by Millie Radovic, Anglo-Serbian student of BA International Relations at King’s College London. Chief Editor of IR Today.
Consumed by the issues closest to us, we are often quick to dismiss those that don’t reach us. Nevertheless, as IR students and in a country that claims to be the champion of aid, here some issues we should most certainly be aware of:
The most recent outbreak, first reported in West Africa has so far claimed at least 8,810 deaths across Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria.
How far will this spread? How long until an effective cure is produced? Will the EU and UN wait until Ebola is knocking on Europe’s door to come up with a solution?
2. Boko Haram
Founded in 2002, the terrorist group has from 2009 in particular executed most brutal murders in Nigeria. This is above all a regional threat it advances. Nigerian casualties are now running more than double of those in Afghanistan. What is the west doing about this? Most recently with over 2,000 people being massacred at the same time as 12 people were in Paris, governments in Europe in particular were heavily criticised for not paying enough attention to the mass murders in Nigeria.
3. Ghana – development and means of prosperity
With decelerated growth in 2014, a large current account deficit and growing social challenges pertaining to the cost of living and service delivery, Ghana is facing mounting pressure to resolve long-standing matters of governance and economic management.
4. ‘Securitization’ of aid and its effects
Debate on the ‘securitization’ of aid and international development since 9/11 has been anchored in two key claims: that the phenomenon has been driven and imposed by western governments and that this is wholly unwelcome and deleterious for those in Africa. Yet the region is dependent on this help. What can be done to increase the effectiveness of UN aid?
5. South Sudan civil war
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war. It plunged into crisis in December 2013 amid a power struggle between the president and his deputy whom he had sacked. Internal struggles are the highlight of its affairs in the past couple of years as the fighting between government troops and rebel factions erupted, and within weeks the conflict had killed thousands and prompted more than 800,000 to flee their homes. Its oil production (and main source of revenue) has thus fallen sharply. Worryingly, its internal conflicts are joined by its continuing friction with its neighbor, Sudan over the dispute of the region of Abyei.
6. Political infighting in Somalia
Political infighting in Somalia is threatening to set back the implementation of the country’s timetable towards elections in 2016. The latest dispute is a contest over institution building, and may represent something of a turning point in the federal project. With Somalia being recognized as a failed state, and claimed by Americans as a breeding ground for terrorism, what’s next? How soon can we expect legitimate progress? What is the role of the west, and is it necessary?
7. Next Steps for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), still emerging from decades of war and generations of pervasive misrule, may be in a position to break loose from a seemingly eternal repetition of violence and mismanagement, and move towards both a democratic transition of power and genuine post-conflict stabilization. Despite the significant obstacles to progress that remain, a confluence of circumstances and actors has opened the way for change. It is a definite actor to watch in 2015, especially as the current president’s second term comes to an end next year.
8. Libya, the forgotten fallen
In February 2011, the Libyan Revolution began a series of armed conflicts between the forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the opposition seeking to oust his government. By August, Tripoli was secured, and by October Gaddafi himself captured and killed. This ‘quick’ liberation has nevertheless not provided a positive turnaround for Libya. An anarchic like state has allowed for fractions of the previous government and militia to loom at large and facilitated the Second Libyan Civil War. Due to the exponential rise of ISIS, and other MENA issues in Syria, Iraq, and Israel being more ‘current’ last year, Libya has most certainly not received enough attention which is unforgivable as the situation there continues to deteriorate.