The Foreign Service Journal, June 2003

82 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U N E 2 0 0 3 Good Intentions A Strategic Vision for Africa: The Kampala Movement Francis M. Deng and I. William Zartman, Brookings Institution Press, 2002, $19.95, paperback, 198 pages. R EVIEWED BY D AVID W. B OYLE A Strategic Vision for Africa: The Kampala Movement describes an ini- tiative by African scholars and political leaders to develop a systematic approach toward fostering the political and economic development of their continent in the post-Cold War era. This campaign is known as the Kampala Movement, after the Ugandan capital where a conference was held in 1991 to formulate a set of guiding principles for the movement. The authors of this account, Frances Deng and I. William Zartman, are both academics: Deng is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and Zartman is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. As they note in their opening sec- tion, the movement was launched in 1988 by Olusegun Obasanjo (who has just been re-elected president of Nigeria). Obasanjo recognized that after three decades of economic decline, Africa needed a comprehen- sive plan to end chronic crises — par- ticularly since the end of the Cold War threatened to extinguish what little interest the West had shown in Africa. In his view, Africa’s problems were not rooted in the past but in the failure of Africans to establish multi-party democracy, which he saw as the pre- requisite for economic development. Arguing that only genuine democracy could create stability and attract the foreign capital Africa so desperately needed, he called for open markets, regional cooperation, and democrati- cally elected governments with estab- lished constitutions. At the May 1991 conference, some 500 signatories endorsed that set of principles. In essence, the “Kampala Document” envisions an Africa resembling Western Europe, with a framework — modeled loosely on the European Union — for governing political relations among (and within) all African states. Yet as Deng and Zartman explain, the problems began when Obasanjo and his colleagues tried to put these ideals into practice. For example, the Kampala confer- ence recommended restructuring the Organization of African Unity (now called the African Union) to make it more effective and representative. But when that proposal was submitted to the OAU in June 1991 and again in July 2001, it was soundly defeated both times. In fact, no country has ever endorsed the Kampala Document. Opposition came from a variety of sources. Some African leaders insist- ed that democracy could function in a one-party state; others rejected the whole idea of multi-party democracy as a Western concept that was destabi- lizing in multi-ethnic societies and emphasized, instead, the need for strong, centralized governments to ensure stability. Still others, like Zambia’s former President Kenneth Kaunda, blamed Africa’s ills not on a lack of democracy but on external fac- tors — colonialism, slavery and imper- ialism. Finally, many leaders pre- ferred the OAU’s emphasis on nonin- terference and territorial integrity. All the same, Deng and Zartman remain optimistic about the influence and future of the movement, hailing the Kampala Document as “one of the most important works of statesman- ship of the postwar era.” Yet their own analysis shows that it was considerably less than that — as well-intentioned and progressive as the document was, it has proved impossible to implement. The idea of a multi-party democra- cy may be inherently attractive to Americans, but in a continent wracked by failed states, ethnic conflict, col- lapsed economies, and endemic cor- ruption, it is sobering to realize that African leaders are not only unable to work together to build good govern- ment, but are also apparently unable to even agree on what the concept means. ■ FSO David Boyle has served in Lagos and Malabo. He is currently a watch officer in the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. The “Kampala Document” envisioned an Africa resembling Western Europe. B OOKS