From Global Apartheid to Global Village: Africa and the United Nations
Edited by Adekeye Adebajo
University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2009, 692 pp.
Africa and the World Trade Organization
By Richard E. Mshomba
Cambridge University Press, 2009, 382 pp.
Given their weakness domestically and internationally, African governments have traditionally turned to multilateral organizations more often than most other governments have. It is in the United Nations, which counts more member countries from Africa in the General Assembly (53) than from any other region, where these governments have pursued their most active diplomacy. As the large and sometimes unwieldy volume edited by Adebajo notes, much of the regional diplomacy against South African apartheid was coordinated through the UN, and a disproportionate share of UN organizations' activities, from development assistance to peacekeeping, concern Africa. The collection's early chapters focus on the core institutions of the UN; a second section addresses its peacekeeping and human rights operations in the region; and a third, more sprawling section covers the Africa-focused activities of 12 different UN bodies.
Mshomba's book on the role of the World Trade Organization in Africa adopts a more overtly public policy approach and provides a valuable overview of the trade issues of particular concern to Africa. For each issue, Mshomba examines the underlying economic dynamics before turning to the implications for Africa. The WTO, he admits, does not always provide a level playing field for the small economies of Africa, dominated as the organization is by the interests of richer states. Unfortunately, the book does not get into the actual process and politics of negotiation in the WTO or the manner in which African governments articulate and defend their interests there. Mshomba is mostly content to argue that the WTO can advance African trade interests in the positive-sum game of international trade.