Defending Human Rights
Organization of African Unity
The International Response
The Work of Human Rights Watch
The International Response
Trapped in The Basement Of Global Priorities?
There was little new movement in international policy on African issues. As the international community seemed reconciled to the notion that Africa was locked in a permanent pattern of annihilation and turbulence, big powers seemed unprepared to elevate the plight of millions of Africans trapped by conflict and human rights abuse to a global priority. The year opened on a high note and witnessed a flurry of activity: hectic agendas and rounds of announcements; high-powered delegations traversing the continent; commissions galore examining and reexamining urgent issues; declarations and resolutions continued to be churned out; reports and documents adorned with the habitual exhortations and reaffirmations of lofty visions continued to be released. But real action that could curb cataclysmic trends if rhetoric was matched by commitment inched forward at a snail's pace. When it came to the pivotal issue of funding, major players resorted to fudging, making no commitments, only "options to consider." As a result, it became predictable that once again pledges would be unfulfilled.
The United Nations' Strategic Ghetto
The year 2000 was inauspicious for the United Nations in Africa, although it aimed much of its official rhetoric toward the continent and its current activities there. This increase in rhetoric was not matched with a comparable increase of financial support or other resources. The woes of the U.N. in Africa, especially its peacekeeping missions, seemed to represent system-wide failures of the U.N. Furthermore, the major powers were reluctant to intervene in Africa under U.N. supervision and the forces of the countries that took part in peacekeeping missions were often ill-trained and ill-equipped. While the U.N. and the Security Council no longer treated Africa with the indifference that it did during the early 1990s, it clearly failed to address African issues with the material resources they so desperately needed.
The U.N. engaged in a rare bout of self-criticism at the close of 1999. The Report on the Genocide in Rwanda severely condemned the lackadaisical manner in which the Security Council treated Rwanda, due to its and Africa's marginalized status within the international community. The report, released on December 16, 1999, declared that, "the Security Council, led unremittingly by the United States, simply did not care enough about Rwanda to intervene appropriately." The report went on to denounce the Security Council's tragic decision to reduce UNAMIR in the face of killings, rather than to try to muster political will to try and stop them. Ultimately, "[The Security Council's] refusalto sanction a serious mission made the genocide more likely." In response to the report, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for more effective U.N. engagement in Africa and better coordination between the Security Council and regional organizations.
As if in response to these views, the United States representative to the U.N., Richard Holbrooke, used the U.S. stint as president of the Security Council to lead the U.N. to focus its attention on Africa during January 2000. Undertakings were made that the U.N. would lead from the front in addressing Africa's problems and make Africa safe for human rights and dignity. The Security Council held meetings on the effects of HIV and AIDS in Africa, the growing problems of refugees and internally displaced persons in the continent, and the conflicts in Angola, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called "Africa's First World War."
The issue of AIDS in Africa received additional attention during the month, as the United States declared it a national security threat, the first time a health issue had been linked to national security in the United States and within the Security Council. Annan declared that the impact of AIDS on Africa was no less destructive than that of warfare itself, and many speakers called for the conspiracy of silence about AIDS to end. Dr. Peter Piot, director of UNAIDS, noted that roughly U.S. $1-$3 billion was needed to sustain and expand these campaigns. What happened after the ringing speeches? Only a tiny fraction of that total sum had been raised at this writing. Moreover, the international community continued to be less and less responsive to Africa's refugee and IDP emergencies. Food deliveries were curtailed during the year and relief programs for Africa remained drastically underfunded. For example, UNHCR programs throughout West Africa faced a U.S.$27 million funding shortfall in an overall budget of U.S.$77 million. Similarly, in Tanzania, which hosted the largest number of refugees in Africa, refugee food rations were cut in September due to insufficient funding. The international community's lack of response to African crises continued to contrast sharply with its generous and relatively speedy response to alleviate the suffering of displaced persons in 1999 during the humanitarian crises in Kosovo and East Timor.
The Millennium Summit, held in New York September 6-8, 2000, gave world leaders another opportunity to convey their concern and interests in Africa affairs. Following closely after the release of the Brahimi report, which scrutinized U.N. peace and security operations, the Security Council in resolution 1318 decided unanimously to overhaul U.N. peacekeeping operations to create a more effective and better-financed force "by adopting clearly defined, credible, achievable and appropriate mandates." The Brahimi report, released on August 17, 2000, criticized the concept of impartiality, which had guided U.N. peacekeeping efforts in the past that had led to the failure to distinguish between the victim and the aggressor. In addition, the report demanded that peacekeeping missions should specify orders to use force to better serve as a credible deterrent, a veiled reference to the U.N. peacekeeping mission debacle in Sierra Leone. The report also noted that "spoilers" of peace accords tended to be those with access to funds to supply weapons, a reference to the illicit trade in diamonds that supported continued fighting in Angola, the DRC, and Sierra Leone. Resolution 1318 pledged to enhance the effectiveness of the U.N. in addressing all stages of the conflict, reaffirmed its determination to give special attention to the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa given the specific characteristics of African conflicts, and emphasized the importance of continued cooperation and effective coordination between the U.N., the OAU, and African sub-regional organizations in addressing conflicts in Africa.
As part of this trend, Secretary-General Annan's Millennium Report urged developed nations to make special provisions for the needs of Africa, to fully support Africans in their struggle to overcome the continent's problems, and to curb the illegal traffic in small arms by supporting regional disarmament measures. Despite the renewed focus on Africa, many African leaders felt that not enough was being done within the Security Council to address African issues, quickly or effectively. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki stated, "Our collective rhetoric conveys promise. Our offense is that our actions convey the message that we do not care." Indeed very little had been accomplished by the peace and security operations in Africa between January and September. Overall, the U.N. remained as ill-prepared for the next big crisis as it was for the last.
Following two years of fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the United Nations established UNMEE, the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, when a new outbreak of hostilities erupted. A severe drought in the Horn of Africa had affected roughly ten million people in the region, which the fighting exacerbated, causing a severe humanitarian crisis, and the Security Council called on the OAU to immediately initiate peace talks between the countries. On June 18, 2000, the foreign ministers of both countries signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities under the auspices of the OAU, with representatives from the United Kingdom and the United States present. The following month the Security Council passed Resolution 1312, which called for one hundred military observers to be sent to the region to verify the cessation of hostilities between the two countries in order to prepare for a larger peacekeeping mission. On September 15, Security Council Resolution 1320 authorized the deployment of up to 4,200 troops until March 1, 2001 to monitor the cease-fire agreement. Although the security conditions improved, as Annan noted in a report on September 18, the humanitarian issues caused by the drought were still a cause for serious concern.
Combat and tension continued to plague the DRC, despite the Lusaka peace agreement signed by the government of the DRC, five neighboring countries, and one of the two main rebel groups in July of 1999. The disengagement plan hammered out by the United Nations and a joint military commission drawn from the governments and the factions involved provided that the belligerents should start simultaneously withdrawing their forces forty kilometers (twenty-five miles) from the frontline within weeks. But there was little evidence to validate the optimistic messages by the U.N. that the ceasefire was holding. Although Security Council Resolution 1279 extended the mandate of MONUC in November 1999, authorizing five hundred U.N. military observers to the region, fighting continued between government troops and rebel groups in the eastern region of the country. Some members of the Security Council, specifically the United States and Great Britain, did not want U.N. troops in the region while fighting continued, further delaying the deployment of U.N. troops to the country. Security Council Resolution 1291 expanded MONUC to 5,537 soldiers in February 2000, to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire agreement and to supervise the disengagement and redeployment of troops. The whole concept of MONUC seemed to have been founded more on hope than experience. Many analysts doubted its viability, given the impossibility of protecting civilians in the huge country with such a small force. At this writing, U.N. optimism had waned considerably, though MONUC's mandate was extended by a further two months in October 2000. There seemed to be a real chance that MONUC would simply wither and die.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson visited eastern Congo for three days in early October to meet with the leadership of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), local human rights activists, and representatives of U.N. agencies working in the country. Upon her return, she pledged to make the humanitarian situation within the DRC a higher priority for the U.N.
The peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone illustrated many of the structural flaws that hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations. Since the inception of UNAMSIL in October of 1999, officials in charge of the mission appeared unable to address the most basic security issues or cooperate among themselves. Besides the U.N.'s inability to protect its own staff, UNAMSIL's most egregious failure was its inability to protect civilians in the face of increasing human rights violations, a clear failure to fulfill its mandate. In May, the killing of at least ten and the capture of roughly five hundred U.N. peacekeepers forced the U.N. to reassess its role in Sierra Leone and the future of U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa. Even the successful rescue of the U.N. hostages in July and the SLA capture of the notorious leader of the RUF, Foday Sankoh, in May did little to repair the public image of UNAMSIL. Contributing countries were reluctant to continue supporting a costly and seemingly doomed peacekeeping mission. At the end of September, the Indian government announced its intention to withdraw its troops from UNAMSIL; its 3,059 troops made up one quarter of the 12,477 troops and were the best equipped. The Indian commander, Major General Vijay Jetley, had engaged in a public row with leaders from Nigeria, the largest troop contributor to UNAMSIL, accusing them of undermining the operation and doing business with the RUF in diamond mining operations. He also upbraided the Jordanian troops for collaborating with dissident former government soldiers known as the West Side Boys, by giving them supplies. Jetley was criticized for his treatment of soldiers from other nations under his command and his lack of communication with other military and political leaders during the hostage crisis in May. Following India's decision, Jordan reportedly decided that it did not want its troops to remain in Sierra Leone unless a NATO country was persuaded to play a significant role in the U.N. force. Additionally, the U.N. was unwilling to stiffen its mandate from peacekeeping to peacemaking, although it continued to increase the troop size of the mission. On August 4, UNAMSIL's mandate was expanded and its authorized troop presence was increased in successive resolutions; from the original six thousand in October 1999 to thirteen thousand in May. In September, the secretary general recommended that the troop strength be further increased to 20,500.
The United Nations Security Council agreed on August 14 to set up a war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone to try crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as crimes under relevant Sierra Leone law committed within its territory. But the measure stopped short of actually establishing the court or deciding its composition and functions. The sticking point seemed to be how the authority of the court should be shared between Sierra Leone's judicial system and neutral international experts. The Security Council asked the secretary-general to address these and other questions and produce a detailed blueprint for the court within thirty days. The blueprint-a draft statute for the special court-was published in October. The provisions regarding the court's jurisdiction, competence, fair trial guarantees, rules of procedure, and evidence all seemed to be satisfactory to assure that the court would receive a broad mandate to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities, that it would be backed by a strong international presence. The report that accompanied the draft statute emphasized the need for adequate funds.
Nevertheless, concerns remained as to whether the court would be free from political manipulation, and would try not only Sankoh and his comrades but also leaders of other fighting factions, including those supporting the government, who had committed heinous crimes against humanity. A structure that failed to establish a broad-based justice would in the long run gravely undermine a strong and impartial rule of law that would be essential to sustainable recovery. In addition, the Statute would limit the temporal jurisdiction of the court to crimes committed since November 1996, yet unspeakable crimes were committed from the inception of the war in 1991.
One of the main causes of fighting in the DRC and Sierra Leone was the illegal diamonds-for-arms trades that rebel groups, as well as external allies, used to sustain continued fighting. Diamonds played a pivotal role in funding the fighting between the government and the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. In recognition of this link, the Security Council passed Resolution 1306, which banned imports of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone for the next eighteen months, except those diamonds that were certified by the government. It also called for a five-person panel to examine sanctions violations and the link between trade in diamonds and small arms in Africa, with observations and recommendations to be presented by October 31, 2000.
In Resolution 1237, the Security Council decided to establish an independent inquiry into the breaking of sanctions against Angola's UNITA, which prohibited the sale or delivery of arms, military equipment, and petroleum products, and most importantly, the purchase of diamonds mined in areas controlled by UNITA. On March 10, the Report of the Panel of Experts on Violations of Security Council Sanctions Against UNITA was released; it was a ground breaking report in that it openly named sanction-breakers and established its own sources for information and investigation. The report cited two African presidents, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, who openly broke the sanctions to aid UNITA, while it said President Omar Bongo of Gabon supplied UNITA with large amounts of fuel.
The report explicitly linked UNITA with the diamond-for-arms trade, stating that, "Diamonds had a uniquely important role within UNITA's political and military economy. UNITA's ongoing ability to sell rough diamonds for cash and to exchange rough diamonds for weapons provide the means for it to sustain its political and military activities." The Security Council approved the report and called for tougher measurers to restrict UNITA access to diamonds, fuel and arms. By July, the Security Council declared that UNITA's conventional war capacity had been destroyed and no longer posed an immediate threat to the Angolan government, citing UNITA's increasing difficulty in selling diamonds on the international market as a dominant factor in addition to rebel territorial losses on the battlefield. The writing of the report signaled the Security Council's growing interest in the illegal trading activities of UNITA and its supporters and became a deterrent to those that would break the U.N. sanctions against UNITA.
The report made thirty-nine recommendations, including that the Security Council should apply sanctions to those governments, officials, and enterprises that break sanctions against UNITA, and that the diamond certificate of origin system should be reformed. Despite its strong stance against sanction-busters and innovative and reasonable recommendations, the Experts Panel suffered from the lack of a centralized office to coordinate its work, not involving Interpol in its efforts, and by the failure of member states to share intelligence with the panel.
Badgered by the controversy regarding "conflict diamonds," De Beers Consolidated Mines, the dominant force in the international diamond industry, in July announced a radical shift from its seventy-year marketing strategy of manipulating prices by stockpiling to a new one of selling diamonds as branded luxuries. Essentially, the new strategy seemed to be a defensive response to protect De Beers' product from being tainted by conflict. Also in July, the International Diamond Manufacturers' Association and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, meeting at the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp, adopted a global certification scheme for rough diamonds in order to identify conflict diamonds. The congress also agreed that all rough diamonds would have to be shipped in sealed packages certified by the authorities in the exporting nations and verified by a new international diamond council, and that countries knowingly involved in illegal diamond trading should lose their export accreditation. Both De Beers and the congress pledged that they would cooperate with the United Nations to help curb illegal trade indiamonds. These were important announcements, but the fundamental issue remained verification. In the absence of an independent monitoring regime-nagging questions would persist.
European Union, Norway, and the Donor Community
As in previous years, the European Union (E.U.) and the international donor community in general remained almost exclusively concerned with corruption and economic reform issues at the expense of civil and political rights concerns-and in seeming indifference too to economic, social, and cultural rights. It was still evident that policies were driven by the "full belly" thesis that civil and political rights were luxuries that could be put aside until the economy reached a certain degree of success. As a result of the compartmentalization approach, little progress was made in tackling the core issues-authoritarianism, arbitrariness and brutalization of politics-at the heart of Africa's political and human rights crises. International donor policy also continued to be undermined by the recurrent problem of inconsistency and double standards in the application of aid and human rights policies. For example, during 2000, donors demonstrated far less enthusiasm and determination in championing human rights issues in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, or Zambia than in their approach regarding the issue of good governance and human rights in Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Liberia. This tended to reinforce the perception that human rights was a tool used by donors against their "enemies" and ignored in respect of their "friends."
The largest aid and trade agreement between developed and developing countries, the fourth Lomé Convention, expired in February 2000. A new, more ambitious twenty-year partnership agreement was signed in June in Cotonou, Benin, between the E.U. and seventy-seven countries from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (the ACP bloc). The Cotonou Convention, replacing Lomé, included a clause stipulating that individual countries that were seriously corrupt would face sanctions, including the withholding of aid. A new procedure was also foreseen for consultation and the adoption of measures where human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law were violated, placing the primary responsibility with the state concerned to take measures to rectify the situation. A separate Trade, Development, and Cooperation Agreement between the E.U. and South Africa (which, as a middle-income country, did not qualify for full Lomé/Cotonou terms) was also agreed upon in February 2000, cutting tariffs and liberalizing trade, after years of negotiations.
The Portuguese presidency of the E.U. during the first six month of the year promised particular attention to deepening cooperation with the African continent. But apart from the African-European Summit in Cairo on April 3-4, 2000, little was delivered. The summit itself was fairly neutral on human rights concerns save for a formal declaration that the parties "recognize the need to provide for greater inclusion of civil society in all areas of our partnership. In this context, we emphasize the need for greater participation of the citizen in decision-making concerning the management and the allocation of resources, whilst respecting the diverse and complementary roles of the State, decentralized local authorities and the other society actors concerned."
Otherwise the priority issue for the African participants was debt relief, and they seemed to have given short shrift to human rights and related governance issues.
France took the E.U. presidency during the second half of 2000, promising a follow-up to the Cairo Conference and proposing that priority be given to developing dialogue with the sub-regional organizations. But the French E.U. presidency remained relatively muted on virtually all the major flashpoints in Africa, with the exception of Ivory Coast. France's reaction to the coup in that country was read as evidence that France would no longer unconditionally support loyal but corrupt incumbents in its former colonies. France did not intervene to save Ivory Coast's president, Henri Konan Bedie, whose party reportedly cheated in the 1995 presidential elections and had arbitrarily changed the constitution to thwart his main rival. Analysts observed that if France did not intervene in the Ivory Coast, their most important economic partner in Africa, it was unlikely that they would do so to support the likes of Omar Bongo of Gabon or President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo. France also lashed out at General Guei's government of the Ivory Coast, following the barring of Ouattara from the presidential polls.
Britain's involvement in Africa was most dramatically marked by its armed intervention in Sierra Leone, following the collapse of the Lomé peace process in May 2000. British paratroopers were deployed after hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers were taken hostage by the RUF. The troops evacuated British nationals and established a sense of stability in the country. Britain provided U.N. forces with intelligence and logistical support, along with training and equipment. In September, eleven British troops were taken hostage and a rescue team was deployed to free them. Hundreds of British forces remained stationed in Sierra Leone throughout the year, but under a bilateral agreement with the Sierra Leonean government, not under U.N. command. Their primary responsibility was to train a reconstituted Sierra Leonean army.
Following its high level of engagement in Sierra Leone, Britain took a leading role in the international community's response to the use of conflict diamonds in fueling wars in Africa. In June, the British government introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution banning the trade of diamonds from Sierra Leone which were not certified by the government. In June Peter Hain, minister of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, hosted a meeting of officials from diamond importing and marketing countries.
Next to the war in Sierra Leone, Britain was most outspoken with regard to the violence associated with Zimbabwe's presidential election and land redistribution there. Throughout the year, Britain criticized President Robert Mugabe's government for failing to uphold rule of law in the country. In May, Britain placed a national arms embargo on Zimbabwe because of the possibility that imported weapons would be used in the conflict in the DRC. Zimbabwe demanded that Britain fund its land reform in accordance with the 1979 Lancaster House independence agreement. However, the British government stated it would only finance a land redistribution policy that adhered to the transparent principles agreed upon during an international land conference in 1998.
The Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway maintained their tradition of engagement with Africa. All three countries froze or suspended government-to-government aid to Zimbabwe on the basis of good governance concerns, and to Ethiopia and Eritrea, as a result of the ongoing hostilities between the duo. Assistance to NGOs continued, often focusing on human rights and democratization programs. Denmark, however, continued its development assistance to Zimbabwe and Eritrea on the grounds that there was a greater chance of promoting democracy and human rights through development partnership and dialogue. All four countries also maintained their high profile on human rights and governance issues in dialoguing with African governments. However, Uganda, Zambia, and Ethiopia seemed to get gentler treatment than Zimbabwe or Eritrea. Moreover, economic interests could trump human rights concerns. Once Norwegian oil firms obtained lucrative footholds in Angola's ultradeep offshore fields, Norwegian comment on Luanda's human rights abuses became muted. The Netherlands government agreed to send some seven hundred peacekeepers to the Horn of Africa to take part in the United Nations mission to monitor the cease-fire agreement that ended the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Making bold pledges about debt relief turned out to be easier than acting upon them. Despite the high sounding declarations at the 1999 June Cologne Group of Seven (G-7) summit to enhance coordinated efforts to "support deeper, broader and fast debt relief," by mid-2000 only nine African countries had experienced any reduction in their debt payments-way off the G-7 target of writing off U.S.$100 billion of debt by the end of 2000. To help breathe new life into international debt relief efforts, Britain in July announced a special plan to provide extra money to help countries that stopped fighting and instead used their resources to combat poverty. Ahead of the G-7 summit, the E.U. and the ACP group agreed a deal to allow the release of U.S.$1.04 billion for global debt relief for the world's poorest countries. In its communiqué at the Okinawa summit, the G-7 conceded that the dilemmas of debt, health, and education were inextricably linked, and the heart of the economic difficulties facing the poorest countries. The Okinawa communiqué also for the first time addressed the need to combat diseases. It set three global targets to be achieved by 2010: to reduce the number of HIV infected young people by 25 percent; to reduce tuberculosis deaths, and prevalence of the disease, by 50 percent; and to reduce malaria by 50 percent.
In October 2000, nearly eighty ministers of foreign and economic affairs from forty-four African countries assembled in Beijing for the first China-Africa cooperation forum. China, making a fresh bid to emerge as a leader of the developing world, and building on a six-nation African tour undertaken by President Jiang Zemin in 1996, promised debt relief and business deals to those attending. In a passage clearly aimed at human rights interventions of the sort undertaken by NATO in Kosovo, the communiqué declared that "no country or group of countries has the right to impose its will on others, to interfere, under whatever pretext, in other countries' internal affairs, or to impose unilateral coercive economic measures on others." While affirming the universality of human rights, the communiqué went on to state that "Each country has the right to choose, in its course of development, its own social system, development model and way of life in light of its national conditions. Countries, that vary from one another in social systems, stages of development, historical and cultural background and values, have the right to choose their own approaches and models in promoting and protecting human rights in their own countries. Moreover, the politicisation of human rights and the imposition of human rights conditionalities on economic assistance should be vigorously opposed to as they constitute a violation of human rights."
U.S. Policy Towards Africa
The United States dedicated its month as president of the Security Council, January 2000, to African crises. During this "Month of Africa," various issues were discussed, from the refugee situation to the crises in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This emphasis on Africa was reinforced by President Clinton's trip to Nigeria and Tanzania at the end of August-an unprecendented second visit to the continent. But these interventions only obscured a lack of commitment to promoting human rights and accountability when dealing with crises in Africa. The Clinton administration did make strides in bringing African issues into more mainstream U.S. policy, as exhibited by the record number of U.S. government agencies engaged in Africa, although African issues rarely galvanized high-level attention. In crisis after crisis, the administration continually failed to integrate human rights into its policies on economic development and regional security. Although a rhetoric of human rights concerns remained on the U.S. agenda, trade and economic concerns as well as international terrorism continued to take precedence over human rights. While administration officials rarely mentioned their prior emphasis on Africa's "new leaders" or their support for the Lomé Accord ending the Sierra Leone peace process despite its blanket amnesty, the effects of these short-sighted policies were seen in the diminished credibility of U.S. Africa policy.
During his 1999 trip to Africa, Clinton avoided Nigeria as a sign of disapproval of its military dictatorship. Yet as he praised Nigeria's transition to a democracy in August 2000, Clinton's rhetoric focused more heavily on economic growth than human rights. Rewarding Nigeria for its democratic accomplishments, the U.S. promised to quadruple aid to the country. The U.S. also promised funding to build partnerships between the U.S. government, Nigerian government, oil companies, and the residents of the oil-producing areas in the hopes of resolving the ongoing conflict affecting oil production. Central to his visit, however, was Clinton's appeal to the Nigerian government to increase oil production in order to drive down world oil prices, then at an all-time high. After leaving Nigeria, Clinton visited Tanzania to witness the signing of the Burundi Peace Agreement. Prior to his visit, Clinton had sent a special envoy to Burundi to support the mediation effort. However, the U.S. did not push for prompt, effective justice to punish serious crimes committed during the war as part of the peace process.
After the United Kingdom, the U.S. made the greatest efforts to engage with the crises in Sierra Leone. The U.S. condemned the taking of U.N. hostages by the RUF rebels and asked that they be released, but did not commit to any actions against the RUF. The U.S. also discussed with the U.N. the prospect of expanding the rapid reaction force to Sierra Leone, but remained reluctant to put its troops at risk, and would not commit personnel for peacekeeping operations. Instead, the U.S. undertook the task of training and equipping additional battalions of Nigerian peacekeepers. In the Security Council, the U.S. was a leading force behind efforts to establish a special tribunal for Sierra Leone. It also pledged support for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as creating a reintegration program to train and educate rebel soldiers.
The U.S. also took the initiative with efforts to eradicate the use of illicit diamonds to fuel civil wars in Africa, declaring support for tighter measures to control the diamond sectors in all affected countries and in the international diamond trade, but warned that those efforts should not damage the markets of stable, democratic, diamond-producing states. The U.S. provided technical and financial support in the establishment of the Sierra Leone Commission on the Management of Strategic Resources, which was supposedly responsible for the management of the country's diamond sector. In July, representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and the Diamond High Council met with officials in Sierra Leone to establish a diamond certification scheme in hopes of limiting the amount of RUF-controlled diamonds that made their way into the market. At this writing, Congress was hearing testimony on a bill that would block the import of conflict diamonds into the United States. With regard to illicit diamonds in Angola, the U.S. supported a U.N. resolution strengthening the implementation of sanctions against UNITA in an effort to further limit the export of diamonds and import of military supplies. There was disapproval expressed during the year over the unsafe environment for the press in Angola. However, such efforts were greatly outweighed by much more forthright lobbying of U.S. economic interests, and official criticism of other Angolan government rights abuses was muted by its embassy in Luanda. In addition, the Clinton administration encouraged the government to find a peaceful solution to the country's civil war. Reacting to the continuing humanitarian disaster, the U.S. committed U.S.$38 million to support humanitarian relief efforts and an additional U.S.$2 million for UNHCR assistance programs in northern Angola.
The U.S. expressed repeated concern over the Sudanese government's bombings of civilian targets, especially in areas where relief efforts were being conducted. The United States' engagement increased with the appointment of a special U.S. envoy who traveled to Khartoum to discuss reducing human rights abuses, improving humanitarian response, and renewing regional peace efforts. The United States continued to assert that the IGAD peace initiative offered the best hope of ending the war.
In March, the U.S. sent a special envoy on a two-week mission to support the mediation efforts of the OAU in the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. However, brokering the peace agreement largely fell on the shoulders of the OAU, despite its recent history of close relations with both Ethiopia and Eritrea. The U.S. supported a U.N. resolution to establish a mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea consisting of one hundred military observers until January 31, 2001. The U.S. condemned the coup in Ivory Coast and the exclusion there of many of the candidates in the presidential elections slated for October. All bilateral assistance and arms transfers were suspended until democracy was restored.
The U.S. position regarding HIV/AIDS in Africa advanced appreciably this year. The U.S. signed a U.S. $10 million agreement with the Southern African Community to fund a variety of programs, one of them an assessment of the impact of HIV/AIDS on sexual development. The Clinton Administration promised to request U.S.$332 million over the next two years to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and globally. The U.S. also announced an HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program in Angola that would cost U.S. $3 million over three years. The U.S. introduced a resolution in the U.N. that would allow for voluntary testing and AIDS education for U.N. peacekeepers. However, in July, the U.S. announced that U.S. $1 billion in annual loans to finance the purchase of anti-AIDS drugs would be available to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Many African nations responded coolly to the proposal, expressing concern that the loans would just add to their debt burden.
The U.S. promoted a plan to the G-7, which was designed to provide up to U.S.$90 billion in additional debt relief to developing countries. The primary beneficiaries would be African countries. In addition, the U.S. pledged U.S.$500 million in debt relief and an additional U.S.$120 million toward the promotion of democracy. But for all the soaring speeches and high-blown sentiment, performance fell far short of the expectations generated. The House of Representatives approved funding for debt relief to meet the Clinton administration's request of U.S.$225 million, but the measure flopped as the U.S. Senate bill earmarked a paltry U.S.$75 million for debt.
Despite high expectations that the year 2000 would bring greater international attention and resources to Africa, the major international powers remained at the sidelines during the worst episodes of human rights abuses and violations. Starting in January, the United Nations and the United States pledged greater levels of interest and support in African affairs, and vowed to do more to help their African counterparts. Africa had never garnered this much attention from the international community and its prospects for growth and development seemed brighter. However, as little was done during the year to fulfill these bold pledges, it very quickly became evident that business would remain as usual for Africa in the international arena. Furthermore, E.U. and U.S. policies lacked the desired balance between economic rights on the one hand and political and civil rights on the other, while the United Nations was unable to ameliorate any of the devastating conflicts that continued to plague the continent. The slow pace of debt relief promised by the United States and the E.U. did little to alleviate the health and education issues that burdened many African countries, nor did it appear that the pace of debt relief would increase in the near future. Moreover, the international community failed not only on its pledges for African development and debt relief, but accomplished very little in stemming the spread of AIDS despite the havoc that the pandemic was wreaking across Africa. Ultimately, numerous statements to the contrary notwithstanding, it remained clear that Africa was a low priority for the United States, the E.U. and to some extent, the United Nations. Africa remained trapped in the basement of global priorities.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Federal Republic of Ethiopia
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Human RIghts Watch