Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kenya, Uganda among 20 weak, failing states

A new UK-based report that labels Kenya and Uganda as among the weak or failing states of Africa is likely to come under strong criticism from Nairobi and Kampala.

The Institute of Public Policy’s Research report identifies 20 states in Africa, including all of Kenya and Uganda’s neighbours with the exception of Tanzania, as “weak” or “failing.”

The IPPR, a left-wing think tank often used to help formulate policy for the ruling Labour government claims that Britain faces a greater threat from the rising number of weak states worldwide than from strong ones.

According to the IPPR’s report, a massively strengthened international effort is required to tackle “failing” states such as Somalia and it proposes a new global agenda to address the issue.

IPPR associate director David Mepham, said: “The international community’s existing approach is weak, incoherent and reactive.

“Too often the policies of developed countries, including the UK, are actually making things worse through irresponsible arms exports, weak controls over money laundering, inadequate regulation of Western companies that trade in illicit commodities like ‘conflict diamonds’ and through unfair global trade rules.

“The international community’s response needs to address not just the symptoms of failure but their underlying causes.”

In particular, the IPPR recommends that the international community take action to:

* Tighten controls over weapons transfers, through an updating of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and through agreement on a new International Arms Trade Treaty.

* Toughen international controls over money laundering and corruption.

* Strengthen the regulation of international companies that invest in failed and failing states and support for international initiatives like the Kimberley process to counter the trade in “conflict diamonds.”

The 20 weak or failing states in Africa are Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Congo-Brazzaville, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Chad, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Uganda and Kenya.

These states and the “ungoverned” areas they allow to develop, could become “jumping-off points for direct threats to the UK via terrorism or transnational crime,” the report says.

It focuses on an “arc of instability” running from the coast of West Africa right across the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

The situation is only likely to worsen with rising global poverty, the report says, adding that uncoordinated UK policies are failing to respond to the growing threat.

It urges London to engage much more positively with the weak states through financial, economic and diplomatic means or what it terms “non-military preventative action,” through promoting good governance.