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John Campbell

Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies

Expertise

Nigeria, South Africa, U.S. policy toward Africa, HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Bio

John Campbell is the Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York. Rowman & Littlefield published his book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink. The second edition was published in June 2013. He writes the blog "Africa in Transition" and edits the Nigeria Security Tracker.

From 1975 to 2007, Ambassador Campbell served as a U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He served twice in Nigeria, as political counselor from 1988 to 1990, and as ambassador from 2004 to 2007. Ambassador Campbell's additional overseas postings include Lyon, Paris, Geneva, and Pretoria. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for human resources, dean of the Foreign Service Institute's School of Language Studies, and director of the Office of UN Political Affairs.


From 2007 to 2008, he was a visiting professor of international relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also a Department of State mid-career fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. Prior to his career in the Foreign Service, he taught British and French history at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.

Ambassador Campbell received a BA and MA from the University of Virginia and a PhD in seventeenth century English history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nigeria on the Brink

Nigeria is the "Giant of Africa," with the largest population and highest gross domestic product on the continent. There has long been a partnership between Nigeria and the United States on strategic issues of mutual concern. Nigeria is sharply divided by religion and ethnicity. The government became nominally democratic in 1999. Subsequently, until 2011, the presidency alternated on an eight-year cycle between the predominately Muslim north and the Christian south. The election of President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, out of cycle in 2011 ended this arrangement. The 2011 election divided the country with the predominately Muslim north questioning the credibility of Jonathan's election. The resulting political instability is part of the context for a radical Islamist insurrection, called Boko Haram (loosely, 'Western education is forbidden'). There is the threat of the resumption of a separate insurrection in Nigeria's southern oil patch. With these security challenges overstretching Nigeria's resources, thepartnership with the United States is largely moribund. Will the Nigerian government be able to successfully address its security and development challenges, and resume its strategic partnership with the United States? I address this question in my book, Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, now in its second edition, the Nigeria Security Tracker, speeches, interviews, regular blog posts, and in other publications.

Democracy in Post-Apartheid South Africa

With the end of apartheid in 1994 the people of South Africa anticipated profound social and economic change. Yet twenty-one years later, much of the population lacks access to proper medical care and education. Despite improved access to clean water, housing, and roads many South Africans feel that too little has changed since the apartheid era. The "rainbow nation" is still racially divided in its electoral behavior, and the income gap between blacks and whites is greater than it was in 1994. Leading political figures in the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), are often accused of corruption. New political groups are calling for the nationalization and expropriation of land and resources from the white minority. Nevertheless, the constitution enshrines the rule of law, and has popular support across all racial divides. Are the laws and institutions in place since 1994 strong enough to preserve democracy and the rule of law when the pace of social and economic change remains slow? I seek to answer this question in my upcoming book, Morning in South Africa, in blog posts, and in other publications.

U.S. Interests in Africa

Seven of the UN's seventeen peacekeeping operations are currently located in Sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2013, the gross domestic income (GDI) of Sub-Saharan Africa was $1,615 (compared to the U.S. at $53,670). Governance is often remote from the people. Yet, Africa is changing. Since 2004 the gross domestic income (GDI) has increased by 250 percent and economic growth in 2014 is forecasted by the World Bank at 5.2 percent. The population of Africa is also expected to grow rapidly. One United Nations agency predicts that by 2050, Africans will account for 25 percent of the world's population, at nearly 2.4 billion. However, population growth and rapid urbanization are mixed blessings; both are related to the emergence of diseases such as HIV/AIDs and Ebola. There are governance and security issues challenging American interests. Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb in Mali, and Boko Haram in Nigeria are harshly anti-American, and even if they lack the capacity to strike the homeland they still threaten American interests in the region and those of our partners. Through my blog, Africa in Transition, and my roundtable series, U.S.-Africa Strategic Partnerships, I track African developments that may influence the United States and explore how Washington and African capitals can work together to their mutual benefit.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Recent Activity from Africa in Transition

CFR Events

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ New York

The Democratic Alternative: Democracy and Development in South Africa, India, and Brazil

Speakers:

Ann Bernstein, Executive Director, The Centre for Development and Enterprise, South Africa; Author of The Democratic Alternative from the South: India, Brazil, and South Africa, John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Contributing Author to Pathways to Freedom

Presider:

Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director, Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, Council on Foreign Relations; Coeditor of Pathways to Freedom
May 28, 2014

This meeting is on the record.

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Guest Event ⁄ New York

Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions

Speakers:

John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow, Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (2004-2007); Coauthor, Pathways to Freedom, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations; Coauthor and Coeditor, Pathways to Freedom, Terra Lawson-Remer, Fellow for Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy, Council on Foreign Relations; Coauthor and Coeditor, Pathways to Freedom

Presider:

Gideon Rose, Editor and Peter G. Peterson Chair, Foreign Affairs
June 19, 2013 5:30-6:00 p.m. - Cocktail Reception
6:00-6:45 p.m. - Discussion
6:45-7:15 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing

This meeting is on the record.

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Roundtable Meeting

Realizing Democracy: Lessons from South Africa and Nigeria

Speaker:

John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Director, Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, Council on Foreign Relations
April 23, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Academic Conference Call

Nigeria on the Brink

Speaker:

John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
April 6, 2011 12:00-1:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

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Press/Panels

Radio Interview

Boko Haram Abducts More Nigerian School Girls

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson talks to John Campbell, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and a senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Affairs, about the current situation of the missing Chibok school girls.

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Video Interview

Ebola and West Africa: Three Things to Know

West African governments and aid agencies face a number of challenges in attempting to contain the Ebola epidemic, which health officials say threatens to infect more than one million people by early next year. Containing the outbreak will require a massive international response similar to that coordinated after the 2004 South Asia tsunami. CFR's John Campbell offers three things to know about Ebola and West Africa.

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Video Interview

FRONTLINE: Hunting Boko Haram

Investigating the atrocities in Nigeria related to the hunt for Boko Haram. Ambassador Campbell discusses the actions of Nigeria's security forces in northeastern Nigeria.

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Article

The Changing Shape of Nigeria's Conflict

The fallout of the Chibok kidnappings has changed the shape of Nigeria's war with Boko Haram. The group is expanding the scope of its operations, while a potential food emergency and impending elections create a precarious situation writes John Campbell.

Video Interview

Five Questions on...Religion in Nigeria

Boko Haram continues to dominate the headlines on Nigeria, but no extremist group exists in a vacuum. John Campbell explains the religious context of the country.

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Article

Nigeria: Situation Report

Nigeria is divided, and religion is one aspect of that, but in a culture saturated by religiosity grievances are often understood through a religious and moral lens, writes John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Article

Rebuilding the Wall

Where multiple faiths share a political space, deeply held beliefs can divide societies. The answer is to keep faith out of the public square, writes John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Video Interview

Crisis in Central African Republic: Three Things to Know

The violence in the Central African Republic has neighboring countries concerned as fierce fighting and a weak government threaten to propel the humanitarian crisis beyond the country's borders. John Campbell, CFR's Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, highlights three things to know about the crisis and what is needed for peace.

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Radio Interview

Press Conference USA / Africa Conflicts

Carol Castiel hosts Chief of VOA's Hausa Service, Leo Keyen and Ambassador John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, currently Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, about the root causes and implications of the conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic as well as the ongoing insurgencies in Mali and Northern Nigeria.

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Video Interview

Boko Haram and the Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation

Thousands have been killed since Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram launched its uprising in 2009. Nigeria is resource rich and Africa's most populous country. In the last three years, Boko Haram has killed 358 people according to the government, but others estimate the true figure to be more than 1,500. Based largely in Nigeria's northeast, the militant group and its off-shoot Ansaru, has been fighting for more than four years to try to carve an Islamic state in this multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.

Joining John Rees in the studio to discuss this is Dr Olawale Ismail, Head of Research International Alert, and joining us on the phone from Washington is Ambassador John Campbell, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, expert on US policy toward Africa and author of a new book should United States fear Boko Haram? On the phone from Nigeria we have Mausi Segun, Nigeria Researcher for Human Rights Watch and to complete our panel we have Dr David Lowe, lecturer in law, security and terrorism, at Liverpool John Moores University.

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Radio Interview

Insecurity and the Arms Trade in West Africa

Although the recently signed Arms Trade Treaty has raised hopes that arms trafficking will wane in West Africa, the CFR's John Campbell is more cautious. He thinks everything rests upon how the treaty is implemented in a region still characterized by weak administrative and institutional capacities. An interview with John Campbell.

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Article

Is Mugabe a Classic Strong Man?

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has been officially named the winner of elections held Wednesday. GPS Intern Inesha Premaratne speaks with John Campbell, senior fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former ambassador to Nigeria, for his take on the results and what they mean for Zimbabwe.

Radio Interview

Nigerian Terrorist Group Accused Of Killing Students

Renee Montagne talks with former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell about recent school attacks in Nigeria. The group believed to be behind them is called Boko Haram. Campbell is Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Video Interview

Why U.S. Is Lagging in Pushing Investment in Africa

Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell discusses President Barack Obama's first trip to South Africa as U.S. president and why the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in pushing investment on the African continent. He speaks with Mark Crumpton on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line." (Source: Bloomberg)

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Article

How to tackle Nigeria’s woes, by U.S. ex-envoy, Campbell

John Campbell argues that alienation of the North of Nigeria is a huge challenge for the presidential elections in 2015, money influence will be tested again at polls, and he claims that the region is being engaged, Ambassador Adefuye affirms this.

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Video Interview

On The Line: Land Reforms in Africa

Land reform in Africa is not just about righting a historical wrong. Today, it is also about food security, about political and economic corruption, and in many cases about fundamental human rights. This week's episode of "On the Line" tackles some of these complicated issues. GUESTS Ambassador John Campbell: Former US Ambassador to Nigeria; Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, Council on Foreign Relations. Obang Metho: Executive Director, Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia. George Ayittey: Economist; President, Free Africa Foundation.

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