Tom Sheehy is a distinguished fellow in USIP’s Africa Center. Sheehy examines the role of China in Africa and supports USIP’s work to strengthen the Sudd Institute, a research organization in South Sudan that promotes national reconciliation.

Previously, Sheehy served on the USIP senior study group that produced the report “China’s Impact on Conflict Dynamics in the Red Sea Arena.” He is a member of the International Advisory Council of Afrobarometer, the leading survey organization focused on gauging African attitudes toward democracy, governance, and society.

Prior to joining USIP, Sheehy held several positions on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including most recently as staff director, responsible for its overall operations, and as staff director of its Africa subcommittee, which focused on conflict resolution, economic development, and natural resource conservation, among other issues. The subcommittee actively pressed for the successful apprehension and trial of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor and promoted peace and stability in war-devastated Liberia and Sierra Leone.

With the committee, Sheehy worked on several pieces of legislation that have defined U.S. policy toward Africa, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Electrify Africa Act, the BUILD Act, and the Global Fragility Act. He served as an international election observer for national elections in Kenya and Nigeria.

Sheehy served as an Africa policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation before working in Congress. At the think tank, he co-developed the Index of Economic Freedom, an annual survey of national economies worldwide now in its 25th edition. He frequently appeared in national media and testified before several congressional committees.

He holds a bachelor’s in political science from Trinity College (Hartford) and a master’s in international relations from the University of Virginia.

Publications By Thomas

Despite High Stakes in Ethiopia, China Sits on the Sidelines of Peace Efforts

Despite High Stakes in Ethiopia, China Sits on the Sidelines of Peace Efforts

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

By: Joseph Sany, Ph.D.;  Thomas P. Sheehy

Since November of 2020, Ethiopia has been suffering from a deadly internal conflict that has claimed an estimated 50,000 lives and displaced over two million. The United States, the African Union and others in the region have attempted to secure a cease-fire between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but have made little headway. In contrast, China has remained mainly on the sidelines of peacebuilding efforts even though Ethiopia — the second most populous country in Africa — is a centerpiece of its Africa policy. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

In Africa, U.S. Should Focus More on Democracy, Less on China

Thursday, October 14, 2021

By: Gustavo de Carvalho;  Paul Nantulya;  Thomas P. Sheehy

Even as the United States draws lessons from its unsuccessful, 20-year effort to build a sustainable peace in Afghanistan, it is shaping policies to engage the political and economic rise of Africa. Both the shortcomings in Afghanistan and the opportunities of Africa underscore the imperative of building policy on a full appreciation of local conditions. Yet on Africa, China’s growing presence has seized Americans’ political attention, and scholars of African politics say this risks distracting near-term U.S. policymaking. A requisite for U.S. success in Africa will be to focus on Africans’ desires—which include an ambition to build their futures by democratic means.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyDemocracy & Governance

The Need to Build on Security Gains in Mozambique

The Need to Build on Security Gains in Mozambique

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy

The Rwandan armed forces and police deployed to the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique have made impressive gains combatting the Islamic State-affiliated al-Shabaab militants that have devastated the area. These 1,000 or so forces secured the key port city of Mocimboa da Praia in August, and the militants — who have committed grave atrocities, killed thousands and driven nearly a million people from their homes — have been forced to retreat from several areas of this natural resource-rich region. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionViolent Extremism

Five Keys to Tackling the Crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

Five Keys to Tackling the Crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy

Since 2017, armed militants — often carrying the Islamic State flag — have been on the offensive in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado. The human toll of this violence is grave, with more than 3,000 killed, nearly a million displaced and an acute hunger crisis. Beyond the immediate priority of stemming the violence and addressing the dire humanitarian situation that is already affecting neighboring provinces, the crisis affords the government of Mozambique and the international community the opportunity to address long-standing challenges.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionViolent Extremism

Countering China on the Continent: A Look at African Views

Countering China on the Continent: A Look at African Views

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

By: Thomas P. Sheehy;  Dr. Joseph Asunka

As U.S. policy has increasingly focused on countering China’s influence worldwide, Africa also has come under this lens. While the administration and Congress consider approaches and policy options, it is important to ask what Africans think of U.S. efforts to counter China’s growing role on their continent. While U.S. foreign policy should serve American interests, it will be most successful if cognizant and, when possible, reflective of the interests and aspirations of Africans.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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