Posts by: Alex DeWaal

In this presentation I will argue that African scholarship on Africa is operating at only a fraction of its true potential, and that it is hampered by the preferences, policies and politics of the western academy.

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One monstrous zombie concept is the claim that climate change will spark new atrocities and conflicts over food scarcity. It’s clear that climate change is a scientific fact. But I am a skeptic about any direct links between environmental crisis, climate change and conflict and famine in the modern world. This skepticism arises partly as a reflex against the poor arguments marshaled in favor of those who predict such crises. Not to mention the trend lines: as the globe has warmed over recent decades, mass atrocities (including both large scale violent killing and famines) have declined.

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Begin with recognizing that all political systems need money, and that political finance should be regulated. This in turn requires drawing a distinction between political spending and corruption. This is a simple distinction to assert but a remarkably difficult one to delineate in practice.

The difference between legitimate funding of political institutions and patronage systems, and theft, needs to be drawn differently for each political system. So the next step is to initiate a process that allows countries to draw this line themselves. In institutionalized political systems, there can be an open debate on political financing, leading to legislation and enforcement. In political markets, it is the political financiers—the domestic businesses, foreign investors and patrons who provide the political money—who must take the lead. Let them collectively determine what counts as corruption and what is legitimate political spending.

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This essay briefly examines the possible components of a ‘human security approach’ to African peace missions and security sector governance/reform.

There are three overlapping general frameworks for human security (MacFarlane and Khong 2006). The first (‘Canadian’) focuses primarily on protection from organized violence; the second (‘Japanese’) on protecting and promoting a broad range of human capabilities; […]

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Across a swathe of the world—most places in what we can call the ‘Greater Middle East’ from the Sahara and the Maghreb, through the Horn of Africa and the Levant to Iraq and Central Asia—political systems are moving away from institutional forms, away from familiar forms of nationalism, and away from familiar forms of democracy […]

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Excerpt from “No money, no peace” by Alex de Waal in Foreign Policy, Wednesday, December 2, 2015. Available in full here.

Currently out of the headlines, South Sudan’s war, which began in December 2013, is a brutal competition for power between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar. This conflict […]

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