, followed by the theory of its functioning role emanating from Washington compared to African opinion, and then its practice in the conflict with a rebel group in Uganda, ‘The Lords Resistance Army’.

AFRICOM is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the U.S. Armed Forces, responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations in 53 African nations. Prior to AFRICOM, three Unified Commands had divided responsibility for U.S. military operations in Africa. The first indication of establishing AFRICOM was between members within the Department of State in 2000 and since then Africa’s strategic importance to the U.S. has become more important (Keenan, 2008:16). This is in large part due to the post 9/11 GWOT, the increased need to secure energy resources, which became a national security issue and concern of China’s growing economic investment in Africa (ibid:16). Keenan (ibid:17) points to the Cheney Report in 2001, which identifies African oil as a ‘strategic national interest’ and therefore a resource that the US may choose to control through military force (ibid; Volman 2003, Omaar 2010).

From 2004, U.S. activities in Africa were overtly security orientated, aiming at, ‘waging the war on terrorism and enhancing regional peace and security’ in the Sahel and Maghreb area’ (Keenan, 2005). This was exemplified in the $500m US funding approved by Congress to support counter-terrorism in the trans-Sahara area, along the lines of the PSI and TSCTP in 2004 and 2006. Claims to have these initiatives emanated from the Bush administrations acknowledgement of Africa as a ‘strategic priority in fighting terrorism’. The US increasingly had encouraged collaboration, institutional cooperation and coordination between security forces across the Saharan region and this continued with the series of military exercises called Exercise Flintlock in 2005, which have been repeated annually since. An important issue to address here is how related the claims of ‘terrorism’, which initiated and created justification for the growing initiatives in Africa were actually related to 9/11 GWOT. Keenan (2008:17) claims that most of the African continent had not suffered the atrocities of terrorism and those that had were a result of local conflicts blown out of proportion. This then would mean that the U.S. military were not necessarily attempting to address the security needs of Africans but to provide an excuse for their own presence in Africa, for their own strategic needs. By playing the ‘aid’ card they created an opportunity to address their own security needs.

AFRICOM became an independent, fully autonomous and operational military command on 1 October, 2008 (Busch, 2011). It was created without informing the UN or the AU (both of which share development and security as their raison d’être) which indicates that it does not want to operate multi-laterally and this makes its presence less legitimate suggesting a possible neo-colonial role (Kaldor, 2007:188). By not collaborating with international institutions, it goes against purported requirements of good governance, which then shows a rejection of the HS paradigm as the possibility of AFRICOM in helping to create a peaceful environment required multi-lateralism. Combating terrorism continued to be the ‘number one theatre-wide goal’ coming from Washington, however, the role of AFRICOM was further complicated by the different messages coming from key internal members. The first commander, General Kip Ward, a military general (which in itself indicates AFRICOMs direction) made no reference to development, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping or conflict resolution (Africa Action, 2008). In February 2008 AFRICOM conference, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller asserted that ‘the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market’ was one of Africa’s “guiding principles” and specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as major “challenges” to U.S. interests in Africa (ibid).

Immediately the organisation was criticised for having a ‘narrow military agenda’ (Volman et al, 2009:1). African states have been reticent to embrace AFRICOM, due mainly to distrust arising from ambivalent communications from Washington, intentional or not. Though AFRICOMs remit is to intervene only if invited by African states, Africans insist they did not ask for an organization like AFRICOM for fear of the bases it may seek to establish on African soil. In fact, most African civilians, governments, and many regional bodies have voiced a vehement “No!” to the presence of an American military force in their backyard. Only Ethiopia openly voiced support. Okumu (2007:8) claims that the mere presence of foreign troops disrespect Africa’s historical ‘Non-Aggression Pact’, its common position on African security and defence. This runs counter to the African view of military security, which they see as separate from development and sovereignty.

Under Obama’s administration, which inherited AFRICOMs militaristic framework, an attempt to include a more ‘developmental’ approach was aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Africans by emphasizing the three D’s: Diplomacy, Development and Defense (Omaar, 2010). However, this may also essentially be a component of a ‘security’ driven agenda. One difference from Bush is that it also prioritizes joint action with both African and global partners. This suggests a slightly different orientation, though to date, the only humanitarian function of AFRICOM has been to supplement USAID activities (Yates, 2009, 155).

Obama has attempted to remove AFRICOMs top-down militaristic image through a form of rebranding: a strategy of merging ‘soft power’ (foreign aid and PEPFAR) with military capacity. The inter-agency component has resulted in civilians from the State Department working with other agencies within the AFRICOM framework (Ploch:2011:8). The result is that some say it is hard to tell who is really leading AFRICOM operations: the diplomat; the soldier; the State Department or the Pentagon as these roles are becoming increasingly ‘blurred’ (Falconer, 2008). This need not be ‘softening’ however and U.S. foreign policy could be militarized (ibid).

Case Study: Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)

In 1987, a rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and led by Joseph Kony, emerged in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda as opposition to President Museveni’s Ugandan Resistance Movement (URM) (Allen et al, 2010). The LRA attacks which caused the death of civilians and displaced thousands in Uganda and neighbouring countries Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (the borders of these neighbouring countries can be referred to as Sugango) led the group to be labelled as ‘terrorists’ by the U.S. post 9/11. The U.S. has ignored what has become an international problem for so long and questions are being asked as to why it is only now through AFRICOM, that the U.S. are becoming involved (Omaar, 2010). This case study provides an opportunity to analyse the practical involvement of AFRICOM in order to see how the framework addresses security and development.

The issue with the LRA immediately then became ‘securitised’, with there removal deemed as the solution to increased homeland security as well as the security of North Ugandans. Despite the suffering that had been so long ignored by the U.S. and mainstream media, AFRICOM became involved in its first military intervention: Operation Lightning Thunder (OLT) in 2008. The question of legitimising involvement was key, given the lack of involvement in the country despite earlier activities of the LRA. Keenan (2008:16) traced changes in rhetoric prior to this engagement included changing the terminology used to describe Kony and the LRA. Instead of insurgents, they were now ‘terrorists’ echoing the phraseology of the GWOT.

Stressing that this was a Ugandan mission[1] with U.S. support, AFRICOM supplied telecommunications support and over $1m US of fuel (Omaar, 2010). They also offered military training to the Ugandan army. The launch of OLT received negative reviews outside of AFRICOM but those within asserted that it was a successful intervention (Tuckey, 2009). General Ward, commander of AFRICOM reported the mission as ‘positive’ in that it disrupted the LRA activities and addressed ‘training and recruiting practices’ (ibid). However, The LRA were not defeated, nor was Kony captured. Instead, the LRA carried out violent retaliatory attacks against Congolese civilians, displacing nearly 20,000 civilians and abducting more child soldiers. AFRICOMs military ‘solution’ increased insecurity and undermined democratic expressions of civil society thereby reducing the opportunity for peace (Keenan, 2009:20).

Emotive issues such as child soldiers prompted an ongoing second attempt to remove the LRA in 2010. This was in response to US domestic solidarity movements who successfully lobbied for the ‘Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Act, 2010’ receiving bi-partisan Congressional support. This time, it was American citizens that pushed for military involvement and this questions the priorities of security and development, as there are many Africans in the Sugango region who are against this (Gakumba, 2011).

Significant parallels can be drawn between American solidarity movements, such as ‘Resolve’, lobbying for the removal of the LRA with those lobbying to ‘Save Darfur’ in Sudan. Mamdani (2009:6) claimed that the ‘Save Darfur’ movement provided the ‘self-indulgent motto of the human rights interventionist recruited into the ranks of terror warriors… It is a shared mindset that has turned the movement… into the humanitarian face of the War on Terror.’ This assessment concurs with Keenan’s claim of humanitarianism being replaced by fear to justify intervention. Indeed, the demand for military intervention to ‘finish off’ the LRA are not signs of peace, but rather the ‘finely honed skills of advertising media’ using this problem as a call to war (ibid). Such actions by advocacy groups are based on deeply erroneous assumptions and are increasingly a contributing obstacle to peace in North Uganda and other areas affected by the LRA.

Buur et al (2008:11) highlight how security and development can be ‘media-produced ideas and perceptions of life, risk and power’, furthering that, ‘security is about real questions of safety and violence, but it is also a way of representing problems in a manner that makes them exceptional and a question of survival.’ When the ‘propaganda of war’ then includes high profile people it can be advertised to more people, but the reality of the situation is not further addressed. A case in point regarding the LRA: Major General James Kazini, a close military associate to President Musaveni of Uganda, reported to a major development agency (Allen et al, 2010:80) that the region from where Kony originates has a cultural background whereby, ‘people here are violent… it’s genetic’. Matthew Green, a Reuters journalist covering the LRA story was ordered to ‘get the bit about the ten commandments up high’ to create a fantasised perception, using words that romanticise and evoke the LRA and Kony as embodying evil (Allen et al, 2011). There are few empirical facts available on Kony and the LRA to counteract this media portrayal. In a rare interview, Kony stated that, ‘you hear all things from Musaveni side I do not have proper propaganda machineries. You do not hear from Kony perspective’ (Allen et al, 2010:87). Hence, myths are not addressed; reality on the ground missed. Propaganda is being used as a weapon, hardly the activities of an organisation seeking security, the right conditions for development and, ultimately, peace.

There has been no survey of the real facts: the actual numbers in the LRA are not even known, for example, UN sources have confirmed that many armed groups and militias in the DRC are actually mimicking LRA attacks to confer blame. LRA Crisis Tracker, a lobby movement only identifies ‘suspected sightings’ and abductions. It is hard to quantify much of ‘LRA activity’ in the region.

It would be wiser for Congress and its lobbyists to fund research to try to clarify the, ‘tangled ethnic, tribal, historical, regional and environmental history to the region’ (Mamdani, 2009). A deeper analysis on the LRA indicates that one of the major reasons for their behaviour was the Government of Uganda’s (GoA) exclusion of the Acholi people in governmental operations (Allen et al 2010:49)[2]. This legitimate issue has still not been addressed and one which lobbyists in the USA would surely support, were they informed. Given that Congress sanctioned AFRICOM, it would not be unreasonable for them to put such groups straight regarding the problem, therefore, failure to do so suggests that they have another agenda in their involvement in Uganda. The activities of the LRA, both in the potential oil fields of Uganda and through their cross border activities in neighbouring countries, including Sudan (where oil had also been recently discovered), threatens U.S. national strategic interests (Allen et al 2011). Perhaps it is not a coincidence then that the U.S. have shown a keen an interest in maintaining peace in this region only after the end of the Sudanese civil war in 2005.

Further, US authorities are aware that the LRA has actually become less of a problem in the last two years. They appear to be moving out of North Uganda and the internally displaced people are now returning home. Ironically, AFRICOMs engagement in the region is increasing (Allen et al 2010:279).

What is clear now is that the LRA issue is no a longer Ugandan: it has been, in effect, exported (Wegner, 2011; Allen et al 2010). In the sphere of security and development, there are fewer reasons to get involved. The LRA are no longer a threat to U.S. civilian security, it seems more likely a threat to U.S. strategy in terms of energy resources in the region. Keenan (2008) suggests that AFRICOMs presence could be linked to the upcoming US presidential election: the Uganda issue is being resolved by AFRICOM, it could be told, in contrast to the Republic administrations failures in Iraq. Perhaps, like for Darfur, the US does ‘need’ but ‘chooses’ to take responsibility for the LRA (Mamdani, 2009:60).

AFRICOMs intention has been to ‘capture or kill’ Kony and four other LRA activists. The International Criminal Court (ICC)[3] issued arrest warrants in 2005 but it has no way to police this. It seems that there is little chance that AFRICOM would hand him over to the ICC given that they refuse to accept ICC legislation. This suggests that the U.S. have their own agenda supporting Keenan’s argument and it is illegitimate in relation to the HS paradigm, ‘political legitimacy can only be reconstructed on the basis of cosmopolitan consent and within a framework of international law’ (Kaldor, 2007:9). In order to promote peace AFRICOM will need to have a more facilitative role in respecting both local notions of justice[4] and those of the ICC.

Conclusion

AFRICOM’s activities in Africa, as assessed through its involvement in Uganda, suggest that it is following its own notion of security and development rather than that of African locals with which they are dealing. Its’ agenda primarily meets U.S. security needs. It incorporates economic (resource) security but there is almost no evidence that Kaldor’s HS paradigm has been addressed.

There is a lack of transparency concerning its mission, especially initially, but funding has been forthcoming for all military requirements. African states are suspicious of its intent and openly hostile to any military bases being constructed on African soil under the AFRICOM label. Cooperation with international and multi-national institutions, from the UN to the ICC, is inconsistent and cooperation with African states devoid of consideration of good governance. It operates bilateral military relationships and the actions in Uganda support short-term security rather than long-term development agendas.

The timing of AFRICOMs instigation appears linked to the US’s Global War on Terror, post 9/11. The rhetoric combines security with development, yet evidence from its earliest engagement in Africa, in Uganda, demonstrated that its function has been markedly security-related.

AFRICOM seeks to access oil resources and this has compromised its opportunities to support security. If the more important local security issues such as land reform were addressed, a longer-term platform for development provision could have been achieved. The apparent confusion over AFRICOMs role at the start and uncertainty as to how it will engage in some level of development, suggests that it was hastily formed, as a reaction to the US’s war on terror. The issue of securing oil supplies and claiming rights to exploit them appears to be directly linked to the way AFRICOM was constructed. To counter this, it is necessary that, ‘the proper framework of a whole-of-government approach has yet to be developed and adequately resourced’ (Yates, 2009: 155)

One aspect of the way forward could be for AFRICOM to engage with other local, state and international organizations to help evaluate those risk factors which lead to instability within ‘fragile’ states (Tschirgi, 2009:23) and act or advice preemptory measures to enable state and inter-state cooperation to ensure security.

Yates (2009:156) claimed that AFRICOM was not intended to address shortfalls in the DOD, but that its ‘unique organizational structure and designated focus areas were designed with the needs of Africans in mind, such that this new command not only continue previous efforts, but also add value to them’. Surely this value must be related to peace keeping and security. To date, it would be hard to argue that any added value has been produced.

 

[toggle title="Citations & Bibliography"]

[1] Kaldor (2007:187) asserts that, ‘the aim of any intervention is to stabilize the situation so that a space can be created for a peaceful political process rather than to win through military means alone’. Training and building the capacity of the Ugandan army specifically to increase stabilisation suggests this, but given constitutional changes instigated by Musaveni the U.S. are actually supporting an autocratic regime whilst vilifying those seeking democracy. This does not serve the long-term interests of Ugandan people. It may provide security, though this may prove short-term, even with the removal of the LRA.

[2] However, the LRA military and political strategy was transformed after gaining support from Khartoum. This meant that their strategy was no longer attached to the local geography of North Uganda (ibid).

[3] Why the ICC vilified Kony over Musaveni is strange, as it ignores the role that the Ugandan government has played in perpetuating the gross human rights abuses in Uganda (Busch, 2011).

[4] The local Acholi religious leaders continue to reject military intervention requesting a non-violent agreement in order to promote trust and reconciliation through Amnesty law (Gakumba, 2011)

 

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