"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


far-reaching consequences

The financial crisis could be hard for many of us, but the consequences for those living in poverty overseas could be much, much worse. Here's a look at what could happen in Africa - think about the millions of people dependent on U.S. support for anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS.

Elsewhere in Africa, negotiations continue between the Somali pirates, who are having a high time on the high seas, and those trying to get back their weaponry. In the Congo, the government has asked the UN peacekeeping mission to do what it cannot: shut down Laurent Nkunda's CNDP forces in the east.

In both of these cases, what's particularly interesting to me is the way that non-state forces are attempting to play the role of the state. How people find ways to provide public goods in the state's absence is the focus of my research. The Somali pirates on some level seem to genuinely believe that they are providing a public service, and, given the absence of a coast guard, they kindof are. It's possible to argue that collecting ransoms is another way of collecting salaries. Is it really fundamentally different from collecting taxes at the port?

The Congolese, as per usual, are looking to international actors to do the state's job. The problem with that is that, while it may work in the short term with sufficient commitment of manpower and resources (neither of which are actually there), it's not a sustainable solution. The international community will get tired of propping up the Congo, and resources will shift to other conflict zones as time goes by.


Anonymous Chris Marlow said...

this is a huge concern for me right now. currently trying to figure it out. seems to be no easy answers.


Thursday, October 02, 2008 2:05:00 PM


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