Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Africa Book of the Day - 13 July 2014

The African Garrison State: Human Rights and Political Development in Eritrea, by Kjetil Tronvoll and Daniel R. Mekonnen

Release Date: July 17, 2014
Publisher: James Currey

When Eritrea gained independence in 1991, hopes were high for its transformation. In two decades, however, it became one of the most repressive in the world, effectively a militarised "garrison state". This comprehensive and detailed analysis examines how the prospects for democracy in the new state turned to ashes, reviewing its development, and in particular the loss of human rights and the state's political organisation. Beginning with judicial development in independent Eritrea, subsequent chapters scrutinise the rule of law and the court system; the hobbled process of democratisation, and the curtailment of civil society; the Eritrean prison system and everyday life of detention and disappearances; and the situation of minorities in the country, first in general terms and then through exploration of a case study of the Kunama ethnic group. While the situation is bleak, it is not without hope, however: the conclusion focuses on opposition to the current regime, and offers scenarios of regime change and how the coming of a second republic may yet reconfigure Eritrea politically.

Kjetil Tronvoll is professor of peace and conflict studies at Bjoerknes College and author of War and the Politics of Identity in Ethiopia (2009) and Mai Weini: A Highland Village in Eritrea : A Study of the People, Their Livelihood, and Land Tenure During Times of Turbulence (1998)

His coauthor, Daniel R. Mekonnen, is senior legal advisor at the International Law and Policy Institute in Oslo. He cowrote (with Mirjam van Reisen) a chapter entitled "EU Development Cooperation: The Contours of Global and National Engagement" in Human Rights and Development in the new Millennium: Towards a Theory of Change (edited by Paul Gready and Wouter Vandenhole,2013). He also translated Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation into Tigrigna for the Albert Einstein Institution.