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'Negotiation as simultaneous equation': building a new partnership with Africa

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Written by Simon Maxwell

The value–added of a new partnership with Africa lies precisely in the opportunity to manage and to give impetus to relations and negotiations across a whole range of issues—conflict management, trade, debt relief, and aid—taken together rather than separately. Partnership, however, is not a new concept, in general or in development, and there are different models on offer. This article reviews these and sets out the choices facing new African partnerships with respect to a) participation b) coverage c) the form of partnership, and d) the structure of partnership. The article argues: against selectivity and in favour of building partnerships even with difficult cases; in favour of deploying all possible instruments, including economic, political and military; in favour of the principles of reciprocity and mutual accountability; in favour of institutionalizing mutual accountability through contractual or quasi–contractual forms. The characteristics of one particular, and far from easy case, Rwanda, reinforce these conclusions.

There are also implications for the G8 engagement with NEPAD. The article recommends a broad–based partnership, managed on the developed country side by the OECD, and that proposed monitoring by peer review be reinforced by joint parliamentary scrutiny.

Karin Christiansen, Simon Maxwell