Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280-299)|
Mr Nicholas Grono, Mr Gareth Evans AO QC and Mr Romit
21 MARCH 2006
Q280 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: . .
. and the EU, you meant the Commission?
Mr Grono: Yes.
Q281 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: So
to some extent it is also a reflection of the fact that the intergovernmental
aspects of the EU are not being properly meshed with the more
Mr Grono: It is a big problem. We have raised
it in Nepal, where you have an EU delegation and you have a number
of Member States, where the effectiveness of the EUand
I am talking there of the EU in the grand sense of Member States
and the institutionsis undermined by the fact that there
is a complete lack of co-ordination. Sometimes it is because there
are different interests, understandably, and that will be very
difficult to prevent; sometimes it is just because there is a
lack of effective co-ordination. The latter can be addressed much
more easily than the former.
Q282 Chairman: I think you said that
you will not resolve all those sorts of issues, but in so far
as they can be resolved presumably they have to be resolved within
the Council by the Member States. You cannot just suggest that
it is all the EU in general. That is where the political will
will come, is it not?
Mr Grono: Yes, ideally that is where it is resolved,
perhaps in some of these issues. As I said, I am identifying Guinea
because it is somewhere I am engaged with quite actively at the
moment. However, perhaps by more publicly expressing the Council's
viewif there is a risk of a coup or a risk of transition
and the Council or Solana comes out and says, "This is the
Council's position. This is the approach that we favour",
which supports that espoused by civil society in Guinea, or by
the political parties themselves, that perhaps makes it more difficult
for Member States to pursue a path of their own; but only to a
Q283 Chairman: You are saying that
there is a reluctance on the part of the Council to do that?
Mr Grono: No, I am not saying that. I do not
know. On Togo there was a fairly clear position from the Council.
I do not know if it was expressed as clearly as that. On Guinea,
we have not got there yet. Certainly Javier Solana is pretty active
in all of this, but there are always political constraints. Then
you are running into the institutional constraints.
Q284 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Looking
at this worldwide as the ICG does, how would you rate the EU and
its Member States' performance in Africa compared with other parts
of the world? Is it better? Worse? Or much the same? In this respect,
of pulling this act together?
Mr Grono: These are the kinds of issues you
run across in most places. In Africa you have particular problems,
because there can be very close ties between the British Government
and former colonies, the French and former colonies, and a perception
of the spheres of influence in a more overt sense than you might
get elsewhere. Looking at Afghanistan or Nepal, it is more a lack
of co-ordination there. There are not completely divergent interests;
although, for instance, the British have a much more active role
because of their historical ties there. So that does perhaps become
an issue. I think that you see it more glaringly in Africa because
there is heavier engagement and because of the closer ongoing
Q285 Lord Lea of Crondall: What about
non-European? Nepalyou might mention India and the United
States. Are we just talking about the EU countries?
Mr Grono: No, you are talking about everyone.
In Africa, something that you really have to look at when you
are looking at strategy and so on, is China's growing role. China
is very actively engaged in Africa in two very interesting capacities.
One is the search for resources, whether it is oil, gas or minerals.
The other is in creating markets. China's role is something that
is beginning to get a lot of attention and has all sorts of implications
for development strategy, because China is actively engaged; it
has made it quite clear that it has a different approach to African
states than perhaps the EU doesfor instance, it does not
believe in conditionality. I was in Côte d'Ivoire the week
before last. China had just built the cultural centre; China had
just built the national assembly; it is in the process of building
the presidency. It is very active engagement, in a way that is
often much more welcome to African leaders than EU engagement
and conditionality. China is very actively involved in Sudan,
in the oilfields, in a way that European and North American countries
probably cannot be. Canadian companies pulled out of the oilfields
in Sudan; China very happily got very actively engaged. China
is very actively engaged in Nigeria. It is very interesting dynamic
and something that I think will increasingly play a prominent
role in Africa.
Q286 Lord Lea of Crondall: Do you
have any numerical way of
Mr Grono: No, we do not. It does not mean that
there is not stuff out there, but there has not been a lot of
research done on it.
Q287 Lord Lea of Crondall: What is
your feel of it?
Mr Grono: My feel is that it is going to change
Q288 Lord Lea of Crondall: Is it
half as big as Europe and growing, or is it one-tenth? Is this
Mr Grono: We are talking about tens of thousands
of Chinese employees in Africa. We are talking about significantly
impacting on markets. If you go to Zimbabwe, there is a very heavy
presence of Chinese manufactured goods there. Robert Mugabe has
talked about looking East instead of looking Westpartly
through necessity. Yes, a very big impact and a growing one. China's
Foreign Ministry has identified Africa as a critically important
place for it to be engaged in. You have had high-level visits
over the last couple of years to Africa by the Chinese Foreign
Minister, the Chinese Premier, that you have not had upon that
scale before. So I think that there are very interesting developments
going on there.
Q289 Lord Lea of Crondall: You think
that it is undermining, if not setting out to undermine, and playing
on the African resentment of too many sticks and carrots, saying
"We can be the alternative"?
Mr Grono: I do not think that there is any particular
intention. I just know that if you are an African state and you
have China prepared to build your roads, either at cheaper cost
or with fewer conditions, less concern about environmental impact
studies, and perhaps fewer concerns about the response by civil
society to these kinds of projects, then there is a great temptation
to engage. If you look at things like the Chad oil pipeline
Q290 Lord Lea of Crondall: They are
cleverer than the Russians were, are they, in the old days?
Mr Grono: I do not know. I have not followed
the Russian engagement; but it is a very systematic, increasingly
Q291 Chairman: We are identifying
a problem here. Do you have any solution?
Mr Grono: No. The beginning of a solution is
an awareness of the problem. I have not looked into this, so I
cannot tell you. There are advantages to European engagement,
I would think, that might not be present with Chinese engagement.
I have talked about some of the benefits to African countries
of Chinese engagement, but there are also detriments. Chinese
products are undermining domestic capacities. Someone was talking
to me in Côte d'Ivoire when I was there recently about indigenous
cloth production using indigo and cotton cloth; about how there
had been Chinese investment in one of their factories, basically
to learn the skills of the indigo dyeing process. They were then
going to bring in Chinese synthetic material, which could be sold
much more cheaply in Africa, thereby undercutting both the market
and having other impacts. So there has been a bit of an examination
of this. Of course, there are impacts at the lower level, the
consumer level, and then there is the impact on leadership. I
do not know if the negative impacts at the lower level might impact
sufficiently on leadership to make that an unattractive proposition.
Q292 Chairman: Given your particular
interest, this is a sort of economic involvement. There is no
suggestion that they may be offering military support to regimes.
I do not mean in terms of troops, but supplying
Mr Grono: They are a very active arms supplier,
as is the US, as is Europe. There is Chinese engagement in Sudan.
It does have conflict implications. If you are seeking to influence
Sudanese behaviour by, among other things, imposing sanctions,
you can have problems at various levels. One is that at the political
level, starting at the UN, there may be a reluctance on behalf
of China to agree to sanctions in Sudanwhich has been quite
clearly evident in the past. Also, political pressure can be undercut
by very active engagement. From a Chinese perspective, of course,
they have different interests. However, to the extent that western
development policy is conditioned on this ongoing engagement,
including conditionality and including incentives, I think that
Chinese engagement will complicate that process and it is something
that you need to be conscious of.
Q293 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: It
strikes me that it is almost axiomatic that the Europeans will
continue to take a more conditional approach than the Chinese
will. You will not persuade the Chinese to take the same sort
of conditional approach as the Europeans, since often enough it
is based on human rights criteria which the Chinese are as bad
at observing as the Africans they are helping are. So you are
not going to win on that. Nothing can stop the Chinese throwing
large amounts of their money, of which they have a huge amount
now in their reserves, in such a way that it is very attractive
to the Africans. What is the solution? I suppose if you talked
more with the Chinese about African stability, African growth
and so on, you could hope to develop somewhat more common ground
in this, since after all it is in China's interest that Africa
should grow economically and should not all the time be collapsing
in a heap in a civil war, and so on. So I suppose you could hope
to establish a bit more common ground. I cannot think of anything
else, frankly. It is our old friend dialogue, is it not?
Mr Grono: Yes, I think that your options are
limited. You can hope to influence Chinese behaviour as it becomes
a more international player, but I do not know if that is a short-term
Q294 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: You
are not going to win on any of the hardball issues, are you?
Mr Grono: No. However, having said that, there
is lots of room to engage in Africa. There is an awful lot required.
China is not going to corner the market. China may well look at
cornering a market in terms of resource-rich countries. My concern
is that there might be a rush to lowest common denominator standards.
If China is prepared to splash money around in Mauritania, then
western companies that are engaged in Mauritania will be competing
with an engagement with minimal standards. So if you are looking
at investing money as a minerals company there or elsewhere, and
the Chinese are actively speaking to figures in authority, it
will be very difficult for you to say, "We'll engage in a
particular way, because we have certain obligations and so on"whether
it is corporate social responsibility, whether it is environmental
standardswhen China is saying to those who are handing
out the concessions, "This is what we will give you and this
is what we require or do not require".
Q295 Lord Lea of Crondall: Does not
China have aspirations to be part of all the bits of the world
system? I do not think China would have signed up to the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative, for example; but where is
the agenda? Who is talking to the Chinese about how they take
things on board? I was a trade union official and there was a
big debate then about the ILO. Where do you think China is in
this? It has not been part of our agenda, but it is an extremely
important factor. Are there not pressures for them to join the
Mr Grono: There are, and a lot of the developments
have been positive: Chinese accession to the World Trade Organization
and their implementation, and as it has more actively engaged
with Europe, for instance. You can have the EU-China dialogue
as a means by which you can talk about these issues, I assume.
China has pursued a policy of much greater engagement internationally
over the last decade or so than it has historically, compared
to the 1960s and 1970s. It was then often a force of disruption,
supporting revolutionary movements. It clearly does not do that
now. It is much more a force for the status quo. Look at Nepal:
China is one of the friends of the regime in Nepal, the king,
even though it is a "Maoist" movement that is challenging
the authority of the royal government there. I think you have
to hope, yes, as it becomes a more active partner and a much more
significant playerbecause of its economic weight and of
its growing military prowessthat it will see an interest
in being a force for good.
Q296 Lord Lea of Crondall: They would
quite like to undermine India though, would they not?
Mr Grono: I do not know. I think that we are
seeing a more mature relationship between China and India, at
least on the surface; but I am no expert there.
Q297 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: On
the issue of governance, human rights and so on, in Africa, to
what extent do you think that the African Union instruments, the
Peer Review system and so on, have any robustness at all? Do you
think that the Europeans, through their strategy, can help to
strengthen that by giving rewards to countries that go through
the process and implement it, and disincentives to countries that
refuse to? Do you think that is a fruitful way forward?
Mr Grono: I do not know that much about the
Peer Review Mechanism. I have not looked at it.
Q298 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Because
you are mainly concentrated on security issues.
Mr Grono: Yes. But I am a believer in effective
conditionality. The little I have looked at NEPAD and the APRM,
the crunch will be when there are negative assessments that countries
are called upon to rectify. I saw that Rwanda has just been through
a Peer Review process. I would be very interested to see what
that says about democracy and political party participation.
Q299 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: They
apparently immediately came and asked the Europeans to help them
implement it, which is a very good thingso we were told
Mr Grono: Taking your question more broadly,
the trouble with addressing behaviour of African states that does
not meet good governance standards is that there is often no incentive,
in fact there are negative incentives, to the ruling elite to
change. They have captured the machinery of state. They remain
in power. It is a generalisation but, on failed and failing states,
or shadow states, they remain in power by patronage; they depend
on access to resources which they control through the institutions.
To address that behaviour it is not good enough to say, "You
have signed up to these mechanisms and we expect you to engage
in good governance reforms", because the cost of such reform
is too great, especially when there is often this total lack of
diversity of political power. If you are in power you have captured
the whole state; if you are out of power, you have lost everything.
I am talking about, say, Côte d'Ivoireright in the
middle. This conflict, on which we have done some analysis, is
distressing but quite interesting when you analyse it. Côte
d'Ivoire is essentially divided in half at the moment. The government
controls the southern half; there was an attempted coup which
failed and the rebels retreated to the north, and they have control
of the north. Côte d'Ivoire is the world's major cocoa producer;
it is still relatively wealthy. Both sides in power are doing
very well out of the civil war. The rebels are doing quite nicely.
They extract taxes; they get some money from timber. It is a duty-free
zone essentially, so there are incentives there. The government
controls much of the cocoa revenue in the south and to a certain
extent the status quo is very beneficial to the elites on both
sides; but of course absolutely devastating to the ordinary citizen.
The EU is very heavily engaged in Côte d'Ivoire; the UN
is very heavily engaged; but the real challenge is changing the
incentives for President Gbagbo and addressing the fact that those
in power fear that, if you have multi-party democracy and so on,
they risk losing everything, because if the other parties take
power there will be no room for them. To approach a problem like
that and say, "We need governance reform" or "We
need to address issues of corruption" is very difficult,
because the costs of losing are so high.