More women are participating in peace processes, but institutions still need to make sure that women’s roles are meaningful rather than just symbolic — and that requires looking far beyond reserving seats at the table during peace negotiations.
This month’s coup d’etat in Burkina Faso, the seventh in 26 months around the Sahel region, only extends the Sahel’s long agonies of failing governance, civil wars and violent extremism. Military-led intervention by France and other outside powers has failed to stem the widening destabilization of a landmass and population vastly bigger than those of the recent U.S. wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. U.S. and international security require a policy reset that addresses the Sahel crisis’ causes rather than its symptoms. In Burkina Faso and other states, this means supporting inclusive processes of national dialogue that can mobilize whole of the society to address those causes.
Justice, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (JDEIA) is often seen as an elusive concept rather than a concrete set of values and needs. The U.S. Institute of Peace’s Joseph Sany defines JDEIA as a peacebuilding practice and explains why it’s so important for USIP to bring people together to discuss it.
Ahead of the International Day of Peace on September 21, USIP’s Joseph Sany says the occasion is “an opportunity to celebrate, reflect and demonstrate our commitment” to building peace in our communities — as well as a chance to connect with millions of others through the Peace Day Challenge.
America’s new strategy toward Africa, released this week amid Secretary of State Blinken’s visit to the continent, offers promise for a newly productive relationship, and not a moment too soon. Global crises such as food insecurity, pandemic diseases and climate change—and Africa’s inevitable move in this generation to the world’s center stage—make a first real U.S.-Africa partnership vital. Yet a strategy is not a solution. Both American and African peoples and governments now face urgent tasks to seize this moment and jointly frame concrete milestones for the implementation of a new transatlantic partnership, ideally by December’s U.S.-African Leaders’ Summit.
The current struggle by Western democracies to isolate Russia over its assaults on Ukraine and international rule of law will be costly to sustain. Spiking prices for fuels, fertilizers and foods that Russia exports are risking wider socio-economic instability in many countries. A long-term solution must include a Western partnership to invest economically and politically in Africa, arguably Russia’s most formidable potential economic competitor. This strategy can strengthen a rules-based world against economic coercion by authoritarian powers, stabilize African democracies by enabling them to deliver for their people and strengthen international institutions and laws by including African countries more fully in them.
As democracies rally to defend an international rules-based system against Russia’s brutal attack on Ukrainians, the United States should forge an alliance with African partners by committing with them now to resolve the Ukraine crisis in a way that makes that system fairer and more inclusive. One early step is for U.S. and other policymakers to highlight the core of this conflict: The 44 million Ukrainians are fighting to govern themselves freely within their internationally recognized borders — a cause that is viscerally real to billions of people across Africa and the “global south.”
Policymakers are urgently seeking ways to reverse the erosion of democracy in fragile states exemplified by the past year’s surge in military coups in and around Africa’s Sahel region. To halt this decline, it’s vital to listen to African voices urging that international partners make the most of a powerful pro-democracy tool: increased foreign investment built upon the rule of law.
The past year’s surge in coups around Africa’s greater Sahel region highlights the need for the United States, other democracies and African governments to improve past practices that often have been ineffective in preventing armed seizures of power and in reversing them when they occur. Many Sahel countries have suffered repeated coups—a warning that we need to strengthen the ways that we shape our efforts at restoring democracy. USIP experts suggest that these transitions must become periods for broad, national dialogues to set agendas for change that can make strengthen democracy and interrupt cycles of failed governance.
The government of Guinea-Bissau says it survived an attempted coup d’état yesterday, just days after Burkina Faso suffered the fifth coup in nine months around the greater Sahel. These upheavals cement this African region as the most pronounced center of a global crisis: Poor and authoritarian governance is breeding extremism and transnational criminality, igniting violence and undermining efforts to build democracies. Following last year’s military power grabs in Chad, Mali, Guinea and Sudan, the new crises highlight widening risks to security — for the 135 million people of the Sahel region, and ultimately for Europe and the United States. They also point to changes needed in U.S. and international policies.