Bringing Africa Back to the Mainstream of the International System

High-Level Expert Group Meeting

21-23 January 1993

Cape Town, South Africa

Chaired by Lord Callaghan of Cardiff



1. Africa's economic situation and its overall living standards have improved absolutely in recent decades (even though the 1980s were harsh), yet in a period of world advance Africa has not succeeded in keeping pace. Statistics highlighting Africa's relative decline and its current crisis abound. Population doubles every 23 years, food production doubles only every 30 years. There are more uneducated people now than there were 30 years ago. In 1960, Africa produced 107% of its food requirements as compared to 78% today. The continent has become a net food importer. The average calorie intake is too low for optimum health; two thirds of Africa's people lack a supply of safe drinking water, over half of the population has no ready access to health services. Most of Africa suffers from harsh, climatic conditions - periodic long bouts of drought, desertification, floods - which set back any economic recovery. There are some countries which merit attention as success stories, but these are outnumbered by problem cases and countries struggling for recovery. As a result, despite modest economic and social gains and a wave of political democratisation, Africa has become marginalised within the international system. And yet Africa is a rich continent with vast resources in land, water, raw material, energy, mineral and human potential.

2. In the process, Africa-bashing has become almost a feature of Western media reporting. The presentation of Africa in negative terms has created a false and distorted impression of the whole continent as a 'basket case'. When Africa is not ignored by the media it is the stereotypes of starving children and benevolent Western intervention which form the stock presentation. This borders on the unreal. It is certainly unrepresentative of Africa's rich diversity and its real potential.

3. Forty years ago, there was hardly any difference between living standards in Asia and Africa. Both emerged from varieties of colonial experience. By now, Asia has moved ahead much faster than Africa. Why? While the world prices of Asia's primary products have diminished as have those of Africa, the impact has not hit the Asian economies as hard as they have diversified faster. Four main factors account for the rapid development of the East Asian region and its attainment of the threshold of a developed economy: education -- producing an adequately educated labour force and a managerial class capable of absorbing technology and investment from abroad; the development of agriculture -- the Green Revolution made food self-sufficiency and agricultural diversification possible, which later led to diversification into light and advanced industries; the willing adoption of economic policies with an emphasis on encouraging both domestic and external investment and on competing internationally; and political stability)

4. These economies have advanced despite an initial absence of full democratic practice and political freedom. In many cases it was through economic development and a system of incentives encouraging entrepreneurship that political pressures built up and unleashed more political freedom. African countries, however, deserve democratic systems appropriate to their needs and traditions which will enable their productive energies to be released. Africa's people should not seek stability through authoritarianism but through a combination of democratic expression and increasing sustainable and equitable economic growth. The practise of appeasement or support for dictatorships in Africa must be ended without delay.

5. The political and economic responses to Africa's problems -- both from within and outside Africa -- have been inadequate. They were ad hoc, piecemeal and largely uncoordinated. Rarely were they followed by sustained action and commitment. Moreover, development is not only economic growth, it is a balanced economic and social development. Choices have to be made and applied regarding the relative emphasis to be placed on growth and income distribution. Human and physical factors have to be made complementary.

6. Beyond purely economic questions, the search for solutions may be flawed unless the historical background is taken into consideration. For many African countries the concept of the state is very recent, not older than 30-40 years. Is it the right one? Ethnicity, regionalism, religion, race and class interests are the causes of sharp divisions and conflicts in many countries. Countries which currently seem to be more successful economically, whether among the wealthy industrialized world or in Asia and Latin America among the developing countries, usually have a much longer history of national integrity, often stretching back for hundreds of years.

7. Africa's map is an inheritance of arbitrary boundaries which had their origins in colonial times. There are many conflicts and there is real and perceived injustice. It is to be hoped that the resolution and prevention of conflicts can be based on democratic procedures and socio-economic justice. Without democracy, the chances for stability will be diminished. And without stability, countries are less likely to advance economically.

8. With the political will to develop and a purposeful leadership, improvements in Africa's present condition can be achieved.

9. What lessons can then be drawn from successes and failures in other countries in order to turn Africa's decline around and to get it back to the mainstream of the international system? Action will have to concentrate on four main areas:

  • The political development of countries and regions within the continent;
  • Economic development across the continent;
  • Means of engaging the international community;
  • Short-term measures, including those which address acute issues of survival of African societies.


10. People's security and within this the physical and psychological dangers to individuals, people and groups command priority attention. It is in a secure atmosphere that people can exercise their free will in a democratic spirit, release their energies, and enjoy their human and civil rights. Democracy, representative government and the ability to change it by elections are the best safeguards for human liberty. Such a setting would engender stability and facilitate development as a self-sustaining process. Security, stability, development and cooperation are interlinked and Governments must take a wide range of measures to develop a democratically constituted system. The proposal to move towards a Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) which has been placed before the Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), deserves serious consideration and encouragement.

1. Culture - Attitudes - Values

11. Part of Africa's problem is that the people have been conditioned to see development as a phenomenon which is external, which is associated with the experiences of the Western world, and of which they believe they are inherently incapable. Africa has come to believe that its existing traditional systems and organizations are antithetical to the modern world. The colonial powers probably used the very same systems much better than Africans have done since independence. As a result, Africa has yet to realize the full potential of its people. In a sense, they are almost incapacitated from maintaining systems of security, participation and development from within. This situation must be reversed.

12. To release people's energies, Africa needs to bring back its own values, culture, identity and structures, to be more confident in itself, to build on the people's sense of themselves, to reduce the magnitude of their fears and to develop their capacity to think and act for themselves. Development cannot be and should not be seen as something handed from outside, but something emanating from within.

13. A dilemma looms. On the one hand, there is the desire to enlarge smaller entities into national and even regional units. On the other hand, this clashes with the recognition that the smaller units of society -- families, clans, groups -- are essential resources giving individuals a sense of identity, security and belonging. Until these elements can be made compatible, their effectiveness for national development will be impaired.

14. A consensus must be established on core values which will guarantee human rights and enable civil society to take root in a way that does not leave democracy to the politicians alone. Bolstered by a culture of tolerance, the civil society is the crucial underlying network for the fabric of a stable democracy.

15. Central to the sustainability of democratic values and culture is the concept of political and economic participation. A framework must be offered within which such participation can take place, beginning at the village level and extending to the informal sector, small-scale and other industries. The beneficiaries of programmes must feel and be convinced that they have a say in the decision-making process that determines their economic well-being. This is much more important than voting once every four years. If democracy is going to be sustained in Africa, it has to be home-grown and owned by the people and the countries. It cannot be imposed from outside. Governments should take bold measures to accomplish a higher degree of popular participation in the economic and political transition process.

2. The Quest for a Democratic System

16. Wars, tyrannic regimes, insurrection and widespread corruption are unfailing indicators that a country's economy will decline, poverty will worsen, domestic industry will stagnate and international private investment will be withdrawn. Democracy is a culture. It is not given nor is it attained overnight. Democracy grows at a speed which differs from country to country. The form of a country's democracy must evolve out of the culture of the people it serves. There is no standard pattern or blueprint for societies which differ fundamentally from the West.

17. The principles associated with democracy, however, are universal: good governance, accountability, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, openness and transparency, observance of human rights and basic freedom, a free press, a role for independent associations in a civil society, leadership competition through elections, civilian control of the military and orderly succession in governments without bloodshed. If a country satisfies these principles, it qualifies as a democracy irrespective of the form chosen. It is equally important to build democratic institutions and to give form and shape to democratic practice. Clearly, societies may differ as to how they pursue these ideals and Africa must develop its own functional methods of realising them through appropriate structures. Otherwise new divisions may be sown, for example by powerful fundamentalist influences, as they pursue an agenda of political rivalry and power struggle under the pretext of devising an authentic framework.

18. The need to nurture democratic culture and practices cannot be overemphasized. Drawing from the traditional well, a sense of compromise can be instilled in political life, especially in the context of a competitive democracy. The traditional practice of accommodating the loser, giving him a role and not humiliating him must be honored as well as a sense of sharing in the challenges confronting the state by both sides.

19. Elections are the show-window of democracy. International observation may confer legitimacy to the results of elections as far as the fairness, the accuracy of the ballot and freedom of voting is concerned. But election-rigging starts from registration of parties and voters. The post-elections dangers cannot be ignored, especially if electoral results begin to unravel and become disputed during the presence and following the departures of observers. The ex post facto challenge to the electoral results in Angola is discouraging. The Government of Angola, victorious at the polls, now deserves to be fully recognised internationally. Successful transitions towards democracy such as those of Benin and Burundi merit further encouragement. International organizations should in future go beyond viewing elections as a on-off event. Instead they should see it as a process of laying the foundation for development and accordingly extending their presence over longer periods before and after elections. This should allow them to integrate electoral supervision with the activities of their development projects and technical assistance programmes. This lesson should be heeded for Mozambique and South Africa in the months to come.

20. A free press is instrumental in informing people and in order to comment critically on the political management, the private sector activities and developments in society. Freedom of the press implies several concepts: freedom from political interference and censorship; freedom of an opposition to have access to the press; freedom of expression by individuals without harassment or intimidation.

21. There is also a need to foster the emergence and operations of free trade unions as well as to promote the free association of civic and pressure groups.

22. Democracy is fraught with other risks. The present momentum towards democratic societies in Africa might end up in disillusionment and in discrediting democracy unless there is a proper understanding of the democratic system. It does not only mean multi-party politics or the freedom to vote, which by themselves do not guarantee democratic freedom or the existence of a viable civic society. The rush to hold elections for the sake of satisfying the outside world risks subverting the substance and spirit of democracy. It is not sufficient to hold elections that fulfill only the superficial requirements of democratic obligations. Such elections leave a substantial segment of people dis-satisfied. Regard must be paid to the post-election practice of Governments.

23. Equally, a democratic form of government cannot guarantee economic growth and prosperity for all. One of the dangers for the democratic process in Africa is the domestic collective impatience. If disappointment sets in, especially under conditions of high inflation, reduction in living standards and unemployment, people tend to condemn democracy and look wistfully at other already discredited systems and approaches. Thus, democracy constantly has to be fought for and has to be won.

24. Military interference and the formation of military government represent a major obstacle to democracy in Africa. The intrusion of military mentality and military power in the democratic process must be prevented no matter under what pretext.

25. Civic education in democracy should become an integral element of schooling, starting from primary schools to secondary schools to universities. Schools should aim to inculcate the principles of democracy, its culture and tolerance.

26. At present, no regional network of political parties operates in Africa. Such a network would be desirable, allowing like-minded parties to interact and exchange experiences. This would contribute to a strengthening of democratic spirit, deepen understanding, and generate solidarity. At the national level, a government might find it easy to intimidate or destroy a small democratic party, but as part of a wider African network, a democratic party could receive a modicum of protection or, as a minimum, public attention beyond the national borders.


27. The quest for economic development entails action in a number of different areas, not all of which are under the exclusive control of a government.

1. Equitable Growth Policies

28. Getting economic policy right is of primordial importance for Africa in its current position. While there are differences among countries and regions there are some universally applicable elements of economic success. A sound and stable economic environment is key, a congenial physical physical environment, an effective education system, security, rule of the law, and so on. An adequate supply of labour with appropriate skills, including management and entrepreneurship experience, certainly helps. Fiscal and monetary policies must be sound and predictable. They must not be adopted or sacrificed out of sheer political expediency.

28. Launching Africa's economies onto a fast path may require a sustained push but in many cases a well-applied recovery programme is a pre-condition. The economic strategy must be based on local conditions. It must be well explained to the population and well-understood by it. To reverse decline, African leaders should focus their attention on four main areas: agriculture; export growth; increases in domestic savings; and an improved balance between private and public sector. Public expenditures must be restrained and not too much reliance must be placed on the state. There should be a balance in emphasis between the different economic sectors. Comparative advantage can be made dynamic by emphasizing innovation and by applying science and technology. Countries simultaneously undergoing economic and political restructuring will encounter disputes and conflicts of interest which they will have to resolve.

2. Creating and Nurturing an Enabling Environment

30. To facilitate development, the government should be encouraging the private sector to develop and expand. Investors find stability and predictability attractive. Unless the conditions for domestic investment are satisfied, foreign investment will elude Africa. Any foreign investor wants to first see how local investors are doing before putting up his or her funds, especially if unsure of his or her judicial or financial protection. Red tape and bureaucracy deter investors and traders. Hence, the development of Africa hinges to a great degree on the creation of favorable and hospitable conditions for direct investment from both local private and foreign sources.

31. Africa is in dire need of a viable infrastructure, including the establishment of credible administrative, legal and financial institutions. In many African countries, the state has deteriorated to such a point that a stable, transparent and predictable legal environment is no longer in place.

32. Official development assistance (ODA) can help by financing physical infrastructure and supporting the basic needs of the population especially in sectors such as education and health where substantial responsibility remains with the state.

33. It is also important to provide guarantees for savings. Intermediate financial and banking institutions which are closer to the people can both stimulate savings and supply credit needs more appropriately. On the other hand, heavy debt service burdens sap savings and the ability to save.

3. Strengthening Human Resource Development and Capacity-Building

34. Economic development will not take place without investment in human beings and science and technology. The principal emphasis must be on basic human resources -- education, health and investment in human capital.

35. Education plays a key role in development. Yet, Africa is confronted by a qualitative decline in its education system - placing it far from the international mainstream. Education is the main channel of lifting people out of poverty. Hence, investment should be channelled to education.

36. The need to develop management and administrative skills in Africa is apparent, especially as a result of privatising public sector companies. By the same token, the government machineries need to have better skilled staff, conversant with policy analysis and development management. Existing management institutes all across Africa should engage in networking. Donor countries should offer African countries the means of training their private and public sector management, including scholarships.

37. Africa has often been surprised and overtaken by events because of a lack of capacity to anticipate, to plan ahead, to respond rapidly and to adjust to changing situations. Yet, the brain drain has brought African talents overseas to the tune of 70,000 professionals and experts in Europe alone. Measures to tempt them back should be deployed.

4. Augmenting Investment and Savings

38. To finance recovery and the various programmes of development, there must be an increase in domestic savings. Africa needs to look inward to mobilize domestic savings for investment. This is difficult for the least developed countries. They should be allowed to invest more than they can save. Yet, Africa has to compete with Asia and Eastern Europe for new sources of foreign capital, so without aid, the poorest countries would be bereft. They therefore need to augment domestic savings with foreign exchange earnings from the export of goods and services. This will need pump priming by the international community for the purpose of making increased resources available.

39. Although private sector development is advocated as a central element for the future development of Africa, sufficient equity cannot be made available dooming a lot of excellent private sector initiatives in Africa. At the national level, the development finance corporations have often proved inadequate to the task. Regional and sub-regional development banks could be a way forward for mobilizing financial resources for Africa.

5. Revitalising Agricultural Development

40. 70% of the 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa depend on agriculture for a living. Yet agricultural output per head is barely growing. It is absurd that Africa cannot feed itself now and must import foodstuffs to the detriment of the economy. Food prices that have been depressed in the interest of urban populations should be raised to reflect levels that make it worthwhile for peasant farmers to grow more food. It is recognized that not every single African country should become self-sufficient in food, but many more could benefit from achieving food self-sufficiency and all should aim for food security. For a Green Revolution to succeed in Africa, farmers will need regular access to credit and a regular supply of inputs such as seed and fertilizers as well as appropriate training and skills. A complete structure must also include good communications and appropriate marketing facilities. Most of the rural areas in Africa lack these facilities and unless they are attended to, a Green Revolution would not succeed.

6. Employment Creation

41. Employment has largely been neglected within the structural adjustment programmes. Elsewhere, there has been an erosion of support for small farmers and enterprises. With poverty widespread throughout Africa and its elimination a priority, emphasis must be put on expanding productive employment. A start should be made in sectors that produce mainly for the local market and do not need to compete globally. Jobless growth is not development.

7. Corruption

42. It is not only in Africa that corruption exists. But in Africa it is dangerous because corruption is becoming ingrained culturally at all levels of society, both in government and in the private sector. As Africa glimpses the consumer society, a cleavage has arisen between desires and the ability to satisfy them locally. This provides fertile ground for corruption. Corruption must be curbed and weeded out as it is a real and serious obstacle to development and modernisation.


43. Interdependence should have increased following the end of the Cold War, so it is in the self interest of the Western parts of the world to support African countries. How can the outside world be involved in tackling some of the issues identified? Beyond that, how can Africa stimulate conditions which are favourable to its long-term development on the international scene? It is not simply a question of pressing to full advantage a climate which may or may not be favourable but also identifying the priority needs of Africa where the attention and resources of the wealthier countries and institutions outside ought to be concentrated.

44. While the issue of external debt has faded from the public eye, it persists as a major obstacle to the development of Africa. 65% of Africa's debt is owed to official creditors.  In some African countries, multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (ADB) are now the major outstanding creditors. At US$ 290 billion in 1992, Africa's total debt is not very large in absolute figures. Yet Africa's debts are now 2 1/2 times the 1980 level and annual debt service currently amounts to some US$ 26 billion, US$11.6 billion for sub-Saharan Africa. For most of the African economies, this represents a far heavier burden than elsewhere. In many countries now the debt outstanding exceeds the country's gross annual output, while inability to make regular debt service payments causes arrears to pile up and this hinders foreign direct investment.

45. There is a valid case now for special debt relief measures especially with respect to official debt. It is not just an act of charity or wasteful enterprise. A variety of mechanisms has been developed, including converting debt to grants, the capping of interest rates and various other terms. The 1980 Toronto proposals by the G-7 countries offered a cancellation of some 50% of the debt of low income countries but it was found inadequate in scope and effect.  The Trinidad Terms, which were more generous, have met resistance and await implementation. Governments of industrialised countries should begin to apply the Trinidad terms fully. Debts owed to the World Bank and the IMF would still be excluded from rescheduling or from writing off.  Yet they are now a major problem for Africa. The stock response is that the institutions must retain their status as preferred creditors and so cannot themselves provide debt relief.  It is up to the governments which control them to decide whether the time is now right to give debt relief here too, given the special circumstances obtaining in Africa and the difficulty in stimulating economic recovery otherwise.

46. But the debt problem is not just a financial, it is also a management problem. If debts are reduced or forgiven, Africa's economic performance will not improve magically unless the problem of management in a larger sense is also addressed. Thus, there are good reasons why debt relief or cancellation should often be tied to certain conditions related to improved efficiency in the management of a country. 

2. Trade Expansion and Protectionism

47. Africa is losing its market share in international trade. Over the past twenty years its share of the world's exports has declined from 14% to 6%. There has been a long-term decline in the world price of primary products, e.g. coffee, cocoa, tea and minerals on which Africa's external earnings depend and this has been reinforced by the recession in demand in the industrialized countries. African countries must increase their export growth — currently at one per cent annually — to obtain foreign exchange. No amount of external financial assistance or debt relief can substitute for foreign exchange earnings through export growth. In the process, lost market positions for traditional exports must be recaptured and new markets for non-traditional products conquered. Diversification and new approaches towards marketing and trade promotion must be vigorously pursued. There are now only limited opportunities from traditional ways of concluding trade agreements between governments; African countries and their business interests must play a full hand in international trade negotiations in future.

48. As African trade is not totally dependent on the North, intra-African trade has considerable potential for expansion and must be promoted, especially in the context of regional and sub-regional mechanisms and organisations.

49. Global agreements on trade liberalisation will benefit African countries. The already protracted Uruguay Round of GATT must be completed without further delay as it is estimated to produce trade gains for Africa.  Not all countries benefit directly from such trade liberalization, however, though the GATT does allow special and differential treatment for poor countries.  Those which do not benefit should be allowed other facilities.  Nonetheless, the gains from trade overall are likely to outweigh any available financial flows of aid.

50. While many OECD countries push for removal of subsidies, deregulation, privatization, liberalization in countries of the East and the South, they do not practice what they preach.  This is particularly apparent in the matter of trade in agriculture where there are serious quarrels even among OECD countries. For the first time in international economic history, the pressure for international trade liberalization comes from the South, not only from those OECD countries traditionally in favour of freer trade. So while some G-7 countries focus myopically on their own interests, they should be reminded that the  economic policies of African countries could be enhanced by a stimulating international trading environment which does not suffer from such asymmetrical liberalism.

3. Reinforcing Regional and Sub-regional Cooperation

51. There is no healthy economic future for most African countries if they remain organised as they are now. Without redrawing boundaries, there could be a pooling of resources in zones of regional cooperation. Africa needs to overcome the effect of its 'Balkanisation'. Africa will not play a world role nor garner a larger share of the international economic action, unless it can form more effective units. As economic blocs form in other parts of the world, individual countries will find it harder to prosper by themselves. The international community should assist Africa in developing workable and effective sub-regional and regional organizations, which subsequently may develop regional markets of their own. The project for an African Economic Community is not a pipe-dream.

52. Despite the high idealism and the solemn declarations, attempts at regional economic integration have taken only halting steps so far. The issue of sovereignty stands in the way.  Unless there is a willingness to abandon some elements of sovereignty and to work together on a regional basis, longer-term integration of Africa will prove elusive and Africa will find it more difficult to attract their mutual advantages, including in resource endowments.

4. Development Assistance and Conditionality

53. Not all donors have been able to increase their aid to Africa. Those which have are now hesitating.  Overall, ODA as a percentage of donors' GNP has fallen even though the total amount exceeds US$55 billion annually. Despite the natural riches of Africa, it is paradoxical to see Africa as a continent relying more and more on ODA. Increasingly, such aid is tied to economic and political conditions, which in the purest sense infringes the sovereignty of nation states that accept them. However, bringing Africa into the international system inevitably involves external participation. Moreover, with the ending of the Cold War, many donors are giving their aid programmes and policies a thorough review.  Many of the old practices, and some of the amounts, are not likely to endure. Africa cannot expect aid programmes to be a soft touch in future. Those which survive will be tougher and more effective but they may have to be more modest and more bound up with conditions too.

54. Since the early 1980s, conditionality in its various forms has become a regular feature associated with aid and other forms of public credit.  When such aid is accepted a certain degree of sovereign policy-making is sacrificed as a result. Conditionality follows the logic of entering into a contract. Increasingly, it is related to political conditions seeking the observance of similar standards as demanded by the electorate in donor countries from their leaders. Sound economic development is closely linked to democratization in its broad sense and the respect for human rights. Such political conditions essentially mirror demands made by the population in many recipient countries. But African governments should not need to be told by another country to treat fellow human beings in a decent manner or to curb corruption.  African leaders have obligations and responsibility to do this themselves. The new conditions should be a signal to undemocratic, dictatorial and corrupt regimes that they cannot count on aid for support.

55. Governments have a right to grant or withhold funds if certain conditions are not fulfilled.  However, such policy should be transparent, clearly understood by all concerned, applied consistently and uniformly in similar situations. Some donor Governments, for their own ends, have turned a blind eye to outrageous disregards of political processes and human rights. Double standards must be avoided otherwise the credibility of the entire system collapses. It will have no meaning and it will be contested by people in the recipient countries. The legitimacy of political conditionality is much less apparent in the case of international financing organizations. Their task is to concentrate on designing the economic conditions and ensuring they are fulfilled, whether through projects or programmes. Political conditionality is more appropriately applied by governments and so through bilateral aid.

56. Donor countries are increasingly paying attention to military expenditures in allocating aid. Excessive military expenditures have the power to shock in many poverty-stricken countries, especially in Africa.  They have proved to be detrimental to development, stability and security of nations. While military expenditures ought to be seen in relative terms of a country's security needs, African leaders must recognize that huge military expenditure give only an appearance of, but not real security. It is the welfare and well-being of the people, the opportunity for people to participate in their own affairs and to feel that they are at one with their society which provides real security. Hence, it has been suggested that no ODA should be given to countries spending more than 2% of their GDP on defence.  By the same token, however, the supplier countries which supply arms should also accept their responsibility and support the registration of amounts, sources and destinations of arms exports.

57. In many African countries, the secrecy attached to military expenditures and security leads to corruption and abuse of office. African governments should therefore be required to offer openness, transparency and accountability with regard to military expenditures. At present, however, reliable statistical information on the type and level of public expenditures by developing countries is rare. The World Bank and IMF should be urged to focus on assisting the developing countries in achieving transparency of public expenditure. The availability of such data would focus attention to military expenditures and might on its own induce a reduction.

58. Ultimately, it would be desirable to achieve more consistency of policies on the part of the developed countries in the interrelated fields of investment, credit policies, debt policies, trade, technology transfer and aid. Strong support should be given to the idea of a development contract between regions, as the Lomé Convention was between the European Community and Africa when it was first agreed. Such contracts need constant renewal. Nowadays they could cover a broad range of international and national issues and be based on reciprocal, not unilateral conditions. This could also represent a vehicle for the new forms of aid.


1. Sovereignty and the Right of Intervention in Africa

59. The notion of sovereignty must be looked at afresh. There is a need to distinguish between situations where there is no justification for intervening in the internal affairs of a country and the extreme situations where the international community is justified in getting involved.

2. Humanitarian Emergencies and Assistance

60. Hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of the civilian population in Africa fall victim to humanitarian tragedies, often resulting from civil wars, communal violence and other forms of social upheavals. As a result, these people are being deprived of the fundamental necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clothing, physical security, basic health care, and the integrity of the family. Some of this tragic suffering results from natural calamities (drought, flood, earthquakes and environmental hazards). But by far the most devastating and often unremedied causes are those which relate to political and cultural cleavages and confrontations, in other words, human-made disasters.

61. The moral and legal obligation to provide emergency assistance to these innocent victims must in the first place rest with the governments of the countries concerned. In the case of natural calamities, governments will normally act promptly to provide or mobilise the needed emergency relief, often in collaboration with international agencies. However, in cases of internal conflicts where the governments have either collapsed or are themselves partial and the affected population often identified with the adversary, domestic relief services may be unavailable or even actively resisted and a positive response to offers of international assistance cannot be guaranteed. Human rights may be further violated in consequence.

62. Today, media access and the burgeoning of NGO activities has created a situation where the pressures of international public opinion are increasingly prompting the international community to demand humanitarian action on both moral and political grounds.

63. The critical questions for the international community then become: what degree of humanitarian suffering under what conditions should justify what form of international action, by whom, through what operational mechanisms and with what precise objectives?  This means clarifying the principles, the organizational framework, the operational doctrine, and the precise goals of such intervention.

64. The clarification of the principles would provide guidelines or standards on what would trigger and justify intervention. The organizational framework raises questions as to who would initiate the decision making process for intervention, and once approved, who would conduct the operations. The issue of operations itself raises questions on the military or civilian forces to be used and their preparedness or training for the task. The issue of objectives raises the question of whether the operations should stop at meeting the short-term emergency needs or extend to addressing the causes of the crisis in order to reconstitute a self-sustaining system of public or civil order.

65. How should one define the threshold of human suffering beyond which the international community cannot standby and watch? The following points could constitute a framework of standards that might guide future action by governments and international organisations in cases of humanitarian emergencies:

First: The principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states should be upheld and reaffirmed by the international community. In that connection, responsibility for addressing internal humanitarian tragedies must first and foremost rest with governments.

Second: Sovereignty is not absolute, but instead must be seen as entailing certain responsibilities and obligations over the territory and the population, the responsible control of which justifies sovereignty in international law.

Third: Failure to meet such fundamental responsibilities and obligations with the consequential suffering of masses of innocent people creates a right and an obligation on the part of the international community to act toward providing the needed protection and assistance. To facilitate decision-making on this issue, it is necessary to define in relatively precise terms the standards to be observed or whose violation would trigger an international response. Such a standard-setting could in itself be an effective deterrent to violation.

Fourth: Humanitarian intervention in Africa should ideally be genuinely collective and be undertaken by the United Nations or under its authority.

Fifth: While addressing an emergency situation must remain a paramount objective, the international community should strive to create conditions that would ensure the normalization and sustainability of a civil order that meets minimum standards in providing protection and assistance to the masses of the affected population.

Sixth: There is a need to design rules of intervention that would serve the dual purpose of initial military pacification and the civilian role of reconstituting a functioning civil society and a self-sustaining public order.

Seventh: A government that refrains from seeking or welcoming international humanitarian assistance could be perceived to have failed in meeting its responsibilities and obligations. These ought to be assumed and exercised by the international community.  There should thus be no essential conflict between the traditional concept of sovereignty and the right or obligation of the international community to intervene and offer protection and assistance.

2. Conflict Prevention and Management

66. Conflict resolution is one of the most critical problems in Africa. Where conflicts are already hot, collective ways must be found to bring them to an end; where conflicts have not reached the level of open warfare they must be defused by political means.

67. Conflict resolution must start with an appreciation of underlying causes. The way Africa's states were carved out, creating diversities and disparities within these countries, was often unhelpful. The first step in conflict resolution is to define a framework mutually agreeable to both a majority and a minority. For internal conflicts, there is no military solution which proves to be sufficient without a political settlement. If a party does not negotiate at the beginning, it will be inevitable months later even if there are victims in the intervening period.

68. African countries should refrain from interfering in the affairs of neighboring countries. The OAU has increasingly moved towards accepting the need for the Organisation itself, or for regional groups, to intervene when situations arise that threaten internal conflict and/or chaos, as in the case of Somalia and Liberia. The current discussion within the OAU to establish effective mediating mechanisms should be brought to a positive conclusion as quickly as possible.

69. A further challenge will be not just to muster the political will, but to find the material and financial resources. Conflict management, prevention and humanitarian intervention require enormous financial resources, and logistics in particular. The UN itself is stretched beyond limit, and is unlikely to be capable of intervening in all the world's trouble spots. Nor is peacekeeping and intervention an option, in the foreseeable future, for the OAU. The OAU should instead concentrate on developing its capacity for helping to prevent conflicts. This is less onerous in financial or military terms. The OAU should act in concert with the UN and continue strengthening its capacity for collective security.


1. The Magnitude of the Problem

70. In Africa, rapid population growth continues. In 1990, the population of sub-Saharan Africa totaled 526 million; projections — taking account of the impact of AIDS — envisage 2 billion by the year 2050 and a stabilisation at 2.9 billion. But if Africa were to repeat the Asian experience with demographic transition, its population could stabilize instead at 1.5 billion.  Even this would be tripling today's level and would require an increase in contraceptive use from an average of 10% today to 40% by the end of the decade.

71. The population has grown at an explosive rate of 3.1%, caused by a steep fall in the mortality rate and a continuously high fertility rate, approximately 6.5 children to every woman —  much the same as 30 years ago and twice as high as in South Asia at present. This population surge has been a major factor in impeding the rate of social and economic advance, characterised by such indicators as 59% illiteracy and infant mortality of 100 per 1000 births. Rapid population growth frustrates other efforts to tackle Africa's economic and social problems.  However, there are now signs of Africa-specific demographic transitions beginning to emerge in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and maybe other countries.

2. Adoption of Effective Population Policies

72. The reduction of population growth rates so as to stabilize population at an earlier date and at lower levels is a step toward resolving the problems of Africa. African governments must initiate concrete and solidly-funded action plans, which go beyond policy prescriptions of a general nature. Effective measures should comprise:

(a) Empowering women and enhancing their role and status, in particular raising overall literacy and education levels.  

(b) The expansion or development of effective national and local programmes to reduce fertility through a revamping and upgrading of family planning and associated welfare programmes at the national level to ensure wider and easier access to family planning information, services and supplies. These may be achieved through

(i) the establishment of national population councils to ensure sustained and unequivocal commitment to fertility management programmes by all sectors of society;

(ii)the setting of national targets for population policy by governments and parliaments utilising quantifiable and monitorable indicators, such as fertility rate, contraceptive prevalence rate, family-planning expenditures etc.;

(iii)the forging of a partnership involving non-governmental organisations and the private sector;

(iv)addressing unmet demands, such as procuring or seeking donations of contraceptives or setting up local services; the promotion of reproductive and sexual health;

(vi) the involvement of people and communities, both in rural and urban areas, making them understand that it is in their own interest to plan families; recognised community leaders, religious leaders and traditional leaders should be mobilised in the process of disseminating the message; the mass media, especially if using local languages, can help building awareness. A commitment by donor nations and international organisations to support expanded family planning programmes financially; this might require an increase from US$ 150 million to some US$ 1.5 billion by the year 2000.

73. Any call for legislation against polygamy or restrictions on the number of children a family might have might be counterproductive as such measures might clash with cultural traditions and entail coercion of individuals. Instead, family-planning related legislation might be more effective if concentrating on the provision of advisory activities, regular training of doctors and a revision of school curricula. Above all, economic development would give security to the people and social development would impart more knowledge and understanding about the need for curbing family sizes.

3. HIV and AIDS

74. The present extent of HIV and AIDS incidence in Africa is shocking: 60 to 70% of all HIV-positive and AIDS cases worldwide occur in sub-saharan Africa. The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that during this decade 60 to 70% of all new HIV positive cases and 60 to 70% of all new AIDS cases will develop on the continent. With seven and half million HIV positive cases and close to 2 million AIDS cases identified in sub-Saharan Africa today, that number will almost triple during this decade climbing to some 20 million HIV-positive and six million AIDS cases. Adding to the human devastation, their will be ten million orphans and roughly half the bed capacities in many of the hospitals in Africa are already taken up by AIDS patients.

75. Unless the problem is addressed, financial resources, human resources and political attention are bound to go to waste. Governments and leaders must develop without delay realistic and relevant policies and approaches to the management of AIDS, pending the arrival of effective and affordable drugs and vaccines.

76. Such action must comprise the formulation of explicit AIDS policies, aggressive public education campaigns, the promotion of condom use, and the treatment and management of sexually transmitted diseases which are in synergy with AIDS. Doctors and health workers have to take leadership in inducing community management of AIDS patients, giving succor and treating AIDS as a human health problem. This would prevent a crippling of the already insufficient health services, as otherwise patients would be kept in hospitals when nothing much can be done for them. Corporations and the private sector operating health institutions can make a significant contribution to reinforcing public policies. 4. Women in Society

77. In African tradition and culture, women are viewed and valued on the basis of the roles they play within the family, community and society. They are expected to serve others. They are hardly perceived as having their own identity, personality and aspirations. In particular, they are not recognised as having their own rights as human beings and citizens. This is why it seems normal for them to be largely excluded from the main decision making bodies and positions. Despite all declarations by Governments, in reality, women are marginalised essentially because of culture. There is no law which discriminates against girls, but in practice most of them have no opportunity to pursue their education to the highest possible level and few ever make it to the top in politics. The effect of culture, which is a product of the human race, should be re-examined in respect of those aspects which perpetuate inequality, discrimination and injustice. Gender issues should be widely integrated into the agenda of national policies as a contribution to building a new understanding of human relations.

78. Governments need to change their attitudes in the way they view women's rights, incorporate them as a key element in the development of a society's full potential, and offer real opportunities to all members of society. Affirmative actions must be undertaken in all fields: political, economic, social and cultural. Special programmes enhancing women's productivity, especially in agriculture and environment, are recommended. Enhanced access to formal education, health and nutritional education, and credit (tied to the conferment of certain property rights) is equally critical. Such measures would be an investment in the future of African countries and bolster sustainable development. 

79. It is important to conclude that Africa, with all its problems, has enormous potential. It is wrong to regard the continent or any particular country as a basket case. Neither the way Africa has managed itself nor the form and volume of support given from outside in recent years has been very appropriate. Everyone must learn from these mistakes: this above analysis indicated a number of areas where there is obvious scope for improvement. Above all, African countries will benefit from returning to the mainstream of international affairs. They should do this by taking part more fully in international negotiations, by forming larger economic and political units, by exporting more, by being more open to international investment and trade and by offering the world opportunities for development rather than merely chances to supply relief or mediate over often unnecessary conflict. Africa needs targeted support for economic recovery, for debt relief and for its burgeoning political development in the short run. Its longer term needs are also apparent since it is a continent with much scope for development. The worst thing the rest of the world could do is to write off Africa as a continent without hope. The media should no longer paint such a picture. The next-worst thing would be for the world to ignore Africa, and to prevent that we need to keep our governments and the media in our own countries properly informed. We trust that our report will be a modest contribution to this end.


80. In Cape Town, the High-level Group held meetings with a broad range of senior South African politicians in government and from the political parties outside, from business, the churches and from non”‘governmental organisations (see annex II).  These briefings on the present political and economic situation in South Africa gave the High”‘level Group an appreciation of the speed and the directions in which current developments were heading.


81. In February 1990, State President F.W. de Klerk had repealed all remaining acts of the Apartheid system. It was however, apparent that whatever may have disappeared from this vast structure, some of the consequences of Apartheid were going to be difficult to dislodge. It denied 80% of the population political and civil rights, impoverished them by design, prohibited black people from owning property and restricted their professional prospects.  The South African government should now initiate measures to eliminate all remaining discrimination as quickly as possible.

82. Intensive negotiations between 26 political parties were about to restart. Under discussion were fundamental issues including the arrangements for an interim government and constitution; the drafting of a final constitution; the acceptable form of power”‘sharing; and the enfranchisement of the majority. The fact that these fundamental matters were being addressed gave rise to considerable optimism. The degree of objectivity, realistic appreciation and mutual understanding with which these difficult matters were presented to the High”‘level Group was a hopeful experience. The magnitude of the task is enormous indeed following 300 years of colonisation, 90 years of minority domination and 45 years of apartheid.

83. The negotiations seem to move at great speed. It was reported that by March/April 1993 new multiparty talks would be launched that would be broader than the CODESA I and II series which had broken down in 1992. From these it was hoped that understandings would be reached on a transitional mechanism and a date for democratic and properly supervised elections to a constituent assembly later this year or early in 1994. Agreements would have to be incorporated into a "transitional democracy act" to be passed by the existing tricameral parliament. There would be a special provision whereby any amendments to this act during the transition period would require a majority of 80%.

84. The High”‘level Group was given a sketch of the process likely to emerge: as a first phase and to prepare elections, there would be a transitional executive council on which the main parties would be represented. The second phase would elaborate the unitary, federal or regional nature of the state and its future constitution and would prepare elections to a parliament which will have the powers to appoint the executive and a President. The executive would be a multi”‘party interim government of national unity. Any party receiving more than five percent of the seats would be entitled to participate in the government. To decide on the constitution, a two”‘thirds majority would be required. It appeared that the potential for a strong coalition was already forming between two important parties (National Party/NP and African National Congress/ANC) but it was felt important that outlying groups and parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) be kept in play. It was felt that agreement between the parties within a government of national unity would succeed far better than any single party government in tackling problems of internal instability, reassuring minorities and gaining the confidence of foreign governments and external investors.

85. It was clear that at least some of the agreements already reached among 19 political organisations in the context of CODESA, which collapsed in May 1992, would facilitate the constitution”‘making process: these held forth the vision of South Africa as a united, non”‘racial country, which would guarantee the freedom and the dignity of the individual; having a new constitution as the basic law from which all other laws would flow; and coming into being as a multi”‘party democracy with the separation of powers, an independent judiciary and a bill of rights. The separation and interrelationship of powers between the central government and the various regions are among the issues which remain to be addressed.

86. Whatever political form the new South Africa may take, the fundamental principles and practices of democracy must shape and reform its major institutions and structures. It must be a united and democratic country based on a clear separation of powers. Fundamental human rights, enshrined in a justiciable bill of rights should be built into the constitution. Against this background, South Africa must evolve its own frame of political democracy which leaves all groups of society and all regions their own rights and personality.

87. If a settlement is not reached in 1993, the economy will deteriorate further and the frustrations of the people will well up. It was therefore felt urgent to get all parties back to the negotiating table. The understandings already reached between the National Party (NP) and the African National Congress (ANC) have to be developed into agreements acceptable to all the major participants in the forthcoming talks. The InterAction Council, therefore, should strongly encourage, the early completion of the current process of negotiations with the full and equal participation of all the parties concerned. NP and ANC need each other if the country is not to become ungovernable; but both need the lnkatha Freedom Party (IFP) of Chief Buthelezi if an agreement is to stick. II. TOWARDS A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE

88. South Africa has been rocked by vicious cycles of violence. The recent escalation of violence has been largely due to political rivalry, polarisation and mistrust. In an attempt to reduce the level of violence, all parties and the Government signed and put into operation a National Peace Accord in November 1991.

89. Concerned by the already high level of political violence in July 1991, Parliament promulgated a statute setting up a commission to investigate and inquire into the causes of public violence and intimidation with a political aim. The commission was also required to look into the ways and means of curbing the violence and to make recommendations to the State President for policy legislation, the raising of funds, and any measure, which the government might take to curb the violence.

90. Headed by Mr. Justice Goldstone, the five”‘member Commission began operations in November 1991. Its powers are unique. Persons summoned to give evidence before it are obliged to answer incriminating questions. Any incriminating answer given by a witness may not be used against him or her in subsequent proceedings. The Commission enjoys unlimited powers of search and seizure without any court order. The Commission operates outside the political sphere and does not require ministerial consent to undertake any action. [Following a recommendation from the Secretary”‘General of the United Nations that it should investigate public and private armies too, and that other relevant African countries might be involved, it has moved into these areas too.]  The Commission has chosen its interventions carefully and gained the confidence and respect of all sides.

91. The Commission has established a high level of credibility and utility already. The High”‘level Group is convinced that it is playing a valuable role in defusing public and political violence. It deserves the highest praise.

92. The move towards democracy in South Africa has been stimulated by pressure exercised by the rest of the world. Yet the international community has not always been so vocal about attempts to stifle democracy by the military elsewhere in Africa. If the international community is serious at getting Africa back into the mainstream, it must measure Africa by the same yardstick.

93. One of the most complex tasks for a new South Africa is to foster the emergence of a civil society. The country has never known a culture of tolerance; it must be encouraged and nurtured. People must learn to comprehend that one can disagree and still remain friends. This is not easy in a situation where there are no role”‘models and where the government has created its own culture of intolerance under which dissenters could not act without fear of being publicly vilified, detained, tortured or killed. The churches will be expected to assume a crucial role of moral beacon and facilitator in the process, and thus continue the effective contribution they have already made to the political process.


94. The political transformation process has to be supported by a corresponding transformation and democratisation of the economic and the social landscape. Even if a democratic order is in place, a social structure unable to ensure meaningful economic benefits and improvements in living standards to the disadvantaged will be neither stable or sustainable. The holding of free and fair elections by itself cannot solve all economic and social woes, it only can provide the key to the solution.  This poses a serious dilemma: how will a future government be able to meet the expectations of all its electors? The poor in particular may have exaggeratedly high hopes of what democracy can bring. Leaders have now the task of urging their followers to lower expectations and counselling patience. Laws can change virtually overnight and thereby signal hope, but attitudes can be changed only over time while some results demand time, resources and careful management before they can be delivered.

95. For the time being, with attention fixed on political negotiations, the deteriorating state of the economy is not being adequately addressed. The most immediate challenge is thus the formulation of appropriate economic policies and development strategies. For the sake of post”‘electoral political stability and to enable redistributional policies to begin, it is absolutely, essential that the economy move to a higher growth path. Growth of the order of four or five per cent per annum is needed over the next three years.  The South African economy has been in difficulties since the early 1980s. Economic growth has registered a meagre 1.1%  The budget deficit for 1992/1993 is at an unsustainable 8%. Over 40% of the population and more than 50% of the black population live below the poverty line. Unemployment stands at 20”‘25% (six million persons) and is rising. Only some 8% of new entrants to the labour market are being absorbed. 1.3 million families are homeless. In 1993 alone, about 3 million people will have migrated from rural to urban areas because of increased expectations and the consequences of drought, resulting in an unsustainable annual urbanisation rate of 10%. Schooling of black children has been terribly neglected - hundreds of thousands of schools have to be built, an adequate number of teachers trained and books and school materials provided.

96. The economy is suffering from many structural distortions. It has become uncompetitive in the industrialised world. The apartheid regime indulged in wars of destabilisation against its neighbours. From 1970 to 1985, it is estimated that twice the cost of eliminating the housing backlog (40 billion Rands) was spent for military purposes. The response to sanctions was to make the economy inward-oriented and focused on capital”‘intensive, grossly inefficient import substitution industries, entailing a 40% import protection level. Waste and inefficiency also resulted from the operation of the apartheid system itself: a multiplicity of government departments and the homelands charade all absorbed or diverted scarce funds.

97. There is an urgent need to formulate — with the help of the international community and international development agencies — a comprehensive development programme. It must be fully costed with sources of funding identified.

98. Investment is currently estimated to be running at 16% to 17% of GDP, well below the 21% to 25% range which is within the country's potential. Foreign and direct private investment seems to have adopted a wait”‘and”‘see attitude, but could respond to promising policies on the part of a new government. Owing to official South Africa's recent pariah status, it has an unusually strong informal investment sector. It is estimated than as many as 10,000 non-governmental organisations are now active, and that they channel some 2 billion Rands annually into development projects.

99. Even when the South African economy begins to grow, growth will not be sustainable unless the transformation process is underpinned by the economic empowerment of the black communities. South Africa's economic survival depends on its ability to train and develop its vast reservoir of human resources.  Professional and technical skills have to be spread and developed into business acumen. The country is desperately short of entrepreneurship and lacks local skilled technical, managerial and professional manpower.

100. During the transition phase the existing development institutions which originated under apartheid (the Industrial Development Corporation, the Land and Agricultural Bank, the small Business Development Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the South African Housing Trust and the Independent Development Trust) need to be transformed in order to enhance their capacity and legitimacy and provide for broader popular participation.

101. All these programmes and measures require large amounts of funds.  One immediate step must be the examination of the Government budget with a view to identifying possible savings (e.g. through a substantial reduction of military expenditures and a more efficient utilisation of the present education budget) and redirection of resources. Housing is an immediate priority. Whereas comparable developing countries spend between 5% and 9% of their GDP on housing, South Africa would need to raise its spending from 2 bn to 13 bn Rands even to reach the bottom of this range. Other meaningful steps should include a land redistribution scheme to benefit the poor and an undertaking to transfer the titles of publicly”‘owned houses in townships to their existing tenants. As a side”‘benefit, the ownership of land and housing would create assets that can serve as collateral for bank loans needed to start small businesses. Better housing and social welfare would reduce those elements in the shocking levels of violence which are caused by the hopelessness and frustration engendered by abject poverty. A redirection of education and health care services must be part of programmes to empower the poor in general and women in particular.

102. Unquestionably, additional resources will be needed: some to address immediate social and economic inequities, others as longer”‘term investments. Could this take the form and volume of an international supported Marshall Plan? The international community could offer concessionary rates of interests on social welfare”‘related loans coupled with a substantial IMF loan. The World Bank is standing by ready to fund appropriate development projects and programmes. The EC already has its largest African country aid programme in South Africa, albeit not channelled through government. With an acceptable government in power, trade sanctions will be replaced by appropriate arrangements for access to markets. After 40 years of international pressure and ostracism, it is hardly the time for the world to turn its back on South Africa. The opportunity that will present itself this year deserves the fullest attention by the international community.

103. The new South Africa will be expected to play a positive role in the development of the continent. Resources should be used also for the benefit of neighbouring countries and the instruments of regional cooperation should be deployed in this endeavour. South Africa's transformation will take time; its transition will not be trouble”‘free. But the hope remains that after decades of economic and political isolation, the liberation of South Africa will henceforth allow an integration of the country's resources into the social and economic fabric of Africa as a whole. Southern Africa's technological and industrial infrastructure, its human resources and its economic potential are capable of lifting the fortunes of the continent.