The National Summit on Africa: Working Document



Historical factors, domestic experience, and geography have largely conditions the foreign policy of the U.S. toward Africa and its peoples. Always conscious of their own struggle for independence from imperial Great Britain, the founders of the American nation-state remained leery of becoming embroiled in the affairs of the old world. Thus treasured their relative isolation behind the boundless sea. Thus America emphasized its hands off policy during colonization of Africa by several European powers Even the traumatic events of World War II and the Cold War, and the subsequent independence of most African" territories failed in effect any substantial change in Americas "hands off" policy.

Since me beginning of this decade, Africa fees been experiencing profound social, political, and economic changes in what may well mount to a continental rebirth. Although due Among continuing.

problems should not be understated, it is clots that content developments hold the promise of c carrying the continent t into due new millennium with greatly improved prospects for peace and development. However, the changes taking place in Aimed have gone I say unnoticed by the American public. Apart from the occasional add momentary media focus on humanitarian crises in Africa or one of the continents continuing conflicts, the American public still remains relatively isolated from Africa. It receives little information and few images about developments in Africa beyond the existing staple stereotypes Yet across Africa, a continent of rich cultural diversity, comprising 54 countries and almost 800 million people, important strides--such as nice fact that many African countries are democratizing and undertaking economic reforms, and that several longstanding conflict have be resolved continue to be made that contradict file predominant representation in America of the state of affairs on the African continent. American unfamiliarity with contemporary African realities severely limits the ability or American civil society, due private sector, and the US, government to contribute to developments in Africa, and to develop important ties with the nations and people of Attica that would benefit Americans and Africans alike.

Now the 21st century looms, and America's own global preeminence is largely unquestioned, the time has come for the elaboration of a near and bold policy toward Africa. To facilitate the creation of this new policy, the National Summit on Africa was established in 1996 with the primary purpose of raising the visibility of Africa in the United States. The National Summit on Africa is undertaking a nation wide effort aimed at educating the American public about Africa and about US -Africa relations; broadening and strengthing the network of Africa's supporters in the U.S.; and developing a policy plan of action to guide U.S. relations with the countries and peoples of Africa. Some of the elements of this policy have been suggested in tile five themes addressed in the Thematic Working Papers, the Historical Framework Paper and in this Draft Plan of Action. However, the creation of this policy plan cannot be accomplished without broad-based participation and support main Americans across this country.

' The National Summit on Africa- a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization was established with grants from the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of Now York.