Economic Justice in Africa: Adjustment and Sustainable Development

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

9
Structural Adjustment and the Right to Personal Security in Africa

David R. Penna

The espoused ideal of the international development agencies (IDAs), such as the World Bank, is to provide assistance to developing countries so that they may better participate in the world economy, with all the supposed benefits such participation brings. One of those benefits is alleged to be the improvement of the living conditions of the people of the Third World, but as commentators have noted, many programs have not brought about these desired results. 1 It is possible that some of their programs, such as structural adjustment (SA), may have worsened the living conditions in the Third World. If this is true, it calls for careful examination of the process of deterioration.

One of the problems in many studies of the effects of SA on Third World states is that these effects may have been conceptualized too narrowly. Although the IDAs may contend that their programs are not aimed at the improvement of human rights per se, it is clear that human rights are affected by these programs. The most obvious linkages are those between SA-dictated government spending reductions and rights to health care, employment, education, and so on. At another level, however, there are linkages to civil and political rights. For example, although SA programs are individualized for each state, many of the conditions in these programs are imposed from beyond the borders of the state; this implies infringement upon the rights of political participation and self-determination. It can be expected that the violation of these rights may be accompanied by the deterioration of the right to personal security.

This chapter examines linkages between SA programs and the levels of respect for personal security rights in Africa in the 1980s. This study cannot suggest that SA programs cause violations of personal security; these rights are

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