NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY ON “REGIONAL DIMENSIONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN THE ‘OGADEN,’ SOMALIA, AND BEYOND”

October 3, 2007

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, testified yesterday at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. The congressional oversight hearing was called to examine “ Ethiopia and the State of Democracy: Effects on Human Rights and Humanitarian Condition in the Ogaden and Somalia . ”

The eleven-member subcommittee, chaired by Congressman Donald M. Payne (D-New Jersey), was told by Dr. Pham that “without an appreciation for the broader dynamics, it is impossible not only to chart a course past the current conflicts to the peace, stability, development, and democracy sought by the peoples of the Horn of Africa, but also to secure the significant national security interests that our own United States of America has in that geopolitically sensitive and significant subregion.”

Dr. Pham concluded: “The crisis begins in the former Somalia, but it presents challenges and opportunities to the countries and peoples of the entire subregion as well as to the international community, and, ultimately of greatest concern to us as Americans, to the United States. Human rights and democracy cannot be promoted in this geopolitically critical area if the lack security and stability presents governments with all-too-tempting or convenient pretenses to abridge them. On the other hand, without improving the social, economic, and political environment that allows terrorists, local or international, to operate in the area and manipulate long-suffering indigenous populations for their own radical ends, all the security resources in the world are for naught.”

The full text of Dr. Pham prepared remarks is available on the congressional committee’s website here.