Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300-319)|
Mr Nicholas Grono, Mr Gareth Evans AO QC and Mr Romit
21 MARCH 2006
Q300 Lord Lea of Crondall: Does that
also apply to the multinational corporations? Some NGOs contend
that kleptocracies have every reason to embrace multinational
corporations with a few backhanders, because that suits both sides.
How do you get out of that?
Mr Grono: Certainly some corporations, in resources
or actively engaged in commerce in West Africa, have an interest
in a close relationship with the ruling elite, whoever they are,
and stability, and perhaps do not have a particular interest in
democracy. So, yes, there can be problems that way. You can address
that by things like the EITI, trying to exert pressure in other
ways. Soros's Publish What You Pay initiative, the Kimberley
processpromoting transparency and creating disincentives
or incentives to affect your behaviour, but you are doing that
by raising the costs of engagement, or raising the costs if you
do not behave appropriately, but it is still incentives and disincentives.
Q301 Chairman: We use the term "good
governance" in all these documents and in conversation. Have
we tried sufficiently hard to ensure that there is a common understanding
between ourselves and, say, the African Union as to what we mean
Mr Grono: I do not think that there are any
real problems at the African Union level in understanding what
is good governance; I think that the real challenge is understanding
how to get there. You have many African states that have excellent
governance, starting with somewhere like South Africa, with governance
fully understood. If you read NEPAD, there is a clear understanding
of where you want to end up. What is far more difficult is the
process of getting there. That is challenging partly because there
are big differences between countries. You cannot approach governance
in Africa as a one-size-fits-all. The governance problems in Côte
d'Ivoire are utterly different in many respects from governance
in Ethiopia. That is the challenge, but I do not think that there
is a lack of understanding about what forms good governance generally.
Q302 Lord Lea of Crondall: What sort
of dialogue do you think is the most productive? Because we are
looking at the EU strategy agreed in December, the logical next
question is: what is the capacity of the dialogue partner? That
is the African Union, faute de mieux. That is how things
are. Would you think that there should be quite different ways
of looking at it than beginning from there, or in addition to
beginning from there?
Mr Grono: We have said all along that we think
that the African Union is a very significant improvement on what
went before it, and a very important player. For the most part,
you have seen a qualitative difference in the way the AU has approached
Darfur. The AU identified that there was a real problem; the AU
got involved at an early stage. We can be critical that perhaps
it has not gone far enough but, compared to past efforts, the
AU has done extremely well. To the extent that the strategy focuses
on strengthening the capacities of the AU, I think that is absolutely
critical. You have to remember that the AU is not just a peace
and security organisation. All the focus and attention has gone
on peace and security capacities, but it also has eight other
directorates. It has health, trade and industrywhere very
little effort has gone into developing those because, unfortunately
for the AU, Darfur has landed on its doorstep.
Q303 Lord Lea of Crondall: Because
that is where its strengths are. Some people say that the first
strength is in the peace and security, and maybe there is a cluster
embracing governance; but, when it comes to health, education,
AIDS, that is not where its comparative advantage lies. The possible
exception is looking at cross-Africa infrastructure, although
the critics will say there that that is ridiculous. It is the
sort of back-of-an-envelope, Cape to Cairo railway, and that is
a waste of money.
Mr Grono: That is moving out of my conflict
expertise, but the AU is a very effective dialogue partner for
the EU and the AU will be much more effective at speaking to African
states about health, infrastructure, trade and so on, than perhaps
the EU will be, particularly if you are talking about African
ownership. So I would have thought that there is a lot of interest
in building up the AU's capacity across the board: partly because
if you create an elite, effective African institution, hopefully
you attract the best and the brightest, and hopefully then it
provides a mechanism by which there can be much more effectiveness.
The EU is much better set up to have a dialogue with the AU than
Q304 Lord Lea of Crondall: Is it
also the fact than the AU, looking at the medium term presumably,
could legitimately think in terms of the nature of the European
Union, and being a member state organisation with aspirations
to develop its role in things such as the rules governing mergers,
or labour markets, and so on. In other words, that it has experience
of a unique relationship between the capacity to deliver at EU
level and at member state level. Does that not legitimately have
some attractions as a model? Even though people have consistently
told us, "Please don't overstate the analogies between the
European Union and the African Union", nevertheless it is
obviously a thought that has crossed the mind of the architects
for the future of the African Union, is it not?
Mr Grono: I think thatbig picture, long
termthat is feasible; even if it is on a basis that you
can develop the AU's capacity to offer technical assistance. Being
Australian, I have always wondered what the Commonwealth does
now as an organisation. But I recall talking to someone who was
working there and their saying, "So much of our work is the
technical capacity-building: holding these workshops, doing the
low-level stuff, providing copies of the statutes, and so on"which
is critically important if you have an environment in which that
can take hold. There is no reason, if down the track you have
a capable AU with active engagement for international partners,
why it cannot perform that role, probably much more effectively
than outside organisations. I do not know whether you will have
the AU, in the next decade or so, promoting a single market in
trade and services. I think that we have a way to go. It is also
interesting, because the EU started as a small organisation which
has gradually increased confidence, and only now is getting into
foreign policy in a big way; whereas the AU has done it the other
way round, where it has stepped right into peace and conflict
Lord Lea of Crondall: That is a paradox,
is it not? The very things that we are now thinking about and
where the most reluctant Member States, i.e. Britain and possibly
France, now think that we should take more prominent role, is
exactly where the AU started from.
Q305 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: That
is slightly wrong, because the AU is talking about the relationship
between its members. The EU is talking about its relationship
with countries that are not its members. So it is a slightly different
thing. You are right, though, that the AU is trying to develop
instruments for regulating the relationship within and between
its members which go beyond anything that the EU ever tried to
do in its initial stage. It did not need to, because the American
federator was doing it for them and was making it clear that they
would not put up with any intra-European quarrels. You are right
to that extent, but it is not quite the same thing as foreign
policy. Policy amongst Africans is not really, for Africans, foreign
Mr Grono: No, except that it is adopting a leadership
role and becoming a preferred interlocutor. I do not need to tell
you about the High-Level Panel report or In Larger Freedom,
talking about engagement with regional institutions, setting them
up as the preferred partners of the UN. There is certainly a perception
that that is an effective way to go.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes, that is my view.
Q306 Chairman: Can we go back again
to the Peace Facility and your particular interest? In a sense,
we talk very easily about the EU role: that it can help with command
and control; that it can help with heavy lift and logistics generally.
That is fine. In your opinion, do the African countries, or at
least some of them, actually have forces that lend themselves
to that sort of assistance, i.e. in terms of numbers, basic training,
discipline, equipment at the lower level of things?
Mr Grono: Some do, but the capacities are limited.
We have seen that with AMIS. We have had some African countries
providing reasonably capable troopsNigerians, Rwandansbut
very limited in terms of their equipment. Most of the contributions
have had to be extensively outfitted when they arrived; completely
limited in things like lift capability, so it has been NATOand
so on. A lot of work needs to be done on development of indigenous
Q307 Chairman: Is there an EU role
Mr Grono: With the EU, in terms of the Member
States, it is already happening. There is lots of bilateral engagement;
there is lots of training, often between former colonies and so
on. There is French engagement in training. There is actually
a bit of a problem, as I understand it, which is different training
standards, different objectives: the British training troops;
the French training troops; Belgians engaged in training processes
in the Congo; Americans very actively engaged in training some
elites in certain countries, primarily focused on counter-terrorism.
So, to the extent that the EU could get engaged and, at least
on the Member States, impose some kind of uniformity, yes, that
would be welcome.
Q308 Chairman: We cannot do it amongst
Mr Grono: It is problematic. I have tried to
get some information on this African Standby Force, about where
it is at: the proposal is that you will have an African Standby
Force by 2010, which will consist of five brigades, basically
one brigade for each of the Regional Economic Communities. ECOWAS
is by far the most advanced. It usually reflects one highly capable,
or relatively highly capable, state taking a leadso Nigeria
taking the lead in ECOWASbut there does not seem to be
much happening on the Standby Force. You need to bear that in
mind because, more often than not, the strategy talks about supporting
African capabilities, of which the Standby Force is one; but if
you are not going to have a Standby Force, then the need for European
engagement will continue at that level.
Q309 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: One
way I suppose you could see it evolving is that the Europeans
do a sort of short-term involvement, with a battle group or whatever
it is, which is then taken over in the longer term by an African
force. That would remedy the lack of an African Standby Force
for some time, if it could be done.
Mr Grono: Yes.
Q310 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: That
has not yet been tried, of course, but it is one of the things
that could be tried. As far as the capacity of African troops
is concerned, if you read Romeo Dallaire's bookI do not
know if you have read that?
Mr Grono: I have read parts of it.
Q311 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Apart
from the fact that it was one of the most bloodcurdling books
I have ever read, it is perfectly clear that the only troops who
were any good in Rwanda that he had were the Ghanaians. The other
two, the Belgians and the Bangladeshis, vied with each other in
total incompetence, and then both ran for it when things got difficult;
whereas the Ghanaians stuck it out. I think myself, from that
and other examples, that the African ability to undertake these
operations, if given the things they totally lacklike equipment,
training, logistics, backing and so onis pretty considerable.
Mr Grono: I do not have enough detail about
individual capacities. I know that, when we have looked at ECOWAS
engagement in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the past, it has been
problematic. Whether it is leadership issues, lack of support,
discipline, there is a deep resentment towards Nigerian troops
in certain West African countries, because of the past history
of engagement. I don't want to single out one country, but it
is more that they are better placed to provide the troops. This
is not limited to African troops; you have problems with the UN.
There are about 62,000 UN troops worldwide.
Q312 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: 80,000,
Mr Grono: 62,000 troops. This does not include
military observers and police. Most of them are in Africa. There
are big problems with the quality of many of the member contributing
countries, to the extent of even not being able to speak one of
Q313 Lord Lea of Crondall: In order
to put some of those figures into the record, you say 50,000 are
in sub-Saharan Africa out of a UN total of 61,600.
Mr Grono: I can email this to
Q314 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: The
Sudan figure will go up exponentially if the Darfur expedition
Mr Grono: It will automatically be re-hatted.
You have about 7,000 at the moment.
Q315 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes,
they will basically be most of the AMIS troops with blue helmets
Mr Grono: Yes. But, again, huge problems. They
are predominantly African troops there now; a strong desire on
behalf of the AU that they stay predominantly African, but there
needs to be an expansion. Crisis Group has consistently argued
that you need between 12,000 and 15,000 at a minimum in Darfur.
There are about 7,000 now. We put out a report last week, arguing
that you need a stabilisation force led by, we said, France, but
ideally led by a military-capable country. However, the African
contribution will be a significant player, whatever the UN force
is in the end.
Q316 Chairman: Is that just because
of unsuitable troops, or there is just not that number of troops?
Mr Grono: When we argued for the French?
Q317 Chairman: No. You were saying
that the African Union would want the additional troops to be
African, and you said that there was great difficulty.
Mr Grono: It is African ownership.
Q318 Chairman: Yes, and I understand
that. It is getting the numbers; it is not just flying them in,
is it? They just do not exist in trained numbers on the ground
within the continent.
Mr Grono: This is just UN peacekeeping. You
did have an African Union mission in Burundi, which has been re-badged
as a UN operation; but I presume predominantly African troops
there. Africa is just sucking up the demand for peacekeeping troops,
and there are problems. The French want an expanded UN mission
in Côte d'Ivoire. The UNSG has asked for an increased mission
in the Congo. Europe will come to the party with a short-term
mission there. It is just a lack of numbers: both African and
troops worldwide. Part of the reason being that Europeans are
very actively engaged elsewhere, and there is a distinct unwillingness
to contribute troops on the ground in Africa.
Q319 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Do
you think that Australia has anything to teach the European Union
on its experience in the south Pacific?
Mr Grono: There is very little
attention paid to a very interesting exercise, which was the Australian-led
mission in the Solomon Islands, which in many respects has been
very successful. It is quite different from many of the peacekeeping
missions you have seen. It was predominantly a police mission.
It went in with the explicit authorisation of the Solomon Islands
Government. There was a very strong focus on rule of law, to the
extent of going out and arresting people and processing them through
the courts. It stabilised the situation and has slowly drawn down,
and promised a long-term commitment. Australia went in there and
was able to say, "We will give you a ten-year commitment",
which is something we argue for all the time in terms of engagement
in Africa. A small engagement but a very tricky one, that I think
has been relatively successful. So there are lessons to be learnt
from that. There are lessons to be learnt from Australian engagement
in East Timor under the UN ambit. Again, quite a successful mission
in very difficult circumstances, partly because one country was
prepared to contribute much of the resourceswhich has all
sorts of advantages in coherence of the operation, and so on.
So there are some lessons that can be learnt.