Protest in Africa

Over the last decade, protest movements in Africa have increased more than seven-fold. The authors give examples of successful protests, such as those in Sudan, Algeria, Niger and more, which resulted in transitions of power. They say that these protests have been more successful in their outcomes compared to similar activities elsewhere in the world. The article outlines three lessons that organisers can take from their counterparts in Africa. 

First, the authors state that protests must be inclusive and involve cooperation from people of different classes, ethnicities, regions and religions. They say that recent protests in the West have been based on exclusion and included language which brands the opposition “dangerous enemies”. Instead, success in African protests, for example the campaign to overthrow ruler Omar al-Bashir in Sudan in 2019, has come from building large coalitions of diverse groups.  

Then, the authors emphasise the importance of links between protest groups and civil society organisations, like churches, student groups and NGOs. They argue that whilst social media can be helpful to launch protests and gain supporters, the experiences of civil society groups in engaging with governments is crucial to a movementlong-term success. 

Finally, the authors argue that the most successful campaigns are those that work both within and outside formal politics. They give the example of protests in Malawi following a disputed election outcome in May 2019, where civil society groups used public outrage to put pressure on the constitutional court to overturn the results.  

The authors conclude that these guidelines may help organisers contribute to long-term institutional change in their regions. 

 Read the full article: Alison Faupel and Andrew Wojtanik, ‘What the rest of the world can learn from Africa’s protest movements’, African Arguments, 16 December 2020 

Vaccines around the world

This article outlines the findings of a recent survey on vaccine confidence around the world, carried out by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Ipsos. The main finding of the survey was that vaccine confidence has risen in the UK and US but dropped in most other countries surveyed. The survey was carried out in 15 countries between 17 and 20 December 2020, and compared to a previous study carried out in October 2020. 

The survey concluded that countries with the most vaccine confidence were China (80%), Brazil (78%) and the UK (77%). Countries with slightly lower confidence included the US (69%), Germany (65%) and Japan (60%). The countries with the lowest vaccine confidence were South Africa (53%), Russia (43%) and France (40%).  

Since October 2020, the survey showed that the proportion of people surveyed who would “strongly agree” to get a vaccine when one was available had increased by 9% in the US and 5% in the UK. However, the proportion of people surveyed who would “strongly or somewhat agree” to get a vaccine fell in South Africa by 15%, in France by 14% and in Japan by 9%.  

Reasons given for not taking a Covid-19 vaccine included:  

  • Concerns about the side effects. 
  • Doubts about its effectiveness. 
  • Not being enough at risk from Covid-19. 
  • Opposition to vaccines in general. 

The WEF concludes that the findings of this survey indicate more must be done to increase confidence in vaccines around the world. 

Read the full article: Kirsten Salyer, ‘Confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine grows in UK and US, but global concerns about side effects are on the rise’, World Economic Forum, 29 December 2020 

Unrest in Washington  

Following the unrest at the US Capitol building on 6 January 2021, the author considers how the country’s allies will view the events and what impact it might have on America’s foreign policy objectives.  

To begin, the author states that it is unlikely NATO members would view the event as a coup. He believes there was no coordination between those rioters present and the military, something which he says “defines successful modern coups”. In addition, the author says that President Trump and his team did not direct the rioters during the incident or “craft a narrative justifying the violence taking place”. Finally, the author says that an attempted coup would have to involve similar events taking place throughout the country at the same time.  

The author goes on to say that although he believes the US’s allies will not view the events as a coup, they will still have reasons to be concerned about that sort of activity. The article gives two potential global consequences of the incident: 

  • Nations are likely to use the unrest as rhetorical cover to pursue policies that Washington has long opposed; for example, the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.  
  • Some leaders may use criticisms of the US to legitimise their own rule; for example, President Erdogan of Turkey has called the riots a “disgrace” that “shocked humanity”. 

The article ends by stating that allied nations may exaggerate the events for their own gain. Consequently, the author argues that the US should resume its working order as quickly as possible.

Read the full article: Christopher England, ‘Do US allies think the Capitol siege was an attempted coup?’, The National Interest, 11 January 2021