Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs addresses peace in Africa

Jendayi Frazer spoke about the challenges for peace in Africa, noting that Liberia is a success story. The lecture was part of the Bridges to the Future series. PHOTO BY: Jeff Haessler.[/caption]

For the U.S., the key to mitigating conflict in Africa is “transformational diplomacy,” said Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, at the Feb. 16 Bridges to the Future event.

Frazer, who spoke on “The Pursuit of Peace: Challenges in Africa,” quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explaining that the overall diplomatic approach is “doing things with people, not for them.”

Specifically, Frazer explained that the root social and economic causes of conflicts must be identified and approached multilaterally, using an African mediator and working with sub-regional organizations, the African Union and the United Nations.

The lecture marked a return visit to the University of Denver for Frazer. Rice first introduced her to DU when advising Frazer’s PhD dissertation at Stanford University.

Frazer’s first teaching job was at DU’s Graduate School of International Studies, after which she taught at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government before working for the federal government.

In her talk, Frazer focused on three examples of diplomacy in Africa — Liberia, Sudan and Somalia.

Liberia is the success story, she said. Conversely, Sudan is a “study in shades of gray.” She described Somalia as an “opportunity to restore effective government that hasn’t existed in 16 years.”

In all three scenarios, Frazer explained, U.S. diplomacy utilized African mediators and U.N. peacekeeping forces and collaborated with the African Union, but didn’t rule out putting U.S. military on the ground.

In the case of Sudan, Frazer said that continuing violence in the Darfur region is undermining enforcement of the comprehensive peace agreement established in January 2005 between northern and southern Sudan.

When asked about growing Sudanese divestment movements, Frazer said, “I think it’s a very positive force in our public and internationally.” She also proposed contacting senators and requesting more funding for peacekeepers and building camps in Darfur.

Frazer’s lecture was part of DU’s Bridges to the Future speaker’s series, which this year is focused on “The Pursuit of Peace.” DU created the Bridges to the Future program in 2002 to stimulate community dialogue in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At the next Bridges to the Future Event on May 9, Marc Gopin will speak on “Holy War, Holy Peace.” Gopin directs the Center for Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. For more information visit

Watch video of Frazer’s lecture (high-speed versionand low-speed version).

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