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David Miliband

(Archived), London

Africa Day

Posted 26 May 2009 by David Miliband  | 

25 May was interestingly Africa Day, as well as a UK Bank Holiday for Whitsun, to note the 25 year anniversary of the creation of the African Union (previously OAU).  I noted last year  that the shift to AU was meant to include a move from 'non interference' to 'non indifference'. 

The election of Jacob Zuma in South Africa is creating high expectations.  The needs are obvious, even if Michael Holman is right in the Financial Times about dodgy statistics on Africa's wars, but so is international willingness to back African leadership.



David Miliband
26 May 2009
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South Africa - Zuma's inauguration

Posted 09 May 2009 by David Miliband  |  6 comments
New South African President Jacob Zuma is being sworn in today.  He and the African National Congress (ANC) won convincingly in South Africa's fourth post-apartheid elections - with the queues of people waiting to vote reminiscent of those in 1994.

We will continue our high level of engagement with the South African Government; Mark Malloch Brown is representing the UK at President Zuma's inauguration and we are planning early meetings with ministerial counterparts.

This engagement matters.  First, South Africa is a key partner for the UK across many priorities and international fora, from the Commonwealth to the G20.  South Africa will have a key role in implementing the outcomes of last month's successful London Summit, and we share their concern that the international response to the economic downturn should meet the needs of both developed and developing economies.

Second, South Africa is a major regional player.  As a member of both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) it is key for the continent's response to its internal challenges.

Third, we face shared challenges in delivering successful, secure global sporting events: World Cup 2010 in South Africa and London 2012.

South Africa has a special place for anyone who became interested in politics in the 1980s.  It burst onto my consciousness one morning in the early part of the decade when a friend of my parents - Ruth First - was assassinated by the South African security forces.  The story of the fall of apartheid defied expectations.  The struggle to overcome its legacy continues.  

The sight of black democratically elected leaders in South Africa is still remarkable.  The problems are serious but so is the goodwill around the world to make sure that the struggle was worth it.



David Miliband
09 May 2009
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>> One of my favorite place to go in the whole country because i think they have interesting places...<<
Eij
10 May 2009

>> David hope you are doing well at the foreign ministry, just to let you know that the upcoming...<<
Papar
12 May 2009

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Zimbabwe: Rhetoric and Reality

Posted 19 December 2008 by David Miliband  |  10 comments

The UN Security Council re-started its engagement with Zimbabwe on Monday - not a moment too soon.  The cholera (and now anthrax) that threatens neighbouring countries is proof if any were needed after 4 million refugees that the Zimbabwe crisis is a crisis for the whole of southern Africa. The Security Council is not yet close to taking action - divisions are still too deep.  But the rhetoric of Mugabe that cholera is 'over' is gut-wrenching when you read the reports of what is actually happening in the country.  For a flavour of reality see the two FCO bloggers , Grace Mutandwa and Philip Barclay



David Miliband
19 December 2008
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>> mugabe is a evil man who needs to be stopped from killing zimbabwean people but the whole world is...<<
sithandazile nkomo
19 December 2008

>> The plain fact of the matter is the international community has failed to take any meaningful action...<<
Andy Herring
20 December 2008

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24 Hours in Khartoum

Posted 14 July 2008 by David Miliband  |  7 comments

Written on Sunday 13 July

Massive heat at 1.30am (35°C) is the first welcome from Sudan. Britain's history in Sudan is better regarded in the country than outside - at least that is one conclusion from 24 hours in Khartoum. Sudan is pivotal to a key part of Africa. Put another way, instability in Sudan has regional consequences. The three conflicts in Sudan - North/South, Sudan - Chad (West - East), and Darfur are linked and destructive. They were the focus throughout my day of meetings from the President down.

Sudan last had elections in the 1980's; the largest party are not represented in the government, and while the civil war was ended by the groundbreaking Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, the agreement was not comprehensive enough to cover the entire country. Since then Darfur has also been the scene of death and destruction that has rightly claimed the attention of the world. 

 Resolution in Darfur depends on political negotiation between the government and rebel groups. Britain is ready to support that. But we also know that the proliferation of rebel groups (to about 20 now) does not mean that there is growing representation of popular Darfuri opinion; that depends on the real engagement of Darfur Civil Society. My meeting with NGOs showed the pressing humanitarian need - to better access to food and medicine for people in need. That requires  both government and rebel groups to show responsibility. It also requires strengthening of the UN/AU force - 10,000 strong, but short of the 26,000 promised and subject to a vicious and deadly attack the day before I arrived. 

The challenges of Sudan come together at next year's elections, and the possible secession of the South means danger for all concerned. I came away from Khartoum very concerned about the imminent risk of even higher levels of instability. The problems are profound and challenging even in a peaceful situation - think of water resources along the Nile. But the solution has to be more than just political, and must include economics; the oil boom is a boom but its effects are limited mainly to the Capital.  And the ability of politicians to reach compromises is weak despite the efforts of some parts of Civil Society.

The newspapers outside Sudan are full of stories about the International Criminal Court and war crimes in Darfur. The UK is a strong supporter of the International Court and encourages all to engage with it. I will have more to say if there are developments in the week. 



David Miliband
14 July 2008
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>> blah blah blah blah blah. What we need is Thatcher back. I never thought I'd say that. But give the...<<
Justin
14 July 2008

>> Well let's hope that the International Criminal Court's charge against Sudanese President Omar...<<
N Hodges
14 July 2008

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Second liberation

Posted 08 July 2008 by David Miliband  |  3 comments

Nelson Mandela talked in his book Long Walk to Freedom of the second liberation struggle, from winning political equality to tackling economic and social inequality. That is the challenge for today's South Africa, and was the focus of my speech today at the University of South Africa (founded in 1874, now providing distance learning to some 275,000 africans).

Africa's problems can seem mountainous: on aids, crime, education, there is massive challenge. But in South Africa there are also massive resources, not least the goodwill of the world that wants to be part of the solution.

The questions from students were revealing. Is Zimbabwe's crisis Britain's fault? Why shouldn't Africa find independent solutions?

Trust needs to be earned, not assumed, especially for the generation that is too young to know the way important parts of the world rallied to the anti apartheid cause. That is an important part of the rationale for the UK-South Africa bilateral forum that this year brings together five government departments (health, sport, trade, home affairs and the FCO) along with representatives from British and South African civil society (focusing on climate change, peace and security, economic development). I attended the first bilateral forum in an advisory capacity in Cape Town in 1999. This relationship is worth the investment, because there are few problems in Africa that will be solved without South Africa.



David Miliband
08 July 2008
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>> As a black child of Zimbabwe born in exile in 1980 I know how the safe haven of other nations...<<
N Hodges
08 July 2008

>> David, Do you know what your colleague, Jacqui Smith, is responsible for with the situation of...<<
Paul Canning
09 July 2008

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Blog 24 June: Zimbabwe: UN Action

Posted 26 June 2008 by David Miliband  |  3 comments

Yesterday's UN Security Council statement represents a significant step forward in the way the world has engaged with the issue of Zimbabwe. The language is unequivocal - condemnation of the regime. It won unanimous support - including South Africa as well as China. The desire for regional leadership - from the AU and SADC - clearly expressed.

Yesterday's exchanges in the House of Commons I hope clarified the difference between recognition of a state - which is necessary for diplomatic representation - and recognition of the legitimacy of a government, which is different. We of course "recognise" Zimbabwe as a country; we do not recognise the legitimacy of Mugabe's rule, not least since even he accepts that he lost the Parliamentary and Presidential election on 29 March (even if the Opposition challenger did not get 50% of the vote in the first round).

I hope they also exposed the hollow claim that we have to choose between self defeating megaphone diplomacy and silence. In every part of the world history matters. Britain's history of global engagement includes good and bad. But while we are conscious of our history, and conscious of the way it can be misused and caricatured, that history is a reason for good judgment about what to say - not a reason to say nothing.



David Miliband
26 June 2008

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>> David, great decision on Mugabe. I think the FCO is, at times, too conscious of Britain's imperial...<<
Alexander King
26 June 2008

>> cry zimbabwe, I read with interest that you are the youngest foreign minister since david owen -...<<
gill
27 June 2008

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G8 plus 5

Posted 18 June 2008 by David Miliband  | 

I met the Mexican Foreign Minister yesterday to discuss her country’s key bridging role between the G8 “leading industrialised countries” and the plus 5 “emerging economies (Mexico, China, India, Brazil, South Africa).  I support their inclusion in G8 discussions but this is a sore point; their participation in G8 meetings is limited.  I think that is a pity as most of the big G8 issues eg climate change or energy require a deal between the emerging and developed economies.  Not much chance of a deal if they are not at the table.



David Miliband
18 June 2008
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First Monitors into Zimbabwe

Posted 16 June 2008 by David Miliband  |  9 comments

Over 100 election monitors are now in Zimbabwe. Not enough but a start. Not enough because the scale of violence and intimidation is massive – over 50 dead, 1000s injured and brutalised.  A start because it means there is a chance of a proper record – journalists and NGOs having been driven out.  There is a massive responsibility on Africa to support the brave people of the opposition, and a major responsibility on the rest of us to support them. We will do so, bilaterally, in Europe and at the UN.

 



David Miliband
16 June 2008
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>> Under which aegis are the monitors there? SADC? UN? EU? Grateful if you could be more specific,...<<
Francis
16 June 2008

>> As Nick Clegg has rightly proposed, financing for despot tyrants needs to be frozen. This means...<<
Will Meek
16 June 2008

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The report of a Ship off the coast of southern Africa

Posted 18 April 2008 by David Miliband  |  3 comments

The report of a ship full of arms off the coast of southern Africa destined for Zimbabwe sums up Zimbabwe's crisis in a nutshell. Four million people need food but the government is buying guns instead. Those guns will be used to hurt and threaten Zimbabweans who voted against Mugabe and ZANU(PF). The fact that South African dockers refused to offload the ship speaks volumes about how ordinary Africans feel about the Mugabe regime. We are in contact with both the South African and Chinese governments to underline our concerns.



David Miliband
18 April 2008
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>> Too true, it's unbelievable that China would be delivering weapons to Zim at this stage in political...<<
otis ogede
19 April 2008

>> What do China has to do with it? European Union and USA imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. They are...<<
Mark Dubravin
20 April 2008

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Land of Opportunity?

Posted 03 March 2008 by David Miliband  |  1 comments

Not China itself, but the Chinese view of Africa.  They don't use 'make poverty history' preferring a different mindset. They call it more positive, less about deficits and more about progress.

The suspicions are well known - about exploiting energy resources.  But African governments I met in Beijing were clear that Chinese investment in Africa (which totalled over $6 billion in 2005) was good for at least two reasons.  First, it is directed towards infrastructure that has traditionally been neglected by project focussed Western aid donors.  Second, it offers choice and contestibility for donee countries.

For the best governments in Africa, Chinese investments, with few strings attached, are a blessing.  But what about those who use the absence of strings to feather their own nests not those of their people?  The best answer at my seminar came in the form of an enhanced AU role - as it has shown in Kenya, it is in the best position to drive African progress on governance issues.  Then the joining up of Western and Chinese aid can actually deliver for the people who matter on the ground.



David Miliband
03 March 2008
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>> I am glad to see that you noticed the Chinese way of investment in Africa. China has a long history...<<
Big Panda
11 March 2008

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