International Perceptions and African Agency: Uganda and its donors 1986-2010

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: IDD

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

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FISHER J (2015) Authoritarianism and the securitization of development in Africa in International Affairs

 
Description Four main achievements can be delineated from the work funded through this award:
1. Contribution to African state agency literature: This research has made a significant contribution to (re-)shaping scholarly understandings of the nature and extent of African state agency in the international system, particularly in the realms of security and international aid. It has demonstrated the ways in which seemingly 'weak', aid-dependent states can - and do - carve out substantial room for manouevre through challenging and reformulating global perceptions of their regional and international security and developmental roles. Key publications stemming from this research (Fisher 2012, 2014a and b, Fisher and Anderson 2015, Fisher 2017, Brown and Fisher 2019) have driven forward debates in African Studies, Security Studies, International Relations and International Development and led to the author becoming a recognised global authority on this topic (Fisher 2018).
2. Contribution to African politics and IR literature: This research has also made a significant contribution to the literature on East African politics and international relations (Fisher 2015, Beswick, Fisher and Hurt, 2019, Fisher 2019), including through the publication of a major monograph on the theme (Fisher 2020). The work has also led to a wider conceptual and empirical contribution to the literature on authoritarianism in Africa, with a particular focus on colonial legacies and the role of ideas and norms in sustaining authoritarian rule (Cheeseman and Fisher 2019).
3. Network-building and further funding: Work funded through this award has also enabled the building of wider scholarly and practitioner networks around both of these two areas of research, leading to a range of further funding opportunities encompassing scholar and practitioner CIs and Project Partners based across four continents and workshops and seminars held in multiple locations, from Birmingham to Kampala and from Aberystwyth to Nairobi, over the last decade.
4. Policy engagement and impact: Throughout the research funded through this award - and subsequently - policy and practitioner networks have been built into debates and discussions, leading to the research informing UK policy on Africa through numerous mechanisms. This includes an Honorary Research Fellowship in the FCO's Africa Directorate between 2013-2014, numerous invitations to brief UK diplomats and civil servants in the FCO and DFID and a citation in a parliamentary report on the UK's aid programme.
Exploitation Route In academia: The funding can be taken further forward in terms of continuing to challenge and reconsider how African state agency in the international system is conceptualised and presented - particularly in light of the growing role of non-traditional development actors (eg China, Russia) and evolving developmental priorities and discourses in the Global North. The work can also be used to consider more comprehensively the role of ideas and ideational frames in conceptualisations of African domestic, regional, and international politics.

Beyond the academy: The funding poses important challenges to Western development agencies in particular around the basis of their support to (semi-)authoritarian African governments which notionally represent developmental or security allies for the agencies concerned. It also challenges Western foreign ministries to take a more nuanced approach to understanding the durability of authoritarian rule in Africa, going beyond coercion- and cooption-based explanations alone.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://qz.com/africa/1741033/how-colonial-rule-committed-africa-to-fragile-authoritarianism-2/
 
Description My research findings have been used to inform UK and wider international thinking on, and approaches to, development and security cooperation in Africa (East Africa, in particular). They have been used, in this regard, across a range of formats - most notably invited briefings for, meetings with, and presentations to FCO, DFID, Cabinet Office, and OECD diplomatic and development officials (2012-) and government ministers (2017), through internal reports and summaries produced as an Honorary Research Fellow in the FCO's Africa Directorate (2013-2014) - including, in at least one case, feeding into a briefing prepared for the then UK Foreign Secretary, and through citation in internal OECD materials (2013) and a parliamentary report (2017). Areas of focus, in this regard, have been: UK relations with East Africa (particularly Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda), particularly in relation to security cooperation and domestic politics; UK aid policy, particularly policy around 'political conditionality'; and Western donor engagement with 'political economy analysis' in developing policies and programmes.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in International Development Committee Report
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact In response to evidence I submitted, drawing on this ESRC-funded research, the International Development Committee recommended that "DFID [Department for International Development] produces clear guidance on how to manage reputational risk, the level of its reputational risk appetite, and how to respond to reputational risk issues in the aid budget across the Government. Part of this guidance should include how the performance of a programme should be reviewed if it receives negative media attention before any decision is taken as to its closure." (Section 2, paragraph 37). In its response, DFID noted that in response it has "set up a cross government network of senior communication officers working on ODA so other departments can raise issues at an early stage and good practice can be shared."
URL https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/international-developmen...
 
Description AHRC PaCCS Conflict Theme - Interdisciplinary Innovation Award
Amount £98,004 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/N007956/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 10/2017
 
Description ESRC Research Seminars
Amount £28,304 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/N008367/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 01/2018
 
Description Honorary Research Fellow Travel Funding
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 05/2013
 
Description Newton International Fellowship
Amount £62,904 (GBP)
Funding ID AF160100 
Organisation Newton Fund 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2019
 
Description Honorary Research Fellow 
Organisation Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This fellowship followed directly on from research produced during this award - research presented at a conference led to an invitation to collaborate with the Africa Research Group, FCO between 2013-2014 working on Uganda and regional security relations. The contributions I made were to produce briefings and analysis on regional security politics in Eastern Africa for civil servants and ministers on a range of issues of policy concern including the 2013 Kenyan Elections, 2013 London Somalia Conference, Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill and Ugandan relations with Sudan and South Sudan. This drew on my own research (funded through the Award) as well as on data collected from the FCO archives and other opportunities presented during the Fellowship.
Collaborator Contribution - I was provided with a desk, computer and work space for one year in the Africa Directorate - I was provided with full access to the FCO Archives, to daily analysis across the HMG network and to UK policy-makers in the FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MOD, UK High Commission, Uganda and UK Embassy, Ethiopia - I was provided with a £500 contribution to an April-May 2013 research trip to Uganda and Ethiopia - I was provided with support and assistance in organising two networking roundtables in the FCO during the Fellowship (on Uganda's regional security policy in June 2013 and on international human rights norms in Africa in January 2014)
Impact The following publications were developed and drew-upon research undertaken and networks built during the Fellowship: - (with David M Anderson), 'Authoritarianism and the Securitization of Development in Africa', International Affairs, 91 (1): 131-152 (Jan 2015) - (with Sally Healy), 'Somalia and its neighbours: The regional drivers of state failure', submitted to African Affairs (revise and resubmit August 2015) The following successful research application was supported by FCO/DFID colleagues involved in this partnership: ES/N008367/1 (ESRC Seminar Series: From data to knowledge: Understanding peace and conflict from afar) (commenced January 2016)
Start Year 2013
 
Description Diplomatic Briefing (Kampala) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to present my findings on donor involvement in Ugandan elections by the then Democracy and Human Rights Working Group - a group of c.15 diplomats and practitioners linked to Western diplomatic missions in Uganda engaged in democratization/good governance work (most are Deputy Heads of Mission or First Secretaries). I presented on donor engagement with the Ugandan Electoral Commission during the 2011 election and the research findings provoked a lively discussion on 'non-action' by some international aid donors on areas of concern. I received requests to read my written outputs on this theme (Journal of Eastern African Studies article) as well as further invitations to present findings at the FCO in July 2012 and at the same forum again in April 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description FCO Ambassadorial briefing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Through my work on this Award and the Honorary Research Fellowship at the FCO which grew out of it, I have been invited to present research findings to the incoming UK High Commissioner to Uganda (July 2012) and UK High Commissioner to Kenya (November 2015). Both have allowed me to present key messages, drawn from my research, on particular challenges and issues of concern in the region and have allowed me to disseminate my research findings to a high-profile, policy audience across Whitehall.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2015
 
Description OECD GovNet presentation (Paris) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to present my work on political economy analysis - initially developed in my PhD but latterly through a collaboration with Dr Heather Marquette afforded by the Award - by the OECD DAC Network on Governance. The theme of the event was a focus on helping aid donor personnel, aid practitioners and charities to better take into account political factors when designing and implementing aid programmes. My presentation - which focused on the external nature of much 'political economy analysis' produced by Western donors - sparked an interested and extended debate on fostering 'in-house' expertise and on the ethics of 'intelligence-gathering' by aid officials. Several officials from a variety of OECD DAC members told me later that their views had been influenced by my presentation and the paper presented has since been cited in guidance notes produced by USAID and the OECD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PBAAA891.pdf
 
Description Security roundtables (Eastern Africa) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact My work on African regional and international security issues from this Award and the FCO Fellowship developed from it have also led to my being invited to participate in regional dialogues between senior African security actors (Chatham House Rule) under the aegis of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. This has included workshops in Uganda (2013), Kenya (2013, 2014, 2015) and an invited keynote presentation at a 'breakfast meeting' in Ethiopia (2014). Overall, this has involved 55-70 actors from across the diplomatic community in this region as well as senior security officials, policy-makers and legislators from regional states and interested academics, CSOs, NGOs and political actors. Participants at several of the events have highlighted how their views have changed on some areas (eg African engagement in international peacekeeping or the role of internal politics in regional conflict) following my interventions and my research here has been incorporated into several FES publications (see below).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.fes.de/t3php/publ_int.php?f_RSW=%E4thiopien&f_ABC=ethiopia&logik=or&t_listen=x&sortierung...