Ogiek: The African Court of Human and People’s Rights first decision on indigenous rights

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28/05/2017

This past Friday, 26 May 2017, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights handed down its first judgement on the rights of indigenous peoples in the matter of African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights v The Republic of Kenya (the Ogiek case). The case concerns the Ogiek people, an indigenous community of about 20 000 people who live in the Mau Forest in the central Rift Valley in Kenya. In 2009, officials from the Kenyan Forest Service served an eviction notice on the community and other settlers requiring them to leave the forest within 30 days. The notice was issued on the grounds that the forest constitutes a reserve water catchment zone and that the land is state property. The Ogiek people argued that the decision to evict was taken without regard to the importance of the forest to the community and to their survival, and without any consultation with the community, in violation of the State’s obligations under the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Like the Endorois decision handed down by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2009 (also a case about the eviction of a group by the Kenyan Forestry Service), this case turns on questions about what constitutes an indigenous group and whether Kenya’s alleged environmental concerns justify overriding obligations to these groups under the African Charter.

The Court found that Kenya had violated the Ogiek community’s rights under Article 14 (the right to property), Article 2 (the right to equality), Article 8 (the right to freedom of religion), Article 17(2) and (3) (the right to culture), Article 21 (the right to free disposal of wealth and natural resources), Article 22 (the right to economic, social and cultural development) and Article 1 (the State duty to take all legislative and other measures necessary to give effect to the Charter). The Court found no violation of Article 4 (the right to life). In this post I briefly consider some of these Articles and the Court’s findings.

Continuar lendo →

La France propose à l’ONU de déployer une force anti-djihadistes au Sahel

Emmanuel Macron et le président malien Ibrahim Boubacar Keita avec les troupes de l'opération Barkhane, le 19 mai 2017.

Elle pourrait « utiliser tous les moyens nécessaires » pour « combattre le terrorisme, le trafic de drogue et le trafic de personnes ». La France a présenté mardi un projet de résolution au Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU autorisant le déploiement d’une force militaire africaine chargée de combattre les djihadistes et les trafiquants de drogue dans le Sahel. Le Conseil pourrait voter sur cette proposition de résolution la semaine prochaine.

Continuar lendo

Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth

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24/05/2017

Africa is poor, but we can try to help its people.

It’s a simple statement, repeated through a thousand images, newspaper stories and charity appeals each year, so that it takes on the weight of truth. When we read it, we reinforce assumptions and stories about Africa that we’ve heard throughout our lives. We reconfirm our image of Africa.

Try something different. Africa is rich, but we steal its wealth.

Continuar Lendo

Comment, au nom du climat, la France cherche à imposer ses intérêts et ses entreprises à l’Afrique

L’Initiative africaine pour les énergies renouvelables, lancée lors de la COP21, devait être un projet exemplaire porté par les Africains pour les Africains, permettant d’assurer l’accès de tous à l’électricité sur le continent tout en préservant le climat. Mais la Commission européenne et la France cherchent aujourd’hui à s’approprier l’Initiative pour lui faire financer des projets énergétiques douteux, qui répondent davantage aux intérêts de leurs entreprises qu’aux besoins des populations. Responsables africains et société civile dénoncent un passage en force.

Ce devait être un projet pour les Africains et par les Africains. L’« Initiative africaine pour les énergies renouvelables » (IAER) fait partie de ces quelques belles idées annoncées au moment de la COP21 à Paris. Ce programme devait être doté de 10 milliards d’euros, apportés par les pays du Nord, mais mis en œuvre par les Africains eux-mêmes, en partant des besoins des gens sur le terrain, plutôt que des souhaits des grandes entreprises. L’objectif est de créer au moins 10 milliards de watts de capacité de production d’électricité renouvelable d’ici 2020, et d’assurer l’accès à l’électricité de tous les Africains d’ici 2030. Le tout en minimisant les impacts sociaux et environnementaux des projets financés, en respectant les droits des populations et en évitant les phénomènes d’accaparement de terres.

C’était sans compter sur l’Europe et en particulier sur la France. Suite à la dernière réunion de l’Initiative, qui s’est tenue à Conakry en mars dernier, son concepteur et haut responsable, le Malien Youba Sokona, a démissionné avec fracas, accusant les Européens et tout particulièrement Ségolène Royal, ministre française de l’Environnement sortante, d’avoir imposé aux Africains « leur » liste de projets à financer. Des projets qui ne sont ni nouveaux, ni vraiment « verts », et souvent portés par des multinationales ou des hommes d’affaires européens.

Passage en force

Selon le compte-rendu du site Climate Home (traduit en français ici), lors de la réunion de Conakry, de nombreux responsables africains ont émis des réserves sur les projets proposés et sur une décision prématurée qui ne respectait les principes fondateurs de l’IAER ni sur la forme ni sur le fond. Les Européens ont pu compter sur le soutien des présidents tchadien et guinéen Idriss Déby et Alpha Condé, deux proches alliés de Paris, pour passer en force. Immédiatement après la réunion, la Commission européenne s’est empressée de proclamer sur son site que l’Initiative avait effectivement validé 19 projets, pour un montant de 4,8 milliards d’euros.

Les projets approuvés incluent plusieurs infrastructures de réseaux, qui serviront aussi bien aux énergies « sales » qu’aux énergies renouvelables. La liste inclut également un série de projets de centrales solaires ou de barrages. Une centrale solaire au Tchad, par exemple, est portée par des entreprises basées à Londres et à Paris (la Compagnie des énergies nouvelles ou CDEN) qui semblent s’être constituées exclusivement pour profiter des nouvelles opportunités « vertes » en Afrique. La liste mêle projets à petite échelle et initiatives de très grande envergure, sans que la répartition des fonds alloués soit précisée. Autant d’ouvrages qui risquent de profiter directement (en tant que constructeurs ou concessionnaires) ou indirectement (en tant que financeurs, consultants, fournisseurs ou clients) aux grandes entreprises européennes ou autres.

Le climat, une opportunité économique pour la France ?

La COP21 avait été explicitement vue comme le gouvernement français comme une occasion de promouvoir et vendre l’expertise de ses champions nationaux, à commencer par Engie et EDF, dans le domaine des énergies « vertes ». Ce dont témoignait le choix des sponsors officiels de l’événement (lire notre enquête à l’époque) ou encore l’organisation du salon « Solutions COP21 » (lire ici). Cette ligne politique s’est maintenue une fois la Conférence de Paris passée, et l’Initiative africaine pour les énergies renouvelables est rapidement apparue comme une cible prioritaire.

En septembre 2016, Ségolène Royal a signé un rapport « proposant », en tant que présidente officielle de la COP, une liste de 240 projets à l’IAER. Un véritable fourre-tout incluant de nombreux mégaprojets très controversés, à l’image du grand barrage Inga 3 en République démocratique du Congo, dans lequel sont impliqués des cabinets d’ingénieurs français. Les deux seuls projets concrets proposés pour le Cameroun sont le barrage de Nachtingal, un projet d’EDF, ainsi qu’un kit solaire « pay as you go » également proposé… par EDF. Inutile de dire que les considérations sociales et environnementales – et plus largement démocratiques – qui présidaient à la conception initiale de l’IAER sont superbement ignorées. Le rapport, tout à la gloire de Ségolène Royal, comprend plusieurs dizaines de photos d’elle en train de rencontrer des dirigeants africains.

L’Afrique au centre des convoitises

Suite à la réunion de Conakry et à la démission de Youba Sokona, un collectif d’organisations africaines a publié une déclaration dénonçant vigoureusement le « détournement » de l’Initiative africaine par la France et l’Europe. « Nous en appelons à tous les États, leaders et peuples africains pour qu’ils exigent une énergie renouvelable véritablement centrée sur les besoins et les droits des gens en Afrique, sur la base du modèle formidable esquissé par l’IAER et validé par tous les pays africains », proclament ces organisations. Elles accusent également les Européens de mentir sur leur niveau réel d’investissement dans l’IAER, en affichant le chiffre de 4,8 milliards alors que la somme réellement apportée serait au mieux de 300 millions, dans des conditions imprécises.

Ces tensions autour de l’IAER ne sont que l’une des facettes d’une lutte d’influence plus large. L’Afrique apparaît en effet comme un terrain de choix pour les multinationales souhaitant développer de grandes infrastructures très profitables, d’autant plus qu’aux financements internationaux dédiés au « développement » s’ajoute désormais la manne de la finance verte. Le groupe Engie, par exemple, s’est positionné sur le marché africain à travers son partenariat avec la famille royale marocaine, via la holding SNI et sa filiale Nareva. Dans le cadre de la COP22, les deux partenaires ont signé un accord stratégique visant à développer de nouveaux projets énergétiques au Maroc et dans le reste du continent africain (Égypte, Côte d’Ivoire, Sénégal, Ghana et Cameroun).

Dans le cas de la France, cette attirance pour les marchés des infrastructures et de l’énergie verte en Afrique se double de relents de paternalisme et de néocolonialisme. L’ancien ministre Jean-Louis Borloo avait ainsi lancé, peu avant la COP21, une fondation pour « électrifier l’Afrique en dix ans », avec le soutien de l’Élysée. Parmi les partenaires de l’initiative, on retrouvait déjà toutes les grandes entreprises du CAC40, à commencer par EDF, Engie et Total. Les représentants officiels africains ont choisi de privilégier plutôt la création de l’Initiative africaine sur les énergies renouvelables, précisément parce que celle-ci était directement pilotée par les Africains. Jean-Louis Borloo a fini par jeter l’éponge, tout en revendiquant la « paternité » de l’IAER. Mais la bataille des Africains contre les convoitises de la France et de l’Europe est loin d’être finie.

Fonte: Multinationales

Falta de verbas pode deixar 1,3 milhão de crianças africanas sem merenda escolar

Foto: Programa Mundial de Alimentos da ONU

Publicado Originalmente: 30/08/2016

Mais de 1,3 milhão de crianças na África Central e Ocidental correm risco de não receber refeições nas escolas. O alerta foi feito nesta terça-feira (30) pelo Programa Mundial de Alimentação das Nações Unidas (PMA).

Sem financiamento necessário, a agência está se vendo obrigada a reduzir seus projetos nas escolas africanas. Segundo o PMA, alguns países mudaram seus mecanismos de financiamento e muitos doadores têm, agora, outras prioridades.

A falta de refeições escolares deve afetar, no próximo mês, alunos nos Camarões, em Mali, na Mauritânia e no Níger. Se o PMA não receber financiamento, outras 700 mil crianças poderão ficar sem merenda em 11 países.

No Chade, a falta de dinheiro levou a agência da ONU a reduzir seus programas de merenda escolar em mais de 90% nos últimos três anos. Desde 2013, o número de crianças beneficiadas caiu de 200 mil para 15 mil.

No Senegal, os fundos serão necessários para entregar refeições a menos de um quinto dos alunos. Na Mauritânia e nos Camarões, a assistência do PMA precisou ser cortada pela metade em janeiro e em maio.

O problema é que a população de muitos países da África Central e Ocidental já enfrenta fome e malnutrição. Com os conflitos armados, as escolas acabam por ser um refúgio para crianças e muitas vezes o único local onde recebem refeições.

O PMA necessita, com urgência, de US$ 48 milhões para continuar a entregar refeições para alunos das duas regiões africanas.

Estudos da agência mostram que, para cada dólar investido em projetos de merenda escolar, existe um retorno econômico entre US$ 3 e US$ 8, uma vez que a produtividade aumenta. Além disso, quando se tornam adultos, esses alunos têm mais chances de melhorar a saúde de seus filhos.

Garantir que nenhuma pessoa passe fome no mundo até 2030 faz parte dos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável, um conjunto de metas estabelecidas pelos Estados-membros da ONU em setembro de 2015. Doadores importantes para os projetos do PMA na África são Canadá, União Europeia, Japão, Luxemburgo, Arábia Saudita e Estados Unidos.

FONTE: ONU

Is China A Neocolonial Power In Africa? – Analysis

Publicado originalmente em 26 de abril de 2016.

China-bashing has predictably reemerged as a familiar theme in the current 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, with the frontrunners of both parties attacking China for having committed a myriad of alleged outrages against U.S. interests.1 Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is of special interest, as she had prominently accused China of engaging in neocolonialism in Africa during her 2011 visit to Zambia in her position at the time as U.S. Secretary of State.2 The Chinese have not forgotten this slight, and the state-owned Xinhua news agency recently published an opinion piece critiquing Clinton’s accusation of China’s alleged neocolonialism, concluding that:

Accusing China of being a neo-colonialist in Africa puts the biased West in an absurd scenario where the robber acts like the cop.”3

As I recounted last year, China has indeed been very active with its various economic projects in Africa. To briefly recap: “Recent examples of such projects include China Railway Group’s Light Railway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the first phase of which was recently completed; China Railway Construction Corporation’s Abuja-Kaduna railway in Nigeria, which was completed in December 2014, and which is the first phase of a larger railway modernization project connecting Lagos with Kano; and the Lobito-Luau railway in Angola, also built by China Railway Construction Corporation, which will eventually be connected to the Angola-Zambia and the Tanzania-Zambia railways. Likewise, Chinese engineering firms … are constructing airports across the continent, including airports in Angola, Comoros, Djibouti, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, and Togo. Apart from the transportation sector, Chinese companies are also involved in Africa’s energy sector, including hydropower dams in Ethiopia and Uganda; biogas development in Guinea, Sudan and Tunisia; and solar and wind power plants in Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa. Other economic sectors Chinese companies are actively involved with in Africa include agriculture, construction, healthcare, mining, and industrial manufacturing. A recent count estimates over 2,000 Chinese companies are engaged across almost every country on the African continent.”4

Does this intense level of economic engagement count as neocolonialism? Gordon observes that the relationship of neocolonialism is one of “political-economic domination” such that “there is no viable cultural, economic, or military opposition to the hegemonic weight of the current ‘world order.’” The world order today is Euro-American, and its hegemony was won through not just the collapse of the Soviet Union and its socialist satellites at the end of the Cold War, but also the “years of successful political, economic, and military destabilization of Third World sites of resistance.”5 Such efforts at destabilization continue in our contemporary era, as can be seen in the 2011 Western intervention against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, which in turn led to the strengthening of African jihadi groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram, and which in turn has led the U.S. to establish a network of secret military bases across the African continent to fight its War on Terror.6

Mason reminds us of Hu Jintao’s 2006 pledge to double China’s development aid to Africa, and of the subsequent surge in Chinese investment in infrastructure construction on the continent. Indeed, Chinese aid is more attractive for African governments compared to that offered by the West as it famously comes without the preconditions for political or economic reforms usually imposed by Western donors.7 Memories of the painful experience during the 1980s across Africa of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) and the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies looms over the Nigerian government’s recent decision to seek infrastructure loans from the Chinese government rather than the IMF.8 Such memories echo Sartre’s warning that neocolonial efforts to emphasize the economic benefits accruing from colonial reforms are in fact intended to disguise the reality of political domination.9 Indeed, development aid from China has allowed developing countries such as Cambodia to avoid having to adjust their political and economic orders to satisfy the demands of Western donors.10

Mason suggests that the increased Chinese emigration to Africa that has accompanied the increase in Sino-African economic engagement mirrors the “white settlement and rule in Africa” that occurred during the colonial era, and focuses in particular on the economic impact of Chinese merchants in Africa, who “sell goods made in China,” as well as that of their African counterparts who travel to markets in Guangzhou and elsewhere in China to purchase goods for sale back in African markets.11 This influx of cheap goods from China has been known to “drive out traditional suppliers” and “undermine the local economy.”12 Dixon notes that the removal of trade barriers following Nigeria’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 1995 led to a flood of imported goods from China, and this in turn led to mass closures of local factories that were unable to compete with the cheaper Chinese products. The resulting deindustrialization of northern Nigeria laid the economic conditions for the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency which still afflicts the region today.13 However, this by no means represents the inevitable outcome of local industries in Africa confronting global competition. Brautigam cites examples of local African entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya, Lesotho, and Madagascar who were able to successfully compete against Chinese and other foreign imports, in some cases thanks to the human resource development and technology transfer provided by Chinese industrial investment in their countries.14

A related claim that is commonly presented in the media about China’s alleged neocolonial exploitation of Africa is that China and its firms have been engaged in a massive land grab on the continent. In Brautigam’s calculation, if all these media reports were accurate, Chinese companies would own 6 million hectares, or 1% of Africa’s total arable land. However, the actual figure is closer to just 240,000 hectares. As she explains: “Discouraged by poor infrastructure, political instability, and the sober realization that profits were likely to prove more elusive than hoped, Chinese firms came, explored, and then often went elsewhere—most often to countries in China’s border regions: Russia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.”15

The small actual size of Chinese-owned farmland in Africa also disconfirms related accusations of China’s alleged neocolonial plot to transform Africa into a farm to feed the hungry masses back home in China. Recent trade data shows that China is currently importing most of its food commodities like maize and soybeans from major non-African agricultural exporters like the U.S. and Brazil. Indeed, the development of Africa’s food producers into major global food exporters will require significant investment in agricultural modernization, which means the countries concerned will have to do more to attract much-needed investment from international agricultural firms like those of China.16

With regard to journalists and researchers repeating false claims about China’s agricultural activities in Africa, similar examples can be found in reports of Chinese loans to African states. A 2011 report from Fitch Ratings calculated that loans issued to Sub-Saharan African states between 2001-10 from the Export-Import Bank of China amounted to 67.2 billion USD, “overtaking World Bank lending of USD54.7bn to Africa for the same period.”17 This claim would subsequently be repeated elsewhere. Mason, for example, repeats the claim that Chinese aid to Africa exceeded that of the World Bank.18 The suggestion that China has been inundating Africa with cheap money has various implications, including the neocolonial image of China purchasing influence from impoverished African governments. However, the Fitch claim is wrong. A recent study of Chinese loans to Africa from Johns Hopkins University’s China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) shows that a more accurate estimate of Chinese loans to Africa during 2001-10 would be 30.5 billion USD, or less than half of Fitch’s estimate. Indeed, China’s growing pledges of development aid, including concessional loans, should be differentiated from the loans that are actually agreed upon and accepted, especially since a “growing number of countries … have suspended or canceled Chinese offers of credit lines.”19 As the authors of the CARI report recount of their analysis:

“Of the 1,223 reports of Chinese loan financing that we analyzed, only 56% actually materialized and are being used. The rest turned out to be mistakes, hopes, rumors, cancelled, or real loans—but not from China.”20

Looking beyond Africa, this trend of misreporting China’s global activities is most glaringly seen in alarmist reports of China’s alleged attempts to subvert the existing Euro-American world order by creating a parallel constellation of international institutions.21 In the case of the new international financial institutions (IFIs) set up by China, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the New Development Bank (NDB) set up by China with its BRICS partners, China has always asserted that these are intended to supplement rather than replace the existing constellation of IFIs.22 Indeed, the modest nature of the first projects to be funded by the AIIB and the NDB confirms that this is the case.23 Beyond the shores of Africa, China is also not exhibiting the behavior of an aspirational neocolonial power.

Fonte: Eurasia Review

Senegal’s Farmers Reap Rewards of Climate-Smart Agriculture

Publicado originalmente em 02 de dezembro de 2015.

Farmers are planting the seeds and harvesting the rewards of Climate-Smart Agriculture in Senegal. Climate-smart seeds, practices and technologies are helping smallholders grow more food for their families and markets, become more resilient to climate change and reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Fonte: World Bank