News / Africa

AU Summit Reveals Growing African Resentment Toward Western Values

Malawi President and president of African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, front second left, stands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as they pose for a group photo with other African heads of states at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 30, 2
Malawi President and president of African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, front second left, stands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as they pose for a group photo with other African heads of states at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 30, 2

This week’s African summit was partly a celebration of shared values, and partly a display of Africa’s growing resentment at what many perceive as values imposed from outside.

This semi-annual summit ended, as always, with words reaffirming the continent’s commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights. The newly-elected AU Chairman, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, spoke in Spanish with an interpreter as he hailed the emergence of a pan-African value system.

"Africa has ratified its confidence in itself and in the shared values as means for establishment of the future progress of the continent and the attainment of a shared vision of unity and integration," Obiang said.

But beyond the words, diplomats and summit observers noted signs of increasing resistance to what many Africans see as pressure to accept standards and institutions created by Western powers.

For the second time in three years, the continental body will be led by a man seen by many in the West as a dictator. Two years ago it was Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch says this year’s choice, President Obiang, is in the same category.

"It’s unfortunate for the African Union and for Africans to be represented on the world stage by President Obiang.  He took power in a coup 30 years ago, overthrowing his uncle. Since then we’ve had a regime in which human rights are systematically violated, in which torture is widespread, and opposition parties are harassed. It’s not a country that should be held up as a model for the shared values this summit represents."

But when a reporter asked Mr. Obiang at a news conference about his past, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping interrupted, calling the question improper. Speaking in French through an interpreter, he said no one says anything when other organizations, such as the European Union, choose leaders with questionable backgrounds.

“I’m of the view that you shouldn’t perhaps, how should I put this, be involved in harassment,” Ping said. “You are not being fair, and you have to treat us and place us on the same footing as other organizations. It’s as if you’re applying double standards.”

Several African leaders complained during the summit that western-controlled institutions such as the International Criminal Court had aggravated African disputes, imposing short-sighted or misguided prescriptions for African problems. A common slogan was “African solutions for African problems.”

A summit communiqué strongly backed Kenya’s effort to block ICC prosecutions of those accused of masterminding ethnic violence after the 2007 elections.  Leaders expressed annoyance that the U.N. Security Council had denied a previous request for a deferral of the genocide indictment against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Chairman Ping lashed out at the international community’s failure to support AU conflict-resolution efforts in places such as Somalia, Sudan and Ivory Coast. He termed international attempts to settle Ivory Coast’s leadership dispute "ill informed and short-sighted," and named a panel of AU heads of state to prescribe a legally-binding African settlement.

But Ivory Coast’s foreign minister in the government of President Laurent Gbagbo seemed to reject the AU panel’s efforts in advance. The minister, Alcide Djedje, said Mr. Gbagbo would only accept the panel’s recommendations if he were allowed to remain in power.

Djedje blamed the Ivory Coast’s crisis on foreign meddling by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former colonial power France.

"Mr. Ban Ki-Moon has no role in the African Union. Several heads of state have given their views, saying they would not accept foreign interference in African issues. Because interference like the one of France is exactly the cause of the situation we’re going through now.  It is France that encourages Ban Ki-moon in his attitude and decisions in Cote d’Ivoire," he said.

This summit’s focus on shared values was intended as a show of Africa’s commitment to good governance and human rights, the values of the western donor community. Instead, it revealed an emerging conviction among Africans that their values may not coincide with those of western donors, who are often seen in their eyes not as benefactors but as neo colonialists with less than honorable intentions.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs