Sample: Africa in World Politics

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Table of Contents


Tables and Figures
Map of Africa

Part I The Contemporary Context in Historical Perspective

1. Constructing Political and Economic Order
John W. Harbeson
Johns Hopkins University/SAIS

2. The Heritage of Colonialism
Crawford Young
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Part II Building Viable Political Economies

3. Reflections on Africa’s Rocky Love-Hate Relationship with International Capital
Todd Moss
Center for Global Development

4. Entrepreneurial Governance and the Expansion of Public Investment Funds in Africa
M. Anne Pitcher
University of Michigan

5. The Sad Story of “Africa Rising” and the Continent’s Romance with the BRICS
Ian Taylor
University of St. Andrews

6. In Pursuit of Autonomy: Civil Society and the State in Africa
Aili Mari Tripp
University of Wisconsin–Madison

7. Democracy and the State in Sub-Saharan Africa
John W. Harbeson
Johns Hopkins University/SAIS

Part III In Search of Elusive State Reconstruction

8. The International Factor in African Warfare
William Reno
Northwestern University

9. Sudan and South Sudan: The Tragic Denouement of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
Princeton N. Lyman
US Institute of Peace

10. Instability in the Great Lakes Region
Filip Reyntjens
University of Antwerp

11. Boko Haram and Nigeria State Weakness
John Campbell
Council on Foreign Relations

Part IV Engaging the International Community Anew

12. The Diplomacy of African Conflicts
I. William Zartman
Johns Hopkins University/SAIS

13. Bilateral vs. Multilateral Peacebuilding in Africa
Carrie Manning and Louis-Alexandre Berg
Georgia State University

14. The African Union’s Peace and Security Architecture—from Aspiration to Operationalization
Ulf Engel
University of Leipzig

15. Reconciling Sovereignty with Responsibility: A Basis for International Humanitarian Action
Francis M. Deng
United Nations

About the Contributors



The dramatic changes in the contours of African politics in the past few years led to the decision to launch this sixth edition of Africa in World Politics more closely following the previous edition than might otherwise have been the case. Among the most prominent of these developments have been the rapid expansion of China’s economic engagement, African governments’ new state-led economic development strategies, markedly improved rates of economic growth for many countries paralleling Africa’s emergence from marginalization to greater economic prominence on the world stage, and the transformation of the global economic and political order itself heralded by the growing power of many G-20 countries.

Strikingly, however, a political renaissance to accompany the continent’s economic advances has remained elusive for many if not most African countries. Armed insurgencies threaten many states, both cause and consequence of their continued weakness. Democratization has stalled or ebbed across much of the continent for a decade, typified domestically by elected leaders testing constitutional limits on their powers and imposing restrictions on civil society. Externally, meanwhile, the African Union has signaled an intention to disavow the International Criminal Court, which its member countries had helped to establish, and, thereby, the Court’s efforts to uphold governments’ responsibility to protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens.

A central concern of this volume is, therefore, this fundamental question: To what extent will Africa’s growing prominence on the world stage translate into greater and more sustainable well-being for the continent in political, socio­economic, environmental, and cultural terms? It is not yet clear to what degree continuing rapid economic growth, to the extent it proves sustainable, will reach all countries on the continent, occur in ways so as to enduringly diminish African economic dependency, substantially diminish poverty and inequality, support sustainable democracy, and broadly improve the quality of life for most of the continent’s peoples.

The essays in this volume also attest to the profound elusiveness of the goal of building stronger and reformed states, given their deeply rooted weakness and ineffectiveness that arises from decades of postcolonial authoritarian, corrupt, and clientelistic stewardship. Continuing manifestations are present most dramatically in the fragile, still-tentative easing of the Great Lakes crisis, the precarious viability of newly independent South Sudan, and violent insurgencies, especially by Boko Haram in West Africa and Al Shabaab in the east.

Notwithstanding all these profound challenges, this edition of Africa in World Politics, like its predecessors, is born of resilient optimism, which I believe all the authors share, that the seeds of genuine and sustainable political, economic, and cultural well-being may yet grow in African soils and continue to offer fresh and encouraging hints of an attainable bountiful harvest.

Our late, wonderful colleague and friend, Don Rothchild, remains a model and an inspiration for all of us, and in that sense he has continued with us in spirit in planning this volume and preparing the chapters that follow.

The publication of this sixth edition is an appropriate time to recognize and express once again my great appreciation to each and every one of the scholars and friends who have written chapters for one or more of these editions. In addition to the authors of chapters in this sixth edition, the other members of the Africa in World Politics family have included Thomas Callaghy, Naomi Chazan, Herman Cohen, Larry Diamond, Kenneth Grundy, Jeffrey Herbst, Gilbert Khadiagala, Carol Lancaster, Rene Lemarchand, Victor LeVine, Guy Martin, the late Ali Mazrui, Rob Mortimer, Marina Ottaway, Anokhi Parikh, John Ravenhill, Donald Rothchild, Denis Tull, Nicolas van de Walle, Vitaley Vasikov, and Alan Whiteside.

I have greatly appreciated the encouragement, assistance, and friendship of the editors at Westview with whom we have had the pleasure of working. I want especially to thank my Westview editor for this edition, Katharine Moore, for all her support, encouragement, and, especially, flexibility in working with me on the challenges we have encountered in launching this edition. Finally, I greatly appreciate the feedback we have received from our readers and those who have adopted editions of this book in their courses. My thanks to Westview and to everyone who responded to the readers’ survey conducted in preparation for this edition for the recommendations it produced, several of which I have attempted to incorporate.

My colleagues and I offer this sixth edition of Africa in World Politics in hopes that in some small way it will broaden and deepen understanding of the human condition in sub-Saharan Africa and, thereby, help lead to a brighter future for the continent’s people and their countries.

John W. Harbeson
Bethesda, Maryland

Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Constructing Political and Economic Order

John W. Harbeson

The countries of sub-Saharan Africa in the second decade of the twenty-first century, as much or more than in any previous period in their more than half-century of independence, have continued to be deeply engaged in constructing and reconstructing viable political and economic orders in partnerships with each other and other nations of the international community. What has distinguished their situations in the first decades of the twenty-first century has been the degree to which they have engaged with an array of emerging economic powers, and with these and other powers in countering non-state-based terrorism. They have done this while continuing to wrestle with significant weaknesses in their own political economies.

To sharply varying degrees, African countries have pursued agendas of political and economic reform generated by external as well as domestic pressures during the first decade following the end of the Cold War, when the West enjoyed a relatively high degree of ideological hegemony and shared policy focus vis-à-vis African and other developing countries. More than anything else, however, the international political and economic order in the new century has been transformed by strong emerging economies led by the BRICS, especially China; the syndrome of state- and non-state-based terrorism and counter-terrorism initiatives; and the revolution in information technology. To these transformative developments must be added more recent surges of hundreds of thousands of refugees from repression, civil war, and accompanying destitution in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Nationalist resistance to these tides of refugees has threatened to weaken long-standing and emergent regional economic cooperation, especially in the European Union.

These twenty-first-century realities have counterbalanced and diminished the collective global pursuit of post–Cold War liberal political and economic agendas. To a degree unmatched since they gained independence, sub-Saharan African countries in the twenty-first century have been less subject to coordinated, bilaterally, and multilaterally imposed political and economic agendas. To a greater extent they have been left to negotiate on their own terms their political, security, and economic cooperation arrangements with major enduring and emergent powers in the global arena.

This edition of Africa in World Politics reflects on the resulting complexities of the political and economic development trajectories of sub-Saharan African countries in these challenging early-twenty-first-century circumstances. On the one hand, a number of these countries have registered at least modest to strong rates of gross domestic product growth since the beginning of the century that have been unprecedented in the first half-century of their independence. At the same time, although pronounced state weakness has remained endemic, most sub-Saharan African countries have overcome the rash of civil conflict that befell a number of countries in the late 1990s as authoritarian rulers fell, having lost the backing of the major powers, who were no longer concerned with maintaining global Cold War alliances.

More or less simultaneously and against the background of a preceding decade of bilateral and international financial institution pressure on African countries to liberalize their economies, democracy’s Third Wave reached Africa’s shores.[1]

From the early 1990s to well into the first decade of the twenty-first century, African countries made significant if sharply variable progress in upholding political liberties and civil rights and in constitutionalizing multiparty elections and other democratic institutions.

On the other hand, dramatically transformed twenty-first-century international realities have, at best, complicated incipient trajectories that had pointed toward a once-envisaged sub-Saharan region of sustainable democratic states, initiatives borne of the preceding decade. Pervasive state weakness throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa became increasingly evident and explicit with the demise of a number of authoritarian rulers. For more than two decades their harsh and ineffective rule through corrupt, patronage-based networks had papered over the reality that perpetuated: colonially fashioned authoritarian governance structures were insufficient bases for both effective economic development and modern postindependence states in a post–Cold War democratic era.

At the same time, however, progress in upholding and advancing civil and political liberties and democratic structures and practices began to crest in Africa midway into the new century’s first decade. Since then, democratic momentum has noticeably ebbed, and gradual democratic retreat has occurred in some countries. Stalled democratic momentum has constituted an ongoing challenge and test of the consistent findings of Afrobarometer surveys that sizeable majorities of Africans throughout the continent have retained their belief in and preference for democracy over all of the nondemocratic alternatives they have experienced. At this writing, the most recent Afrobarometer surveys indicate that only a bare majority of African citizens believe their countries are democratic with no or only minor problems.[2]

Indeed, at this writing the respected Freedom House has chronicled a full decade of democratic retreat in sub-Saharan Africa, explaining most if not all of the declines that its surveys have found worldwide. Despite the evident popular appeal of presidential term limits throughout the continent, elected leaders have found ways to extend their tenure in several cases. They have also acted to curb the advocacy of civil society organizations that had provided much of the early domestic impetus for democratization. These developments have adversely affected further rights-based advocacy, which had yielded significant gains in gender equality.

Paralleling these democratization trajectories, African countries have been the recipients of significant trade and investment participation by the BRICS and other emergent midlevel economic powers. The BRICS and others have, to some extent, stepped in where Western private investors have chosen to engage to a lesser degree. Nonetheless, as the century’s third decade approaches, the economic outlook for sub-Saharan African countries is generally mixed. Not every country has engaged these emergent sources of capital and trade to the same extent, creating the prospect of some countries being left behind as others advance.

Moreover, high levels of investment by the BRICS countries, led by China, is not necessarily a long-term given. China in particular and other emergent midlevel economies have shown signs of looking inward to a greater extent in order to address imbalances in their own economies. Also debatable is the extent to which African countries’ economic engagement with these emergent economies has tended to either entrench or liberate them from patterns of dependency characterized by their long-standing lack of sufficient economic diversification, dating back well into colonial times. Whether a recent trend of African governments activating sovereign wealth funds, especially to exploit their own natural resources and real estate markets, will prove to be a positive development in this regard will depend in no small measure on how transparently and sagaciously the funds are managed.

Ultimately, a crucial measure of the effectiveness of African governments’ economic engagement with their own private sectors as well as with China and other emergent economic powers is how these emergent contours impact the lives of Africa’s millions of citizens at the grassroots. The UN-sponsored Millennium Development Goals project, aimed at radically diminishing poverty throughout the global South as well as within sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2015, has yielded important but still incomplete progress toward this goal. Following extensive inquiry into the factors underlying these shortcomings, a substantially expanded follow-on project, Sustainable Development Goals, has begun. Meanwhile, evidence of substantial if not growing economic inequality within many countries has remained deeply troubling, and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative has documented continued, albeit varied, levels of often intensive poverty throughout the continent.[3]

Moreover, substantial evidence of illicit international financial flows—parking wealth in external tax havens instead of in productive in-country investment—has acted as an ongoing brake on development benefits for the home countries and especially for those at the grassroots. Refugees fleeing domestic conflict and internal displacement from land alienations to external actors, compounding already existent land tenure insecurities in many countries, have been among the factors that have sharply qualified the significance of the positive macro-level growth numbers. These healthy gross domestic product numbers have led some observers to identify emerging middle classes in terms of consumer spending patterns. However, remembering the contributions of middle classes to the building of the planet’s stronger economies, it is one thing to identify a middle class in terms of income levels and consumer practices; it is quite another for a middle class to be self-conscious and assertive of its independence vis-à-vis the state and for democratization. To date, such middle classes have yet to emerge.

This edition includes three case studies of very difficult-to-ameliorate violence in three different regions of the continent. These studies elucidate dramatically the profound dimensions of state failure that have seemed to lurk just below the surface throughout much of the continent, even if in most countries it is somewhat better checked (albeit still in evidence). One case centers on Boko Haram, which operates principally in Nigeria. Boko Haram is a viciously violent non-state-based insurgency bent on extinguishing Western influence in a state whose very legitimacy it denies. Another centers on the Great Lakes region where, principally, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo deal with quasi-Hobbesian violent conflicts of all against all. These conflicts have been exacerbated by the region’s prodigious potential wealth, and the task of demarcating a community of sustainable states has been an unmet responsibility of all involved, local and external powers alike. Lastly, the final case details the collapse of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that successfully facilitated South Sudan’s independence from Sudan; however, the latter remains a pariah state and the former teeters on the brink of unsustainability.

Perversely, as Will Reno has observed in his chapter in this edition, in many cases the advent of political and economic liberalism has tended to shred the threadbare fabric of patronage-based ruling regimes rather more than it has facilitated the reweaving and strengthening of that fabric as a basis for viable democratic states. The inherited imperfections of colonially fashioned political orders, pervasive impunity, and the profitability of warfare intermixed with long-standing ethnic rivalries and the self-interest of threatened ruling and rival elites clinging to remnants of patronage networks have remained the residual, irreducible obstacles thwarting the realization of ever-elusive quests for viable, legitimate post­colonial states.

African countries acting collectively through the African Union and the continent’s regional economic communities have put in place a rich, even dense array of resources for defusing conflicts and attacking gross regime abuses of basic human rights, including those causing and accompanying humanitarian disasters. These resources have complemented those evolved by the wider international community. Collectively these developments have confirmed that the principle of unfettered national sovereignty, on which the state system has been built since 1648 and on which the United Nations itself has been founded, is no longer a sufficient foundation for a peaceful and humane international order. States’ responsibility to protect their citizens’ fundamental welfare and rights has increasingly infused contemporary understandings of the definition of sovereignty. There has emerged widespread—if perhaps not universal—international agreement that the international community must intervene when states deny their citizens the most basic human rights or they are unable or unwilling to shield their citizens from humanitarian catastrophes or the violence they engender.

The essays in the final section of this book make clear that these resources, in and of themselves, although invaluable, to date have been insufficient in the face of the complexity of the tasks at hand. Competitive conflict resolution venues can become aspects of the conflicts they have been put in place to quell. Although most are signatories to the Rome Statute, African states have become disillusioned with its key creation, the International Criminal Court, which many African regimes believe has disproportionately singled them out for indictment and prosecution. The African Union’s own extensive conflict mediation mechanisms remain works in progress that still benefit from the singular resources and networks possessed by bilateral actors. A benchmark of notable achievement, however, has been the 2016 conviction and imprisonment of former Chad president Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity, torture, and sex crimes.

Key to strengthened and continued development by sub-Saharan African states, as they navigate the shoals of a transformed twenty-first-century international political and economic order, will be their ability to effect positive, reinforcing linkages among processes of state strengthening and reform, democratization, and sustainable economic development. Received theory, heavily influenced by distilled European and North American experience, has appeared to be of limited utility in its holding that economic development, state-building, and democratization predictably are to occur sequentially, more or less in that order.

A quarter-century of post–Cold War experience has yielded empirical challenges to these venerable predicted trajectories in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the end of the Cold War, in sub-Saharan Africa crises of state formation and re-­formation, democratization initiatives, and continuing economic liberalization initiatives have occurred more or less simultaneously with each other rather than sequentially, as received theory would have it. An important corollary has been that each would appear necessarily to have important significance for the meanings and forms that the others may take, thereby further complicating policy formation and rendering policy outcomes correspondingly more uncertain and unpredictable. Going forward, therefore, what is most needed is systematic inquiry and exploration along with empirically based research, policy formation, and theory that is sharply focused on how best to advance simultaneously formation of viable, legitimate states, democracy, and economic development in a rapidly changing international environment in ways that are mutually reinforcing. This edition of Africa in World Politics undertakes to advance that objective.


[1] The term Third Wave has been associated with the late Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991). Huntington observed that the late– and post–Cold War surge of democratization had been preceded by similar waves following the two world wars.
[2] Afrobarometer,
[3] OPHI, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative,

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Africa in World Politics

Sixth Edition

Edited by John W. Harbeson and Donald Rothchild

Copyright © 2017 by WESTVIEW PRESS

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