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BSc MSc PhD (Warwick)
School of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483972
GIP Gibbs G4.22
Stephen is Reader in International Relations and Programme Director for the MA Degrees in International Relations and the MA in International Security. He joined the Department in September 2003. He lectures on international development and South African politics.
Stephen has supervised the following PhD students to completion:
He is also currently supervising another doctoral student in the department.
He is keen to supervise promising research students and would particularly welcome projects on South African Politics, South African Foreign Policy, European Union Development and Trade Policy and UK-Africa Relations post-Brexit.
Stephen has broad research interests in critical international political economy and development, especially with regard to Africa. More specific interests are in the political economy of post-apartheid South Africa, the trade and development policies of the European Union and UK-Africa trade policy post-Brexit.
In December 2017 Stephen submitted written evidence to the House of Commons International Trade Select Committee’s ‘Continuing application of EU trade agreements after Brexit’ inquiry. The final report of this inquiry is available here.
In October 2019 Stephen submitted written evidence to the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Select Committee's 'The UK and Sub-Saharan Africa - prosperity, peace and development co-operation' inquiry. The final report of this inquiry is available here.
In January 2020, Stephen co-organised a parliamentary symposium, which was attended by over 160 participants including parliamentarians, policymakers, academics and a range of stakeholders from the UK and Africa. Following the symposium, he has produced a Policy Briefing for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa which outlines the challenges and opportunities for UK-African trade after Brexit and concludes with a series of policy recommendations.
In January 2022, Stephen was invited to give expert comment to a meeting organised by the European Economic and Social Committee on its draft opinion on ‘A new framework for free trade agreements, economic partnership agreements and investment agreements that guarantees the real involvement of civil society organisations and the social partners and ensures public awareness’.
In February 2022, Stephen submitted written evidence to the House of Commons International Trade Select Committee’s ‘UK trade approach towards developing countries’ inquiry.
Britain and Africa in the twenty-first century provides the first analysis of UK-Africa policy in the era of austerity, Conservative government and Brexit. It explores how Britain's relationship with Africa has evolved since the days of Blair, Brown and 'Make Poverty History' and examines how a changing UK political environment, and international context, has impacted upon this longstanding -- and deeply complex -- relationship. This edited collection includes contributions from leading UK- and Africa-based scholars, as well as from Chatham House's Africa Programme Head and the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Africa. Examining trade, security, aid and peacekeeping, as well as the role of political parties, advocacy groups and the UK population itself, Britain and Africa provides an indispensable reference point for researchers and practitioners interested in contemporary UK-Africa relations and the place of Africa in British foreign policy.--Provided by publisher.
With the Cotonou Agreement due to expire in 2020, formal negotiations towards a new partnership agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states began in September 2018. Based on the acceptance of the EU’s negotiating mandate, the new arrangement will be primarily organised via three specific regional protocols with each of the ACP regions. Meanwhile, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) launched in 2007, has seen the African Union (AU) gain increased prominence as an institutional partner of the EU. Given its ambitious pan-African agenda, it adopted an alternative ‘African’ vision for future EU-ACP relations, to the mandate agreed by the ACP states and expressed a willingness to become directly involved in the negotiations. This article contributes an important new case-study to the existing literature on ‘African agency’ in international politics by considering the scope for Africa to exert agency within the post-Cotonou negotiations, given the negotiation of a specific regional compact with Africa. It adopts a structurally embedded view of agency, based on Cox’s understanding of historical structures, as a fit between institutions, ideas and material relations. The central argument is that, in comparison to the negotiation of the Cotonou Agreement two decades ago, there is greater scope for African agency. However, both the ideational and material aspects of Africa’s relationship with the EU, condition the limits to how effective such agency might be. Moreover, tensions at the institutional level between the ACP and AU further undermine the potential for effective African agency.
This article addresses the question of 'the left' in contemporary South Africa in two senses. First, in terms of assessing the health of leftist politics; second, it asks to what extent are the self-identified left, progressive in any meaningful sense. The first half of the article reflects on the current development situation in South Africa. Here it is argued that within most sections of the South African left there is broad agreement on the need to address the triple challenge of unemployment, rising inequality and poverty. The second half of the article identifies three broad sections to the contemporary left in South Africa (the Tripartite Alliance, the left outside of the Alliance and the remnants of the revolutionary socialist left). It argues that the left within the Alliance, despite the launch of the New Growth Path, are failing to implement the sufficiently radical policy changes that are required to address the development challenges identified in the first half of the article. The left outside of the Alliance, meanwhile, despite recent attempts at co-ordination, lacks influence and remains disconnected from the masses.
This article considers the response of the largest trade union federation in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to an extended free trade agenda, which has formed a key part of neoliberal restructuring during recent decades. It focuses in particular on South Africa’s position in multilateral trade talks and its negotiation of three Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). COSATU’s critique of these FTAs is considered and in particular the analysis focuses on its attempts at building transnational solidarity with other national labour movements. It argues that despite COSATU’s opposition to trade liberalisation there are a number of obstacles to developing effective international links.
Not only is the participation of developing countries in international trade negotiations growing, so is their influence over the global trade agenda. This article highlights the increasing activism and impact of African states through a detailed study of the current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) negotiations with the European Union (EU). In examining African resistance to EPAs, the article develops a constructivist approach to North-South trade negotiations that pays close attention to the role of development discourses. We argue that the growing willingness of African states to challenge the EU to deliver on its development promises during the decade-long EPA process was crucial to informing their sustained opposition to the EU’s goal of completing a comprehensive set of sub-regional economic agreements. We document African resistance to EU trade diplomacy in the EPAs, exploring how these otherwise weak countries were able to pursue normative-based negotiation strategies by recourse to the EU’s promise of a ‘development partnership.’
This article addresses the consequences of Washington Consensus and more recently post-Washington Consensus policy for democratic good governance in Africa. It acknowledges the increased focus in recent years of policy-makers on poverty as an important force in world politics. Despite this increased concern the authors argue that International Relations as a discipline fails to offer a suitable framework for understanding poverty as a social force. The article proposes a revival of Robert W. Cox and Jeffrey Harrod's approach based on"patterns of social relations of production" . This offers a disaggregation of the condition that is often referred to in the literature as"the poor" or"the informal sector" . The article then outlines a comparative research agenda based on the cases of Tunisia and South Africa. It demonstrates how these cases provide the sternest test for assessing the authors' scepticism of the prospects of reconciling market-led development with good governance, whilst also offering a"most-different" comparison given their very different political cultures. In conclusion, the article reflects on the methodological aspects to operationalising such a research agenda and proposes an ethnographic approach informed by the work of Burawoy.
Historically, the dominant understanding of Africa’s place in world politics has been one dominated by concepts such as ‘marginalisation’ or ‘exploitation’. During the 1960s and 1970s, there were a number of adherents of the dependency theory view, which understood African underdevelopment as a direct consequence of the continent’s economic relations with the core of the world economy (see Amin 1976; Rodney 1972). Then as we entered the post-Cold War era, Africa’s international relations were seen to result in a struggle for state survival as superpower rivalry within the continent gave way to the rigours of an increasingly global economy (Clapham 1996). Others went as far as to argue that after two decades of the structural adjustment era, due to the persistence of neopatrimonial regimes in particular, what we were witnessing at the turn of the century was the persistence of long-term economic crisis in African economies (Van de Walle 2001). By contrast, over the last few years, another competing story of Africa is beginning to emerge. For example, an editorial in the Observer newspaper in February 2011 proclaimed that a new continent is emerging, concluding that: ‘Europe and the UK have been slow to adjust to the rise of an Africa powered by economic growth and a burgeoning consumer boom. The African lions are finding their voice’ (Observer 2011: 28). Similarly, a recent World Bank publication concluded that: ‘there is a good chance that the continent’s strong economic performance of the last decade will be sustained’ (Chuhan-Pole and Devarajan 2011: 17). To support this changing narrative of Africa’s position in the global political economy, the evidence that tends to be provided is the rates of economic growth of key African economies. For example, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world from 2000 to 2010 were to be found in Africa, with Angola at the top of the list (The Economist 2011: 12). Similarly, Africa’s share of world trade has increased in recent years, although there was a downturn in 2009, when the figure fell again to 3.1 per cent (UN Economic Commission for Africa 2011: 50). This decade of economic growth coincides, and is partly explained by, the fact that during recent years, we have also witnessed increasing African cooperation with other countries in the global south – most notably, China (Lopes 2010: 74-77) – and the associated boom in the demand for Africa’s natural resources (Cornelissen et al. 2012: 5).
Hurt SR, (2020) UK-Africa Trade after Brexit: Challenges and Opportunities (Policy Briefing for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa), London: Royal African Society.
Hurt SR, (2017) 'UK-Africa Trade Within and Outside of the European Union: From Lomé to Brexit' in All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, The Future of Africa-UK Trade and Development Cooperation Relations in the Transitional and Post Brexit Period, London: Royal African Society.
Hurt SR, (2010) Entries for 'Apartheid', 'International Labor Organization (ILO)', 'Newly Industrializing Countries', Nontariff Barriers to Trade', 'North-South Relations' in George Thomas Kurian et. al. (eds), The Encyclopedia of Political Science, Washington: CQ Press.
Hurt SR, (2006) Entries for 'Poverty Reduction', 'Third World Debt', 'Washington Consensus', 'World Bank', 'World Development Indicators' 'World Trade Organization' in Mark Bevir (ed), Encyclopedia of Governance, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hurt SR, Onwurah, C, (2020) 'UK-Africa trade after Brexit: Time for a reset', African Arguments, 14 December.
Hurt SR, (2020) 'UK investment in Africa will lag international rivals', Oxford Analytica (Daily Brief), 13 February.
Hurt SR, (2016) 'Why African States Are Refusing to Sign On to EU Trade Deals', World Politics Review, 9 November.
Hurt SR, (2014) 'EU Trade Deal Limits EAC's Options for Future Trade Policy', World Politics Review, 17 November.
Hurt SR, (2014) 'A big election win for South Africa's ANC, but results suggest future challenges', The Conversation, 10 May.
Hurt SR, (2014) 'Pressure Mounts as Deadline for EU-Africa Trade Talks Looms', World Politics Review, 14 April.
Hurt, SR (2013) 'Why South Africa has ripped up foreign investment deals', The Conversation, 17 December.
Hurt SR, (2005) 'Trade agreements between Europre and Africa', Pambazuka News, No. 231.
Stephen is a member of the International Studies Association, British International Studies Association, Political Studies Association, Chatham House, Royal African Society and the African Studies Association of the UK.
Reviewer for LSE Public Policy Group of Special Reports published by the European Court of Auditors on development policy issues (2009, 2010, 2012).
Stephen was interviewed live on BBC Radio Oxford on 1 July 2005 about the forthcoming G8 Summit in Gleneagles. In November 2010 Stephen was interviewed for the World Politics Review website about EU-South Africa relations. In March 2014 he took part in a discussion on EU trade and development policy for Radio Študent who are based in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
In the summer of 2017 he was interviewed for a series of podcasts on Post-Brexit trade scenarios published by the Trade Justice Movement. Stephen's contribution to this series was focused on trade, development, and the EU's free trade agreements with countries in the global south.
In January 2020 Stephen was interviewed live on Sky News TV about the UK-Africa Invesment Summit.