Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Role of Non-State Actors Essay Example for Free

The Role of Non-State Actors Essay 5.1 Introduction It is generally recognized that the process of building a capable state requires the participation of all the vital forces of a nation. A capable state is one that has all the attributes of a modern, strong, responsible and responsive state, a state capable of effectively discharging its duties of delivering security, peace, prosperity and other pubic goods to its people. Although the state has traditionally been considered as the focal point of this process, other sectors, including non-state ones, have an important role to play, and the importance of this role has grown significantly over the past couple of decades as the limitations of the post-colonial state in providing for the needs of its people have been made all too clear. 1 It is thus important to identify these other actors and recognise those areas wherein they can contribute, and have indeed contributed, to the process, as well as to appreciate better their nature, their mode of intervention, the constraints hampering their action as well as to explore ways in which their participation can be rendered more fruitful and less problematic. But before we delve into the subject of non-state actors and their role in the creation of the capable state in Africa, it would be useful to look into just what the capable state is and means, and what it has meant for the African continent since the advent of independence half a century ago. 5.2 Definitional Issues 5.2.1 Overview The capable state may be defined as one that effectively fulfils its obligations to its constituents by providing and safeguarding a range of goods, both tangible and intangible,2 that assure its people of a secure public space wherein they can live and love, produce and reproduce, and pursue the enjoyment of the fruits of their labour and love. Such a state will have attributes such as territorial integrity, public order and safety under the rule of law; ample political space for individual and group self-realisation; and socio-economic justice and equity that minimise conflict and foster intra-national peace and harmony. It is the absence of these attributes within states that creates what have come to be known as â€Å"failed†, â€Å"failing† or â€Å"dysfunctional† states, whose common denominator are varying degrees of precariousness. In these terms, the African state that came into being upon decolonisation had its work cut out. From centuries of successive forms of extreme exploitation, oppression and brutalisation, African nations found themselves confronted with the daunting task of, on the one hand, putting in place governance systems that would ensure the survival of the nation-state that was essentially an artificial creation of the colonial regime, cobbled up from a multitude of disparate and often mutually hostile ethnic entities and, on the other, assure a minimum of livelihood for the people by delivering education, health and other social services, securing good prices for agricultural produce, providing jobs through mining and Mabogunje, A.L. Institutional Radical isation, the state and the development process in Africa. Development Policy Centre, Ibadan, Nigeria, 2000. 2 Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governance, Poverty and Sustainable Development in Africa, in The Quest for Equity in Access to Health and Development, Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development in Kenya. Industrialisation, and generally taking care of the nation, including providing welfare for those who could not fend for themselves. Herculean as these tasks were the first crop of African leaders assumed them with gusto. In fact it was the leaders who enthusiastically promoted these expectations, either because they needed seductive promises to make their peoples rally to the anti-colonial banner, or because they genuinely believed that once the colonialists were out of the way all was possible. Mkandawire3 sheds a harsh light on this â€Å"central preoccupation† with â€Å"development†. â€Å"African leaders have always been aware of the need for some nationalist-cum-developmentalist ideology for both national building and development†¦ The quest for an ideology to guide the development process inspired African leaders to propound their own idiosyncratic and often incoherent ‘ideologies’ to ‘rally the masses’ for national unity and dev elopment. If such ideologies are still absent it is definitely not for lack of trying.† Thus, it was made possible for people to expect that the state would do everything for them, in this way fostering the concept of l’Etatprovidence, the provider State. Some African states did indeed attempt, with varying degrees of success, to deliver on some of their promises, but it did not take long for most of these attempts to prove Sisyphean, rolled back by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the following: a) Poor governance and managerial practices; b) Over-centralisation of power in the hands of a small group, or of one individual; c) Emergence of authoritarian/dictatorial/military regimes; d) Failure/reluctance to devolve power and responsibilities to local authorities; e) State corruption; f) Ethnic bias, nepotism, exclusion of whole sections of populations; g) Deterioration of terms trade on the world market; h) Unsustainable levels of state intervention in delivering social services; i) A crippling dependency syndrome on the part of populations hea vily reliant on government handouts, and on the part of governments dangerously dependent on donor handouts.4 By the end of the 1980s, it had become clear that the various development strategies different African countries had followed had not led to the desired outcomes. Despite the earlier promise of the 1960s, and the modest but positive growth figures of the 1970s, the 1980s came to be known as the ‘lost decade’, a grim epitaph epitomizing the shattered dreams of a whole continent, a reality from which African countries, having lost their initial elegance, have not fully emerged to this day. The World Bank blamed this inability to deliver development on â€Å"a strategy (that) was misconceived† in the sense that in their hurry to modernize, African governments were wont to copy rather than adapt Western development models, with the result that they found themselves with â€Å"poorly designed public investment in industry; too little attention to peasant agriculture; too much intervention in areas where the state lacked managerial, technical and entrepreneurial skills; and too little efforts to foster grassroots development.† This top down approach, according to the World Bank, â€Å"demotivated ordinary people, whose en ergies needed to be mobilized in the development effort.† It has been rather a case of ‘double jeopardy’ in the sense that the State that promised to deliver economic development – the ‘developmental State’ – also took away political and individual rights, constricting the political space in which citizens could enjoy full political participation, the argument being that incessant political bickering and rivalry would sap the developmental potential and undermine the nation building project. In the end, the African State, caught up in its ‘developmentalist’ quest, delivered neither economic development nor democratic governance6. The State became more ‘commandist,’ more intolerant of contrary ideas from its citizens, less reluctant to devolve power to local entities, more given to the use of force as a solution to political issues, and gradually descended into the mire of autocratic rule, the more egregious of which were military dictatorships and/or, later, rule by warlords and their militias. Faced with this stark reality, it became imperative to rethink governance with a view to finding alternative ways of confronting the development challenges of our peoples. At this same time, towards the end of Africa’s ‘lost decade’, momentous events were taking place in the world that were destined to usher in a major paradigmatic shift in world political relations. The end of the ‘Cold War’ was unfolding even as efforts were being made to see African countries ‘democratise’ and the discourse of that process threw to the fore a hitherto little heeded breed of protagonists, variously known as civil society, NGOs or non state actors. In Eastern Europe, some of these organisations played a central role in bringing about the fall of the Communist regimes, such as was evidenced, especially, by the Polish experience with the workers, union-based Solidarnos, as well as other civil society movements in Romania, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslov akia and the Soviet Union itself. Although there is little evidence to suggest that these movements sustained their role in the new, post-Communist governance systems –except that a trade union leader took over the State in Poland, and a poet in the Czech Republic – their importance had been recognized and stood ready to be deployed elsewhere. Africa, just like Eastern Europe, was emerging from a long period of negative development, and, as such, it was thought, what had worked in the former Communist regimes might work in African countries. As we shall see later, this would have a bearing on the way many of these non state actors, whether packaged as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or simply Non State Actors (NSAs), would be viewed in many African countries, which would also, to a large extent, inform their effectiveness on the ground.

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