Aid and authoritarianism in Africa
Tobias Hagmann (Roskilde University)
Filip Reyntjens (University of Antwerp)
Start time:
29 June, 2013 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel examines the dynamics, impacts and motivations of donor-supported authoritarianism in Africa after 1991. How, why, and to what effect have bilateral and multilateral donors funded one-party regimes in spite of their proclaimed goals of promoting democracy and good governance?

Long abstract:

This panel invites papers that analyze the nexus between foreign aid and authoritarian governments in Africa after 1991. Donors claim to promote democracy, good governance and human rights in Africa, yet many of them maintain close relations with authoritarian states. Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia are examples of de facto one-party states benefitting from massive aid flows. The complicity between foreign aid and authoritarianism raises numerous questions, which this panel seeks to address. What are the impacts of foreign aid on the practices by state and non-state actors in recipient countries ruled by autocrats? How does foreign aid writ large - from direct budgetary support to poverty reduction strategies, from humanitarian aid to capacity-building programs - affect, constrain or enable political participation in authoritarian states? How do authoritarian governments mobilize aid resources in spite of their undemocratic reputation? What are the consequences of foreign aid to autocratic states for particular groups such as opposition parties, trade unions or religious groups? Finally, how do donors reconcile their official rhetoric of promoting democracy with their support of authoritarian governments? Existing large-N research suggests that foreign aid either does not further democratization or only strengthens existing democracies. We are looking for papers that address the nexus between aid and authoritarianism on the basis of in-depth case studies focusing on local, national and transnational dynamics. We are particularly interested in studies of major donors such as the EU, the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN as well as important bilateral donors like USAID or DFID.