Economic Justice in Africa: Adjustment and Sustainable Development

By George W. Shepherd; Karamo N. M. Sonko | Go to book overview

1
Debt, Development, and Democracy: The Rights versus Efficiency Debate in Adjustment

George W. Shepherd Jr.

The growing disastrous trends in many parts of Africa indicate the need for a fresh approach to the attempt to deal with the problems of debt, development, and democracy. One extreme reaction is to write the "Dark Continent" off as a lost cause and send investment and aid to other parts of the world. Another is to call for establishment of democracy and the market system as the panacea for the failure of the command economies of the Marxist governments. It would be foolish to ignore the conditions that have given rise to these extremist responses without examining the problem more deeply.

The seriousness of Africa's economic and political situation is reflected in the total collapse of Somalia. This crisis is man-made. It is not simply the result of drought, inefficiency, or corruption. Rather, it is an extreme example of dependent state relationships, military and economic, which broke down after the superpowers withdrew. 1 Food production and distribution were restored by the U.N. intervention. But the political order has collapsed into warring factions between those who have the guns, while the people starve. Because the state failed to provide people with their basic human rights, the international community attempted emergency intervention in 1992, initially by the United States and later the UNOSOM (United Nations Organization Somalia Mission). Whether the international system will be able to provide sufficient assistance to Somalia to enable it to survive is the same question we must ask in several other similar states in Africa.

It will be far preferable for all concerned if the world can find with Africa a means of dealing with the problems that have precipitated this crisis. Similarly, our failure to date to find an adequate answer to the debate over equity and efficiency in structural adjustment programs in African development is the reason behind this study.

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