Table of Contents

Volume 3, Spring 2006

atlantic international studies journal
Trained Cynics? The importance of optimism in International Relations…………………………………..i editorial Nationalism A compiled review……………………………………………………………………….iii guy gautreau and laura young, compilers Situating Micro-Finance on a Theoretical Spectrum: The case of Bolivia………………………………………………………………………..1 emily shepard Gender in Women’s Development Organizations: from participation to empowerment……………………………………………………...10 betsy macdonald Iraqi Kurdistan…………………………………………………………………………24 mike freen The Terrorist Threat: its impact on American civil liberties and democracy…………………………………...34 lindsay gorman Provincial Reconstruction Teams……………………………………………………...47 shanley macarthur The Environment and Conflict in the Rwandan Genocide…………………………..58 stephen brosha The Border of Dreams: Burmese women working in Thailand’s sex industry…………….………...……………72 melanie mcdonald Determining the Success of a Transnational Social Movement: Evaluating the Global Call to Action Against Poverty Coalition………………………..86 allison sephton

Trained Cynics? The Importance of Optimism in International Relations Editorial


e are discussing the consumption and adoption of Southern culture by the North, in a class entitled, “Geography of the Developing World.” The jaded international relations students have brought up tourism and its negative ramifications on indigenous culture; have discussed property rights abuses in relation to indigenous healing; have put forward the oftrepeated view that the relationship between the North and the South is exploitative. Someone raises her hand timidly and queries, “Maybe this interchance of cultures between the North and the South broadens horizons and identities? Maybe it creates awareness amongst those of us who are so lucky to live in the North? For humanity, this is maybe a good thing?” My friend turns to me, mirroring my stunned look, and she says what I am sure we are all thinking: “We are so cynical! We see the good side, but we only ever talk about the negatives.” So often we are pessimistic about the future. We get caught up in being critical and overlook the successes we have already accomplished – success captured in this year’s journal in the form of remarkably thoughtful and thought-provoking contributions from people who are genuinely interested in making a difference to this world; people who demonstrate each day their belief that it is

possible to improve the lot of humanity as a whole. Students, I think, are particularly susceptible to pessimism, as we are encouraged to think critically about each argument presented to us, to search out flaws. We become excellent cynics. It is for this reason (amongst many others) that this journal is so important, within the Atlantic region, certainly, but also as a sampling of the exciting new scholarship being created by undergraduate students everywhere. Hopefully, this years ATLIS journal will inspire and encourage further interest and innovation in the arena of international politics. It has become a tiresome cliché to say that we live in a time of dramatic change, yet this sentiment should not be ignored simply because we hear it so frequently. We do live in a time of dramatic change. Whether you are morally for or against globalization, there can be little doubt that perceptions of space and time are collapsing thanks to technology such as the internet. This year, I have had friends go to Poland, China, Sweden, Argentine, and Kenya – a diverse range of countries and experiences. I can talk to them all at the same time, online (barring time change differences). To me, this is the epitome of globalization. The diversification of the International Relations field reflects this broadening and

ii deepening of our understanding of the world and the actors within it. Within this journal are pieces related to Gender Studies, History, to Political Science and to Geography. Each of these papers further draws on other disciplines, pulling strands of thought from the sciences, the social sciences, and personal experience to create a more encompassing, engaging, and realistically complex view of what is occurring in the world today. Gone are the black and white (or red and white?) discussions of Cold War politics. Certainly the theories that originated in that time still influence today’s thought, but they are not longer central. Today we worry about the homogenization of culture, about gender inequality, about political economy – we focus not solely on state security, but on human security. We focus on what we have in common, rather than on our differences. Our focus has shifted to humanity. We focus on improving the lost of millions of people who were not lucky in their birthplace, and a large part of our willingness to engage in these acts of improvement have to do with the interchange of culture between North and South. With the broadening and deepening of our awareness, here in the North, of the disadvantages and daily struggles of those in the South, so too is the international relations discipline enlarged. Of course, we in the North can never understand these struggles at a personal level – but we have a willingness to engage in finding new means of problem solving, and we have the skills to sift through development precedents and come up with our own solutions. And while those solutions may not solve the problems as we hope, they are at the very least a step in a bumbling path that we can hope will only lead to good. That hope, that optimism and belief in the existence of solutions, is the foundation of any scholarship in this discipline, and despite the critical analyses presented in the following pages, it sings through this journal, merely in the fact of its existence, as well as in each individual contributor’s unique voice and experience. This year’s ATLIS journal is diverse, with no unifying theme other than its very diversity. Enjoy!

Book Review: Nationalism Rabindranath Tagore Guy Gautreau and Laura Young, compilers

Tagore, Rabindranath. “Nationalism.” (Kessinger Publishing, 1917). Rabindranath Tagore, born in Calcutta in the latter half of the 19th century, has left a literary legacy encompassing many themes and genres, and was the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 (Literature). He published Nationalism in 1917 after a lecture tour abroad on the subject, and in it, spoke of human destiny and the duality between mind and spirit. He also deplored the effects of nationalism and denounced patriotism, arguing instead for the appreciation of spiritual and humanistic values as well as greater cross-cultural understanding. The following are excerpts from student book reviews written under the guidance of Owen Griffiths, Ph. D., and Associate Professor of History at Mount Allison University. The beginning of the First World War heralded a new era in political theory. Doubts as to the validity of certain political ideologies began to emerge in intellectual circles as Europe, followed by the world, deteriorated into conflict. In Europe, doubts centred on state interactions and the nature of man, while in the colonies, doubts centred on the previously unchallenged idea of European superiority. Questions regarding Europeans’ natural right to govern so-called inferior peoples emerged as civilization in Europe crumbled. Until recently, the contributions of nationalism to the rapid cascade of war in the years preceding World Wars One and Two have been sidelined. In this respect, Rabindranath Tagore was astoundingly prescient in his series of lectures published in 1917. Published collectively under the title “Nationalism,” the lectures propound that nationalism was the cause of what was then believed to be the war to end all wars, and cautions audiences against the “anaesthetizing” influence of the quest for nationalism (57). At the time of Tagore’s writing, Social Darwinism was the geo-political catch-phrase and, as in scientific Darwinism, only those deemed fit by survival were successful. Those that were unfit “must go to the wall – they shall die, and this is science,” (45). The problem with adapting ‘survival of the fittest’ to international relations is the perception of death resulting from unfitness: only nations could be fit – and as a result, the perception that “As long as nations are rampant in this world we have not the option freely to develop our higher humanity” (38). Individuality has no place in success as it is defined under social Darwinism, and so we are hindered by our “fetich

iv atlantic international studies journal [sic] of nationalism,” (39). It is through competition that each society will be drawn into this fetish (38-39). The alliances of the First World War further reflect (and lend support to) Tagore’s concern that nationalistic “machines will come into an agreement, for their mutual protection, based upon a conspiracy of fear;” a type of international social contract that is not unlike that suggested by Thomas Hobbes at the domestic/societal level. Furthermore, this survival of the fittest at the international level encourages a ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ sort of policy: the motto of nations becomes “Help yourself, and never heed what it costs to others,” (96-97). Thus he justifies doubt in English superiority, tracing the means by which nationalism has underscored the morality of their actions and subsequently undermined their strong position in the world: “the West has been systematically petrifying her moral nature in order to lay a solid foundation for her gigantic abstractions of inefficiency” through the machinery of nationalism, which supersedes any human characteristic (46). “The veil has been raised, and in this frightful way the West has stood face to face with her own creation, to which she had offered her soul,” (59). That the West had begun to doubt itself further legitimated doubt in the colonies and enabled intellectual circles in those territories to create alternative paths, that would emerge later in the twentieth century. (Young) Although the lectures are presented as discrete units, metaphors across the three serve to link them to one another, and an overarching theme of heart versus mind can be discerned. This debate has been a popular one throughout history since the emergence of science and rational thought in the Enlightenment and the subsequent attempt at reconciliation between two means of understanding the universe that are frequently presumed to be diametrically opposed. (Young) [Tagore’s] use of language throughout [Nationalism] is beautiful and many of his ideas enduring, but definitions and scientific evidence are mostly absent. It is quite probable that Tagore abhorred the overtly methodological use of language to express deep thoughts, simply because it so resembles the stark mechanical character of capitalist production within the European nation itself. As a result though, what happens is that many of his most important statements are seemingly lost within broader descriptions and hidden in the middle of paragraphs…since they do not always follow a coherent logical sequence. For instance, he states at one point: “I am not against one nation in particular, but against the general idea of all nations. What is the Nation? It is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power” (131). This quotation, as much as any, sums Tagore’s theses, yet it is found in an obscure section of the text on nationalism in India. Rather than to criticize his writing style, which again is admirable, I would simply like to draw attention here to the difficulties that exist in trying to uncover Tagore’s inner logic and rationality. (Gautreau) …[Tagore] is criticizing, with much wit and inspiration, the direction the entire human race is taking. The West, he insists, is embarking on a dangerously dehumanizing path. “The vital ambition of the present civilization of Europe is to have the exclusive possession of the devil,” (101). The Nation, for Tagore, is based on many things, some worthy but many entirely abject: organized self-interest, greed for wealth

special contribution v and shallow power, fear of exploitation by an alienating and mechanical mode of production, the delusion of freedom, the fall of virtue, unconsciousness, an unsustainable future that will either lead to catastrophe or a necessary spiritual rebirth, and so on. Conversely, those that avoid nationalism (he longed that India, Japan, and the rest of Asia would do so) and maintain their spiritual integrity thus avoid this grim fate and have no need for so-called rebirth. “The East with her ideals, in whose bosom are stored the ages of sunlight and silence of stars, can patiently wait till the West, hurrying after the expedient, losses breath and stops” (81). His message is simultaneously naïve and visionary; his stance futile and courageous. Nationalism challenges the power of words, because the task of showing the decline of spirituality in the West is far from easy. (Gautreau) Tagore is addressing his argument specifically to a Western audience. To this end, although he writes from an Indian perspective, his main goal is to convince the people of the West of the danger which the Western Nation poses to their own freedom. This argument introduces one of Tagore’s most potent ideas, that the very idea of the nation itself is an anaesthetic that blinds people to the truth of its nature and deludes them into ignoring its oppressive force. Tagore believes that there is a disconnect between the ideals of the Western spirit and the reality of the Western Nation to which the people of that nation are blind. Tagore points to the paradox of the West, “while the Spirit of the West marches under its banner of freedom, the Nation of the West forges its iron chains of organization,” (37). In Tagore’s opinion the people of the West have deluded themselves into sacrificing their own freedoms for the good of the Nation, naively believing that the good of the nation is the same as the good of the people, when in reality they have simply bartered their “higher aspirations in life for profit and power,” (40). (MacLachlan) It is easy to accept [Tagore’s] assertions of an Eastern civilization “devoid of all politics” and concerned only with the soul (17) while the West is characterized by a scientifically organized scramble for material wealth. These distinctions at first may not seem remarkable because we have internalized these ideas of the Orient and the West and the values that each supposedly hold. However, the legitimacy of these assumptions is certainly deserving of some examination. The second aspect of these essays that can perhaps be considered a weak point is Tagore’s idealism of the pasts of both the West and the East. Throughout the three essays, Tagore makes reference to an Asia of the past that “…was united with India in the closest tie of friendship…” and where relations between countries were “not that of self-interest, or exploration and spoliation of each other’s pockets…” (75). However, we know that Asia has not been exempt from the forces that have ruled the rest of human history; she has seen her share of states in conflict and wars of expansion and invasion. Tagore has equally laudatory words for the Middle Ages of Europe – according to him, “Europe owes all her greatness in humanity to that period…” (47). A period, if looked at honestly, characterized by religious persecution in Europe and perpetrated by Europeans abroad, and an extremely rigid, religiously inspired hierarchy that kept the majority in abject poverty. Therefore, it is hard to take seriously Tagore’s analysis of history, and these

vi atlantic international studies journal statements seem intended to appeal to a colonized people resentful of their present situation and proud of their past rather than as facts supporting his thesis. Perhaps, however, the above weaknesses are only facets of the kind of writing Tagore has undertaken. He is not a scholar, but a poet, and he is not writing for academia, but to get a message out to the population at large. Appealing to peoples’ sentiments, with messages that have emotional, if not entirely factual truth, is undeniably a powerful method of promoting and spreading ideas. That today, for a Canadian university student, some aspects of Tagore’s essays are a little hard to swallow may just prove his point about the scientific, narrow bent of the Western mind (Williams). Nationalism provides a rich commentary on the concept of the Nation. Since Nationalism was written, the world has seen the rise of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Soviet Russia propelled by intense patriotism. America, the world hegemon of the moment, has also been fuelled by patriotism and found itself in several international situations viewed as less than humanitarian. If the evils of Tagore’s Nation have been illustrated several times since 1913 and continue to be today, the book must have some value, despite the fact that Tagore’s solutions lay in a fictional East. (Durrant). Tagore’s prophecy that the nation will decline like the sun setting in his poem has yet to be fulfilled. Today the modern nations of the world persist, but we are faced with the growth of a new beast, one that in many places rivals the power of the nation: the Corporation. Reading Tagore’s book from a modern perspective one could almost completely substitute the use of the word “Nation” with “Corporation.” In many ways their definitions are the same and the destructive power they possess is identical. The parallels between the two mechanisms are many, but what is truly remarkable is how Tagore’s writing can act as a lesson about both. His treatise is still magnificent because it is still applicable to its intended purpose but has also come to mean more than Tagore intended. One could still read his book as a comment on the modern nations which have spread out around the globe, but it could also now be read as a warning about the powerful Corporations which have sprung up and now threaten to exceed the destructive power of even the Nation. (MacLachlan). Indubitably, Tagore’s cautionary tales have high relevance in today’s international arena. As Durrant highlights, the largest conflicts of the 20th century have been inspired by nationalistic sentiment – and as MacLachlan so provocatively suggests, although nationalism may be on the decline, we are witnessing the emergence of a new threat, similar in its disregard for humanity, in the rise of the multinational corporation. Yet the novelty of this threat should in no way overshadow the original purpose of Tagore’s lectures. Nationalism still plays a crucial role in the events that occur on the world stage, even in the new 21st century, post 9/11. The attacks of 9/11 may have been based in differing ideological sentiments, but they were executed both on and through symbols of national pride: the successful free-market economy, as represented by the World Trade Centre; and nationally-based airlines. Nationalism should thus remain a fundamental international relations text.

special contribution vii WORKS CITED Durrant, Christopher. Nationalism. Unpublished paper. 2006. Gautreau, Guy. Nationalism. Unpublished paper. 2006. MacLachlan, Caitlin. Nationalism. Unpublished paper. 2006. Roberts, Zoe. Nationalism. Unpublished paper. 2006. Young, Laura. Nationalism. Unpublished paper. 2006.

Situating Micro-Finance on a Theoretical Spectrum: The Case of Bolivia Emily Shepard


ccording to the United Nations, 2005 was the year of micro-credit. Touted as “the newest darling of the aid community,” micro-credit has been promoted as a viable tool for development by influential international organizations such as the World Bank.1 Despite a proliferation of literature on the benefits of micro-finance, few scholars have discussed the theoretical bases of this recent phenomenon. As such, this paper will argue that micro-finance can be theoretically situated on a continuum which is book ended by neo-liberalism and participatory development. The paper will then explore the parameters of three micro-finance institutions in Bolivia: Banco Solidario, Caja Los Andes, and ProMujer, and attempt to place them along this theoretical spectrum. In doing so, it will explore some of the disadvantages of the theoretical situations of each micro-lender, as they relate to the Bolivian market.

THEORETICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR MICROCREDIT Micro-credit can be loosely defined as the provision of small loans to those who would not typically be able to borrow due to a lack of collateral.2 Micro-credit can be provided by a number of sources, including family members, pawnshops, non-governmental organizations, and commercial banks.3 The formalization of micro-credit in recent years has been embraced by two theories of development: neo-liberalism and participatory development. The theoretical motivations for micro-credit exist along a spectrum. At one end is the neoliberal model, highlighting economics and the private sector as critical tools of development. At the opposing end is participatory development, promoting local diversity and agendas as the basis of economic growth and holistic development. Although both purportedly seek to alleviate poverty, when actualized, these theories differ in terms of who provides loans, who receives loans, and how loans are constructed. Neo-liberalism became a dominant theory of development in the 1980s, and continues to be the theoretical motivation
Jonathon Conning, Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Sergio Navajas, “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 15 (2003): 747770. 3 Muhammad Yunus. “What is Microcredit?” The Grameen Bank (2004).

Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Richard L. Meyer, Sergio Navajas, Mark Schreiner. “Microcredit and the poorest of the poor: Theory and evidence from Bolivia.” World Development 28.2 (2000): 1.; François Bourguignon, James D. Wolfenson. “Development and Poverty Reduction; Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” The World Bank (2004).



emily shepard

for influential organizations such as the growth.”7 By exposing pre-existing informal World Bank and the International Monetary economic networks, as well as providing the Fund. Neo-liberal ideology relies on opportunity for the creation of additional formal individuals to make rational decisions that businesses, neo-liberalism posits that the are in their best interests, and assumes that macroeconomic situation of the state will such decisions will lead to the betterment of improve. society through the growth of the market.4 Whereas neo-liberalism is fundamentally This market should be as detached from the about economics, participatory development state as possible, with the state regulating (PD) is focused on power and community. In rather than initiating PD, economic power 5 economic activity. becomes a part of a holistic Economic growth and Micro-credit… becomes conception of power, which prosperity is the main goal includes structures of a means of developing of any development project, knowledge, social situations, and “is considered of and political influences.8 PD local communities values local diversity and greater value than according to a agendas, seeking to individual welfare, local mainstream definition of implement projects using culture and tradition, and local knowledge, local the environment in development in an 6 capital, and local labour.9 development proposals.” alternative way Micro-credit does not The community is the agent initially appear as an area in that requires development, which neo-liberals would rather than the individual or be interested. As a ‘bottom-up’ method of the state. As such, PD is largely delivered by poverty alleviation, micro-credit clashes NGOs and community organizations rather than with the typically ‘top-down’ methodology national or international bodies.10 of neo-liberalism. However, micro-credit for The ‘instrumental’ strain of participatory micro-enterprise becomes a neo-liberal development best explains the connection between PD and micro-credit. Within the construct when one views it as the instrumental view, “The goals of development formalizing an informal economy. According to a report on poverty reduction are valid although the institutions are malfunctioning, but can be improved by published by the World Bank, “Private enterprise operating through the market is involving the beneficiaries.”11 Micro-credit thus the main engine of sustained economic becomes a means of developing local communities according to a mainstream definition of development in an alternative way.
Peter March, Terry March. “Neoliberalism not so new: Philosophy accepts survival of the fittest as norm for society.” Daily News 4 Sept. 2000: 14. 5 David Simon. “Neo-liberalism, structural adjustment and poverty reduction strategies.” The Companion to Development Studies Ed. Vandana Desai, Robert B. Potter. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002. 86-91. 6 John Morris, Kris Stevens. “Struggling toward sustainability: Considering grassroots development.” Sustainable Development 9.3 (2001):11.

François Bourguignon, James D. Wolfenson, “Development and Poverty Reduction; Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” The World Bank (2004): 9. 8 Giles Mohan. “Participatory Development.” The Companion to Development Studies Ed. Vandana Desai, Robert B. Potter. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002. 49-54. 9 ibid. 10 ibid. 11 ibid., 50


atlantic international studies journal By subverting the bureaucratic state, microcredit allows the true needs of individual communities to be addressed There are three primary grounds on which neo-liberalism and participatory development differ in terms of microfinance. Firstly, neo-liberalism is focused on the betterment of the market, whereas participatory development is focused on the betterment of a community. Secondly, neoliberalism relies of the rational choices of the individual, whereas participatory development relies on the collective choices of groups of and societies. Finally, given the neo-liberal bias toward economics, neoliberals are more likely to view their borrowers as clients, whereas those valuing participatory development consider their borrowers as beneficiaries. With this theoretical spectrum in mind, it is pertinent to examine several cases of micro-lending institutions, their compositions, their ‘clients’ and their services. In doing so, the theoretical applications of both neo-liberalism and participatory development will become more apparent, as will the ambiguous middle ground in between these polarized ideologies. MICRO-FINANCE IN BOLIVIA Bolivia is currently home to a wide variety of micro-lending institutions. The Bolivian market was primed for such institutions throughout the 1980s, when dense urban populations and the effective failure of the formal financial sector caused extreme poverty and disillusionment with traditional banking.12 Conning et al. (2003) divide the evolution of the Bolivian market for microcredit into three stages. The first stage began

3 in 1992 with the emergence of commercial bank Banco Solidario (BancoSol). The second stage began three years later, when financial intermediary (Fondo Financiero Privado, henceforth referred to as FFP) Caja Los Andes entered the regulated market, providing substantial competition for BancoSol. The third stage, beginning around 1998 and continuing into the present, has been characterized by a dramatic increase in competition. Smaller micro-lenders have flooded the market, including innumerable unregulated NGOs targeting specific populations. In July 2003, 220 regulated organizations existed to provide micro-credit, compared with the monopoly held by Banco Solidario nine years earlier. Based on this evaluation, it is clear that Bolivia is an excellent market in which to examine different varieties of micro-lenders. Three organizations have been chosen, each characterizing one of Navajas et al.’s stages of micro-credit in Bolivia: Banco Solidario, Caja Los Andes, and ProMujer. Stage I: Banco Solidario Infrastructure Banco Solidario (BancoSol) was formed from the NGO Fundación para la Promoción y Desarrollo de la MicroEmpresa (PRODEM, est.1987) in 1992, and was the first NGO to evolve into a commercial bank.13 An understanding of the implications of the title “commercial bank” to micro-finance is critical to understanding the foundations of BancoSol. As a commercial bank, BancoSol has been able to expand its services to include debit cards, tax payments, mortgages, and loans to finance the purchases of vehicles.14 In addition to this expansion of services, the status of commercial bank has allowed BancoSol to

Jonathon Conning, Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Sergio Navajas. “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.”

David Schwartz. “Following Bolivia’s example: The commercialization of microfinance.” Women & Environments International Magazine 54/55 (2002): 3234. 14 BancoSol. “Our Products.” Accessed March 18, 2005.

4 attract more foreign and national private capital.15 This capital has increased the cost of liabilities, forcing BancoSol to improve its efficiency through projects such as more advanced computing systems. More experienced and business-minded managers were hired to supervise and implement this costly process. In order to minimize the financial impact of a more advanced infrastructure, BancoSol provided longer and larger loans, resulting in an increase in clientele from 23,000 in 1992 to 81,000 in 1998.16 The benefits of commercial bank status have been accompanied by tight regulation by the government, including stipulations regarding eligibility for a loan, hours of operation, and interest rates.17 As such, BancoSol has encountered both advantages and disadvantages in the status of commercial bank. Clientèle In 2002, BancoSol provided loans to 50,904 clients, and an average loan of $827 in 2001.18 Their poorest client in 1999 received an annual salary of $60.19 Comparatively, BancoSol’s clients are neither extremely wealthy, nor extremely poor. As the largest micro-lending institution in Bolivia, BancoSol is unable to offer specified loans and therefore appeals more
Gonzales-Vega, Claudio, Meyer, Richard L, Navajas, Sergio, Schreiner, Mark. “Microcredit and the poorest of the poor: Theory and evidence from Bolivia.” World Development 28.2 (2000): 333-346. 16 Mark Schreiner. “Aspects of outreach: A framework for discussion of the social benefits of microfinance.” 14.5 (2002): 591-603. 17 Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Bolivia: Country Indicators.” Last Updated: Jul, 2003. 18 BancoSol. “Annual Report: 2002.” (2002). 19 Paul Mosley. “Microfinance and poverty in Bolivia.” The Journal of Development Studies 37.4 (2001): 101-133.

emily shepard to the status quo than any minority. This “one size fits all” philosophy can hinder both higherproductivity borrowers and those who need special accommodations to escape severe poverty.20 By providing a series of standard loans, BancoSol is able to reach the broadest market possible, at a lower overall cost.21 Loan Structure BancoSol has traditionally provided group loans at a minimum of $100.22 These groups consist of three to seven people who own a variety of businesses, each of which must be at least six months old. Within a group, there must be some similarities in terms of credit needs, and the businesses must not be related in terms of transactions or family connections. Group members are individually assessed for their abilities to repay based on interviews, personal financial information, and business records.23 Once a group has been formed, it is accountable for collective installments to repay the bank. This form of “social collateral” ensures that if one group member is unable to pay, the rest of the members must compensate for the deficit.24 Should the group installment be incomplete, pressure will be placed on the entire group through financial penalties and threats of reporting group members as defaulters to other credit agencies. Once a group has repaid the initial loan, it is eligible for a second, larger loan. This progressive lending attempts to ensure customer loyalty.25


Jonathon Conning, Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Sergio Navajas. “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 15 (2003): 753 21 ibid. 22 Paul Mosley. “Microfinance and poverty in Bolivia.” The Journal of Development Studies 37.4 (2001): 101133. 23 Eric Van Tassel. “A study of group lending and incentives in Bolivia.” International Journal of Social Economics 27.7-10 (2000): 927. 24 ibid. 25 ibid.

atlantic international studies journal Stage II: Caja Los Andes Infrastructure Caja Los Andes was established in 1995, emerging from the NGO Procredito (est. 1992). As of July 2003 Caja Los Andes was one of seven FFPs in Bolivia, and one of the most profitable micro-finance agencies in Bolivia.26 The legal category of FFP was established in 1993 to designate financial institutions that are solely devoted to microfinance. In order to obtain the status of an FFP, the micro-finance operation must be run by those experienced in the provision of micro-credit.27 An FFP is regulated in similar ways to a bank, with the main distinction being much lower minimum capital requirement.28 However, unlike banks, FFPs cannot provide specific services such as chequing accounts or trust funds. Clientèle Caja Los Andes serves primarily urban clients. Clients are generally better educated, wealthier, and better established that those of BancoSol. Whereas 3 percent of BancoSol clients had achieved beyond a grade 12 education in 1995, 11 percent of Caja Los Andes clients had achieved this level. Clients of Caja Los Andes are more likely than those of BancoSol to have access to running water, electricity, and waste disposal
Jonathon Conning, Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Sergio Navajas. “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 15 (2003): 747-770; Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Bolivia: Country Indicators.” Last Updated: Jul, 2003.
27 26

5 services within their home. They are also more likely to own their homes, and possess liquid collateral.29 Loan Structure Similar criteria are held for loan eligibility, including a clean credit history and a business that has been in operation for at least a year.30 However, the types of loans that are offered vary significantly with those of BancoSol. Caja Los Andes offers only individual loans, often secured through personal guarantees. Loans are often larger, with an emphasis on financing manufacturing projects. In 1995, eight percent of Caja Los Andes loans were over $1000, whereas zero percent of BancoSol loans exceeded the same amount. In terms of all loans offered by both institutions, 27 percent of Caja Los Andes’s were over $1000, compared to 18 percent of BancoSol’s.31 Screening processes are also more extensive and precise. A critical component of the screening process allows Caja Los Andes to “tailor loan contracts to each borrower’s productivity level.”32 Caja Los Andes is also careful to offer loans only to borrowers “to which it can profitably lend.”33 This specification of economic potential has allowed Caja Los Andes to reduce interest rates and become a more efficient operation. However, this has also meant a decreased interest in providing smaller loans, as they are less profitable.


Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Bolivia: Country Indicators.” Last Updated: Jul, 2003. 28 David Schwartz. “Following Bolivia’s example: The commercialization of microfinance.” Women & Environments International Magazine 54/55 (2002): 32-34.

Claudio Gonzalez-Vega, Richard L. Meyer, Guillermo F Monje, Sergio Navajas, Jorge Rodriguez-Meza, Mark Schreiner. “Microfinance market niches and client profiles in Bolivia.” Economics and Sociology (1996) occ. paper no. 2346. 30 ibid. 31 ibid. 32 Jonathan Conning, Claudio Gonzales-Vega, Sergio Navajas. “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 15 (2003): 747770. 33 ibid.

6 Stage III: ProMujer Infrastructure ProMujer is a micro-finance institution that lends solely to women. It began in 1990, as an NGO that provided training for women on familial and domestic issues. Services expanded the following year to include micro-credit, although this service did not become remarkably popular until 1994.34 As an NGO, ProMujer experiences the least regulation of all micro-lenders examined in this paper.35 As such, the composition of ProMujer is not determined by the government. Between 81 and 90 percent of ProMujer’s operations are concerned with micro-finance, and the remainder seek to educate women on everything from childcare to business management.36 The mission of ProMujer is, “is to empower women to improve their social and economic status… Since good health and self-esteem directly contribute to a woman’s ability to earn income and care for her family ProMujer also provides health and human development and links women and their families to health services.”37 (ProMujer, 2005) ProMujer is focused on creating links between women and other women, and between women and their communities as a way to attain development. Clientèle ProMujer’s clientèle is much more specific than that of either Caja Los Andes or BancoSol. ProMujer lends to primarily urban women, most of whom have recently

emily shepard migrated from surrounding urban areas. This specific form of loan has caught on -between 1994 and 2003, ProMujer’s client base grew from 4,000 to nearly 40,000. The average loan size is a mere $146, with a minimum loan of $50, indicating that borrowers are operating smaller businesses with lower capital needs.38 ProMujer’s clients are generally poorer than those of other micro-credit agencies, with the poorest clients earning $45 annually. According to an analysis conducted by Marconi et al., 38.3 percent of the clients of ProMujer and similar NGO Crecer were “poor and destitute,” as opposed to 10.6 percent of clients of other micro-finance institutions.39 In the same way, 14.1 percent of ProMujer and Crecer clients did not have the lowest level of education, as opposed to 5.1 percent of other micro-finance clients.40 Loan Structure ProMujer provides the most comprehensive and time-intensive form of micro-credit. As previously discussed, ProMujer emphasizes training as a vital counterpart to the actual loans offered through micro-credit. This emphasis is actualized in ProMujer’s three-part credit program, which includes 16 hours of pre-credit training, and a four-month initial loan period in which weekly meetings are held to continue training. During the pre-credit program, women form “solidarity groups” similar to those formed by clients of BancoSol. These groups are then responsible for the repayment of a group loan, and the amount offered for a loan can increase with successful repayment. Unlike BancoSol, ProMujer stresses the community aspect of these groups, ensuring that the women are able to connect on levels transcending the financial. Larger groups of 25 to 30 women

MixMarket. “ProMujer – Bolivia.” Accessed: March 15, 2005. profile.asp?ett=153 35 Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Bolivia: Country Indicators.” Last Updated: Jul, 2003. 36 ibid. 37 ProMujer. “Mission.” Accessed: March 13, 2005.

ProMujer. “Mission.” Accessed: March 13, 2005. 39 Reynalda Marconi, Carmen Velasco. “Group dynamics, gender and microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 16.3 (2004): 8. 40 ibid.

atlantic international studies journal form communal banks to supervise these solidarity groups.41 Another way in which community is emphasized is through the mandatory saving of 10 percent of the loan value. This is set aside as an emergency fund, which can be accessed by any member of a solidarity group in dire circumstances.42 THEORY: APPLICATIONS & INADEQUACIES Caja Los Andes is evidently the most neo-liberal micro-credit institution examined. Its emphasis on economic efficiency, the rational individual as a borrower, and its status as one of the most profitable micro-lenders are consistent with neo-liberal principles. However, Caja Los Andes is not providing micro-credit to the poorest of the poor, a value of micro-credit that was specified in a summit on microcredit held in 1997.43 This exposes a weakness in neo-liberal theory. If the market is to be the driving force behind the development of micro-finance, then increased competition, such as is witnessed in Bolivia, will prompt micro-creditors to seek more affluent borrowers in an attempt to receive a greater return on loans.44 This alienates the poorer sector of society, and caters only to the development of the elite. However, this is still consistent with neoliberal theory. In fact, a natural progression to the ‘top’ of society would complement neo-liberal theory, which often operates as a top-down model. Perhaps neo-liberalism is not as suited to the brand of micro-finance it
ProMujer. “Mission.” Accessed: March 13, 2005. 42 Paul Mosley. “Microfinance and poverty in Bolivia.” The Journal of Development Studies 37.4 (2001): 101-133. 43 MicroCredit Summit. “Declaration and plan of action.” (1997) haractieristics 44 David Schwartz. “Following Bolivia’s example: The commercialization of microfinance.” Women & Environments International Magazine 54/55 (2002): 32-34.

7 supports in rhetoric; if the neo-liberal model followed closely, it avoids development at lower levels of income. ProMujer, sits on the opposite end of the continuum, conforming to the theory of participatory development. This is theoretical foundation is demonstrated within ProMujer’s credit program, where loans promote collective progress through local communal banks and mandatory savings. However, this body of theory has also encountered criticisms. The mandatory training accompanying loans has been labeled by some borrowers as unnecessary – even patronizing – consuming valuable time that could be used to develop their businesses.45 This is particularly a problem with women, who are often trying to manage their businesses at the same time as their households. Secondly, by refusing to move to higher-profit borrowers like Caja Los Andes, ProMujer is relying on poverty to sustain its well being. As stated by Elahi, “the potential consequence of the establishment of micro-finance industry in the Third World is the creation of private groups that might have vested interests in the perpetuation of poverty.”46 The conflicts of condescending training and an unnatural reliance on poverty restrict the further growth of NGOs such a ProMujer. Finally, BancoSol is theoretically mixed. Its group lending technique is characteristic of participatory development, but its drive for status as a commercial bank was largely motivated by neo-liberal ideals. BancoSol is most distinctly neo-liberal in its treatment of borrowers as clients, rather than beneficiaries. The large size of BancoSol does not allow for charity or exception, and thus, borrowers are confronted with a variety of generic loans that may or may not suit their needs. This “blurring

Robyn Eversole. “Help, risk, and deceit: Microentrepreneurs talk about microfinance.” Journal of International Development 15.2 (2003): 179-188. 46 Khandakar Q. Elahi, Constantine P. Danopoulos. “Microfinance and third world development: A critical analysis.”

8 of banking and social development discourse,” has alienated borrowers, as they are often expecting to be treated as beneficiaries, and are surprised when they are treated as clients.47 The rift between BancoSol and its borrowers became a problem during the Bolivian economic crisis of 1999, when indebtedness skyrocketed, and BancoSol’s return on equity fell from 29 percent to 9 percent.48 By attempting to straddle both theories while new microlenders target specific demographics, BancoSol is losing its ability to appeal to the general public. CONCLUSIONS It is clear that micro-credit can be theoretically motivated along a spectrum wherein neo-liberalism is at one extreme and participatory development at the other. This has been exemplified by three microfinanciers from the Bolivian market: BancoSol, which is theoretically mixed, Caja Los Andes, which is primarily neo-liberal, and ProMujer, which is primarily influenced by participatory development. Many complexities exist within this framework, which have been highlighted as the Bolivian market has become saturated with microlenders. We have seen that neo-liberalism can ignore the poor, participatory development can inhibit innovation and could preserve poverty, and a hybrid of both theories can stagnate and alienate borrowers. Regardless of which theory is employed to create a lending institution, micro-finance continues to be a compelling force in development. Situating micro-finance theoretically can help to us understand why it has become so diverse and disjointed.

emily shepard SOURCES BancoSol. “Annual Report: 2002.” (2002). ew_e.pdf BancoSol. “Our Products.” Accessed March 18, 2005. .html Bourguignon, François, Wolfenson, James D. “Development and Poverty Reduction; Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” The World Bank (2004). Conning, Jonathan, Gonzales-Vega, Claudio, Navajas, Sergio. “Lending technologies, competition and consolidation in the market for microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 15 (2003): 747770. Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Bolivia: Country Indicators.” Last Updated: Jul, 2003. ia.pdf Consultive Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). “Regulation & supervision of microfinance institutions: Stabilizing a new financial market.” Focus 4 (1996). Elahi, Khandakar Q, Danopoulos, Constantine P. “Microfinance and third world development: A critical analysis.” Journal of Political and Military Sociology 32.1 (2004): 61-88. Eversole, Robyn. “Help, risk, and deceit: Microentrepreneurs talk about microfinance.” Journal of International Development 15.2 (2003): 179-188.

Robyn Eversole. “Help, risk, and deceit: Microentrepreneurs talk about microfinance.” Journal of International Development 15.2 (2003): 2 48 David Schwartz. “Following Bolivia’s example: The commercialization of microfinance.” Women & Environments International Magazine 54/55 (2002): 32-34

atlantic international studies journal Gonzales-Vega, Claudio, Meyer, Richard L, Navajas, Sergio, Schreiner, Mark. “Microcredit and the poorest of the poor: Theory and evidence from Bolivia.” World Development 28.2 (2000): 333346. Gonzalez-Vega, Claudio. Meyer, Richard L. Monje, Guillermo F. Navajas, Sergio. Rodriguez-Meza, Jorge. Schreiner, Mark. “Microfinance market niches and client profiles in Bolivia.” Economics and Sociology (1996) occ. paper no. 2346. March, Peter, March, Terry. “Neoliberalism not so new: Philosophy accepts survival of the fittest as norm for society.” Daily News 4 Sept. 2000: 14. Marconi, Reynalda, Velasco, Carmen. “Group dynamics, gender and microfinance in Bolivia.” Journal of International Development 16.3 (2004): 519-528. MicroCredit Summit. “Declaration and plan of action.” (1997) ration.htm#Charactieristics MixMarket. “ProMujer – Bolivia.” Accessed: March 15, 2005. Mohan, Giles. “Participatory Development.” The Companion to Development Studies Ed. Vandana Desai, Robert B. Potter. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002. 49-54. Mohan, Giles. Stokke, Kristian. “Participartory development and empowerment: The dangers of localism.” Third World Quarterly 21.2 (2000): 247259.


Morris, John. Stevens, Kris. “Struggling toward sustainability: Considering grassroots development.” Sustainable Development 9.3 (2001):149-164. Mosley, Paul. “Microfinance and poverty in Bolivia.” The Journal of Development Studies 37.4 (2001): 101-133. ProMujer. “Mission.” Accessed: March 13, 2005. Simon, David. “Neo-liberalism, structural adjustment and poverty reduction strategies.” The Companion to Development Studies Ed. Vandana Desai, Robert B. Potter. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002. 86-91. Schreiner, Mark. “Aspects of outreach: A framework for discussion of the social benefits of microfinance.” 14.5 (2002): 591603. Schwartz, David. “Following Bolivia’s example: The commercialization of microfinance.” Women & Environments International Magazine 54/55 (2002): 3234. Van Tassel, Eric. “A study of group lending and incentives in Bolivia.” International Journal of Social Economics 27.7-10 (2000): 927. Yunus, Muhammad. “What is Microcredit?” The Grameen Bank (2004).

Gender in Women’s Development Organizations: From Participation to Empowerment Betsy MacDonald
Thank you to the nine women I interviewed and all the other women whose lives inspired me to write this paper. Vão com Deus.

his is a report based on my experience in Roraima, northern Brazil, accompanying the work of the Pastoral da Criança (Pastoral of the Child). The Pastoral da Criança is a Catholic, faith-based organization in Brazil whose work centres on nutrition and prevention of illnesses among young children in the country’s poorest areas. The majority of their volunteers and beneficiaries are poor women. I was based with a group of volunteers in the community of Sant’ana, in the capital city Boa Vista, with periodic trips to observe the organization’s work in other parts of Roraima. I acted as a ‘shadow’ in the sense that I followed a number of volunteers, observing and reflecting upon their work while participating with them in the organization’s activities. I also conducted interviews with nine mothers participating in the program as beneficiaries, as well as with two people who had worked with the Pastoral da Criança in other places. In this report I will present my own reflections and findings from my internship, framing them in an analysis of gender and participation in women’s organizations. I will refer to several relevant readings as well as my own notes from the field. The first section will look


at some main issues around women and participation, drawing from past academic works. Following this discussion I will give a description of the participation of women in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima. Next, I will discuss gender and participation in the context of women’s development organizations, with particular attention to the question: How does an organization’s approach to gender influence the quality of women’s participation? In this section I will use comparisons between the Pastoral da Criança and other women’s development organizations to discuss conceptual framework, practical and strategic gender interests, and participatory approaches in the context of women’s participation. Finally, I will reflect upon some of these themes and briefly discuss some possible approaches to facilitating women’s participation in the Pastoral da Criança. I. WOMEN & PARTICIPATION: SOME CENTRAL ISSUES Much academic work has been done on the role of gender in development, and the particular issues surrounding the participation (or non-participation) of women in development programs and projects. Studies have highlighted several barriers to women's participation and have produced analyses of measuring participation, the ways in which women participate, and early attempts to

11 'integrate' women into the development process. Here I will discuss briefly some of these ideas, followed by and integrated into a discussion of the participation of women in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima, northern Brazil. 'Participation': what does it mean? Participation in development has been measured both in terms of quantity (how many people participate) and quality (the depth of people's engagement in the development process). There has been a tendency to measure women's participation in the quantitative sense; that is, by numbers of women participating in a given development project rather than by the nature of their involvement.1 Women's participation has proven to be crucial to the development process; indeed, most agree (and it will be the underlying assumption of this paper) that true development cannot be achieved without women taking part in and shaping the goals of development.2 It is therefore important to look at women's participation not only in terms of how many participate, but also at how deeply they are engaged in a given development intervention. How do we participate? The participation of women in development without question varies from place to place, as several factors such as poverty and culture influence the extent of women's participation. Also, as we will see, different development programs can be tailored either to actively engage women or exclude them.

betsy macdonald Keeping in mind these differences, several barriers have been identified with regard to women's participation in the development process in the third world. While occurring at varying degrees, these barriers do provide some insight into the continuing challenges of women who seek to participate meaningfully in development. These include but are not limited to: poverty, a lack of time due to paid and unpaid labour, "sexist cultural patterns", negative self-images, maternal altruism, and the restrictions of marriage.3 Another factor to consider when discussing women's participation is literacy, and the fact that women have a lower worldwide literacy rate than men. In fact, there are more than twice as many illiterate women than illiterate men in the world.4 During my internship with the Pastoral da Criança I encountered women, both volunteers and beneficiaries, who were illiterate and thus required different techniques to facilitate their participation. Women's participation in development has traditionally been defined in male terms.5 Resultantly, the capacities of women have not been valued as greatly as men's.6 This traditional model has also led to the assumption that women and men learn in similar ways, when in fact in many cases the contrary has been demonstrated.7 There are other differences that women bring into participatory development. For example, MYRDA has identified increased moral sensitivity and low competitiveness as assets that poor women bring to the development process.8 Because of these differences, it is necessary to develop participatory approaches that value
Julia Cleves Mosse, Half the World, Half a Chance: An Introduction to Gender and Development (Oxford: Oxfam, 1993), 178-179. 4 Karl, 139. 5 Society for Participatory Research in Asia, Participatory Training for Women (New Delhi: Aman Printers, 1989), 1. 6 Society for Participatory Research: 1. 7 Society for Participatory Research: 3. 8 Society for Participatory Research: 45.

Marlee Karl, Women and Empowerment: Participation and Decision Making (London: United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service, 1995), 1. 2 Karl, 1.


atlantic international studies journal women's strengths, ways of learning and forms of interaction with other people. For organizations made up mainly of women, meaningful participation also requires an analysis of gender in the organization’s conceptual framework, support of strategic gender interests, and a participatory approach that that allows women to take part in a way that is sustainable and empowering. I will now turn to a summary of my observations of the participation of women in the Pastoral da Criança, followed by a more detailed examination of the question of gender and participation in women’s organizations. II. PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN THE PASTORAL DA CRIANCA IN RORAIMA, NORTHERN BRAZIL The concept of the Pastoral da Criança (Childen’s Pastoral) arose from a 1982 discussion between Paulo Evaristo Arns, then archbishop of São Paulo, and Mr. James Grant, then director of UNICEF, in Geneva, Switzerland. A debate on world hunger led to the idea of starting an organization in Brazil to combat child mortality and malnutrition. In the following year, the CNBB (Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil – National Conference of Bishops of Brazil) commissioned Geraldo Majella Agnelo, then archbishop of Londrina, Paraná, and paediatrician and sanitarian Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann to create and develop the Pastoral da Criança. (Neumann continues to be the organization’s director to this day.) The program was launched in 1983 in Florestópolis, a municipality in Paraná with an infant mortality rate of 127 deaths for every thousand children. Fourteen years later that rate had dropped to less than twenty deaths per thousand

12 children.9 Today, the Pastoral da Criança works in numerous parts of Brazil where children are at risk of malnutrition, from the slums of large cities like Belo Horizonte to the country’s impoverished northeast and the remote north, where I was based for my internship. The Pastoral da Criança is a volunteer organization consisting mainly of poor women. Its activities include family visits, in which volunteers ask parents a series of questions on their children’s health; weighing children to track their nutrition; and monthly meetings to evaluate and reflect upon the month’s work. Volunteers also gather periodically to make multi-mixture, a powder made of ground up leaves and seeds that is added to children’s food to make it more nutritious. Most volunteers I encountered were Catholic women, though I did meet a few Protestant and male volunteers. There are two main ways for women to participate in the Pastoral da Criança: as volunteers or as beneficiaries. During my internship I looked at the participation of both groups of women and interviewed nine of the latter group. Here I will describe in brief my observations on the participation of women in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima. Participation of women as volunteers The Pastoral da Criança volunteers I accompanied were mostly low income women with some involvement in the church. Each volunteer or leader is responsible for a number of families (usually around five to ten) whom she visits on a monthly basis. Most visits are spread out so that the leader visits families on several days of the month. The leader carries around a notebook printed by the Pastoral da Criança where she records information on each child and pregnant woman in order to track their health. The information is gathered

Pastoral da Criança (Official Website). Histórico (History) avn=historico/historico.html. (Portuguese)

13 through a series of questions, usually to the mother, that vary depending on the age of the child. The main purpose of the questions is to see if the child is being given the proper conditions for individual development, taking into account not only nutrition but also the child’s mental and emotional needs. The leader’s notebook is also used to record each child’s weight when it is taken on Life Celebration Day or weighing day. The leader uses a graph to show mothers if their children are within the proper weight range for their age. If a child appears to be malnourished, the leader makes suggestions to the mother on how to provide her child with better nutrition. I discovered through my interviews that most leaders have close social ties to the women they accompany; their relationships are not limited to the Pastoral da Criança but extend into the spheres of church, neighborhood and friendship networks. Leaders act as informal sources of information on health and nutrition for women in their neighborhoods; as one woman told me:
I’ve known [my community leader] since I arrived here. If my girl is sick, I go to her house. If she has the flu, I go there and she gives me flu syrup. When she’s sick I go to [my leader’s] house and ask her which remedy I should give to her, and [she] shows me and I give it to my 10 daughter.

betsy macdonald guidance on the health care of their children. Participation of women as beneficiaries The women who I came to know as beneficiaries in the Pastoral da Criança defined themselves, and were defined by others, using various terms in relation to their place in the program. Sometimes they were described as participants; at other times as women who were accompanied by the Pastoral da Criança. I will refer generally to these women as beneficiaries, although the idea of these women as participants will be discussed as well. Conversations with several women revealed to me that there is a range of participation of women as beneficiaries in the Pastoral da Criança. It might be useful to think of their participation in terms of a scale from low to high activity. At the low end, women bring their children to be weighed on Life Celebration Day and are recipients of monthly family visits. At the high end, women are engaged in these activities and also help out with various tasks associated with Pastoral da Criança events, such as cleaning the church and making snacks for Life Celebration Day, helping to make multi-mixture, and helping to make home remedies. It appeared to me that while some women’s participation is mostly passive, for others it is more active. Of the nine women I interviewed, six would fall into the former category and three into the latter. The active participants were women who spoke enthusiastically and in detail about their experience with the Pastoral da Criança. One of these women, I discovered, participates both as a beneficiary and as a volunteer. She explained to me the educational value of her involvement in the Pastoral da Criança:
… I’ve learned many things through the Pastoral da Criança; I’ve learned to make home remedies for myself and for my children. I’ve learned to make multi-mixture and homemade serum; everything I’ve learned from the Pastoral da Criança. … [I receive most of my information on health] from the Pastoral da Criança. Not from the TV or the Health Ministry, because it’s

In some cases, the leader’s advice substitutes for a visit to the doctor, which can be costly for women who do not have transportation. In this sense the leader plays an important role as a person who is trusted by the women she accompanies, and who provides them with continual

Interview with a Pastoral da Criança participant, conducted between May 31 and June 18, 2005.

atlantic international studies journal
difficult to watch TV. … Through the Pastoral da Criança I’ve learned many things.11

14 III. APPROACHES TO GENDER IN WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS: FROM PARTICIPATION TO EMPOWERMENT I will now turn to a more critical discussion of the ways in which an organization’s approach to gender can influence the quality of women’s participation in development. My experience with the Pastoral da Criança indicated to me that, while women were participating in various activities as volunteers and beneficiaries, their participation was of a more nominal nature and certainly not a transformative one.13 With the strong influence of liberation theology in the Brazilian Catholic church14, it surprised me that these women were not engaged in a deeper process of challenging their subordination based on gender, class and race. There are several reasons why this may have been the case, including social, cultural and economic factors. One important dimension, which will underlie the following discussion, is the role of the organization (in this case, the Pastoral da Criança) in shaping women’s participation through its approach to gender. This includes the organization’s conceptual framework and analysis (if any) of gender, the way in which it addresses practical and strategic gender interests, and the presence or absence of a participatory approach that engages and empowers women. I will refer to my experience with the Pastoral da Criança as well as examples from other women’s development organizations to illustrate this discussion.

I spoke with another woman who, besides participating as a beneficiary in the Pastoral da Criança, also coordinates the pastoral organization for catechism in her community. She described to me how the various pastoral organizations work together in a mutually beneficial way:
I help out [with Pastoral da Criança activities]. That’s how we work in the organization, everybody together. We find bonds of friendship... I think that today the most valuable thing in life is unity. We join hands and unite so that we can do something of worth. It isn’t like this because I participate in this community, but because the Sant’ana community always works like this: all the pastoral organizations help each other… When there’s an event, everyone comes out and works together. This is what enriches us in the community, this unity...12

This woman has a lengthy history of volunteer experience and work with the government. Yet she also finds value in participating as a beneficiary in the Pastoral da Criança. This, along with other observations, suggests to me that there is little, if any, social division between the Pastoral da Criança’s volunteers and its beneficiaries. Indeed, the two roles can overlap, as the first case demonstrates. The more passive participants did not speak of the Pastoral da Criança with the same zeal, although they did express an appreciation for the program and spoke of the important impact it has had on their lives.


Interview with a Pastoral da Criança participant, conducted between May 31 and June 18, 2005. 12 Interview with a Pastoral da Criança participant, conducted between May 31 and June 18, 2005.

See White, cited in Andrea Cornwall, “Making a Difference? Gender and Participatory Development.” IDS Discussion Paper 378 (Institute of Development Studies, 2000), 9. 14 While it has been suggested by some that liberation theology has been on the decline in Brazil, others argue that activism based on liberationist values is alive and well in the country. A proponent of the latter argument is John Burdick, who in his book Legacies of Liberation: The Progressive Catholic Church in Brazil (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004) asserts that the struggle for racial and gender equality in Brazil is still influenced significantly by liberationist teachings.

15 Conceptual framework and addressing gender In order to address gender in the first place, it is necessary to examine gender and the implications it has for everyone involved in a given development intervention. For development organizations working mainly with women, this should include an analysis of gender that can be translated into their work in specific areas. If an organization is using a participatory approach, there may arise a tension between progressive gender goals and the concerns of local people, with the possible risk of tacitly reinforcing the status quo.15 However, it is possible to employ an analysis of gender that facilitates participation in a way that values both local ideas and a feminist agenda.16 There has been a tendency to think of gender only in terms of “women’s interests”, which may hide differences between women and obscure unequal gender relations.17 When gender relations are addressed, they are usually limited to male-female heterosexual relationships, with little attention paid to other femalemale relationships (for example, between mothers and sons) or the gender aspects of relations between members of the same sex.18 Whether or not these issues are addressed can have a significant impact on the success of a given intervention.19 The Pastoral da Criança is one of several Catholic pastoral organizations in
15 16

betsy macdonald Brazil that addresses a variety of social issues, including health, education, human rights, the issues of specific social groups such as youth and the elderly, and, in the case of the Pastoral da Criança, the health of young children. Its conceptual framework is strongly influenced by faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church:
The mission of the Pastoral da Criança is the mission of Jesus himself, which is also the mission of the Church and of all Christians: to evangelize.20

The organization also states a lack of distinction of its beneficiaries on the basis of various social categories:
The Pastoral da Criança has as its objective the vital development of children, supporting them, on their part and on that of families and communities, without distinction of race, color, profession, nationality, sex, religious or political creed…”21

While the Pastoral da Criança is not a women’s organization by name, ninety per cent of its volunteers are poor women,22 and, from what I observed in Roraima, almost all of their direct beneficiaries are women and their children. Their mission statement does not include any specific thoughts on gender, but rather includes ‘sex’ as one of several categories on the basis of which the organization claims not to discriminate. This is quite different from the worldview of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a women’s microfinance organization based in India. With roots in the trade union
Translated from Pastoral da Criança (Official Website): Missão (Mission) < navn=missao/missao.html>. (Portuguese) 21 Translated from Pastoral da Criança (Official Website): Missão (Mission) < navn=missao/missao.html>. (Portuguese) 22 Global Network of Religions for Children: Brazil’s official indication to the Nobel Peace Prize of the year 2001 <>.

Cornwall, 13-15. Cornwall. 17 Cornwall, 10. 18 P. Peters, “The use and abuse of the concept of ‘female-headed households’ in research on agrarian transformation and policy,’ in D. Fahy Bryceson, ed., Women Wielding the Hoe: lessons from rural Africa for feminist theory and development (Oxford: Berg, 1993). 93-108. Cited in Cornwall, 10. 19 Cornwall, 10.

atlantic international studies journal movement in India, SEWA works to empower women by promoting financial self-reliance and collective action.23 It is an organization that works with poor women and has an explicitly political commitment to challenging gender inequity. As Kalima Rose describes the activist outlook of SEWA:
It is an especially feminine philosophy which adheres to non-violence, to arbitration and reconciliation, and most importantly [sic], to a quiet, fiercely determined resistance to exploitation.24

16 actions that either facilitate or impede the participation of women. This can be explored partly through a discussion of practical and strategic gender interests, and the question of whether meaningful participation can take place if only one or the other is being addressed. Practical and strategic gender interests When one speaks of ‘gender interests’, it is helpful to make the distinction between practical interests and strategic ones. Practical gender interests generally include the material needs of women, such as financial security, “without changing existing power relations.”27 Strategic gender interests are “…those derived from an analysis of women’s subordination.28 These two sets of interests are often interconnected, as Nanci Lee explains with an example of capacity building for women in SEWA.29 To address practical gender interests is to help women better their material conditions; to address strategic gender interests is to help women challenge oppressive gender relations and social structures. Indeed, it is necessary to support both sets of interests in order to facilitate women’s participation at a level that contributes to their empowerment. One way of doing this is, in addition to providing services that help women achieve sustainable living conditions, creating a milieu that facilitates the coming together of women to discuss issues that affect their lives. As Nanci Lee explains in the case of SEWA Bank:
In addition to the forum SEWA Bank provides, members frequently take the initiative to create their own discussion spaces. Constructing a

While the Pastoral da Criança implicitly claims blindness to gender, SEWA takes a more head-on approach to challenging the status quo of gender relations in the lives of their members. If the Pastoral da Criança were to adopt a more critical analysis of gender in their conceptual framework, I believe it would assist the organization in addressing gender-related issues such as poverty and unemployment among its participants. As Andrea Cornwall argues, such an analysis is crucial in any attempt to include and engage women in development interventions.25 A critical analysis of gender is important, although it is not all that is needed to employ a gender-sensitive approach to development that engages women in an empowering way.26 It is also necessary to take a look at if and how such an analysis translates into
23 24

Lee, 21. Kalima Rose, Where Women Are Leaders (London: Zed Books Ltd., 1992), 32. See both Lee and Rose for more detailed descriptions of the history and activities of SEWA. 25 Cornwall, 9-10. 26 A. M. Goetz, “From feminist knowledge to data for development: the bureaucratic management of information on women in development,” IDS Bulletin 25.2 (1994): 27-36. Cited in Cornwall, 26.

Linda Mayoux, Empowering Inquiry: A New Approach to Investigation (Wyse Development Limited, 2003). Cited in Nanci Lee, “A Gold Thread: Building Assets and Courage in SEWA’s Microfinance Members,” Critical Half. 2.1 (2000), 21. 28 Mosse, 166. 29 Lee explains how capacity building that helps women develop their reasoning skills can aid the women not only in developing their financial project but also in better understanding their financial options. See Lee, 24.

context where members are willing and able to do this requires appropriate strategies such as group forums, capacity building, participation in decisionmaking, and a systematic process for fostering courage among members.30

betsy macdonald The Pastoral da Criança provides formal and informal training for women involved in the program both as volunteers and as beneficiaries. As participants, women learn how to make home remedies and recognize the signs of common illnesses such as diarrhoea and influenza, and of tropical diseases including malaria and dengue fever. These activities, while low-intensity and employing simple knowledge and techniques, provide women with a forum to build their capacity collectively and individually in the form of learning practical skills and concepts and becoming informal educators for others. While not explicitly stating it, the Pastoral da Criança does seem to be addressing a number of practical gender interests through its work. By educating poor and oftentimes single women on alternative medicine, the program is helping them keep health costs to a minimum. The health accompaniment provided by monthly weighing day and family visits save women costly trips to the hospital for their children. The Pastoral da Criança’s income generation activities, while not currently in place in Roraima, do help women in some parts of Brazil to achieve greater financial security.33 Where the approach of the Pastoral da Criança appears to fall short, in the sense of facilitating meaningful participation, is in its lack of attention to the strategic gender interests of its participants. Its provision of material assistance to women is not matched by a political commitment to challenging genderbased subordination. This is readily observable

In interviewing nine beneficiaries of the Pastoral da Criança, I discovered that some of their most empowering experiences with the Pastoral da Criança had to do with the knowledge they received and were able to share with other women in their neighborhoods and families. It seemed that the more opportunities they had to share knowledge with other women, the higher their self-esteem with regard to knowledge around health issues. This has also been the case of women participating in SEWA Bank:
Not all women are initially comfortable discussing difficult issues, so the introduction to collective activity often takes the form of a discussion group with peers. According to a study on the impact of the financial education, members of such groups, especially their leaders, reported benefits that included an increased feeling of confidence and security, and a greater role in household financial planning.31

Training is another vehicle for increasing women’s participation and creating opportunities for empowerment. As in SEWA,
Training is an integral part of organizing women, formalizing their skills, and involving them in shaping their occupations, incomes, and social policies. SEWA conducts standard training sessions for a broad section of women, and also specific training programmes for specialized skills.32

30 31

Lee, 23. Lee, 23. 32 Rose, 274.

In addition to its ‘basic’ programs such as Life Celebration Day and monthly visits, the Pastoral da Criança also offers a group of ‘complementary’ programs, one of which focuses on income generation. The projects offered in this category include initiatives such as gardens, bakeries, livestock raising, and other small businesses. In 2001, 42 income generation projects were approved by the Pastoral da Criança and 309 persons were trained to carry out the projects across Brazil. See Pastoral da Criança (Official Website): Ações Complementares (Complementary Actions) < navn=acoes/acoes_complementares.html>. (Portuguese)

atlantic international studies journal in the organization’s activities in Roraima. While there do exist capacity building activities for leaders, they occur at the beginning and do not continue on a regular basis. Women do have an opportunity to come together monthly to weigh their children and interact with one another in a festive atmosphere, though the activity is planned and guided by the community’s Pastoral da Criança coordinator. Resultantly, volunteers are not engaged in a dynamic process of learning and reflecting upon their work, and beneficiaries participate within a range from passive to active but not in a way that would be considered transformative. These are not the only factors influencing women’s participation in the Pastoral da Criança and in other women’s development organizations, but they are significant in that they have a direct impact on the level of empowerment of both volunteers and beneficiaries. Another element of facilitating women’s participation is the presence or absence of a participatory approach that engages and empowers women. This, I suggest, also contributes significantly to the success of women’s organizations in empowering their members. It is to this dimension that I now turn. Participatory approaches to gender and women’s participation in development As Andrea Cornwall explains, designing and carrying out a participatory approach that is sensitive to gender is a complex task. A model such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) can be restrictive for feminist development practitioners who, when confronted with the approach’s requirement of relativism towards local ideas and concerns, are challenged in bringing certain gender

18 goals to fruition.34 Still, there is much common ground shared by feminist and participatory researchers, including a shared political goal of social transformation, a concern for listening to different voices, and attention to the relationship between practitioner and beneficiary or participant.35 The task, it seems, is to tailor an approach that addresses specific gender concerns in a way that gives women the opportunity to share ideas and concerns in a comfortable environment, making decisions and taking actions to improve their individual and collective realities. A participatory approach that is sensitive to gender requires a number of measures. These include, but are not limited to: examining reasons for non-participation and addressing them; acknowledging and working with differences between women; and giving women a positive forum for voicing concerns and developing strategies. I will discuss these participatory measures with reference to the Pastoral da Criança and its approach to women’s participation in Roraima. With some participatory approaches there arises the dilemma of ‘imposing’ participation on those, in this case women, who do not seem to want to participate.36 However, just because women do not appear interested in participating in a specific intervention does not mean that they would not like to improve their social conditions in some way. Moreover, many women in poorer regions of the world are illiterate and may not be aware of their rights; a crucial element in taking action to challenge oppressive social relationships and structures.37 There needs to be research on why women are not participating, and what can be done to facilitate their participation according to their own interests and concerns.

34 35

Cornwall, 7. Cornwall, 7. 36 Cornwall, 15. 37 Cornwall, 12.


betsy macdonald

Criança) does not I observed this The majority of women with necessarily mean that all need in the work whom I spoke seemed aware of will participate equally of the Pastoral da or with the same Criança in the social, economic and even enthusiasm. It is Roraima. When political roots of their difficulties, necessary to look at the asked about the and with further education on differences within the participation of beneficiary their rights could no doubt effect group to be able to engage all members in mothers in the significant positive change meaningful program, several participation. As volunteers Cornwall purports, responded that the women didn’t appear interested in the To make a difference, participatory program; some cited a culture of development must engage with questions of dependency as the cause, while others difference: to effectively tackle poverty, it must offered no explanation. Whatever the go beyond the ‘poor’ as a generic category, and contributing factors may have been, it engage with the diversity of women’s and men’s was clear that the women were benefiting experiences of poverty and powerlessness.38 from the program in the practical sense and had several strategic gender interests The need to address differences between that could potentially be addressed women was prevalent in my observations of the through a more engaged level of work of the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima. In participation. For example, it could prove particular, the question of religion and culture quite useful to have forums for single emerged time and time again as an issue of mothers to discuss strategies for income recognizing and responding to differences generation, an economic factor that is among poor women in Roraima. While the directly related to the health of their Pastoral da Criança is Catholic in its roots and children. While women may choose not organization, its approach to outreach is stated to participate (or to participate passively) in its literature to be ecumenical. Yet, the in the Pastoral da Criança for several majority of women who participate in the reasons, I was given no indication that program are practicing or non-practicing this was for lack of desire for social Catholics, even with the state’s growing transformation. The majority of women number of Evangelical communities. With with whom I spoke seemed aware of the Roraima’s high unemployment rate and from social, economic and even political roots the conditions I observed, there is little of their difficulties, and with further evidence that poverty discriminates according education on their rights could no doubt to religious denomination in this region. As effect significant positive change, given there is no Evangelical organization in Brazil adequate opportunities to discuss parallel to the Pastoral da Criança, this means problems and plan actions. that many disadvantaged families are not Recognizing and working with benefiting from the type of service the program differences among women is another step provides. towards a more engaged and effective When I asked Pastoral da Criança participation. Opening up participation to volunteers why there were not more all members of a group (e.g. all poor Evangelical women participating in the women, in the case of the Pastoral da

Cornwall, 5.

atlantic international studies journal program, they usually placed the onus on the women themselves. They did not want to participate, I heard, because they were wary of the intentions of a Catholic organization, and feared being associated with the Catholic Church in their Evangelical communities. One volunteer with whom I spoke, an Evangelical woman with two daughters and experience as a leader with the Pastoral da Criança, told me that few people in her church were aware of the program’s activities. She became involved because she had been asked to do so by the thencurrent Pastoral da Criança community coordinator. While this woman found herself participating through a personal contact, most women from her church and similar ones, it appeared, were not participating for various reasons. The role of the Pastoral da Criança in addressing this question of religious differences between women has, I maintain, much room for growth. Instead of concluding that Evangelical women do not want to participate, it may prove much more useful to look at why they are not participating, and what can be done to make the program more appealing to families from non-Catholic backgrounds. This could include increasing awareness of the Pastoral da Criança in Evangelical churches, encouraging dialogue between poor women of various denominations, and creating a friendly space for activities in which women feel comfortable regardless of their religious orientation. Overall, it would require an extra effort to educate and include women who, while in need of the program’s services, might be more reluctant to participate than women who share the organization’s religious worldview. This would include taking into account possible cultural barriers to the participation of Evangelical women, such as stricter gender roles, and how

20 they can be addressed to further facilitate participation. Finally, and perhaps most important, in order to foster participation it is vital to provide women with a forum in which they can comfortably and in an engaged manner, share their concerns and discuss strategic plans for action in the context of development. This is another area of the Pastoral da Criança where I observed room for enhancement. Such a forum can be created by providing an appropriate space for discussion and facilitating activities to increase confidence and self-esteem. It is important, I believe, for a participatory approach that is sensitive to gender to include the provision of safe, relaxed and inspiring spaces for women to share experiences, express their ideas and concerns and develop strategic approaches to their own development issues. Andrea Cornwall explains how time is an important factor in providing such spaces. As she writes,
One barrier to women’s participation is time— to sit and talk, analyse, come to meetings. Holding sessions at times that women suggest as convenient, or when women are less engaged in productive work, at least allows the option to participate. Spreading discussions over several sessions may also enable women to take part.39

Time was a constant concern for the women whose participation I observed and did not observe with the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima. Some women did not have time to come to regular activities such as Life Celebration Day because of various time commitments. I encountered many single mothers whose primary concern was looking after their children. Other women are involved in the informal economy and are managing small businesses from their homes; a few are lucky to have jobs in the formal sector. Either way, it is difficult to find a time that accommodates the different responsibilities of women participating in the program.

Cornwall, 18.

21 Finding an appropriate location is another key dimension of providing a forum that cultivates women’s participation and empowerment. This includes a consideration of the “gendered nature of institutional spaces” in order to ensure a comfortable environment for women.40 Indeed, this is a relevant concern for women participating in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima. Most of the program’s activities take place in a Catholic church setting: Life Celebration Day usually takes place in the church itself, and when I went to help make multi-mixture the activity also took place at the church. It is not uncommon for there to be church representatives such as priests and nuns present at activities, as I observed at the sensitivity training session I attended. It is necessary to consider, I believe, the participatory advantages and disadvantages of holding Pastoral da Criança activities in such a milieu. While it may encourage and facilitate the participation of women who are active Catholics, there is the possibility of alienating women of an Evangelical, nonpracticing Catholic or other religious background. Moreover, and more pertinent to Cornwall’s concern, one must consider the dynamic of authority that exists within the framework of an institution such as the Catholic Church and the way it may influence the nature and extent of women’s participation. Church representatives tend to be well educated and possess strong leadership qualities. While the presence of church representatives at Pastoral da Criança activities may be a source of guidance and insight, there is a possibility that it may shift confidence and agency from the program’s women, who tend to be poor, undereducated and sometimes illiterate.

betsy macdonald For women to be able to grow as leaders and decision-makers, I believe that it is important to allow them sufficient space to exercise confidence and be supported by peers; the presence of authority figures might be a barrier to this. A final dimension of facilitating women’s participation is promoting activities that help women build confidence and self-esteem. We have already touched on the notion of quantitative versus qualitative participation; it is useful once more to return to this concept. Evidence has shown that simply increasing numbers is not sufficient to engage women in meaningful participation; there is also a need for measures “to increase women’s confidence and awareness of their rights, in order for them to be more assertive in joining [decisionmaking] committees and speaking out.41 Lee explains the delicacy of such attempts at group facilitation:
At best, group forums and leadership can encourage members to strengthen their capacity and participation—in essence, to become political. At worst, leadership can be a crutch, enabling members to defer to their representatives rather than acting or learning themselves. Perhaps worse still, groups can support a coercive process of maintaining the status quo.42

To prevent these negative outcomes and to effect positive change, Lee continues, it is a central goal to promote a culture of courage in which women feel empowered to “challenge This existing systems and structures.”43 requires the presence of positive role models for women and mutual sharing across different groups; such is the strategy of SEWA Bank.44 For women participating in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima, there also appears a need for activities that, through mutual support and sharing of ideas, provide opportunities to build
41 42

Cornwall, 18.

Cornwall, 12. Lee, 24. 43 Lee, 24. 44 Lee, 24.

atlantic international studies journal self-esteem and awareness of women’s rights and capacities as agents of change. The Pastoral da Criança could play an important role in facilitating such activities, as an organization that is concerned with such women’s issues as poverty and family violence. Existing social networks of church, family and neighborhood could be used as channels for enabling women to come together and discuss issues that are important to their lives, and develop collective strategies for positive social change. CONCLUSION: TOWARDS A MORE MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION? In this paper I have discussed the participation of women in the Pastoral da Criança in Roraima, with special focus on the question of how an organization’s approach to gender can influence the quality of women’s participation. In June and July of 2005, I was fortunate to experience first-hand the participation of a group of women in a Brazilian development organization. As I took part in activities with these women, the main theme that emerged was engagement. In what ways do women become engaged as participants in the Pastoral da Criança? What factors contribute to a lack of engagement? This led me to consider a number of issues and arrive at certain key findings. One issue that emerged around women’s participation was the role of the organization in analyzing the gendered aspects of participants’ lives. A recurring theme in the literature I explored was the need for an analysis of gender that can be translated into practice and a definition of gender that goes beyond ‘women’s interests’. It appears crucial to support women’s strategic gender interests by fostering an environment for women to

22 discuss their own development issues. In a participatory approach, an organization can further facilitate women’s empowerment through examining and addressing reasons for non-participation, acknowledging and working with differences, and providing women with a positive forum for sharing concerns and developing plans for action. Finally, activities that increase women’s confidence and selfesteem have been demonstrated to be both the means and the end result of women’s engaged participation. The Pastoral da Criança is an organization that has inspired women’s lives through spiritual healing, community-building, interpersonal companionship and a practical approach to community development. By continuing its efforts to enrich the participation of women at the grassroots level, the Pastoral da Criança can strengthen its role as an agent of social transformation. In a country that is marked by both staggering inequality and a vibrant sense of life, this is both a necessity and an imminent possibility.

SOURCES Burdick, John. Legacies of Liberation: The Progressive Catholic Church in Brazil. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004. Cornwall, Andrea. “Making a Difference? Gender and Participatory Development.” IDS Discussion Paper 378. Institute of Development Studies (2000), 1-39. p378.pdf Global Network of Religions for Children. Brazil’s official indication to the Nobel Peace Prize of the year 2001


betsy macdonald The translated quotes from women participating in the Pastoral da Criança were taken from nine interviews, conducted in Roraima between May 31 and June 18, 2005.


Marlee. Women and Empowerment: Participation and Decision Making. London: United Nations NonGovernmental Liaison Service, 1995.

Lee, Nanci. “A Gold Thread: Building Assets and Courage in SEWA’s Microfinance Members.” Critical Half 2.1 (2000): 20-26. Downloads/Crithalf12-04.pdf Mosse, Julia Cleves. Half the World, Half a Chance: An Introduction to Gender and Development. Oxford: Oxfam, 1993. Rose, Kalima. Where Women Are Leaders. London: Zed Books Ltd., 1992. Pastoral da Criança (Official Website) br. (Portuguese) Ações Complementares (Complementary Actions) br/htmltonuke.php?filnavn=acoes/ acoes_complementares.html. Histórico (History) br/htmltonuke.php?filnavn=histori co/historico.html. Missão (Mission) br/htmltonuke.php?filnavn=missa o/missao.html. Society for Participatory Research in Asia. Participatory Training for Women. New Delhi: Aman Printers, 1989.

Iraqi Kurdistan Mike Freen

he Kurds are a group of people who inhabit the mountainous border region between Southern Turkey, Northern Iraq, and Western Iran, as well as parts of Syria, Azerbaijan and Armenia. This region possessing a Kurdish majority is generally referred to as Kurdistan (land of the Kurds), although this term has a highly contentious history, particularly in Iraq and Turkey.1 Large numbers of Kurds have relocated from their traditional heartland to major cities in Turkey and Iran, and there is a significant Kurdish diaspora population in Western Europe. Numbering some twenty five million in total, the Kurds are frequently called the largest ethnic group or nation without its own independent state. Nationality and ethnicity are two concepts that are similar and overlapping in some respects, but distinct. Michael Keating has written widely on the subject of nationality and particularly stateless nations, and following his definitional


criteria,2 the Kurdish people possess a nationality in that ‘Kurdishness’ is based on a shared ethnic identity and tied to claims to a specific territory. While they possess this collective identity, the Kurds are nonetheless a heterogeneous people with great linguistic, religious, and political diversity. I believe there is significant value to be derived from analyzing the Kurdish experience from the vantage point of the “political process” literature dominated by Doug McAdam, Charles Tilly, and Sidney Tarrow. I believe this body of theoretical literature, particularly the contributions of Tarrow3, provides a useful framework for analyzing and comparing Kurdish nationbuilding in different states. Assertions of Kurdish national identity have both collective and contentious dimensions, and Tarrow provides a structure that is well suited to explaining the forces shaping Kurdish national expression. I have limited myself to examining the development of Kurdish nationalism in Iraq because space constraints prohibit any analysis dealing with more than one country. I have chosen to discuss the
Michael Keating, Nations Against the State: The New Politics of Nationalism in Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland (London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1996), 4. 3 Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Ofra Bengio, Saddam’s Word: Political Discourse in Iraq (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Kemal Kirişci, “Minority/Majority Discourse: The Case of the Kurds in Turkey,” In Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, edited by Dru C. Gladney (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 227-245.


atlantic international studies journal


Kurdish nationalist experience in Iraq rather Kurdish nationalist sentiments did not develop than Turkey, Iran, or elsewhere because its until the twentieth century, as the Middle East history offers a number of pronounced shifts was reorganized into European-style nationin the political opportunity structure which the states.5 In the previous centuries, Kurdistan was nominally divided between the Ottoman Kurds faced than in other locations, making it Turkish and Qajar Persian empires, although a particularly good subject of analysis using the region enjoyed considerable autonomy Tarrow’s model. and acted as a buffer zone between the two The collective Kurdish identity in Iraq empires.6 In the aftermath of World War One has been shaped by oppression by the Iraqi and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the state, and the Kurds have responded through 1920 Treaty of Sèvres promised autonomy to armed resistance. The major resistance groups the majority-Kurdish region, and the have been militarized parties founded along possibility of statehood in ostensibly nationalist the future.7 However, lines, although many of The collective Kurdish neither autonomy nor their supporters appear to statehood for the Kurdish prioritize tribal loyalties identity in Iraq has been the above any Kurdish shaped by oppression by the people was thein Allied interests of national identity they Iraqi state, and the Kurds powers or Kemal may feel they possess. I Ataturk’s new Turkish will discuss the have responded through republic, and Ottoman problematic nature of armed resistance. Kurdistan was divided Kurdish nationalism with among the new states direct reference to created from the carcass Tarrow’s three key of the empire.8 The territory of what is now factors of contentious action: political opportunity; framing processes; and modern Iraq, including the mainly Kurdish mobilizing structures. My analysis is regions in the north, came under the influence concerned primarily with the historical of the British, who continued to exert development of Kurdish national identity influence over the newly created state until since Iraqi independence, and I have avoided the revolution of 1958.9 extensively discussing the political situation As indicated above, the Kurds are a following the 2003 overthrow of Saddam diverse people. There are two major dialects Hussein’s regime by the American-led of the Kurdish language (Kurmanji and coalition. In order to set the stage for a Surani) and several minor ones, and the discussion of Iraqi-Kurdish nationalism I now language is further divided by the fact that provide some general background information about the Kurds and the land they inhabit, and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary a brief overview of the major forms of Overview (London: Routledge, 1992), 10. collective identity relevant to the discussion. 5 KURDISTAN AND THE KURDS People identified as Kurds have lived in the region now known as Kurdistan for at least 2500 years,4 but most scholars agree that

David McDowall, “The Kurdish Question: a Historical Overview,” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and

Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict: Shadows of Modernity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 161. 6 David McDowall, 12. 7 “Treaty of Sèvres.” In David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London: I. B. Tauris, 1996), 450. 8 David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London: I. B. Tauris, 1996), 118. 9 Judith Yaphe, “Tribalism in Iraq, the Old and the New,” Middle East Policy 7, 3 (June 2000), 53.

26 Kurds in Turkey have adopted a Roman script for their written language, while Kurds in Iraq and Iran use an adapted Arabic script.10 The majority of Kurds practice Sunni Islam, but there are Shi’a, Christian, Jewish, and Alevi Kurds, and practitioners of other regional religious minorities. Political organizations among the Kurds vary from communist guerilla groups to radical Islamic groups, with a great deal of variation in between. Furthermore, the primary form of social organization in rural Kurdistan continues to be the tribe, a fact that has placed its stamp on Kurdish nationalism. Likewise, Kurdistan, while possessing a Kurdish majority, also encompasses Armenian, Turkoman, Assyrian, Persian, Arab, and Turkish populations.11 In response to this diversity, some Kurdish nationalist groups have tried to promote their nationalism as civic and territorially based rather than ethnically based.12 For clarity purposes I use the term ‘Greater Kurdistan’ to refer to this area, while portion lying within the Iraqi national border is referred to as ‘Iraqi-Kurdistan’. Despite the diversity of the Kurdish nation, one of its unifying characteristics is the oppression its people have suffered in the twentieth century by the nation-states that control the territory of Kurdistan. In particular, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey have the most pronounced history of Kurdish repression, and the vast majority of Kurds inhabit these three states. The Kurds have responded to this repression through various forms of contention, including violent resistance. Being split among several states the Kurdish nation is thus inherently transnational in character, while at the same time being stateless. These two characteristics

mike freen have important implications for the construction of Kurdish nationalism. Overall, the division of Kurdistan (and its consequent statelessness) has produced a division of the nation-building project, as each state-constrained Kurdish population has responded to and defined its identity in relation to local circumstances in their respective nation-states. The Kurdish diaspora in Western Europe and elsewhere represents a countercurrent to this trend in that it is attempting to create a unified Kurdish national identity,13 but ironically this contributes yet another competing version of Kurdish nationalism. While each group identifies itself as Kurdish and recognizes there are other groups in near by states that identify themselves as Kurds, each is essentially defining Kurdishness on its own terms. Even within particular states there is competition among Kurdish nationalist groups over what form the Kurdish nation should take. One notable example of this phenomenon is the open conflict in the Iraqi Kurdish Autonomous Region between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), a relatively conservative built upon tribal coalitions, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), led by urban intellectuals, that occurred from 1994 to 1998,14 and divided Iraqi Kurdistan until the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. NATION, STATE, TRIBE, & ETHNICITY Keating, in his exploration of non-state nationalisms, argues for the need to separate the nation, the state, and ethnicity as analytical categories, noting that ethnic groups do not necessarily make the territorially based

Philip G. Kroenbroek, “On the Kurdish Language,” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds., The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview (London: Routledge, 1992), 68-83. 11 Michael M. Gunter, “The Kurdish Question in Perspective.” World Affairs 166, 4 (Spring 2004), 198. 12 Michael Keating, Nations Against the State.

Denise Natali, “Transnational Networks: New Opportunities and Constraints for Kurdish Statehood,” Middle East Policy 11, 1 (Spring, 2004), 111-114. 14 Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 193.

atlantic international studies journal claims characteristic of nations, while the state does not possess a monopoly on nationalism.15 Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller caution against identifying the nation and the state as “two separate objects of inquiry,” with the state as a neutral set of governing institutions.16 Keating’s analytical separation does not fall prey to this risk of naturalizing the nation-state, but instead emphasizes that state and nation cannot be conflated, while acknowledging that a national identity is very much a necessary component of any state. The exact relationship between ethnicity and nationality is more difficult to establish. This is because it is very difficult to define either concept in a precise manner. Benedict Anderson’s famous characterization of nations as sovereign and limited “imagined communities” merely elaborates some of the most salient aspects of the term rather than providing an expansive definition.17 Keating similarly avoids constructing elaborate definitions and instead concentrates on highlighting some of the differences between the two. Both are forms collective identity, and Keating describes ethnicity as a “fluid and instrumental” form of identity that is contextually based.18 Nationalism always contains a dimension of territoriality, although this does not necessarily entail claims to an independent sovereign state. Examples such as Quebec or Scotland demonstrate that nations can exist within and potentially across larger state boundaries. Nationalism can be framed along ethnic lines, essentially fusing an ethnic identity with a claim to autonomy over or simply identification with a given territory. Alternately, civic nationalism rests
Michael Keating, 3. Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller, “Methodological Nationalism and Beyond: NationBuilding, Migration, and the Social Sciences,” Global Networks 2, 4 (2002), 306. 17 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991), 7. 18 Michael Keating, 5.
16 15

27 not on belief in common ancestry but on shared values and expectations of the state.19 Most nationalisms contain a mix of these two ideal types, and Kurdish nationalism is no exception. Another form of collective identification relevant to the discussion of the Kurdish experience is tribalism, as most rural inhabitants still identify primarily in terms of kinship ties, rather than as Kurds or as Iraqis. Tribes have their own authority figures and have historically provided a significant challenge to nationalists, be they Iraqi or Kurdish, attempting to foster a broader sense of collective identity.20 POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES The last fifteen years has seen the publication of a number of histories of the experience of the Kurds in the different nation-states they inhabit,21 but these have tended to be descriptive historical accounts lacking the analytical frameworks necessary to adequately explain how and why the Kurdish nationalist movements have emerged. These texts contain essential historical details and I have relied especially on McDowall’s incredibly detailed account, but they are not equipped with the theoretical apparatus necessary to adequately explain the processes of nationalism. Other texts, such as Ofra Bengio’s analysis of political discourse in Ba’th Iraq,22 or Adreas Wimmer’s Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict,23 provide valuable insights into the issue of Kurdish
Ibid. Judith Yaphe, “Tribalism in Iraq, the Old and the New.” 21 Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds., The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview; and Sperl; Gerard Chaliand, ed., A People Without a Country: the Kurds and Kurdistan., Michael Pallis trans. (New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993); McDowall A Modern History of the Kurds. 22 Ofra Bengio, Saddam’s Word. 23 Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict.
20 19

28 nationalism, but only in the process of explaining their respective theses rather than exploring the issue for its own sake. Michael Gunter’s 2004 article “The Kurdish Question in Perspective” offers an explanation of the history of Kurdish nationalist contention,24 but it is unsatisfactory as described below. In response to the lack of theoretical analysis of Kurdish nationalism, I have borrowed Tarrow’s ‘contentious politics’ model to better explain the subject. According to McAdam, McCarthy, and Zald, there are three main factors used by so-called ‘movement scholars’ in analyzing the development of contentious action: political opportunities; mobilizing structures; and framing processes.25 Tarrow describes these factors at length in Power and Movement. First, ‘political opportunities’ are the changes in the set opportunities and constraints imposed upon social groups that encourage contentious action.26 One of Tarrow’s key points is that objective conditions such as deprivation of resources, denial of identity, and so forth are not in themselves sufficient to produce contentious political action, and that action will only occur if a catalyst in the form of a change in opportunities is provided.27 Gunter makes the argument that the prevalence of revolt and uprising among the Iraqi-Kurds is the product of the proportionately higher Kurdish population in Iraq compared to Turkey or Iran, the supposedly artificial nature of the Iraqi state,
24 25

mike freen and the division of the Arab population along Sunni/Shi’a lines.28 This interpretation is overly simplistic and fails to explain why Kurdish revolt has been more pronounced at some times than others: these factors are objective conditions that have been consistent since the formation of the Iraqi state. According to Tarrow, they are thus insufficient to produce contentious action (i.e. uprisings) on their own. It was the shifts in the opportunity structure of the Iraqi political system that enabled the contentious outbursts that have been critical in the formation of Iraqi Kurdish identity. The politically unstable period from 1958 to 1975 saw the leadership of the Iraqi state change with great frequency, and often the new regimes courted Kurdish support in order to solidify their positions, but just as quickly would turn against the Kurds if they were seen as a threat.29 The prominent Kurdish tribal leader Mustafa Barzani received arms and funding in return for supporting Brigadier Qasim, the leader of Iraq following a republican coup in 1958, and was thus able to gain a great deal of power in Iraqi-Kurdistan,30 but Qasim was soon unnerved by Barzani’s influence and moved against him. In response to the republican government’s indiscriminate violence in the Kurdish regions, Barzani was able to muster a broad-based coalition Kurdish groups that was able to resist the government and gain control of Iraqi Kurdistan and set up a “shadow state”, although admittedly with Iranian patronage.31 In 1974 conflict once again erupted between the Kurdish coalition led by Barzani and the Iraqi government, at that time under
28 29

Michael M. Gunter, 201. Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, “Introduction: Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Framing Processes - Toward a Synthetic Perspective on Social Movements,” in Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, eds. Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 2. 26 Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement, 71. 27 Sidney Tarrow, “Transnational Politics: Contention and Institutions in International Politics,” Annual Review of Political Science 4 (2001), 14.

Michael M. Gunter, 201. Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict. 190; David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 316; David McDowall, “The Kurdish Question: a Historical Overview,” 27. 30 David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 307. 31 Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict, 191.

atlantic international studies journal the control of the Ba’th party. As with Qasim’s republican regime the Ba’th was initially conciliatory towards the Kurds,32 but soon moved to extend its authority over IraqiKurdistan. Again a broad coalition comprised of a wide spectrum of Kurdish society was organized under Barzani to resist Iraqi forces, and the armed resistance lasted until 1975, when Iran withdrew its support for the Kurds.33 This period from 1958 to 1975 saw the strengthening of unity and commonality of purpose among Kurdish groups as a result of their participation in resistance against the various governments in Baghdad. Was this unity an expression of nationalism or merely a reaction to aggression by an outside party? This question has been debated by scholars and will be discussed in more detail below in the analysis of the approaches used by Kurdish leaders to frame their contention. Although Kurdish groups occasionally worked together to provided a unified front against Iraqi aggression, they were just as often in conflict with each other. In particular, there was an ideological rift between the Barzani and his relatively conservative tribal supporters and the urban leftist ideologues such as Jalal Talabani who sought the creation of a Kurdish national identity along EuroAmerican lines.34 While allied to one another within the KDP for several years, in the early 1960s Barzani expelled the leftists, who would later become the leadership of the PUK. Both parties were heavily militarized by the 1980s and were often in conflict with one another during the Iran-Iraq War, despite their mutual antagonism towards the Iraqi government, now led by Saddam Hussein. A united front emerged towards the end of the war, primarily because the two Kurdish
32 33

29 parties shared Iranian patronage.35 In this case, contentious action against the Iraqi government was not sufficient to bring the Kurds together, in part because of the significant difference in the frames used by Kurdish elites to encourage contention. COMPETING FRAMES Framing processes are the manner in which actors ‘package’ their grievances and offer ways to redress these grievances.36 Tarrow suggests that nationalism, along with religion, provides “ready-made symbols, rituals, and solidarities that can be accessed and appropriated by movement leaders”.37 This is true, but only up to a point. When the issue at stake is the nation’s identity itself, and there is no acknowledged ‘national’ (i.e. state) authority, competing groups of actors will attempt to frame the identity of the nation along lines that are in accord with their own ideological, religious, class, and intellectual, and other viewpoints. In the Kurdish case, this phenomenon is manifested in the multiplicity of Kurdish nationalist movements with significantly different approaches: Marxists, tribal coalitionists, Islamic fundamentalists, et cetera. Framing Kurdish nationalism in Iraq has proved difficult. While educated urban Kurds have though in nationalist terms since the partition of Greater Kurdistan, the rural population has continued to organize along tribal lines, dominated politically be landlords (aghas) and religious shaykhs. The Kurdish national project in Iraq has depended on the mobilizing of these ‘traditionalist’ elements for nationalist causes.38 There were a number of Kurdish revolts from 1920 to 1946, but
35 36

Ofra Bengio, 111. The withdrawal of Iranian support for the Iraqi Kurds was part of the settlement of a territorial dispute between Iran and Iraq regarding sea access. See McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 339. 34 Ibid., 289.

Ibid., 350-351. Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, 5. 37 Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement, 112. 38 A. Sherzad, “The Kurdish Movement in Iraq: 197588,” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview (London: Routledge, 1992), 135.

30 these were all essentially expressions of tribal grievances towards the central government’s negligence of regional socioeconomic issues.39 The most notable of these early revolts was that of Mustafa Barzani, who enjoyed prestige both as a notable tribal leader and as a religious authority. In 1943 he escaped detention (having been put there by the Baghdad government for his participation in an earlier revolt) and returned to his base of power in Barzan, in the far north of Iraq. His personal dispute with the central government provided a focal point for broader regional dissatisfaction with inadequate government response to a famine in the Kurdish regions, allowing Barzani to create a broad coalition of Kurdish tribes opposing the government.40 The broad base of rural support Barzani enjoyed made him a natural focal point for the Kurdish nationalist movement in Iraq.41 1946 saw the formation of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), which incorporated both modernizing nationalists and tribal leaders. Some particularly left-leaning nationalists, unwilling to cooperate with ‘traditional’ or ‘feudal’ elements, allied themselves instead with the Iraqi Communist Party. The issue of cooperation with the landlords and shaykhs was only one of many contentious issues facing the actors attempting to promote Kurdish nationalism. Another dilemma was whether to promote a nationalism that encompassed Greater Kurdistan or one that merely applied to Kurds living in Iraq. The creation of a specifically Iraqi KDP appeared to support the latter approach.42 The KDP reframed its approach slightly in 1953, changing its name to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. This implied a

mike freen civic approach to the nationalism, centred on territory rather than Kurdish ethnicity, and was intended to draw in support of nonKurdish groups. The party also attempted to tie nationalism to the improvement of socioeconomic conditions among the tribal peasantry, although actual progress on this front was limited by the KDP’s dependence on tribal authorities.43 Wimmer argues that attempts to infuse a sense of national loyalty among the “rank-and-file” tribe members was unsuccessful, and their participation in the nationalist movement was (and remains) a product of their loyalty to established tribal leaders.44 McDowall suggests that the alignment of most Iraqi Kurds to either the KDP or PUK after 1991 represented not success in instilling nationalist ideas in the Kurdish populace, but the replacement of the old tribal systems that were largely wiped out in the decades of violence and repression with a ‘neo-tribalism’ that features the nationalist parties as the new centre of allegiance and loyalty.45 The division of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan into two separate PUK- and KDP-administered regions and subsequent conflict beginning in 1994 appeared to reinforce McDowall’s suspicion, although the reunification of the autonomous Kurdish parliament in 2002 could equally be presented as evidence of a commitment to democratic governance.46 Wimmer makes a strong case for the relationship between democratic representation and national self47 determination. Since the overthrow of the Ba’th regime, the Kurds have shown a great willingness to engage in Iraqi politics, if election turnout numbers or Jalal Talabani’s

43 44

David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 290. 40 Ibid., 292. 41 Michael M. Gunter, 200. 42 David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 296.

Ibid., 297. Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict, 188. 45 David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, 385. 46 Michael M. Gunter, 202. 47 Andreas Wimmer, Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict, 54.

atlantic international studies journal position as Iraqi president can be used as indicators.48 Generally speaking, there was a sense of common national identity among Iraqi Kurds (at least educated urban Kurds), but there was little consensus regarding the content of that national identity. Different nationalist groups offered competing ways of framing the national struggle (coalition-based vs. leftist, ethnic vs. civic, et cetera) and frames changed over time in response to new political opportunities and constraints. MOBILIZING STRUCTURES The third major category of analysis for Tarrow and other social movement theorists is mobilizing structures: the networks, organizations, and other vehicles through which actors engage in collective action.49 The characteristic organizational expression of Kurdish nationalism in Iraq proved to be the militant party, a fusion of urban-bred nationalist ideology relying on a ‘traditional’ tribal power bases to engage in nationalist contention. The KDP under Mustafa Barzani was the prototype for this model, which was later replicated by the more progressive and intellectual PUK because the recurring governmental threats to the very survival of Kurdish nationalism radicalized and militarized the movement. As mentioned above, the militarized nationalist parties often formed networks and connections with governing elites in order to secure resources such as funding, arms and legitimacy not otherwise available. A similar process of network formation can be observed at various periods between Kurdish nationalists and Iraq’s external rivals, particularly Iran. This generally occurred when the nationalist movements could not

31 access the resources of the state, and thus felt compelled to look elsewhere. The creation of the Kurdish Regional Government in the early 1990s saw the incorporation of an additional role for the militarized parties: component of a representative governing assembly. Both the PUK and KDP appear to have taken on characteristics familiar to a political party in a typical representative democracy. This role is likely to become more salient in the future as the two parties have formed an alliance representing the Kurdish nationalist movement on the state level.50 The three factors (political opportunities, framing processes, and mobilizing structures) are all interrelated, and changes in one can alter the others. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 and subsequent reorganization of the Iraqi state was a huge shift in the political opportunities available to Iraqi Kurds. Both the KDP and the PUK reframed their approaches, moving from policies of each running their own essentially independent quasi-states in Northern Iraq to participating in the creation of the new Iraqi state, in which the Kurds enjoy significant autonomy but are still a part of the broader nation-state. In response to these changes in political opportunity and framing approaches, the two organizations have also moved from a competitive and antagonistic stance towards one another to forming an alliance with each other and other Kurdish groups, and representing Kurdish interests in the Iraqi assembly. CONCLUSION Like any form of collective activism, nationalist movements can be understood through studying the political opportunities that enable their existence, the frames they


Liz Sly, “Shiites Short of majority; Kurds 2nd in Iraqi Vote.” Chicago Tribune, February 14, 2005. 49 Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, 3.

BBC News, “Who’s Who in the Iraq Election,” BBC News (accessed 11 December, 2005 – link no longer active).

32 construct in defining themselves, and the structures they adopt to mobilize support. The case of Kurdish nationalism in Iraq is an example of a highly contentious stateless and transnational form of nationalism that was largely reterritorialized within state boundaries. The ideal of Kurdish nationalism has been forced to compromise with tribal reality and the fact that the regional and great powers have no interest in the statehood of Greater Kurdistan, while Iraqi nationalists have struggled with incorporating the Kurdish identity into a broader Iraqi national identity. The resulting years of conflict between the Kurds of Iraq and the state have indeed fostered a Kurdish nationalism, but it is a specifically Iraqi- Kurdish nationalism, a product of a particular Iraqi-Kurdish experience. The problematic state of Kurdish collective identity has unclear implications for the ‘new’ Iraq. While Kurds appear to be among the most enthusiastic participants in the Iraqi electoral system, their participation seems contingent on the retention of Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq. It could be argued that the participation of Kurds in the Iraqi democratic system as Kurds (i.e. voting for political parties specifically claiming to represent Kurdish interests in the state legislature) will reinforce Iraqi Kurdish national identity by offering an expression of collective identity that is not influenced by tribal relationships. However, such an argument could not be sustained without first undertaking a detailed study of Iraqi electoral politics and particularly Kurdish voting patterns in the recent elections. The political opportunities and constraints facing the Kurds have changed frequently since the American occupation began, as have the framing processes and organizational structures used by Kurdish leaders. The speed and complexity of these recent developments makes it difficult to assess their ramifications for Kurdish nationalism, especially as the

mike freen instability of the circumstances in Iraq suggests even more change in the near future. Despite the complexity of the situation, the occupation of Iraq has also raised the profile of Kurdish issues, which will hopefully encourage more scholarship on the subject in the future, and a raised awareness of the condition of Kurdish identity not only in Iraq, but in other countries with Kurdish minorities as well.

SOURCES Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. London: Verso, 1991. BBC News. “Who’s Who in the Iraq Election.” BBC News (11 December, 2005 – link no longer active). Bengio, Ofra. Saddam’s Word: Political Discourse in Iraq. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Chaliand, Gerard, ed. A People Without a Country: the Kurds and Kurdistan. Michael Pallis trans. New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993. Gunter, Michael M. “The Kurdish Question in Perspective.” World Affairs 166, 4 (Spring 2004), 197-205. Keating, Michael. Nations Against the State: The New Politics of Nationalism in Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland. London: MacMillan Press Ltd., 1996. Kirişci, Kemal. “Minority/Majority Discourse: The Case of the Kurds in Turkey.” In Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, edited by Dru C.

atlantic international studies journal Gladney. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998, 227-245. Kroenbroek, Philip G. “On the Kurdish Language.” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge, 1992, 68-83. Kroenbroek, Philip G. and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge, 1992. McAdam Doug, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald. “Introduction: Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures, and Framing Processes - Toward a Synthetic Perspective on Social Movements.” In Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy, and Mayer N. Zald, eds. Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 120. McDowall, David. “The Kurdish Question: a Historical Overview.” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge, 1992, 10-32. McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I. B. Tauris, 1996. Natali, Denise. “Transnational Networks: New Opportunities and Constraints for Kurdish Statehood.” Middle East Policy 11, 1 (Spring, 2004): 111-114. Sherzad, A. “The Kurdish Movement in Iraq: 1975-88.” In Philip G. Kreyenbroek and Stefan Sperl, eds. The Kurds: a Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge, 1992, 134-142. Sly, Liz. “Shiites Short of majority; Kurds 2nd in Iraqi Vote.” Chicago Tribune, February 14, 2005.

33 Tarrow, Sidney. Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Tarrow Sidney. “Transnational Politics: Contention and Institutions in International Politics.” Annual Review of Political Science 4 (2001); 1-20. Tarrow, Sidney. 2005. The New Transnational Social Movements. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. “Treaty of Sèvres.” In David McDowall. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I. B. Tauris, 1996, 450-451. Wimmer, Andreas. Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflict: Shadows of Modernity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Wimmer, Andreas and Nina Glick Schiller. “Methodological Nationalism and Beyond: Nation-Building, Migration, and the Social Sciences.” Global Networks 2, 4 (2002): 301-334. Yaphe, Judith. “Tribalism in Iraq, the Old and the New.” Middle East Policy 7, 3 (June 2000): 51-58.

The Terrorist Threat: Its Impact on American Civil Liberties and Democracy Lindsay Gorman

ithin the international system, terrorist attacks threaten the security of their target states. Terrorism can be defined “as the threat or use of violence to spread fear to lead to political However, state responses to change.”1 terrorist threats differ according to its political system. For authoritarian regimes, the responses are virtually limitless. Appropriate responses become inherently more complex for a liberal democracy that guarantees its citizens a certain level of civil and human rights. In fact, the strategy used by terrorists “is to force the liberal government to reveal its true, authoritarian nature…through restrictions on civil liberties as would be imposed in a crisis or state of siege.”2 A paradox ensues, in which a state can clamp down on civil liberties and human
Michael Freeman, Freedom or Security: The consequences for democracies using emergency powers to fight terrorism (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003), 26. 2 Robert H. Kupperman and Darrell M. Trent, Terrorism: Threat, reality, response (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1979), 26-27.


rights in order to defeat and capture terrorists, ending the democratic regime. Alternatively, states that do not react in this manner ensure civil liberties are protected but leave their citizens vulnerable to security threats.3 As Michael Ignatieff points out, “A terrorist emergency is precisely a case where allowing individual liberty – to plan, to plot, to evade detection—may threaten a vital majority interest that is national security.4 This is the “catch-22” of the liberal democratic state response to terrorism. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the United States government under George Bush has highlighted homeland security as one of his government’s top priorities, and thus new legislation has been implemented to fight terrorism along with the corresponding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. One such legislation
Paul Wilkinson, Terrorism Versus Democracy: The liberal state response (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2000), 115. 4 Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil: Political ethics in an age of terror (Toronto: Penguin, 2004), 4.

atlantic international studies journal is the USA Patriot Act, enacted on October 24, 2001. The purpose of this controversial legislation is to provide law enforcement with enhanced investigatory tools to aid in deterring and prosecuting terrorist acts, on American soil and abroad.5 Critics argue this act erodes America’s civil liberties by removing checks that limit law enforcement’s freedom. However, proponents of the bill assert that the Patriot Act is necessary as a measure to counter terrorism and ensure national security.6 The controversy surrounding this legislation raises an age-old debate; what measures must a state be willing to undertake in order to secure its own survival? What are the limits of state responses to security threats? Should national security take precedence over civil liberties? Where should the line be drawn? Do emergency legislations restricting civil liberties defend or attack democracy? What implications do US governmental policies –intended to guarantee American security -have for democracy? Are they a threat to the quality of American democracy or a necessary measure to guarantee state security? I intend to examine to what extent liberal democratic states can restrict civil liberties to protect against the threat of terrorism before they cease to be democratic. Doherty et al. outline four specific areas in which legislation following the 9/11 terrorist attacks erode civil liberties they are: open government; the right to privacy; treatment of immigrants, refugees,
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. HR 3162, 107th Cong., 1st sess., (24 October 2001), preamble. 6 There are many organizations against these new legislations; examples include the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First (formerly Lawyers Committee for Human Rights). Supporters of the Patriot Act include The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; for example, see Viet D. Dinh, “How the USA Patriot Act Defends Democracy”, (Washington, DC: The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, 2004), 1.

35 and minorities; and finally security detainees and the criminal justice system.7 I will focus specifically on two sections, the right to privacy and the security detainees. Then I will use Freeman’s theory in a detailed analysis to examine the impact for American democracy. In particular, Freeman’s work will help determine whether or not the restriction of civil liberties is an effective use of emergency powers. In addition, Wilkinson offers three safe guards to which democratic anti-terrorist legislation should adhere, which will help explore the impact of such legislations on American democracy.8 My research has shown that, due in part to the international reach of this terrorist network, the restriction of civil liberties is relatively ineffective.9 In addition, some of the post-9/11 legislation does not meet Wilkinson’s criteria, and therefore may inhibit and threaten American democracy. However, I cautiously predict the erosion of civil liberties to decrease American democratic quality, but at the same time not pose a valid threat to democratic stability. Before beginning any discussion regarding the impact of terrorism on liberal democracies, it is necessary to define the term. Liberal democracy is one of the many definitions of democracy to add a qualifier, therefore changing or expanding its meaning. The term democracy on its own has been widely defined as ‘rule of the people’: that is, a system of government selected by the people through the process of open, fair Juan J. Linz considers a elections.10
Fiona Doherty et al., “A Year of Loss: Reexamining civil liberties since September 11” (New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2002). 8 Wilkinson, 113-18. 9 Freeman supports the conclusion that due to the international nature of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, restricting civil liberties is not the most effective counter-terrorism tool. 10 See Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal democracy at home and abroad (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004).

36 government democratic “if it supplies regular constitutional opportunities for peaceful competition for political power … to different groups without excluding any significant sector of the population by force.”11 Linz’s definition accounts for a measure of equality, which takes us to where the qualifier liberal fits into this definition. Fareed Zakaria defines liberal democracy as “a political system marked not only by free and fair elections but also by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property.”12 The collection of basic inalienable liberties or freedoms is how liberalism is included in the definition; these liberties are protected from a purely majority rule via the constitution. In general, a constitution aims to ensure a balance between equality and individual liberty.13 Thus, for a liberal democracy, the rule of law via a written Constitution that serves to check and balance separate government branches is paramount. For this reason, I will use examples of Constitutional violations to illustrate the breakdown of the rule of law, which consequently may diminish the quality and stability of a liberal democracy. The breakdown of the rule of law, and situations in which the Constitution is not directly upheld, threaten the ability of a liberal democracy to hold free and fair elections. When laws can be applied arbitrarily, the government in power has the potential to abuse this authority by limiting the opposition. Clearly, if this occurs, the state will no longer be classified as democratic. It is generally accepted that states must balance their reaction to terrorist acts with the preservation of civil liberties.14 Benjamin

lindsay gorman Barber echoes this idea of balance, asserting “an effective national security strategy must secure America against terrorism without destroying the liberty in whose name its struggle is waged.”15 However, this concept of balancing remains fairly murky and rhetorical. If we consider this idea as existing on a continuum, this implies that civil liberties are given up for increased security. Does this mean that policy, in order to be balanced, should remain in the middle of this continuum? This idea is what Michael Freeman calls “the tradeoff of using emergency powers”, a tradeoff which occurs when states weigh the benefits and costs associated with using emergency powers to fight a terrorist threat.16 Emergency powers are one tool used by states to counter terrorist security threats, which “can increase the power of the state along many dimensions…[by suspending] normal due process laws, allowing the police to conduct searches without warrant, arrest citizens without charge, [or] hold them in jail without bringing them to trial.”17 Freeman’s definition of emergency powers also includes legislation that limits civil liberties (like the right to free speech or assembly), and powers that suspend the separation of different branches of government.18 From Freeman’s description, legislation suspending civil liberties and giving law enforcement a broader scope, such as the USA Patriot Act, could be included in the category of possible state responses to terrorism. The tradeoff concept has been widely established in related literature.19 The debate has instead focused on the acceptance of the tradeoff, which is influenced by the goal protected, democracy or state security. Here,

Juan J. Linz, “An Authoritarian Regime: The case of Spain,” in Mass Politics: Studies in Political Sociology, eds. Erik Allardt and Stein Rokkan (New York: Free Press, 1970), 254. 12 Zakaria, 17. 13 Freeman, 36. 14 Kupperman and Trent, 10-11.

Benjamin R. Barber, Fear’s Empire: War, terrorism, and democracy (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003), 145-46. 16 Freeman, 2-3. 17 Freeman, 28. 18 Ibid. 19 Freeman, 3-5.

atlantic international studies journal Freeman suggests that norms play a role in how actors (whether scholars writing on the subject or politicians drafting legislation) place greater value on either protection of democracy or security goals. Freeman identifies the tradeoff concept as one that rests on the assumption that restraining civil liberties is always an effective tool for combating terrorism, which he argues is not necessarily the case. His research looks at four case studies, and distinguishes between ineffective/effective and abused/not abused emergency powers. With this analysis, he aims to provide policy recommendations outlining when states can expect emergency powers to be effective and not abused. Freeman concludes that although citizens fear the invocation of emergency powers to combat terrorism and the “tradeoff between effectiveness and abuses” of these powers, “the tradeoff does not always materialize.”20 Freeman’s research is quite innovative as it correctly makes the distinction between effective and ineffective uses of emergency powers. However, his application to the current American situation was not fully developed. Freeman concludes that the abuse of emergency powers would be unlikely in the United States because institutional safeguards would remain in place (for example, the free press, the Congress and the Supreme Court) and because there is a strong commitment to democracy. Although these powers would not likely be abused, Freeman also emphasizes that they could be ineffective, and therefore unnecessary.21 Freeman applies his theory to the American example, but does not present an indepth analysis.22 One major weakness is Freeman’s failure to consider the USA Patriot Act. This legislation could be categorized as an exercise of emergency power, albeit one relatively limited in scope. In regards to the
20 21

37 USA Patriot Act, Freeman effectively points out that emergency powers are the most controversial counter-terrorism tool that democratic governments can implement because they restrict civil liberties.23 He argues that,
[o]nly emergency powers promise the benefits of defeating terrorism while also imposing costs on a democratic society…[at best], emergency powers entail temporary curtailments of individual liberties. At worst, the emergency powers can lead to the end of democracy.24

Freeman’s description of emergency powers includes relaxations of normal due process laws and searches without warrants. 25 Therefore, the USA’s Patriot Act could fit into this description, as it relaxes some safeguards. Due to the loosening of these safeguards, abuse becomes possible. Therefore, a more current and complete analysis of the American example would have to include this new legislation. One constraint of focusing my analysis on Freeman’s work is that his four case studies were instances of domestic terrorism. His first case study is Great Britain, which used emergency powers in Northern Ireland against the Irish Republican Army (IRA), without restricting liberty and democracy but also without much success in limiting terrorist operations.26 Freeman’s second case study is Canada and its response to the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ)’s kidnappings in 1970. In this case, the FLQ was eliminated with the use of emergency powers with little cost to democracy.27 Uruguay is Freeman’s third study, where emergency powers were invoked from 1968-72 against the Tupamaros terrorist group. In this case, the military took
23 24

Freeman, 194. Freeman, 192-95. 22 Ibid.

Freeman, 28. Ibid. 25 Freeman, 28-29. 26 Freeman, 15, 18. 27 Freeman, 15, 19.

38 over counter-terrorist policing, and the emergency powers it was given to investigate were abused. This created the opportunity for the military to stage a successful coup in 1973, thus ending democracy.28 The final case, in which the use of emergency powers were both abused and ineffective is Peru, where such powers were used to target the Shining Path terrorist organization, just as the country was returning to democracy in the early 1980s. In this case, the abuse of emergency powers was horrific, as security forces murdered many innocent civilians and completely suspended basic civil liberties in specific areas.29 All these cases encompass commonalities, as the target states were relatively democratic and the terrorists to whom they responded were domestic. Of course, it has become common knowledge that international terrorists, linked to the Al Qaeda network, performed the attacks on the United States. This poses a conceptual challenge, because the methods for combating domestic and international terrorism are inherently different. Therefore, the evaluation of the effectiveness of emergency power use would be slightly different. Nevertheless, I believe this challenge will strengthen my argument against the use of emergency powers by the United States government. Due to the fact that the Al Qaeda network has cells operating in many countries all over the globe means that the use of emergency powers within the domestic borders of the United States will have little or no impact on terrorists who are plotting and planning in other countries. As Freeman acknowledges, “[e]mergency powers will be more likely to be ineffective if a terrorist group has a large base of supporters and sympathizers, relative to the size of the active terrorist group.”30 In this case, he was
28 29

lindsay gorman referring to domestic terrorist organizations, but we can infer the efficacy of emergency powers to be compromised further when applied to the expansive and complex networks of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda: “[w]hen terrorist groups are very large, numbering in the tens of thousands of members spread out throughout a country, emergency powers are unlikely to be Because this limitation is effective.”31 augmented when we consider international terrorism, it is safe to assume that only when these terrorists physically enter the United States will emergency powers be of any use. Even then, due to their broad support and organizational base, it is doubtful these emergency powers would actually threaten the international terrorist organization. Furthermore, since a number of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks attended flight school in the United States, and thus obtained their commercial pilot licenses on American soil, their activities could have been impacted by more stringent emergency powers. Consequently, improved enforcement of existing immigration laws would have dealt a sizeable blow to the organization of these attacks. Six of the hijackers were in violation of immigration laws (more specifically, visa overstays and violations of student status) that were never detected by immigration officials.32 In these cases, enforcement of existing laws would have limited terrorist movement into the United States; however, it is doubtful that emergency powers and minor limitations of civil liberties would have been effective. In attempting to decipher what effects post 9/11 legislation has had on democracy, I will use Wilkinson’s three recommendations for anti-terrorist legislation to analyze further the
31 32

Freeman, 15-19. Freeman, 15-20. 30 Freeman, 31.

Ibid. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States, Staff Statement No. 1., (Washington: 2004), 8.

atlantic international studies journal level of harm to American democracy. Wilkinson outlines three crucial safeguards that democratic anti-terrorist legislation should follow:
1) All aspects of the anti-terrorist policy and its implementation should be under the overall control of the civil authorities and hence democratically accountable. 2) The government and security forces must conduct all anti-terrorist operations within the law. They should do all in their power to ensure that the normal legal processes are maintained, and that those charged with terrorists offences are brought to trial before the courts of law. 3) Special powers, which may become necessary to deal with a terrorist emergency, should be approved by the legislature only for a fixed and limited period, at the very minimum on an annual basis. This should be subject to the legislature’s right to rescind the special powers in whole or in part if circumstances alter. Emergency powers should be clearly and simply drafted, published as widely as possible, and administered impartially.33

39 internet site records, without demonstrating any suspicion regarding an individual’s alleged ties to terrorists.34 As previously argued, restrictions of this type are generally ineffective tools in combating international terrorism. Therefore, the existence of this unnecessary legislation creates the opportunity for abuse. The misuse of these special investigatory tools could have harmful effects on democracy, mostly due to their possible use in targeting political opponents and minorities. Of the four areas outlined by Doherty et al., the evidence on unclassified detainees pertains directly to Wilkinson’s second safeguard criteria for democratic antiterrorism legislation. I will use the most current report from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights as evidence to support the argument that Wilkinson’s second criteria, which ensures that “the normal legal processes are maintained, and that those charged with terrorists offences are brought to trial before the courts of law”, is not always followed.35 Acer et al. argue that the incarceration of unclassified detainees violates both domestic and international law.36 They point to the creation of the term ‘enemy combatant’, which can be used by the president (solely executive power, and therefore no checks and balances) instead of using the classification of prisoner of war or criminal suspect. This is a blatant use of semantics to bypass both the American constitution and International law. If the prisoners labeled by the United States’ government as ‘enemy combatants’ were called prisoners of war, their detainment without trial would be in direct violation of

Using Wilkinson’s three safeguards, along with the initial criteria provided by Doherty et al. (in particular, the right to privacy, and security detainees in relation to the criminal justice system), I will attempt to synthesize the evidence in order to provide a basis from which I can posit that some of the post-9/11 legislation is threatening the quality of American democracy. The Patriot Act’s restrictions on civil liberties fall under the category of the right to privacy. This piece of legislation provides the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) with the power to bypass the need for a warrant to access personal information. In particular, section 215 of the act allows for access to information such as library records, medical information, financial records, rental car records, academic records and grades, and

Wilkinson, 117.

Eleanor Acer et al., “Assessing the New Normal: Liberty and security for the post-September 11 United States” (New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2003), 16-17. 35 See Acer et al, 49-50, for the report from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. See also Wilkinson, 117, for criteria for anti-terrorist legislation. 36 Acer et al., 49-50.

40 Article 103 of the Geneva Convention, which states that:
Judicial investigations relating to a prisoner of war shall be conducted as rapidly as circumstances permit and so that his trial shall take place as soon as possible. A prisoner of war shall not be confined while awaiting trial unless a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power would be so confined if he were accused of a similar offence, or if it is essential to do so in the interests of national security. In no circumstances shall this confinement exceed three months.37

lindsay gorman recommendation for anti-terrorist legislation in democratic states, where normal legal processes should be maintained and performed under the law, and terrorists should be charged and tried before the courts of law.42 The United States’ Constitution guarantees the writ of habeas corpus, which is a check against the arbitrary application of imprisonment, and is an important tool in upholding the constitution and personal liberty.43 The Constitution does provide for exceptional circumstances of rebellion or invasion, during which the writ can be constitutionally suspended;44 however, it seems a stretch to justify the suspension of the writ by classifying the terrorist threat as an ‘invasion.’ This means the detention of prisoners, like Padilla, directly violate the American constitution, and therefore threaten democracy due to the arbitrary application of Constitutional law. This raises a second area where the American government is using what Acer et al. refer to as ‘extra-legal institutions’, which violate the United States Constitution, and where “[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish”.45 Trying some of the aforementioned Guatánamo Bay detainees by established military commissions, instead of trial by the criminal courts, is a process that operates outside both the United States criminal courts and court martial, and therefore outside the judicial institutions and power.46 As this development violates both the Constitution and rule of law, in addition to bypassing the Judiciary institutions, it has the potential to threaten democracy by undermining the rule of law and the democratic institutions
42 43

Additionally, as Acer et al. point out, the Geneva Convention ensures every person status under the law, either as a prisoner of war or a civilian.38 However, since September 11th, 2001, there have been two American citizens held without charge by the United States in a military detention facility. One of these men, José Padilla, was denied both counsel and family visitation for approximately 15 months (prior to the writing of Acer et al.’s report).39 Because United States citizens cannot be classified as prisoners of war, they must therefore be criminal suspects if they are detained. However, due to the creation of this ‘enemy combatant’ category, the executive branch of American government is completely bypassing normal legal processes that Wilkinson warns must remain intact.40 According to Acer et al., Padilla’s treatment is illegal, as it violates “constitutional protections against arbitrary detention, including the right to counsel; the right to a jury trial; the right to be informed of the charges and confront witnesses against them.”41 This violates Wilkinson’s second

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 103. 38 Acer et al., 50. 39 Acer et al., Introduction, ii. 40 Wilkinson, 117. 41 Acer et al., Introduction, xii.

Wilkinson, 117. U.S. Constitution, art. 1, sec. 9, cl. 2. 44 Ibid. 45 U.S. Constitution, art. III, sec. 1. 46 Acer et al., 52; See also Appendix A, page 44.

atlantic international studies journal


essential to the stability of liberal Act’s concrete ‘success’ is difficult to democracies. The military commission measure because both sides are claiming the process also violates Wilkinson’s second lack of terrorist attacks on the American criteria, the necessity of maintaining normal homeland as ‘proof’ of their arguments. legal and due process for those suspected of In addition, the use of the Patriot Act is 47 terrorist activities. Therefore, this is an shrouded in a veil of secrecy. Due to additional development that jeopardizes restrictions on the Freedom of Information American democracy. Act (FOIA) enacted after the terrorist attacks, Given the implications for American information regarding the frequency of the democracy due to the suspension of civil Department of Justice’s use of the Patriot Act liberties explored in this has been classified.50 The American Civil Liberties paper, it becomes relevant to consider whether these means If the war on terror is Union took the Department of are necessary, given the Justice to court to request unwinnable, what genuine security threat posed information about their use of implications does this the Patriot Act, but lost due to by international terrorism. Is the erosion of civil liberties have for… civil liberty the further restrictions placed justified in view of the actual on the FOIA.51 Evidently, this interruptions? makes it increasingly difficult threat posed? Are limited to gauge the effectiveness of restrictions of civil liberties the Patriot Act in regards to the warranted in terms of the security threat. In addition, the secrecy terrorist security threat? How serious is this surrounding the use of the Patriot Act security threat? These questions require provides ample opportunity for its abuse, another paper, but I will offer some preliminary comments. Prominent Canadian which has been established as a threat to journalist Gwynne Dyer argues that the threat American democracy. to the domestic American population is After reading Dyer’s article, another facet inherently miniscule: of this complex issue comes to light; if the war on terrorism is unwinnable (he compares As for the 300 million Americans at it to the war on crime, where no one actually home, exactly as many of them have been expects a day where all criminals will killed by terrorists since 9/ 11 as have surrender), what implications does this have been killed by the Creature from the 48 for the duration of civil liberty interruptions? Black Lagoon in the same period. None. Dyer offers a comment from Stella Rimington (the former director of MI5, Britain's domestic Those opposed to the Patriot Act argue that intelligence agency), who is the threat of domestic terrorism is relatively small, and that the Patriot Act is therefore afraid that terrorism didn't begin on 9/11 unnecessary. Conversely, proponents of the and it will be around for a long time. … Patriot Act argue that the absence of an attack terrorism has been around for 35 years ... on American soil is a testament to the [and it] will be around while there are legislation’s efficacy.49 Therefore, the Patriot people with grievances…there will
always be terrorism. One can be misled
47 48

Wilkinson, 117. Gwynne Dyer, “Despite the Rhetoric, the ‘war on terror’ can never be won,” Kingston Whig – Standard, 8 September 2004, n.p. 49 Dinh, 2.

50 51

Acer et al., Introduction, vii. Acer et al., Introduction, vii.

by talking about a war, as though in some way you can defeat it.52

lindsay gorman attempted to evaluate whether specific restrictions of civil liberties violated the Constitution, which threatens democracy qualitatively by limiting pluralism. Therefore, I posit that the use of emergency powers, like the restriction of civil liberties, is an ineffective tool for the United States in combating terrorism. In addition, I argue that the abuse of emergency powers, like the suspension of due process laws, arresting citizens without charging them, indefinite detention without trial, and conducting searches without warrants, violate the rule of law, threatening both the quality, and – although mildly - the stability of American democracy. Thus, I adapted Freeman’s56 original table that classified countries and their response to terrorism and propose the United States be included in the ineffective and abused category.57 Finally, I warn against the potential negative and international repercussions of the United States’ abuse of civil liberties. In this respect, I am in accord with the most recent report from Doherty et al., who caution that:
[t]he actions of the U.S. government are being closely followed and emulated by other governments around the world. The United States must address security concerns in a manner consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights. By turning its back on these principles, the United States forfeits the very values for which it claims to be fighting.58

If this is the case, the suspension of civil liberties for emergency power purposes becomes potentially infinite; if the war will never be ‘won’, can an endless restriction of civil liberties be justified to the American population? This is certainly an interesting perspective making the use of emergency powers in this situation even more problematic. In conclusion, I argue that restricting civil liberties as an anti-terrorist measure in the United States has not necessarily been effective, due to the large scope of international terrorist organizations. This weakens the tradeoff assumed to exist between democratic civil liberties and the terrorist security threat. In this respect, I agree with Freeman’s conclusion that emergency powers would be ineffective and unnecessary against an international terrorist threat.53 However, I disagree with Freeman’s assertion that, if implemented, these emergency powers would not be abused.54 The extensive research of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights highlighted areas where post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation was abused.55 In addition, their research highlighted examples where new legislation was actually deemed unconstitutional (for example, the Padilla case and the use of military commissions instead of trial by jury for detainees). These examples along with Wilkinson’s criteria illustrate that the United States legislation did not comply with his recommendations. While not a perfect evaluation of how democracy is threatened, it provides a framework to argue that the quality of American democracy is possibly suffering from post-9/11 legislation. In addition, I
52 53

Although I doubt the abuse of civil liberties will lead to the imminent demise of American
56 57

Dyer, n.p. Freeman, 193. 54 Ibid. 55 Please refer to Acer et al. for this report.

Freeman, 15. See Table 1.1, p. 43. I recognize the distinction between Peru, located further to the outskirts of the table, and the United States, which I placed as close to the center as possible to illustrate that the abuses were not nearly as threatening to democratic stability as in the case of Peru. 58 Fiona Dohery et al., “Imbalance of Powers: How changes to U.S. law & policy since 9/11 erode human rights and civil liberties” (New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2003), 78.

atlantic international studies journal democracy, the implications for worldwide democratization efforts are potentially disastrous. This is clearly an issue too large for this paper, but as a superpower the actions of the United States speak louder than its words. Therefore, some regimes with more tenuous democratic institutions may follow the American lead by enacting civil liberty restrictions and bypassing institutions. In this

43 respect, the American citizens will not be those most negatively impacted by the United States response to international terrorism. Therefore, terrorist attacks affect their target states, but also the stability and security of the entire international system due to the state response and its potential threat to democracy.


x-Canada Effective


x-Italy x-United States x-Spain Ineffective

x-Britain x-Peru x-Israel Not Abused Abused

(Adapted from Freeman, 15)


lindsay gorman


Jury Counsel of defendant’s choice Know all evidence against the defendant Obtain all evidence in favor of the defense Attorney-client confidentiality Speedy trial Appeal to an independent court Remain silent Proof beyond a reasonable doubt

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

No No No No No No No Yes Yes

(Reproduced from Acer et al., 57)

atlantic international studies journal SOURCES Acer, Eleanor et al. “Assessing the New Normal: Liberty and security for the post-September 11 United States.” New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2003. scriptions/Assessing/AssessingtheNewN ormal.pdf (13 Feb. 2005). Barber, Benjamin R. Fear’s Empire: War, terrorism, and democracy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. Dinh, Viet D. “How the USA Patriot Act Defends Democracy.” Washington, DC: The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, 2004. oc/USA_Patriot_Act.pdf (5 Feb. 2005). Doherty, Fiona et al. “A Year of Loss: Reexamining civil liberties since September 11.” New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2002. loss/loss_report.pdf (11 Feb. 2005). ___. “Imbalance of Powers: How changes to U.S. law & policy since 9/11 erode human rights and civil liberties.” New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 2003. loss/imbalance/powers.pdf (4 Feb. 2005). Dyer, Gwynne. “Despite the Rhetoric, the ‘war on terror’ can never be won.” Kingston Whig – Standard, 8 September 2004, n.p. 2593401&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=1337 0&RQT=309&VName=PQD (20 March 2005).


Freeman, Michael. Freedom or Security: The consequences for democracies using emergency powers to fight terrorism. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003. Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Adopted on 12 August 1949 entry into force 21 October 1950. UNHCHR website. htm (4 March 2005). Ignatieff, Michael. The Lesser Evil: Political ethics in an age of terror. Toronto: Penguin, 2004. Kupperman, Robert H. and Darrell M.Trent, Terrorism: Threat, reality, response. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1979. Linz, Juan J. “An Authoritarian Regime: The case of Spain.” In Mass Politics: Studies in Political Sociology, eds. Erik Allardt and Stein Rokkan. New York: Free Press, 1970, 251-83, 374-81. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States, Staff Statement No.1., Washington: 2004. orism/911comm-ss1.pdf. (27 Feb. 2005). Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. HR 3162,107th Cong., 1st sess., 24 October 2001, Electronic Privacy Information Centre. 3162.html (4 Feb. 2005).


lindsay gorman

Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism Versus Democracy: The liberal state response. London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2000. Zakaria, Fareed. The Future of Freedom: Illiberal democracy at home and abroad. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams Shanley McArthur

new development paradigm is evolving. According to prominent development theorists such as Mark Duffield, a new, more direct relationship is emerging between the traditionally distinct fields of security and development. Due to the understanding that “development is ultimately impossible without stability and, at the same time, security is not sustainable without development,”1 new partnerships are forming between non-governmental humanitarian agencies (NGHAs), state governments, militaries, and private companies. The theory emphasizes that these “new multilateralisms” have arisen as a response to significant world changes resulting in part from the processes of globalization as well as the events of September 11, 2001. In theory, and at first glance, the potential of these partnerships appears great. Combining previously incompatible viewpoints of security and development as well as providing a secure environment within which aid can be provided simultaneously with an ongoing conflict could address some of the complex issues that have arisen as a result of the “new wars.” However, part of the problem seems to be that these ideas have reached implementation stage without all of


M. Duffield. Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security. (London: Zed Books, 2001).

the possible ramifications having been examined. One of the most prominent implementations of this new integration of security and development is the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) concept in Afghanistan. These small teams, composed of military, development, and political affairs staff, can be seen as a pilot project for this new theory. As such, they have been highly controversial and have sparked much debate within the political, military, and development fields. This paper proposes to examine these PRTs within the context of the “merging of security and development,” as proposed by Duffield. A brief theoretical background will be provided followed, by a detailed examination of the PRT concept, its evolution and the different ways it has been implemented on the ground. As Canada’s own PRT team began its operation in August 2005, this is a relevant time to examine the functionality of the structure and its operations. Critical evaluation of the PRTs, from the viewpoints of both the NGHAs and the military, will be considered, followed by a broader evaluation of this version of the security/development interface. How is this concept indicative of the new directions development and security are heading? How does it fit into the bigger picture of global

48 political interactions, including the changing nature of war, and motivations for international interventions? What does this mean for development and security in the South, and the North? Could this be a meaningful conception of international interventions in the future? The answers to these questions could lead to fundamental changes in the methods of international development and humanitarian assistance. BACKGROUND & THEORETICAL BASIS It is undeniable that the nature of conflict, and the resulting interventions by the international community, have changed. Over the past two decades, we have seen an increasing number of intrastate conflicts, many based on ethnicity or resources, rather than the previous interstate disputes over territoriality. According to Mark Duffield, a leading theorist in development, this is part and parcel of the currently dominant form of capitalism and the resulting economic globalization. He posits that globalization has led not to the creation of an inclusive global market, but to the deepening and strengthening of trade links between countries and regions already benefiting from the capitalist system – primarily the global North. The result of this has been an increasing exclusion of developing countries (the global South) from the world trade system, leading to a pronounced gap in wealth, both between the North and the South and within Northern and Southern nations. Conflict has arisen due to resource restriction in the South and this continued economic exclusion, faced by weak and often corrupt governments, has resulted in lengthy civil wars, failing states, and environments conducive to crime and violence. Whether or not one accepts Duffield’s exclusion theory, it is clear that these failing states have become a source of growing security concern for the North. While purely humanitarian motivators have been

shanley mcarthur considered, it is clear that this is not the sole deciding factor for the intervention of Northern militaries or governments in these conflicts, as the international community’s apathy towards the conflicts in Rwanda, Congo and Sudan have shown. In fact, since September 11, 2001, the main security concern for Northern governments has been their protection from terrorist activity. The economic frustration and essentially lawless environments in these failing Southern states present perfect “breeding grounds” for terrorists; according to King, the objectives of these new types of conflict are “to undermine state morale and governments and, therefore, the state system itself… the entire globe is a possible theatre of war and no place is secure from the new warfare.”2 It is obvious that this can present a serious threat to world security. The North has rationalized that intervention, reconstruction, and democratization of these states is the best way to combat terrorism and protect their own domestic security. In this way, development efforts have become the realm of not only humanitarian aid agencies, but also Northern governments and their militaries, which have realized that “underdevelopment has become dangerous.”3 The types of fundamental changes required to transform these societies are beyond the capabilities or legitimacy of individual Northern governments. For this reason, the radical agenda of social transformation is embodied within Northern strategic networks and complexes that are bringing together governments, NGOs, military establishments and private companies in new ways. Of course, there are numerous questions raised by these new cooperative efforts. Most important is their obvious divergence in
J.H. King. The New Warfare and the Need for an Interactive Military. Refugee Survey Quarterly 23.4 (2004): 50.
3 2

Duffield, “Global,” 2.

atlantic international studies journal motivations for providing aid and reconstruction. The power differential between the Northern state governments and militaries and the NGHAs is significant, and has resulted in the politicization of these efforts,4 supporting Northern goals of their own domestic security. It is difficult to imagine that these goals could coincide exactly with the goals of those in the societies being “reconstructed”, nor is it obvious how these aims could be implemented by a collaboration of military and NGHA staff, considering the conflict in their primary motivations. The NGHAs’ fear of humanitarian goals being overtaken by Northern security needs is real and wellfounded. In order to examine these concerns in a more concrete way, it is helpful to observe the implementation of one of these new strategic complexes. Our example here is found in the Provincial Reconstruction Team concept in Afghanistan. For reasons to be discussed in the next section, this idea has evolved to be one of the main strategies by the intervening international community used to further the reach of the established Afghani central government and re-establish security and the rule of law. PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAMS: THEIR EVOLUTION & IMPLEMENTATION The United States and their ‘Coalition of the Willing’ invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF.) The governing regime of the Taliban fell two months later. At this point, the OEF was transitioning from a more conventional military operation to a force focused on counter-insurgency and intelligence.5 “Information was critical to cue the special operations forces’ response in the anti-Al
see STC, 2004; Duffield, 2001; Sedra, 2004 S. M. Maloney. From Kabul to Konduz: Lessons for Canadian Reconstruction of Afghanistan. Policy Options May 2005, 57-62
5 4

49 Qaeda mission, and the best means to get it was to lay a web of human sensors all over the country.”6 In order to achieve this effectively, infrastructure needed to be rebuilt throughout the country due to the extensive destruction caused by 25 years of civil war. Furthermore, the US was painfully aware that public support for its intervention, both with the Afghani locals and the US population at home, were critical for the success of this mission. As a result of these concerns, the U.S. established a Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force (CJCMOTF) in order to manage civil components of the intervention, and “Coalition Humanitarian Cells” (CHLCs) were deployed in several areas.7 These were the predecessors to the eventual development of the PRTs. The CHLCs were established with the following mission:
to ‘win hearts and minds’ among the Afghan population; to secure the support of local communities by showing ‘the benign face of the Coalition’; to jumpstart reconstruction efforts; and to gain positive publicity for the war effort in the United States.8

Quite obviously, this strategy was much more tailored to achieving Coalition goals and creating positive public relations than it was to meeting reconstruction and humanitarian aid needs of the Afghan population. Reconstruction projects were limited to ‘quick impact’ projects such as building of schools and hospitals, digging of wells, and minor infrastructural repairs.9 This activity drew immediate fire from NGHAs, some of whom had been active in Afghanistan for years. CHLCs were duplicating their work, they
Maloney, 60. M. Sedra. 2004, “Civil-Military Relations in Afghanistan: The Provincial Reconstruction Team Debate.” < ct/m_sedra.pdf> (11 August 2005). 8 Sedra, 5. 9 Ibid.
7 6

50 said, and worse, doing so in civilian dress and vehicles, creating confusion amongst the local population as to humanitarian versus military roles. In protest, they refused to participate in discussions regarding planning and project selection for the CHLC teams.10 In November 2002 saw the US-led Coalition attempted to revitalize the concept and relations with the local and NGHA communities by creating Joint Reconstruction Teams (JRTs.)11 At the request of the Afghani government, these were renamed Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and despite their new name, these had quite similar goals to the CHLCs.12 Primary goals of the PRTs were established by the Office of the U.S. Ambassador in February 2003, and were: “To extend the influence of the central government outside of the capital; provide a security umbrella for NGHAs to operate; facilitate information sharing; and carry out small-scale reconstruction projects based on concise needs assessments and local consultations.”13 The effort to extend international security presence outside Kabul was welcomed by the interim Afghani government, as they had been requesting this for some time in order to extend their reach and structures of control. However, these teams were small, consisting of between 50 and 150 personnel, of which 90 to 95% were military,14 drawn from civil affairs units, special forces, and army units.15 The other 5 to 10% consisted of civilian staff representing USAID, the US State Department, and the Department of Agriculture. A cabinet committee was developed in order to create policy and procedure for these teams, and an executive steering committee to supervise them. This executive committee is chaired by the Afghan
10 11

shanley mcarthur minister of the Interior, and includes the commanders of the Coalition and ISAF (the UN-mandated international peacekeeping force that entered after the fall of the Taliban.)16 Three PRTs were initially established as pilot projects by the US in Gardez, Bamiyan, and Kunduz provinces. Shortly thereafter, the UK established their own PRT in Mazar-iSharif. Germany took over control of the Kunduz team, and New Zealand took over the one in Bamiyan.17 Once NATO took over ISAF command in August 2003, it adopted the concept, and by October 2004, completed the first major deployment of PRTs, sending 9 teams out to the Northern provinces.18 Interestingly, each country controlling a PRT was given significant freedom to establish priorities, projects, command structure, and coordination efforts. This has led to noticeable differences between the activities of specific PRTs. While the ethnic, economic, geographic, political, and security conditions vary widely between Afghan regions, “the differences in the main PRT models can be attributed more to the approach and vision of the individual implementing countries than a desire to customize the concept to meet local conditions.”19 The main focus in the literature has been the significant differences between the UK-led PRT in Mazar-i-Sharif, and the US-led PRTs in other provinces. The US model has borne the brunt of the criticism levelled at the PRTs. Generally, this is a result of the US’s use of the PRT to
Ibid. S. Klingebiel & K. Roehder. “Development-Military Interfaces: New Challenges in Crises and Post-Conflict Situations,” Working Paper for German Development Institute, < 0547f1b/3c1afada7a2d054cc1256e1400333faa/$FILE/ Englisch-Final-EZ-Militär-Komplett.pdf> (10 August 2005). 18 Sedra. 19 Sedra, 7.
17 16

Ibid. Sedra, 2004 and STC, 2004. 12 Sedra. 13 Sedra, 5. 14 STC. 15 Sedra.

atlantic international studies journal pursue its own goals (OEF goals) as opposed to those of the local community and of Afghanistan as a whole. The US teams handpicked their projects through their USAID staff,20 funding largely “hearts and minds” or “quick impact” projects intended to win the approval of local Afghanis. Much of their work was done out of uniform, until early 2004 when uniforms were donned in concession to intense criticism from NGHAs.21 Several incidents have highlighted the effects of the confusion and perhaps incompatibility between OEF’s military goals and the reconstruction goals of the PRTs. First, in Peetai village, Ghazni province in 2004, US rockets were fired in an attempt to target a terrorist or murderer, identified by local intelligence.22 However, this person was not there, and the rockets instead killed nine children and one adult male. Weeks later, when a PRT team arrived to provide reconstruction assistance and offer condolences, they were rejected by the villagers. It is easy to see how the local population could misunderstand the differentiation in function between US militaries, one undertaking aggressive military operations, while the other attempting to dig them a well. This confusion was perpetuated by the ambiguity of the PRT’s goals. Are all US military there to achieve OEF objectives such as intelligence and counterinsurgency? Why then are some (the PRT) attempting to provide reconstruction? A further example of the confusing role undertaken by the US PRT is exemplified in the following incident: “the delivery of aid by the US-led coalition in Zabul province was accompanied by leaflets distributed to civilians that called upon them to provide intelligence information or to face losing aid altogether.”23

51 Conditionality of aid violates the basic principles of aid delivery as laid out by UN agreements in conflict situations.24 As OEF’s mandate is outside the UN parameters, it circumvented these principles seriously violating ethical principles of humanitarian aid and endangering the potential of NGHAs by politicizing the aid environment among Afghani civilians. As Mark Sedra notes: “It has become clear… that the goals of OEF and that of the wider Afghan reconstruction process can be incompatible.”25 The American PRTs goals are, as stated by General David Barno the Commander of U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan, to: “meld security and reconstruction, and extend the reach of the central government.”26 Given these stated goals, it is unclear, for instance, why OEF forces would have been distributing aid in the first place, this traditionally being the work of NGHAs; further, conditionality of aid and resulting conflict between Afghani people and PRTs could only serve to reduce local stability and security. In this way the US PRTs’ activities have been short-sighted and destructive, and may have negated any positive effects of their emphasis on “hearts and minds” activities designed to win over the Afghani people. Primary to the problems with the US PRT model is the lack of a clear mandate and mission, which they seem to have left purposely unclear in order to use the PRTs to their own military advantage. The UK team in Mazar-i-Sharif, in contrast, has been much more successful in establishing relations and cooperation with the local NGHA community, although there is little information on the perception of any of the PRTs within the local Afghani communities they attempt to serve. The UK team is composed of 90 staff, predominantly military. Also included are civilian advisors from the UK Department for International
24 25

20 21

Pedwell. Sedra. 22 STC, 2004; Sedra, 2004. 23 STC, 39-40.

Duffield. Sedra, 7. 26 Ibid.

52 Development (DfID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), their counterparts from the US State Department and USAID, a US military liaison officer, and a representative of the Afghani government.27 “Security sector reform, support to institutionbuilding, and the promotion of economic development have been identified as its central priorities.”28 Interestingly, within this UK-led PRT, both DfID and USAID have budgets to fund reconstruction projects. DfID, however, has made it clear that its budget should not be used towards “projects deemed to be better serviced through the capabilities of NGOs”29 and rather have geared its reconstruction efforts towards security-sector reform (SSR)oriented projects. This has included renovation of police stations, government buildings, and judiciary buildings, as well as training programs for police officers and office equipment for government offices.30 USAID’s budget, in contrast, has continued to be spent on infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and roads, tasks which are usually left to NGOs with experience in local needs assessment. Of course, the UK-led PRT has gone uncriticized; it too has conducted “hearts and minds” activities such as setting up a 3-day medical camp, without consultation of NGHAs already providing similar services in the region.31 Furthermore, in efforts to establish itself as a mediator between local factions, this PRT has had extensive communication with local warlords, which some claim could make it vulnerable to manipulation by these groups.32 Despite criticism of these PRT models, both have seen moderate success in
27 28

shanley mcarthur establishing security in their respective regions of activity; in fact, the sheer fact of their presence in these areas and the conduction of regular patrols has led to local stability. Local police and Afghan National Army personnel have expressed positive views of the PRTs’ support and willingness to share information.33 In this respect, the PRTs have partially achieved their goal. Overall, it is unclear how successful these teams have been in achieving greater human security in Afghanistan. Much of the criticism of the PRT model has come from the NGHAs active in Afghanistan, who have a number of problems with the structure, activities and coordination of the PRTs. The next section will review the main concerns with the PRT model, the resulting implications for human security and the potential for the North to achieve its goal of creating a stable, secure and democratic Afghanistan. EVALUATION OF THE PRT MODEL IN THE

STC. Sedra, 8. 29 STC, 26. 30 STC. 31 Ibid. 32 STC, 2004; Sedra, 2004.

The critical problem with the PRT concept as a whole is its role confusion. What is it there to do? We know that there is certainly a need for cooperation between military forces and aid providers in the context of these new attempts at total national reconstruction of failing states. However, who should be responsible for what? Whose goals should and will take precedence? Who will take control, and what will be the structure of command? As the PRT concept is really a test run for this type of interaction, conflict and problems were an inevitability. However, the question is whether these problems are just “growing pains” that can be worked out into a functional solution for all, or intrinsic to their link with Northern political and security goals, and thus useless towards the achievement of true human security and development for local people. A survey of the


atlantic international studies journal main concerns of NGHAs regarding PRTs should reveal a sense of the issues at hand. First and foremost, the NGHAs have aggressively criticized the PRTs for their “blurring of the lines” between military and aid work.34 In examination of the incidents detailed earlier, this has proven to be a real problem, and can affect the effectiveness of both the NGHAs and the PRTs in achieving their respective goals. Afghanis’ confusion as to the role of international actors in their communities risks their own security, that of PRT staff, and that of humanitarian aid workers. Often noted is the murder in Afghanistan of five aid workers with Médecins Sans Frontières, after which the NGO ceased all operations in Afghanistan. A representative of the group claiming responsibility for the murders was quoted later as: “We killed them because they worked for the Americans against us using the cover of aid work. We will kill more foreign aid workers.”35 While it remains unclear as to whether this claim was related to the confusion caused by PRT teams, it is obvious that clear distinctions between military operations and aid providers are absolutely necessary in order to maintain a secure environment. Furthermore, the NGHAs have pointed out, development and aid activities are beyond the expertise of the military staff undertaking them. While some military members may have relevant technical skills, they do not have sufficient understanding of local culture and political/social dynamics to be able to foresee the consequences of their interventions, which could undercut longer-term reconstruction goals and otherwise be contrary to the interests of intended beneficiaries.36 This is a very important point. While it is true that development theory has yet to discover a “perfect” model for development projects, it
34 35

53 must be conceded that NGHAs have a better grasp on development theory, including past errors and lessons learned, than the military. For this reason they are much better equipped to design, undertake and evaluate development projects. An example of this lack of understanding of local conditions was found in an aid airdrop by US forces. The meals provided were one-meal packages, when families were in need of basic supplies such as rice and oil; furthermore, the rations were dropped into the fields, causing people to risk landmine injuries in order to retrieve them.37 It is assumed that the airdrops were done with the best of intentions, but inappropriate aid or causing unnecessary risk to the population it serves is counterproductive and easily avoided though knowledge and experience with these populations. Furthermore, while their motives are not beyond question, it can be assumed that NGHAs’ mandates are more likely to be geared to local people’s benefit than those of a military force employed to ensure Northern security. Save the Children UK, in their study of PRTs in Afghanistan, has established the following causal relationship between human security in Afghanistan and the PRT activity. Despite the NGHAs’ criticisms, and as is clear from this model, there is a definite positive relationship between the activities of PRTs and the security of local Afghanis. In addition, NGHAs have identified clear areas where these activities contribute negatively to human security. In essence, the conclusion has been that while most of the positive effects of PRT activities on humanitarian security come from activities in the areas of security, reconstruction and expanding central authority, most of the negative consequences of PRT activities for humanitarian security follow from PRT relief activities (including

InterAction. STC, 35. 36 InterAction.



54 ‘hearts and minds’ activities and ‘quickimpact projects.’)38 It should be noted at this point that the opinions of the NGHAs have been given significance throughout this paper’s evaluation of the PRTs’ success. This is primarily as a result of accessibility of this information and the proximity of the NGHAs’ relationship to the PRT activities. However, this comes with the recognition that NGHAs are not without their own organizational priorities, which of course do not consist solely of selfless interests in humanitarian needs. Were the military to overtake the bulk of humanitarian operations, the NGHAs would quite simply be out of a job. In addition, the lack of international intervention in humanitarian conflicts has given the NGHAs considerable power and freedom in their relief operations.39 Besides their resentment of this lengthy inaction in the face of what they see as dire humanitarian need, the NGHAs may understandably resent the sudden intervention and overtaking of what they see as their professional space. For this reason, caution should be exercised when evaluating the NGHA reaction to PRT interventions. Nevertheless, recommendations on the part of these NGHAs have been extensive and are certainly useful in the re-evaluation of the PRT concept. Drawn from documents by InterAction, Save the Children UK, and Mark Sedra, the main recommendations have been:
1. PRTs should focus their efforts on their areas of comparative advantage, namely, security.40 This is beyond the expertise of the NGHAs and absolutely necessary for them to provide adequate assistance to the local populations. Furthermore, this is one of the main stated goals of the PRT and of the North’s intervention in the first place. One suggested area that the PRTs could be of much use in achieving goals of stability,
38 39

shanley mcarthur
security and extension of the Afghani government is in security sector reconstruction (SSR). 2. Missions should be clearly defined, avoiding duplication of aid work undertaken by NGHAs and other organizations. 3. NGHAs should be consulted during the setup of PRTs as well as during their continued activity, in order to facilitate communication, avoid conflict, and take advantage of their knowledge of local culture and situations. 4. PRT staff, both military and civilian, should receive training in order to ensure their understanding of local culture and tradition. 5. Clear exit or transition strategies should be established to ensure the continued stability and security of the local population and the NGHAs who remain. 6. Expansion of the military component of the PRTs should be considered in order that true security and stability can be ensured.

The Canadian team has had the advantage of being aware of these recommendations and problems with previous PRTs before the implementation and design of their own PRT. For this reason, the expectations of the international community and NGHAs should be higher. In fact, it does appear that Canada has taken some of these considerations into account. Canadian implementation of the PRT model, beginning this month, August 2005, appears to be following the UK model more closely than the American. This could result in significant differences in effects, as the Canadians will be taking over a US-run PRT in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, considered to be the most insecure and dangerous area in the country. Canada’s priorities in its operations are to reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in and around Kandahar and help stabilize and rebuild the region. It will also help monitor security, promote Afghan government policies and priorities with local authorities, and facilitate security sector reforms.41 Canada’s

STC, 34. See Duffield, “NGO.” 40 See STC, 2004, Sedra, 2004, & InterAction, 2003

DND, Canadian Forces Operations in Afghanistan; Overview of Current Activities,

atlantic international studies journal explicit focus is security sector reform, and this is prevalent in all Canadian PRT components, including the RCMP and CIDA operations. The Canadian team will consist of 250 members, more than double the size of the US PRT before it. This will include one CIDA representative, two officials from Foreign Affairs, and two RCMP officers,42 emphasizing Canada’s “3D” approach to foreign policy: Defence, Diplomacy, and Development. While this seems like a promising step in the effectiveness of the PRT concept, the larger questions still remain. If there is one thing to be learned from six decades of NorthSouth development policy, it is that true development can never be achieved when the underlying aim is the North’s benefit. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, modernisation theory – all of this experience has taught us that Northern attempts to gain from “developing” Southern countries has not led to sustainable progress, and further, that it is egotistical and counterproductive to attempt to rebuild developing countries in the image of the North. At first glance, creating stability and development in Afghanistan seems a laudable goal on the part of the US and its allies. Yet, in practice it appears that the development undertaken, at least on the part of the PRTs, has been superficial and primarily to achieve positive public relations for the intervention itself, not for the Afghani people. While Canada’s implementation of the PRT does appear to be an improvement over others’ attempts, it remains that “Canada’s overarching goal is to prevent Afghanistan from relapsing into a failed state that gives terrorist and terrorist organizations a safe haven.”43 In fact, Canada’s International Policy Statement has been criticized on the grounds that it exaggerates the terrorist threat:
< asp?id=1703> (10 August 2005) 42 CTV. 43 DND, “Forces.”

55 “Canadian foreign policy should be clear that the complex conflicts raging outside Canada are primarily human catastrophes – not threats to Canada’s security or potential harbours for terrorists.”44 Furthermore, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) notes, Canada’s International Policy Statement has proposed greater integration between the 3 D’s, which is going too far: “Defence, diplomacy and development have separate but related goals; the notion of a ‘three block war’ for the Canadian military potentially conflates support for local peoples’ self-determined development paths with ‘hearts and mind’ operations.”45 Unfortunately, it appears that the merging of development and security will need to learn again the painful lessons development policy has endured throughout its experience. Realism prevails: the North will not cease its protection of its own rights and security over those of others, and thus the development of Afghanistan, and other failing states under the auspices of ensuring global stability, will be manipulated to ensure the North’s benefit. Until we allow these failing states the freedom to determine their own path of development, instability and human insecurity will prevail. SOURCES “Afghanistan: Not a Dress Rehearsal.” The Economist 368.8337 (2003): 47- 49. Atmer, M.H. “Politicisation of Humanitarian Aid and its Consequences for Afghans.” Disasters 25.4 (2001): 321-330. Department of National Defence (DND.) 2005. “Canada Expands Security and Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan.” news_e.asp?Id=1660 (10 August 2005).

44 45

CCIC, 5. CCIC, 7.

56 Department of National Defence (DND.) 2005. “Canadian Forces Operations in Afghanistan; Overview of Current Activities.” news_e.asp?id=1703 (10 August 2005). Duffield, M. “NGO relief in war zones; Towards an analysis of the new aid paradigm.” Third World Quarterly 18.3 (1997): 527 – 543. Duffield, M. Global Governance and the New Wars: The Merging of Development and Security. London: Zed Books, 2001. Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC.) 2005. “A Role of Pride and Influence in the World: Canada’s International Policy Statement: A CCIC Commentary.” (10 August 2005). Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA.) 2005. “Canada’s Development Commitment for Afghanistan.” 257045006ec885?OpenDocument (10 August 2005). 2005. “A Dangerous Mission Ahead for Canada’s PRT.” TVNews/20050804_afghanistan_timeline_05 0804 (10 August 2005). Foreign Affairs Canada. 2005. “Canada’s role in Kandahar – Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT).” (12 August 2005). Goodson, L. P. 2004. “Canada’s Security Options in Afghanistan.”

shanley mcarthur n%5Fproject/l_goodson.pdf (10 August 2005). Government of Canada. 2005. “Canada in Afghanistan: The International Policy Statement in Action.” (10 August 2005). InterAction. 2003. “Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan – Position Paper adopted by InterActions’s Afghanistan reconstruction working group.” D/ACOS-64CAFT?OpenDocument (15 August 2005). King, J.H. “The New Warfare and the Need for an Interactive Military.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 23.4 (2004): 48-57. Klingebiel, S., & Roehder, K. 2004. “Development-Military Interfaces: New Challenges in Crises and Post-Conflict Situations.” Working Paper for German Development Institute. 12569cb00547f1b/3c1afada7a2d054cc1256e1 400333faa/$FILE/Englisch-Final-EZ-MilitärKomplett.pdf (10 August 2005). Klingebiel, S., & Roehder, K. 2004. “The Development-Military Interface: The Start of a New Alliance?” nce-2004-1/conference%202004-1papers/Klingebiel-Rhoeder-2204.pdf (11 August 2005). LeBlanc, D. 23 July 2005. “Failed States Pose Grave Dangers, Top General Warns.” Globe and Mail. (25 July 2005). Lombardo, S. “The Military’s Role in Major Humanitarian Crises: The Case of

atlantic international studies journal Afghanistan from a Refugee Point of View.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 23.4 (2004): 116120. Maloney, S. M. “From Kabul to Konduz: Lessons for Canadian Reconstruction of Afghanistan.” Policy Options May 2005, 5762. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD.) 2001. “Security Issues and Development Cooperation: A Conceptual Framework for Enhancing Policy Coherence.” DAC Journal 2.3 31-72. .pdf (11 August 2005). Pedwell, T. “A Canuck-Kandahar Approach: Canadian style of rebuilding troubled area differs from U.S.” Halifax Chronicle Herald. 12 August 2005. World132.raw.html (12 August 2005). Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.) “Canadian Police involvement in a Provincial

57 Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan.” 2005. e.htm. (10 August 2005). Save The Children UK (STC.) “Provincial Reconstruction Teams and HumanitarianMilitary Relations in Afghanistan.” 2004. e/scuk/cache/cmsattach/2029_PRTs%20in%2 0Afghanistan_Sep04.pdf (11 August 2005). Sedra, M. “Civil-Military Relations in Afghanistan: The Provincial Reconstruction Team Debate.” 2004. n_project/m_sedra.pdf (11 August 2005) World Bank. “Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy.” 2003. n?menuPK=477815&pagePK=64168092&piP K=64168088&theSitePK=477803 (11 August 2005)

The Environment and Conflict in the Rwandan Genocide Stephen Brosha


n the years following the violence that shook Rwanda and the world in 1994, there have been many attempts to explain, or at least understand, the nature of the human tragedy known as the Rwandan genocide. Most accounts describe how two rival ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi, were engaged in a bitter dispute culminating in 1994. During a period of less than three months, widespread torture and brutality resulted in 500,000 to 800,000 (mainly Tutsi) deaths. 1 After over three years of civil war following an invasion of mainly Tutsi refugees from neighbouring Burundi, a series of negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Arusha accord, which called for the eventual sharing of power between the invaders (known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF) and the former regime of Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana, and his party, the Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND). The widespread killings, mainly committed by the interahamwe, a group of Hutu extremist militias, began after the plane carrying President Habyarimana was shot down on the night of April 6, 1994. In the months that

Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998); Roméo A. Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003).

followed, the international community essentially turned a blind eye to the bloody massacre that was to unfold in the Rwandan anarchy. It seems no overstatement to portray the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as a “failure of humanity,” to use the words of the commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), Canadian General Roméo Dallaire.2 There is a distinct danger, however, of oversimplifying Rwanda as a case of ethno-tribal conflict in remote Africa. Though it may be easier to accept as somehow being “unavoidable” if left in ethnic terms - as if to somehow vindicate the global failure to stop it from occurring - the international community has a responsibility to do its best to learn from the Rwandan case by understanding the various factors that led to the humanitarian crisis of 1994. In particular, there is compelling evidence to suggest that a number of environmental factors, especially population and land pressure coupled with unsustainable agricultural practices, played a key role in allowing the conflict in 1994 to arise and evolve as it did. This is not to say that such environmental problems caused the genocide in and of themselves, but their role was anything but trivial.

Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil.

atlis international studies journal


This paper explores the manners in which other issues related to the scarcity of environmental stresses set the stage for renewable resources will be the root of serious violence in Rwanda, both directly and violent conflict in coming years. 4 This new indirectly in the years leading up to the paradigm, which seeks out links between the genocide. Building upon earlier research of environment and security, attempts to extend other scholars, Rwanda’s decades-long buildbeyond viewing environmental problems up of land and resource scarcity is analyzed in simply as “global issues” requiring United historical and contemporary context. The shift Nations (UN) conferences and agreements in from traditional agricultural practices to less order to effect change. Rather, the emerging sustainable alternatives ultimately helped to field of environmental security examines how trigger the violence in 1994, will be environmental problems that exist at the local highlighted. 3 By April level interact with the of 1994, such global to produce unsustainable practices instability and conflict. Environmental degradation had created increased Environmental issues, and other issues related to the one must remember, have tensions in communities throughout Rwanda and “interpretations, scarcity of renewable eroded the capacity of implications and resources will be the root of Rwandan society and mitigations not only at serious violent conflict in government to respond the global level but also to crises, thereby giving at national and local coming years. the Rwandan genocide scales,” which is aptly demonstrated by the an unmistakable 5 Rwandan case. Further, as Bruce Jones environmental component. Indeed, it is summarizes, “social conditions, such as becoming clear that the Rwandan genocide poverty, environmental degradation, land and cannot be properly understood without population density, economic collapse—are critically considering the role of the all fuel for history’s fires.”6 In Rwanda, many environment. such factors converged to weaken the resilience of Rwanda’s ecological-political THE ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY APPROACH Since the mid-1980s, a growing number of scholars have sought to better understand the role the environment plays in international 4 Robert D. Kaplan, “The Coming Anarchy,” Atlantic politics. Recognizing the rising scale and Monthly 272.2 (1994), 44-76; Thomas F. Homerseverity of environmental problems across the Dixon, “On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as globe, influential thinkers such as Robert Causes of Acute Conflict,” International Security 16.2 (1991), 76-116; “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Kaplan and Thomas Homer-Dixon have Conflict: Evidence from Cases,” International Security argued that environmental degradation and
In particular, Valerie Percival and Thomas HomerDixon, “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of Rwanda,” Occasional Paper for the Project on Environment, Population and Security (Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science and the University of Toronto, 1995), < a1.htm> (8 March 2005).

19.1 (1994), 5-40. David J. Campbell, “Conceptualizing Global Change as Society-Environment Interaction: From the Local to the Global in Rwanda,” Rwanda Society-Environment Project, Working Paper 6 (East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Geography and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1994), 1. 6 Bruce D. Jones, Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2001), 45.

60 system, creating conditions that would later facilitate human tragedy.7 THE ETHNIC FACTOR As previously mentioned, the Rwandan genocide is traditionally described primarily in terms of the ethnic nature of the conflict. Curiously, however, the Hutu and Tutsi “were not tribes, for the people shared the same religion, told the same ancestral stories, and spoke the same language, Kinyarwanda.”8 In fact, there is very little physiological difference between those described as either “Hutu” or “Tutsi,” but what is a fact, is that the Hutu/Tutsi distinction played a key role in the evolution of Rwandan society in the twentieth century. Indeed, both the German and then Belgian colonial authorities used and furthered the pre-existing “ethnic” division to consolidate their hold on power, and the events leading up to the 1994 violence seem to differ little from the colonial past.9 Three Rwandan scholars argue in their study linking land scarcity and distribution to the genocide, that ethnicity was at most a “cover” for competition over control of scarce land.10 To most Rwandan citizens prior to 1994, ethnic differences mattered little, and ethnic intermarriage was common. 11 This is not to say that tensions did not exist, for they
Resilience can be defined as “the capacity of a system to recover from perturbations, shock, and surprises.” – Partha Dasgupta, Carl Folke, and Karl-Göran Mäler, “The Environmental Resource Base and Human Welfare.” In Kerstin Lindahl-Kiessling and Hans Lindberg, eds., Population, Economic Development, and the Environment (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994), 26. 8 Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 7. 9 Linda Melvern, 9-10. 10 Jean Bigagaza, Carolyn Abong, and Cecile Mukarubuga, “Land Scarcity, Distribution and Conflict in Rwanda,” In Jeremy Lind and Kathryn Sturman, eds., Scarcity and Surfeit: The Ecology of Africa’s Conflicts (Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Security Studies, 2002), 51. 11 Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of Rwanda.”

stephen brosha certainly did, but the violence of 1994 shows that there were other factors at play. Perhaps a more realistic view of the role of ethnicity in Rwanda would be that “severe economic, demographic, and environmental pressures on Rwandan society unleashed local grievances, while extremist forces among the Hutu manipulated ethnic identities and resorted to large scale violence.”12 A SIMPLE MALTHUSIAN TRAP? While the majority of explanations of the Rwandan genocide follow the pattern loosely outlined above, most make at least a cursory reference to the role of environmental and demographic pressures in contributing to the breakdown of social order in Rwanda. By the end of the 1980s, Rwanda was among the poorest nations on earth, and had the highest population density in Africa. 13 According to the perspective of Thomas Malthus, who in 1798 wrote his highly influential work An Essay on the Principle of Population, such a situation as that in Rwanda should be seen as a recipe for disaster. Malthus argued that food production will fail to keep pace with population growth, dooming the world to crisis. He believed that “positive checks,” defined as readjustments in population due to disease, famine, war, and other means, will always ensure that populations do not go over the carrying capacity of their resource base.14 Over time, Malthus’ theory has been largely proven wrong. Despite calamitous predictions to the contrary, population has continued to increase relatively unabated in the world. That is, although Malthus provides important insights regarding the potential limits to what

Michael Renner, Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurity (New York: Norton, 1996), 122. (Emphasis added) 13 Richard Nyrop et al., Rwanda: A Country Study (Washington, D.C.: The American University, 1985 [1974]), Ch.4, p. 1. 14 Thomas R. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (New York: August Kelley, 1965 [1798]).

atlis international studies journal the environment can withstand, there are several problems with the basic Malthusian thesis. It does not take into account the ability of societies to adapt to increase carrying capacity and avoid crisis, through technological advances or other means. Therefore, while Malthus is useful as an introduction to how environmental stresses might have played a role in Rwanda, the simple fact of increasing population densities does not explain why the country’s response was so brutal and widespread. THE DEVELOPMENT OF RWANDA’S ECOLOGICAL CRISIS In order to discover the role of environmental pressures in fuelling the events of 1994, one must go beyond Malthus, and examine the way in which environmental practices brought Rwanda to the breaking point. To do so, the most appropriate place to begin is by analysing the agricultural sector of the country. As Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon note, “Rwanda’s ecosystem is extremely diverse, which makes it difficult to generalize about its vulnerability to population pressures and resource degradation.”15 The problem with Rwanda’s ecosystem, however, lies not in its natural diversity; in fact, what made the system so vulnerable to stresses by the 1990s was the lack of diversification in its agricultural sector. That is, while Rwanda’s diversity would have theoretically lend itself to resilience (at least in comparison with other countries in subSaharan Africa), human agricultural practices all but obliterated any potential strength. In 1969, when Richard Nyrop’s research team from the American University in Washington, D.C. completed the analysis Rwanda: A Country Study, the environmental dilemma was becoming clear:
The country’s diverse climate, soil, and topography provide the potential for productive and varied agriculture. Fulfillment of this potential is thwarted, however, by the concomitant problems of extremely high population density on existing arable land, increasing soil erosion, and depletion of soil fertility.16


Upon close study of the available sources dating back several decades, there have been signs of Rwanda’s eventual environmental catastrophe for a long period; it was just a matter of time until the tipping point was reached. In 1948, for example, a UN mission traveling to Rwanda and Burundi (then officially known as Ruanda-Burundi) established, that in light of high and increasing population density, along with soil erosion and regular drought, “the basic problem was how to feed all the people.” 17 With the highest population density in Africa, even in 1969, at 360 inhabitants per square mile, coupled with food crop production that failed to keep pace with the rapid population growth, Rwanda’s future prospects were grim. 18 Some have argued that because two earlier cases of Hutu-Tutsi violence (in 19591963 and 1973) occurred during periods of “high growth of food production per capita and the absence of famine,” they could not be explained by hunger or other environmental factors.19 This line of reasoning fails to take into account that those earlier cases of violence were much more limited in scale, with a more concentrated and radical group of people carrying out the vast majority of violent actions. 20 Furthermore, the evidence clearly shows that population and resource
16 17


Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of Rwanda.”

Richard Nyrop et al., Ch.9, p. 1. Linda Melvern, 11. 18 Richard Nyrop et al., Ch. 4, p. 1. 19 Peter Uvin, Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda (West Hartford, Connecticut: Kumarian Press, 1998), 197. 20 Ibid., 19.

62 pressures were quickly coming to a head even during the 1960s and 1970s, precisely when these previous outbreaks of violence took place. The genocide of 1994 differentiated from these earlier cases of hostility, perhaps most clearly in the extent to which Rwandans participated in the violence. According to Central News Network (CNN), as many as 600,000 people took part in the 1994 genocide; however, this cannot be fully confirmed. 21 Environmental considerations were especially strong incentives among the masses, who, unlike the elite, profoundly felt the effects of land and resource scarcity. In Rwanda, a country in which the agricultural sector is vastly predominant, with very low levels of urbanization, most people depended on the land and its fruits for subsistence, so any threat to the environment could only be considered a threat to their very survival. 22 Fittingly, Johan Pottier in 1986 described the Rwandan agricultural sector as a system in decline, warning that “the likelihood of a major catastrophe in the near future must not be dismissed lightly.”23 LOCAL SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES BECOME UNTENABLE Over the years, Rwandan farmers, like their counterparts around the world, have developed local strategies for interacting with their environment in a manner that (in their experience and in that of their ancestors) best ensures their survival. Not to romanticize the farmer’s place in world history, but it is logical to conclude that the vast majority of

stephen brosha farmers are interested in sustaining themselves not only for the short term. Instead they seek to engage in sustainable agricultural practices so as to best assure their long-term survival and prosperity. In large measure, Rwandan farmers have acted in accordance with this pattern, at least until recent years. During the 1960s, for instance, “in many cases, a family will work several small scattered tracts of land, each at different elevations or having different characteristics, in order to reduce the risk of food shortages.” 24 As David Campbell notes, Rwandan farmers
build terraces, dig ditches and alter cropping patterns to reduce soil degradation and erosion; they plant trees for fodder and tether animals to obtain manure to add to the soil; and they diversify their economies to include off-farm and non-farm income.25

Preferably, a farmer’s land should be filled with a diverse array of crops, with regular rotations and ample time allotted for fallow (in order to facilitate the recovery of soil nutrients). However, “under increasing population pressure, such a complex system is difficult to maintain, and during the 1980s more and more families could no longer afford to let their plots rest and recover through periods of fallow.” 26 Furthermore, local sustainability strategies have not been available to all, but have been socially stratified, meaning that most strategies were open only to certain more privileged sectors
24 25

CNN, “Insight: Rwandan Genocide 10 Years Later,” < ins.00.html> (10 March 2006). 22 Richard Nyrop et al. describe Rwanda in the late 1960s as a “very poor agricultural country with a largely subsistence economy.” Ch. 8, p. 1. 23 Johan P. Pottier, “The Politics of Famine Prevention: Ecology, Regional Production and Food Complementarity in Western Rwanda,” African Affairs 85.339 (1986): 215

Richard Nyrop et al., 26. David J. Campbell, “Conceptualizing Global Change,” 5. 26 Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda. Historical Perspective: Some Explanatory Factors. Study 1 of the International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience. (Odense: Steering Committee of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996), 18.

atlis international studies journal of Rwandan society. 27 Perhaps more alarmingly, the overall ability of farmers to utilize such strategies had become virtually nonexistent in the years leading up to 1994 as environmental pressures mounted. It is important to recognize that the blame for pursuing non-sustainable practices in the wake of increasing population pressures and resource scarcity should not be placed firmly on the shoulders of those farmers who “abandoned” the strategies they knew would work. One reason farmers began to use shortterm strategies, such as farming on the steepest slopes (which were vulnerable to soil erosion), was the imminence of their concerns for survival. Another reason involves both the central government of Rwanda and the international community as a whole. Recognizing how food production was not keeping up with rapid population growth,
The government encouraged crop production in the river valleys, the alternative source of grazing for livestock. The role of livestock as a source of manure essential to maintaining the soil fertility was not recognized by the central government, yet it was a critical component of local strategies.28

63 the result has more often than not been devastating for the country’s ecological and political stability. This phenomenon can be illuminated within the context of the long and tenuous relationship between the Rwandan economy and its primary resource, coffee. Since the colonization of Rwanda by the Germans, who had been eager to find a way to extract funds from their new colonial holding, coffee has been cultivated as the principal cash crop in Rwanda. 29 In effect, Rwanda’s economy has been “almost exclusively” built around coffee and the other main cash crop in Rwanda—which was also introduced by colonial authorities—tea. 30 The almost singular focus on the former, though, was so ingrained that by the 1980s, 75 per cent of Rwanda’s export earnings came from the coffee crop.31 Though coffee provided the Rwandan government and economy with a source of revenue, there was obvious danger in concentrating so much on a single crop. Not only did it leave the Rwandan economy vulnerable to the unstable world coffee market; it also had dire consequences for Rwanda’s agricultural sector. Moreover, throughout the 1980s, “foreign lenders had encouraged Rwanda to step up its cultivation of coffee for export as a way to finance the rapidly rising foreign debt.”32 In Rwanda, the shift to a cash crop monoculture as the backbone of its agricultural economy significant damaged the system’s resilience. As the Rwandan economy became more market orientated in order to keep pace with global trends, many farmers found themselves pressured to find new sources of revenue, as opposed to their traditional focus on producing food for subsistence. As a result, they often—with their government’s

With this top-down “solution,” which is but one of many similar examples, the Rwandan government did little to ensure that local conditions were properly taken into account in their attempts to solve Rwanda’s population crisis. Thus, the invaluable knowledge of farmers who had been getting by for years was more or less ignored. COFFEE AND THE DECAY OF RWANDA’S RESILIENCE Throughout Rwanda’s attempts to ameliorate its position in the world economy, its path has been fraught with obstacles, and

David J. Campbell, “Conceptualizing Global Change,” 5. 28 David J. Campbell, “Conceptualizing Global Change,” 4.

Richard Nyrop et al., 10. Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 19. 31 Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed, 40. 32 Michael Renner, 120. (Emphasis added)

64 encouragement—shifted to cultivating more and more coffee as opposed to the traditional variety of food crops. Between 1982 and 1992, Rwanda’s production of coffee doubled, from 19,800 to 38,824 metric tonnes, while in the same period, both millet and sorghum production was cut in half.33 By doing so, the decreased biodiversity of their farm holdings left their crops more susceptible to disease. As well, fewer crop types meant less crop rotation, and fewer opportunities for the soil to replenish its nutrients. All in all, the Rwandan agricultural sector’s over-reliance on coffee had the effect of placing the environmental system on the brink. Within a short period of time, disaster struck. In June 1989, the International Coffee Agreement (ICA), which regulated and stabilized coffee prices around the globe, fell apart, resulting in a dramatic drop in world prices and devastating consequences for Rwanda. At the same time, Rwanda’s coffee yields were falling significantly as a result of low levels of rainfall and decreasing productivity of land due to decreased soil quality.34 With few other crops to fall back on, such factors cannot be considered minor shocks to the economic system. Ultimately, “revenues decreased drastically and foreign earnings diminished by 50 per cent. Poverty increased. Very few countries had experienced such a rapid decline. Rwanda was a desperate case.”35 ON THE BRINK: RWANDAN AGRICULTURE IN THE EARLY 1990S By the end of the 1980s, Rwanda’s agricultural resource base had been decimated. In terms of croplands, forestry, and livestock, traditional coping strategies had given way to short-term thinking and survival instincts. Though the total amount of land being farmed actually increased by 50 per cent between
33 34

stephen brosha 1970 and 1986, much of this expansion “involved marginal land with poor soil quality or inadequate rain.”36 As well, by the end of the decade half of all farming was taking place on steep slopes which hitherto would have been considered unfit for agriculture. 37 Consequently, Rwanda had experienced over a decade of declining land productivity.38 As Luc Bonneux summarizes, the general situation in 1993 was such that
half of Rwanda’s citizens were under 15 years of age. Less than 10% lived in cities; most were living ‘up the hill’, in fragile ecosystems that were fast eroding due to deforestation and unsustainable agriculture. Nevertheless, 40% of the gross domestic product was generated by agriculture, there being virtually no other industries in the country.39

As Bonneux suggests, the problem rested not only with unsustainable crop production. Though often separated rather arbitrarily for the purposes of discussion, it is more sensible to consider crop cultivation, livestock husbandry, and forestry as an interrelated entity. This separation may have been one of the reasons why policies emanating from the central government of Rwanda often appear myopic, and seem to have done little to address many pressing issues of the Rwandan ecological system as a whole. Prior to the genocide of 1994, the Rwandan government made several attempts at agricultural and environmental reform, but they often suffered from unintended consequences precisely because of the artificial compartmentalization of agriculture, forestry, and animal husbandry. The government-sponsored conversion of pasture into cropland, for example, resulted in not only decreased livestock production, but also
36 37

FAOSTAT Data, 2006, <>. Bruce D. Jones, 27. 35 Linda Melvern, 40.

Michael Renner, 118. Ibid. 38 Bruce D. Jones, 27. 39 Luc Bonneux, “Rwanda: A Case of Demographic Entrapment,” Lancet 344 (17 December 1994), 1689.

atlis international studies journal in the side effect of producing less manure to replenish soil fertility, which completes the circle back to crop cultivation. 40 In another example, “although the Rwandan government began a reforestation campaign [in the early 1990s], the tree usually planted was eucalyptus, which consumes large amounts of water and nutrients.”41 Placed in the context of routine water shortage, and over-worked, nutrient-deficient soil, the consequences of this program were bound to be counterproductive. DISTRIBUTION AND DEMOGRAPHICS The evidence demonstrating Rwanda’s environmental instability is compelling, however, the extent of the crisis (and, as a consequence, its potential to descend into violence) was heightened by the inequitable distribution of those resources that were available to the Rwandan populace during the 1990s. 42 Paradoxically, “land pressure has resulted in declining overall production, but increasing agricultural production for individuals with favourable land and resource access.” 43 Given the drastic status of the aggregate figures regarding the state of Rwanda’s agricultural economy in the years leading up to the genocide of 1994, one is immediately drawn to the conclusion that the

65 less privileged in Rwandan society—the masses that later participated in the violence to such a large extent—had more than a simple axe to grind. Additionally, as Daniel Clay and Thomas Reardon have discovered, results of a nationwide random sample of farming households conducted in 1991 by Rwanda’s ministry of agriculture demonstrate that the most unsustainable behaviour was carried out most often by those with the smallest farms, as their concern for survival was even more pressing as the situation worsened.44 Because small farmers were forced to “push their farms harder to make room for cash crops,” they consequently had lower shares of their land under fallow.45 This is not to suggest that such farmers did not know better, but it is not difficult to perceive how they were pushed to the point of desperation in light of the pressures acting on them. Aside from the environmentally-damaging agricultural practices noted above, poor Rwandan farmers also exacerbated the country’s demographic crisis by having more children to use as farm labourers, despite the obvious problems this posed for society at large. Unfortunately, “when asked about what children will need to do to survive in the absence of sufficient land resources, the overwhelming response from parents is that children will just have to ‘make do on their own’.”46 There were certainly some perceived advantages of having an increased labour pool at the household level. However, having more children simply added perilously to the already rapid population growth of the most densely populated country in Africa. The fact that such high birthrates remained despite Rwanda’s population pressures is not altogether surprising due to the prevalence of low income, low access to formal education

Daniel C. Clay and Thomas Reardon, “Linking Population, Development, and the Environment: How Households Confront Poverty and Demographic Pressure in Rwanda,” Population Research Group, Research Paper 96-04 (East Lansing, Michigan: Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1996), 4. 41 Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict.” 42 For a thorough treatment of this argument, see Gareth Austin, The Effects of Government Policy on the Ethnic Distribution of Income and Wealth in Rwanda: A Review of Published Sources (Washington, D.C.: Consultancy Report for the World Bank, 1996). Also consider Bigagaza, Abong, and Mukarabuga, “Land Scarcity,” 52. 43 Jean Bigagaza, Carolyn Abong, and Cecile Mukarubuga, “Land Scarcity,” 51.

44 45

Daniel C. Clay and Thomas Reardon, 14. Ibid. 46 Ibid., 15.

66 and little knowledge of birth control amongst citizens in the country. CONFLICT AND THE ENVIRONMENT: HOW DIRECT WERE THE LINKS? Taken in sum, environmental pressures delivered a critical blow to Rwanda’s resilience, rendering the country virtually unable to deal with environmental and other stresses in an effective and rational fashion. As time went on, the government proved its inability to deliver appropriate responses to the crisis in Rwanda’s agricultural sector. Their incapacity is clearly demonstrated by the government’s ill-fated campaigns geared toward deforestation that were run side-byside with attempts to increase agricultural output clearing forests and draining marshes.47 According to Percival and Homer Dixon, “the government’s increasing inability to solve the country’s problems created a crisis of legitimacy,” partially setting the stage for the later descent into violence. 48 In their view, the weakening of government legitimacy was probably the clearest link between the environment and conflict in the Rwandan case. This sentiment is echoed by Bigagaza, Abong, and Mukarabuga, who arrive at the conclusion that
The multiple effects of economic decline, population pressure, structural adjustment policies (SAPs) and growing internal opposition weakened the government’s legitimacy and its administrative ability, thus contributing to the conflict in Rwanda.49

stephen brosha and the descent into violence that shook Rwanda in 1994. On the eve of the Rwandan genocide, two Belgian economists (Catherine André and Jean-Phillippe Platteau) were engaged in field work in the north-western area of the country documenting the evolution of land access rights and social relations in one Rwandan community. André spent a total of sixteen months in the community on two separate occasions in 1988 and 1993, developing close ties with the local inhabitants and interviewing members of most households in the area. During the time between her first and second visits, a number of striking changes had taken place. As population density in the area rose from 1,740 people per square mile in 1988 to 2,040 in 1993, there was not only a predictable drop in the amount of food that was available, but also “a noticeable increase in the inequality of land holdings…as well as an abrupt fall in the median size of owned farms.” 50 To add to the problem, there was also a significant increase in the average number of inhabitants per household, largely due to the growing inability of young adults to marry and establish their own farms and households for want of land. By 1993, this phenomenon had reached such a point that not a single man in his early twenties lived independent of his parents, which would have been unheard of just five short years earlier.51 In light of the growing land pressures, a familiar predicament soon developed around the question of how to feed all the people on so little land. As Jared Diamond notes,
the percentage of the population consuming less than 1,600 calories per day (i.e., what is considered below the famine level) was 9% in 1982, rising to 40% in 1990 and some unknown higher percentage thereafter.52
50 51

Other research, though, suggests a much more direct link between environmental stresses


Catherine André and Jean-Phillippe Platteau, “Land Relations Under Unbearable Stress: Rwanda Caught in the Malthusian Trap,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 34 (1998), 2. 48 Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict.” 49 Bigagaza, Abong, and Mukarabuga, “Land Scarcity,” 57.

Catherine André and Jean-Phillippe Platteau, 8. Ibid., 12. 52 Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (New York: Viking Press, 2005), 321.

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67 from destruction of another’s property to physical assaults with machetes. 56 Not surprisingly, André and Platteau conclude that “collective security and peace seemed to be under severe threat at the time of our field study (as early as 1988).”57 For those interested in seeing the links between the environment and conflict, the André and Platteau study is uniquely revealing, and almost perfectly (yet tragically) timed. Following the genocide of 1994, curious to trace back the actual links between such land problems and the violence of 1994, the authors of the study went back to Kanama. In their opinion, “an unexpectedly clear picture emerges.”58 In particular, people who (according to the previous survey data) were resented for their economic success were killed at a much higher rate than the general population. In addition, older land-holding males were also executed at an extraordinary rate, which lends much support to the notion that environmental stresses were inextricably linked to the events of 1994. 59 A study in another area of the country would have faced difficult obstacles to identify such direct links between the environment and conflict, due to the potential conflation of the ethnic roots to conflict and those caused by environmental stresses. In Kanama, however, the population was ethnically homogenous, with every single inhabitant of the area being Hutu, except one woman who was a Tutsi.60 For that reason, the ethnic hatred variable can be controlled in their naturalistic experiment, and other causes of the 1994 violence (that eventually killed
56 57

For many years, it had been necessary for people in this area of Rwanda to supplement their income—and more importantly, their caloric intake—with jobs that took them away from their farms because the average household obtained only seventy-seven per cent of its calorie needs from the farm.53 As pressures mounted, however, even the opportunities for regular off-farm income decreased drastically, especially for those with the least to begin with. As a result, a growing number of people were pushed to the pursuit of short-term survival strategies. As André observed first-hand in 1993, “in this market, many land parcels are sold under duress conditions and purchased by people with regular non-agricultural incomes” which contributed to the already significant gulf between the haves and have-nots in this region of Rwanda.54 Thus, in a very short time, Kanama’s Malthusian quandary coupled with its crisis of distribution meant that there were a large number of people on the edge of survival. What is perhaps most gripping about André and Platteau’s study, is not their study of the perilous state of land pressures in the Kanama region. Rather, their study is unique because instead of hypothesizing in an abstract fashion, it examines in very concrete terms the links between land, population, and environmental stresses and actual conflict. Noting a high incidence of all sorts of conflict within the study area, they proceeded to examine those cases of conflict in detail, discovering that the majority of such conflicts were rooted in land disputes. 55 Furthermore, they claim that a good number of these conflicts were not simply petty squabbles, but indeed resulted in (often quite serious) bouts of “sheer violence,” including everything
53 54

Ibid. Catherine André and Jean-Phillippe Platteau, 28. (Emphasis added) 55 Ibid., 30.

Ibid., 29. Ibid., 37. 58 Ibid., 39. 59 Ibid., 40. 60 Catherine André and Jean-Phillippe Platteau, 6. The woman, who was the owner of a large estate—therefore belonging to the socio-economic class of many Hutus who were resented by large segments of the population—was killed along with the rest of the Kanama victims of the 1994 genocide, the rest of whom were Hutu.

68 over five per cent of the population of the area) must be identified.61 Given the evidence André and Platteau have gathered, there seems little doubt that environmental factors played a role that was more than subsidiary. As they note in conclusion,

stephen brosha

people to engage in violence.63 Research that has been published recently, such as the indepth study of André and Platteau, as well as the many accounts of the precursors to disaster that could be found in the agricultural data available in the years leading up to the genocide, imply much greater potency to the The 1994 events provided a unique environmental aspects of the events of 1994. opportunity to settle scores, or to reshuffle Many nuanced accounts of the Rwandan land properties, even among Hutu genocide do make at least a passing reference villagers…. It is not rare, even today, to to the country’s environmental crisis that had hear Rwandans argue that a war is necessary to wipe out an excess of developed by the early 1990s.64 Unfortunately, population and to bring numbers into line the case is normally placed with available land in simplistic Malthusian 62 resources. terms, which risks Upon closer examination, rendering the discussion of The Rwandan case does environmental factors the true nature of the not demonstrate that there is a necessary link appear to have interacted on environmental role in the 1994 violence merely an between many levels to contribute “interesting side note” at environmental/populati both directly and indirectly best. Upon closer on pressures and examination, genocide; what to the genocide. environmental factors becomes clear, though, appear to have interacted is that such factors were on many levels to contribute both directly and most certainly at play both leading up to and indirectly to the genocide. By the late 1980s, during the events of 1994. unsustainable agricultural practices had become ubiquitous and almost unavoidable— THE OVERALL ASSESSMENT often precisely because of government There are, without question, a number of policies responding to the international market. other salient factors that must be considered in The resulting blow to Rwanda’s ecological order to arrive at a comprehensive and political resilience tolled the death knell understanding of what took place in Rwanda for Rwanda’s chances at being a success story in 1994, for what reasons, and by whom. The in Africa. Furthermore, land and population object of this paper has been to give a pressures drove large segments of the thorough treatment of the environment’s role Rwandan population to the point of utter as one of those contributing factors. Though desperation, the results of which became all some observers of the Rwandan situation have too evident in 1994. downplayed the ultimate role of resource and land scarcity as direct triggers of the genocide of 1994, the evidence seems to suggest a different story. Percival and Homer-Dixon, 63 Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, for instance, suggested in 1995 that there was “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The a lack of “conclusive evidence” that Case of Rwanda.” 64 environmental stressors in fact motivated For example, Dallaire, Shake Hands with the Devil:

Ibid., 39. 62 Ibid., 47.

The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, and Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis 1959-1994: History of a Genocide, (London: Hurst & Co., 1995).

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To be sure, as was apparent even before the genocide took place, the Rwandan case illustrates that environmental sustainability and social and economic development can no longer be analyzed as separate phenomena but that the melding of these objectives is crucial.65


Bonneux, Luc. “Rwanda: A Case of Demographic Entrapment.” Lancet 344 (17 December 1994): 1689-1690. Campbell, David J. “Conceptualizing Global Change as Society-Environment Interaction: From the Local to the Global in Rwanda.” Rwanda SocietyEnvironment Project, Working Paper 6. East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Geography and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1994. Campbell, David J., Jennifer M. Olson, and Len Berry. “Population Pressure, Agricultural Productivity and Land Degradation in Rwanda: An Agenda for Collaborative Training, Research and Analysis.” Rwanda SocietyEnvironment Project, Working Paper 1. East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Geography and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1993. Clay, Daniel C., and Thomas Reardon. “Linking Population, Development, and the Environment: How Households Confront Poverty and Demographic Pressure in Rwanda.” Population Research Group, Research Paper 96-04. East Lansing, Michigan: Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1996. CNN. “Insight: Rwandan Genocide 10 Years Later.” < PTS/0404/06/i_ins.00.html> (10 March 2006).

Rather than waiting until disaster or calamity strikes, state leaders, NGOs, and the international community as a whole would be well advised to take the lessons of Rwanda’s environmental catastrophe to heart.

SOURCES André, Catherine, and Jean-Phillippe Platteau. “Land Relations Under Unbearable Stress: Rwanda Caught in the Malthusian Trap.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 34 (1998): 147. Austin, Gareth. The Effects of Government Policy on the Ethnic Distribution of Income and Wealth in Rwanda: A Review of Published Sources. Washington, D.C.: Consultancy Report for the World Bank, 1996. Bigagaza, Jean, Carolyn Abong, and Cecile Mukarubuga. “Land Scarcity, Distribution and Conflict in Rwanda.” In Scarcity and Surfeit: The Ecology of Africa’s Conflicts, eds. Jeremy Lind and Kathryn Sturman, 51-84. Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Security Studies, 2002.

David J. Campbell, Jennifer M. Olson, and Len Berry, “Population Pressure, Agricultural Productivity and Land Degradation in Rwanda: An Agenda for Collaborative Training, Research and Analysis,” Rwanda Society-Environment Project, Working Paper 1 (East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Geography and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1993), 3.


stephen brosha Jones, Bruce D. Peacemaking in Rwanda: The Dynamics of Failure. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2001. Kaplan, Robert D. “The Coming Anarchy.” Atlantic Monthly 272.2 (1994): 44-76. Kuperman, Alan J. The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2001. Malthus, Thomas R. An Essay on the Principle of Population. New York: August Kelley, 1965 [1798]. Melvern, Linda. A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Nyrop, Richard F., et al. Rwanda: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: The American University, 1985 [1974]. Olson, Jennifer M. “Land Degradation in Gikongoro, Rwanda: Problems and Possibilities in the Integration of Household Survey Data and Environmental Data.” Rwanda SocietyEnvironment Project, Working Paper 5. East Lansing, Michigan: Department of Geography and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development, Michigan State University, 1994. Percival, Valerie, and Thomas Homer-Dixon. “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case of Rwanda.” Occasional Paper for the Project on Environment, Population and Security. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science and the University of Toronto, 1995. < rwanda/rwanda1.htm>. (8 March 2005).

Dallaire, Roméo A. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003. Dasgupta, Partha, Carl Folke, and Karl-Göran Mäler. “The Environmental Resource Base and Human Welfare.” In Population, Economic Development, and the Environment, eds. Kerstin Lindahl-Kiessling and Hans Lindberg. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking Press, 2005. FAOSTAT Data, 2006. <>. Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998. Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict.” International Security 16.2 (1991): 76-116. Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases.” International Security 19.1 (1994): 5-40. Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda. Historical Perspective: Some Explanatory Factors. Study 1 of the International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience. Odense: Steering Committee of the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 1996.

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Pottier, Johan P. “The Politics of Famine Prevention: Ecology, Regional Production and Food Complementarity in Western Rwanda.” African Affairs 85.339 (1986): 207-237. Prunier, Gérard. The Rwanda Crisis 19591994: History of a Genocide. London: Hurst & Co., 1995. Renner, Michael. Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurity. New York: Norton, 1996. Uvin, Peter. Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda. West Hartford, Connecticut: Kumarian Press, 1998.

The Border of Dreams: Burmese Women Working in Thailand’s Sex Industry Melanie McDonald


he river officially separating the boundary between Burma and Thailand is known as the “border blocking our dreams.” Political repression, torture, detention, forced relocation, forced labour, rape, and lack of opportunity are just some of the reasons Burmese women are migrating to Thailand. Currently there are between two and three million migrant workers in Thailand. Approximately 80% are Burmese. 1 Many of these women are working under conditions that Thai people would refuse to accept. Most Burmese sex workers working in Thailand make the conscious choice to migrate and work in the sex industry. However, they do not make the choice to work under unfair and unsafe conditions. They do not make the choice to make the lowest wages. They do not make the choice to incur debt upon arrival. They also do not make the choice to be discriminated against by the community and the law. Combinations of factors contribute to this reality, which is often ignored or simply not talked about in the context of Thai culture and integration policies. I met Bo (synonym for name) on my

first day of work at Empower (Education Means the Protection of Women Engaged in Recreation), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) which advocates rights for sex workers in Thailand. She is a smart Burmese woman who possesses three valuable qualities: she is young, she is pretty and she disagrees with what is happening in Burma today. Bo came to Thailand so that her daughter would not suffer from the effects of the military regime. She also came searching for “opportunity.” Her work at a massage parlour earns her enough money to support herself and her daughter. Bo feels very privileged to have made it to where she is today. She holds the dream of returning home with a sense of wonder. OBJECTIVE In this paper I will be discussing the political situation in Burma and the reasons why many women are migrating to Thailand to work in the sex industry. There will be four main components to this paper. First, for the purpose of context, I will discuss the current political situation, women’s rights, and history in Burma. Second, I will illustrate the migration process including information about the complexities of human trafficking and the push/pull factors for women migrating to Thailand. Third, I will portray the working conditions of Burmese sex workers and highlight the issues they face. Lastly, I will describe the Empower’s role in helping the situation and their recommendations for the Thai government,

Dennis Arnold, “Work, Rights, & Discrimination Against Burmese Workers in Thailand,” City University of Hong Kong, 2004,


atlantic international studies journal the Burmese government, NGOs, and the international community. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY This section will illustrate the approaches I used in order to carry out my research. It also includes issues arising when researching sex work, such as academic selfishness and formality. Issues Surrounding Research and Sex Work When studying sex work, researchers stand on ethically sensitive ground. This is because sex workers have been exploited for years by researchers constantly victimizing the women involved in order to obtain intrigue, sex appeal, and shock effect. It is true that many women are victims of the sex industry, yet often researchers ignore the requests that sex worker’s have on what issues they would like written about. Through the course of my research, I was a volunteer at Empower in Mae Sai on the border of Burma. Empower Foundation has been established since 1985 with the attention of addressing the need to provide support and education for sex workers in Thailand. Empower has four centers around Thailand including in: Mae Sai, Chiang Mai, Patpong Bangkok, and most recently, in Phuket. Empower supports the right of women to choose whichever profession they feel best meets their needs, and provides the support women seek. A policy at Empower protects the privacy of their women by not allowing researchers to interview the women at the center. As I had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of the sex worker community I did not want to abuse my role for the purpose of research. Therefore it is important to note that when researching sex work, academic adherence to strict research policies obliterates the voices which are most relevant. This is a significant flaw in much academia surrounding sex work. In this paper I will be taking into account these voices, yet I will not make any direct references to informal interviews and conversations, for the purpose of privacy and context. It is clear that this research has certain biases as I am not a sex worker, nor have I ever lived in Burma. As a result this paper is based on my perceptions about the issues facing Burmese sex workers as a foreign Canadian university student volunteering at Empower Mae Sai. I will be drawing my research from secondary sources and my personal experiences at Empower, living on the border, attending meetings and conferences surrounding migrant sex workers, and informal interviews.


Research Design My research can best be described as participatory observation research. By being an active participant in the sex worker community in Mae Sai, I have been able to draw conclusions about the issues facing them. I will attempt to highlight the needs, interests, and realities of Burmese sex workers in Thailand in order to create awareness about the false perceptions that other people have in relation to these women. As a result of spreading awareness about the situation of Burmese sex workers in Thailand, it is hoped that there will be less discrimination against them and more positive action taken in the future. The first step in my research was to collect information about the history of Burma and the current political situation. I read many accounts about the issues facing Burmese citizens written in NGO and INGO (International NGO) reports; I also heard many stories from people who had just come across the border. The biggest problem I faced was that it is very difficult to obtain accurate information about the current political situation in Burma. For one, the military regime has a strangle-hold on all the information coming and out of the country.

74 Journalists are not allowed to report inside the country. And all of the documents published by the country are generally inaccurate and biased information. Therefore, I did my best to ensure source accuracy by only using content produced by credible NGOs, INGOs and scholars, and by confirming every source in at least one other place. The second step was to observe, question, and research how and why the political situation is bringing so many women to Thailand. This process included analyzing the situation for women once they arrive in Thailand. I looked at the process of migration and the issue of trafficking. I also looked into the conditions of sex work for migrant women, particularly in Mae Sai. Because during my research I was situated in Mae Sai, which is an open border crossing between the Shan State in Burma and Thailand, most of the information in this paper will pertain to this region. In order to enrich this information, I conducted a large literary review. In particular, I focused on secondary sources that pertained to the current political situation in Burma and the affect it is having women. I also read human right reports that focused on the country and for sex workers. The third step was to compile, interpret and analyze the collected data. This process involved screening what I deemed to be appropriate for this paper. Here is where I have particularly taken my biases into account. The methodology I have outlined could easily be labelled as unsophisticated. The informality of my research and exclusion of formal interviews could also be deemed as a weakness. Yet in context of my research topic, I believe it is this informality that is this paper's greatest strength. Key Terms

melanie mcdonald In this paper I will use the term sex work instead of prostitution. According to Empower staff sex work is a gender neutral term and pertains to an income generating activity instead of an identity. Furthermore, it emphasizes a variety of income generating activities such as dance, massage, and karaoke. Prostitute on the other hand is narrowly applied. The act of sex and money is a mere connotation. The term prostitute is very commonly used in colloquial language as well as in scholarly writing about sex work. Therefore it can be assumed that the people using this term do not take into account that it is considered derogatory among sex workers. Commercial sex business is the umbrella term used to describe a variety of entertainment businesses. A commercial sex business is a place of work where sexual services are sold, including but not limited to: massage parlours, karaoke bars, bar-beers, Go-Go, internet sites, and phone operators. Brothels differ from the other places of work because they do not offer any other form of labour other than sex. The second form of terminology in this paper concerns Burmese migrants. According to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, “migrants are persons who are outside the territory of their state of nationality or citizenship and therefore not subject to its legal provisions.”2 In this paper, I will be focusing on migrant workers who are not subject to Thailand’s legal provisions. I choose to use the name Burma instead of Myanmar in order to follow the current prodemocracy movement. Burma’s English name was changed to Myanmar in 1988 by the military government without consulting its citizens.3 Lastly, I will not be referring to the Burmese military dictatorship as a government due to the fact that it is clearly a military regime. In protest, I will be using the words junta, State Peace and Development
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, World Conference Against Racism, 2000. 3 Christina Fink, Living Silence; Burma Under Military Rule (Bangkok: White Lotus, 2001).

atlantic international studies journal Council (SPDC), and military regime. THE SITUATION IN BURMA In order to set the context, the following section includes a brief history of Burma. A discussion about the current political situation and the position of women in the country will follow. A Brief History During the pre-colonial period, numerous kingdoms were situated in the territory known as Burma today. This is because the territory was, as it is today, made up with numerous indigenous groups each composed of different cultures and identities. In 1824, the British Empire seized Southern and Western Burma, and continued to annex the rest of the country until 1885, when they received control of Northern Burma. The British brought with them infrastructure, the idea of representative government, and the expansion of political and economic ideas.4 They also brought with them the Western notions of states and fixed boundaries in order to make policy. However, this split many ethnic communities. As a result, bitter feelings developed between the Burmese, the indigenous ethnic nationalities and the British. The colonial administration continued with limited local self-government until the Union of Burma achieved independence in 1948.5 The new state came into being as a parliamentary democracy and, although beset by ethnic strife, territorial dispute, and little social welfare they survived as a representative government until an

75 army coup in 1962. 6 A military-dominated regime led by the Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) held power for the next 26 years. There were no free elections, and freedom of expression and association were almost entirely denied to the people of Burma. Torture, political imprisonment, and other human rights abuses were common.7 Once among the largest rice-exporting countries in Asia, Burma was facing food shortages by 1988. 8 At this time the silence was broken by the beginning of extreme prodemocracy movements. The military “responded” by announcing the start of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which was renamed the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in November 1997. 9 An election was held in 1990, and the Pro-Democracy party won by a landslide. Again this did not instil any change in governance. Instead the leader of the National League of Democracy (NLD) Daw Aung San Suu Ky was detained. She 10 remained under house arrest until 1996. Burma's political history is coloured with political strife, civil war, human rights atrocity, and economic disparity. This is not because the country lacks sufficient natural resources, because the country is flourishing with natural resources. Nor is it because the civilians possess a war-like mentality. Instead, it is due to a complex war between ethnic minorities and the Burmese military dictatorship and the abuse of power and political mismanagement. Current Political Situation It is relevant to understand the current political situation in Burma in order to comprehend why so many women come
Images Asia, With Migrating Hope: Burmese Women Working in the Sex Industry in Thailand (Chiang Mai, 1997). 7 Karen Human Rights Group, Wholesale Destruction (Images Asia: Chiang Mai, 1998). 8 Images Asia. 9 Brenda Belak, Gathering Strength: Women From Burma on their Rights (Chiang Mai: Images Asia, 2002). 10 Images Asia.

4 5

Ibid. Ibid.

76 across the border to work in Thailand. It is crucial to note that the majority of women come to work in Thailand as a result of the junta’s actions and the endless civil war, not because they would prefer to leave their culture to live and work in Thailand. Presently there are two key political issues facing Burma. The first issue is the restoration of democracy and the second is the resolution of political rights for ethnic minorities. Daw Aung San Suu Kyy is the symbol of hope and freedom in Burma. Surprisingly she has achieved this while spending the majority of the past 15 years under house arrest. On May 30, 2003 she was re-detained and remains under house arrest today. According to the United Nations, in January 2005 her detainment was postponed for another year.11 The president of the Shan State Peace Council and the Chairman of the Shan National League of Democracy were both arrested for no apparent reason in early 2005. According to Amnesty International, currently there are 1,300 political prisoners. The detainment of these political activists who oppose the government portrays the lack of freedom, speech and choice in the country. Citizens of Burma are currently experiencing unnecessary social and economic hardships without an inclusive decision making process. From the military regime’s perspective, they must use their power through force in order to protect people from ethnic armed organizations. Propaganda is rampant through the country in order to make people live in fear, so they will adhere to the SPDC. A common saying on the front page of
Commission on Human Rights, “Special Envoy; Razili Ismail Facilitating National Reconciliation & Democratizion in Burma,” 2005, 1/E.CN.4.2005.130.139.doc

melanie mcdonald state controlled newspapers is “The Tatmandow has been sacrificing much of its blood and sweat to prevent the disintegration of the union.” 12 This illustrates the SPDC’s efforts to promote themselves through control of the media. In regards to national reconciliation, the regime wants to bring all ethnic areas, which compose approximately half of the country, under the centralized control of the government. 13 The largest ethnic groups include Burmese, Mon, Karen, Shan, Kachin, Chin and Arkanese.14 The SPDC does not see any room for political autonomy outside of their centralized force. Nor do they believe in cultural autonomy for these ethnic groups. Because the country is so divided ethnically, religiously, and politically, it is difficult to generalize want and needs of different groups. However, a common thread between all ethnic groups is the oppression they face from the government. According to the United Nations Special Envoy in facilitating national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, Razili Ismail, the current situation is far from democratization and national reconciliation. In fact, Razili Ismail has only been to Buma once in 2004, and he is not allowed back.15 Razili Ismail’s role is to ensure people receive the same benefits of economic, social and political development in the country. This illustrates that the state of Burma does not want the international community to be aware of their political and economic corruption. Women’s Status in Burma Men and women have suffered equally from harassment under the current regime in Burma. Yet the opportunities for women are much smaller than men because of the status of women in the country and because of traditional cultural roles.

12 13

Fink, 143. Belak. 14 Images Asia. 15 Commission on Human Rights.

atlantic international studies journal According to the military regiment, technically, the legal status of women in Burma is equal to men. The Myanmar National Committee for Women’s Affair’s claims that the Myanmar (or Burmese) constitution hold’s laws to protect women’s rights. 16 The government also claims that during the colonial period women’s rights flourished and continue to today. However, presently there is no valid constitution in the country. A draft was started in 1993 but there is no final document. Much of the law in Burma was codified 100 years ago before women’s rights were recognized; therefore, most legislation does not ensure equality.17 For many well educated and higher class women affiliated with the SPDC, a feeling of equality holds true. Yet the reality is that most women in the country are not well educated and do not have access to relevant information pertaining to their rights. It is especially difficult for ethnic women and rural women to access education. However, it is not in the interest of the SPDC to improve the current education system because the more people become educated the more chances there are for opposition. 18 In addition, approximately 50% of the SPDC annual budget goes to military expenditures. The Tatmandow currently maintain an astounding army of 400,000. 19 Thus there is no room to improve the education system. Even if the laws to protect women’s rights in Burma were sufficient in context to the international community, it is difficult for the junta to be held accountable. If the government is not accountable then laws are not legitimate.

77 The restriction of movement for women within the country’s borders is an attempt by the SPDC to control the status of women. Accordingly, in the Shan State a women under the age of 25 is required to travel with a legal guardian or an agent usually connected to the SPDC. 20 On the other hand, it is extremely difficult for a Burmese woman of any age to obtain a passport. Women must pay between 100,000 and 200,000 kyat (or approximately 16,200 Canadian dollars) in order to receive a valid passport. This makes traveling outside the country very difficult. Theoretically, everyone in the country is eligible for a national identity card which enables one to cross the Thai border for one day to trade, shop or do business. Yet, in many ethnic areas it is difficult to get an identity card, which makes it impossible to travel anywhere legally. Culturally, women hold an important role in the family. In the Burmese language, the term relating to family is “mi thar zu.” Literally, this means mother with a group of children.21 However, traditionally the man is viewed as the head of the household. In many remote areas, women live under traditional roles. Yet because of recent actions of the SPDC, many women face the burden of protecting their families. Forced re-location, forced labour, detention, execution, and torture has taken many men away from their homes.22 Therefore women are left to fend for themselves and their family. It is not an uncommon situation that in these circumstances many women are raped by soldiers or forced to marry. The physical and psychological impacts are very damaging for those involved, yet there is a severe lack of social welfare for women to get help. THE MIGRATION PROCESS “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable

Ni Ni Myint, The Status of Myanmar Women (Myanmar: Historical Research Center, 2002). 17 Belak. 18 Ibid. 19 Images Asia.

20 21

Belak. Myint. 22 Karen Human Rights Group.

78 conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”23 “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”24 Every year, thousands of Burmese women flee their country in search of safety from violence and a “better life.” Some migrate legally; however, the majority of women cross undocumented. An undocumented migrant must find work illegally. This holds true for the majority of Burmese women working in the sex industry in Thailand.25 The Trafficking Complex The universal definition of human trafficking created by the UN Protocol to Prevent Suppress and Punish Trafficking is as follows:
Trafficking in personals shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.

melanie mcdonald topic of Burmese sex workers in Thailand has been a subject of much concern in the context of trafficking. However, according to Empower, NGOs and INGOs that deal with human trafficking often have little or no experience on the issues of migration, labour, sex work or women’s rights. They also often neglect to look at the issue from the “victim’s” perspective. Because Burmese women are not allowed to travel without a legal guardian or “agent” under the age of 25 it makes it very difficult for a women to legally leave the country looking for employment opportunity. 26 However, if a woman does not have a passport or ID card she will pay the agent to get her across check points so that she can come to Thailand. It costs 400 baht (approximately 15 Canadian dollars) to cross the Mae Sai River illegally without going through the official immigration post. Therefore it is not very difficult for a woman to get around the government induced restrictions on traveling in Burma. Women crossing the border this way are often perceived as “trafficked” if they end up working in the sex industry. However, typically the woman does not see herself as a “victim of trafficking.” This poses to be a complex situation, especially in context to “raid and rescues,” where an anti-trafficking organization or the Thai government will raid a brothel, close it down and “rescue” the women.27 Generally raid and rescues are a sex worker’s worst nightmare. A common saying at Empower is, “Find out if we need to be rescued before you rescue us.” This is because the raids do not pose a solution. In turn, these women are then out of work and face the possibility of jail or deportation as an undocumented migrant working in Thailand. Another contradiction with the issue of Burmese sex workers who have been “trafficked” is that of coercion. An important component to the universal definition of human trafficking is the use of coercion, force,
26 27

Over the past ten years there has been a large focus from the international community on the issue of human trafficking. In particular, the

United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 23” 1948, 24 United Nations, Article 13. 25 Empower Labour and Health Conference, Labour Laws and Health Issue’s Facing Sex Workers Today (Chiang Mai, March 25-29, 2005).


Ibid. Images Asia.

atlantic international studies journal or the abuse of power over a victim. Yet it is difficult to define what constitutes these forms of coercion with the various forces compelling women to migrate. Most women make a conscious choice to seek work outside Burma because SPDC policies make it nearly impossible for women to support themselves and their families. Therefore, there is no other alternative left to the women other than migration from Burma. Thereby, the situation can be perceived as, the government that is coercing or forcing them to leave the country. Push and Pull Factors for Migration An interconnected web of push and pull factors has resulted in the number of Burmese women working in the sex industry in Thailand; social, economic and political factors combined. Most women face the same realities which push them to leave Burma, including human rights abuses, gender discrimination, and lack of economic opportunity. Lack of employment in Burma forces women to seek socioeconomic opportunities elsewhere. In addition, political suppression has caused uncountable incidences of human rights abuses through enforced government policies. Forced village relocation, the detainment of political activists, rape, torture, execution, and the destruction of property are some of the harsh realities imposed by the SPDC. According to Amnesty International, the Burmese “government” has one of the worst human rights records in the world.28 If one is suspected to be apart of an opposition group, torture is not uncommon. Rape is a regular occurrence. In traditional society, a
28 Amnesty International USA, “Myanmar The Administration of Justice- Grave and Abiding Concerns,” 2003, cumentdo?id


woman who has been raped is not desirable by men. Therefore, victims of rape live with guilt and shame and often think that it is better to be a sex worker than be a sex object for soldiers.29 A common saying for migrant sex workers in Thailand is that “sex work in Thailand is better than being raped by the military, because you get paid.”30 There is almost an equivalent abundance of pull factors for Burmese women to work in Thailand. First, the relative ease of crossing the border illegally makes the transition to Thailand accessible. Second, the perception of an abundance of wealth and opportunity in Thailand is another pull factor. The idea of economic development in Thailand infiltrates Burma by word of mouth. The prospect of less political and social oppression is enough to make many women decide to migrate from Burma. However, most often the romanticized idea of coming to Thailand to work does not hold true once women arrive in the country. This is because real information about labour opportunity, laws, and migrant rights is hard to find because of restrictions in press and freedom of speech in Burma. Another common pull factor for women is the notion of high wages in the Thai sex industry, with which they will be able to support their family. Many daughters are persuaded into the sex trade by their mother. Often it is one’s mother who arranges her “agent” to get her across the border. Young virgin girls under the age of 18 are in a high demand in Thai brothels. 31 It is these women who get paid the most. A virgin girl is worth between 20,000 and 30,000 baht (approximately 600 Canadian dollars) for her first time.32 However, her wage decreases after she is no longer a virgin. It is these young girls who are more commonly the “victims” of trafficking. It is these women who should be “rescued.” Yet sadly it is often their mothers and fathers who victimize them in the first place.
29 30

Images Asia. Empower Labour and Health Conference. 31 Louise Brown, Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (London: Virago Press, 2002). 32 Empower Labour and Health Conference.

80 The amalgamation of the mentioned push and pull factors establishes why the number of Burmese sex workers is increasing. A combination between the ease of crossing the border, the Thai economy, the perception of the Thai economy, and the demand for cheap labour pulls Burmese women across the border. The combination of political suppression, human rights abuse, and lack of labour/opportunity for women in Burma drives them across. Thai Policy in Terms of Migrant Workers Thailand started a policy of “constructive engagement” with Burma over ten years ago under the Chatichai Choonhavan government. This policy aimed to increase the cross-border exchange between Thailand and Burma in terms of capital goods and labour.33 The cost of labour increased during Thailand’s economic boom between 1986 and 1996. As a result, an influx of migrants came to Thailand to work under cheaper conditions. Although the crash in 1997 caused a decrease in labour opportunities, the Thai economy is now starting to boom again and there is a large increase in the demand for jobs. Therefore, the desire for migrant workers to do jobs that the Thai would not do is increasing by the day. Technically, legal migrant workers are entitled to protection under the Thai Labour Law 2541. 34 The law restricts discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and gender. Accordingly, this law is meant to protect workers who are most vulnerable in Thai society; for example, unskilled migrant workers. However, if one is working as an undocumented migrant the law will not protect them. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, most Burmese sex workers are undocumented migrant workers.

melanie mcdonald Another problem with the Thai labour law is that it does not cover sex work. Because of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act in Thai legislation, it is impossible to protect sex workers, not to mention migrant sex workers, in their workplaces.35 The only way for this to change is for the Thai government to decriminalize sex work and disregard the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act. On a positive note, the Thai labour law does include some entertainment establishments. This gives many sex workers some hope for change. Because there are between two and three million migrants living and working in Thailand, one would come to the conclusion that it would be in the government’s interest to protect them. As mentioned above, the majority of these people are doing jobs that the Thai would not do, therefore it should be deemed important, by the government, to ensure their safety. This should also include the safety of migrant sex workers. CONDITIONS IN THAI ENTERTAINMENT PLACES FOR BURMESE WOMEN Most documents say that Burmese women working in the sex industry are exposed to violence, coercion, abuse, rape, and HIV/AIDS. Documents also say that most Burmese women face the worst working conditions in the sex-industry.36 Much of this is true. Burmese sex workers commonly face the “3 Ds” of sex work: Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult. 37 The demand for cheap labour is high, especially in border towns such as Mae Sai. And, with a lack of Thai language and access to information, Burmese women are more subject to cheap labour and poor working conditions. Largely, this is because Burmese women do not have legal status in Thailand. Hence they are not subject to the same working conditions that many Thai

33 34

Arnold. Empower Labour and Health Conference.

Trish McKeough, In Pursuit of Justice: Finding Support for the Thai Decriminalization in the Laws of Other Countries (Chiang Mai: University of Chiang Mai, 2004). 36 Brown. 37 Images Asia.

atlantic international studies journal entertainment workers are entitled too. On the other hand, as mentioned above, poor working conditions in Thai brothels are often favourable to the human rights abuses many women face or live in fear of in Burma. In Mae Sai there are three main places of work for sex workers: brothels, karaoke bars and massage parlours. Each of these places offer different services and have different conditions to work. However, social benefits are invisible in each of these workplaces, and days off are rare. Generally a sex worker will have 1-2 days off in a month. According to Empower records, there are currently approximately 400 women working in Mae Sai. Yet this number is constantly in fluctuation because Mae Sai is generally a starting point for sex workers. If the opportunity arises, often Burmese women will move to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, or if they are really lucky, to Phuket. This is because the working conditions, opportunities and salaries are much better in these locations. Brothels The situation is different in every brothel, so it is difficult to generalize. Therefore I will give the most basic non-biased review of the circumstances that I am able. The managers of brothels are generally called Mae or Pae (Thai for mother or father). The sex workers are commonly referred to as their children. Sometimes women are expected to live at their brothel, but this is not always the case. Nonetheless, they are expected to be on call 24 hours a day. In Mae Sai, the managers receive 60% of sex worker's earnings. The worker earns 40%. Brothels usually do not offer extra services; therefore, the customer is only paying for sex. Women working in brothels work under the worst conditions. Expected to sleep with many customers, it is not uncommon for a woman to have 18 clients in one night. Customers usually pay between 150 and 350 baht (between four-eight Canadian dollars). With a 60% wage cut, the woman does not earn a significant amount. On top of the wage cut, often women acquire a loan. Expected surgery such as nose jobs, room and board, and travel costs are common debts. The unfortunate reality is that it is nearly impossible to pay off these debts with such a low salary, wage cuts, and family payments.38 Massage Parlours There are two main types of massage parlours: traditional massage and modern massage. In traditional massage parlours, the women are not on display for men to choose. In contrast, modern massage means that women are on display. Modern massage includes a bath, as well as massage and sex. Sex is not necessary; however, it is generally expected. If a woman does not want to have sex with a customer, they are usually not forced to. Workers in massage parlours generally get 1/3 of the pay cut. In Mae Sai, women are paid every 15 days. Usually the working conditions in massage parlours are better than in brothels and karaoke bars. A positive factor about massage parlours is that women cannot get fined for illegal work. This is because massage is offered and sex is not publicized. The drawback is that women, especially migrants, do not get any social welfare. Karaoke Bars Like massage parlours, there are two main types of karaoke bars. The first is the high class closed karaoke bar. Burmese sex workers are rarely employed here. The second is the road-side open karaoke bar. This is the type of karaoke bar that operates in Mae Sai. Karaoke and drinks are sold in these establishments. Sex is not always an outcome;



Empower Labour and Health Conference.

82 however, it is usually also expected by customers. Unsafe working conditions and overly intoxicated customers are frequent workplace dangers. Another drawback is that if one is late they get fined 2 baht per minute in Mae Sai. The rate and frequency women are paid varies. Some women are paid daily and some every 15 days.39 Problems Sex Workers Face Deportation: One of the biggest fears women face as illegal migrant workers is deportation. The consequences for a woman who has crossed the border illegally upon arrival back to Burma can be terrible. Often it is unknown what happens to these women. However, the stigma attached to sex work is clearly known and is not good. Arrest and deportation is not uncommon in border towns. During my research, I regularly saw trucks of women being deported back across the border. Brothel raids by the police often amount to arrest and deportation. Brothels are illegal in Thailand. However, the police have accounts on every operating brothel. In fact, the police personally benefit from the presence of these establishments. In Mae Sai, brothels pay off police 1000 baht (thirty Canadian dollars) per women per month. The amount the brothels pay the police is different in each province because it is based on personal negotiation. Brothel raids are usually in response to outside criticism or for an authority to further their own career. Health Concerns: The health system in Thailand is legally bound to give treatment to

melanie mcdonald anyone who is ill. 40 However, this is not publicized and therefore it is widely unknown to most migrant workers. Fear of arrest or deportation and lack of communication skills often prohibits women from using public health facilities. Burmese workers often suffer from malnutrition when entering Thailand due to economic disparity. This puts them at greater risk for contracting diseases as a sex worker. The risk of contracting HIV/AIDS for a migrant sex worker is very high. This is not because they are engaging in sex work. It is because they are put at high risk because of unsafe working conditions; for example, a lack of condom distribution, unclean facilities, and unattainable customer quotas. There has been much interest and research about the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS amongst Burmese sex workers. However, it is almost impossible to obtain accurate statistics because “counting sex workers is like counting stars.” 41 Sex workers are generally very informed about precautions to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. This is because there are many education programs aimed to educate sex workers about health issues. As a result, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is declining among sex workers in Thailand. Unfortunately, the prevalence is rising among students and housewives.42 Discrimination: The amount of discrimination Burmese migrants have to face living in Thailand is astonishing. Add the label of "prostitute" on top of being Burmese, and you are a guaranteed mark. There is literally no space in the context of Thai culture to celebrate being Burmese. If one does not adhere to Thai cultural norms including dress, speech, action, and music, it is close to impossible to be accepted. As a result, it is rare to meet a Burmese sex worker who does not look, act, and talk like a “Thai.” And it is even rarer to

40 41 39

Empower Labour and Health Conference.

Images Asia. Empower Labour and Health Conference. 42 Empower Labour and Health Conference.

atlantic international studies journal with migrant workers, particularly Burmese come across a Burmese sex worker who migrants. It is difficult to engage in work with will speak openly about her life in this target population because of the fact that Burma. The irony is that most Burmese the business is very “underground.” women preferred their life at home. Nonetheless, Empower has the ability to Economic and political conditions out connect with the Burmese. This is because the of their control force them to adopt a staff have experience in the industry, as new life. Burmese migrants or previous sex workers. Another aspect to discrimination is Therefore, there is a common-thread of through victimization by the press and understanding which breaks the conception of academics. While many Burmese “underground work.” Empower works on the women working in the worst brothels basis that every woman has the right to could be classified as “victims,” doing choose their profession as so does not help the long as they are safe. This situation. There have been countless books Undocumented migrants enables them to have direct contact with women and scholarly articles usually do not have access working in the sex written about the to the resources to protect industry giving them the prostitution problem in Thailand. themselves; therefore, they ability to address needs, wants, and desires without According to Leslie are the most vulnerable in misconception. Ann, the foreign the sex industry. Undocumented author of the book Sex migrants usually do not and Borders, “the have access to the prostitute is always resources to protect problematic. Seen as themselves; therefore, they are the most an agent, she is an accomplice in the vulnerable in the sex industry. Empower destruction of national identity; seen as strives to help decrease this vulnerability by a victim she is sympathetic but also giving women the opportunity, knowledge, powerless.”43 Many of the books I read and resources for them to protect themselves. during my research described the Education, advocacy, and outreach are the prostitute in the same light: as a victim three main components of Empower, which with no power, no choice, and no many other programs fountain out of. In Mae identity. Yet the reality is that sex Sai, the non-formal education program workers are people, they are friends, includes: Thai language, English language, and they do have an identity, if society sewing classes, life-skills classes, and health allows them. They do have a voice education. Health education is performed at which can be heard, if we listen and do the Empower clinic which is open 6 days a not discriminate. week. The clinic distributes information about HIV/STD’s, performs STD checks, performs LOOKING FORWARD health check ups, distributes condoms, and Empower Mae Sai acts like a drop-in center. Thai classes, Each Empower center in Thailand English classes and sewing classes are held works with a different target population daily at the Empower school. Life-skills of sex workers. Empower Mae Sai is classes are on a weekly basis and are subject situated strategically in order to work to women’s wants and needs. Conferences 43 and meetings about border health, HIV/AIDS, Leslie Anne Jeffery, Sex and Borders: STDs, and migrant rights are held monthly. Gender, National Identity and Prostitution Policy in Thailand (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Women’s rights and law are discussed daily
Books, 2002), 9.


84 through the advocacy component of Empower. Freedom and awareness marches are not uncommon. Because Burmese migrants are unable to go to state education institutes, Empower has been registered as a non-formal education school. Therefore, students of Empower are issued student identification cards which enable them to seek employment elsewhere in Thailand with more legitimacy. Outreach is an integral part to the Empower program. This is because women who are unable to visit the clinic and school are able to be reached. The outreach team visits entertainment places weekly distributing information about STD’s/HIV, health, condoms, emergency contacts, Thai language, and women’s rights. Psychological counselling is also offered. One of the most important components to outreach is the ability for women working under harsh conditions to receive friendship outside of their box. Friendship is the first step Empower takes in order to distribute vital information. This is the step that many other organizations fail to recognize. What Migrant Sex Workers Want in a Workplace In this section “we” will be used to describe what sex workers want. First, and foremost we want sex work to be decriminalized so that we will not be arrested for our work. We want to be treated like equals under the labour law. We want to be recognized for our work. We want to have a fair pay and share of our income. We want social benefits such as: occupational health and safety, days off, sick leave, overtime pay, maternity leave, and compensation when customers abuse us. We want to stop ignorant “raid and rescues.” We want to be apart of the community. We want to celebrate our own culture. We want the ability to

melanie mcdonald travel without fear of deportation. We want equal opportunity in education. We want our voice heard. RECOMMENDATIONS “We dream of peace so that we can return home in safety.” Until life under the SPDC gives peace a chance in Burma, women will continue to migrate illegally to Thailand. Therefore, it is time for the Thai government to take more responsibility while networking with grassroots NGOs and INGOs to improve the situation Burmese women face. Furthermore, the solution should not be to wait until Burma starts to engage in its seven step process to democratization.44 Policies need to be made to respect women’s rights as migrants. Women should be granted the freedom to travel and migrate independently. Sex work should be decriminalized and protected under Thai and international labour laws. Work permits should be granted for sex workers enabling women to access vocational training and movement. Adult women should not be arrested nor deported as a result of measures aimed to protect trafficked children. Women in need of assistance should have appropriate services suiting their needs. Lastly, legal authorities and police should be more informed about the situation facing women in Burma today. If the Burmese military regime takes the responsibility of democratization, this situation could improve much more efficiently. However, to count on this would be naïve. Therefore, it is in the responsibility of other governments and international organizations to urge for a transition for democracy. Many attempts have been made

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children,” 2005, .html

atlantic international studies journal by the international community, but the action is not enough. We need action with sustainable answers. And we need it now. Women are suffering, and this must stop. Amid the suffering, we must not victimize, ignore, judge, or discriminate. Instead, we must act with an alliance of understanding. White Lotus, 2001. Images Asia. With Migrating Hope: Burmese Women Working in the Sex Industry in Thailand. Chiang Mai, 1997. Jeffery, Leslie Anne. Sex and Borders: Gender, National Identity and Prostitution Policy in Thailand. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2002. Karen Human Rights Group. Wholesale Destruction. Images Asia: Chiang Mai, 1998. McKeough, Trish. In Pursuit of Justice: Finding Support for the Thai Decriminalization in the Laws of Other Countries. Chiang Mai: University of Chiang Mai, 2004.


SOURCES Amnesty International USA. “Myanmar The Administration of JusticeGrave and Abiding Concerns.” 2003. ar_burma/documentdo?id Arnold, Dennis. “Work, Rights, & Discrimination Against Burmese Workers in Thailand.” City University of Hong Kong. 2004. Belak, Brenda. Gathering Strength: Women From Burma on their Rights. Chiang Mai: Images Asia, 2002 . Brown, Louise. Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia. London: Virago Press, 2002. Commission on Human Rights. “Special Envoy; Razili Ismail Facilitating National Reconciliation & Democratizion in Burma.” 2005. s/chr/docs/61/E.CN.4.2005.130.139. doc Empower Labour and Health Conference. Labour Laws and Health Issue’s Facing Sex Workers Today. Chiang Mai, March 25-29, 2005. Fink, Christina. Living Silence; Burma Under Military Rule. Bangkok:

Myint, Ni Ni. The Status of Myanmar Women. Kitakysushu Forum on Asian Women. Myanmar: Historical Research Center, 2002. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. World Conference Against Racism, 2000. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children.” 2005. g_convention.html United Nations. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” 1948.

Determining the Success of a Transnational Social Movement: Evaluating the Global Call to Action Against Poverty Coalition Allison D. Sephton


seen if these policy changes will lead to substantial policy implementation. However, after the G8 commitment made in July 2005, the World Bank and IMF recently announced that they will cancel the external debt of the world’s 18 most heavilyindebted poor countries. Were these actions a result of GCAP’s pressure, and do these actions constitute GCAP’s success? To answer this question, a key question must be asked - what factors or determinants lead to the success of a social movement, and how can success be measured? This paper will draw on sociological and international relations literature on transnational politics to assemble criteria in order to determine the level of success achieved thus far by GCAP, and to predict the future success (or failure) of the movement. The criteria will be grouped under five broad categories. Because the campaign is so new, it has proven difficult to evaluate its success. At the present time, the conclusion can be drawn that the GCAP campaign has had limited success in changing the policies of states and international financial institutions, but it remains to be seen if this will translate into changes in state and institutional behaviour. Furthermore, while the GCAP coalition and campaign itself might not survive in the long-term, the broader antipoverty network underpinning it is well-

he recent emergence of the Make Poverty History (MPH) campaign on the international scene has garnered much attention. The global movement (under the Global Call to Action Against Poverty [GCAP] coalition) has been joining domestic MPH movements to pressure national governments and international institutions (specifically, members of the G8 and the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) to essentially eradicate global poverty by changing their policies to cancel the debts owed by heavilyindebted poor countries (HIPCs), to increase and ameliorate aid, to achieve trade justice, and by living up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the United Nations (UN) in 2001. Each national GCAP campaign has a huge umbrella of member organizations, including existing coalitions, community groups, trade unions, individuals, religious and faith groups, campaigners, celebrities, etc. The campaign has gained substantial international media attention through its protests, mega-concerts, and celebrity endorsements, and links individuals across the globe with trademark white bracelets. The leaders of the G8 and representatives at the UN paid lip-service to supporting GCAP’s goals, but it has yet to be

atlantic international studies journal established, and will continue to push for change as time goes on and as the anti-poverty norm becomes stronger.1 DEFINING GCAP Before this discussion begins, the nature of GCAP must be determined – is it a transnational advocacy network, a transnational coalition, or a transnational social movement? While trying to categorize the campaign might seem irrelevant, especially since GCAP contains elements of each, determining the nature of the campaign will help to look for the appropriate and expected factors of its success. Above all, no matter the specific typology, transnational civil society movements aim to set the international agenda, by identifying a problem of international concern and producing information; to develop solutions to the problem, by creating norms or recommending policy change; to build networks and coalitions of allies; and to implement solutions by employing tactics of persuasion and pressure to either change the target actor’s practices and/or to encourage compliance with norms.2 Tarrow argues that “mass-based transnational social movements are hard to construct, are difficult to maintain, and have very different relations to states and international institutions than more routinized international NGOs or activist networks.”3 He defines transnational contention as “the coordinated struggle of actors and organizations from more than one society against a state,

87 international economic actors, or international institutions.”4 A transnational advocacy network is best described by Keck and Sikkink as “those actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information.”5 Transnational coalitions are defined by Tarrow as “collaborative, meansoriented arrangements that permit distinct entities to pool resources in order to effect change,” and frequently form around shortterm threats and opportunities.6 Tarrow stresses the importance of building alliances and coalitions in creating and sustaining transnational contention, especially when transnational actors come from a plethora of political, cultural, and religious backgrounds and might not necessarily share the common identity needed for group cohesion.7 Coalitions can be seen as a precursor to (but do not necessarily lead to) social movements, evolving when opportunities and threats persist and result in strong underlying identities.8 Lastly, transnational social movements, as defined by Khagram, Riker and Sikkink, are “sets of actors with common purposes and solidarities linked across country boundaries that have the capacity to generate coordinated and sustained social


Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink define a norm as “a standard of appropriate behaviour for actors with a given identity.” In Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, “International Norm Dynamics and Political Change,” International Organization 52, 4 (1998): 891. 2 Richard Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” World Politics 55 (July 2003): 584. 3 Sidney Tarrow, “Transnational Politics: Contention and Institutions in International Politics,” Annual Review of Political Science 4 (2001), 1-20.

Sidney Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms,” paper prepared for presentation at the panel on “Social Movements and Transnational Social Movements,” APSA Annual Meeting, August 31, 2002, Chicago. 5 Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, “Transnational advocacy networks in international and regional politics,” International Social Science Journal 51, 1 (March 1999): 89. 6 Sidney Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 163. 7 Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms,” 18. 8 Donatella della Porta and Mario Diani, Social Movements (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing 1999), in Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism, 165.

88 mobilization in more than one country to publicly influence social change.”9 Based on these definitions, GCAP can be best described as a transnational coalition, since it formally links a pre-existing network of actors with new actors for the specific purpose of “making poverty history” in 2005. It has clearly defined goals and missions. However, GCAP also displays social movement qualities, as it encourages actors to mobilize and participate in contentions action, and its nationally-based campaigns organize events for mobilization such as concerts, protests and awareness days. GCAP cannot yet be fully considered a transnational social movement because it has yet to be seen for how long the coalition will last, and it is unclear if participants truly share common purposes and solidarities. In his book The New Transnational Activism, Tarrow lays out four specific types of coalitions. Deciding the coalition type of GCAP can help us to better evaluate its level of cooperation and success. Among Tarrow’s coalitions are instrumental and event coalitions (which are short-term), and federated and campaign coalitions (which are long-term). Event coalitions are short-term in duration and have a high degree of involvement, with the potential for future collaboration and a recognition of shared identities. They “form to mount international protest events, but their dependence on opportunities offered by international institutions puts them at the mercy of changes in international politics.”10 Since the GCAP coalition originally formed to make 2005 a year of change based on the political events that would occur (G8 summit, UN World

allison d. sephton Summit, etc), it is best categorized as an event coalition. It is also similar in nature to other event coalitions, such as the 1995 Seattle protests and the Jubilee 2000 campaign which preceded it. GCAP cannot yet be considered a long-term campaign coalition. BACKGROUND OF GCAP Before evaluating the success of GCAP, it seems appropriate to discuss why such a movement has arisen, to look at its historical predecessors, and to examine the current relationship between transnational civil society, multilateral institutions, and the interstate system. While the majority of scholars agree that states are still the key actors on the international stage, many recognize that in our increasingly globalized world, international governmental and financial institutions, nonstate actors and civil society also play an important role in global governance. Keohane and Nye were among the first to give credit to this relationship, naming it “complex interdependence.”11 O’Brien, Goetz, Scholte and Williams use the term “complex multilateralism” to describe the transformation in the specific relationship between multilateral economic institutions (MEIs) and global social movements - civil society interaction and the public interest is increasingly factoring in to MEI governance.12 This recognition is significant, for it has a great impact on the success of transnational social movements such as GCAP and the antipoverty movement at changing the policies and behaviours of MEIs.

Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker, and Kathryn Sikkink, “From Santiago to Seattle: Transnational Advocacy Groups Restructuring World Politics,” in Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks, and Norms, Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker, and Kathryn Sikkink, eds, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 8. 10 Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism, 166-8.

Robert Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977). 12 Robert O’Brien, Anne Marie Goetz, Jan Aart Scholte and Marc Williams, “Complex Multilateralism: MEIs and GSMs.” In Contesting Global Goverance: Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements, O’Brien, Robert, Anne Marie Goetz, Jan Aart Scholte, and Marc Williams, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 206-34.

atlantic international studies journal Rucht reminds us that the anti-globalization and anti-poverty movements against international institutions are not anything new (there have been protests surrounding G7 and G8, WTO, World Bank and IMF summits since Seattle, and other campaigns were predecessors to GCAP), and that most of the groups who are participating were already active in prior contentious activities; none of the arguments raised were new.13 It seems as if GCAP is just reframing an old package, but the fact that the anti-poverty norm has already been on the international agenda for a while can help explain its relative success. The anti-poverty movement fighting for debt relief actually began as early as the 1970s, when mainly church groups were lobbying and raising awareness locally. The movement grew in the 1980s, being picked up by larger social groups and national (and eventually international) NGOs, and evolved into a functioning transnational network in the early 1990s.14 In its infancy, the network was relatively weak due its complex, technically difficult, and geographically diffuse nature. But with events like the “Fifty Years is Enough” campaign in 1994, the Battle of Seattle in 199515 and the Jubilee 2000

89 campaign (which were anti-globalization and anti-World Bank and IMF policy campaigns fighting for debt relief, fair trade, and the reform of Structural Adjustment Policies and the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiatives), the network gained concessions from the G8, WTO, World Bank and IMF, as well as from individual states, and momentum for the movement grew.16 However, activists felt that the concessions gained were still insufficient – they demanded more aid, more debt relief to more countries, more policy reforms, and more civil society consultation and input.17 Thus the movement continued. During this time, the number of transnational social movement organizations and NGOs also proliferated (first in the North, then in the South), making communication and coordination between the North and South easier.18 The anti-poverty movement was dominated by Northern NGOs and civil society groups in the beginning and tensions sometimes inhibited the South from becoming involved. However, over time more Southern voices have been incorporated.19 After all, the very impetus for the anti-poverty campaign came from the problems experienced by the South, so it is only appropriate that the movement includes the actors it is fighting for. It will be discussed later as to whether or not imbalanced power relations persist in the movement.
Social Movements,” Mobilization: An International Journal, 1994. 16 Elizabeth A. Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee: The Debt and Structural Adjustment Network,” in Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks and Norms, Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker, and Kathryn Sikkink, eds (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002): 156-160. 17 Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee,” 165-166. 18 Smith, “Globalizing Resistance,”5 19 Paul J. Nelson, “Agendas, Accountability, and Legitimacy among Transnational Networks Lobbying the World Bank,” and Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee,” in Khagram, Riker and Sikkink, Restructuring World Politics.

Dieter Rucht, “Social Movements Challenging Neoliberal Globalization,” in Pedro Ibarra (ed.) Social Movements and Democracy, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.), 211-229. 14 Elizabeth A. Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee: The Debt and Structural Adjustment Network,” in, Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks and Norms, Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker, and Kathryn Sikkink, eds (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 156. 15 The “Battle of Seattle” in 1995, which was a large anti-globalization protest against the WTO Ministerial Summit in Seattle, built on this activism from the 1980s and 1990s, and utilized the many “local, national and transnational popular mobilizations around the world that have opposed regional and bilateral trade liberalization agreements, the policies of the World Bank and IMF, and the failures of nation-states to protect human rights.” See Jackie Smith, “Globalizing Resistance: The Battle of Seattle and the Future of

90 Today’s GCAP coalition is said to involve around 30 million participants from more than 200 countries.20 The platform of GCAP calls for more and better aid, trade justice, debt cancellation, and national-level action, as well as making world leaders live up to their promises. National campaigns under the GCAP umbrella incorporate these tenets, as well as adding some of their own, to help make their campaigns more relative to their constituents. For example, MPH in Canada has a focus on ending child poverty in Canada, and the ONE Campaign in the US puts an emphasis on the HIV/AIDS crisis.21 GCAP relies on its national and local partners to mobilize individuals by urging them to join local groups who are part of the campaign, to wear the trademark white bracelet, to attend the organized awareness and protest events, and to sign online petitions and send emails to policy makers, among other things. GCAP’s strategies will be evaluated in the following section. DETERMINANTS OF SUCCESS This paper will now critically examine the GCAP campaign to determine its level of success, using a collection of criteria and determinants for success as identified in the literature. The criteria will be organized under five broad categories: questions of collective identity formation and the framing of collective action; strength, density, institutionalization, and internal resources of the network; mobilizing structures; political opportunity structures and institutions; and arena of struggle and influence – changes in policy-making vs. policy-implementation. I. Questions of collective identity formation and the framing of collective action

allison d. sephton For a movement to be successful, it must be able to mobilize a large group of individuals. Some form of collective identity or purpose must be fostered among the group that will prompt them to act collectively. An “attribution of similarity,” is needed, described by McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly as “the mutual identification of actors in different sites as being sufficiently similar to justify common action.”22 But collective identities are hard to coordinate at best – trying to foster transnational collective identities is even more difficult. Transnational movements need a wide geographic representation if they are going to be effective in multilateral politics today, so there must be a dialogue to come up with common goals and identities, and relationships of trust must be built for ongoing cooperation among actors.23 Snow highlights the importance of framing in identity formation. He defines a frame as a “schemata of interpretation” that allows individuals to “locate, perceive, identify, and label” events; “by rendering events or occurrences meaningful, frames function to organize experience and guide action, whether individual or collective.”24 In our case, borrowing from Taylor, the collective identity for members of the antipoverty movement stems from a framed collective sense of injustice; poverty is framed in such a way that individuals across the globe can agree that it is inherently wrong and


20 21

GCAP, Please refer to Make Poverty History Canada ( and the US’s ONE campaign (

D. McAdam, S. Tarrow and C. Tilly, Dynamics of Contention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) in Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms,” 29. 23 Smith, “Globalizing Resistance,” 6; see also Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms.” 24 David A. Snow et al, “Frame Alignment Processes, micromobilization, and movement participation,” American Sociological review 51, 4 (August 1986), 464.

atlantic international studies journal something which must be fought.25 Keck and Sikkink discuss the importance of issue resonance in a society, as well as within existing national and institutional agendas, as we will see later on.26 Norms pushed by transnational movements are more likely to be successful to the extent that they “fit” or are framed within cultural contexts, or can be broad enough to be applied universally.27 Looking at the manifestos of some of the national campaigns under GCAP, anti-poverty is clearly the norm being framed to foster a collective identity. It is common for the issue of poverty to be framed as something that affects the vulnerable; highlighted are the plight of women and children.28 Keck and Sikkink believe that some of the most successful issues fought for are those involving bodily harm to vulnerable individuals29; in our case, the disease and death caused by poverty to vulnerable sectors of the population makes for a cause worth fighting for. Catchy TV advertisements shown in the UK and Canada involve celebrities snapping their fingers every three seconds, to represent the death of a child from poverty. Poverty is also framed as a “violation of human rights on a massive scale.”30 These frames make it hard for the general public to deny that this campaign is something worth

91 fighting for, and it is an easy, relatively noncontentious frame to relate to. Since it is very difficult to construct a collective identity on a transnational level, national identities and concerns are appealed to for leverage by individual national campaigns. In the Canadian MPH platform, readers are reminded of the incredible outpouring of aid they gave to victims of the Asian tsunami, showing that Canadians care deeply about humanitarian crises; it is implied that involvement in the anti-poverty campaign should be natural. The national interest card is played in the American ONE Campaign, as citizens are shown how poverty is a threat to their national security, since impoverished countries are breeding grounds for terrorists.31 It is very strategic of the campaigns to call on these feelings of national identity and security to get citizens on board. While GCAP has successfully used the media and its national campaigns to frame poverty in such a way that will mobilize the masses, it is hard to tell if GCAP has successfully built a strong transnational collective identity. Individuals might be told that they are acting in solidarity with other activists across the globe, but in speaking to the everyday individual wearing a white bracelet, most are unaware of the transnational campaign to which they belong, and are unlikely to identify with actors in the South, for example. II. Strength, density, institutionalization, and internal resources of the network Networks and coalitions function best when they are dense, with many actors, strong connections among groups and individuals in the network, and reliable flows of information.32 Risse-Kappen reminds us that easy access to governments and institutions does not guarantee policy impact – a transnational movement must be able to form
31 32


Verta Taylor, “Mobilizing for Change in a Social Movement Society,” Contemporary Sociology 29, 1 (2000), 222. 26 Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998), 26. 27 Richard Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” World Politics 55 (July 2003), 596. 28 For example, please refer to the platforms and manifestos of Canada’s Make Poverty History campaign, the US’s ONE campaign, the UK’s Make Poverty History campaign, and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty campaign itself. 29 Keck and Sikkink, Activists beyond Border, 204. 30 Make Poverty History Canada – platform. Available online from

US ONE platform, Keck and Sikkink, Activists beyond borders, 28.

92 a “winning coalition,” both within target countries and on the international scene.33 But Keck and Sikkink are quick to reassure us that network density and quality are hard to measure.34 By looking at the websites of GCAP and its national campaigns, we see that hundreds of thousands of individuals, civil society groups and NGOs are part of the network – but it is difficult to evaluate how strong and meaningful the linkages and information exchanges are between them. Transnational coalitions must have a perception of authority and legitimacy in order to influence both target actors and the general public to join their cause. This authority can be derived from expertise, moral influence, and a claim to political legitimacy.35 Moral principles can even be considered a form of power.36 A transnational movement’s moral authority is linked to its claim that it somehow represents the “public interest” or the “common good.”37 Transnational coalitions also claim legitimacy and gain leverage from their ability to represent affected communities, such as the South in GCAP’s case.38 To reaffirm its legitimacy and authority, GCAP highlights the

allison d. sephton fact that it has support from many Southern leaders and NGOs, and that it is the largest transnational coalition of its kind in existence.39 Just as civil society movements are trying to account for the democratic deficit in global governance, they themselves must also be accountable, transparent and democratic – especially when they are transnational – and must incorporate Southern and non-capitalist voices. They should also try to maximize public participation and education.40 Tarrow reminds us that maintaining transnational coalitions is difficult, and only those with a degree of institutionalization and capacity to socialize participants will outlast the issue that brought them together one it is gone.41 Beyond institutionalization and centralization, coalitions move from being short-term to long-term when they are able to seize and create new opportunities (as opposed to relying on them), and once they can socialize their participants from the local level to “rooted cosmopolitans.”42 It is for this reason that Tarrow would say that GCAP needs to move from an event coalition to a long-term campaign coalition.43 In this second category, it is harder to evaluate the success of GCAP. It is not very transparent – the information on its website does not discuss how and by whom it is run and organized – and from where it receives its funding. It is hard to determine if the network’s inner workings are egalitarian and if unequal power relations between Northern and Southern actors prevail. It can be assumed
39 40

Thomas Risse-Kappen, “Bringing Transnational relations back in: Introduction,” in Bringing Transnational Relations Back in: Non-state actors, domestic structures and international institutions, Thomas Risse-Kappen, ed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995) 25-6. 34 Risse-Kappen, “Bringing Transnational Relations back in: Introduction,” 29. 35 Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” 587. 36 Ann Florini, The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society, (Tokyo and Washington, DC: Japan Centre for International Exchange and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2000), 10. 37 T. Risse, “The Power of Norms versus the Norms of Power: Transnational Civil Society and Human Rights,” in Florini, The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society, 186. 38 Nelson, “Agendas, Accountability and Legitimacy among Transnational Networks Lobbying the World Bank.”

GCAP, Jan Aart Scholte, “Civil Society and democracy in global governance,” Global Governance 8, 2 (2002), 298-300. 41 Tarrow, The New Transnational Activism, 163. 42 Ibid, 175-8. Tarrow defines “rooted cosmopolitans” as “people and groups who are rooted in specific national contexts, but who emerge in contentious political activities that involve them in transnational networks of contacts and conflicts.” (Ibid, 29). 43 Ibid 179.

atlantic international studies journal that the sheer size of the coalition and the fact that it does include Southern groups means that it should bear weight against states and international institutions, but this impact is hard to measure. The fact that GCAP holds little material or serious political threat weakens its leverage against states and international institutions. Because the coalition is only about a year old, it is hard to measure its degree of institutionalization. Since it is so focused on a specific goal and centres its activities around high-profile events, it doesn’t seem likely that it will turn into a long-term campaign. While it has strong mobilizing tactics (which will be discussed next) and it has tried to build a collective antipoverty identity, it seems too broad and relies too much on diverse local organizations to be effective at socializing participants – beyond the fact that they all wear white bracelets. III. Mobilizing structures McAdam, McCarthy and Zald define mobilizing structures as “those collective vehicles, informal as well as formal, through which people mobilize and engage in collective action.”44 According to McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly, “people do not protest in response to threat alone: mobilization depends on social networks, mobilizing frames, and on at least the attribution of opportunity.”45 Many scholars tell us how the strength of a transnational network depends very much on the nonformal, “indigenous” interpersonal networks of friends, family and coworkers in local areas who spread information about the

93 campaign through informal channels.46 Transnational campaigns will also rely heavily on “intra-national bloc recruitment” because of proximity and network effects.47 It must be remembered that not everyone will be part of one of the larger NGOs partnered to the transnational campaign, so informal networks and more local-based recruitment are necessary for mobilization. Groups such as local churches, community organizations, trade unions, and student groups are vital for recruiting members to the movement, engaging in local campaigns and activities, and providing resources for the movement. 48 GCAP and its national affiliates promote the fact that they are largely comprised of such groups who promote the campaign on very local levels, alongside larger NGOs at the more national level (who perform much more of the promotional, educational and lobbying activities, and who have more routine transnational ties). McCarthy says that routine contacts between these groups and the broader society promote wider participation and legitimacy for the social movement or coalition.49 Keck and Sikkink attest that some of a campaign’s most important type of impact comes in the form of grassroots



Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, “Introduction: Opportunities, mobilizing structures, and framing processes,” in Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements, Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, eds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 3. 45 McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly, Dynamics of Contention, in Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms.” 19

Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms.” 12; Verta Taylor, “Mobilizing for Change in a Social Movement Society,” Contemporary Sociology 29, 1 (Jan 2000), 222; Susan Burgerman, Moral Victories: How Activists Provoke Multilateral Action (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001), 16-18; Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” 594-6. 47 Ibid 13 48 Smith, “Globalizing Resistance,” 2. 49 John D. McCarthy, “Mobilizing Structures: Constraints and Opportunities in Adopting, Adapting and Inventing,” in Political Opportunities, Mobilizing Structures and Framing: Social Movement Dynamics in Cross-National Perspective, D. McAdam, J. McCarthy and M. Zald, eds (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996) in Smith, “Globalizing Resistance,” 5.

94 education and network building, which GCAP certainly has done.50 Numerous authors have recognized the huge positive impact that the internet and other advances in communication and travel have had on the organization and facilitation of transnational networks and campaigns.51 According to Tarrow, the internet can “leapfrog over the organizational deficits that plague social movement organizations, as well as strain towards goal displacement that affects large bureaucratic organizations.”52 To appeal to individuals, GCAP, its national campaigns, and partner NGOs rely heavily on the internet as a means of communication and recruitment. Participation is made as simple and non-committal as going online and signing a petition or adding one’s name to a pledge or email distribution list. Individuals are kept involved through informative emails sent periodically. Incidentally, GCAP was recently awarded the Inter Press Service’s 2005 International Achievement Award for Excellence in Communication.53 But some scholars point out that while the internet is helpful for transnational networks where participants do not necessarily know or have contact with each other, it has not replaced interpersonal networking. Bennett warns that the medium can affect the message – internetbased networks may lack the capacity to develop clear ideologies and decision-making coherence, and the movement message is harder to monitor and turn off.54
50 51

allison d. sephton Again, framing, and the use of the media and celebrities is crucial to GCAP in mobilizing support, especially in the Northern states. Celebrities and events such as the Live8 mega-concerts are especially important for mobilizing the younger generation. Critics, however, are wary about the short life span of media agendas, and recognize that celebrities can only push an issue so far. But, the use of the media and celebrities are a good jump-off point for most campaigns, and once campaigns gain momentum (and if the celebrity endorsements continue), they have a better chance at making their movements sustainable.55 Trendy items like the trademark white bracelets are also used to link individuals across the globe and to raise awareness about the campaign. GCAP relies heavily on tactics such as the mega Live8 concerts, protests at summits, and the awareness days it organizes. These activities are great for gaining awareness, encouraging sympathizers, mobilizing action, and disseminating information about the coalition to the general public, but it is still questionable if people “get the point.” These types of activities also rely heavily on the media, and the amount of coverage these events receive can make or break their success. Protests are no longer as successful as they used to be, because they have become “normalized” in the collective action repertoire. Security officials and summit organizers are more prepared for protesters, and plan accordingly by either prohibiting protesting near the summit location, or moving the summit to an out-of-the-way

Keck and Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders, 20. See Tarrow, “Transnational Politics: Contention and Institutions in International Politics;” Taylor, “Mobilizing for Change in a Social Movement Society;” Smith, “Globalizing Resistance;” Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee.” 52 Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms,” 14. 53 GCAP, 54 W. Lance Bennett, “Communicating Global Activism: Some Strengths and Vulnerabilities of Networked Politics.” Presented at the Pacific Sociological Association Meetings, Vancouver, BC.

“Consumerism and Global Citizenship: Lifestyle Politics, Logo Campaigns, and International Regimes of Democratic Accountability.” Unpublished Paper. University of Washington, 2002, in Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanims,” 17. 55 Stefania Bianchi, “Africa: If Music be the food of development, play on,” Global Information Network (New York: June 10, 2005).

atlantic international studies journal locale.56 This is true now: the G8 summit was held at a remote golf resort in Gleneagles, Scotland, and the upcoming WTO Ministerial summit is in Hong Kong – far away from most Western protesters. It is questionable whether GCAP’s tactics of relying on local groups, concert and protest events, trendy white bracelets and the internet for mobilization create a sufficient link between individuals and the transnational coalition to which they belong, and if transnational identities are truly being fostered. Do people really realize what they are a part of? While these tactics might mobilize individuals to attend a concert, wear a white bracelet, or visit a website, do they mobilize individuals enough to participate in protests and to actually go out and lobby their governments? It is doubtful whether GCAP’s tactics mobilize individuals to leave their computer desks and to take to the streets. IV. Political opportunity structures and institutions McAdam, McCarthy and Zald explain how social movements are shaped by the wider set of political constraints and opportunities unique to the national (and international) context in which they are embedded.57 International opportunities can include international events, allied states, and international institutions. The structure and openness of target states and institutions is relevant for a movement’s success. The dominance of liberalism in the international system gives activists many openings to pressure states and institutions, and to expose the gap between discourse and practice.58 On the matter of states as allies, many international campaigns such as GCAP seek

95 to change international policy by trying to shape the decisions of individual states by urging participants to target their own (or other) states’ domestic policies. This is certainly evidenced by the efforts to influence the G8 policies, since the G8 is simply the world’s eight most powerful states. GCAP national movements in the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, France and Italy most definitely focused their efforts at getting individuals to pressure their own governments, through means such as emails, letter-writing, and postcard sending. 59 The fact that the domestic politics in the UK were focused at he time on debt relief and relieving poverty in Africa made the British government an “ally” (or sympathizer, or accessible target, however one wants to look at it) for GCAP; it must be remembered that the Make Poverty History began in the UK. But for any of this to be effective, government leaders must be sensitive about their own reputations, as well as the reputation of the state. The target actors must be persuaded that the costs of violating norms are unacceptably high or that their actions are intolerably wrong.60 Again, we see the importance of targeting states whose domestic politics are favourable to the movement’s position, and targeting leaders who might be in vulnerable political situations or who could be seeking re-election (such as the UK’s Tony Blair and Canada’s Paul Martin). International institutions were also the main targets of this campaign. O’Brien and others say that “international institutions not only provide an opportunity structure for contention but provide unifying themes and identities for those who oppose them – despite their significant differences.”61 Tarrow uses

Rucht, “Social Movements Challenging Neo-liberal Globalization,” 15. 57 McAdam, McCarthy, Zald, “Introduction: Opportunities, mobilizing structures, and framing processes,” 3. 58 Keck and Sikkink, Activists beyond borders, 206.

Please consult the individual websites, through the links on the GCAP website, 60 Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” 587. 61 O’Brien et al, Contesting Global Governance: Multilateral Institutions and Global Social Movements,

96 the analogy of a “coral reef” to describe how international institutions help to create horizontal connections among activists with similar claims across borders.62 The limited support for demands gained at the international financial institutions by the antipoverty network in earlier campaigns were a political opportunity that GCAP could build on.63 In GCAP’s case, there were several international events (such as the G8 summit and the Live8 concerts), which GCAP capitalized on to give activists from all over the world an opportunity to come together to lobby these institutions. But O’Brien and others remind us how multilateral economic institutions might not always be open to civil society pressure, since their ultimate goal is to maintain their existing policy directions and facilitate smoother operation, and their aim is to improve policy implementation – not to consult with civil society groups.64 They also remind us that some institutions, such as the United Nations, are better at engaging civil society and incorporating their concerns into its policies and structure than the international financial institutions (although among these, the World Bank is better than the rest). 65 The fact that these institutions are more receptive to civil society now is a result of the 25 years of lobbying that civil society has done to gain access to these institutions. However, in the end, activists argue that they still hold very little influence. This is why social movements

allison d. sephton must engage in “contentious politics”66 to bring about change within these institutions. As this paper has shown, the anti-poverty movement has gained more access and influence to international institutions over time, providing the political opportunity needed for the current GCAP coalition to make an impact on G8, World Bank, IMF and UN policies. But will the opportunities disappear once the big flashy conferences end? And for how long will this movement’s objectives coincide with state interests? Will governments lose interest in the anti-poverty agenda soon? The fact that GCAP relies so heavily on ephemeral opportunity structures such as concerts and the media could lead to its downfall. However, the opportunity structures within international institutions are well-established, and they will always hold conferences at which coalitions like GCAP can lobby. GCAP’s long-term success will rely more on its internal organization and its mobilizing structures. V.Arena of struggle and influence – changes in policy-making vs. policy-implementation As stated before, Keck and Sikkink state that some of the most important goals and areas of influence of transnational movements are to get an issue on the international agenda, to get international actors to change their discursive positions and institutional procedures, and to influence policy change and actor behaviour.67 But they warn that while “explicit policy shifts seem to denote success…we must take care to distinguish between policy change and change in behaviour.”68

in Tarrow, “The New Transnational Contention: Organizations, Coalitions, Mechanisms,” 29. 62 Tarrow, “Transnational Politics: Contention and Institutions in International Politics,” 15 63 Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee,” 167. 64 O’Brien et al, “Complex Multilateralism: MEIs and GSMs” 65 O’Brien et al, “Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements,” Rucht, “Social Movements Challenging Neo-liberal Globalization,” 17.

Sidney Tarrow defines contentious politics as “episodic, collective interaction among makers of claims and their objects when a) at least one government is a claimant, an object of claims, or a party to the claims and b) the claims would, if realized, affect the interests of at least one of the claimants.” (McAdam et al 2001 in Tarrow 2001) 67 Keck and Sikkink, Activists beyond Borders, 25. 68 Ibid, 26.

atlantic international studies journal Movements are more likely to be successful at developing and implementing new norms to the extent that they can be attached to previously accepted norms.69 As the background of the anti-poverty movement has shown, GCAP is building on the anti-poverty norm that has been developing since the early 1980s, and the progress that previous activists made at having their voices heard at multilateral institutions. It is because of this that the G8, World Bank and IMF so “easily” agreed to the debt relief proposal, as “weak” as it still seems. A movement’s success also depends on the tactics used to influence the policies and behaviours of target actors. GCAP uses several tactics outlined by Keck and Sikkink, including shaming and accountability politics. Accountability politics involve obliging powerful actors to act on vaguer policies or principles they formally endorsed. 70 One of the largest frames GCAP used to pressure state and international institutions into practice was the fact that the G8 countries had all signed on to the UN’s Millenium Development goals in 2000 (which aim at reducing poverty by 2015), and had pledged to relieve debt, but so far have failed to substantially live up to these commitments. Overwhelmingly, critics and members of the GCAP coalition alike feel that the recent concessions made by the World Bank, IMF, and the G8 are a step in the right direction, but are not enough. Many still feel that the external debt of all countries (not just the HIPC countries) should be cancelled, and that the conditionalities to achieving debt relief should also be loosened or abolished.71 Some

97 critics, such as Donnelly, also feel that while state-society-institution relations are being configured in a positive way, the interaction between civil society and these institutions is also enhancing the IMF and World Bank’s influence over the debt-relief process and through the conditionalities of domestic policy change required for debt relief.72 Even though the establishment of weak agreements or rhetorical commitments might seem disappointing at first, it is important to remember that these are important steps in the process of norm implementation and internalization.73 But at this stage, it is too early to determine whether or not policy implementation and substantial action on the part of the UN and international financial institutions will occur. CONCLUSION Based on the criteria outlines in this paper, the success of GCAP can be looked at in two ways: culturally and materially. Tarrow has observed a complex political process that intervenes between a movement’s resources and goals, and its success or failure. Movements realize that there is a trade-off between what they hope to achieve and what they will actually achieve given the state and international politics. The end result can mean a compromise between the achievement of rhetorical and actual goals.74 Culturally, while GCAP has managed to mobilize millions of actors across the globe, it does not seem like it has the potential to build a strong transnational collective identity that
debt deal – but what does it mean? And where does it leave us?” 72 Nelson, “Agendas, Accountability, and Legitimacy among Transnational Networks Lobbying the World Bank,” 149; Donnelly, “Proclaiming Jubilee,” 166. 73 Burgerman, Moral Victories: How Activists Provoke Multilateral Action, 22-3. 74 Tarrow (1994, 171) in Thomas Legler, “Chapter One: The Politics of Economic Restructuring in Rural Mexico: A Theoretical Overview,” Doctoral Dissertation Thesis, 44.

Price, “Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics,” 585 70 Keck and Sikkink, “Transnational Advocacy Networks in international and regional politics,” 95. 71 Susanna Mitchell, “Can ‘Make Poverty History’ really make poverty history?” Jubilee Research UK 2005; Jubilee Research, “G8 Debt Relief Proposals: a first step in the right direction – and a long way to go.”; Jubilee Research, “World Bank and IMF endorse G8

98 will carry the coalition well into the future. While it may have created a media frenzy, it is hard to tell if its internal structure is institutionalized enough and representative enough of all global actors to be sustainable. Its reliance on media opportunities also makes it more vulnerable to external political opportunities, rather than being able to create its own. But it has been recognized that GCAP is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it has built on a pre-existing anti-poverty network that has been active for over 25 years in attempts to get the poverty norm on the international agenda, and in influencing states and international institutions to change their policies. States and the UN have also been “broken in” to listening to civil society. While the GCAP coalition itself might not last, it is likely that the anti-poverty network and social movement will remain until it has achieved its ultimate goals. In material terms, GCAP has been successful at convincing the G8 countries and the World Bank and IMF to change their policies. But it is only that – policy change. It has yet to be seen if the policy rhetoric will translate into policy implementation and substantial action on behalf of states to eradicate poverty. It should also be noted that GCAP’s demand of trade justice has not been dealt with at all thus far. GCAP activists are also still heavily criticizing the World Bank and IMF policies that have been changed, arguing that the concessions simply are not enough, and that more debt cancellation and more aid is needed if poverty is ever going to be made history.

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