Hollande and Africa Policy

In this post we feature a new article on François Hollande’s Africa policy by Prof Tony Chafer (Professor of Contemporary French Area Studies, University of Portsmouth). This article was published in the November 2014 issue of Modern and Contemporary France.

Studies of French Africa policy have traditionally focused on its neo-colonial basis and the often corrupt nature of the relations it engendered because of the connivances of semi-official and unofficial networks and covert practices that characterised it. These are often referred to in the literature as la Françafrique. In seeking to understand François Hollande’s Africa policy this article moves away from a neo-colonial, Françafrique analytical framework and instead seeks to engage with the continuity versus change debate in French Africa policy through the lens of geopolitics. The three central themes of Hollande’s Africa policy—security, partnership and trade—are analysed, focusing firstly on the French interventions in Africa, notably in Mali, since 2012, before discussing French engagement with African regional organisations, such as the Economic Community of West African States, and the increasing importance attached to economic and trade links. The article ends with a brief survey of some of the challenges facing French Africa policy.

A full version of this article is currently available to download for free from Modern and Contemporary France.

Gendering the Rwanda Defence Force: A Critical Assessment

In this post, we feature a new article on gender and the Rwanda Defence Force by Dr. Georgina Holmes (Lecturer in International Relations, University of Portsmouth). 

Over the past five years the Government of Rwanda has placed renewed emphasis on increasing the number of female military personnel and gender mainstreaming the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). This article examines the efforts made by the RDF since 2007 to meet these strategic requirements and integrate women into the national security organ. It is suggested that, in spite of Rwanda’s success in bringing women into the political sphere, women are still reluctant to join the military. It is argued that prevailing societal values and attitudes, conflicting narratives within official discourse about the role of women as security actors, resource constraints and the RDF’s emphasis on ‘gender equality’ are barriers to achieving RDF goals. Drawing on in-depth interviews with RDF military personnel and government officials, as well as documentary research, the article first provides an overview of the Rwandan government’s approach to mobilizing women to securitize the state, before examining how the RDF aims to progress the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda nationally and within local communities. The article then reflects on some of the factors that are hindering the recruitment and retention of female military personnel.

A full version of this article is currently available to download for free from the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.