Africa, Development, the UN: Six Events to Discuss the Present, Recent Past, and Future of the Continent

by Andrew Schaaf

Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Against a Tide of Evil: the Lesson of Sudan and the Role of Parliamentarians in Mass Atrocity Prevention

April 8th, 2013

Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs at the University of Manchester

Special Representative of Aegis Trust

Chair of the Council of Minority Rights Group International

Dr. Kapila found himself at the head of the UN in Sudan just as the Tutsis began to head their wrath towards it. He was faced with serious dilemmas and decisions that had to deal with the horror resulting from the genocides. He had a very large scope of office as it was the whole world and he developed 12 reasons/excuses as to why people neglected what occurred in Sudan:

  1. Cynicism, what do you except in Sudan? That’s just how it is, it’s a nasty place. They are savages so you should just let them fight it out. Very common reaction
  2. Futility, there is no hope. What’s the point? Genocide has never been prevented or stopped. It has already happened so what can we do?
  3. Denial, it’s not as bad as you made it out to be. People have a natural tendency to refuse to believe the worst.
  4. Ambiguity, you soften the matter and create confusion.
  5. Provocation, you have to become educated on the matter before you can act, as the matter becomes severely worse.
  6. Risk, it’s too dangerous and we don’t want to make the situation worse. We can’t send aid in there, we’ll just make it more complicated
  7. Distraction, inertia of busyness. There are just too many issues so you redirect your attention towards other ones. UN officials try to stay busy and avoid the elephant in the room
  8. It’s not my job; I’m not in that field. Diffusion and evasion of responsibility
  9. Purity, moral equivalence. Who is the more evil of the two forces? Pointing fingers, leading to inaction.
  10. Proliferation of modern advocacy, and now it’s a commercial industry. The commercial and capitalism around the issue becomes more important than the cause itself.
  11. Calculated naivety, policy makers ignore the elephant in the room in an attempt to believe what they want to since they cannot answer the question at hand.
  12. Empathy deficit or the politics of indifference. There is a difficulty to connect with the victims from your seat as a diplomat. There is a huge gap of disconnection and empathy.

The past century has been the bloodiest in human history due to mass atrocities. The atrocities are almost genetic in nature due to their transmission across generation. But so is hope and responsiveness and how do we make the world internalize these atrocities to prevent their reoccurrence. There is not culture or group in the world that can claim moral superiority, we all have the potential to be evil.

5 Characteristics of Genocide, according to Dr. Kapila:

  1. Genocide is committed by a planned organization of a government/authority because only they have the ability to conduct the systematic murder of a certain group/ethnicity.
  2. All such crimes are accompanied by exclusionary ideology that targets a certain group of people.
  3. There are always happening in autocratic states. Democratic states’ do not commit genocide, however; democracy can be subverted to become a genocide given the proper conditions and manipulations.
  4. There is little political accountability. People are always searching for the quickest solution to the problem and that leads to little efficiency and leaves more people discontent than not.
  5. There is a need for gullible followers. Those genocidal leaders need a support base, otherwise they cannot succeed.

Conclusion: “We have to understand that the propensity to cause evil is a part of the human trade. So to talk about never again and how to find bureaucratic mechanisms to fix everything are good things, but will not solve anything. If the human condition is bound to do these things to other human beings we need to understand why this is, because we’re humans but also because these institutions that we have created as humans are run by cowards. There are two people in these institutions: One who do their jobs and keep their heads own and the others that run away from their problems. How can you control human behavior with human behaviorally run institutions? We haven’t stopped genocide so far, so what will change to stop it? There needs to be automaticity in the reaction because a part of human nature is to be either evil or a coward”

Film: Shake Hands with the Devil by Roger Spottiswoode

April 10th, 2013

Released in 2007

This is a film about the genocide occurring in Rwanda during 1994. It’s a dramatization about real life encounters experienced by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, a Candian office who was worked for the United Nations in the area of peacekeeping. The film vividly displays the massacre that the Hutu militias committed against the Tutsis and the Hutu moderates as well. The film as actually based of of the General’s memoir entitled Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanada. This film is not for the faint of heart as it attempts to encapsulate the extreme nature of the atrocities as they were truly committed by the Hutus. The film does very good job of offering Dallaire’s personal struggles, and pulling at emotional strings. All together it is a well done film, which will educate you about what has happened in Rwanda.

“Memoria Condivisa”, or Shared Memory

April 14th, 2013

Presented by Bene Rwanda and Umubyeyi Mwiza Onlus

Rwanda Genocide Memorial Event

This Rwanda memorial event entitled, Shared Memory in Italian, took place at the Piccolo Eliseo in the heart of Rome. It was an entire day dedicated to the commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The event was kicked off by Dr. Franceso Alicicco, the Honorary Consulate from Rwanda to Rome, who offered opening remarks. A survivor of the genocide, Yolande Mukagasana, offered her memories of the atrocities that took place in her home nation. Her recounts of the events that she was witness to and of genocide were nothing short of horrifying. Mrs. Mukagasana then gave her opinions on the prevention, which were quite uplifting as she presented hope. She felt that education was essential to preventing genocide. Other speakers included Mario Guerci, JCU’s very own Federigo Argentieri, Dr. Silvia Tarsi, and Dr. Gaffo Flego. Each of who offered a medical, political, psychological, and medical perspective of the events, respectively. Professor Argentieri, the Director of the Guarini Institute, specifically spoke about the manner in which to approach the denial of the genocide that Tutsis’ experienced. To close the event a short film by the name of LYIZA, directed by Marie-Clemetine Dusabejambo was screened. The film focused around the life of a girl named Lyiza, but had an overall theme: the aftermath of the genocide and how the memories of it affect the sentiments of the Tutsis as they attempt to move forward. The point behind the whole event was to remember the atrocities that transpired in Rwanda so that they do not occur anywhere else. Prevention through education.

Film: Sometimes in April by Raoul Peck

April 15th 2013

Released in 2005

The title of the film corresponds to the National Day of Remembrance for the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. The movie follows Augstin and his brother Honoré, both of whom are Hutus but are on two different sides of the war. The movie takes the perspective of both Hutus and Tutsis as they experience the genocide in different but equally tragic ways. It also includes the paltry attempts by the international community to find a way to intervene in the tragedies. They show that the definition of genocide has a very ambiguous meaning according to international diplomats. However, the focus is still on the pain and suffering of the Hutus and how they are attempting to progress from their dark past.

Staffan de Mistura, Italian Foreign Ministry, Discussing UN activities in the Past Two Decades

April 16th 2013

Graduated from University of Turin

Deputy Foreign Minister for the Italian Government

He has worked for the UN in various agencies, leading him to unstable areas such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Somalia.

The event proceeded in a question and answer format:

Professor Argentieri asked, “Do you think that Rwanda represented a point of arrival or departure towards a new start? What kind of impact did it have on the UN?”

I felt ashamed being a part of the International community and being unable to react to what was clearly genocide. Go back to Mogadishu in Somalia; I was in charge of UNICEF at the time, to intervene internationally to avoid the killing of thousands of people. Several American Rangers were killed during this intervention, known as Black Hawk Down. This is when the events in Rwanda took place and created an allergic reaction to the events beginning to happen in Rwanda. Gen. Bellaire asked for military help and did not receive it as a consequence. And we could have stopped the genocide there. If there was one area where the UN could have been able to stop the genocide, it was in Rwanda but there was no international appetite to get involved in another international venture. Then the Hutus began to suffer of Cholera after the RPF began to retaliate as the Hutus retreated into inhabitable areas. I became involved with some Somali doctors to remedy the situation. And they just used basic, simple treatments to remedy the illness, like boiling afflicted clothing. The beginning when there is Genocide or something appearing to be genocide the security council should not hesitate to use the veto. The second legacy is that the word genocide, thanks to the creation of the international court, has become a word that people are not afraid to use or threaten to use.

“20 years ago, almost exactly, there was much talk about reforming the Security Council, the newly inaugurated Clinton administration thought of the idea of a quick fix, which would bring in Germany and Japan, no longer enemy powers, to strengthen the council but that did not work. This going to be another club of the rich was the objection. Italy started a policy of farsightedness to restructure the entire thing to make it more democratic. So 20 years later how much progress has been made towards the reformation of the council?” asks Professor Argentieri.

The short answer is not much progress has been made. The reason for that is that is extremely difficult is that the allies who won WWII are very reluctant to relinquish power. Where are the emerging countries, the new reality of the world? Whatever the outcome of a compromise to yield some power from powerful countries to others, is the issue of Veto. But public opinion, CNN effect, and other factors will push the council to at least keep the use of the Veto from being used during serious matters.

“Is the UN delegating to regional organizations? NATO, African Union?” asks a JCU Professor.

No it is not, but the lessons learned over the years are that the UN alone should not be given the power of debating. That was an easy approach taken by many countries in the past to avoid insurmountable problems. When the UN is being challenged or given, burden sharing with regional players is one of the techniques. It gives responsibility to regional players and allows the UN to be involved at the same time.

Franco Pavoncello, JCU President, asks, “I was wondering if you asses if you sense a difference in terms of being a diplomat for the UN from being one for a single country?”

Italy is a cultural super power but not militarily or economically so it doesn’t have a forceful strategy in asserting itself and that has made it easy for me to adjust. Italy is diluted in the EU’s agenda because it doesn’t have just a set personal agenda. And it was very similar to what I was already doing in the UN prior to being a diplomat for Italy. I didn’t find difficulty in changing positions because I wasn’t asked to do anything for the sake of Italy’s national interests.

“How do you think the future of Iraq will be after 2 or 3 years?” asks a native Iraqi woman in the crowd.

Let’s put it like this: Iraq has enormous potential. The skill and the brightness is all there. They have rivers, oil, and land. The problem is how to do an inclusive collaboration attempt, referring to the various ethnic groups within the nation. The only formula is inclusiveness for Iraq. The potential is in the hands of them. That is the future.

“Who will run Afghanistan after 2014?” A man in the crowd asks.

I will not say who will run because it would be arrogant for me to answer. There will be a combination of what Iraq and Lebanon are today. In Iraq you have north, center, and south and they are all a part of the same country. The country will remain as one but there is a lot of regional autonomy. This is just a possibility though. But there will be no civil war or take overs, and I’m hopeful about that because they are very able to make deals amongst themselves.

“Considering Africa the map of tribal groups may be much more colorful, what do you think would be an approach that would be more inclusive for different tribes as manifested in policies of the state?” asks a JCU student.

We have tried this in Europe but they are called different things. But the issue is the number of exclusions but you also have to include the losers. There is always one tribe that becomes wanting to prevail over the other. It’s not economic reasons. There is always the issue of tribes not feeling sufficiently recognized in the national government and the issues of preventing political take over. And that discontent provides the opportunity for extremists to start a movement. The bottom line is the best thing we can do is stimulate African governments to be as inclusive as possible so that there are no extreme temptations.

Ambassador David Lane, US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, Helping Africa Eliminate Hunger: A U.S. Government Perspective

April 17th, 2013

Nominated by Obama on April 6, 2012 to be the US Representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture

Served as the Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff for the Obama Administration

B.A. from UVA and his M.P.A. from Princeton University

The ambassador goes on to speak:

He addresses Rwanda

I was there in 2007 and 2008, to go see what was happening there. I was deeply moved, you can’t visit there without being deeply moved. It is a reconciliation in the most part; that it’s prevailing since the genocide. They had made so much progress on infant mortality, and malaria. So it was a big of good knew to balance the horror.

Poverty, Food Security, Hunger, and U.S. Government Supports

It affects Africans disproportionally. It ironically affects farmers more than anyone due to their locations and lack of fertile soil. There’s been some progress with the decreasing numbers of people who are undernourished. It’s a moral imperative but I think an economic and security imperative in an interconnected world. It means feeding people and nourishing people isn’t sufficient. Agriculture sector is strong in raising productivity growth and it’s how Africa should develop itself to combat poverty. I work from many to many. I work with the US and Rome institutions to combat hunger and offer food security.

  • WFP—World Food Program, emergency food relief
  • FAO—Food and Agriculture Organization, focusing on future of food availability and development
  • International Fund for Agriculture Development—financing world poverty alleviation projects
  • International Development Law Organization—law aspects in fostering development

We are the gateway from the US to these agencies. Ending hunger and malnutrition is now on the table and being discussed seriously because of all the information and initiative that we now have. Then we had the green revolution, which sort of skipped Africa. But now we see that agriculture is crucial to the growth and development of these countries. So now we are seeing major commitments to the development of agriculture. Africa in particular could use an agricultural reformation. Obama has put food security at the top of his agenda.

Parts of Obama’s agenda:

  • The future of Africa is up to Africans. It needs strong institutions and they shouldn’t really need to much foreign assistance
  • Feed the Future Initiative, focusing on small scale farmers and women farmers in developing countries. We must mobilize private investment.
  • New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, to foster private investment in the development in Africa.

I believe the American people have always been generous in feeding people. My role in Rome is to ensure that the money given to the UN agencies is used well. To truly end hunger people must be able to fix themselves. It’s really critical for development. Obama would like to maintain funding for humanitarian assistance. Saving lives by focusing on extreme hunger is a moral imperative. But the ability to change lives through changing the agricultural sector is really what makes me optimistic about development. Success requires a more comprehensive approach, getting the food to market or creating a market. Increasing yields, creating infrastructure, getting food to markets, and modernizing agricultural processes are all things that need to be done. Linking all the solutions in a true value chain is essential. The importance of women, we must include women in all aspects. By ensuring women farmers have the same access to resources as men we can, increasing production by a large percent.

Closing Remarks

I am clearly an optimist. There’s a lot of great work going on. Your [referring to the students] generation has a lot more knowledge as to what’s going on in the world. If there’s a way that you can act on these things, at the very least becoming more knowledgeable is very important. We spend only 1% on development assistance; most people think it’s far higher. They believe in teaching a man to fish, rather than giving him a fish. Emergency assistance but there’s a lot less patience for this projects that take time to develop. There are so many possibilities for being involved in development.

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