Beyond Humanitarianism

What You Need to Know About Africa and Why It Matters

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.


Africa is moving center stage in world politics, but not just for humanitarian reasons.

Currently, 15 percent of U.S. oil imports come from Africa—as much as from the Middle East—and the continent is poised to double its output over the coming decade. It has become the focus of attention from countries like China, which now imports more oil from Angola than from Saudi Arabia. In addition, Africa is rising in importance in trade, international security, democracy promotion, and efforts to tackle worldwide concerns about global health and poverty.

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics and Government

The Council on Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs present Beyond Humanitarianism, a compilation of recent work on Africa. This citizen's guide to the complex issues and conflicts on the continent clarifies what's at stake in Africa's future. It addresses underlying trends—such as the growth of democracy, the rising activity of China, and the political and economic prospects for the countries of Africa, as well as regional conflicts and terrorist threats there—and provides an absorbing look at Africa's emergence as a strategic player.

Princeton N. Lyman, CFR adjunct senior fellow for Africa policy studies, provides an overview of the major issues and section essays that briefly highlight the context for understanding each chapter. It concludes with recommendations drawn from CFR's Independent Task Force report on Africa. Based on the success of that report, which the State Department said significantly "raised the profile of Africa among policymakers," this book draws on a variety of Council content: Foreign Affairs articles, Independent Task Force reports, Council Special Reports, CFR's website——as well as other pieces by CFR fellows.

Beyond Humanitarianism is also available in audio, ebook, and large print versions.

Chapter and Audio Downloads

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Politics and Government

Reviews and Endorsements

Highlighted in Publishers Weekly as a noteworthy Fall 2007 Trade Paperback on Contemporary Affairs

Africa is on the agenda for foreign policymakers dealing with trade, terrorism, new democracies, failing states, global health, and, not least, geopolitics. Yet deep knowledge about Africa outside the development and humanitarian communities is sparse. Beyond Humanitarianism is the perfect antidote—a remarkable and crisply organized collection of essays on the full range of challenges that confront Africa and the world. Highly recommended!

Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

As this volume makes apparent, the United States has compelling security, economic, and political interests throughout Africa; the challenge now is pursuing these interests with sustained, strategic support that bolsters African-led initiatives to promote governance, stability, equality, and prosperity across the continent.

Russell D. Feingold, U.S. Senator

Beyond Humanitarianism is one of the most important compilations of works on today's Africa—a continent whose great strides towards positively reinventing itself are largely unknown in the West. It is a timely work that captures the continent's ongoing struggles, but also its ever-increasing victories, and it lays out plausible solutions that could make a huge difference in Africa's efforts to join the Family of Nations as a fully functioning member. I hope it gets the widest possible readership, particularly in America, where all too often the continent is seen solely through the prism of the four ds—death, disease, disaster, and despair. A book like this is needed to help Americans understand why a healthy Africa matters and to foster the kind of international cooperation needed to help change negative perceptions, as well as the realities that feed them—for all our sakes.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Johannesburg Bureau Chief for CNN

In the News

In Africa, Beyond Humanitarianism

The Washington Post

Top Stories on CFR

Election 2024

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential contenders are saying about foreign policy. This Week: The United States may come to rue its failure to get its fiscal house in order. 


Israel has made eliminating the threat from the Gaza-based militant group a central war aim, but it’s not entirely clear at what point that condition will be met.  


Outright seizure of the Russian Central Bank’s hundreds of billions in frozen assets is currently off the table, but it is still possible to obtain large sums for Ukraine from the interest income on these assets.