Program

Thursday, November 18

COLLABORATIVE EVENT: ACCOUNTABLE AUTHORITARIANISM? DISCUSSION ON DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL CHANGE IN EAST AFRICA
3:00-5:00 P.M.
  (No tickets or RSVP required. Held in the Lang Student Center. Read full description.)

KEYNOTE EVENT: BUILDING ON A DECADE OF PROGRESS: SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR A BREAKTHROUGH IN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
6:00-7:30 P.M.
Tegegnework Gettu, head of the Africa Bureau, United Nations Development Program; Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations
Panelists:
Sean Jacobs, Assistant Professor, International Affairs at New School for General Studies
Ronald Kassimir, Associate Provost for Research and Special Projects, The New School
Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, development economist, Professor of International Affairs, The New School

Friday, November 19

SESSION I: ACCOUNTABILITY, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT: CAN THE STATE DELIVER?
10:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.

William Easterly, Professor of Economics, Co-director of Development Research Institute, New York University
DEMOCRACY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

[+]

Summary

 

Aid agencies and European and American development professionals, with occasional exceptions, have a double standard on political and civil liberties in the world. While this group would never countenance major violations of liberties in their home countries, they appear largely indifferent to whether such liberties exist in developing countries. Some in this group would go further and welcome authoritarian regimes for development. This paper provides evidence for this double standard today, and traces the historical roots of the double standard. It argues that development prospects would be enhanced by embracing the same standards on liberties for both rich and poor nations.

Agnès Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND IN AFRICA

[+]

Summary

 

This article will first introduce the conceptual and legal framework for freedom of expression and, particularly, the relationships between freedom of expression, including transparency on one hand and accountability on the other. It will then offer an overview of the current state of freedom of expression and transparency in Africa and its implications for stronger accountability. It will show that profound and real changes have taken place in the areas of press freedom and free speech, particularly in the 1990s, but that there remain many unfinished businesses, particularly with regard to transparency and accountability. It is in this context that the global setback has struck for the last eight or so years. The article will indeed show that the finding of a global setback in human rights terms (but also economic and financial) applies with equal force to Africa. The set back has not necessarily been greater in Africa than in the rest of the world, but neither has it been less visible or marked. In fact, in an environment characterized by weak political institutions and a nascent and thus fragile democratization process, it is probable that this setback will take longer to be returned.

Befekadu Degefe, former Economics Research Fellow, New School for Social Research
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

Moderator: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, development economist, Professor of International Affairs, the New School

SESSION IIMAKING THE STATE ACCOUNTABLE: INITIAL CONDITIONS AND ROADMAPS FOR THE FUTURE
1:30-3:30 P.M.

Nicolas van de Walle, John S. Knight Professor of International Studies, Director, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell University and Kristin McKie (presenting), Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Government, Cornell University
MECHANISMS OF ACCOUNTABILITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

[+]

Summary

 

Through what means are political leaders in Africa held accountable for their actions, choices, and behaviors? While the recent argument in favor of the "democratization through elections" thesis in Africa demonstrates how vertical accountability (in the form of elections) has positively impacted the expansion of civil liberties across the continent, the perpetuation of competitive authoritarian regimes in many African states suggests that more insight is needed into non-electoral sources of accountability of government leaders themselves. Specifically, the questions remains as to under what conditions and through which mechanisms is the discretion of political elites checked by horizontal accountability (the oversight of one state agent over another) in-between electoral contests? Therefore, in this paper, we survey a number of recent studies that explore the varying success of a range of formal institutions designed to promote horizontal accountability within and among the executive branch, legislature and the judiciary. We argue that the variation in the ability of these formal institutions to check political power is often effected by the differences in more informal practices across counties, such as patterns of party competition, patronage and other deeply rooted behavior norms."

Robert Bates, Eaton Professor, Department of Government, Faculty Fellow of the Institute for International Development, member of the Department of African and African-American Studies, Harvard University
DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA: A VERY SHORT HISTORY

[+]

Summary

 

When discussing governance in Africa, one must be circumspect when applying the term "democracy." One reason for doing so is because the term is imprecise. However, while differing in the attributes they posit and the qualifications they impose, those who write of democracy join in emphasizing its essential property: that it is a form of government in which political power is employed to serve the interests of the public rather than of those who govern. And it is this attribute that I take as defining good governance.

In this essay, I argue that democracy, in this sense, has been reborn in Africa. The evidence, I argue, strongly suggests that its renaissance has been accompanied by changes in public policies and political practices – ones that generate benefit for the people. But the evidence also suggests that political dangers remain: incumbent parties strive to suborn the electoral process and incumbent executives seek to prolong their terms in office. As elsewhere, to retain their political liberties, Africa’s citizens must "remain vigilant." Paraphrasing John Adams at the Constitutional, Africa today may enjoy better governance, but "can [she] keep it."

George B. N. Ayittey, President, Free Africa Foundation
TRADITIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND THE STATE OF ACCOUNTABILITY IN AFRICA

[+]

Summary

 

Mythology about Africa still persists. It served colonial interests to portray African natives as "savages" with no history and their indigenous institutions as "backward and primitive." Therefore, colonialism was "good" for them as it "civilized" them and freed them from their "terrible and despotic" traditional rulers. Of course, much of this mythology has been tossed into the trash bin. African natives not only had history but also viable traditional institutions which enabled them to survive through the centuries. Ghana, Mali, Songhai and Great Zimbabwe were empires they built that lasted for centuries. Nor were their rulers terrible and despotic. Chiefs and kings were held accountable at all times and removed from office for dereliction of duty – not after every four or so years. However, mythology about Africa still persists – this time among Africa’s own post colonial leaders! Believing that African natives had no history, no viable institutions, and no knowledge of such concepts as "democracy," "accountability" and "rule of law," the post colonial leadership imposed on their people alien systems and ideologies that have led to the ruination of Africa. The continent is littered with the putrid carcasses of these imported systems. Sankofa ("go back and get it") is the only route to take for Africa’s salvation. The solutions needed to extricate Africa from its current economic malaise and political miasma are already embedded in its own traditional institutions and heritage. And the leadership should just "go back and get them.


Mueni wa Muiu, Associate Professor of Political Science, Winston-Salem State University
KUME KUCHA: COLONIAL AND POST COLONIAL STATE AND DEVELOPMENTS IN AFRICA

[+]

 Summary 

 

This article examines the colonial and post colonial state and development in Africa; it does so by trying to answer the following questions: what is the nature of the African state and when did impunity become the norm? Who is the colonial and post- colonial state accountable to and how does this impact the welfare of the majority of the people? How can the state be reconstituted in the interests of the Africans (whichever way they define these)? By development, I mean a process that places the majority of the people at the center of all decisions. Development involves control over the economy, satisfaction of basic needs: food, health, security and shelter. Development is also based on the culture and history of the majority of the people. Human beings rather than institutions are the core of development. Africa is not homogeneous, issues of class, gender, race and cultural differences inform this discussion.

It is important to highlight the colonial state and its impact on indigenous institutions as well as the well-being of Africans. Such emphasis should not be misunderstood as self-pity or "blame" or nostalgia for "a golden past." It is simply done here to draw attention to the fact that what started with colonialism (control over economic resources and meddling in internal affairs) is an ongoing process in spite of political independence (relations between African and Western countries change based on the interests at stake). I argue that it is only when the colonial state is restructured based on the culture and history of the majority of the people as well as their needs that the culture of impunity, poverty and moral decay will end in African countries. Only then will development occur.

Moderator: Ronald Kassimir, Associate Provost for Research and Special Projects, the New School

SESSION III: MODELS OF THE PAST AND NEW PARADIGMS: EVALUATIONS BASED ON COUNTRY EXPERIENCES
4:00-6:00 P.M.

Kelechi A. Kalu, Director, Center for African Studies, Professor, Department of African American and African Studies, Ohio State University
NIGERIA: LEARNING FROM THE PAST TO MEET CHALLENGES OF THE 21ST CENTURY

[+]

 Summary 

 

The paper examines how Nigerians have articulated and implemented their national interest through the establishment and maintenance of a robust and viable state as a vector for national development. It argues that while external factors have impact on Nigeria’s capacity for transformational development, how Nigerians choose to live together to build a viable and stable political system is more important than external influences on the people and the state. While prescribing a strategy for transcending historically debilitating development problems, the paper argues that without serious discussion on the particularities of the different ethno-nationalities, Nigeria will remain as the nationalists saw it—a figment of British imagination: a failed central governance structure with a workable state. Starting with the nature of governance, the paper analyzes why Nigeria's development policies have failed, and the extent lessons from past governance and development policies are helpful for meeting national challenges in the 21st Century.

Berhanu Nega, Professor of Economics, Bucknell University
ETHIOPIA: FROM AUTHORITARIAN TRADITION TO DEMOCRACY

[+]

Summary

 

The link between broad based economic prosperity, political stability and accountable governance is generally acknowledged as a reasonable proposition to explain the wealth and poverty of nations. Although there is continuing debate about what accountable governance actually imply and the degree to which government accountability is related to the democratic nature of the state, there is a broad consensus that political stability is an important precondition for durable development. Modern Ethiopian history is nothing but a story of economic decline, political instability and authoritarian governance. The TPLF/EPRDF regime that has taken power after overthrowing the hated Derge regime in Ethiopia has no democratic credentials especially since the 2005 election debacle. In the absence of democratic legitimacy, the government has hoped to ease public anger and frustration over the unfulfilled expectations of democracy and meaningful ethnic equality, by changing the discourse on governance from democratic accountability to the issue of economic growth. The regime's claim, which seems to be implicitly supported by Western donors, is that it is a "developmentalist state" that can deliver stable governance through its economic achievements rather than through democratic legitimacy. This paper looks at the government's claims carefully and shows that the economic growth figures used to support the government's claims are rather dubious. It also tries to show that even if the growth figures are true, the extent of poverty in the country is too high to generate durable political stability given the hostility the government created among key ethnic and social groups in the country. Furthermore, given the geo strategic location of the country in a very troubled region of the world, Ethiopia's instability is going to have a much broader implication for regional stability. Accordingly, the paper argues for refocusing the debate on democratic accountability in Ethiopia as a necessary condition for durable stability and sustainable development in the country and the larger region.

John Mukum Mbaku (presenting), Professor of Economics, Weber State University, Mwangi Kimenyi, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Nelipher Moyo
RECONSTITUTING AFRICA'S FAILED STATES: THE CASE OF SOMALIA

[+]

Summary

 

In this paper, we focus on Somalia, one of the clearest examples of state failure in Africa today. First, we will provide a brief overview of state failure in Africa and illustrate the discussion with examples from Somalia’s experiences during the last two decades. Second, we present proposals for the reconstruction and reconstitution of Somali State. In addition, we examine a number of approaches that we consider critical to the rebuilding of the state. Given the current state of disorder in Somalia, we suggest that it is unlikely that the various factions will come together and strike a negotiated agreement leading to durable peace. As such, we suggest that the first step should be external intervention, and even possibly, occupation, until all hostilities can be brought under control and a state of order is established. Third, we propose a number of complementary strategies, such as the provision of social services and the elimination of the various illegal sources of revenue that appear to finance the competing parties that are responsible for exacerbating the conflict. Finally we propose institutional reforms, which we believe will establish an enabling environment for (1) peaceful coexistence of all of Somalia’s various population groups; (2) the emergence of a robust civil society, which will serve as a check on the exercise of government agency; (3) the continued development of the country’s embryonic entrepreneurial class, which is essential for sustainable economic growth and development; and (4) minimizing corruption, rent seeking and other growth-inhibiting behaviors.

Moderator: Befekadu Degefe, former Economics Research Fellow, New School for Social Research

COLLABORATIVE EVENT: ACCOUNTABLE AUTHORITARIANISM? DISCUSSION ON DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL CHANGE IN EAST AFRICA
3:00-5:00 P.M. (Theresa Lang Student Center, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
)
sponsored by Global Studies, Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, and Project Africa
Panelists:
Jacqueline M. Klopp, Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Peter Uvin, Academic Dean and Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies; Director, Institute for Human Security, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Rona Peligal, Africa Director, Human Rights Watch
Moderator: Ron Kassimir, Associate Provost, The New School

 
Connect with the New School