MAKING CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND PREVENTION IN AFRICA A “TOP PRIORITY:” G8-Africa Action Plan and Considerations for Sea Island
Victoria K. Holt Senior Associate The Henry L. Stimson Center Washington, DC
March 31, 2004
Commissioned by the G8-Africa Partnership Project of the Council on Foreign Relations
At the G8 Summit at Kananaskis, Canada in June 2002, participating nations turned their sights toward Africa, establishing an ambitious Africa Action Plan.1 Stating that Africa had been “undermined or destroyed by conflict and insecurity,” G8 nations pledged that they were “determined to make conflict prevention and resolution a top priority.” Emphasis was placed on supporting African-led initiatives to quell armed conflict, develop peacebuilding and organize peace operations. The Summit built on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African-led plan to tackle continental issues, welcoming it as a “bold and clear-sighted vision.” The G8’s Africa Action Plan committed members to support goals in line with NEPAD, both as individual and collective actions, and through their membership in international institutions. 2
As a preview for the Sea Island, Georgia Summit in June 2004, this paper looks at G8 commitments within the Africa Action Plan regarding peace and security. G8 members have set ambitious goals for conflict prevention in seven areas – with multiple subtopics and benchmarks – over the next few years and through 2010. These broad commitments include support to efforts that prevent and resolve armed conflict and promote peace-building; to develop African regional and sub-regional capacities to conduct peace support efforts; to curb the illegal arms trade; to eliminate anti-personnel landmines; to address the link between conflict and exploitation of natural resources; and to increase protection for war-affected populations, especially women and children.
Two years since the African Action plan’s launch, however, G8 nations have not put Africa at the top of their foreign policy agenda. Attention is more focused on terrorism, the US occupation of Iraq and its aftermath, geopolitical repercussions in the Middle East, and diverse regional and economic challenges from Southwest Asia to trade. Yet as the Canadian government argues, support for NEPAD and the G8 goals for Africa remains important and timely:
While conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan continue to be the primary focus of global media attention, the human toll of armed conflict remains highest in Africa. Over the past decade, 77 per cent of all worldwide deaths relating to war and armed conflict have been in Africa. Half of the continent's countries have been directly or indirectly affected by armed conflict and 20 per cent
1 The Group of 8 (G8) members are the major industrialized democracies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Meetings have also included representatives of the European Union, selected leaders from Africa, and the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
2 The 2002 statement said “Our Africa Action Plan is the G8's initial response, designed to encourage the imaginative effort that underlies the NEPAD and to lay a solid foundation for future cooperation.”