The Colorado Springs School December 3, 2011
Topic 1: Maternal
By: Kelsey Moyes and
Positions Papers to:
African Union Background and Objectives
In 2002, the OAU transformed itself into the African Union. The OAU, “founded in
1963 on the principles of state sovereignty and noninterference, drew criticism throughout
the 1990s for its lack of intervention as crises unfolded in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, and Somalia” (CFR). The ineffectiveness led most African leaders to animosity and
resentment, especially Libyan leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi. Qaddafi decided to launch the
African Union, a council structured with the European Union in mind. Fifty-three countries in
Africa are members of the AU, which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Countries are represented by either their Heads of State or Government or delegated
representatives. The main body of the AU is The Assembly of the Union, which “determine[s]
the common policies of the Union”, “monitor[s] the implementation of policies and decisions
of the Union as well ensure compliance by all Member States”, and “adopt[s] the budget of
the Union” among other functions.
The African Union “seeks to increase development, combat poverty and corruption,
and end Africa's many conflicts” (CFR). Roberta Cohen states, "the AU is the world's only
regional or international organization that explicitly recognizes the right to intervene in a
member state on humanitarian and human rights grounds" (Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists). The AU developed these guidelines based on a report entitled The Responsibility
to Protect, written in 2001 by the International Commission on Intervention and State
Sovereignty. The report asserts, "Sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own
citizens from unavoidable catastrophe-from mass murder and rape, from starvation-but that
when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader
community of states." The challenge now lies in designing policies that will not only ensure
that African economies are less vulnerable to external shocks but that will also bring about
future strong, sustainable, growth and improve social conditions on the continent.
Topic 1: Maternal Mortality
· Every day, approximately 1000 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy
· 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
· Maternal mortality is higher in rural areas and among poorer and less educated
· Adolescents face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than
(World Health Organization, November 2010)
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among
women in developing countries, especially those in Africa. Maternal mortality is defined as
the “death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy,
irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or
aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental
causes” (World Health Organization). It is considered a great distress because “85% of all
maternal deaths are direct results of complications arising during pregnancy, delivery, or the
puerperium,” (Scientific Publications), the four-week period following childbirth. Many
organizations are working to try to fight the calamity include: West African Health
Organization (WAHO), World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Population
Forty-seven percent of global maternal mortality occurs in Africa, with the highest
rate in the Sub-Saharan countries of Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire,
Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria,
Somalia, and South Africa. A woman in Sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying
during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in an alternative developing
country (UNICEF). This glaring disparity is reflected in a number of global declarations and
The direct causes of maternal deaths are “hemorrhage, infection, obstructed labor,
hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and complications of unsafe abortion” (World Health
Organization). At least 20% of the burden of disease in children below the age of 5 is related
to poor maternal health and nutrition, as well as quality of care at delivery and during the
newborn period, which a majority of the African countries do not provide. The most
significant cause of maternal mortality is mother-to-child transmission of HIV, especially in
African countries where infection in adults is continuing to grow, or has stabilized at very
high levels. In September 2001, 147 heads of states under the AU collectively endorsed
Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5: “To reduce child mortality rate by 2/3 and maternal
mortality ratio by 3/4 between 1990 and 2015, and strongly linked to these is Goal 6: To halt
or begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases” (MDG).
In 2005, Sub‐Saharan Africa had the highest maternal mortality rate globally,
estimated at 920 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with the ratios of 500 in
South Asia and 130 in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Western/Central Africa’s
maternal mortality rate has remained dormant between 1990 and 2005 at 1,100 maternal
deaths per 100,000 live births; the highest maternal rate of all world regions, and in
Eastern/Southern Africa, the maternal mortality rate insignificantly declined from 790 to
760 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2005. The countries that have
some of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and are all priority Countdown to
2015, high up on the MDG’s list of countries to aid, countries include: Angola (1,400),
Burundi (1,100), the Central African Republic (980), Chad (1,500), Democratic Republic of
Congo (1,100), Eritrea (450), Liberia (1,200), Sierra Leone (2,100), Somalia (1,400), Sudan
(450), and Uganda (550) (Patel, 2009. Tracking Official Development Assistance). However,
most priority Countdown countries in Africa have the lowest rates of skilled attendance at
delivery, with the World Health Organization African regional average standing at 46% and
Ethiopia and Chad having the lowest coverage rates of 6% and 14%.
Improving maternal health is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (as
previously mentioned) adopted by the international community at the United Nations
Millennium Summit in 2000. In Millennium Development Goal 5 countries have committed to
reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. However,
between 1990 and 2005 the maternal mortality ratio declined by only 5%. Achieving
Millennium Development Goal 5 requires accelerating progress. As of 2006, supporting
maternal health by following the MDG plan has worked in 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa,
South Asia and the Arab States.
The World Health Organization is providing guidance to countries for improving
maternal health. By assisting countries, in collaboration with other parts of the
Organization, they aim to reduce maternal mortality by providing and promoting evidence-
based clinical and programmatic guidance. In addition, WHO advocates for a social, political
and economic environment conducive to action in countries. A set of guidelines under a
common title Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPAC) assists countries
in addressing the main problems facing pregnant women and their newborn infants. The
guidelines are supported by other tools that help countries’ implementation according to
their needs and capacity, such as how to set policies that address country needs, tools for
costing programs that will increase women’s access to the care they need and methods and
instruments for monitoring what they are doing and for measuring progress in reducing
Questions to Consider:
1. What progress has been made by your country toward meeting the Millennium
Development Goal of reducing the maternal mortality ratio?
2. Where is maternal mortality the highest (in Africa)?
3. What is your country doing to address the key determinants of maternal mortality?
4. Is your country receiving aid by government, other nations, non-profit
1. Millennium Development Goals - http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
2. PDF with Statistics and Progress Reports -
3. United Nations Population Fund - http://www.unfpa.org/public/
4. West African Health Organization - http://www.wahooas.org/?lang=en
5. World Health Organization - http://www.who.int/en/
Topic 2: Deforestation and Biodiversity
Deforestation and Biodiversity Background
Deforestation is a complex problem in the Sub-Saharan African countries. A recent
study reported that during the decade from 1980 to 1990 “the world's tropical forests were
reduced by an average of 15.4 million hectares per year [38.0542 acres]” (Food and
Agriculture Organization). At the end of 1990, 30% of the world's deforestation was credited
to Africa. In several Sub-Saharan African countries, the rate of deforestation exceeds the
global annual average of 0.8%. While commercial logging or cattle ranching mainly cause
deforestation in other parts of the world, the leading causes in Africa are associated with
Developing countries rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking
and heating. In Africa, the statistics state that approximately 90% of the entire continent's
population uses fuel wood for cooking, and in Sub-Saharan Africa firewood and brush supply
account for roughly 52% of all energy sources. Land clearing by farmers is another cause to
be contributed to deforestation. According to Porter and Brown, “conversion of forests for
subsistence and commercial agriculture may account for as much as 60% of world-wide
deforestation” (Porter). In Africa, governments invest substantially more in cash crops than
in food crops as reflected in pricing and marketing policies. However, deforestation is
primarily caused by the activities of the general population.
Another abounding cause to consider is environmental security. Deforestation is a
useful concept for understanding armed conflict in Africa. How so? A society becomes
insecure (environmentally) when severe deforestation and biodiversity loss is prevalent.
Areas once covered by forests and mangroves now solely support low-density grasslands and
mudflats. The toll on environmental governance is just as significant. War often destroys or
weakens the institutions that make decisions regarding the environment possible. War also
“creates refugees, leaves government and environmental agencies handicapped or
destroyed, and substitutes short-term survival for longer-term environmental
considerations” (Earth Trends): this means that ecosystems continue to suffer even after the
fighting has stopped. Resource wealth can be attributed to this as well; with competition for
valuable resources like timber driving the conflict; deforestation is visible. This dynamic has
worked to the detriment of elephant populations in strife- torn countries such as Sudan,
Chad, and the Central African Republic. It has also driven forest liquidation in Liberia and
Sierra Leone. When conflict begins in countries where nature tourism provides a major
source of income for biodiversity protection, that income instantly evaporates. An example
of this degradation is in Rwanda; income generated by tourists, many of whom come to see
mountain gorillas, totaled about $4-6 million per year. This in turn funded conservation
projects in parks and forest reserves; however, escalating conflict in the 1990s, and the 1994
genocide caused tourist numbers to plunge.
Environmental ministries often lack the capacity to address environmental problems
in any systematic way. Years after the end of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
environmental groups noted that new environmental legislation was forthcoming, but
doubted the fledgling government’s ability to implement and enforce it. Local governments
may be equally shattered, making it difficult to decentralize the management of natural
resources effectively. Often times “refugees are forced to settle in resource-scarce areas,
putting further pressure on trees, land, water, and wildlife” (Earth Trends). The unstable in
and out flow of disorganized people affects set patterns of cropping and food production.
When it is time to make decisions about natural resource use and conservation,
refugees are unable to have a voice in those decisions because they are not citizens. Even if
they return to their original homes, they may lose their say in land use and management
decisions due to land ownership disputes or postwar changes in national land policy.
Current Deforestation and Biodiversity Conflicts
A joint study by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the International
Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) found that local communities and indigenous groups
own or have rights to use less than two per cent of Africa's forests. In Asia, the Pacific, and
Latin America almost one third of the forest area is under community control. The report
concludes, “the slow rate of land rights reform will hinder efforts to halt deforestation and
alleviate poverty” (RRI;ITTO). According to Emmanuel Ze Meka, the ITTO's executive
director, under current laws, the activities of Africa's forest communities and indigenous
people are illegal, suppressing their livelihoods and undermining opportunities to improve
forest management. Several African countries have introduced measures to strengthen land
rights, and Cameroon has negotiated a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU,
ensuring that wood products imported into Europe aren't illegally obtained.
One important element to this whole crisis is the surrounding continents and
countries, specifically Asia and the United States of America. There are several African
countries that have recognized local land rights, but the government still controls the forest
and hands out concessions to industrial loggers (in these surrounding countries), leading to
more degradation and corruption. One program that deals specifically with this problem is
the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD); a
program created in September of 2008 to “assist developing countries prepare and
implement national REDD+ strategies, and build on the convening power and expertise of the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)”
(REDD). REDD currently has 35 partner countries throughout African, Asia-Pacific, and Latin
American countries. The 14 countries that are currently receiving aid are: Bolivia,
Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ecuador, Indonesia, Nigeria, Panama,
Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Viet Nam and
Zambia (Only three countries reside in Africa). Roughly $60 million have been used to help
support the development and implementation of national REDD+ activities that “offer cost-
effective opportunities to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions while providing other
sustainable development benefits” (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,
December 2009). The 22 UN-REDD Program countries not receiving direct support to national
aid are still engaged with the program through education. These countries are: Argentina,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Gabon,
Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru,
Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. Unfortunately progress to reduce deforestation has
only been made in Tanzania, which includes education about deforestation and biodiversity
loss, and the planting of trees.
Questions to Consider:
1. Is there evidence of deforestation/biodiversity loss in your country, not pertaining
to a change in rainfall?
2. Has there been a decline of income from tourists and/or exports?
3. Could war be a factor of deforestation and/or biodiversity loss in your country?
4. How many people live off forests and forestry in your country?
5. What is the rate of deforestation in your country compared to the world?
6. Has your country made progress against deforestation and/or biodiversity loss?
1. Online Database - http://www.botany.uwc.ac.za/Envfacts/facts/defore
2. Online Journal - http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.13652028.1990.tb01
3. Online Scientific Anthology -http://www.sciencemag.org/content/297/5583/99
4. REDD - http://www.un-redd.org/
5. REDD – The Economist “Better REDD than Dead”
African Union Background and Objectives:
UNICEF, 2008. State of the World’s children 2009. Maternal and newborn health. UNICEF:
New York. Statistical Table 8: Women.
United Nations, 2009. Millennium Development Goals Report 2009.
WHO, 2009. World Health Statistics 2009. Geneva: WHO.
Topic 2: Biodiversity and Deforestation
Deforestation and Biodiversity Background/ History:
Addressing Environmental Problems in Africa. “The Africa Society”.
Porter, G. and J. W. Brown. Global Environmental Politics.
Current Deforestation and Biodiversity Conflicts:
Blom, A., and J. Yamindou. 2001. A Brief History of Armed Conflict and its Impact on
Biodiversity in the Central African Republic (CAR). Washington, DC: Biodiversity
Creative Associates International Inc. (CAII), and the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative. 1997.
Preventing and Mitigating Violent Conflicts: A Revised Guide for Practitioners.
Website. Cited 4 February 2003. On-line at http://www.caii-dc.om/ghai.
Global Witness. 2003. Website. Cited 4 February 2003.
Hatton, J., M. Couto, and J. Oglethorpe. 2001. Biodiversity and War: A Case Study from
Mozambique. Washington, DC: Biodiversity Support Program.
"Lack of land rights worsening African deforestation." Geographical Aug. 2009: 9. Student
Resources in Context.
Centre for Reproductive Rights, 2008. The World’s Abortion Laws, Fact Sheet, New York:
CRR; and Boland, R., Katzive, L., 2008. Developments in laws on induced abortion: 1998–
2007. International Family Planning Perspectives, 34(3), pp.110–20. Cited in: Singh, S.,
Wulf, D., Hussain, R., Bankole, A., Sedgh, G., 2009. Abortion worldwide: A decade of
uneven progress. New York: Guttmacher Institute.