Attention to Ethiopia (Africa): Corruption ‘impoverishes and kills millions’

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Corruption ‘impoverishes and kills millions’

 

Pile of dollars (file picture)
BBC (4 September 2014) The ONE group says money lost because of corruption would otherwise be spent on school and medicine. An estimated $1tn (£600bn) a year is being taken out of poor countries and millions of lives are lost because of corruption, according to campaigners.A report by the anti-poverty organisation One says much of the progress made over the past two decades in tackling extreme poverty has been put at risk by corruption and crime.

Corrupt activities include the use of phantom firms and money laundering. The report blames corruption for 3.6 million deaths every year.

If action were taken to end secrecy that allows corruption to thrive – and if the recovered revenues were invested in health – the group calculates that many deaths could be prevented in low-income countries.

Corruption is overshadowing natural disasters and disease as the scourge of poor countries, the report says.

One describes its findings as a “trillion dollar scandal”.

“Corruption inhibits private investment, reduces economic growth, increases the cost of doing business and can lead to political instability,” the report says.

“But in developing countries, corruption is a killer. When governments are deprived of their own resources to invest in health care, food security or essential infrastructure, it costs lives and the biggest toll is on children.”

The report says that if corruption was eradicated in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Education would be provided to an additional 10 million children per year
  • Money would be available to pay for an additional 500,000 primary school teachers
  • Antiretroviral drugs for more than 11 million people with HIV/Aids would be provided

One is urging G-20 leaders meeting in Australia in November to take various measures to tackle the problem including making information public about who owns companies and trusts to prevent them being used to launder money and conceal the identity of criminals.

It is advocating the introduction of mandatory reporting laws for the oil, gas and mining sectors so that countries’ natural resources “are not effectively stolen from the people living above them”.

It is recommending action against tax evaders “so that developing countries have the information they need to collect the taxes they are due” and more open government so that people can hold authorities accountable for the delivery of essential services.

Read more @ original source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29049324

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-29040793

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Africa’s Jobless Growth: Economic success just for a few cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy August

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Africa is Rising! At Least Its 1% Is

Africa’s economy may be booming, but this will do little to help unemployment and poverty if growth is jobless and its spoils are limited to the few.

What we need in Africa is balanced development. Economic success cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy … it doesn’t work…it worries us a lot when we don’t see the trickle-through factor, when gain goes to the top 1% or 2%, leaving the rest behind.” – Mo Ibrahim October 15, 2012

It did not come as a surprise to many when, on October 15, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced that there was no winner for its annual $5 million African leadership award – for the third time since its inception in 2006. What was surprising, however, was that the foundation’s chair, British-Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim, alsoadmonished the much-celebrated recent economic ‘success’ of the African continent for largely failing to translate into better human rights and social development, and for essentially creating a few elitist winners at the top whilst the rest were left struggling at the very bottom.

Recent reports, forecasts and editorials of influential financial magazines are incredibly optimisticabout Africa – its booming economic growth, its investment opportunities and its growing middle-class. Sub-Saharan African countries are reportedly among the fastest growing in the world with six out of ten world’s fastest growing economies, and recording growth rates averaging 4.9%, higher than the developing country average and much higher than the developed country average.

The Economist’s December 2011 print issue was boldly titled ‘Africa Rises’ and in August 2012, it again boldly proclaimed that ‘A Continent Goes Shopping’, underscoring the voracious purchasing power of the African middle-class to buy consumer and even luxury goods. The current received wisdom in these sleek reports, glossy magazine pages and glass-panelled conference rooms is that sub-Saharan Africa really is the place to be and to invest in, with all its abundant opportunities.

Jobless growth

This much-trumpeted economic success is mostly true, until one looks at the other side. Then questions arise over to what extent growth is spread across sectors of the economy, and whether such economic growth is translating into corresponding improvements in human and social development.

It is common knowledge that this new dawn of booming economic growth is largely the consequence of the recent rise in the global commodity prices of natural resources, chiefly oil, while the vibrancy of other sectors of the economy such as banking, telecommunications and construction trail behind in terms of growth. Many African countries primarily depend on the exportation of natural resources – and industry which is highly capital- (and technology-) intensive, providing few jobs. Only five of Africa’s fifty-four countries are currently not “either producing or looking for oil”.

It is therefore no surprise that many African countries, especially the economic powerhouses of the continent, are bedevilled by high unemployment, particularly amongst young people – hovering at25% in Egypt, 48% in South Africa and 42% in Nigeria. Thus, growth in capital-intensive sectors – such as resource exports, banking, and telecommunications – is barely trickling down to create jobs and economic opportunities for the vast majority of the people – a phenomenon commonly known as ‘jobless growth’.

Many sub-Saharan African countries experiencing record-level economic growth still have low rankings in human development indices, despite marginalimprovements in education enrolment and, with countrywide variations, maternal health. This contradiction is further reinforced by the growing inequality that characterises many of such African ‘powerhouses’. Luanda in Angola (thanks to flowing petro-dollars) and N’Djamena in Chad were, respectively, the second and eighth most expensive cities to live as an expatriate in 2012 – ahead of Sydney, London and New York according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey. Juba in the newly independent South Sudan is also gaining notoriety for its high cost of living, while the price of select real estate in Abuja and Lagos in Nigeria reportedly rivals that of some Western cities. These expensive cities are in countries grouped within the ‘Low Human Development’ category of the United Nation’s Human Development Indexbased on indicators such as health, income and education.

A tale of two cities

There has certainly been some improvement – for one, there is now an identifiable middle-class in Africa with money to splash around in the cinemas of Abuja and pricey hotels of Accra, the malls and retail outlets of Johannesburg and the exclusive residential estates of Lagos and Nairobi. However, once you step out of these glitzy inner cities and look to the outskirts, the glaring contrast between the shiny modernity and the urban deprivation in the slums hits you like the searing tropical sun.

 

The task thus remains for governments to devise sustainable development strategies that are tailored specifically to suit the African context. Such strategies must sustain the momentum of economic growth while ensuring that growth spreads to and strengthens sectors such as mechanised agriculture, light manufacturing and small-scale enterprises, which have a direct impact on the lives and incomes of citizens.

Such transformational policies should ensure that revenue windfalls are utilised wisely towards social and welfare policies, which will empower millions of Africans out of poverty, thereby creating a robust middle-class rather than just enriching an already existing sliver. It also means that such funds can be saved to help with later needs, as with the Sovereign Wealth Fund embarked on by countries such as Angola and the new oil-producer Ghana.

Importantly, the African youth bulge needs to be transformed into a demographic dividend by providing employment and economic opportunities to an increasingly educated African youth and by providing critically needed infrastructure so that abundant innovative ideas, which are capable of transforming lives and societies, can materialise into reality.

Ultimately, these are still governance challenges that Africa has a long way go to overcome, but the marginal improvements in some aspects of governance, especially women’s rights, as the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Index has shown, gives room for some cautious optimism. Mo Ibrahim’s admonishment could not have come at a better time.

Read @ it original source:http://thinkafricapress.com/development/mo-ibrahim-issues-timely-caution-afro-optimists?utm_content=buffer46624&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

*Zainab Usman is a Nigerian freelance writer. She is currently a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford in Governance and Political Economy of Economic Diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has a BSc in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and a Masters in International Political Economy and Development from the University of Birmingham. Zainab is an advocate of good governance, poverty reduction and women and youth empowerment. She regularly blogs atzainabusman.wordpress.com.

Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at US$24.9 billion or 83.8% of the GDP

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The term capital flight has been given many interpretations in the economic literature and in the  press, leading to confusion and misinterpretations. In the popular press, capital flight is presented as illegal or illicit financial flows. It is housed in the same domain as money laundering, tax  evasion, transfer pricing, underground trafficking. Yet, while these activities are illicit, not all of  them amount to capital flight. At the same time, while most capital flight may be deemed illicit. Capital flight may be illicit in one of three ways: when it consists of money acquired illegally and transferred  abroad; when funds are transferred abroad illicitly by violating capital account regulations; when capital is hidden abroad and therefore not being subject to taxation and other government regulations. It is not possible to make this determination a priori from the data that is used to calculate capital flight, which involves a reconciliation of recorded capital inflows (mainly external borrowing and foreign direct investment) and the use of these resources (to cover the current account deficit and accumulation of reserves). The term capital flight means capital flows from a country that are not recorded in the country’s Balance of Payments (BoP). If all the ransactions were correctly and systematically recorded, inflows would balance out with outflows, except for small and random statistical errors as recorded in the ‘net errors and omissions’ line of the BoP. Where large discrepancies are observed, in other words, where there is  substantial ‘missing money’ in the BoP, this is taken as an indication of the presence of capital  flight.

http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_351-400/WP353.pdf

Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at US$24.9 billion or 83.8% of the GDP

 

capital_flight

(Source: Political Economy Research Institute, the University of Massachusetts).

 

 

August 17, 2014 (PERI Research) — Ethiopia’s capital flight is estimated at about US$24.9 billion which is 83.8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ethiopia is ranked 8th in the group of 33 countries for which data are available but it stands first when compared to non-oil and/or mineral exporting countries. Even the latter was considered to be substantially lower than the actual flows give that large stock of immigrants. The true figure could be as high as one billion dollars. If so, Ethiopian capital flight would be commensurately larger than the estimated.

 

Capital losses through trade misinvoicing and unrecorded remittance
Substantial export underinvoicning (net outflows) couple with import underinvoicing (net inflows), with the balance resulting in a net outflow, as in the case of Sudan or a net inflow, as in the cases of Ethiopia and Ghana.

Unrecoreded remittances also contribute substantially to estimated capital flight in some countries. In Ethiopia, the volume of remittances reported by the World Bank in 2010 was about half the amount reported by the Central Bank ($661 million).

The following figures are in millions

capital_flight3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Political Economy Research Institute, the University of Massachusetts).

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/ethiopias-capital-flight-is-estimated-at-us24-9-billion-or-83-8-of-the-gdp/

http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/ADP/SSAfrica_capitalflight_Oct23_2012.pdf

http://concernedafricascholars.org/bulletin/issue87/asiedu/

 

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People, by Dr. Alemayehu Kumsa

 

 

 

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 “What is important to consider is the significance of the fact that the people who control TPLF (Tigrai People’s Liberation Front) and Government are very parochial minded and appalling arrogant charlatans. They are extremely violent, insanely suspicious … With twin character flaws of excessive love of consumer goods and obsession with status and hierarchy… Fear, blackmail, intrigue, deception, suspicion, and brutality are its defining characteristics. It is absolutely insane for anyone to expect democracy from a secretive and tyrannical organization as such the TPLF and its spawn” (Hagos 1999:66)71. This study proves the observation of Prof. Gellner (1983) “the Amhara Empire was a prison house of nations if ever was one”72. The contemporary government of Ethiopia controlled by Tigrians is worse than all previous governments economically, politically, militarily and in human rights violation of Oromo and other nations which means, it is one of the worst prison houses of nations in Africa.

 

The Conflict between the Ethiopian State and the Oromo People

Published: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) (5th European Conference on African Studies/ECAS – June 27-29, 2013)
Keywords: Colonialism, Abyssinia, Oromo, Ethiopia, Liberation Movement

Abstract:
Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. The etymology of the term from Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. This root reminds us that the practice of colonialism usually involves the transfer of population to new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to the country of origin. Colonialism is a characteristic of all known civilizations. Books on African history teaches us that Ethiopia and Liberia are the only countries, which were not colonized by West European states, but the paper argues that Ethiopia was created by Abyssinian state colonizing its neighbouring nations during the scramble for Africa. Using comparative colonial history of Africa, the paper tries to show that Abyssinian colonialism is the worst of conquest and colonial rule of all territories in Africa, according to the number of people killed during the conquest war, brutal colonial rule, political oppression, poverty, lack of education, diseases, and contemporary land grabbing only in the colonial territories. In its arguments, the paper discusses why the Oromo were defeated at the end of 19th century whereas we do have full historical documents starting from 13th century in which the Oromo defended their own territory against Abyssinian expansion. Finally the paper will elucidate the development of Oromo national struggle for regaining their lost independence.

Article in PDF format   ……   Alternatively, On Gadaa.com

Africa: Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from the Continent

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Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from African Continent

Only Ethiopia has lost $11.7 billion to illicit fund outflows in the last decade.  

A climate of corruption, Ethiopian edition

corruption-in-africaWorking Group Must Address Trade Misinvoicing and Role of U.S. Business and Government in Facilitating Illicit Finance to Be Truly Effective, Warns GFI

Illicit Financial Flows Drain US$55.6bn Annually from African Continent, Sapping GDP, Undermining Development, and Fueling Crime, Corruption, and Tax Evasion

August 7, 2014, WASHINGTON, DC (GFI) – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) welcomed the announcement from the White House and African leaders today regarding the establishment of a bilateral U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance, but the Washington-DC based research and advocacy organization cautioned that any effective partnership must be sure to address deficiencies in both the U.S. and in Africa that facilitate the hemorrhage of illicit capital from Africa.

“We welcome the move by President Obama and certain African leaders to form this partnership on curbing illicit financial flows from African economies,” said GFI President Raymond Baker, who also serves on the UN High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. “Illicit financial flows are by far the most damaging economic problem facing Africa. By announcing the creation of the U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance, President Obama and African leaders have taken the first step towards tackling the most pernicious global development challenge of our time.”

GFI research estimates that illicit financial outflows cost African (both North and Sub-Saharan African) economies US$55.6 billion per year from 2002-2011 (the most recent decade for which comprehensive data is available), fueling crime, corruption, and tax evasion. Indeed, GFI’s latest global analysis found that these illicit outflows sapped 5.7 percent of GDP from Sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade, more than any other region in the developing world. Perhaps most alarmingly, outflows from Sub-Saharan Africa were found to be growing at an average inflation-adjusted rate of more than 20 percent per year, underscoring the urgency with which policymakers should address illicit financial flows.

The problem with illicit outflows from Africa is so severe that a May 2013 joint report from GFI and the African Development Bank found that, after adjusting all recorded flows of money to and from the continent (e.g. debt, investment, exports, imports, foreign aid, remittances, etc.) for illicit financial outflows, between 1980 and 2009, Africa was a net creditor to the rest of the world by up to US$1.4 trillion.

Trade Misinvoicing at the Heart of Illicit Outflows

According to GFI’s research, most of the illicit outflows from Africa—US$35.4 billion of the US$55.6 billion leaving the continent each year—occur through the fraudulent over- and under-invoicing of trade transactions, a trade-based money laundering technique known as “trade misinvoicing.” As GFI noted in a May 2014 study, trade misinvoicing is undermining billions of dollars of investment and domestic resource mobilization in at least a number of African countries. The organization emphasized the importance of ensuring that the new U.S.-Africa partnership prioritizes the curtailment of trade misinvoicing.

“The misinvoicing of ordinary trade transactions is the most widely used method for transferring dirty money across international borders, and it accounts for the vast majority of illicit financial flows from Africa,” said Heather Lowe, GFI’s legal counsel and director of government affairs. “While it is easy to place the blame for this on corrupt officials or transnational crime networks, the truth of the matter is that the bulk of these fraudulent trade transactions are conducted by normal companies, many of them major U.S. and European companies.”

Ms. Lowe continued: “Just yesterday, President Obama announced the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, a U.S. government initiative focused on boosting trade between U.S. and African companies, without a signal mention of the elephant in the room: trade misinvoicing. Increasing trade is important to boosting economic growth across Africa, but only if the trade is done honestly and at fair market values. The single most important step that wealthy nations like the U.S. can take to help African economies curtail illicit flows is to trade legitimately and honestly with Africa. While this topic was not addressed at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum yesterday, it must be on the table as the U.S.-Africa Partnership to Combat Illicit Finance commences its work.”

U.S. Must Clean Up Its Own Backyard

GFI further emphasized the need to address the role of the U.S. financial system as a major facilitator of such outflows.
“For every country losing money illicitly, there is another country absorbing it. Illicit financial outflows are facilitated by financial opacity in tax havens and in major economies like the United States,” said GFI Policy Counsel Joshua Simmons. “Indeed, the United States is the second easiest country in the world—after Kenya—for a criminal, kleptocrat, or terrorist to incorporate an anonymous company to launder their ill-gotten-gains with impunity.

“While governance remains an issue for many African countries, structural deficiencies in the U.S. financial system are just as responsible for driving the outflow of illicit capital. This initiative cannot place the onus entirely on the shoulders of African governments. The burden for curtailing these illicit flows must be shared equally by policymakers in the U.S. and in Africa for this partnership to be effective,” added Mr. Simmons.

http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/illicit-financial-flows-drain-us55-6bn-annually-from-african-continent/

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/01/25/ethiopia-reflecting-on-corruption-in-ethiopia/

Oromo: “For a people facing complete erasure, survival itself is a revolutionary act”, IOYA’s Former President Ayantu Tibeso at the Macha-Tulama Association’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

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The fact that we are gathered here today to honor the founding of Macha Tulama 50 years ago speaks to the fact that despite all odds, we, as a people are survivors. Ethiopian history is full of attempts to annihilate the Oromo—culturally, politically, socially, economically, in all and every ways possible.Oromos — cast as foreign, aliens to their own lands, have been the targets of the entire infrastructure of the Ethiopian state since their violent incorporation. Our identity, primarily language, religion and belief systems and cultural heritage have been the main targets of wanton destruction.   Oromo and its personhood were already demonized, characterized as embodiments of all that is inferior, shameful and subhuman from the beginning. Oromo people were economically and politically exploited, dominated and alienated.

Ayantu Tibeso

Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster 

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Africa’s Slide Toward Disaster

AUG. 1, 2014

A specter is haunting Africa — the specter of impunity. Many countries the United States considers allies are in the grip of corrupt, repressive tyrants; others are mired in endless conflict. As Washington prepares to host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week, American policy makers must acknowledge their contributions to this dismal situation. By lavishing billions of dollars in military and development aid on African states while failing to promote justice, democracy and the rule of law, American policies have fostered a culture of abuse and rebellion. This must change before the continent is so steeped in blood that there’s no way back.

The summit seeks to highlight Africa’s development successes and promote trade and investment on a continent rich in oil and natural resources. Justice and the rule of law aren’t on the agenda. But they should be, unless American C.E.O.s want to see their investments evaporate.

Read interesting comments @ http://ayyaantuu.com/africa/africas-slide-toward-disaster/#respond

Read more @http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/opinion/africas-slide-toward-disaster.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

Africa: A resurgent “Dictators’ Club

 

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‘The international community’s failure to demonstrate strong opposition to the antidemocratic trajectory of many African countries is allowing authoritarian heads of state to gain more power and influence. The United States should single out and prioritize the needs of the few African leaders working to comply with international law and to promote democratic governance domestically and regionally. One way Washington can do this is by acknowledging and giving preference to the democratic states participating in the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit next week. If current trends are not thwarted, the future of the continent could fall under the control of a resurgent “Dictators’ Club.”’

 

“Repressive leaders are also copying one another’s laws, which collectively undermine basic freedoms for the continent’s citizens. In 2009, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia enacted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which essentially aimed to eliminate independent civil society activity. Within a few years, Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya had introduced nearly identical laws, which are muzzling the work of human rights defenders, the independent media, local journalists, and members of the political opposition across East Africa.”

 

 

Reemergence of the African Rat Pack

(Freedom House, 30 July 2014)The reemergence of unconditional solidarity among Africa’s incumbent leaders is threatening respect for human rights and good governance throughout the continent. The phenomenon is obviously bad for the people of Africa and for the overall progress of democracy. But the worst consequence of many African leaders’ support for even their most authoritarian colleagues is the growing regional acceptance—and in some cases promotion—of deeply repressive policies.

Strong bilateral relationships in Africa, for instance between Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, are undercutting domestic and regional democratic frameworks. In Zimbabwe’s 2013 election, Zuma—acting as the chief election facilitator for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)—disregarded his obligation under the organization’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections to maintain neutrality by publicly rebuking a technical team for questioning the election preparations. Zuma then endorsed Mugabe’s reelection on behalf of SADC, even when clear evidence of vote rigging emerged, which Botswana cited as another violation of SADC’s guidelines. Nevertheless, Zuma stood by his counterpart in Zimbabwe, bolstering the idea that the region’s entrenched leaders can rely on one another in their efforts to maintain power, even if this means violating their own democratic standards.

This type of solidarity in Southern Africa has extended beyond domestic affairs to include limiting citizens’ access to justice on a regional level, as clearly demonstrated by the disbandment of the SADC Tribunal, launched in 2005 to enforce the SADC Treaty. The tribunal’s fate was sealed when it ruled that Zimbabwe’s seizure of land from white farmers without compensation was illegal and discriminatory. Mugabe refused to obey the decision, challenging the court’s authority and paving the way for its suspension in 2010. Despite the best efforts of civil society groups in the region, Southern Africa’s heads of state sided with Mugabe and voted to remove the individual mandate of the court, meaning victims of state abuse could no longer file cases against their governments. Not only was this a blow to human rights protection, but it also discouraged private-sector investment, as property owners would have no legal recourse beyond national courts. Once the SADC court ruled against the big man’s interests, political imperatives suddenly took precedence, and legal order was sidelined.

Repressive leaders are also copying one another’s laws, which collectively undermine basic freedoms for the continent’s citizens. In 2009, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia enacted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which essentially aimed to eliminate independent civil society activity. Within a few years, Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya had introduced nearly identical laws, which are muzzling the work of human rights defenders, the independent media, local journalists, and members of the political opposition across East Africa.

A similar contagion effect occurred after the signing of what UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay referred to as “a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights.” Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed early this year, went far beyond other anti-LGBTI laws by banning association with or operation of “gay” organizations. Instead of pushing back, many of the continent’s leaders supported Nigeria with their own repressive measures, including the signing of an “anti-homosexuality” bill in Uganda, the introduction of a draft law to criminalize gay and transgender people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the launching of a parliamentary caucus to ensure the implementation of anti-LGBTI laws in Kenya, and the refusal of justice for victims of homophobic attacks in Cameroon. Many argue that this is not surprising given the preceding rise in homophobic rhetoric from many African leaders, but since the Nigerian bill was enacted, attacks against LGBTI people across the continent have increased, even in more tolerant countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Sénégal. Nigeria’s leadership catalyzed a steep regression for the protection of LGBTI individuals that could take decades to reverse.

Big-man interests are also driving a movement to withdraw en masse from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would enable impunity for mass atrocities. Urged on by President Kenyatta, who is currently accused of crimes against humanity at The Hague, the African Union (AU) held a special meeting in October 2013 to discuss an ICC withdrawal. Due to the efforts of countries like Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Sénégal, the AU rejected the proposition, but Kenyatta succeeded in obtaining a resolution calling on the ICC to postpone his trial and to exempt sitting heads of state from international prosecution. As if this were not enough, an amendment to the newly established Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights was adopted at a June 2014 summit, giving immunity to African heads of state and senior government officials (yet to be defined) at what was supposed to be the continent’s new regional human rights court.

If the immunity amendment to the African court’s statute is ratified by AU member states, leaders will not be deterred from committing the same crimes of the past, and African citizens will have one less option for protection against human rights abuses. Furthermore, the amendment is entirely at odds with the normative frameworks already ratified by the AU member states to protect human rights, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Compliance with and enforcement of these frameworks are the best hope for strengthening democratic governance in Africa. However, these treaties, laws, and protocols will be useless if authoritarian leaders succeed in working together to ignore and actively undermine them.

It is therefore extremely important for countries like the United States to work actively with their African partners to uphold democratic principles on the continent. The international community’s failure to demonstrate strong opposition to the antidemocratic trajectory of many African countries is allowing authoritarian heads of state to gain more power and influence. The United States should single out and prioritize the needs of the few African leaders working to comply with international law and to promote democratic governance domestically and regionally. One way Washington can do this is by acknowledging and giving preference to the democratic states participating in the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit next week. If current trends are not thwarted, the future of the continent could fall under the control of a resurgent “Dictators’ Club.” Read @http://freedomhouse.org/blog/reemergence-african-rat-pack#.U9lHW9JDvys