Peacebuilding cached version 10/02/2019 14:29:05 en Reimagining security <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does security mean defence: tanks and barbed-wire fences? Or can it mean building relationships, confronting inequalities and recognising each other's humanity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ammerdown-invitation/security-for-future-in-search-of-new-vision">Security for the future: in search of a new vision</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Conflict global security european security Celia Mckeon Peacebuilding Wed, 17 Jun 2015 15:03:01 +0000 Celia Mckeon 93633 at For children born of war, what future? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Sexual violence in conflict has attracted increasing attention, but with the majority of responses focused on short-term needs, children born through war remain largely ignored.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// children.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// children.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Bread for the World/Flickr. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>In recent weeks, more than <a href="">700 women and children</a> have been rescued from Boko Haram by the Nigerian Army. Reports suggest that at least <a href="">214 of them are visibly pregnant</a>. While agencies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provide much-needed emergency medical and psychosocial support, little effective analysis exists on the long-term needs and challenges of these children born of war and their mothers.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the experience of women and children abducted by Boko Haram is not unique to the emergent situation in northern Nigeria. Nearly 2,000 miles away from Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest in northern Nigeria, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) traverses the jungles of central Africa with hundreds of captive men, women and children. Known for using similar tactics of abduction and forced marriage as Boko Haram, the rebel group has survived for more than two decades despite numerous political and military attempts to expel it.</p> <p>Meanwhile, communities in neighboring northern Uganda, the original theater of the LRA, have experienced relative peace and security for nearly a decade, yet a multitude of economic and social consequences of the conflict still remain. One such issue has risen to prominence as of late, with some leaders going so far as to call it a ‘time bomb’: what will become of all of these children born of war? Thousands of such children exist on the margins, fathered through sexual violence by not only the LRA, but also government forces and a multitude of other state and non-state armed actors. As these children enter into early adulthood, with many now in their teens and twenties, increasing questions (and conflicts) of identity and belonging have emerged, prompting calls for targeted programs and policies to address their plight.</p> <p>While the prevalence of sexual violence in conflict has received increasingly greater recognition in public, policy and academic circles around the world, the majority of the resultant reports and responses focus on short-term needs and largely <a href="">ignore children born of sexual violence</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Last month, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) conducted an assessment in northern Uganda to understand the needs and challenges of incorporating children born of war into reparations and development policies. Our findings, which will be produced in a report later this year, reveal long-term needs and challenges of children born of war that (re)integration programs and policies have largely ignored and overlooked. When the initial rush of attention and humanitarian aid wanes, it is important to keep in mind the longer term consequences of conflict on the children born of war and plan interventions accordingly.</p> <h2><strong>Prioritizing the unique needs of children</strong></h2> <p>There is a need for special programs for children born of war<strong>.</strong> Often times, programs focus&nbsp;<span>exclusively on their mothers, as the immediate survivors of conflict sexual violence. While mothers undoubtedly have a need for such support, the needs of their children may differ and it cannot be assumed that programs designed for the women will trickle down to the children. In societies where one’s identity derives from paternal lineage, children with unknown or untraceable fathers can face considerable hardship living with maternal relatives. Increasingly, peer-support groups have been a popular strategy in northern Uganda to provide psychosocial support to female survivors of conflict sexual violence. No such groups exist for the children, in part because of a lack of prioritization by non-governmental organizations and donors, and because of the challenges and sensitivities involved in identifying and mobilizing them.&nbsp;</span><span class="pullquote-right">While mothers undoubtedly have a need for such support, the needs of their children may differ and it cannot be assumed that programs designed for the women will trickle down to the children.</span></p> <p>Further, the programs for women survivors who bore children need additional support to recognize their status as mothers. For example, in northern Uganda, where persons returning from the rebels were awarded reinsertion packages of basic household items by the government, there were no additional allowances for those with children born in captivity. This trend continues today, with many governmental and non-governmental programs recognizing formerly-abducted persons as a special category for assistance, but not children born of war.</p> <h2>Reintegration at the community level</h2> <p>Generally, (re)integration programs often overlook the communities within which children born of war live and focus on preparing the mother and child, while overlooking the needs of the community. The families and communities within which these children will live must be adequately prepared for their return.</p><p><span>As much as the children deserve special programs for the violations they suffered, their communities do too. In conflicts like those in northern Nigeria and Uganda, war has affected nearly everyone. Trauma and scarcity of resources, for instance, can contribute to the exacerbated stigmatization and rejection of children born of war. Formerly-abducted women and their children may only initially be welcomed into homes and communities due to the appeal of the resources from reintegration programs that they return with. Tensions and conflicts often emerge over time, however, especially as the resources dry up and children reach school-going age and require additional support for fees and school requirements. Other times, as experienced by some mothers in northern Uganda, their relatives initially welcomed the women but refused to accept their children, forcing the women to leave home and rent in urban centers where they experience relative anonymity.</span></p> <p>Any programs or policies that support these children or their mothers must consider the social circumstances in which they live. Failing to view other relatives and community members as key stakeholders in any support they receive is likely to undermine any efforts. More than a one-off sensitization campaign, it is necessary to take the time to understand how the community perceives the returning mothers and their children born of war as well as the specific obstacles the children are likely to face (such as land access, stigma, and resentment) and together with the community devise strategies to overcome those obstacles. In northern Uganda many young mothers felt that receiving support to become productive and self-sufficient was the key to gaining respect in their community and overcoming stigma, rather than just psychosocial support.</p> <h2>The differentiated impacts of gender</h2> <p>Anticipating the nuances and gender differences among children born of war is a critical part of devising appropriate and responsive programs and policies.<strong> </strong>Even amongst children born of war under the same circumstances or within the same group of fathers, individual needs and circumstances may greatly differ. For instance, female and male children will face different challenges in societies in which females’ families receive dowry when their daughter marries while males are expected to inherit land and other resources when they come of age.<strong> </strong>In northern Uganda, some families and clans have rejected male children born of war to a higher extent than females because they do not want to allocate land to them on which to settle when they come of age.</p> <p>Ethnicity can also affect levels of acceptance and acknowledgement, as can the identity of the father. In Uganda, children born of rape by government forces are largely invisible, due in part to the fact that the same government under which these atrocities were committed is still in power. Further, children whose parents are from different regions or ethnicities reportedly face greater stigma than children born of war to parents of the same ethnicity. This is especially severe if the father is believed to be from a group for which the conflict is blamed. Any interventions or responses to meet their needs must recognize these nuances and respond accordingly.</p> <h2><strong>Focusing on the future</strong></h2> <p>The ICTJ’s assessment underscored the reality that the needs of children born of war shift over time and require long-term visioning and planning.<strong> </strong>The needs of children born of war are not the same when they are infants as when they are young adults. Their identity and needs constantly evolve over time as conflicts and circumstances shift over time. The interventions of UNFPA and other organizations providing support in northern Nigeria must evolve accordingly.</p> <p>Whereas the pressing need today may be counseling for the mother and medical support for a safe delivery of the child, in the future, the need may be access to education, land, livelihoods, justice and redress. Not every organization may have a mandate to provide support this far into a post-conflict period, but the needs of children born of war shall remain.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Organizations involved in programming and policymaking must maintain a panoramic view of the reparative justice needs of children born of war while the lens is still fixed on the young women rescued from Boko Haram. Within this view, taking the time to extend any work involving children must also incorporate the receiving communities to ensure that the cycle of violence is not repeated through the next generation. It is important to recognize and plan for children born of war so that they can outgrow the negative consequences of the circumstances of their birth, and have the hope of a brighter future where they are treated with dignity and their rights are respected.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/mark-drumbl/ongwen-trial-at-icc-tough-questions-on-child-soldiers">The Ongwen trial at the ICC: tough questions on child soldiers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/sexual-violence-in-bosnia-how-war-lives-on-in-everyday-life">Sexual violence in Bosnia: how war lives on in everyday life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maria-neophytou/sexual-violence-and-war-inevitable">Sexual violence and war: inevitable?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Uganda </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Uganda Lindsay McClain Opiyo Virginie Ladisch Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 12 Jun 2015 11:36:59 +0000 Virginie Ladisch and Lindsay McClain Opiyo 93478 at Morocco, UN myopia and the Libyan crisis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It may be understandable that the UN should clutch at any straws to address the miasma in Libya. But Morocco shouldn’t be one of them.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Those were the days: celebrating the liberation of Benghazi from the Qaddafi dictatorship in October 2011. Flickr / <a href="">Magherabia</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has been plunged into civil war. No one really knows where it will lead but it is indefinitely postponing a political transition essential for the country's stability. </p> <p>For some time the African Union (AU), Egypt and Algeria seemed to be key actors in the search for peace but their efforts, under the patronage of the United Nations (UN), have led only to impasse. Enter Morocco, which has in recent weeks organised several intra-Libyan round tables under UN sponsorship. </p> <p>During one such event in April, in the coastal town of Skhirate (near Rabat), the&nbsp;UN special envoy,&nbsp;Bernardino Leon, warned that “the talks would be the last chance to end the conflict” and that “the patience of Libyans and the international community” was exhausted. And there have even been media suggestions that some western officials see such talks in Morocco as the only hope of forming a unity government and halting the fighting.</p> <h2><strong>Continental approach</strong></h2> <p>To thoroughly understand what drives Morocco in the search for peace, a regional, even continental, approach is required. Yet in the many analyses of the crisis in Libya and the wider Sahel, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which has 28 members (two-thirds French speaking) and is a key geopolitical bloc, has been neglected if not overlooked. Qaddafi, the mastermind behind the foundation of CEN-SAD in 1998, had a strategic ambition thereby to reduce French influence on African countries, while counterbalancing the AU, and poured petro-dollars into this regional grouping. </p> <p>Since his overthrow in 2011, however, CEN-SAD has been deprived of much of its financing, removing any impediments for France to reactivate its policy in the Sahel—as witnessed since the advent of the crisis in Mali. For Rabat, controlling CEN-SAD or, at least, being perceived as a proximate supporter of Libya could be highly beneficial. Such a strategy would provide this close and historical French ally with an elevated leading role alongside France, which already has a substantial number of troops in the region, and an even greater opportunity to influence the Sahel. </p> <p>In June 2012, a meeting of CEN-SAD foreign ministers took place in Morocco, officially to find a lasting peace in Mali. In reality, this was a unique occasion for Rabat to showcase its new-found interest in Sahel stability. </p> <p>The fall of Qaddafi and the changing regional political landscape have provided Morocco with the opportunity to influence the Sahel states in its own long-term continental interests. Moroccan diplomats have been extremely active in the Sahel and the Maghreb, trying to reap the benefits of the continuing geopolitical and strategic reshuffling.</p> <p>By giving a lead—directly or indirectly—to CEN-SAD, Morocco aims to strengthen its international position, in Africa in particular, which would facilitate the kingdom’s eventual return to the AU. The union currently recognises as a member the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which contests Rabat’s illegal colonisation of the Western Sahara territory since 1975, and so Morocco remains outside. </p> <h2><strong>Mutual efforts</strong></h2> <p>Like Egypt (and the AU), Algeria is convinced that only a political solution will eventually put an end to the stalemate in Libya and privileges political dialogue. Aided by regular diplomatic meetings, these two north African giants converge behind mutual efforts to find a lasting, peaceful solution and combat the growing threat from terrorism in the region.&nbsp; </p> <p>The recent peace accords in Mali, signed in Bamako, emerged under the patronage of Algiers. Yet, despite hosting various meetings with the different Libyan protagonists, it has not enjoyed the same success in that arena. It’s not just the complexity of the Libyan equation but what the Algerian daily <em>El Watan</em> characterises as a ‘two-headed diplomacy’. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Exerting more pressure on Libyans and putting before them a&nbsp;<em>fait accompli&nbsp;</em>is surely not the best option to find a lasting peace.</p><p><span></span>Oddly, Algeria has both a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC), headed since September 2013 by Ramtane Lamamra, and a Ministry for Maghreb and African Affairs and the Arab League (MMAAAL), led by Abdelkader Messahel. Both are highly respected and experienced diplomats, with a massive knowledge of African affairs.</p> <p>Lamamra (dubbed ‘Mister Africa’), a former AU peace and security commissioner, is the chief author of the reinvigoration of Algeria’s foreign policy, internationally and on the African continent—for too long neglected. He is also behind the flow of African and western diplomats, presidents and ministers to Algiers in the past 18 months.<em> </em></p> <p>Officially, this dual diplomacy is due to the numerous international files in which Algeria is implicated, in Africa and beyond. But this bicephalous approach is vulnerable to personal rivalries and competitive ambitions. And, if the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger once famously asked ‘who do I call if I want to call Europe?’, foreign chancelleries might soon ask ‘what foreign ministry shall we call in Algeria?’.</p> <h2><strong>Jumble</strong></h2> <p>To add to this jumble of conferences and round tables, Ethiopia has recently called for a gathering of African foreign ministers on Libya, probably during the AU summit to be held next month in Johannesburg. But given the scale of the challenge, it is hard to envisage any strategy arising from this meeting, as against a loud diplomatic cacophony. And this multiplication of initiatives may only complicate an already complex Libyan and regional geopolitical situation. </p> <p>Worse still, Leon’s exasperated declaration last month may not only indicate that the UN is losing ground. Exerting more pressure on Libyans and putting before them a <em>fait accompli </em>is surely not the best option to find a lasting peace. And while all actors must help Libyans find an overdue political solution, the AU and its member states, supported by the UN, should be the prime driving force. </p> <p>It is thus paradoxical and puzzling that the UN could perceive Morocco, though not a member of the AU, as a viable broker for Libya. If Rabat could harvest any laurels from the thorny Libyan political stalemate, it would open a regional Pandora’s box—with dramatic consequences for the Western Sahara conflict. And if the UN has a viable strategy for stability and security in Libya and the Sahel-Maghreb as a whole, it is not at all evident what it is.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/abdelkader-abderrahmane/libya-pressing-need-for-dialogue">Libya: the pressing need for dialogue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/libya-containing-danger">Libya, containing the danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral">Libya’s downward spiral</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Libya Conflict International politics global security Africa Abdelkader Abderrahmane Diplomacy Peacebuilding Sun, 24 May 2015 20:29:00 +0000 Abdelkader Abderrahmane 93045 at The Iraqi crisis: rethinking the narrative <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An approach to Iraq focused on military intervention, with some humanitarian assistance, has defied the complexity of the domestic and regional kaleidoscope. No wonder it is failing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Jaish al-Mahdi army military parade, Najaf,Iraq, 2014." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jaish al-Mahdi army military parade, Najaf,Iraq, 2014. Demotix/Ahmad Mousa.All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The <a href="">capture</a> of Tikrit from Islamic State (IS) by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in early April, with the help of US airstrikes and Iranian advisors, appeared simultaneously to preserve and undermine the Iraqi state. While representing a significant territorial victory in the fight against IS, <a href="">reports</a> indicated that the group’s expulsion was followed by a wave of looting, summary executions and other atrocities, tarnishing the town’s ‘liberation’ and the forces associated with it. </p> <p>While the ISF formally and visibly did the capturing, and took most of the credit, Iraq’s Shia militias dominated the first two weeks of the assault. These forces largely operate outside of state control—in spite of the recent move by the prime minister (and <a href="">commander-in-chief</a>), Haider al-Abadi, to bring them under his authority—and do most of the fighting against the <a href=";id=188537">Wahhabi</a>-inspired Sunni IS. </p> <p>The event fitted well into the common narrative of the conflict on which much of the west’s intervention against IS in Iraq is based. Its main elements—often espoused by <a href="">US</a>-, <a href="">Israeli</a>- and <a href="">Gulf-based media</a> and analysts—are questioning the chances of survival of the Iraqi state, perceiving IS as a signficant threat through the lens of global terrorism, framing Iran as the region’s challenger to the status quo, and suggesting that a fight for hegemony is taking place across the Middle East which pits Sunni against Shia regimes and groups. But this narrative is misleading. </p> <h2><strong>Fear of implosion</strong></h2> <p>First, it is doubtful that Iraq’s days as a unitary state are numbered. This proposition is mainly based on the combination of centrifugal domestic political forces—divergent Sunnis, Shia and Kurds—and centripetal regional forces influencing national affairs. Yet none of Iraq’s key neighbours (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey) wishes to see it disappear as a unitary state. They may prefer a weak Iraq for various reasons but they fear implosion bringing insecurity, radicalism, refugees and aspirations to self-determination across their borders. </p> <p>Moreover, Iraq’s Sunnis have no viable alternative. A Sunni rump state is not only politically impossible given the record of the last ten years of radical groups emerging from Sunni-populated territorities, but also financially untenable. And Iraq’s Kurds are unlikely to declare independence in the face of resistance from both Turkey and Iran, considering their sizeable Kurdish populations. As long as Turkey transfers payments for Kurdish oil to the treasury in Bagdad instead of Erbil, the Kurds cannot really afford it either. </p> <p>Secondly, and relatedly, Iraq’s Shia are more nationalistic and more fragmented than one might think. While some groups, such as Kataib Hezbollah, essentially owe allegiance to Tehran, far from all Shia militias are Iranian proxies—take Muqtada al-Sadr’s ‘Mahdi army’. And while Iraq’s Shia took up arms when IS arrived at the gates of Baghdad, this was much less a sectarian mobilisation than a response to a <a href="">strident nationalistic call</a> from the grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, which <a href="">showed little symphathy</a> for sectarian narratives. Al-Sistani’s influence is significant—he is perhaps as close as one can find to a national figure in Iraq—and in the Shia world his authority rivals, or even surpasses, that of his Iranian counterparts.</p> <p>Thirdly, it is not just Iranian influence in Iraq which incentivises violence. While it is materially significant (advisors, weapons and funds), prolonged Saudi export of Wahhabism—its extremely conservative interpretation of Islam—has also played its part. As socio-religious influence, Wahhabism spreads more under the radar and with greater deniability than Iranian arms or <a href="">pictures of Qassem Suleimani</a>, leader of Iran’s Quds force, but it is not less of a hindrance to resolving Iraq’s governance crisis. </p> <p>Fourthly, while Iraq’s Sunnis are not necessarily true believers in the ideology of IS they are deeply distrustful of the Iraqi state. Since 2003 they have been consistently marginalised by the government, its bureaucracy and corrupt ‘checkpoint army’. Over time, Iraq’s state institutions have increasingly moved away from treating the country’s citizens impartially on the basis of the constitution. What remains of that state is perceived as having been captured by Iraq’s Shia, while benefiting from significant international military support. This is seen as deeply threatening by many Sunnis—especially in the light of atrocities such as those that followed the capture of Tikrit. </p> <p>Finally, the international community may continue to pretend that the crisis in Iraq can be resolved without addressing the crisis in Syria, but this is wishful thinking. Not only does IS operate freely across the border—re-emerging in Iraq having regained strength in Syria—but also it is the combined outcomes of these wars which feature in regional calculations. So regional involvement is only likely to become more constructive if a solution to both conflicts can be identified which is acceptable to the main players: Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.</p> <h2><strong>Counter-narrative</strong></h2> <p>These five points provide a counter-narrative on the crisis in Iraq. Disturbingly, most of the west’s intervention—and a lot of its reporting—does not take this complexity much into account. Focused on driving IS out of Anbar province and Mosul city, the US-led international coalition has not addressed how Iraq can become a state which functions for all its citizens. Engaged in Iraq but neglecting the war in Syria, western countries risk strengthening IS or creating a successor sooner or later. And by accepting or even reinforcing simplistic, Sunni versus Shia framing, they reduce the agency of Iraqi actors who can play a more constructive role. </p> <p>A nuanced understanding is needed of the various regional and domestic stakeholders, and a greater range of instruments than just humanitarian assistance and military intervention need to be deployed. The risk of the current approach is that if violence is brought to a halt it will be merely the silence before the next storm.</p> <p><em>For more from the Knowledge Platform on Security and Rule of Law go to&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em></em></a><em>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq%27s-phantom-army">Iraq&#039;s phantom army</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-new-war%27s-peril">Iraq, a new war&#039;s peril</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Iraq Conflict Democracy and government rule of law iraq - the war & after insurgency geopolitics of iraqi war us & the world middle east Nick Grinstead Erwin van Veen Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 22 May 2015 14:13:55 +0000 Erwin van Veen and Nick Grinstead 93004 at Burundi teeters on the brink of civil war following coup attempt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Burundi looks like it is entering a vortex of renewed violence. It's in a troubled region, we have been here before<span style="line-height: 1.5;">—and the president's determination to pursue an unconstitutional third term is blocking any democratic alternative.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza: the only candidate in the 2010 election.&nbsp;<a class="source" href="">EPA / Yannick Tylle</a>.</p><p><a class="source" href=""></a>Over the past few weeks the situation in Burundi has quickly deteriorated from the <a href="">relative but superficial stability</a>&nbsp;which the country has experienced, following the <a href="">Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Accords</a> of 2000, to the brink of civil war.</p> <p>The downward spiral of events since 26 April, ostensibly caused by the incumbent president’s bid for an unconstitutional third term in office, culminated in a <a href="">coup attempt</a> led by Major Gen Godefroid Niyombare, a former intelligence chief who was dismissed by the president in February.&nbsp;<span>The coup appears to have been </span><a href="">averted</a><span> after action by forces loyal to the incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza, who </span><a href="">returned</a><span> to the country from Tanzania after 24 hours of </span><a href="">clashes</a><span> between </span><a href="">military factions</a><span> in and around the capital, Bujumbura.</span></p> <p>This may be seen as a major setback in a country which avoided the genocidal escalation of conflict experienced in neighbouring Rwanda in the 1990s—but where there has been at least one major episode of violence in each decade since independence, including a civil war which began in 1993, killed some 300,000 people and was only incrementally brought to an end between 2000 and 2005.</p> <p>The Arusha accords, in fact, proved a major turning point in relations between the traditionally dominant Tutsi minority (which comprises only 14% of the population but controls, among others, the armed forces) and the Hutu majority. Conceived broadly as a political and military power-sharing agreement, they were initially not fully inclusive of all factions in the civil war.</p> <p>But they gradually brought the majority of armed groups into the fold, through a series of additional agreements with the Tutsi-dominated <a href=";Country=Burundi&amp;topic=Summary&amp;subtopic=Political+structure">ruling party</a>: CNDD/FDD (Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie / Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie) and the <a href="">Palipehutu-FNL</a>, one of the armed factions of the Hutu community.</p> <p>The agreement with Palipehutu-FNL followed the country’s 2005 elections, which were generally seen as marking the beginning of post-conflict state-building and reconstruction. Yet this process has been far from successful.</p> <h2>Hungry, poor and angry</h2> <p>Burundi has the world’s second lowest gross domestic product per capita according to most recent World Bank <a href=";sort=asc">data</a>. It is the fourth least globalised country, ranking 137 out of 140 countries on the <a href="">2014 DHL Global Connectedness Index</a>. Burundi is also the world’s hungriest country, according to the <a href="">2014 Global Hunger Index</a>.</p> <p>Moreover, the fragile political stability has been put under increasing pressure, especially since the 2010 election cycle, boycotted by opposition parties on the grounds of alleged corruption in local elections. Nkurunziza was re-elected virtually unopposed with more than 90% of the vote and his party, CNDD-FDD, won 81 of the 106 seats in parliament. Subsequently escalating <a href="">violence</a> forced several opposition leaders into exile, only to return to the country in 2013.</p> <p>What has thus been at stake over the past five years has been the sustainability of the 2000 peace agreement. The 2015 elections were widely <a href="">seen</a> as a litmus test for its survival.</p> <h2>Constitutional folly</h2> <p>An attempt by Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD to pass constitutional amendments that would have given his party full control over the legislative process and removed presidential term limits <a href="">was narrowly defeated by just one vote in March 2014</a>. But rather than accepting this vote, <a href="">CNDD-FDD nominated Nkurunziza</a> again for the presidency, arguing that his first term did not 'count' under the two-term limit as he had then been appointed by parliament rather than been popularly elected.</p> <p> <a href=""><img src="" alt="" width="460" /></a> <span class="image-caption">Burundi is still struggling to rebuild after the civil war which ran from 1993 to 2005.&nbsp;<span class="source">Kalou Kaka. Creative Commons</span>.</span></p> <p>The decision was subsequently endorsed by the constitutional court, <a href="">amid reports the court had been pressed to do so</a>. This&nbsp;triggered the protests which have now brought the country back to the brink of civil war and already resulted in <a href="">50,000 refugees</a>.</p> <h2>Regional conflicts</h2> <p>Adding to this dire domestic situation, Burundi exists in an extremely unstable and conflict-prone neighbourhood, wedged among Tanzania in the east, Rwanda in the north and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the west. With the latter two, in particular, Burundi has been locked into a regional conflict zone, with <a href="">transnational armed groups</a> fighting protracted civil and proxy wars for decades.</p><p><span>These have also been fuelled by ethnic divisions and rival governments in neighbouring countries, prolonged by relatively easy access to lootable and lucrative commodities. They have been exacerbated by competing local and national elites in a context in which exclusion from political power is equivalent to exclusion from virtually every other meaningful opportunity.</span></p> <p>This unstable and volatile regional environment has created the space for various militia groups to receive training and support in neighbouring countries. In particular, the youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, the <a href="">Imbonerakure</a>, seems to have benefited from training by Hutu groups in the neighbouring DRC who are aligned with, and comprise, Rwanda’s notorious genocidal Interahamwe. Also known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), these forces have, in turn, enjoyed some support in the past from the Burundi government.</p> <h2>Dividing lines</h2> <p>The front lines in the current violence in Burundi, however, are not (yet) clear-cut along ethnic lines. The coup attempt was supported by both Hutu and Tutsi military units, while the president was defended primarily by Hutu troops under the leadership of the Hutu chief of the general staff, General Prime Niyongabo. The opposition, too, mostly united in the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC-Ikibiri), comprises members of all ethnic groups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa.</p> <p>But there is a danger that the scapegoating of minority Tutsi could escalate into the kind of inter-ethnic violence. This Burundi has experienced for decades and it remains common across the region and eerily reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide two decades ago.</p> <p>The warning signs of the crisis have been <a href="">apparent</a> for some time. Any escalation could lead to yet another civil war and is in danger of further destabilising the <a href="">entire region</a>.</p> <p>The president and his supporters may have defeated the coup. But, if anything, the events over the past days and weeks have exposed the deep rifts in Burundian society which will take more than arms&nbsp;<span>to fix</span><span>.</span></p><p><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p><p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="">The Conversation</a>. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="">Protests continue</a> in Bujumbura despite president's demand that they stop. Nkurunziza <a href="">attacks independent media</a> messengers after coup attempt defeated.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/charlotte-arnaud/burundi-democratisation-from-which-violence-may-stem">Burundi: a democratisation from which violence may stem</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Burundi </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Burundi Conflict Democracy and government rule of law 'term-id:[26644]' Africa Stefan Wolff Peacebuilding Sat, 16 May 2015 13:44:45 +0000 Stefan Wolff 92834 at Yemen at war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With a humanitarian crisis mounting in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has eased its military pressure—for the moment.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Anti-aircraft fire lighting up the night sky of Sana'a during the Saudi air strikes. Flickr / <a href="">Ala'a Assamawy</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>In Operation Decisive Storm, its military offensive in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of several Arab states and the US aimed ostensibly to remove threats to the security of the kingdom and neighbouring countries. In a four-week air campaign, the coalition’s military objective was to halt the advance of Houthi militias and prevent their effective seizure of control of the country from its legitimate government. </p> <p>On 21 April the Saudi Ministry of Defence said the campaign had achieved its objectives, paving the way for a new, ‘political’ phase, Operation Renewal of Hope, in which protection of civilians and the continuing frustration of the Houthi movement within the country would take priority. But the Saudis refused to exclude ‘a military component’ from the operation: Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri told the media that the end of Operation Decisive Storm did not necessarily mean the end of air strikes or that the&nbsp;naval blockade would be lifted.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia and the US have agreed a five-day ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach those most affected by the conflict—the civilians caught in the crossfire. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has suggested that this stay “would be welcome news for the world if it were able to be effected in a way that doesn’t see people try and take advantage of it and either secure more territory or attack people participating in a legitimate pause”. </p> <p>Yet, by its very nature, there does not seem to be any end in sight to the fighting. In the short term, Saudi Arabia is unlikely to back off until the threat posed by the Houthis to Yemen’s stability—to say nothing of Iranian meddling—is rebutted.</p> <p>Strategically, of course, the Saudis have employed force in Yemen as a last resort. By intervening they have committed themselves to a more coercive policy of ensuring the various factions are compelled to return to the negotiation table, rather than induced or enticed by the promise of further concessions. For now the only deal which appears to be on that table is the <a href="">National Dialogue Conference</a> (NDC) agreement, reached in January 2014 and sponsored by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).</p> <h2><strong>Muscular</strong></h2> <p>Since the death of King Abdullah and the succession of Salman, Saudi foreign policy has been much more muscular in opposition to those non-state actors judged to be inimical to its national interests. For many years the Saudis remained quiescent on Yemen and relied on the diplomatic instrument—the multilateral GCC—to support political transition. But the ink was barely dry on the NDC agreement when the Houthis marched on the capital Sana’a, in a bid to wrest control of the state from the president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.</p> <p>Although the UN has called for a resolution of the conflict, there is little to suggest any of the reconcilable factions (Houthis included) will enter into the spirit of dialogue anticipated by the Security Council. The Houthis walked away from the process long before it was completed and have demonstrated little in the way of mature political thinking since the conclusion of the NDC deal.</p> <p>So what does this mean for Yemen’s security?</p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">In the short term, Saudi Arabia is unlikely to back off until the threat posed by the Houthis to Yemen’s stability—to say nothing of Iranian meddling—is rebutted.</span></p><p><span></span>Politically, it means the continuation of instability. There is every possibility that President Hadi will return with Saudi backing, although the ambitions of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in that regard may not be so easily dealt with by the coalition’s military power. In Security Council resolution 2216 (14 April 2015), the UN noted with concern how Saleh was “engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Yemen”. In particular, the UN said his alliance with the Houthis not only undermined Hadi’s reform agenda but, ultimately, Yemen’s peaceful transition towards democracy.</p> <p>Militarily, as the pre-eminent theorist of war Carl von Clausewitz informed us, war may have its own grammar but the logic underpinning it is always political. In Yemen, as in Syria, Iraq and Libya, this is much in evidence. Nevertheless, there is also the complicating factor of tribalism. There is every likelihood that, by entering into armed competition, the military forces—reflecting as they do pre-Islamic tribal boundaries and more recent religious divisions—have driven a wedge among the Yemeni people. </p> <p>To be sure, there is also the wider conflict between north and south—and the prospect of a renewed partition—which jeopardises resolution of the conflict over the long term. Division of Yemen into two separate states once more would arguably represent an even greater danger to stability than the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran or the wanton barbarism of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ansar al-Sharia or, for that matter, of Islamic State in Iraq and the al-Sham offshoot in Yemen.</p> <p>Although the emphasis remains (rightly) on political reconciliation of the various factions in Yemen, the direct involvement of Riyadh and Tehran in the conflict means that the influence of external regional actors is likely to have a heavy impact on the course and consequence of the fighting. There is every possibility that the war may continue until either the parties consider their goals to have been decisively met or each side has lost enough to stop the violence. One unfortunate effect of armed conflict, wherever it has reared its ugly head, is that civilians will continue to comprise a disproportionate number of the casualties until there is a significant move towards a semblance of peace.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="">UNHCR shipments</a> arrive but fighting continues.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/shane-farrell/yemen-dialogue-must-replace-war">Yemen: dialogue must replace war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/war-in-yemen">The war in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/aaron-edwards/yemen%27s-frail-faultlines">Yemen&#039;s frail faultlines</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Yemen Conflict institutions & government middle east Aaron Edwards Diplomacy Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 15 May 2015 15:08:26 +0000 Aaron Edwards 92823 at Central African Republic: the long and winding road <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The good news is that the violent factions in the Central African Republic have agreed to ban child soldiering. The bad news is that a viable CAR state remains a long way off.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// soldiers.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// soldiers.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Already battle-scarred: an Italian NGO rehabilitating child soldiers in CAR. Flickr / <a href="">European Commission DG ECHO</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>Last week brought something as unexpected as a piece of good news from Bangui, capital of the Central Africa Republic (CAR). During conversations before a week-long national reconciliation forum, which brings together politicians, armed groups and religious leaders, representatives claiming to represent the warring factions agreed not only to halt the use of child soldiers but also to release all children among their ranks. This is good news but it should be received with a degree of caution. </p> <p>CAR is about to embark on an ambitious process of restoration of state power and the meeting was clearly part of this. As it is a process in which all actors, including those perpetrating violence, are interested in playing some part—or, at the very least, not being excluded from the outset—they were bound to agree to protect children once the proposal was put on the table. </p> <p>Agreeing to it at a meeting in Bangui in the presence of the international community is one thing, however; delivering on the agreement is another matter entirely. And this is not a conflict between two well-defined opponents with clear lines of command and control between a military-political leadership and officers and rank and file on the ground. </p> <p>The so-called Seleka alliance consists of different groups of fighters from the northern parts of CAR with little more in common than what they had when they started their ‘armed struggle’ rallying behind Michel Djotodia in November 2012: they felt ignored and marginalised by the political leadership in Bangui and the then president, Francois Bozizé. Largely pushed out of central CAR during 2014, various Seleka elements with differing attachments (or none) to the leadership have taken control of towns in the north such as N’Dele and Birao, involving themselves among other things in the illegal export of diamonds and gold through Sudan’s Darfur region. </p> <p>This almost completely stateless border zone is out of reach to the international community and the UN peacekeeping force, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINSUCA), mandated since September 2014. Whether these groups follow their nominal leaders’ promise to halt the recruitment of child soldiers and release those among their ranks is a very open question.</p> <p>Much the same could be said about the so-called anti-Balaka groups—a string of local militias initially formed among Christian communities in the southern part of the country, in response to the looting and plunder of their communities by Seleka elements during Djotodia’s short time in power. Some are clearly related to supporters of Bozizé, such as Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, a businessman and former ally of the ex-president who has claimed the leadership of the anti-Balaka. Ngaissona may have some influence over some but not all of these groups: many have a very local affiliation (for example village of origin).&nbsp; </p> <p>So scepticism about last week’s agreement is in order and the situation on the ground for CAR’s children, particularly those in the hinterlands, is not about to change for the better. But the fragmentation of those who resort to violence could also have severe consequences for the wider process of state restoration.</p> <h2>Optimistic timetable</h2> <p>The plan is for a referendum on a new constitution in May, parliamentary elections in June and July and presidential elections in August. This is obviously an optimistic timetable but in September the rains start and then elections will not be possible due to the lack of functioning infrastructure beyond the dry season. Add to the equation the fragmented militias and their potential for spoiling the process, particularly in the areas without much presence of the UN peacekeepers, and there is a lot that could go wrong. And this does not become any easier when we consider that the international community faces state-building in a ‘phantom’ state—one that basically does not exist as a sovereign body at all. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">the situation on the ground for CAR’s children, particularly those in the hinterlands, is not about to change for the better</span></p><p><span></span>Voter registration lists were destroyed during the fighting in Bangui in 2013, at least 25% of the country’s presumed 4.6m inhabitants are displaced and several hundred thousand also live as refugees in neighbouring countries. And the National Elections Authority (ANE) currently only has offices in Bangui and some towns and prefectures in the south-west. Whether it will be possible to hold credible elections at all in the northern part of the country, currently under the control of various Seleka elements, is thus another open question. </p> <p>If turnout were to be mainly in the south-west, the new constitution, parliament and president would lack legitimacy in the north. But the international community, which basically funds the ANE and the transitional government of Catherine Samba-Panza, will push ahead with the timetable.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Quick fix </strong></h2> <p>It is of course good that the international community has finally raised its presence in CAR, as there is no way the country can get through this transition on its own. But there is clearly the fear that the same stakeholders are pushing forward a plan and a timetable way too ambitious for a country without a functional state.</p> <p>A new constitution and an elected government are certainly needed. But trying to pretend that there is a quick fix, which could provide for an early exit for the international community from CAR, would only embed further conflict in any temporary and fragile solution to the current one. There should not be any elections before at least a majority of the population, including refugees and the internally displaced, can have relatively free access to the voting booth. </p> <p>So last week brought us a glimpse of good news. But the process which has begun is at best the start of a long and winding road with several muddy creeks to cross and almost impassable barriers to traverse before this country will be on track to sustainable recovery and state stability.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/thierry-vircoulon-charlotte-arnaud/central-african-republic-flawed-international-respon">Central African Republic: the flawed international response</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/morten-b%C3%B8%C3%A5s/central-african-republic-history-of-collapse-foretold">Central African Republic: history of a collapse foretold?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Central African Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Central African Republic Conflict rule of law Africa Morten Bøås Non-state violence Peacebuilding Tue, 12 May 2015 15:33:36 +0000 Morten Bøås 92739 at Nepal: chronicle of a disaster foretold <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Nepalese earthquake was a product of natural causes. But the full death toll and slow recovery are not.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Hospitals—and this one in&nbsp;Katmandu was itself damaged by the earthquake—have been indundated with victims. Flickr / <a href="">DFID</a>. Some rights reserved.</p><p>The earthquake in&nbsp;<span>Nepal has potently demonstrated the security risks associated with natural disasters, of which security scholars, such as Paul Rogers, have long warned. The argument has been that countries in the global south, where the majority of the world’s population lives, would not be able to manage natural disasters, which would be increasingly induced by climate change. This, in turn, would lead to widespread violence.</span></p> <p>Hemmed in between two 21st-century superpowers—China and India—Nepal, home to nearly 26.5m people, is one of the poorest countries. For centuries, the values of interdependence and peaceful co-existence, partly necessitated by the tough mountainous terrain, anchored Nepalese society and maintained social harmony. This changed 20 years ago when a group of young rural Nepalese men and women, who called themselves Maoists, initiated a protracted insurrection.&nbsp; </p> <p>Even though a peace agreement was signed in 2006, the desperation which encouraged young people to take up arms lingers on. Unsustainable modernisation, aided by developed countries, has destroyed the traditional, environmentally-friendly living culture of Nepal—resulting in widespread deprivation of essentials such as clean water and air and good food.</p> <p>The Nepalese government has been unable to solve the country’s pressing problems or even offer much hope that solutions will soon be found. Instead, overwhelmed by the challenges generated by rapidly accelerating globalisation, the government has become largely dysfunctional—incapable of ensuring the physical security of citizens, let alone their economic and social security. </p> <h2>Pervasive helplessness</h2> <p>The earthquake of 25 April came against the backdrop of, and hugely compounded, this pervasive sense of helplessness, especially among the young, further challenging Nepal’s fragile security. Hitting 7.8 on the Richter scale and with its epicentre in the hilly district west of the capital, Katmandu, it has been followed by a series of aftershocks, avalanches and landslides. Buildings have been destroyed, transport and communications disrupted and thousands killed. </p> <p>At first the government responded quickly, initiating its rescue-and-relief operation in Katmandu. But it did not take long for serious logistical limitations to be exposed. The rescue operation was severely hampered by Nepal’s difficult terrain but its underdeveloped communications infrastructure and outdated government bureaucracy were also obstacles. In remote districts people died before they could be reached and food and clean water have been in short supply. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">The Nepalese government has been unable to solve the country’s pressing problems or even offer much hope that solutions will soon be found.</span></p><p><span></span>Support from the international community was swift and generous but inadequate to meet the overwhelming need. A week after the earthquake, the government has received only $4m for disaster management from foreign donors and even if additional funds promised by the international community are forthcoming they will not come close to meeting the economic cost of the disaster, estimated at around $10 billion. Because the government lacked capacity to distribute international aid, much of it did not reach areas where it was most needed. </p> <p>It has been estimated that over 7,500 people have already died as a result of this disaster. The United Nations estimates that a further 8m have been affected directly, including 2.8m displaced from their homes. Hospitals across Nepal have been inundated and there are not enough doctors or sufficient medicines to treat the victims. The acute shortage of drinking water and limited food supply bring fears of epidemic or famine, or both. </p> <h2>Alienated and angry</h2> <p>The devastation has made the people of Nepal feel even more insecure, more alienated and more angry. Already there have been street protests against the government and sporadic skirmishes with the security forces. The day after the earthquake, a group of mainly young men demonstrated outside the parliament building in Katmandu, protesting against the ineffective response to the disaster. The prime minister, Sushil Koirala, was heckled when he visited hospitals to meet victims. </p> <p>People in remote districts have also been vocal. In a hilly village in Dolakha the windows of an administrative building were smashed and there have been reports of angry villagers blocking aid convoys and, in desperation, looting them. </p> <p>In the long-term, this resentment and frustration, as in the early 1990s, is most likely to result in violence. The current environmental disaster will probably also accelerate emigration, which will have adverse implications for global security. Already many have fled to India and it is expected they will be followed, over the coming weeks and months, by more seeking sanctuary and security in developed countries. </p> <p>The earthquake, and its aftermath, provides a timely window<em> </em>on to the challenge pose for international security by natural disasters, which will become more common due to environmental degradation. There is a real risk that the miserable situation in Nepal could be replicated in other countries in the global south if the potential impact of climate change on security continues to be ignored. </p> <p>As an eyewitness of the recent horror, I can only hope global leaders wake up to the need to build a truly sustainable global economy—before it is too late.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Like us on Facebook</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;to follow the latest openSecurity articles, and tell the editors what we should publish next</strong>.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openindia/feyzi-ismail/nepal-natural-disaster-unnatural-suffering">Nepal: natural disaster, unnatural suffering </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nepal </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nepal Climate change asia & pacific Shrishti Rana Ecological Security Peacebuilding Wed, 06 May 2015 11:27:47 +0000 Shrishti Rana 92588 at Turkey and the Armenian genocide: the next century <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For the Armenian diaspora, today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day—but not in Turkey. Perhaps members of the country’s Kurdish minority can help shake up a polarised narrative.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Dark heritage: a derelict Armenian church in Diyarbakir. All photos courtesy of the author.</span></p><p><span><em></em>Most of the coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide has concentrated on the Turkish government’s continuing refusal to recognise the organised massacre of over 1m Armenians as such. The centenary has arrived and the US has once again refused to call it genocide, though Germany and many others now have. Yet, after the international media attention passes, what can be done to seek reconciliation and recognition for the suffering of those who died?</span></p> <p>Below the din of the angry debate, many Turks, Kurds and Armenians are working together to heal the wounds of 100 years ago. I followed Ara Sarafian, an Armenian-British-Cypriot historian, who is attempting to create spaces for communities to reconcile in the towns and villages where the massacres happened.</p><p><em><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em><span class="image-caption">Ara Sarafian holds a forget-me-not flower at the site of a massacre of Armenians near Batman.</span></em></p><p><span>“In the morning, the government ordered us to kill them, and in the evening we shared their houses, fields, lands, money. Why did our ancestors kill them? They said ‘it’s only money’.” Barzan, our Kurdish guide in Bitlis, recounted this story as he pointed to a tree outside St Alberik Armenian monastery on the remote slopes of the windy Kurdish highlands in eastern Turkey. Gold-diggers have dug all the way under the roots from one side to the other, looking for money they believed Armenians had hidden as the massacres spread out across Anatolia.</span></p> <p>Inside the remains of the monastery, 30 or 40 people sheltered from the intemperate weather, as locals who had come with us made a fire and Armenian women from the diaspora began a hymn which made the Kurds fall silent. The smoke from the fire stung the eyes, and the scene transported me temporarily to a time when members of diverse ethnic and religious groups had lived and worked together in this rugged landscape. </p> <p><em><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em><span class="image-caption">Sheltering by a fire inside St Alberik monastery.</span></em></p><p>On the way down the hill, a young Kurdish man helped one of the older Armenian women down the muddy slopes. “In my life I never thought a Kurdish man would be helping an Armenian like me”, she said as the young man sang Turkish love songs. </p> <p>Sarafian organised this goodwill mission to Turkey’s Kurdish region to commemorate the 1915 tragedy. He told me he wanted to be a partner for Kurds who wanted to draw reconciliation from the legacy of the genocide and he hoped the example could inspire others to visit the lands of their ancestors.</p> <h2>Broken bridges</h2> <p>With some Armenian nationalists demanding reparations in the form of lands or money, Sarafian wants clarity on why recognition of the genocide is sought. If the goal is to end the pain of denial for the descendants of the victims, then this depends on a shift in internal Turkish politics. Those who retain the deeds of their lost lands should be able to go to court and receive compensation or the return of the lands they own, but there are also important Armenian sites which continue to crumble and require conservation. The latter would benefit everyone: the local population who could gain from tourism, Armenians who would see that the state took their suffering seriously and Turkey itself, which could mend its broken bridges with the Armenian state and people.</p> <p>Recognition of the genocide is still a fundamental goal, but Sarafian believes that this will come only after a process of healing within Turkey which involves Armenians, Kurds, Turks and other minorities who suffered persecution. “If we can’t influence the [Armenian] diaspora by the example of being here, to take Turkey more seriously, to think about the issues more seriously and to take on the burden of engaging with these issues and opportunities, then we’ve failed,” he said.</p> <p>For those still unwilling to accept the term genocide, there is little that will convince them otherwise. But slowly a younger generation of people in Turkey is coming to a fuller understanding of what happened: 9% of Turks <a href="">favour</a> a formal apology and the admission of genocide, another 9% favour an apology without using the term and 12% favour expressing regret for the Armenians who died. </p> <p>Interestingly, another 23% favour expressing regret for all those who died, including Muslims who fled from the Balkans in the late 19th century due to the rise of European nationalism. Many Turks are descended from Balkan Muslims and, while understanding the ethno-nationalist violence of the period, feel that the concentration on Armenian suffering ignores their own narrative. </p> <p>Comparing the suffering of different groups feels wrong and the systematic nature of the massacres of Armenian (and Assyrians, Pontic Greeks and Chaldeans) was on a horrific <a href="">scale</a> hard to compare with the <a href="">persecution</a> of Ottoman Muslims in Europe. Remembering the terrible suffering of 1915 does not mean we don’t care about the suffering of other people; the persecution of Balkan Muslims was one of the factors which led to the genocide in the first place.</p> <h2>Legacy of oppression</h2> <p>On the way to Dudan (‘waterfall’ in Turkish), there was a reminder of the legacy of political oppression in the Kurdish region when the military police decided to stop our convoy of cars and demanded to see our passports. Luckily, we had lawyers from the Diyarbakir Bar Association with us, who managed to convince them to let us pass without incident. </p> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Military police stop the group’s convoy en route to Dudan.</span></em></p><p><span>Dudan is the site of a </span><a href="">massacre</a><span> by Turkish soldiers of 10,000 women, children and elderly people in July 1915. A chasm opens there into which a stream gushes and it is impossible to see the bottom. After murdering the men and boys, the soldiers brought the remaining Armenians here and slit their throats before pushing them into the hole—some chose to jump.</span></p> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">The Dudan crevass, where up to 10,000 Armenians were killed by Ottoman soldiers.</span></em></p><p>Firat, a Kurd from the city of Batman, who works with Sarafian’s Gomidas Institute, told me why Kurds who lived in this area felt the need to push for recognition of the genocide within Turkey: “Now, people feel the pain that happened at that time. They tried to kill the Kurds also in this region, but they couldn’t because Kurds resisted against the state, but at that time Armenians were weaker and it was wartime. Now Kurdish people feel that pain like Armenian people. People in this region, they know the truth.”</p> <p>The landscape of the Kurdish region is lush and dramatic, its people open and eager to begin a new chapter of their history after the suffering of the past half century. A common Armenian phrase is ‘we were the breakfast; you will be the lunch’. Now Kurds are fighting to stop the Islamic State dinner party ravaging the Levant; they are keen to make amends for not defending their Christian brothers and sisters in 1915.</p> <p>Not all Kurds collaborated in the genocide, however. When we visited a small village near the city of Batman to pay respects at the grave of a local leader who refused to carry out the massacres ordered by the local governor in 1915, residents were touched to have so many people come to honour their ancestor. These exchanges are important, and could be the first step towards more people making a cultural pilgrimage to where their ancestors lived for millennia and died a century ago.</p> <h2>Political freedom</h2> <p>The progress made in highlighting and recognising the genocide, especially in the Kurdish region, is dependent both on the Kurdish peace process and the level of political freedom in the country generally. Ten years ago, authors like Orhan Pamuk were being prosecuted for using the word ‘genocide’; now it is commonly used by writers and politicians without any consequences.</p> <p>The upcoming election is also vital to the fortunes of genocide recognition in Turkey. A party must gain 10% of the vote to win any seats at all under the electoral system , so small parties often stand candidates as independents. This time, the pro-Kurdish HDP party is gambling that it can get over the threshold. </p> <p>If it succeeds, it is unlikely that the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will gain the seats he needs to install the executive presidency he craves, to cement his hold on power for another generation. But if it fails, there could be violence in the Kurdish region should people think that his Islamist AKP government used fraudulent means to shut the HDP out. </p> <p>All of Turkish society wins or loses depending on the health of its political system. The authoritarian regime Erdoğan desires would put the religious conservative faction in a position of power which it would inevitably start to abuse even more than it already does. </p> <p>For diaspora Armenians, there is much that can be done beyond criticising the Turkish government once a year. Diyarbakir is a beautiful city which in 20 years will probably be a major tourist destination. It has a beautiful old part and a progressive administration eager to work with Armenians to bring investment and tourism.</p> <p>Sarafian’s work is calling those from the diaspora to come back to the lands of their ancestors, to see where they lived and to work with Kurds to save the Armenian cultural legacy that remains. There is so much opportunity to build a new, inclusive Armenian identity in touch with its roots, rather than carrying around the pain of the genocide and simply waiting for the Turkish government to decide one day to recognise that pain.</p> <p>A lot of work remains. On the eve of the genocide anniversary, the bells of Sourp Giragos began to ring but were then cut short. Someone had told the church authorities to stop ringing their bells. Inside, hundreds of Kurds and Armenians had gathered to pay their respects. Little by little, it is becoming harder to deny what happened—but when recognition does come, it will be because Turks and Kurds have sought the truth for themselves, not because they have been forced to admit it.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Like us on Facebook</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;to follow the latest openSecurity articles, and tell the editors what we should publish next</strong>.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/john-lubbock/freedom-or-dignity-media-censorship-in-new-turkey">Freedom or dignity: media censorship in the new Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/john-lubbock/turkey-and-armenia-genocide-what-genocide">Turkey and Armenia: genocide? what genocide?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/open-security/john-lubbock-deniz-agah/new-security-laws-could-make-turkey-into-police-state">New security laws could make Turkey into a police state</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/john-lubbock/turkey%27s-new-caliph-understanding-erdo%C4%9F%27s-hegemony">Turkey&#039;s new Caliph: understanding Erdoğan&#039;s hegemony</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Turkey Civil society Conflict International politics politics of protest europe John Lubbock Armenian genocide Peacebuilding Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:37:52 +0000 John Lubbock 92241 at Yemen: dialogue must replace war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen have failed to stem the Houthi advance. Time for jaw-jaw, not war-war.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// strike.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// strike.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Hardly surgical: a view from a window&nbsp;overlooking&nbsp;the Al Yarmook football stadium in north Sana'a, hit by a Saudi air strike on the al-Rawthah neighbourhood yesterday. Demotix / <a href="">Alhussain Albukhaiti</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>It’s difficult to envisage an end-game to the conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where on 25 March a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia began air strikes which have killed dozens so far, including unnumbered civilians. </p> <p>The targets are Houthi tribesmen, armed Shias who have swept across Yemen from their heartland in Saada, along the Saudi border, to the southern port city of Aden, taking the capital, Sana’a, in September and the key Red Sea coastal city of Hodeida, among others.</p> <p>The Houthis’ remarkable territorial gains caught Saudi Arabia and its allies by surprise, instilling fears in the Sunni monarchies that Houthi-supporting Iran was rapidly spreading its influence across the region. Such fears were compounded by <a href="">declarations</a> by Iranian lawmakers, following the fall of Sana’a, that Iran now controlled its fourth Arab capital—after Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus. </p> <p>Saudi Arabia, which previously bombed the Houthis in Saada in 2009-10, has reasons to be concerned. The Houthis’ policies largely align with those of Tehran, which supplies diplomatic, political and, most likely, military assistance and recently signed an ‘economic partnership’ agreement. Riyadh does not want an antagonistic, Iranian-supported group dominating its southern border. </p> <h2>Hizbullah</h2> <p>Lebanon’s Hizbullah provides a worrying reference point. A formidable Iranian proxy, the group has an arsenal comparable to the armies of nation-states and is a worthy adversary for the Israel Defence Forces, one of the most powerful armies on the planet. Riyadh does not want the Houthis to be a thorn in its side the way Hizbullah has been to Jerusalem; Hizbullah’s mere presence influences Israeli foreign policy and arguably acts as a deterrent against a strike on Iran. </p> <p>But the Houthis are not, nor are likely to be, akin to Hizbullah. Houthi policy is not directed by Tehran, they do not subscribe to <em>Wilayat al-Faqih</em> (the doctrine that Islamic jurists should rule) and they differ ideologically with the Iranian mullahs (who follower the Twelver form of Shia, whereas the Houthis are Zaydis)—they are supported by Iran but not a proxy. Yet a pro-Iranian group controlling Yemen crosses a red line for Riyadh, with the nightmare scenario of Iranian long-range missiles being installed, targeted at key installations in the kingdom. </p> <p>The Saudis calculate that without their intervention the Houthis would have even less incentive to halt their advance. The latter have systematically ignored Security Council calls for a cessation of violence and adherence to the UN-supervised political transition, and rejected calls for negotiations. </p> <h2><strong>Very costly</strong></h2> <p>Yet extraction from a conflict is extremely difficult and very costly, as US-led coalitions in the Middle East in the past decade have palpably demonstrated. And whereas hitherto in Yemen, regional powers supported local allies remotely, in an active war Saudi Arabia’s reputation, in particular, comes on the line: the coalition cannot end its operation without a clear ‘win’ of some sort. </p> <p>But right now a ‘win’ for Saudi Arabia looks highly unlikely. Since the air strikes began, the Houthis have pushed on into Aden, where they are embroiled in street battles with resistance fighters. The prospect of their securing control over Yemen’s second city (and capital of former Southern Yemen) is fuelling speculation that Saudi Arabia or others in the coalition will commit ground troops. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">But the Houthis are not, nor are likely to be, akin to Hizbullah.</span></p><p><span></span>This, of course, would be highly risky. In unfamiliar territory against battle-hardened Houthis, Saudi or coalition forces would almost certainly suffer casualties. This would raise the stakes even further and make withdrawal very difficult. </p> <p>Meanwhile, Iran has <a href="">upped the ante</a> in recent days, by sending two military vessels off the Yemeni coast, purportedly to "safeguard naval routes for vessels in the region", and through the cutting words of its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—who called the Saudi-led intervention a “genocide” akin to Israeli strikes on Gaza.</p> <h2><strong>Improbable</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>The stated aim of the Saudi-led operation is to bring the Houthis back to the negotiating table and restore the transition process, halted when they overran Sana’a. Leave aside the improbability of early success. What next? Who would the Saudis support to hold the loose reigns of power in Yemen?</p> <p>Having committed its forces, Riyadh almost certainly intends retaining leverage in Sana’a and, ideally, keeping the country within its sphere of influence. Indeed the Saudi defence minister and son of the king, Mohammed Bin Salman, was quoted by the state-owned TV, Al Arabiya, as favouring the reinstatement of the president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, effectively ousted by the Houthis. But they have said they will not accept Hadi’s return and any peace initiative lacking Houthi support looks doomed to fail. </p> <p>Other options also appear unpalatable. Ahmed Saleh, son of Yemen’s wily former president (Ali Abdullah) and now an unlikely ally of the Houthis, will not get the coalition’s backing, while Islah, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliate whose relations with Saudi Arabia appear to be thawing since Salman took over as king, are bitter Houthi enemies. Ali Nasir Muhammed, former president of South Yemen before unification in 1990, has been lobbying in Riyadh but without any sign of success.</p> <h2><strong>Dire situation</strong></h2> <p>Even though the Houthis <a href=";feedName=worldNews">reportedly claim</a> to be ‘ready’ to return to the negotiating table, on condition that air strikes are ceased and negotiations are overseen by ‘non-aggressive’ parties, there is no evidence that a ceasefire looms. This not only means that the dire humanitarian situation will worsen for millions—particularly as the coalition air and naval blockade continues to prevent or slow food imports (Yemen imports 90% of its foodstuffs)—but it plays into the hands of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). </p> <p>The group, deemed al-Qaeda’s most dangerous branch by the United States, has already taken advantage of the conflict. In the past week it took control of the port town of Mukallah, securing the release of almost 300 inmates from a jail which housed the leading AQAP operative Khalid Batarfi. </p> <p>Another tragic outcome of this war is the entrenchment of old divides and the emergence of new ones. Divisions between northerners and southerners—the country was partitioned for over 22 years—are growing, making a stable, unified state less likely. Sectarianism, never seriously present in Yemen, is fast becoming a reality, as in Syria and Iraq. And with the militarisation of children as a consequence of the conflict—the UN estimates that almost a third of fighters are children—the repercussions are likely to be felt for decades to come. </p> <h2><strong>Dialogue</strong></h2> <p>Many fear the time for dialogue has passed, yet it must be pursued. Iran, the US and other coalition members certainly have key roles to play, but Saudi Arabia is best placed to take steps that can bring the Houthis to the table. </p> <p>A halt to air strikes, on condition the Houthis agree to a ceasefire, is an obvious first step. Riyadh should also agree to drop demands for Hadi to return to power—not only have the Houthis utterly rejected this but he has proven an ineffective leader and does not enjoy widespread support. And it must accept that the Houthis will become major political players in Yemen and be granted more power than they were accorded through the National Dialogue. &nbsp;</p> <p>However difficult these compromises might seem to the Saudis, this is the only possible route back to relative stability. They might not score the ‘win’ they hope for, but it is much better than the alternative. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Like us on Facebook</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;to follow the latest openSecurity articles, and tell the editors what we should publish next</strong>.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/war-in-yemen">The war in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/edward-burke/saudi-arabia%E2%80%99s-big-mistake-in-yemen">Saudi Arabia’s big mistake in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/aaron-edwards/yemen%27s-frail-faultlines">Yemen&#039;s frail faultlines</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Yemen Conflict International politics insurgency middle east Shane Farrell Diplomacy Peacebuilding Sun, 12 Apr 2015 11:47:10 +0000 Shane Farrell 91945 at Palestinian options after the Israeli election <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Six ways Palestinians can change the rules of the game after Netayanhu's comments during the election made a just and equal peace even more elusive. &nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// war damage.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// war damage.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Damage after Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip in 2006. Flickr/Zoriah. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</p><p>With Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory, the Israeli electorate made it very clear that they don’t seek a just peace or equality. <a href="">They voted in</a> 78 Knesset Members opposed to the two-state solution, a clear majority, endorsing further colonial expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories and a culture of discrimination within Israel. </p> <p>Much of the political and media attention is focused on Netanyahu’s coalition-building, his back-peddling on opposition to a Palestinian state and apology for racist remarks about the Palestinian citizens of Israel. But a key question remains unanswered: what should the Palestinians do now to realise self-determination, end Israeli occupation, and secure the rights of refugees and equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel? </p> <p>One thing is clear: the current rules governing the search for peace, which have been in place since the first Oslo Accord in 1993, must be fundamentally questioned and a new framework adopted. Palestinians throughout the occupied territories–those under a decade-long siege in Gaza, and losing land, water and homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem–and those suffering in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere, are at the end of their tether. Analysts warn that both Gaza and Jerusalem are at a boiling point, and the West Bank is not far behind.</p> <p>It is more than time to address the root causes of the conflict. Here are six steps to consider. </p> <p><strong>First</strong>, the current Palestinian leadership should admit clearly and explicitly to the Palestinian people and the international community, that the two-state solution is no longer viable, effectively <a href="">agreeing with</a> Netanyahu. The two-state solution as dictated by the Oslo Accords died a long time ago; this is sufficiently proven by the expansion of the Jewish settlements and colonies in the occupied West Bank, the Apartheid Wall and the absence of any Palestinian sovereignty or control after more than two decades of Oslo. They should then work in partnership with civil society, think tanks, and pollsters to conduct a referendum of the Palestinian nation as a whole, soliciting their views on the proposed solution to the conflict, the right of return and modes of resistance. This should cover all 12 million Palestinians in the occupied territories, in Israel and in the wider diaspora.</p> <p>There has never been such a referendum, and it would provide a basis for political action based on a popular mandate. It would constitute a milestone in that the power of the people would lead the next phase, instead of a political system in thrall to patronage politics and personalised styles of governance. The Palestinian leadership may argue that it has already scored major successes in seeking recognition within the international community of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. However, this state remains a myth, not reality. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Second</strong>, the Palestinian leadership should pursue membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) primarily as a strategic choice to hold Israel accountable for war crimes, rather than as a card for <a href="">political manoeuvring</a>. A candid engagement with the ICC will be crucial to any future investigation and to ensure justice.</p> <p>However, the Palestinian Authority leadership should not be left alone to deal with “ICC business”–their track record is not promising. Palestinian civil society and legal experts should take the lead, rather than just acting as appointees by <a href="">presidential decree</a> to witness the process with very little influence. Their participation needs to include power and authority to be meaningful.</p> <p><strong>Third</strong>, there is an urgent need to <a href="">reconfigure</a> the duties of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in particular its security forces, and start a process of dismantling the socio-economic and political structures created under the Oslo Accords, which put in place a corrupting structure that serves the elite. The Palestinian people will not be satisfied by the rhetorical announcements of an <a href="">effectively defunct body</a> (the Palestine Liberation Organization) that security collaboration with Israel <a href="">will stop</a>. They want to see the difference on the ground and to feel that the Palestinian security forces are there to protect them, and not to serve as a <a href="">subcontractor</a> to the Israeli occupation, or as a tool of repression by the increasingly <a href="">authoritarian</a> PA. </p> <p>There is an urgent need to address the breakdown of trust between the Palestinian people and the politicians. Back in 2010 <em>MaanNews Agency</em> polled 23,480 participants online, <a href="">revealing</a> that 95.5% believed politicians lie. Today the situation is, if anything, worse. A refugee from Balata camp in the occupied West Bank told me, “I truly wish to see this authority clean and without corruption, but this will never happen even if a saint replaces the PA’s prime minister or president".</p> <p><strong>Fourth</strong>, the impasse in Gaza’s reconstruction should force Hamas and Fatah to collaborate in order to bridge the <a href="">Palestinian divide</a>. Unfortunately this is very far from the case. The overall framework for Gaza reconstruction should be <a href="">restructured</a> and the UN mechanism should be completely dismissed, along with the prescriptions of international donors. Palestinian civil society should take the lead in launching an independent, well-respected national technical committee to supervise the process and hold the different actors accountable. <a href="">Aid Watch Palestine</a> is an example of a grassroots civil society initiative that will bring much-needed accountability to the aid industry and Gaza reconstruction. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Fifth</strong><span>, the current Palestinian leadership should issue “letters of warning” to the Quartet, the European Union, and the US to put them on notice; if they remain </span><a href="">complicit</a><span> in sustaining the Israeli military occupation and fail to take serious measures to end it, then they should shut down their operations and leave the region. Veteran diplomat Afif Safieh </span><a href="">argues</a><span> that this should be possible within six days to take serious measures to end the Israeli occupation, but to give it a year instead. This may sound suicidal, unfeasible and irrational to some; others may argue that this would cause economic and political harm.</span></p> <p>However, such a move would fundamentally shake the Oslo Accords’ structure and expose the fragility of the donor community. It would also clarify that <a href="">aid-driven economic approaches</a> to solve political problems are not the way forward, and that “peace dividends” are a mirage. Although this might be costly in the short term, it is crucial to create new realties that are based first and foremost on the right of the Palestinian people to their own self-determination. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Finally</strong>, many Palestinians, particularly the younger generations, consider the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction <a href="">(BDS)</a> movement a major source of hope. But the current leadership views the BDS movement differently, as contradictory to the core of the PA and its very existence, which is based on collaborating with the occupier/colonizer. The Palestinian leadership must recognise that the PA framework has been dead a long time. Different frameworks are needed, and that the BDS movement is one of the main elements in an overall Palestinian strategy for liberation and rights.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>This selective set of actions is driven by the urgency of the present situation. Although they appear to give legitimacy to the unaccountable, unrepresentative and authoritarian current Palestinian leadership, they will create new realities that, even in the short term, will create new dynamics. Such actions will change the rules of the game and should pave the way for a new Palestinian leadership with a different political program, strategy and vision. A new leadership that fundamentally recreates the Palestinian political system and mode of governance will be the leadership to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and secure the rights of Palestinians both in Palestine and in exile.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/efraim-perlmutter/final-observations-on-israeli-elections">Final observations on Israeli elections</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/andreas-hackl/irresistible-force-arab-citizens-of-israel-after-elections">An irresistible force? Arab citizens of Israel after the elections</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mariano-aguirre/israeli-elections-no-expectations-from-palestinian-side">Israeli elections: no expectations from the Palestinian side</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nancy-hawker/stark-symbolism-in-israeli-election-campaign">Stark symbolism in the Israeli election campaign</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Palestine Israel Alaa Tartir Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Alaa Tartir 91758 at Libya: the pressing need for dialogue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The western intervention in Libya in 2011 failed to recognise the complex warp and weft of its pre-democratic tribal fabric. Only a regionally facilitated dialogue can repair the shattered state left behind.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="// child.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// child.jpg" alt="Libyan boy in tribal costume for festival" title="" width="230" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Not just trappings: tribal affiliations still matter in Libya. Demotix / Ibrahem Azaga. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>More than three years since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has plunged into political and security turmoil. </p> <p>Divisions have deepened among the ever-proliferating groups, interests and ideologies. The country has two governments and a plethora of militias control various pockets of territory. Most of the major cities are subjected to devastating violence. Civilian casualties are rising, with reports of incidents regularly counting the fatalities in scores. And the uncontrolled situation is increasingly threatening the stability of neighbouring countries, as last week’s attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis indicates. </p> <p>It was not supposed to be like this. When NATO forces arrived in 2011, they thought Libya would be “the most beautiful of the Arab Spring”, as one of the EU diplomats following in their train put it. They believed that with 6m inhabitants, all Sunni Muslims, it would not be difficult to knit things together. They soon realised, however, that underneath the seemingly homogeneous Libyan identity lay a rather heterogeneous population, made up of countless tribes—which the intervention unwittingly ensured acquired well-armed militias. </p> <h2><strong>Centralised</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>Following the country’s independence in 1951, Libya, then a monarchy, was a federation of three regional entities, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. These provinces already existed under the Ottoman empire (1299-1922) and remained as such under Italian domination (1911-43) and Franco-British occupation (1943-51). But King Idriss, from Cyrenaica, wanted to control the entire territory under a centralised political system and he transformed the federal monarchy into a unified national state in 1963. Following his coup in 1969, Qaddafi pursued the same policy. </p> <p>A profound cleavage persists between the urban and rural populations, some of whom have moved into the major Libyan cities. Rural roots are predominantly Bedouin, stemming from the centre and south of Libya, and these still tend to prevail over an urban identity. Qaddafi knew only too well that individuals would be loyal to their tribe before any central government. One of the reasons he managed to remain in power for more than 40 years was his shrewd manipulation of the tribes, relying on the rural Bedouin in his power struggles with the big cities. </p> <p>Libyans have little, if any, experience of democratic political culture. This lack of political aspiration is substituted by the personal ambition and <em>über</em>-ego of many politicians and militia chiefs, more interested in their own success than the fate of the nation. Social mistrust is the other side of this coin: Misrata, for instance, employs an estimated 1,300 policemen and 700 secret agents, all from the city—no Libyan from outside will be employed there. </p> <p>Militia groups refuse to lay down their arms unless other militias do so first; the formation of a national army is ruled out unless it is controlled by (one’s own) militia. And militiamen are often well-paid by Libyan standards—between $500 and $1,500 a month—which can only motivate them to sustain the chaotic <em>status quo</em>. So fighting between these uncontrolled militias, competing for power in Tripoli and other major cities, has become the norm. Militias often work hand-in-hand with politicians they protect, some even taking charge of the security of embassies and diplomats. </p> <h2><strong>Talks</strong></h2> <p>The use of force against the transnational scourge of non-state violence, threatening the security of Libya and its neighbours, may be legitimate and necessary. But only an intra-Libyan dialogue can resolve its deep-rooted conundrums and, in so doing, preserve territorial unity and sovereignty and social cohesion. This has to be long-term and strategic: it will take great patience, wisdom and political manoeuvring for Libyans not to see their country transformed into a giant, upended jigsaw plunging the entire region into chaos. All the political and military protagonists must engage in genuine dialogue, finding a lasting solution which prioritises the well-being of the population.</p> <p>Yet Libyans have no real political experience and have still to learn the skills&nbsp;of living in a pluralistic political culture. To help them reach a national agreement, a co-ordinated regional approach is required, drawing on states and peoples fully accustomed with the internal dynamics of Libyan society, culture and language, supported by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). Neighbours know all too well Libya and Libyans, and could therefore have a better chance of bringing together the different protagonists around a negotiating table, which could put an end to the current, two-governments quagmire.<em> </em></p> <p>In this context, multiplication of international and regional initiatives—the ‘Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa’, held last December in Senegal, for instance—can only complicate an already complex internal situation. Too many initiatives may in the end only duplicate the already numerous continental efforts led by the AU.<strong><em> </em></strong></p> <p>Last’s week carnage in Tunisia, perpetrated by Tunisian nationals allegedly trained in camps in Libya, reminds us that Libya has not only become a hub of international violence. Its overspill having already scarred Mali, it is on the verge of creating transnational chaos right across north Africa and the Sahel.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral">Libya’s downward spiral</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/nathalie-tocci/libya-syria-and-%E2%80%9Cresponsibility-to-protect%E2%80%9D-moment-of-inflection">Libya, Syria and the “responsibility to protect”: a moment of inflection?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Libya Conflict rule of law Africa Abdelkader Abderrahmane Diplomacy Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:18:33 +0000 Abdelkader Abderrahmane 91562 at An irresistible force? Arab citizens of Israel after the elections <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Binyamin Netanyahu may have returned to power by disowning the two-state solution and scaremongering about Arab voters pre-election. But Palestinians in Israel have become a force to be reckoned with.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Ayman Odeh: conciliatory tone. Demotix / <a href="">Mahmoud Illean</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>Despite much pre-election euphoria among those hoping to bring down the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, a democratic political upheaval towards a new progressive era in Israel remains a receding horizon. And yet one political novelty stands out:&nbsp; the increasing visibility of its Palestinian citizens. </p> <p>For decades, they had to cope with a life at the margins of both Palestine and Israel, were largely excluded from the ‘peace process’ and were ascribed an <a href="">‘identity crisis’</a> as a people hopelessly stuck in political limbo. For the first time in Israel’s history, this month they voted collectively as Arab-Palestinians for a Joint List, reaching 13 out of 122 seats. Under the widely-respected leadership of <a href="">Ayman Odeh</a>, this now comprises the third-largest faction in the parliament. With increasing visibility of their grievances amid rising international recognition, their cause stands on solid ground. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the paradigm of a two-state solution, to be negotiated between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, is crumbling between an increasingly uncompromising Israel and a disappearing Palestine. With a new government, the Israeli polity will return to ‘business as usual’: the occupation of Palestinian territories, deepening control over the Palestinian population there and further growth of Jewish settlements, despite their disastrous <a href="">humanitarian impact</a>. </p> <p>These ‘facts on the ground’ seem to undermine the viability of an independent Palestinian state created through negotiations and Netanyahu’s declaration that he would <a href="">not allow the creation of a Palestinian state</a> if re-elected only deepened the abyss. His promise may have been <a href="">“written on ice on a very hot day”</a>. But despite his <a href="">subsequent efforts to play it down</a>, the US president, Barack Obama<span>,</span> “took him by his word”, saying the US would <a href="">“evaluate what other options are available”</a>. Yet the most prominent alternative, a so-called one-state scenario of Israel absorbing the West Bank permanently, is <a href="">considered extremely unlikely</a>, according to Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, while “huge” numbers of Israelis favour the <em>status quo</em>, because its costs are experienced as minor.</p> <h2>Strong solidarity</h2> <p>The initial emergence of a unified ‘Arab’ camp in Israel’s election was stimulated by a government-led change to the electoral threshold for representation in the Knesset, from 2% to 3.25% of the national vote, which would have threatened the survival of the three main Arab parties and the intercommunal, left-wing <a href="">Hadash</a>. Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, <a href="">said</a>: “The law reflected the imposition of the political will of the Israeli Jewish majority in the Knesset against the political participation rights of the Arab minority.”. This ‘forced unity’ exemplified the mounting anti-Arab pressure and Jewish-Arab polarisation which reached a <a href="">tipping-point with the 2014 Gaza war</a>, during which Arabs in Israel displayed strong solidarity with their brethren in the Gaza Strip.</p> <p>Palestinian citizens make up roughly 17% of Israel’s population of 8m. Most are descendants of the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who did not become refugees in 1948 but remained within the newly-created state. They share however the Palestinian catastrophe of displacement as ‘exiles at home’, demanding an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and thus an independent Palestinian state, while calling for full equality as Israeli citizens. They face socio-economic inequality, legal discrimination and frequent provocations from Israeli officials.</p> <p>In a last-minute effort to mobilise favourable voters on election day, Netanyahu warned of Arabs turning out “in droves” and said Arab parties <a href="">benefited from funding</a> by foreigners who sought to topple him. The outgoing minister for foreign affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, said at an election conference that disloyal “Israeli Arabs” should be <a href="">beheaded</a>. He is not alone in calling Arab citizens who oppose the government’s policies a <a href="">“fifth column”</a>, thereby to mobilise those who want to ‘rescue’ this state project. Yet such polarising statements have only strengthened the political claim of the Palestinian-Arab minority and made questions of equality and the nature of the Israeli state more visible.</p> <h2>International concern</h2> <p>What Israeli officials like to call ‘internal matters’ are quickly becoming an international concern. Obama <a href="">warned</a> that Israeli democracy may “start to erode” if everybody is not “treated equally and fairly”. As Israel’s credibility as a party to a realistic peace process is quickly disappearing, recognition of its sovereignty will decline too. The absence of a viable process strengthens the role of, and draws more attention to, its Palestinian citizens.</p> <p>A wide array of local and international projects seek to address their grievances, in <a href="">employment</a> and specific sectors such as <a href=";lang=en">high-tech</a>, supporting <a href="">university graduates</a> and <a href="">work-seeking women</a>. Yet most initiatives emphasise the <a href="">welfare of Israel</a> and its economy, while these projects’ aims and wording remain suspiciously depoliticised.</p> <p>Politically marginalised and economically underprivileged they may be, but Palestinian citizens are ever more unwilling to accept systemic inequality and ever more willing to confront the status quo, <a href="">according to the International Crisis Group</a>. In the context of increased attention and visibility, and inspired by the prospect of stronger collective representation, an unusually large number <a href="">cast their ballots</a> in the recent elections in an atmosphere of hope.</p> <p>The Joint List was a problematic reaction to systematic marginalisation in a flawed democracy, because it forced 17% of Israel’s citizens into a camp united merely on the basis of their status as Palestinian-Arabs, pouring a diversity of political trajectories into a single, ‘besieged’ mould. Such <a href="">strategic essentialism</a> is a common political tactic employed by members of minority groups, acting on the basis of a shared identity in the public arena in the interests of unity during a struggle for equal rights. The Palestinian citizens of Israel temporarily put aside internal differences to band together to survive. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">The outgoing minister for foreign affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, said at an election conference that disloyal “Israeli Arabs” should be&nbsp;<a href="">beheaded</a>.</p><p><span></span>This further increased their visibility and, in a sort of boomerang effect, the pressure that forced them to unite was further increased to de-legitimise their vehicle—precisely because they had united: “The unification proves that [the Jewish communist politician] Dov Khenin is exactly like [the Arab nationalist] Haneen Zoabi,” Lieberman <a href="">declared</a> in January, seeking to ban the unified Arab list from running in the elections. This dynamic may well be a warning of the possible dangers of unification and underlines that the move is a symptom of Arab citizens’ marginalised and increasingly besieged status.</p> <p>But for the first time in Israel’s history, its Arab citizens could vote collectively for one list as <em>Palestinians</em> in Israel without having to sub-divide into supporters of communist, nationalist or Islamist tendencies. Although the diversity will remain, it now comes under a shared roof.</p> <p>After decades of internal divisions and anaemic voter turn-out, and state-led efforts to mark them as ‘Israeli Arabs’ separate from Palestinians elsewhere, did they vote as Palestinians or as Israeli citizens? The answer, increasingly, is both.</p> <h2>‘Good Arabs’</h2> <p>The notion of an ‘identity crisis’ is flawed. But the incitement of right-wing politicians and the homogenising, ‘all-or-nothing’ tendency of the Israeli state press Palestinians to compromise on their identity for inclusion and success. Job seekers often face pressures to prove they are ‘good Arabs’. Yet to most, no matter how hard they try, they remain <a href="">‘citizen strangers’</a> hitting many glass ceilings. The ‘good Arab’ is invisible as a Palestinian, as Gideon Levy suggested in response to the Arab TV-presenter Lucy Aharish <a href="">accepting an invitation</a> to light a torch on Israeli Independence Day.</p> <p>Recognition, identity and self-determination have many facets and there are many ways of dealing with everyday demands pragmatically. The oft-cited exceptions to the essentialist Palestinian-nationalist ethos, like Aharish, Mira Awad or Sayed Kashua, are as much part of the spectrum as are nationalist politicians like Hanin Zoabi, <a href="">Israel’s ‘bad Arab’</a>. </p> <p>In an al-Jazeera interview, Zoabi <a href="">made clear</a> that the three main political streams among Arab citizens of Israel had come together without giving up their distinct ideologies or political platforms: the nationalists (Balad) still believe in a state for all its citizens, the communists still believe in two nation states (for Jews and Arabs) and “the Islamists still do not believe in gender equality”. It is in this confluence of diversity and unity that the real &nbsp;strength of the Palestinian citizens of Israel emerges, with a growing ability to straddle the extremes of a complicated political arena, integrating issues of class struggle and social inequality, national self-determination and gender equality while remaining firmly grounded in shared grievances and history.</p> <p>The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ Arab may thus work well together. The polarising discourse of Israeli governments and public media has certainly helped. As Zoabi <a href="">explained</a>, “the more right-wing the state becomes, the less relevant our own ideological differences become”.<span></span></p> <p>In the face of official Israeli provocations, Odeh, head of the Joint List, has <a href="">struck a conciliatory tone</a>. He described the party union as an alternative “democratic camp where Arabs and Jews are equal partners, not enemies” and he spoke of equality and democracy for “all the weak and oppressed populations, regardless of race, religion or sex”. </p> <p>Certainly coloured by Odeh’s communist background, this baseline of moderation does not contradict the parallel aspirations for Palestinian self-determination and full equality in a state for all citizens (as opposed to a ‘Jewish state’). He also <a href="">said</a> that “there can be no real and substantial democracy as long as the 1967 occupation of Palestinian territories continues”, for “only by respecting the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and independence can Israeli society be freed from this ethical, economic and social burden”.</p> <h2>Novel visibility</h2> <p>Acknowledging the repeated collapse of the ‘peace process’, one may go as far as to say that ‘<a href="">Netanyahu’s win is good for Palestine</a>’, because it will increase external and internal pressure. The Palestinian citizens of Israel may be about to emerge as an internationally recognised party to the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a novel visibility underpinned by their willingness to confront systematic inequality as Israeli citizens, alongside their demands for historical justice in alignment with Palestinians living under occupation. Yet can they demand equal rights as citizens of the Israeli state while at the same time emphasising their affiliation with other Palestinians in conflict with that state?</p> <p>The newly achieved ‘diverse unity’ may be one step towards resolving this dilemma, for it allows the various political factions to push some of their agenda individually, as communists, nationalists or Islamists, while still being able to act collectively on most issues they share as Palestinians and marginalised Arab citizens. Certainly the successful unification of Arab parties raised some hope among Israel’s Palestinians, who had lost it during last year’s war-torn summer. In <a href="">‘After the war: Jewish-Arab relations in Israel’</a>, I cited a young Arab student at Tel Aviv University who had written an emotional letter to Kashua, a prominent Israeli-Palestinian writer: “You were supposed to be optimistic, you were supposed to give us hope. Instead you are only proposing despair.”</p> <p>This was a reaction to Kashua’s earlier announcement that co-existence had “failed”. Yet, ahead of the elections he <a href="">wrote</a>: “I saw Odeh and understood for the first time in many long months that there is still something to fight for, that a regime of segregation and fearmongering can be beaten, that it’s still possible to overthrow the government that silences the people, that it’s still possible to prevent a descent into the abyss of apartheid.”</p> <p>Although a Netanyahu government appears to have returned, the fight for a more just future may not be over. As Odeh <a href="">said in an interview</a>, “We hope to become an unavoidable political force … We wish to put our weight in the political sphere, so as to exert influence, advance towards national and civil equality in Israel, and strive towards ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a just peace.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/andreas-hackl/after-war-jewisharab-relations-in-israel">After the war: Jewish-Arab relations in Israel</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Israel Conflict Democracy and government Equality israel & palestine - old roads, new maps human rights middle east Andreas Hackl Diplomacy Peacebuilding Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:25:44 +0000 Andreas Hackl 91507 at Karabakh truce shaken by gunshots and tough talk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>OSCE mediators urge an end to attacks after a month in which the 20-year-old ceasefire was broken in thousands of incidents.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A relic of a war that isn't really over. Demotix / <a href="">Onnik Krikorian</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>IWPR: As an upsurge in fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops is accompanied by increasingly tough rhetoric, the ceasefire that has held for two decades is under more strain than ever. The competing accounts of what is going on along the border and the ‘line of contact’ around Nagorno-Karabakh are hard to reconcile, but adding up all the reports of ceasefire violations gives around 5,000 for January—the biggest monthly figure since active hostilities ended in a truce in 1994.</p> <p>“From a military perspective, this escalation <em>per se</em> is not new,” said Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Centre in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. “What is new, however, is an expanded battle space—the geography of attacks is much broader and includes parts of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border—and an expansion in intensity of the attacks.”</p> <p>Giragosian was speaking at a discussion meeting held by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and the Media Centre in Yerevan late last month to examine the <a href="">implications</a> of the upsurge in fighting over the former predominantly-Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan. Worryingly, officials on both sides are using the word ‘war’ to describe what is happening. In remarks quoted by the Armenian service of RFE/RL on 6 February, an Armenian Defence Ministry representative referred to “a slow war on the border”, while his Azerbaijani equivalent responded by saying that “in actual fact, the war has not halted in the last 20 years”. War would end when Armenian forces withdrew from Azerbaijani territory, he said.</p> <h2><strong>Expressions of concern</strong></h2> <p>The Minsk Group—the mediating body of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on the Karabakh conflict, chaired by the United States, Russia and France—has issued several expressions of concern. In a statement on 7 February, the group’s co-chairs and the current OSCE chair, Ivica <em>Dačić</em>, said: “We all agree that the military situation along the line of contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border is deteriorating, posing a threat to regional stability and endangering the lives of civilians ...&nbsp; After 2014, in which approximately 60 people lost their lives, we are alarmed that this disturbing violent trend has continued.” The statement called on all sides to “end incursions, cease targeting villages and civilians, stop the threat of reprisals and the use of asymmetric force, and take additional steps to reduce tensions and strengthen the ceasefire”.</p> <p>Defence officials in Yerevan and the Karabkh capital, Stepanakert, recorded ten deaths of Armenian military personnel in January. Azerbaijan said it had lost four men, although the number is likely to be higher. Again, these fatalities are out of the ordinary—in recent times comparable only with a burst of violence in July and August last year, when more than 20 Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers were killed.</p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">Worryingly, officials on both sides are using the word ‘war’ to describe what is happening.</span></p><p><span></span>The summer skirmishing receded when the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan were brought together by the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, in August. Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev met again in September and October, in what seemed to be first steps towards resuming the long-dormant peace process. One <a href="">confidence-building measure</a> they undertook was to withdraw heavy weapons from the front lines. But that optimism faded, with&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>the downing of an Armenian helicopter</strong></a>&nbsp;in November and January’s death toll. </p> <p>At the start of the month, Armenia’s Defence Ministry issued new orders to officers along the frontier, authorising them to use their own initiative in retaliating against attacks and to take pre-emptive action when they saw fit. Sargsyan confirmed this apparent switch in tactics when he addressed ministry staff on 26 January, telling them that “if there are more substantial build-ups along our borders and on the front line [the Karabakh line of contact], we reserve the right to deliver pre-emptive strikes”.</p> <p>Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry came out with its own statement on 12 January, insisting it would exercise its right to fly manned and unmanned aircraft over the line of contact, and to deploy “all available military equipment” without reference to the other side. On 29 January, it announced that its forces had shot down an Armenian drone plane near Karabakh. Armenian officials said this was “absurd” and suggested instead that the Azerbaijanis might have downed one of their own aircraft.</p> <h2><strong>Arms race</strong></h2> <p>Speaking a day after Sargsyan’s announcement, Aliyev dismissed Armenia as a mere “colony” which “cannot exist as an independent state”. He was referring to the large economic imbalance between his oil-rich state and Armenia, which affects the arms race between them.</p> <p>The Global Militarisation Index 2014, produced by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion, ranks Armenia and Azerbaijan among the world’s ten most heavily militarised states, measured by defence spending against gross domestic product and the number of armed-forces personnel <em>per capita</em>. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that defence spending has risen exponentially in both countries. </p> <p>Between 1995 and 2013, Armenia’s annual expenditure rose from $52m to $427m. But that pales in comparison with Azerbaijan, which spent $3.4 billion in 2013, as against just $66m back in 1995. Much to Armenia’s annoyance, its security and economic ally Russia has been happy to take Azerbaijan’s cash for high-tech weapons, including modern tanks and missiles.</p> <p>These figures do not include defence expenditure in Nagorno-Karabakh, governed by a separate Armenian administration since the war stopped in 1994, although no one has recognised its claim to independence from Azerbaijan.</p> <p>Giragosian sees this disparity in spending power as a risk factor, since it could result in “a shift in the balance of military power in Azerbaijan’s favour over the longer term”. Right now though, he said, it was not enough to change a situation where “Armenia’s defensive position is still stronger than Azerbaijan’s potential offensive capacity”.</p> <p>In the shorter term, Girogasian said, the real risk was that war could break out “by accident, based on miscalculation”.</p> <p><em>This article was <a href="">originally published</a> by the <a href="">Institute for War and Peace Reporting</a>. It is reproduced with appreciation.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/neil-melvin/nagornokarabakh-notsofrozen-conflict">Nagorno-Karabakh: the not-so-frozen conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/wayne-merry/karabakh-frozen-conflict-nears-melting-point">Karabakh: &#039;frozen&#039; conflict nears melting point</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nagorno-Karabakh </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict International politics european security europe Armen Karapetyan Diplomacy Peacebuilding State violence Sun, 15 Feb 2015 16:52:43 +0000 Armen Karapetyan 90522 at Colombia: the year of peace? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The unilateral ceasefire signed by the FARC last December is a historic and positive step towards a permanent peace, but questions remain. From <a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>openDemocracy</strong></em></a>. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Normal1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// white balloons.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// white balloons.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Balloons released in April 2013 in support of the peace negotiations, now entering the third year, between the government and the FARC. Pablo Medina Uribe &amp; Julián Camilo García/Demotix. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="Normal1">For the first time in a half-century-long conflict, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed on 20 December 2014 to a unilateral and <a href="">indefinite ceasefire</a>.</p> <p class="Normal1">The decision marks a turning point in the on-going peace talks in Havana between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrilla leaders since August 2012. Not only is the step unprecedented but it also came just three weeks after the end of a crisis which had endangered the whole peace process. </p> <p class="Normal1">On 16 November, the FARC kidnapped a senior military figure in the armed forces, Rubén Darío Alzate, in a small municipality in the Chocó department. The event forced President Santos to halt the negotiations, only to resume them following the release of the general two weeks later. </p> <p>To some extent, the ceasefire highlights a transformation in the guerrillas’ tactics, paving the way for a significant reduction of violence between the two sides. According to <a href="">analysis conducted by CERAC</a>, the FARC have not committed a single violation of the ceasefire despite continued operations by Colombia’s armed forces . A month on, violence associated with the conflict has plummeted to levels not seen since the mid-1980s.</p> <p class="Normal1">But optimism should be carefully qualified. The ceasefire is conditional, dependent on measures that the FARC has sought from the government, including oversight of the deal by national and international bodies. It has also warned that, should government armed forces attack, the ceasefire will be dropped. </p> <p class="Normal1">The government <a href="">welcomed the announcement</a>, claiming that it could indeed lead to a permanent peace. But Santos reinforced the state’s duty to ‘protect’ the Colombian people and deferred discussions on a bilateral ceasefire until further rounds of negotiations in Cuba. This leaves the ceasefire vulnerable and begs further questions. First, why isn’t the government willing to accept a bilateral arrangement right away?</p> <p class="Normal1">At one level, this stems from past failures. The only bilateral ceasefire signed by the FARC and the government dates back to 1983, under the presidency of Belisario Betancur (1982-86). Neither side ceased hostilities and it only exacerbated the deterioration of the peace process, which collapsed shortly thereafter. Under Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002), the FARC was granted a demilitarised area in which the peace process took place. But this allowed for the visible training and strengthening of the guerrillas, proving fatal to the negotiations in the end. </p> <p class="Normal1">The current negotiations could not produce either of these concessions Far from it: they were facilitated by the strength of the armed forces, which forced the guerrillas to come to an agreement with Santos in August 2012. And the government has no incentive to remove this military pressure, for fear of upsetting the balance upon which the peace process has rested. </p> <p class="Normal1">Moreover, the multiplicity of violent groups acting inside Colombia—including the ELN, the second largest guerrilla organisation, as well as a panoply of paramilitary, self-defence and vigilante groups and organised criminal bands—would make it very difficult for the government to implement a bilateral ceasefire. Finally, should the government reduce the steady military pressure on the guerrillas, political support for the negotiations—now approved only by a slim majority of the population and the governing coalition–would be severely shaken.</p> <p class="Normal1">Secondly, is the ceasefire likely to stand? There is scope for optimism, owing by and large to the positive record of past truces undertaken by the FARC and the Santos administration, during the Christmas and new year’s festivities of 2012 and 2013, as well as around the presidential elections in May and June last year. </p> <p class="Normal1">But a third and rather different question follows: what will happen if either party attacks the other? The straightforward answer is the ceasefire would collapse. But very different consequences would follow, depending on the perpetrator. A FARC breach would damage the credibility of its control over its armed apparatus and represent a political defeat for the guerrillas. Should the government take the first step, however, by virtue of the FARC’s conditions the deal would be no more, and Santos would have to confront the political consequences of an attack waged by the armed forces. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">In line with the president’s own promises, the armed forces has not ceased to operate against the guerrillas. On 31 December, they attacked FARC troops in Algeciras, a municipality in the Huila department, and captured Carlos Andrés Bustos (alias Ricardo), second in command of the Teófilo Forero <em>columna</em>. Interestingly, while the FARC <span>condemned the operation</span>, as with <span>other alleged attacks</span> by the armed forces, the ceasefire did not come to an abrupt halt. </p> <p class="Normal1">But then the Teófilo Forero unit has proved problematic for the FARC’s highest cadres for quite some time, so the kidnapping of one of its leaders could turn out to be beneficial in at least two ways. First, it would appear to be a contained blow against one of the guerrillas’ most troublesome divisions. Secondly, it leaves the FARC in a position to point the finger against the government’s military provocations as a major threat to its own ceasefire.</p> <p>Should the armed forces disrupt the truce the FARC could effectively shift the blame on to the government, making it bear responsibility for the missed opportunity for peace and the crisis that would ensue. This would strengthen the FARC’s position within the negotiations, boosting its image as the purported defender of peace, and bring more pressure on the Santos administration from the international community­—and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the Colombian public. </p> <p class="Normal1">But a failed ceasefire might not lead the entire peace process to collapse. Even if the truce between the FARC and the government were suddenly to break down, the peace talks in Havana would still likely progress, even if impaired, towards a final agreement between the two sides. </p> <p class="Normal1">In his <a href="">last speech of 2014</a>, Santos wished for the Colombian people that 2015 would be the year of peace. The ceasefire still holds but the path towards a definitive peace is still laden with risks. </p> <p class="Normal1">On 15 January <a href="">Santos announced</a> that he would be ordering the government’s delegation in Havana to begin discussing the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire with the FARC. The initial aversion towards a bilateral agreement that would entangle both the armed forces and the guerrillas appears already to have waned. But in some fundamental ways Colombia is already living under a virtual bilateral deal. </p> <p class="Normal1">The drastic reduction in clashes between the army and the FARC has brought an easing of hostilities unlike anything in the past 30 years. The relationship between the two sides has shifted from attempted mutual annihilation to mutual avoidance. For both actors, the benefits of a decrease in violent confrontations outweigh the costs of a breakdown of the current equilibrium. &nbsp;</p> <p class="Normal1">The FARC’s decision voluntarily to renounce operations against the armed forces poses a crucial test for Santos’ government as well as the guerrillas. It has shown the latter that violence may not be as useful as it may have been in the past. The FARC cannot hope to wage a successful war against the armed forces; indeed, nor can it hope to resort to violence again without suffering a catastrophic blow to the credibility and political capital accrued through the past two years of negotiations. Yet the ceasefire will leave the onus on Santos to make the next steps—and show the true extent of his willingness to negotiate a political way out of Colombia’s conflict.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/jos%C3%A9manuel-barreto/body-of-colombian-women-is-battleground">The body of Colombian women is a battleground</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ivan-briscoe-timo-peeters/back-to-basics-for-colombias-rebels">Back to basics for Colombia&#039;s rebels</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/catalina-uribe-burcher/organized-crime-colombia%27s-peace-spoiler">Organized crime, Colombia&#039;s peace spoiler?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mar%C3%ADa-camila-moreno/uncovering-colombia%27s-systems-of-macrocriminality">Uncovering Colombia&#039;s systems of macro-criminality</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Colombia Jorge A. Restrepo Leonardo Goi Conflict in Context: Colombia Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:44:20 +0000 Leonardo Goi and Jorge A. Restrepo 90068 at Yemen: descent into anarchy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With the resignation of its president and prime minister, Yemen lacks the capacity to steer its political transition towards the goal of greater stability. The alternative, however, does not bear thinking about.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Will he grow up in a united country? Flickr / <a href="">Martin Sojka</a>. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Recent violence in Yemen points to the resurgence of tribal fault-lines which were previously managed by playing off interest groups against one another or, in more recent years, seeking to redistribute political power federally under the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).</span></p> <p>The NDC initiated a political transition, with ambitions for security sector reform and a more vigorous counter-terrorism strategy to combat al-Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP). Now, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG), which has been keeping a watching brief on the country’s progress, the only real choice open to Yemenis is the inclusive process mapped out by the NDC agreement in January 2014 … or a descent into civil war along Libyan lines.</p> <p>The <a href=""><em>World Development Report: Conflict, Security and Development</em></a>, published by the World Bank, shows how countries which have experienced conflict are more likely to suffer further violence: 90% of today’s armed conflicts had a predecessor of some kind, a ratio which has doubled since the 1960s. And Yemen has experienced conflict of some kind throughout the past half century. </p> <p>Between 1962 and 1970, North Yemen was locked in a bloody civil war among the republican forces which had dislodged the ruling imam from power on 25 September 1962. Meanwhile, conflagration spread to the south, which witnessed an insurgency between 1963 and 1967, ending with the withdrawal of the British colonial authorities and the establishment of a Marxist-orientated government. </p> <p>By the mid-1980s the two Yemens were again locked in a brief civil war—a conflict which flared up again in 1994, four years after the unification of the country. Then, the Saleh government, which had ruled the north since 1978, depended on the standing of the southern general Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, who would serve as Ali Abdullah Saleh’s deputy until he became president in the transitional political deal brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council in November 2011.</p> <h2><strong>Lineage</strong></h2> <p>Recent violence from the Houthi movement in the north may have begun in 2004 with the assassination of the tribal leader Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi by the government in Sanaa, but it has deeper roots and can be traced back to the Zaydi lineage which produced the Shia imam for over two centuries. The launch of an attack on the capital on 25 September last should leave no one in any doubt that the Houthis believe they are the direct descendants of the imam and, therefore, entitled to a greater share of power. They have come down from the mountains to which they were banished in the civil war half a century earlier.</p> <p>Again according to the ICG, the violence has the potential to spread far and wide and threaten the stability of the entire country, as the Houthis square up to take the fight to AQAP. The latter has sought to capitalise on the disaffection among some Sunni tribesmen, who fear the sectarian overtones of much of the language employed by the Houthis.</p> <h2><span class="pullquote-right">There is an old saying in Yemen that ‘a camel is actually a horse created by committee’.</span></h2><p><span></span>Instability is endemic to Yemen because the state was formed on the basis of compromise between competing interest groups. Tribal affiliations dating back to pre-Islamic times have always exerted a powerful influence on politics and society. Long after Marxism, populism and Islamism have subsided, tribalism will continue to dominate the lives of people from the rugged mountainous region of Radfan to the urban centre of Taiz and the port city of Hodeida. And, as the ‘gateway to Arabia’, Yemen continues to have considerable strategic importance for the regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the United States and Russia.</p> <p>While attention is focused on the northern Houthi rebellion, resurgent southern secessionism continues to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people, who can be frequently seen carrying the old flags of the People’s Democratic Republic of South Yemen in massive demonstrations on the streets of the southern capital, Aden. The NDC plan to carve up the country into federal zones, with power devolved to four northern (Azal, Saba, Janad and Tehama) and two southern (Aden and Hadhramaut) regional units, failed to placate the mosaic of Yemeni interest groups.</p> <p>There is an old saying in Yemen that ‘a camel is actually a horse created by committee’. And the inability to make the NDC agreement stick is evidence of the difficulty faced by Yemeni political leaders who have sought to implement it. But this can only pave the way for a serious deterioration in the security situation, which the ICG contends will benefit no one except AQAP. </p> <h2>Resignations</h2> <p>Arguably, the greatest threat to Yemen’s stability is not the Houthi violence in the north nor even AQAP activity in the south, but the prospect of the country dividing again along pre-1990 lines. The resignations earlier this month of the president, Mansour Hadi, and his prime minister—following a Houthi attack on the presidential palace—expose the delicate balance of forces in the country. </p> <p>The only person who successfully managed these relationships was Saleh. But the former president was recently accused by the UN of fomenting violence and instability and undermining Mansour Hadi, his former deputy. Saleh responded with characteristic vigour by securing the expulsion of Mansour Hadi from the General People’s Congress party, effectively isolating him from the political process.</p> <p>In her scintillating book <em>Dancing on the Heads of Snakes</em>, Victoria Clark tellingly observed how, if the threat emanating from Yemen does demand action on the West’s part, “it would be advisable to nurture a healthy suspicion that we still do not know the half of this beautiful and enchanting, but also opaque and unstable, corner of the Arabian Peninsula”. And it would be advisable for the international community to continue to support the peaceful transition in Yemen with the proviso that it make only those contributions Yemenis themselves request. The fate of the ‘gateway to Arabia’ hangs in the balance—depending on continuing engagement and support, short of intervention.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/aaron-edwards/yemen-state-born-of-conflict">Yemen: a state born of conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/aaron-edwards/yemen-in-frame-again">Yemen in the frame, again</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/aaron-edwards/yemen%E2%80%99s-troubled-transition">Yemen’s troubled transition</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Yemen Conflict global security middle east Aaron Edwards Diplomacy Non-state violence Peacebuilding Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:44:45 +0000 Aaron Edwards 90049 at Lebanon is cracking under the pressure from Syria and Iraq <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hizbullah's attack today on Israeli forces near the Shebaa Farms area contested by Lebanon highlights how the country is a fragile mosaic close to shattering.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Dark days in Beirut.&nbsp;<a href="">EPA / Nabil Mounzer</a>. All rights reserved.</p><p>Lebanon has always been a complicated jigsaw but, despite years of war, regional conflict and meddling in its affairs, it has displayed a <a href="">tremendous ability to absorb tension</a>. But the threads that hold this fragile country together are rapidly starting to fray.</p> <p>Lebanon faces a rapidly mounting refugee disaster, a crisis of confidence among the country’s power-sharing partners and escalating tension between some of its largest communities. It also finds itself caught up in battles between Israel and Hizbullah, while radicalisation and the presence of jihadist groups raise a whole new set of issues for the strained state to deal with.&nbsp;<span>And while the steps that Lebanese authorities are taking to head off a collapse are understandable, the humanitarian consequences are dire.</span></p> <h2>Clamping down</h2> <p>Over recent months, the Lebanese government has <a href="">strengthened border controls</a>, resulting in a <a href="">44% drop</a> in the number of Syrians securing refuge in the country. These moves are understandable given the size of the influx: there are now almost 1.2m <em>de facto</em> refugees in Lebanon, alongside an estimated 500,000 who are unregistered. Lebanon’s total population before the Syrian crisis was a mere 4m and this mass of people is a major drain on a country still recovering from years of bloody conflict.</p> <p>Between 1975 and 1990, Lebanon endured a brutal 15-year war whose legacy remains unresolved and much of the damage from which remains unrepaired, not least in the country’s infrastructure. Before the Syrian crisis, the state’s capacity to provide its entire population with basic resources and services, including electricity, water, education and healthcare, was badly stretched. Today, it is strained almost to breaking point.</p> <p>Add to this many Lebanese people’s resentment at having to 'compete' with 1.7m refugees for basic resources, plus a <a href="">decline in global humanitarian funding</a> despite growing need, and it’s clear this is a looming humanitarian disaster.</p> <h2><em>Déjà vu </em>again</h2> <p>Lebanon has had a fraught relationship with Syria for a long time. The Syrian government played a large role in Lebanon’s civil war and remained an occupying power until 2005. While this was welcomed by one part of the population, by others it was not. An influx of 1.7m Syrians is therefore reviving unaddressed, and unburied, resentments.</p> <p>On top of that specific sensitivity, the Lebanese are wary of large refugee influxes in general, or indeed any shift in demographics. They have a very good reason to be: the country’s delicate peace is predicated on a conflict-freezing agreement, which divides government and institutional power between the major population groups: Christian Maronite, Christian Orthodox, Druze, Shia Muslim and Sunni Muslim.</p> <p>This complex division of power is the reason why there has not been a census in Lebanon since <a href="">1932</a>,&nbsp;for any official recognition of a significant change in demographic balance among the communities would immediately call the delicate division of power and the make-up of government into question. That could destabilise the power balance and put the country’s precarious stability at risk.</p> <p>But the Lebanese suspicion of refugees has its own history. The <a href="">1975-1990 war</a> left Lebanon with a legacy of almost half a million Palestinian refugees. Israeli and Palestinian fighters were part of the war in Lebanon. Palestinian refugees bore the brunt, <a href="">as a number of massacres attest</a>.</p> <p>Today, some 25 years after the conflict’s end, Palestinian refugees are based largely in 12 camps around the country. They have not been integrated into Lebanese society and are a source of longstanding resentment among some Lebanese communities. Their rights are extremely limited, they have little access to employment and most do not have Lebanese citizenship<span>—</span><span>because, once again, this would cause a significant demographic shift.</span></p><p> <img src="" alt="" width="460" /> <span class="image-caption">Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon. <a class="source" rel="nofollow" href="">EPA / Wael Hamzeh</a>. All rights reserved.</span></p> <p>It is no surprise then that Lebanon’s public debate around Syrian refugees is harking back to its own unresolved fears and legacies of violence. This history underpins not just the recent restrictions on refugee entry but also the government’s unwillingness to set up more refugee camps, officially recognise the refugees or provide employment opportunities (such as farming collectives) that could reduce dependency on direct humanitarian assistance.</p> <h2>Sleepers wake</h2> <p>The Lebanese population’s resentment has taken the form of widespread <a href="">racism</a>, <a href="">curfews</a> and limits to freedom of movement for Syrian refugees in some municipalities. The more refugees are marginalised, the more afraid of them the Lebanese get<span>—</span><span>and the more polarised and tense Lebanese society is becoming.&nbsp;</span><span>All this is happening in an incredibly tense neighbourhood, where Lebanon has good reason to fear the overspill of serious conflicts.</span></p> <p>In 2013, chapters of both the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front and Islamic State were established in Lebanon. Both are increasingly making their presence felt: the&nbsp;<span>10</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>December attack in Jabal Mohsen, Tripoli was </span><a href="">claimed</a><span> by the al-Nusra Front and IS recently </span><a href="">kidnapped</a><span> a number of people in the eastern Lebanese town of Ras Baalbek.</span></p> <p>There are fears of IS 'sleeper cells' in Lebanon’s Syrian refugee camps<span>—</span><span>raising obvious concerns about radicalisation within the camps but also unfounded suspicion of the general refugee population. Outside the camps, the leaking border and spiralling violence lead to growing concerns that more of the Sunni community along the Syrian border could become radicalised.</span></p> <p>And, if that is not enough, the tension between Israel and Hezbollah is increasing steadily, as evidenced by <a href="">today's anti-tank missile attack on Israeli Defence Forces</a>, responding to the <a href="">recent IDF killings of Hizbullah fighters in Syria</a>, which has brought fresh casualties.&nbsp;Israel last went to war with Lebanon only in 2006 and renewed violence on that front is not only increasingly realistic but would look dangerously like the final nail in the coffin.</p> <p>Lebanon has managed a complicated local and regional juggling act for years<span>—b</span><span>ut all the signs are that, as Syria and Iraq continue their meltdowns, things will only get more difficult to hold together. And the prospect the collapse of Lebanon would pose for stability in the Middle East as a whole is ominous indeed.</span></p><p><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p><p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="">The Conversation</a>. Read the <a href="">original article</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mahmoud-mroueh/antisyrian-sentiment-in-lebanon">Anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-mackreath/on-lebanese-sovereignty">On Lebanese sovereignty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/lana-asfour/lebanon-and-syrian-refugee-crisis">Lebanon and the Syrian refugee crisis</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Lebanon </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Lebanon Conflict International politics middle east Christalla Yakinthou Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:43:11 +0000 Christalla Yakinthou 90022 at A long road ahead: integrating gender perspectives into peacekeeping operations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A spate of violence against women in the eastern DRC shows that there is still a long way to go on effective implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, 14 years after its adoption.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// goma.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// goma.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">UN peacekeeping troops patrol the roads in Goma, but have they become immune to the environment? Demotix/Ignacio Hennigs. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>There are very few roads accessible by car in the South Kivu province of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). One of these is around Bukavu, the provincial capital. The road is used daily by locals, government officials, non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Stabilization Mission for the DRC (MONUSCO), the world’s largest peacekeeping mission.</p> <p>In this area, over a few months in 2013, at least 40 women were reportedly attacked, sexually assaulted and robbed of all their goods while taking shortcuts on their way to markets. As often happens, such incidents went unreported for a long time, mainly because survivors feared being stigmatised as victims, and had little faith that their assailants would be prosecuted.</p> <p>What was happening? Too poor to afford basic transportation, heavily burdened Congolese women walk long distances to reach markets to sell their products. Congolese Armed Forces had obstructed the road to Bukavu with illegal barriers, forcing women who lacked the money to pay the tolls to choose the forest by-ways, risking attack.</p> <p>But even if unreported, the risk of incidents should have been detected. The presence of illegal barriers was well known, but despite some on-going efforts to stop them, almost no peacekeepers from the government, non-governmental organisations or MONUSCO noticed the absence of women transporting goods along the road. This should have been striking considering how common it is to see women carrying large loads on their shoulders everywhere in this area of the DRC.<span class="pullquote-right">The presence of illegal barriers was well known, but despite some on-going efforts to stop them, almost no peacekeepers from the government, non-governmental organisations or MONUSCO noticed the absence of women transporting goods along the road.</span></p> <p>This indicates not only a terrible gap in recognising and preventing sexual violence, but also a lack of attention to women’s roles in society, and to women’s potential contributions to security, early warning and early response, and peacemaking. In other words, a lack of concern for what is stated in <a href="">UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security</a>, which acknowledges the vital role women can and should play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.</p> <h2>Losing direction: the gaps in adopting a gender perspective</h2> <p>In spite of growing efforts to raise awareness and knowledge of Resolution 1325 among international actors and national institutions, many peacebuilders are not yet used to applying a gender perspective. On one hand, the importance of gender is underestimated, and its potential to influence peace and conflict is not recognized. This is partly because gender is so rooted in each society’s behaviour that it is often confused with culture, or&nbsp;<span>not&nbsp;</span><span>even perceived at all–neither in the local peacekeeping environment, nor in the environment of origin of peaceworkers. Peaceworkers take great trouble not to ‘interfere’ with the culture of local people. </span></p><p><span>The difficulties associated with discussing gender norms, while remaining sensitive to the cultural autonomy of the local population, end up being used to justify not working with gender at all.&nbsp;</span><span>On the other hand, those difficulties have also created the perception that working with gender is the exclusive responsibility of specialized experts, with a specific budget. While this can be true for the implementation of gender programs, it is not true for adopting a gender perspective. The transversal nature of gender necessitates acting with a gender perspective.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>What dominates is a misinterpretation of ‘gender’, which for most practitioners is largely linked to reducing sexual violence. A shallow interpretation of gender inhibits this aspect of peacework. Although most strategies of civilian protection take into account threats, vulnerabilities, profiles of aggressors and attacks, and even indicators of conflict-related sexual violence, few consider the social roles assigned through gender alongside these other key elements. For example, if collecting water is a role traditionally taken on by women, and (male) armed actors have a record of sexual violence against women, it is crucial that local water points are secured away from them.</p> <p>But understandings of gender are not only about reducing sexual violence; they are crucial to every aspect of peace and conflict life. The transversal nature of gender, just like peace and conflict, means that gender influences women’s and men’s roles and behaviours in practical ways, from the level of the family to the institution. The daily activities conducted by men and women are frequently determined by gender, and can sway and be swayed by conflict and peace contexts.</p> <p>For instance, women’s and men’s daily activities will expose them to different knowledge. Where women are tasked with collecting water and wood, cultivating fields, childcare or visiting markets, while men maintain a breadwinner role, they will have access to different kinds of information which can be essential to recognize conflict patterns; information about a particular community’s needs, specific security threats, and local power brokers. Humanitarian situations can also challenge gender norms. It has been widely reported amongst Syrian refugees that, because men have been uncomfortable asking for assistance, women have added to their traditional responsibilities by looking for humanitarian aid outside of the home. Acquiring this breadwinner status has left some women on the receiving end of frustrations of their male partners, expressed through violence.<span class="pullquote-right">The transversal nature of gender, just like peace and conflict, means that gender influences women’s and men’s roles and behaviours in practical ways, from the level of the family to the institution.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In other cases, working with women directly can be crucial to achieving a sustainable peace. In reintegration programs especially, working with ex-combatants’ wives can be very helpful. Social connections with the host community, which are crucial for a sustainable reintegration, are often created by women via childcare, visits to the market and so on. In all these senses, a gender perspective can provide opportunities to drive positive changes towards peace and gender equality.</p> <p>Yet gender often is not included in peacekeepers’ observations. Why? One explanation is that in conflict situations, “hard issues”, such as armed attacks or massive destruction, are much more visible, easier to monitor and with immediate measurable impact, and so are more easily included in protection strategies. In contrast, gender issues come across as “soft issues”, and are often confined to the domain of “women’s issues”. Gender issues are not seen as priorities that must be considered for stepping towards peace; rather, they are considered ‘consequences’ of the conflict to which provide assistance.</p> <p>Commonly, gender is very much associated with women, rather than the gendered roles of women and men; women in conflict situations are mostly seen as vulnerable objects of peacekeeping initiatives. This understanding of gender relegates women to passive victimhood–rather than to persons that are not vulnerable <em>per se</em>, but are in a condition of vulnerability. This misinterpretation is very costly: not only reducing peace operations’ capacity to prevent violence, but also the participation of key active elements able to promote a sustainable peace.</p> <p>The implementation of Resolution 1325 suffers from this bias: it is often treated as an appendix to weightier matters, rather than being integral to conflict resolution or sustainable peace. The titular focus of Resolution 1325 on Women (rather than Gender), Peace and Security may itself be problematic. It risks being misinterpreted as advocating that the security of women be dealt with differently (and separately) from that of men; stressing the need to promote protection and participation of women, rather than highlighting the interdependence of women’s and men’s security for lasting peace. The existence of specific security threats towards a targeted group, for example the frequency with which sexual violence is directed against women and girls, or the forced recruitment into armed groups of children, does not mean that consequences will affect only that part of the population. Nor does it follow that the strategies of prevention should focus only on the ‘at risk’ group. </p><p>Rather, the consequences of violations affect the population as a whole, at all levels of society. Attacks against women on routes to market have not only consequences for the victim personally, but on family relationships, where the victim suffers discrimination, and the husbands frustration. The socio-economic stability of the community itself is put at risk when the markets are closed due to declining participation. Consequently, such attacks have consequences also at a regional and national level. Indeed, security does not mean only protection against threats, but the creation of a protected environment at all levels: domestic, community, institutional, and international. Each man and each woman has a role to play in all those levels of security. </p> <p>Gender equality has further implications for security. If men and women do not have the same access to opportunities and rights, the security and peace of the society at large is compromised. An imbalance of rights and participation at the family level can have repercussions nationwide. What is essential is the interaction and participation of women and men together to build peace and prevent conflict.</p> <p>The greater aim of Resolution 1325 to integrate a gender perspective into all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution is thus missed in many efforts to implement it. Indeed, this tendency to dissociate, as opposed to integrate, gender into security and conflict resolution strategies also risks feeding the idea that the security and protection of women can only be provided for by women as security actors. This is only part of the picture. Training <em>all</em> mission personnel in operating with a gender perspective is more important.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is true that there is an immediate need to increase the number of women (military, police and civilian) deployed in peace support operations and to elevate their roles to those of their male counterparts. Female peacekeepers can play crucial roles in certain areas, including women’s protection: assisting women victims of violence, and patrols and community engagement in contexts where social norms restrict contacts between women and men. Female peacekeepers challenge broad conceptions around women’s–and men’s–roles in security. For instance, a Uruguayan female helicopter pilot with MONUSCO has aroused enormous interest among Congolese women, which has supported the mission’s engagement with local people. In Liberia, Indian female peacekeepers in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have assumed a very high profile role guarding the President’s office. The percentage of women enrolling in the Liberian National Police rose from 13 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2009. <span class="pullquote-right">The&nbsp;tendency to dissociate, as opposed to integrate, gender into security and conflict resolution strategies also risks feeding the idea that the security and protection of women can only be provided for by women as security actors.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="Testocommento2">However, the presence of female peacekeepers is often the sole emblem of the UNSC resolution. While this is indeed part of the solution, the key is for each actor–male or female, military or civilian–to learn and to act with a gender perspective in all situations. In order to achieve this, a gender perspective needs to be taught, continuously cultivated and practiced before, during and after peace operations.</p> <h2>Getting it right: South-South collaboration<span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p class="Testocommento2">Sharing similar experiences and lessons learned between regions is an excellent way to gradually adopt the gender perspective. Latin America and Africa, for example, are regions that share a number of structural characteristics and face comparable challenges: post-colonial states, corruption, insecurity, inequality, young governments, histories of long-lasting internal conflicts, and post-dictatorial contexts. South-South collaborations between these regions enables a thoughtful approach based on the experiences countries have acquired over the years. Such collaborations, moreover, are all the more pertinent as many Troop Contributing Countries to peace operations deployed in Africa are from Latin American countries. Currently, 12 Latin American and Caribbean states contribute over 1,500 peacekeepers to UN missions in Africa, with the Uruguayan and Guatemalan commitments to MONUSCO being the largest.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Resolution 1325 was originally neglected at the Latin American level. Since 2007, <a href="">RESDAL’s investigations</a> on women in the armed forces across the Latin American region have revealed a number of issues, including a lack of data on the subject, and a lack of discussion of gender issues within peace operations. The <a href="">research papers</a> promote collaboration between civil, military and police actors to improve gender equality within democratic institutions, and are an important resource for Latin American practitioners. As a result of such efforts, Resolution 1325 and related material were incorporated into the regional agenda within three years, notably in the IX Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas.</p> <p class="Testocommento2">RESDAL has been uniquely positioned to use this regional advocacy experience to progress the Women, Peace and Security agenda in international peace operations. After conducting fieldwork in Haiti, DRC and Lebanon, where Latin American countries participate in United Nations peace operations, it became clear to RESDAL that it was necessary to carry out regular and pre-deployment training for military peacekeeping forces. To this end, RESDAL instigated a programme of classes on gender promotion in peacekeeping operations at various centers across Latin America that consider international legal frameworks and field experiences, as well as local understandings of gender.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The implementation of Resolution 1325 cannot take shortcuts: the path to adopt is that of a comprehensive, multi-actor and practical gender approach. The 15th anniversary of Resolution 1325 next year provides an opportunity to follow such a path, advocating for an approach based on fieldwork and South-South collaboration to work with women and men towards a lasting peace.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-resolution_1325/conflict_2929.jsp">1325: deeds not words</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/anna-bragga/hague-jolie-declaration-ending-impunity-for-sexual-crimes-in-conflict">The Hague Jolie Declaration: ending impunity for sexual crimes in conflict? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/liberia-women-peacekeepers-and-human-security">Liberia: Women Peacekeepers and Human Security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/catia-confortini/women-peacebuilders-transforming-system-from-inside-out">Women peacebuilders: transforming the system from the inside out?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/politics-of-peace-scr-1325-at-10">The politics of peace: SCR 1325 at 10 </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Democratic Republic of the Congo Maud Farrugia Chiara Oriti Niosi Sustainable Security Peacebuilding Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:06:15 +0000 Chiara Oriti Niosi and Maud Farrugia 89070 at “There was so much fear” <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The outworking of the eight-year-old peace agreement in Nepal has embraced the government and its Maoist opponents. The women who were victims of sexual violence from both sides during the conflict have, however, been left out.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Maoist fighters like these buried the hatchet with government forces in 2006--but stories of sexual violence by both sides have been buried too. <a class="popup-processed" href="">Bimal Sharma</a>&nbsp;/ Demotix. All rights reserved.</p><p>As the Nepali man told me this story, his wife—let’s call her Devi—started to cry.</p> <p>“It was during the Emergency. There was so much fear. We did not dare say anything to anyone: police, doctors, no one. I just took care of her. She was in a terrible state, sometimes angry, sometimes weeping,” he said. “For two months, she could barely move. Her body was full of bruises. She was very weak. I took her to hospital, and they gave her three bottles of glucose. But we did not say anything about the rape.”</p> <p>Eleven years after the rape, this couple still did not want to be publicly identified, fearing retribution. And they still suffer from the trauma they endured. </p> <p>Nepal’s decade-long conflict between government forces and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) combatants ended with a peace agreement in 2006. While interim compensation has been offered to those left behind by killings and disappearances, the package excludes sexual violence and torture, so such crimes are largely hidden and survivors excluded. </p> <p>Human Rights Watch interviewed this couple while conducting research for our report <a href="">Silenced and Forgotten: Survivors of Nepal’s Conflict-Era Sexual Violence</a><span>,</span> which documents abuses by both sides during the conflict. Most of these crimes remain unreported. </p> <p>Civilian policing had then pretty much broken down. But even if they dared, victims could not safely travel to lodge a complaint with law-enforcement agencies. And given the perpetrators roaming around, armed with weapons they were willing to use, few were willing to take such a risk. </p> <p>Women we interviewed described the tense situation at that time, when civilians were caught between Maoists who demanded support, including food and shelter, and government forces that punished anyone who provided it. Some described how members of the security forces raped female combatants after arrest and targeted female relatives or supporters of Maoist suspects. Others said Maoist combatants raped women who refused to support them or women they forcibly recruited to help their insurgency. &nbsp;</p> <p>In Devi’s case, her husband’s brother was a Maoist. Security forces repeatedly turned up to question the family about his whereabouts and beat his relatives. Devi was raped, possibly as retribution, after repeated questioning over several months, when the family kept insisting that they had no contact with the combatant. </p> <p>After two elections, with the Maoists now a political party which participates in the democratic arena, some women are finding the courage to speak out. But they are likely still a small minority, with most others isolated and unable to secure justice or redress. </p> <h2><strong>Immediate measures</strong></h2> <p>The Nepali government should take immediate measures to encourage women to report these crimes and seek justice. It should develop a reparations programme to address the critical needs of survivors of sexual violence and torture, including long-term health care and livelihood support. </p> <p>Donors should assist and encourage Nepal to develop proper psycho-social support services for survivors of sexual violence and their families, to help them overcome stigma and fear, and to cope with the consequences of sexual assault and torture during the conflict. Such services are not only important for the overall wellbeing of rape survivors and their families. They can also play a critical part in helping women decide whether they want to seek justice and in supporting them and their families through complex legal procedures. </p> <p class="pullquote-right">Nepal’s historically patriarchal society makes it difficult for survivors of sexual violence to speak out about the assault without being stigmatised or blamed.&nbsp;</p><p><span></span>Nepali law has a 35-day statute of limitations on reporting rape. The Supreme Court has ordered revision of the law, deeming the period “unreasonable” and “unrealistic” and a barrier to justice for rape survivors. The government is apparently considering an extension, but only to 90 days. In light of its international and national obligations, Nepal should eliminate the 35-day limit, as recommended in 2011 by the international committee tasked with monitoring compliance with the UN treaty eliminating discrimination against women. </p> <p>Even if Nepal were to enact laws ensuring justice for survivors of sexual violence, that would not help the conflict-era victims. But when they signed the peace agreement Nepal’s political leaders committed to justice for human-rights violations, including sexual violence, during the conflict. </p> <p>A nascent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has a mandate to investigate allegations of conflict-related rape and other forms of sexual violence, and it should adopt a broad approach to investigating such cases. This includes establishing command responsibility to identify perpetrators. The new TRC act says those responsible for sexual violence will not be granted amnesty. The commission should be given adequate powers and resources to engage counsellors and interpreters or special educators, to ensure that all procedures are accessible to sexual-violence survivors, to minimise retraumatisation and to order protection for victims and witnesses. </p> <h2>Brutalised</h2> <p>While women we met were able to say whether their attackers were Maoist rebels or soldiers, they could not name the individuals responsible. Devi, for instance, says she was so badly beaten and brutalised that she was barely conscious. All she knows is that the men who attacked were part of a military search operation and were in uniform.&nbsp; </p> <p>“They were kicking me, hitting me, pulling my hair,” she told me. “Then they pushed me down on the floor. One of the men unzipped his pants. Then it started. They were holding me down and yelling at me. There were many of them. They were raping me. At some point I must have lost consciousness. </p> <p>“But when I recovered, they were still there. I was in great pain ... And then I soiled my clothes. One of the men said, ‘Let’s go. She might die.’ It was only then that they stopped … My mother-in-law was crying, saying, ‘Don’t do this. She has a small child.’ But the men shouted abuses at her. I don’t know who they are.”</p> <p>After the peace agreement, the Maoist brother returned to his village. Devi’s husband cannot bear to meet him any more, angry that his decision to join the Maoists caused his wife such suffering. Devi is still plagued by nightmares and headaches. </p> <p>Nepal’s historically patriarchal society makes it difficult for survivors of sexual violence to speak out about the assault without being stigmatised or blamed. Given the intimate nature of sexual violence, women are often conditioned by wrong notions of “shame”, which deter them from coming forward to seek justice.</p> <p>A number of women reported suffering domestic violence because of the rapes. Others had children from the rape. Devi was a rare survivor with a supportive husband, asking that he be present at our meeting.</p> <p>Access to psycho-social support is important not only for women who were raped but also for their family and community. In some cases, women interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they censored themselves for fear of being mistreated or rejected by their husbands and in-laws. In some interviews, husbands also expressed frustration because they were unable to protect their wives from rapists or secure justice on their behalf. One father spoke of his constant guilt, and worry that no one will marry his daughter after she was raped by a Maoist. A woman said she is always angry with her husband because he failed to prevent the rape; he says he would have been killed if he had intervened. </p> <h2>Reparation</h2> <p>The Nepal government should ensure confidential counselling through government health services. It should reach out to women systematically to help them overcome the stigma of rape, and prevent domestic violence within their communities or families because of it. Survivors of domestic violence, including those who experience it as a consequence of conflict-era rape, should be able to report the abuse and secure access to services tailored to their needs. Almost all the women we interviewed said they wanted compensation and other reparation for the violence and trauma they survived. </p> <p>The government should ensure that conflict-era victims of sexual violence and torture are eligible for reparations. It should also provide rehabilitative services to promote the physical, cognitive, and psychological recovery of sexual-violence survivors, and their social reintegration. &nbsp;</p> <p>Lastly, it should amend the criminal law to include all forms of sexual offence, with appropriate punishments based on harm, incorporating command responsibility for war crimes, torture and other international crimes committed by police and other security forces. This should include a uniform protocol for treatment and medical examination of rape survivors, which respects their privacy and dignity, is conducted only when necessary and minimises retraumatisation. </p> <p>Conflict-era survivors of sexual violence have already suffered for too long. It is time to break the silence and provide them with the help they need to recover and secure justice.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/meenakshi-ganguly/nepal-wrong-trail-right-track">Nepal: wrong trail, right track</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nepal </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Nepal Conflict Equality justice? human rights asia & pacific Meenakshi Ganguly Nepalese civil war Peacebuilding Transitional Justice Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:53:54 +0000 Meenakshi Ganguly 87694 at Turkey bombs Kurdish forces as violence threatens to spill over <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The law of unintended effects is in evidence as the rise of Islamic State threatens a potential resolution of Turkey's Kurdish question.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The patience of Turkey’s Kurds is being tested. <a href="">Sedat Suna / EPA</a>.</span><span class="attribution"></span></p><p><span class="attribution"><a class="source" rel="nofollow" href=""></a></span>The humanitarian tragedy of <a href="">Kobanê</a> has raised serious questions about the future of the Kurds. The unstoppable advance of Islamic State (IS) over the last few months has already <a href="">scrambled the power dynamics of the region</a>, while Western-led air strikes have so far <a href="">failed to bring IS to its knees</a>,&nbsp;putting Kurdish movements in Syria and Iraq under tremendous pressure.</p> <p>But the new Kurdish crisis is not confined to IS-controlled territory. On the other side of the border in Turkey, formal negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were supposed to start in October. Instead, the PKK has been shelling Turkish outposts, while Turkey has now sent its jets to <a href="">bomb PKK targets</a> in Northern Iraq.</p> <p>The <a href="">ceasefire</a> struck between the two sides in March 2013 is fast becoming a distant memory. But storm clouds had been brewing for a while.</p> <h2>Lucrative hostilities</h2> <p>Even by the end of 2013, the PKK’s top field commander, Cemil Bayik, had <a href="">issued a stern warning</a> to Ankara that its suspected backing of anti-Kurd Islamist rebels in Syria might force the PKK to relaunch its insurgency in Turkey. The PKK has now <a href="">sent back</a> all its fighters who were pulled out of Turkey as part of the ceasefire process.</p> <p>Bayik accuses Turkey of taking no action to save Kobanê from IS. That chimes with mounting domestic and international pressure on the Turkish government to start a fuller military intervention against IS, by deploying ground forces or at least by allowing the transfer of military assistance to the Kurdish YPG (People’s Defence Units) fighters in Syria.</p> <p>Turkey has so far done neither and that has fuelled suspicions that this is a deliberate tactic. IS’ war against all Kurdish military forces has dealt severe damage to the Kurdish forces and that could ultimately be considered a major favour to Turkey<span>—</span><span>strengthening Ankara’s position just before the formal peace negotiations with the PKK are due to begin.</span></p> <p>But there could be another way of interpreting these dangerous developments&nbsp;<span>unfolding</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>over the Turkish peace process from a different angle. That might be to do with what the parties to the conflict in Turkey will lose by making peace.</span></p> <p>Thirty years of fighting in south-eastern Turkey has created a strong and profitable war economy on which various parties are deeply dependent, one that includes major <a href="">drug</a> and <a href="">human</a> trafficking operations. In bald economic terms, continued war might just offer more stability than peace, since all these revenue streams would probably have to close.</p> <h2>The road not taken</h2> <p>It did not have to be this way. The 2014 presidential election campaign offered a glimpse of a less sectarian, divisive and violent way forward for Turkey, in the form of the Kurdish politician <a href="">Selahattin Demirtaş</a>.</p><p><img src="" alt="" /></p><p class="image-caption">Hope and change: Selahattin Demirtaş. <a class="source" rel="nofollow" href="">Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons</a>.</p> <p>A member of parliament since the age of 34, Demirtaş not only managed to increase his party’s vote in those elections; he also brought a much needed normalisation to the political landscape of Turkey, adopting a conciliatory approach and trying to reach out to all peoples of the country. He talked about peace from the human-security perspective, placing his emphasis on solidarity with all oppressed groups across the country.</p> <p>In an <a href="">interview</a> just before the elections, Demirtaş said:</p> <blockquote><p>I know that Alevis trust in me, Kurds trust in me, Turkish progressives and democrats trust in me, women and youth trust in me, Armenians, Assyrians and Yazidis trust in me, ecologists and green movements trust in me. Now if all of these different groups have gathered around our principles and trust in us and are feeding and strengthening our hope, our job is to make sure we do not disregard or disappoint any of them and take this struggle to victory.</p></blockquote> <p>In other words, he showed that it is possible for a Kurdish politician to appeal to the entire country, positioning the HDP as a major threat to all mainstream parties in the country<span>—</span><span>or at least as a kingmaker, deciding who wins elections in such metropolises as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.</span></p> <p>At the same time, Demirtaş has shown Kurds that they could do without the PKK. He embodies the hope of a new way of doing Kurdish politics without fighting, agitation, division and separation, as part of a more democratic and prosperous Turkey.</p> <p>But the sun seems to be setting&nbsp;<span>instead</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>on the chances of a lasting peace. The main actors to the conflict on all sides do not seem to have any interest in the full demands of peace and they clearly have no interest in giving up the things the conflict allows them to control, manipulate and exploit.</span></p> <p>In the end, as in so many other frustrated peace processes, war still pays more dividends than peace. IS’ onslaught on Kobanê obviously serves its own jihadist ends but, by wrecking the Turkish peace process, it has given new life to other pernicious interests besides.</p><p><em><img src="" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><span>This article was originally published on </span><a href="">The Conversation</a><span>. Read the </span><a href="">original article</a><span>.</span></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/william-gourlay/turkishkurdish-peace-has-hour-come">Turkish-Kurdish peace: has the hour come?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/derek-wall/western-blind-spot-kurds%27-forgotten-war-in-syria">Western blind spot: the Kurds&#039; forgotten war in Syria</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Turkey Conflict the future of turkey middle east Alpaslan Ozerdem Kurdish separatism Non-state violence Peacebuilding Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:26:11 +0000 Alpaslan Ozerdem 86862 at After the war: Jewish-Arab relations in Israel <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The war in Gaza did not only wreak huge damage on the strip—it added to the polarisation of Israeli society too.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>“Jewish Israelis usually don’t confront me with their opinions. But now it all comes out,” said Yazid, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, as we sat in a Tel Aviv coffee shop.&nbsp;A few seconds later sirens went off and the waiters hectically guided everyone into a nearby building for shelter. An explosion was heard from above, people waited for another minute and then they returned to business as usual.</p> <p>It was mid-July and the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip had just begun, and with it a difficult balancing act for Israel’s 1.3m-strong Arab minority. While most Palestinian citizens of Israel stood in solidarity&nbsp;with their brethren in Gaza and their hearts were beating for the victims of Israeli bombardments, the Jewish citizens around them mourned the very soldiers they disdained.</p> <p>True, for Israeli Palestinians negotiating everyday life has always been precarious. But things have become much worse since&nbsp;the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers in June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem by Jewish extremists. </p> <p>With the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, armed conflict has once again been put on hold. But the shadow of war and violence remains long, cutting a deep rift between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Indeed relations have come close to collapse, according to Dan Rabinowitz, professor of Anthropology at Tel Aviv University—and by “collapse” he means "a potential initiative by Palestinian citizens towards an uprising”. He said the violence and nationalist rhetoric of recent months had made things “much worse from a situation that has already been difficult for a number of years”.</p> <h2><strong>Heirs of 1948</strong></h2> <p>Palestinian citizens make up roughly 17% of Israel’s population of 8m. Most are descendants of the 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who did not become refugees in 1948 but instead remained within the newly created state of Israel.&nbsp;</p> <p>About 30 Israeli laws discriminate directly against them, according to the <a href="">Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel</a> (Adalah)—for example, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prevents Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens from acquiring Israeli residency. Resources are allocated unequally and there are political and cultural pressures against their identification with Palestinians and Arab politics elsewhere. The prospect of an actual Arab uprising within Israel may seem vague in the short run. But every new escalation of violence may well become another stepping-stone on the way to a collapse of fragile Jewish-Arab relations<em>.</em></p> <p>Palestinians’ ability to feel safe and equal within the majority-Jewish society has been undermined by the threat from the right: agitated crowds of ultra-nationalist activists have turned the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities into dangerous areas of confrontation. Yet protesting has become a rather dangerous thing for Arabs in Israel to do. And not only protesting: on one recent Sunday 200 Jewish extremists tried to prevent the wedding of a Muslim man and a Jewish woman, chanting “Assimilation is Holocaust” and “Death to Arabs”.</p> <p>Jewish and Arab citizens may have grown more distant than ever, but they still study at the same universities and work at the same companies. Many also live in the same neighbourhoods.&nbsp;“I can’t stand this duality anymore,” said Aida (20), a Palestinian-Israeli student at Tel Aviv University, ordering a drink in a bar in fluent Hebrew. “My good friends are in Gaza, locked in and fearing for their lives. But the people around me support the army that bombards them.” While her two feet stand firmly on Israeli ground, her mind is half-absent in the Gaza Strip. “Every message on Twitter I got is a sign that they are alive,” she said.</p> <p>Aida, whose parents live in an Arab town in Israel, has been deeply connected with Palestinians, in Israel and elsewhere, since her childhood. And yet she is bound to a life in Israel, studies cinema and lives in student dormitories on an Israeli campus.</p> <p>One&nbsp;recent&nbsp;event had a very sobering effect on those who had not yet lost hope—the announcement by the Palestinian-Israeli writer Sayed Kashua,&nbsp;via his regular column in the liberal daily <em>Haaretz</em>, that “coexistence has failed” and that he was leaving Jerusalem for the United States. A Palestinian student at Tel Aviv <a href="">wrote</a> in an online magazine: “You were supposed to be optimistic, you were supposed to give us hope. Instead you are only proposing despair.” But even she, in private, later admitted: “You know, in reality, I am not that optimistic either.”</p> <h2><strong>Intolerance</strong></h2> <p>Since the lives of most Palestinian citizens are so entangled with Jewish-Israeli society, an actual uprising may seem unlikely at first sight. But Rabinowitz thinks many young Palestinians may want to discard their affiliation with Israel once and for all—even more so, given the now-widespread intolerance they face<strong>.&nbsp;</strong>Beyond the right wing there have been popular <a href="">social-media campaigns against Arabs</a> and there is a <a href="">growing climate of anti-Arab sentiment</a>.</p> <p>Rabinowitz detects “an increasing inability among Jewish Israelis to think about Palestinians as humans”. In this the media have played a part, according to Ofer Zalzberg, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group:</p><p class="blockquote-new">The vast majority of Israeli media joined the narrative in which Hamas just wants to kill Israelis and destroy Israel. When you reduce human beings to an ideology, it dehumanises because you don't see why they do it or what the positive goal is they articulate. Reductionism is what eventually leads to dehumanisation.</p> <p>Joint protests and actions between Jewish and Palestinian citizens have become extremely rare—even though all the major anti-war demonstrations in the weeks before the ceasefire agreement sought a joint stand.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>At the site of one residual protest—the main event having been called off for fear of rocket fire—Mickey Gitzin, a Tel Aviv-Jaffa city councillor from the Jewish left-wing party Meretz, said hardly any Arabs would have participated, even without the government warnings<strong>.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Palestinian citizens, for the most part, see little reason to join protests organised by the Zionist left. “I can’t attend a protest under an Israeli flag,” said Sami Abu Shahade, a former member of the council for the National Democratic Assembly (Balad), an Arab nationalist party.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Peace demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds up Israeli flag in Palestinian colours" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flying a flag for coexistence: a peace protest in Tel Aviv. Sharron Ward / Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Balad has never given much thought to participation with the Zionist left but another political party in Israel sees Arab-Jewish cooperation as essential—Hadash. “It is a party that always upheld the joint struggle as a core value. But now the Palestinians citizens are saying that they don’t want to be under an Israeli flag, and less and less Israelis are willing to join any Palestinian demonstration,” said Rabinowitz. “There may be a crucial change underway in Jewish-Arab participation.”</p> <p>Gitzin explained why he wouldn’t join any Palestinian-Israeli protest. “I am Israeli and Jewish, emotionally connected to this state. I don’t relate to Arab protests that speak Arabic and the language of Palestinian nationalism,” he said.</p> <h2><strong>Violent attacks</strong></h2> <p>Growing extremism among Jewish Israelis has been evidenced by several recent violent attacks on left-wingers and Palestinians. The Palestinian-Israeli Wassem Husary (31) was assaulted with a friend on their way to an anti-war protest in Haifa: “We spoke Arabic on our way to the demonstration and some guys came over, shouting ‘Death to Arabs.’” After beating them up, the mob later tried to pull them out of the ambulance—the medic managed to close the doors just in time. “They were screaming terrible things. I think they wanted to kill us,” said Husary.</p> <p>Mohamed Zeidan, chair of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel, the minority’s national umbrella organisation, said such assaults and the developing climate of fear were related to the often polarising rhetoric of Israeli officials. “The behaviour of the Jewish street is a result of this official incitement,” he said. </p> <p>The deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament, Moshe Feiglin, recently called for <a href="">mass deportation of Palestinians</a> from Gaza. The state has also taken measures against Arab politicians, such as Hanin Zoabi, a Knesset member for Balad. She was banned from parliament for six months, on suspicion of verbally assaulting police officers at a protest and denying that the kidnappers of the three young Israelis were “terrorists”.</p> <p>Students at Tel Aviv now say they avoid speaking Arabic off campus for fear of attack. An Arab social worker from Haifa was enraged by Jewish colleagues seeking a donation for Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza from her. Others have experienced dozens of Jewish Facebook friends “unfriending” them or verbally attacking them over pro-Palestinian posts. One Palestinian student confided: “It’s as if everyone just took off their masks. Opinions people may have always had are now voiced confidently.”</p> <h2><strong>Tipping point</strong></h2> <p>We are now at a tipping point. The actions of Jewish right-wingers and the polarisation on the street are only the tip of an iceberg. Palestinian citizens face a deep dilemma—being simultaneously made to feel more Palestinian and less accepted by the country of which they are citizens. As the prominent Arab-Israeli artist Mira Awad put it in a recent <a href=""><em>Haaretz</em> op-ed</a>, “My head says I’m dying to get out of here; my heart says I have no other country.”</p> <p>This contradiction was strongly felt during the war. Shahade recently went with his nine-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter to a cinema in Rishon Lezion. Suddenly a siren went off and everyone ran towards the shelters—except him. “I ran the other way to take my children out of the mall, because I was afraid someone would lynch them,” he said.</p> <p>A resident of Jaffa, once Palestine’s cosmopolitan port city, Shahade complains of declining Jewish custom for local businesses.&nbsp;Israel’s right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called on Jewish citizens to <a href="">boycott Arab businesses</a> which took part in a one-day general strike in mid-July, in solidarity with Gaza. “The majority of our clients are Jewish, and now they stop coming. Mr Lieberman told them so,” Shahade said.</p> <p>“Israel is not treating us like citizens,” said Zeidan. “They treat us as strangers in our homeland.” Palestinian citizens feel their right to free speech ends where politics begins. One activist, Samih Jabareen, saw his Haifa-based community centre al-Warshe (Arabic for workshop) closed down because of an admittedly sensitive political event—a lecture and discussion via Skype with the exiled Palestinian revolutionary and onetime hijacker Laila Khaled. Israel’s internal intelligence agency pressed him to call off the gathering and police called him in the day after, ordering him to close down.</p> <h2><strong>Coexistence</strong></h2> <p>Despite all contention, there is also acknowledgement on both sides that some sort of coexistence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens is necessary in the long term. “We want coexistence, but only under the condition of full equality,” said Zeidan. To foster reconciliation he said Israel should investigate officials accused of incitement against Arabs.</p> <p>“What the government should do now is to invest [in] efforts to integrate Palestinian citizens into the workforce, the economy and the state,” said Rabinowitz. “But this government is doing the opposite. Its policies work against what would need to be done.” He talked airily about possible “five-year plans”, about “hopes for integration and employment, to give Palestinian citizens some feeling that they are part of the project of this state”. But suddenly he stopped, reflected and said: “As I am saying this I realise how unrealistic it actually is.”</p> <p>As the ceasefire in the Gaza seems to endure, one might assume Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel could go back to business as usual.&nbsp;“But how can I go back to study when most of my colleagues at university won’t say a word about what their army has done to my people?” said Aida, returning from the summer holidays. </p> <p>The recent past will not simply fade away. And yet there are those, still, who hold on to optimism.</p> <p>“Where do we go from here?” asked Awad, the artist. She answered herself:&nbsp; “With all due respect to the past, I’m not willing to be stuck with it all my life, to collapse under its weight and become its victim.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israel's president <a href="">warns </a>that tensions between Jews and Arabs have reached "record heights". But a divided cabinet <a href="">agrees a bill</a> that would define Israel as a 'Jewish state'.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/arie-nadler/israelis-and-palestinians-time-to-acknowledge-other%E2%80%99s-trauma">Israelis and Palestinians: time to acknowledge the other’s trauma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/yonatan-gher/in-israel-as-in-gaza-human-rights-are-last-line-of-protection-0">In Israel, as in Gaza, human rights are the last line of protection</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Israel human rights middle east Andreas Hackl Palestinian Israeli conflict Peacebuilding Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:45:06 +0000 Andreas Hackl 86460 at Alternatives to military intervention: a commando team of mediators <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The <a href="">Ammerdown Invitation</a> has initiated here a debate on an alternative security policy for the UK. Mediation is a key alternative to the “militarism” the signatories bemoan.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="body-first">One of the most pressing issues of the 21st century is whether&nbsp;in international conflict the use of armed force to remove an “unjust” social order makes the world safer. We seem to be trapped in a crude, bipolar choice, in which we use military force to remove an oppressor or we do nothing. </p> <p class="body-first">Perhaps there are alternatives. Non-military options are insufficiently considered and there is little place in the relevant systems for serious, well-resourced early intervention and mediation to attempt to prevent the outbreak of violence. In the weary debate on intervention of recent years, more nuanced and subtle voices&nbsp;<span>questioning the consequences of using force as a means of intervention have often been dismissed as naïve left-wingers. People of all shades of opinion get caught up in debate about “doing the right thing” but insufficient thought is given to how we do this and whether we can get serious about well-resourced, non-military intervention.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="body">History tells us that it is easier to get into conflict than to get out and war and its consequences have their dangerous algorithms, feeding on themselves with a devastating momentum. The road to war may look like a careful strategic assessment—more likely it is mired in a deep fog of misreading which can unleash an unpredictable chain of events, with governments going to war with little understanding of the consequences. Decision-makers then&nbsp;get deeper into the morass, attempting to justify their earlier decisions and thereby compounding the fog of war.&nbsp;</p> <p class="body">Because the consequences are so devastating, there is a need for a complex analysis&nbsp;which considers the multiple influences that shape decisions to go to war. This&nbsp;should be complemented by&nbsp;a clear assessment of the endgame and what it is hoped intervention will achieve; then, in a geopolitical context, the consequences of different kinds of intervention should be weighed up. </p> <p class="body">When he edited the 16 July 2012 issue of New Statesman, the former UK foreign secretary David Miliband eloquently wrote: “Good politics starts with empathy, proceeds with analysis, then sets out values and establishes the vision, before getting to the nitty-gritty of policy solutions.” Given the complexity and gravity of decisions to go to war, it is essential to have structures for decision-making that involve rigorous and disciplined debate, including consideration of non-military options.</p> <p class="body">Questions need to&nbsp;be asked as&nbsp;to who the parties really are, what intervention will look like to the people on the ground, whether this will create a long- or short-term end to violence and whether there are realistic alternatives that have been properly examined. Today, more than ever, it is important to ask if the existing geopolitical architecture is still appropriate. Traditional institutions tend to see the world as it has been, have difficulty finding a vision for the future and are, by nature, resistant to inventing new structures. They are more prone to repetitive cycles of justifying actions&nbsp;that do not reflect a fast-changing world and how we might best resolve conflict. </p> <h2><strong>Multiple lenses</strong></h2> <p class="body-noindent">In the early days of assessing the course of intervention, it is helpful to look through multiple lenses and to be aware of the limitations of seeing the picture only through a Western “narrative”. To extend our comprehension, it is valuable to involve those who understand and have practical experience of the local populations. Such an assessment could use anthropologists and psychologists, all of whom have specialist knowledge as to how communities are thinking at a grassroots level and how they will experience intervention. We could fruitfully examine what has happened between groups in conflict and how their behaviour has affected each other. </p> <p class="body-noindent">A lack of understanding will obfuscate how such fighting erupts and thereby leave us in the dark about how we can intervene to contain the violence. Early intervention may be hugely important because once lives have been lost people bay for blood and are less likely to be in a mood to end the conflict. When violence becomes entrenched, the natural impulse of those who have suffered is to hit back. The desire to destroy the other is usually motivated by the belief that it will enhance one’s own survival—though it may, at times, plant the seeds of&nbsp;one’s own destruction.</p> <p class="body">If powerful groups are fighting for survival, the likelihood that they will regress to brutish behaviour is increased. Communities which previously lived together, accepting their religious and cultural differences, become defined by these sectarian identities unacceptable to one another.&nbsp;Early intervention might have prevented this regression, particularly through local mediators on the ground. </p> <p class="body">Key to the effectiveness of such mediation would be local knowledge of the different groups engaging in the conflict. Recognising cultural and religious differences, this could play a role in establishing communication between the different communities, exploring how these groups could prevent the escalation of violence and continue to live respectfully together—helping thereby to prevent the degeneration which exaggerates the potential for intolerance and divisiveness.</p> <h2><strong>Underdeveloped resource </strong></h2> <p>Mediation as a tool to prevent and settle disputes has been accepted by cultures throughout the world for centuries. Yet in the 21st it remains a marginal and underdeveloped resource to prevent armed violence in the international security arena.</p> <p>Mediation is well established in domestic polities, used in the law courts and civil society to prevent deterioration in relationships between individuals and between institutions. But on the international stage the equivalent mechanisms are usually only put in place after a conflict has erupted.</p> <p>An internationally accepted culture of mediation is needed to address deteriorating political situations threatening to break out into armed conflict, whether within the borders of a state or between states. While traditional diplomacy is a key tool there are cases where it is of little effect, because diplomats ultimately represent the interests of their respective states and cannot therefore be seen as credible independent mediators.</p> <p>Mediation can work if the countries directly involved, or proxy states with leverage to influence events, perceive it as a credible tool at their disposal. It would need not to be controlled by particular groups or major powers and those participating would need to feel they were being taken seriously and retaining control over their future.</p> <p>Mediator teams would need to retain a degree of autonomy, while being able to respond with speed and agility and not get caught in the quagmire of bureaucracies. To claim any sort of legitimacy the mediators would need to be seen as independent. </p> <h2><span class="pullquote-right">Traditional attempts at peacemaking have shown little evidence of success in the prevention or resolution of conflicts.&nbsp;</span></h2><p><span></span>At the same time they would need direct lines of communication and to be credible with multinational institutions and the stakeholders concerned. They would also need to be able to feed back to governments at the highest levels where decisions are made.</p> <p>Teams would include nationals of the countries where conflict was brewing, who would be best placed to explain the realities on the ground and the perceptions and attitudes of the countries and stakeholders concerned. It would be essential for the mediators to have the complete trust of the countries or governments in whose name they would be acting but they should not be, nor should they be seen to be, apologists or mouthpieces for “their” countries.</p> <h2><strong>Different levels of mediation</strong></h2> <p>Mediators would as appropriate operate at a number of levels: from the grassroots and local, through government, to regionally with the countries fuelling a civil war and globally with the international community. While early intervention at a local level will be of key importance, what happens at a governmental level will also be critical. And what appears to be a local conflict may be stoked by countries engaging in proxy wars in the region, for example in the funding and training of militias. This underlies the importance of connecting the different levels of mediation.</p> <p>At government, regional and international levels, a number of individuals could be appointed with a higher profile—senior figures with a successful record as mediators or negotiators, who would, if appropriate and as required, join the mediation. They would be the public face of the process once the initial “cooking” by the infrastructure of mediator teams had taken place. </p> <p>The teams would be embedded at all the different levels and would remain actively engaged in the background as the process evolved. Working behind the scenes, they could be nimble and responsive, quietly building significant and sustainable relationships with the parties. Operating off the record, outside the media glare and without the need to score political points or make statements for domestic consumption, they could develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the conflict and thereby point to possible solutions.</p> <h2><strong>What characterises credible mediation?</strong></h2> <p>A prerequisite would be accurate early warning of wars and genocide, gleaned from local media, mobile phones, the internet and satellites. Teams must have authority to take the initiative, with the benefit of a light reporting and administrative structure. They would have to assume a high level of individual responsibility, but would have legitimacy to act given by international institutions or a small group of countries. Failure would be their personal failure, while success would be attributed to the parties involved in the conflict. </p> <p>Teams would also need strong working relationships with local mediators on the ground with deep knowledge of the complexities of the conflict and the different characters involved, and the skills needed to bring the different parties together. The mediators would need to have the skills to immerse themselves in this local milieu, listening and understanding the complexity of the human mind. They would require the ability to build personal relationships and to “read” national and individual narratives. </p> <p>They would therefore need to be highly trained and culturally sensitive, good polyglots fluent in the language of the country for whom they were mediating. It would be important to have a balance of men and women. Key qualities would include intellectual honesty and dedication. They would need to have the capacity to manage being “grey people”: they would conduct no interviews and their names would not be made available to the media.</p> <h2><strong>What are the challenges?</strong></h2> <p class="body">A major challenge is to establish sufficient legitimacy to enable stakeholders to “buy in” to mediation. It will take time for effective interventions to become known, especially since in this field it is important not to take credit for successes. There is an immediate need for more examples of good practice demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach. </p> <p class="body">In the longer term there might be scope for an international institution, which could be named the International Institute for Mediation (IIM). Countries would sign up to it as part of a treaty acknowledging such mediation as preventive and therefore to be welcomed. As with the International Criminal Court, states would choose to participate in such a system, membership being based on the usefulness of the institution and its processes, as opposed to something imposed. In the short term existing regional institutions could be built on, with NATO, the Gulf Co-operation Council and others providing an umbrella.</p> <p>It would be essential that this be funded in such a way as to guarantee independence and long-term planning. Resources would need to be sufficient to ensure that such initiatives were not peripheral but seen as comprising an essential policy tool for peacebuilding. Wider strategic reassessment would be necessary to prioritise such non-military options. This could usefully be compared with the cost-effectiveness of military spending. Given public disquiet with recent failed military intervention and their huge cost, it is opportune to introduce innovative ways of preventing and resolving armed conflict.</p> <p>Traditional attempts at peacemaking have shown little evidence of success in the prevention or resolution of conflicts. Existing structures have proved cumbersome and ill-attuned to the skills of mediation. Current mediation outside of governments is piecemeal, fragmented and depends on private initiatives and therefore lacks any coherent framework. There is a randomness as to what initiatives are pursued and the organisations involved have their own interests. </p> <p>A new form of structured, all-inclusive, non partisan mediation is required, involving early intervention and quiet work behind the scenes before a conflict has polarised. It would be an essential policy tool before violence has deteriorated to the point where people seek only retribution.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ammerdown-invitation/security-for-future-in-search-of-new-vision">Security for the future: in search of a new vision</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">The fog of war: it is hard to think about peace </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Conflict non-violent action global security Gabrielle Rifkind Peacebuilding Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:10:12 +0000 Gabrielle Rifkind 86297 at Security for the future: in search of a new vision <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A group of UK peacebuilding professionals invite participation in a new civic conversation about alternatives to the current approach to national security there. Here they outline their concerns about the existing model and offer a different vision for the future, welcoming input from anyone who wishes to engage in this debate.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><em>For printable text with full references, download the <a href="">PDF</a>.</em></p> <p>We all want to feel safe and secure in our beds at night, but the news is dominated by tension, conflict and violence across the world. At home, financial worries and concerns about our changing society are widespread. Internationally, the horrifying violence in the Middle East and beyond is a source of great alarm, while global perils, such as climate change, are deepening a common sense of uncertainty about the future.</p> <p>Research suggests that levels of anxiety in the UK have increased, particularly among young people, and that we believe the world has become a more frightening place. Is a less anxious, less insecure world possible? What does ‘security’ really mean? What roles might citizens and governments play to achieve it? These are among the most pressing questions of our time.</p> <p>As a group of people who share experience of working with conflict and building peace, we are increasingly concerned that the world’s governments have yet to grasp the emerging challenges to our common security. We would like to begin a public conversation about this in the UK, asking how best to build long-term security for people in this society and worldwide. We hope people from all backgrounds and communities will join this discussion, sharing their own ideas in hope of a safer world for our generation and those to come.</p> <p>To spur on this conversation, we have set out below some initial reflections of our own. These thoughts are not a complete response to the very difficult questions we are trying to answer. We intend them as one contribution among many possible others; perhaps some ideas could be developed further, others left behind. Given the scale of the security challenges that the world as a whole faces, we think that only a wide-ranging, public conversation is capable of finding, in time, the new way forward that is so clearly needed.</p> <h2>‘Security’: what we mean</h2> <p>The word ‘security’ comes from the Latin <em>se</em> and <em>cura</em>, meaning ‘free from care or anxiety’. One definition used by the United Nations is freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity. This suggests societies in which we, our children, and their children have access to decent work, food, health care and education, a safe place to call home, and communities of people who help each other in times of need.</p> <p>It is a simple vision and perhaps most people would share it, but opinions differ sharply on how to realise it. Should security, like some say of charity, begin at home? Or is a safer society only possible if the world as a whole becomes more just and less violent? Is providing for our security entirely the government’s job, or do we also share the responsibility as citizens? Are our freedom and dignity most jeopardised by groups with extremist worldviews, or by economic and political systems that lead to social injustice, economic exclusion, and ecological destruction? And does security depend mainly on maintaining powerful military forces, or do we lean too heavily on these; could they be part of the problem?</p> <p>Whatever the answers to these questions may be, most experts agree that risks to our wellbeing are likely to intensify worldwide in the coming years. Industrialised societies with consumer economies are dangerously altering the global climate, damaging the earth’s ecology, and rapidly depleting vital natural resources. Governments have been unable or unwilling to tackle these problems, which are now disrupting societies across the world. We are seeing more plainly than ever that the planet cannot support the indefinite growth of our global economy, and that this is aggravating tensions within and between countries. If climate change persists unchecked, and the resulting conflicts are not handled fairly, they are likely to collapse into violence. Alternatively, our ecological crisis presents an unprecedented incentive to renew our global institutions and foster cooperation between peoples, creating a worldwide sense of humanity as a global community.</p> <p>Our common desire for security faces another severe challenge: the widening cleft between the world’s ‘have-mores’ and ‘have-nots’. The world’s richest 85 people now hold the same collective wealth as the poorest half of humanity. The global market’s tendency to concentrate wealth among the already-rich has widened inequality since 1990; the 2.7 billion people who subsist in poverty have been left behind. In 2001 the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out that a safer world is only a vain hope when conditions are hostile to justice and wellbeing. ‘We cannot be secure amidst starvation, … we cannot build peace without alleviating poverty, and … we cannot build freedom on foundations of injustice,’ he said.</p> <h2>The old ways are not working</h2> <p>If governments do as they have done before, they will try to control a worsening situation by force of arms. Our impulse to protect ourselves by force is understandable but can be counter-productive; a heavily militarised world makes everyone’s place in it more precarious. The world now spends over £1,000 billion on the military every year, all in the name of ‘defence’, but repeatedly we are seeing that this huge diversion of resources makes war more likely and the world more dangerous. Military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have manifestly not brought peace or justice to those countries, but have plunged their people into renewed insecurity and fear while enabling paramilitary groups to run amok. These extremely costly military projects have left many feeling deeply resentful of the UK and US and strengthened the hand of those who wish harm on Western countries. </p> <p>Our political class has yet to adapt to the emerging realities of the new century. Its focus on militarised responses to conflict has diverted precious attention and resources away from the long-term drivers of insecurity, such as climate change, economic injustice, dwindling natural resources and mounting military spending. The government’s security strategy envisages that most future threats can be seen off by large armed forces, configured not for territorial defence, but to project power abroad and hunt down enemies in any part of the globe. The strategy says ‘we face no major state threat at present and no existential threat to our security, freedom or prosperity’, but the UK is still the sixth-largest military spender in the world and has prosecuted wars in three countries since the turn of the 21st century. Even after these wars, and during the real hardships of austerity economics, the government ploughs eye-watering sums into the military: the budget for 2014 is £38 billion.</p> <p>At home, the state has responded to a more insecure world by taking sweeping new powers over the citizen, such as intrusive mass surveillance of the public, and employing an inappropriately loose definition of ‘terrorism’ to justify them. Counter-terrorism strategies presume that our security and our freedom are in tension with one another, but neither goal is well served by treating all citizens as potential suspects, or prescribing a narrow notion of ‘Britishness’ against which minority groups are expected to prove their worth. In particular, Muslim communities deemed at risk of ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ &nbsp;have to bear intense scrutiny and suspicion, which is deepening a sense of alienation and mistrust. Compounding this pressure is the failure by political leaders to acknowledge the radicalising impact of UK military intervention in the Muslim world, despite evidence of this provided by their intelligence agencies.</p> <p>As global action becomes increasingly important in an age of global problems, we have to ask where the power to act lies. Who makes the decisions, how, and in whose interests? What global decision-making institutions do we have, and which do we need? For decades, the United Nations has been undermined by the world’s most powerful states. Its Security Council has shown itself repeatedly ineffective, dominated as it is by the veto powers of the Five Permanent Members. Too often, these states have used their position on the Council to put their own interests before those of the world. It ought to concern us all that power is increasingly concentrated in institutions that are far from the democratic reach of ordinary citizens, such as the G20, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation. These institutions are dominated by the powerful, yet affect the security of billions of people who have little or no say in how decisions are made. At the same time, some unscrupulous corporations are now so powerful that they are able to act with impunity in ways deeply harmful to communities, societies, and the planet.</p> <p>With the challenges we face, it is perhaps tempting to blame particular communities, or indeed the government, or perhaps the world’s superpowers, for the worsening security prospects of future generations, but a ‘blame game’ will not take us far. We need to look forward, acknowledging the past but consciously determining a different kind of future. The challenges are severe, but a better future is not beyond our wit or our means; the creative, intellectual, and practical resources available to humanity throw open the horizon of what is possible. With common problems putting our common security at risk, we believe it is time for a common approach to solving them.</p> <h2>A fresh approach</h2> <p>First, a shift is urgently needed in the way we imagine that security is achieved. Rather than hoping for quick fixes for each new risk that comes along, a long-term approach would focus foremost on tackling the causes of insecurity through greater social, economic and ecological responsibility. Rather than conceiving of security as mainly military defence by the state, we can envisage it as an ongoing task that involves us all in responsibilities that are local, national and global. And rather than projecting power to control and dominate the global environment, security will depend increasingly on how well power is used to cooperate with others – and not just with the powerful – for the sake of our common interests.</p> <p>We expect that some will think this approach naïve and unviable, but we are not proposing a utopia, just a different direction of travel. For example, we would like to see a national security strategy that is based on a more positive identification of the conditions required for us all – as members of a common society – to be able to live well together. We need to ask not only what kind of country is more secure, but what kind of society we want to live in. Security cannot be grafted onto a divided and unequal people, with some hoarding wealth while others are left to eat from food banks. Nor can security take root without the human rights and civil liberties that have taken centuries to establish. Instead, security flourishes among healthy, trusting communities, depending as much on the ordinary, everyday attitudes of citizens, such as the kindness of neighbours and the supportiveness of communities, as on the policies of states and international organisations.</p> <p>Looking beyond our shores, we would like to see a national strategy that moves progressively away from the present focus, in which the UK aims to control the international environment in its own interests. A new strategy could look first for common interests with others. It could seek collective decisions with other governments and international organisations, accountable to citizens and in solidarity with those most in need. It could acknowledge its share in the current failures of our international institutions, and work diligently for their reform and revitalisation. We believe that this change in direction is both desirable and feasible. The unrealistic outlook is the one still favoured by governments like our own which, by vying for global power and relying heavily on armed force, have done so much to aggravate our global security crisis.</p> <p>Given this, our future security also depends on asking tough questions about the harmful effects of our political and economic systems, insofar as they encourage competition and reward the already-powerful while marginalising cooperation and power-sharing for common benefit. This means challenging politically influential individuals, groups, corporations and others when they wield power in their own interest at the expense of the world around them. Indeed, a positive change in our country’s approach to security would depend in turn on a shift in how economic and political power is shared and used.</p> <p>One measure of the approach we are outlining here is the extent to which we strive to treat ourselves, our fellow human beings, and the planet on which we depend with respect and care. This is an ‘ecological’ approach to security, because it invests faith in the possibility of building sufficiently healthy relationships at every level of our societies worldwide. It is distinct from a ‘militarist’ approach, in which the state reacts to ‘threats’ as they emerge, gravitating towards armed force.</p> <h2>A practical framework</h2> <p>How might this alternative approach be put into practice? There is already plenty of thinking and many practical examples upon which to draw. One method is provided by the ‘Human Security’ framework. This focuses on citizens’ experiences of insecurity and places their welfare and wellbeing at the heart of how decisions are made. Rather than expecting that security begins and ends with fending off external threats, ‘human security’ is said to be achieved when individuals in their families and communities are able to bring their freedoms and rights to fruition. The framework identifies seven spheres of importance to the security of citizens:</p><li>Economic security – an assured basic income, usually from work.</li><li>Food security – physical and economic access to nutritious, sustainably-produced food.</li><li>Health security – protection from and treatment of disease.</li><li>Ecological security – protection from natural threats and care for natural ecology.</li><li>Physical security – protection from physical violence, from any source.</li><li>Community security – healthy relationships within and between communities.</li><li>Political security – guaranteed human rights, fundamental freedoms, political participation. <p>In practice, building human security entails strengthening the social, political, economic and ecological systems that keep people and communities safe, working with the local realities of each situation. It has been pioneered to good effect in some deeply disrupted communities around the world. In Bangladesh and Kosovo, for example, a similar approach has helped to build trust, identify common priorities for security, and tackle issues of conflict within and between neighbourhoods. Projects like these, which involve communities directly, have successfully supported citizens and authorities to discuss together how best to achieve security for all. The approach is not perfect, but it has typically helped to reduce violence, relieve fears, and build the conditions of security for the long term. What could the world achieve if a share of the resources now devoted to military security were used instead for a ‘human security’ approach, applied on a national, even international, scale? Some governments are now tentatively exploring the potential of this. For example, Canada and Japan have incorporated parts of the human security framework into their foreign policies.</p> <p>Could an approach of this kind be adopted in the UK? How does our society fare against the human security criteria? What might we preserve, and what would need to change? A human security strategy might help us to understand better the sources of insecurity facing people in the UK, just as it has in other countries. This could lead to new policies for local, national and international action to meet our security needs more effectively than the traditional focus on military capabilities and coercive interventions overseas. Such an approach could be developed through meaningful public consultations, taking account of how our own experiences of security and insecurity are influenced by our gender, race, age, religion, geography and socio-economic background. It could also seek to understand how these security challenges are linked to wider global challenges, while exploring collaborative approaches to meeting these.</p> <p>New research indicates that the public’s perceptions of security and insecurity already appear to be closer to a ‘human security’ framework than to the government’s National Security Strategy. For example, the government’s emphasis on counter-terrorism appears to be less prominent in the public imagination than concerns about financial security in an austerity economy, personal security in urban neighbourhoods, and community security in a climate of suspicion targeted at minority groups. The public may be ahead of the government in recognising the roots of insecurity in the nature of our national and global society.</p> <h2>A new way of being a nation</h2> <p>Perhaps because Great Britain was once head of an empire, patriotic pride in our nation as a world power and major military force appears to be embedded in our national culture and identity. But history has moved on; the UK´s global status based on military might belongs to a bygone era, and to old thinking. In the wake of the Scottish referendum, expected adjustments to the UK’s constitutional make-up bring a new opportunity to re-imagine the security outlook of our evolving society.</p> <p>Up to now, successive governments have sought to preserve the UK’s global position by forging a close strategic alliance with the United States, but this has meant aligning policy with that of another state, which has markedly curbed our independence of thought and action. This was evident when the government, opposed by its public, followed the US into the ill-judged wars that wracked Afghanistan and Iraq. If the UK needs a new vision for security, it also needs the political freedom to act on it, which is not possible while it remains beholden to a superpower.</p> <p>Successive governments have not been alone in promoting the old notion that a worthy nation is a powerful one, and a powerful one, worthy. The leaders of the arms industry, who profit from war, peddle the same line, as do those who believe that the UK would be a spent force if it could not project military power worldwide. But how should the worth of a nation mainly be measured? By the strength of its army, navy or air force, or by something else, such as how humane its society, or what it contributes to justice, peace and ecological responsibility? Just as a positive shift in our security outlook depends on a fundamental reappraisal of how power should be used, we think it also depends on reimagining what could make us genuinely proud of our country in tomorrow’s world. Looking forward, we could take pride in what we aspire to become, rather than what we have been, and leave some of our imperial attachments behind.</p> <p>Our better future lies not in rugged individualism and the survival of the strongest, but in recognising our common interdependence, using power to achieve goals equitably through cooperation. To this end, with our support as the people it represents, our government could play an important – perhaps even world-changing – role in building a more secure future. This means first finding a new way of being a nation in the world. In particular, if our national identity as a ‘warrior nation’ has become a security blanket to us, then now may be a good time to let it go, and begin the transition away from the weapons and strategies we have relied on for so long.</p> <p>Initial steps could be modest: an end to subsidies for the arms trade; research into converting the arms industry to socially useful production; a reduction in defence spending to the European average; a decision not to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system; a policy of no military intervention in other countries without a United Nations mandate; and a comprehensive review of legislation and policies on mass surveillance. At the same time, the UK could work more effectively with others to help transform emerging conflicts long before they turn violent. This would entail greater investment in state and civic capacities for diplomacy, peacebuilding, and civilian peacekeeping. In addition, if the greatest causes of insecurity now include climate change, economic inequality, and loss of natural resources, then a new security strategy must also respond far more vigorously to these challenges than has so far been the case.</p> <p>These are just a few options among many that would help the UK to move towards a more creative, thoughtful, progressive role in the world, working with others to reverse the underlying causes of injustice and violence. But this can only become reality if a thorough public debate about security begins to usher in substantial changes in thinking. This is why we would like to start a conversation about these ideas and others, exploring the extent to which current policies address contemporary security needs, and testing the resonance of the thinking outlined here.</p> <h2>Conclusion and invitation</h2> <p>A measure of vulnerability will always be with us. It is not recklessness, but honest common sense, to accept that no model of security, certainly not the prevailing one, can guarantee safety. But is it at least possible to believe that the world could gradually become more just and less violent, such that we come to trust one another more with our vulnerabilities? Or are we doomed to endless war? These are genuinely open questions – no one can know the answer with certainty – but our security could well come to depend on which future we choose to believe in. </p> <p>Here, we have suggested how governments and citizens might begin to turn around our worsening security situation through local, national, and global action. Even so, in preparing these ideas, we are still left with more questions than answers. One thing is clear: the worsening violence in Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, among many other places, testifies in each case to the disastrous consequences of expecting overbearing superpowers and invasive military interventions to control the security of the world. Another way forward is needed and it is time to discuss what it might be.</p> <p>We can do worse than start from the basis that we share a common humanity with fundamentally the same needs, desires, aspirations, hopes and fears, and we all live as part of a planetary ecology that is straining under our weight. It follows that long-term security can only come from social, political and economic arrangements that are fairer and more ecologically responsible than those we currently have.</p> <p>Certainly, we would not be human if greater insecurity did not provoke fear, and we would be naïve to ignore such physical threats as there may be. But fear is a poor foundation for security, and a strategy focused on tackling threats but not their underlying causes is like a course of treatment for symptoms alone. Much will depend on how well the world’s citizens and governments are able to foster confidence and trust between people, built through strong relationships and respectful, searching conversations. </p> <p>We would like to begin some of these conversations now, and we hope you will join us to share your views, helping to refresh the public debate about these pressing questions.</p> <p><em>Signed:</em><br />David Atwood<br />Ivan Campbell<br />Phil Champain<br />Paul Clifford<br />Rachel Clogg<br />Jonathan Cohen<br />Shan Cretin<br />Patricia DeBoer<br />Judy El-Bushra<br />Scilla Elworthy<br />Simon Fisher<br />Diana Francis<br />David Gee<br />Raymond Hylton<br />Rachel Julian<br />Judith Large<br />Jake Lynch<br />Celia McKeon<br />Liz Philipson<br />Peter Price<br />Andrew Rigby<br />Paul Rogers<br />Emma Sangster<br />Patricia Sellick<br />Dave Webb</p><p><em>Contact <a href="">email</a>. Further contact options will be arranged soon.</em></p></li><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A <a href="">summary version</a> of this article is available to facilitate debate, for instance at public meetings.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity UK The Ammerdown invitation Nuclear politics Peacebuilding State violence Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:24:24 +0000 The Ammerdown invitation 86244 at Crisis brewing in Macedonia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Events over the summer in Macedonia revealed just how fragile interethnic relationships remain. The EU and the US must address their responsibilities as guarantors of the country’s peace accord.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>With the world’s attention focused on the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the catastrophes claiming lives every day in Ukraine and Gaza, Brussels and Washington are paying little attention to the unfolding crisis in Macedonia.</p> <p>Renewed interethnic tensions were triggered by the&nbsp;recent verdict in the “Monstra case”, which saw six ethnic Albanians sentenced to&nbsp;life imprisonment two years after they were arrested for the alleged murder of five ethnic-Macedonian fishermen. The fishermen had been found dead in April 2012. Shortly thereafter the minister of the interior, Gordana Jankulovska, had launched a large-scale police operation in Albanian-majority areas which culminated in the arrest of the six, whom she described as “terrorists heavily influenced and directed by fundamentalist Islamist ideology”.</p> <p>The accused were convicted after 46 court hearings, all in closed session, predominantly relying on the unsubstantiated claims of a protected witness. On 4 July 2014, thousands of ethnic Albanians took to the streets in Skopje, the capital, staging the largest and most violent demonstration since the armed conflict which ended in 2001 with an internationally mediated peace accord known as the Ohrid Framework Agreement. </p> <p>Compounding minority resentment and distrust of Macedonian-run state institutions, police raided tens of Albanians homes in the suburbs, purportedly in pursuit of violent protesters. Ultimately six ethnic Albanians were sentenced for up to three years for participating in demonstrations opposing the Monstra verdict—a punishment most Albanians believed harsher than ethnic Macedonians would have received for similar offences.</p> <p>While higher courts will be called on to address the questionable aspects of the Monstra trial,&nbsp;the widespread ethnic-Albanian responses—including&nbsp; peaceful protests held in Albania, Kosovo/a and other diaspora communities in Europe and the United States—are warning signs that interethnic reconciliation in Macedonia is unfinished business. </p> <p>Over many years, the country has experienced a multitude of rifts that threaten its future as a sustainable, multiethnic democracy. More than any of these sporadic incidents, however, the waves of protests triggered by Monstra demonstrate that the conflict Ohrid was designed to address still festers.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Ohrid revisited</strong></h2> <p>On 13 August 2001, the leading ethnic-Macedonian and ethnic-Albanian political parties, in the presence of western negotiators, signed the Ohrid agreement, which advanced a raft of constitutional and legal initiatives. These were designed to overcome a decade of discrimination against Albanians in the judicial system, pervasive police brutality, minimal Albanian representation in state and local institutions, restrictions on the use of the Albanian language and symbols in public institutions, and widespread poverty. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">The West shares some of the blame for Macedonia’s 13-year failure.</span></p><p><span></span>Several changes aimed at advancing equality for Albanians have since been adopted. Albanian representation in government and public administration has risen dramatically, from 7% to 29%; municipal boundaries have been redesigned to increase the number of Albanian-majority local-government units; the use of Albanian in state institutions and Albanian-majority municipalities is recognised by law; and Albanian-language education, from elementary to university level, receives state support.&nbsp;</p> <p>The three-year deadline for implementation was not however met and reforms have often been slow, half-hearted and marred by continuous setbacks. The use of Albanian in state institutions is still neglected in practice, while display of Albanian national symbols has been found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. Central government continues to discriminate against majority-Albanian municipalities in budget allocation and grant distribution, often using lack of funds or legal technicalities as an excuse. Meanwhile, Albanian representation in the judiciary, as well as in senior positions in defence, security and special police units, remains minimal, allegedly due to lack of “capable”, professionally-qualified candidates. </p> <h2><strong>Drowning in distrust</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>The VMRO-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity, the ethnic-Macedonian party led by the prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, and the Democratic Union for Integration, the ethnic-Albanian junior partner in the ruling coalition led by the former paramilitary leader, Ali Ahmeti, dominate the country’s political life. Both have played the nationalist card as the quickest way to secure the allegiance of members of their respective communities and consolidate their political support at the expense of their rivals. The VMRO-DPME and DUI have won every local and state-wide election in their respective camps for the past ten years.</p> <p>The two parties squelch the opposition in both communities, pocket funds for themselves, suppress independent media and operate a corrupt judicial system. Both whip up nationalist rhetoric at home, while maintaining the façade of democracy abroad by holding elections and using language that will appeal to western officials and media. Instead of using the Ohrid agreement to develop a multiethnic society in Macedonia, the VMRO-DPME and DUI have been busy creating a binational oligarchy that is hard to dismantle: they have turned the agreement into an instrument for seizing state resources and expanding their patronage networks.&nbsp;</p> <p>On the ethnic-Macedonian side, frustration with Greece for blocking entry to NATO and EU membership talks (Greece insists that recognising the name “Macedonia” would enable the country to exercise territorial claims over its northern province of that name) has made elites insecure. But the name issue may not be the primary source of their malaise: fearful of Albanian disloyalty, ethnic-Macedonian politicians appear to believe that reneging on a commitment to a multiethnic society and inventing a national identity devoid of Albanians and other minorities is the better path. </p> <p>The VMRO-DPMNE leadership may be content to share the spoils of power with Albanian parties but it excludes any Albanian and non-Macedonian heritage from official identity. This goal is obvious in the controversial “Skopje 2014”, an&nbsp;exclusively Macedonian-nationalist project led by Gruevski, which has turned the city into the&nbsp;<em>kitsch</em>&nbsp;capital of the world—littered with monuments purportedly inspired by ethnic-Macedonian glorious antiquity.&nbsp;This is a national strategy destined for failure.&nbsp;</p> <p>Most ethnic Albanians feel unrepresented and the largely unemployed youth may become an easy target for&nbsp;political and religious extremists attempting to fill the leadership vacuum in Macedonia. Growing disillusionment with the failure of Albanian political parties to represent the community, coupled with the painfully slow implementation of Ohrid, is pushing some disenchanted Albanians toward radical options. While it is not yet clear how extensive is the encroachment of radical Islam into Albanian communities, it is gaining a foothold.</p> <p>As never before, Macedonian politics are dysfunctional, exacerbated by unprecedented struggles within each of the communities. The largest Macedonian opposition party, the LSDM, has boycotted parliament since April and disagrees with the VMRO-DPME on virtually every important issue the country is facing. On the Albanian side, DUI and the DPA, led by Menduh Thaci, are also locked in unprincipled confrontation. Failing to represent a new vision for Albanians in Macedonia, they have alienated their constituents from identification with a state which continues to treat them as second-class citizens. This is stymieing any serious, unified effort to address the important issues concerning the rights of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and to shape a vision for their future.&nbsp;</p> <p>The West shares some of the blame for Macedonia’s 13-year failure. Even though the democratic backsliding and nationalist tensions have been widely documented by local and international NGOs, Brussels and Washington seem to have forgotten that the Ohrid agreement was an internationally guaranteed peace plan to transform Macedonia into a functional state in the 21st century. It is fast becoming an illiberal democracy on the verge of falling apart.</p> <p>The EU and the US must move quickly beyond the rhetoric of preserving stability, at the expense of consolidating democracy and interethnic equality. As guarantors of Ohrid, they must renew their commitment to its full implementation. The EU in particular must link Macedonia’s prospect of membership to genuine improvements in the rule of law, an effective fight against government corruption and an end to the concentration of power in a few hands.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ljubica-spaskovska/from-feudal-socialism-to-feudal-democracy-trials-and-tribulati">From feudal socialism to feudal democracy - the trials and tribulations of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/florian-bieber/macedonia-on-brink">Macedonia on the brink</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Macedonia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Macedonia Conflict europe Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi Roland Gjoni Diplomacy Peacebuilding Tue, 23 Sep 2014 08:12:55 +0000 Roland Gjoni and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi 86224 at Fear and loathing in Kirkuk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Summary killings are taking place amid growing sectarian tension in the contested, oil-rich city.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A 19-year-old labourer, a 27-year-old bus driver, a 28-year-old nurse, a 30-year-old driver, a tribal leader, a former army officer, a lawyer … the list of the dead goes on. These and several other men were all killed in the past two weeks in Kirkuk, 240km north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.</p> <p>Most of the victims are Sunni Muslims, Turkmen and Arabs. Many in their community believe they were abducted and killed in revenge for a triple bomb attack which targeted Kurdish forces in Kirkuk on 23 August, for which the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility. </p> <p>Some were abducted near their homes and their bodies dumped nearby, each with a bullet to the head. Others were gunned down by men in passing cars. Either way, the killings look like the work of “professionals”—a single shot to the head for those abducted and a hail of bullets for the targets of on-the-run attacks.</p> <p>The father of one of the victims told me: “My boy left home at 9.30 pm and a little later my other son called me and said I should go to the hospital. When I got there I found my boy dead. He had been shot in the back of the head. His body and the bodies of two other young men were found on a rubbish dump on the south side by the <em>wadi</em> (dry river-bed) opposite the animal market.”</p> <p>Parents and relatives of two other young men who were abducted in the same area at around the same time also told me their relatives had been shot in the back of the head. One, a bus driver, was abducted in front of his home while he was repairing the bus he drove. The other, a nurse, was seized as he went to help a sick relative who lived near his home. The father of another of the three victims said he had found his son’s body in the morgue. “He had been shot in the back of the head and on his wrists there were signs that his hands had been cuffed together,” he said.</p> <p>A young man who was injured but survived a shooting attack on the evening of 25 August which left his uncle and another man dead told me: “We were outside the bakery, waiting for the electricity to come back on, when we were struck by a hail of bullets fired from a passing car. My uncle and the baker were killed on the spot; my niece and I were injured.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Other men who were abducted in the past two weeks and have not been heard of since are also feared dead. </p> <h2><strong>Increasing tensions</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>These abductions and murders are taking place against a background of increasing sectarian tensions among Kirkuk’s main ethnic groups—Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs—who have long battled for control over the city and its large oil resources.</p> <p>Who is responsible for these brutal murders? What has happened to those who have been abducted? </p> <p class="pullquote-right">"His body and the bodies of two other young men were found on a rubbish dump on the south side by the&nbsp;<em>wadi</em>&nbsp;(dry river-bed) opposite the animal market.”</p><p><span></span>Rumours and conspiracy theories about who the perpetrators may be are rife. The sectarian divisions which have long existed in Iraq have been exacerbated since the takeover of large parts of northern Iraq by IS in June. Mistrust has grown between Sunni and Shia Turkmen and Arab communities and between Arabs and Kurds. Accusations such as “the Sunnis [Turkmen and Arabs] are cooperating with IS” and “the Shia [Turkmen] and the Kurds are cooperating with Iran-backed Shia militias” are common. </p> <p>“This business of IS and the war which it has caused has poisoned relations among and within communities. Sunni or Shia did not use to matter; now some people are exploiting the situation and causing dangerous divisions,” a resident of the city told me.</p> <p>In the absence of any recourse to justice, families of victims have little hope of reaching the truth about who is behind the attacks. Since the Iraqi army fled northern Iraq in June, Kirkuk has been under the control of the forces of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The KRG has long claimed sovereignty over Kirkuk and has frequently reiterated that claim in recent weeks.</p> <h2><strong>Families scared</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>In theory, the administration of justice remains the responsibility of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. In practice, it seems to have neither the will nor the capacity to enforce the law in Kirkuk. Not only have families of victims given up hope of obtaining justice and redress but they are also scared. “Who knows who will be next? There is no rule of law, no protection,” a relative of one of the victims told me. </p> <p>“KRG forces control Kirkuk, but they did not stop armed Shia militias parading through the city with their weapons on display some weeks ago, while we Sunnis are regarded with suspicion and treated as if we are all members of the Islamic State,” another resident said.</p> <p>As I was saying goodbye to the family of another victim before leaving Kirkuk, another bomb went off in the city, a pertinent reminder of the violence which has enveloped it.</p> <p>Another more mundane signal of the how deep divisions between Arabs and Kurds have become came as we approached a Kurdish checkpoint on the way back to Erbil. The taxi driver reminded me: “Don’t speak Arabic please, the <em>peshmerga</em> [KRG forces] will delay us.”&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/donatella-rovera/flight-from-mosul-%E2%80%9Cwe-left-everything-behind-to-save-our-lives%E2%80%9D">The flight from Mosul: “We left everything behind to save our lives”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kirkuk </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Kirkuk Iraq Donatella Rovera Iraq war and aftermath Kurdish separatism Non-state violence Peacebuilding Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:33:18 +0000 Donatella Rovera 85746 at Organized crime, Colombia's peace spoiler? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Now that the main potential impediment to a peace deal–a change in government–is out of the picture, it is time to start tackling other threats, not just to securing the agreement, but also to its implementation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>One hundred and twelve bales of cocaine recovered off the Colombian coast, worth more than US $367 million.&nbsp;<a href="">Flickr/US Navy</a>. Some rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p>A couple of months ago in Colombia, we held our breath waiting for the results of the second round of the presidential election. This was not only a presidential election, but the campaign turned into a <em>de facto</em> referendum on the peace process that the incumbent president (who was standing for re-election), Juan Manuel Santos, led during his first term. His main campaign theme was about bringing over 50 years of internal armed conflict to an end. Running against him, Óscar Iván Zuluaga (former-President Uribe’s appointee), campaigned for imposing stringent requirements on the negotiations with the <em>Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia</em>&nbsp;(FARC). This would have meant, in all likelihood, that the process would soon implode.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>This campaign was a heated battle between two former allies: both had been ministers during President Uribe’s term in office, and both were part of very powerful elites. Although many polls predicted a swift win in the first round for Santos, Zuluaga managed to capture the majority of votes, though not enough to avoid a second round. For weeks before the second round, people supporting the peace agreement flooded the media with articles, closing ranks around the incumbent president in an attempt to convince skeptical voters that peace was worth the sacrifice of voting for Santos. And it worked. Santos won the second round with 50.95% of the vote.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>Organized crime’s interest in disorder</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>Now that the main potential spoiler of the agreement–a change in government–is out of the picture, it is time to start tackling other threats, not just to securing the agreement, but also to its implementation. And if reaching an agreement seemed like a monumental task, maintaining peace will be much messier.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>On the bright side, Colombians already have quite a bit of experience in dealing with peace agreements, and lots of lessons learnt from colossal blunders made during those processes. Still, one of the main challenges for peace in Colombia is the big stake that organized crime has in its failure. Stability and strong institutions are the last thing illicit networks need because they thrive in contexts where their business runs unchallenged. Trying to spoil the peace is precisely what some of these networks did in the aftermath of the 2005 peace process with the paramilitary groups, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the power vacuum that the process left in some key localities and entered the political arena. Some of these lessons have been compiled in a forthcoming publication entitled <em>Illicit Networks and Politics in Latin America</em>. This publication, the second in a series of <a href=";pageid=60609">regional studies</a>, will soon be released by International IDEA, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and the Clingendael Institute of International Relations.</p> <h2><strong>The destabilizing effects of corruption</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>There is a limited but growing understanding about how organized crime affects political stability and security, particularly by <a href="">corrupting politicians</a> and undermining <a href="">peace</a>. Organized crime <a href="">criminalizes the nature of politics</a> in states affected by conflict by cementing structural weaknesses and thereby avoiding any confrontation with legitimate authorities. At the same time, systemic corruption and illicit financial flows bleed away resources that could otherwise be used to develop legitimate institutions necessary to avoid relapsing into violence. This happened in <a href="">South Sudan</a>, and Colombia could follow a similar route if inadequate measures are put in place to counteract the influence of illicit networks in some key localities.</p> <p>Any effort to counteract these corrupt practices faces an overwhelming enemy: the huge amount of money that organized crime generates, particularly via the illicit drug trade. Globally, <a href="">UNODC</a> estimates approximately 1.5% of global GDP originates from transnational organized crime, most of which comes from drug trafficking (where the cocaine market is believed to be the most lucrative). Colombia, as the main cocaine producer (now facing some competition from Peru), has experienced a massive <a href="">inflow of illicit cash</a>.</p> <p>The tremendous amounts of dirty money needing to be laundered<span>–</span><span>floating around in proximity to politicians and political parties in dire need of financial resources</span><span>–</span><span>creates a toxic environment for corruption. Money in politics is not a bad thing in itself: it is a necessary ingredient for politicians to campaign and for political parties to become more competent and responsive, especially between elections. However, the </span><a href="">high cost of politics</a><span>&nbsp;coupled with lax regulations and low enforcement levels make it easier for politicians to access this rich pool of money that organized crime has to offer. This issue is canvassed further in International IDEA’s forthcoming handbook on political finance.</span></p> <p><span>Money however, is not the only avenue for organized crime to penetrate politics. Direct involvement of criminals in politics, particularly at the local level, has been facilitated by the politicization of the bureaucratic apparatus at the regional level. One politician I interviewed (under condition of anonymity) for the forthcoming publication mentioned above, told me how once a new mayor is elected, they need to repay ‘favours’ by distributing posts from different levels of the public administration to various individuals in their informal networks of influence. This was a similar story in most of the municipalities I visited. It makes it easier for organized crime to control key institutions–such as customs and border controls–by forging alliances with local politicians or even by entering into politics themselves.</span></p> <h2>Colombians hope for peace</h2> <p>It is no secret that, just like the paramilitaries, FARC has been involved in the drug business. When the former demobilized in 2005, many groups previously involved in controlling routes and providing manpower simply re-branded themselves into new criminal gangs or ‘<em>bacrims</em>’, and kept the illicit activities going, including drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.</p> <p>Other parallels could be drawn between the 2005 process with the paramilitaries and the current process with FARC, particularly the challenges that Santos’ government will face in dealing with local issues from a national perspective. Crime networks are primarily rooted at the local level, and the highly decentralized Colombian political system leaves little room for national accountability and transparency of local level politics.</p> <p>But the current scenario is not totally bleak. Even with its challenges, the process not only offers an opportunity for peace but to deal potentially with some of the factors which allowed the drug business to flourish in Colombia. As already mentioned, organized crime thrives in a context of disorder, and creates a vicious circle where conflict facilitates crime, which in turn facilitates conflict. But the opposite is also true: addressing conflict cuts the arteries that bring oxygen to organized crime, and as crime diminishes, peace has better a chance of settling. Recent progress suggests that things might be moving in the right direction.</p> <p>The country has become much better at tackling the flow of illicit money. Cutting organized crime’s flow of money is the most effective blow you can deal. According to <a href="">some estimates</a>, there has been a 76% increase in government revenue from addressing illicit financial flows in Colombia. Regulations have also become more sophisticated. Punishment for involvement in organized crime does not only focus on individual politicians, but now puts the responsibility on political parties who face the possibility of losing seats in Parliament, due to the ‘empty chair' law. Parties have also made efforts to clean up their ranks, by discussing <a href="">inter-party agreements</a> during elections to ban criminals and prevent candidates shopping around from party to party looking for endorsements.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>Peace opportunities</strong></h2> <p>The peace process and the institutional transition this will foster could open new opportunities to strengthen democracy at the local level, building stronger and cleaner state institutions:</p> <ul><li>- A strong Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process that includes opportunities for young people to be reintegrated could impact negatively on the structures and manpower illicit networks enjoy. </li><li>- A transitional justice process that sheds light on the crimes committed during the conflict and exposes some of the networks behind the illegal businesses would also hit crime interests. </li><li>- The end of the conflict could open the doors for a security sector reform (SSR) to <a href="">continue cleaning</a> up corruption in these institutions. SSR would also shift security policies towards countering crime away from counter-insurgency military tactics which may affect human rights. &nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></li></ul> <p>Most importantly, the cessation of armed struggle and the institutional stabilization in some of the most affected localities would close some safe havens where organized crime operates. It would also make it easier to channel much needed resources into development rather than security. This does not mean securitizing the development and democracy agenda; rather it means that smart policies to foster peace and tackle organized crime need to be sufficiently coordinated and informed by each other.</p> <p>So the glass is half full. Thus far negotiations have progressed to deal with some of the underlying illicit economic interests that have fuelled the conflict. Albeit with limitations, as Annette Idler points out in her recent <a href="">article</a> in Razón Pública, they have touched upon the drug issue and FARC’s involvement in it. The last point which was agreed during the discussions between the government and FARC in Havana sets the basis for FARC as a whole to give up its drug trafficking interests, which <a href="">some estimate</a> to account for 50% (directly and indirectly) of the drug business in Colombia–around US $2.5 billion per year. Part of this feeds local corruption. Some individuals will opt out of the deal and continue with the drug business. However, the structures will be weakened, particularly the activities where FARC is involved, such as coca-base processing and the management of some routes.</p> <p>Other components of the deal also support these efforts to tackle organized crime’s interests in the conflict. Negotiators agreed on a settlement for territorial and rural development that sets the basis for creating legitimate opportunities in the most remote localities. Such localities are often used by organized crime to create strongholds in collusion with corrupt political structures. There is also an agreement with regards to political participation of former insurgents. This could create opportunities for much needed institutional strengthening at the local level that offer legitimate avenues for politicians, parties and movements to compete without being dependent on dirty money.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mar%C3%ADa-camila-moreno/uncovering-colombia%27s-systems-of-macrocriminality">Uncovering Colombia&#039;s systems of macro-criminality</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/glory-saavedra/shadowy-hijacking-of-bogota%E2%80%99s-democracy">The shadowy hijacking of Bogota’s democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/drugs-and-peace-process-in-colombia-moderate-radical-step">Drugs and the peace process in Colombia: a moderate radical step</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/mabel-gonz%C3%A1lez-bustelo/us-and-colombia-building-exportable-model-of-security">The US and Colombia: building an exportable model of security </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/emma-kerr/national-security-blindspot-in-colombias-foi-law">The national security blindspot in Colombia&#039;s FOI law</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Colombia Catalina Uribe Burcher Conflict in Context: Colombia Organised crime Peacebuilding State violence Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:35:42 +0000 Catalina Uribe Burcher 85491 at Uncovering Colombia's systems of macro-criminality <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">While transitional justice initiatives have traditionally shied away from dismantling the system, Colombia's Justice and Peace Law&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">has taken the first steps towards exposing the political and economic roots of paramilitarism, and the deep state tangled around them. <em><strong><a href="">Español</a></strong></em>.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// paramilitaries original.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// paramilitaries original.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Paramilitaries await demobilization in a jungle settlement in Casibare. <a href="">Demotix/Jan Sochor</a>. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</p><p>The Justice and Peace Law (JPL) is again at the center of the public debate in Colombia. It is no coincidence that this is happening eight years after the law was approved, because this specific number of years is the key to understanding the renewed interest in the law. In 2005, President Alvaro Uribe signed into law a bill (Law 975 or Justice and Peace Law) for the demobilization and dismantling of the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). </p><p>This paramilitary structure had consolidated its power in the country by perpetrating heinous crimes against the civilian population: massacres, forced disappearance, extrajudicial executions, torture, sexual violence, kidnappings, and mass displacement. According to the report by the National Historic Memory Center “Basta Ya”, paramilitary groups were responsible for 59% of the massacres committed during the internal armed conflict. </p> <p>The basic premise of the JPL was to balance the effective demobilization of the armed groups–by offering alternative and reduced sentences to demobilized former combatants that entered the process–and the obligation to guarantee victims’ rights. The demobilized combatants who applied to take part in the process were required to meet a series of conditions in order to enter the justice and peace process: confess to their crimes, contribute to the clarification of the truth about these crimes and the paramilitary phenomenon, contribute to the reparation of victims, and submit to a re-socialization process. Those who complied with these requirements would receive reduced prison sentences of between five and eight years. </p> <p>By this summer, dozens of paramilitaries and guerrillas in the justice and peace process will have already spent eight years in prison, although many are still awaiting trial. In accordance with Law 975, those who fulfill their obligations to contribute to the truth and provide reparation to the victims should be released after serving eight years. The fact that no verdict has been handed down in many of these cases, in addition to the fear produced by the release of any criminal from jail and uncertainty with regard to their effective reintegration, is creating anxiety within Colombian society. </p> <p>But we must not get carried away by this unfounded hysteria. The Justice and Peace magistrates will be evaluating each individual case to determine whether or not the inmate requesting suspension of the sentence has complied with the conditions for release. </p> <p>In terms of balancing these two aspects, the justice and peace process has been a valuable learning process for Colombia that should not be underestimated, especially now, when a model for accountability is being designed in the context of the ongoing peace talks between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana. </p> <p>To begin with, the information provided by the <em>postulados</em> (former paramilitaries suspected of crimes that are to benefit from the JPL) has served to illustrate the extent of the paramilitary violence, and reveal the economic and political dimensions of paramilitarism. It has also exposed, at least partially, the network of relationships that these armed groups had constructed throughout the decades with state agents, members of the armed forces and politicians, among other powerful actors. The paramilitaries have confessed to more than 40,000 crimes affecting 51,000 people, including nearly 1,000 massacres, 25,000 murders, and more than 3,500 forced disappearances involving more than 1,400 state agents. </p> <p>Also, the justice and peace process has been the grounds not only for placing victims at the center of the public debate, but also contributing to the formulation of public policies for the restitution of rights and the institutional and social recognition of the armed conflict. The laws that followed the approval of Law 975 have served to reinforce broader victims’ rights, such as the right to reparations, truth or land restitution, and have led to the creation of public institutions that are responsible for enforcing these rights, including the Unit for the Reparation of Victims, the Land Restitution Unit or the National Historic Memory Center. </p> <p>The justice and peace process has obvious flaws, starting with the reduced number of sentences handed down over this eight year period: less than 20 of the 4,000 postulados have been convicted and only 14 sentences have been handed down. Although the judicial operators responsible for implementing the law have understood that it is impossible and inefficient to continue to prosecute cases on a crime-by-crime and perpetrator-by-perpetrator basis, typical of the ordinary criminal justice system, focusing on investigating criminal organizations that have the capacity to commit systematic crimes, this shift in focus has not been adequately reflected in the indictments and sentences to date. </p> <p>In 2012, an amendment to the law made it possible to group together many of these crimes into patterns of macro-criminality. The prosecution of these clusters of cases should result in sentences against those most responsible in 16 prioritized cases. However, the investigations and convictions have focused exclusively on the paramilitary structures, and have not paid sufficient attention to the relationship between these structures and their sources of financing and support. The links between politicians, economic powers, and paramilitaries have not been sufficiently used by the Attorney General’s Justice and Peace Unit to demonstrate the patterns of support and connivance in the regions and, thus, reveal the political, economic, and criminal dimensions of the paramilitary phenomenon.</p> <p>One of the major flaws of the justice and peace process has been that the large quantity of valuable information collected through the testimonies of the <em>postulados</em> and the verdicts has not been transformed into a historical truth–or social truth–which allows Colombian society to understand the magnitude of the paramilitary phenomenon and its complex relationships with the armed forces and a significant number of politicians. In this case, it is not only the Justice and Peace Law that is to blame, but the unrealistic expectations that it created. The objective of the criminal process is to clarify and attribute criminal responsibility for the serious violations of human rights committed by these marco-criminal structures. However, it cannot clarify the truth in all of its complexity and intricacy, beyond the possibilities of judicial truth, nor can it provide redress for a vast number of victims, which is what the justice and peace process was faced with.</p> <p>These unfulfilled promises have inevitably led to greater frustration, especially on the part of the victims: the country told them that each individual crime could and would be clarified through the justice and peace process, promised them that the reparations process would be rapid and effective, and also led society to believe that the criminal process would be able to clarify the deep-rooted causes of the paramilitary phenomenon. These&nbsp;<span>are</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>tasks that still pending and must be addressed by other means, such as the ongoing administrative reparations programs or a future truth commission.</span></p> <p>It would be a crass mistake not to take advantage of the experience and knowledge acquired during these eight years of implementation of the justice and peace process. Prosecutors, attorneys, magistrates and everyone working in these judicial processes have incorporated the standards of International Criminal Law, are aware of systematic crimes and the tools that should be used for their investigation, which are different from the classic investigative tools of the ordinary justice system. </p> <p>It is possible that some former paramilitaries may be released this summer, if they have effectively contributed to truth and reparations. As the Attorney General has rightly noted, this is the result of the rules of the game that were agreed to in 2005. But now we have the opportunity to establish new rules in what may be a historic process in Colombia: the peace negotiations with the guerrilla organizations. Justice and Peace leaves us with many lessons learned; let us not squander them.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/glory-saavedra/shadowy-hijacking-of-bogota%E2%80%99s-democracy">The shadowy hijacking of Bogota’s democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/ivan-briscoe-timo-peeters/back-to-basics-for-colombias-rebels">Back to basics for Colombia&#039;s rebels</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/mabel-gonz%C3%A1lez-bustelo/us-and-colombia-building-exportable-model-of-security">The US and Colombia: building an exportable model of security </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/pablo-navarrete/understanding-colombia-connection">Understanding the Colombia connection</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/drugs-and-peace-process-in-colombia-moderate-radical-step">Drugs and the peace process in Colombia: a moderate radical step</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Colombia María Camila Moreno Conflict in Context: Colombia International Law Non-state violence Peacebuilding Transitional Justice Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:00:00 +0000 María Camila Moreno 85114 at Syria and Gaza: a false equivalency <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Though the indiscriminate violence in Syria and Gaza is becoming indistinguishable, unlike Syria,&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">the west can take relatively simple measures to end the war on Gaza.&nbsp;</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// march whitehall.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// march whitehall.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">The world has demonstrated its outrage over Gaza and Syria. But unlike Syria, western governments still have means to stop the violence in Israel-Palestine. <a href="">Demotix/Brian Duffy</a>. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">The current Israeli war on Gaza looks like it will be even more intense than the last two offensives of recent years. The Israeli military is destroying entire neighborhoods in a matter of hours and indiscriminately inflicting terrible civilian casualties. Palestinian civilians are trapped in a tiny strip of land with no place of refuge and the Israeli right-wing is adopting a tone that is increasingly <a href="">genocidal</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">However some liberal commentators have made a comparison between events in Gaza and the civil war in Syria to say that Israel is being unfairly criticised in the west. They argue that in comparison to a conflict that has killed at least 150,000 people in Syria, the war on Gaza pales into insignificance, and that the occupation of Palestinian land is a minor issue when compared to the prolonged ferocity of other conflicts around the world.</p><p dir="ltr">However this argument is based on a false equivalence that can be easily dismissed. Israel is a close ally of the west; Syria is not. Israel is a country that was created as a result of the colonial rule of the UK and later empowered by the US through the annual transfer of billions of dollars of aid. Syria has been at odds with the west for decades, a fraught relationship that has sometimes resulted in the severing of diplomatic ties with the US. Unlike Israel it receives no western aid. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In response to the violent handling of the Syrian revolution, an uprising which later mutated into a civil war, western countries imposed further sanctions on Damascus. Syrian ambassadors have now been expelled from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK. Last year, the US, UK and France came close to military intervention in order to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.</p><p dir="ltr">By contrast, throughout the last three wars on Gaza as well as the attack on Lebanon in 2006, conflicts which have killed more than 4000 Palestinians and Lebanese, Israeli ambassadors have remained in western capitals. No sanctions have been imposed and the US continues to transfer around $8.5 million a day in aid, support which some estimates suggest amounts to a total of $233.7 billion over the last six decades. The total value of British arms sales to Israel is £7.9 billion and in recent years the UK has continued to supply arms to Israel, despite the possibility of their use in attacks on civilians in Gaza. </p><p><span>Through these channels, the west retains many levers through which it could pressure Israel to end its violence. The proximity of Israel to western policy makes us responsible for its actions yet none of these levers have been pulled. How quickly would Israel halt its offensives–and its occupation and settlement of Palestinian land–if the US were to threaten to end its aid. The expulsion of Israeli ambassadors or sanctions along the lines of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign are other means to apply pressure. A boycott could also offer more robust moves if the US and other western countries had to resort to stronger measures, something that may be necessary for Israel, a state that holds the record for ignoring the most UN resolutions.</span></p><p dir="ltr">In Syria, it is hard to see what other levers remain for the west, short of direct military intervention or stronger pressure on Iran and Russia, Assad’s main patrons. Military intervention is a high-risk strategy and, given the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, US and UK occupations do not guarantee an improvement in the welfare and human rights of civilians. Moreover western coercion of Russia and Iran has so far been ineffective, as the recent crisis in Ukraine indicates.</p><p dir="ltr">This comparison is not designed to justify western policy in Syria. It is meant to rebuff accusations that the 100,000 people who marched in London against the war on Gaza on 26 July are guilty of hypocritically ignoring the Syrian war, or worse, hold some sort of sinister anti-Semitic agenda. Rather, their outrage is justified by the supine stance of the UK government. The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is determined to twist the reality of the Israeli offensive into a conflict that features two equal sides, and allocates more blame to Hamas, a group using home-made rockets, than Israel, a state that is firing some of the world’s most technologically advanced weapons at refugee camps in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet.</p><p dir="ltr">Beyond a few timid criticisms, there has been a total lack of action against Israel by other western states. There are disingenuous claims that even the US is unable to control its client Israel, but this defies common sense and might be a more solid thesis if it were backed by historical examples of US measures to discipline Israel, which don’t exist.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the last few weeks social media feeds from Syria and Gaza have become almost indistinguishable. Both contain horrifying pictures and videos of civilians killed or maimed by aerial bombardment and both feature expressions of frustration and anger by ordinary people. However unlike the issue of Syria, states in the west can take relatively simple measures to end the war on Gaza. For the sake of people in Gaza we have the responsibility to call on our government to initiate the same measures they have taken against Damascus.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/nathalie-tocci/as-israelpalestine-descends-into-violence-what-should-europe-do">As Israel-Palestine descends into violence, what should Europe do?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/boycotting-israel-situation-has-changed-and-i-have-changed-my-mind-too">Boycotting Israel: the situation has changed and I have changed my mind too</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/naomi-head/some-are-more-equal-than-others-responses-to-political-violence">Some are more equal than others: responses to political violence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">The fog of war: it is hard to think about peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ben-waite/peace-and-israeli-right">Peace and the Israeli right</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/saskia-goldman/us-counterproductive-over-cultural-boycott-of-israel">US counterproductive over cultural boycott of Israel</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> England </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> openSecurity North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity United States England Palestine Israel Israel Palestine: asymmetry Christian Henderson Diplomacy Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 01 Aug 2014 12:04:49 +0000 Christian Henderson 84877 at Macedonia on the brink <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It’s quiet again in Skopje after violent Albanian protests in early July—deceptively so.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div><span><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Reconstructing history: "Skopje 2014" turned the capital into a building site of nationalist triumphalism. Flickr / <a href="">Stelios Zacharias</a>. <a href="">Some rights reserved</a>.</span></p><p>Once more a crisis in Macedonia appears to have been averted. After violent protests and the threat of counter-protest in early July, calm has returned to the country. </p> <p>Few countries of the Balkans have been the subject of more gloomy forecasts over the past two decades than Macedonia. During the 1990s, the outbreak of violence seemed nearly inevitable to many astute observers and a more serious descent into ethnic violence was only narrowly avoided in 2001. Even during the clashes then, the number of victims was well below those of the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo—in fact, it was close to the average number of people dying annually in car accidents (145 in 2013). </p> <p>Since the conclusion, with the help of EU and NATO mediation, of the <a href="">Ohrid Framework Agreement</a> which ended the conflict in August 2001, Macedonia has remained largely peaceful. There have however been multiple tests of the fragile peace, including a referendum organised by Macedonian-nationalist groups in 2004 against municipal decentralisation; the exclusion of the largest Albanian party, the Democratic Union of Integration (DUI), from government by the conservative Macedonian International Revolutionary Organisation–Democratic Party of Macedonian Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) between 2006 and 2008, and interethnic incidents which quickly threatened to escalate.</p> <h2><strong>Teetering on the edge</strong></h2> <p>Thus, Macedonia has been often seemed to be teetering on the edge—once more in recent weeks. On 30 June, a Skopje court issued its judgment against seven defendants for the murder of five Macedonians in 2012: six received life-sentence, two were convicted in absentia (serving prison in Kosovo) and one was acquitted for lack of evidence. </p> <p>The five men had been killed at the Smilkovci<strong> </strong>lake, close to Skopje, against a backdrop of interethnic incidents in early 2012. The assassination-style murders—apparently first of the four young men, followed by the killing of the older man, presumed to have witnessed the episode—shocked Macedonia and triggered a wave of anti-Albanian protests and riots. The Macedonian police operation, ‘Monster’, which led to the arrest of the six put on trial last year had triggered violent Albanian counter-protests in 2012. </p> <p>The prosecution blamed a radical-Islamic orientation for the murders, although religious and Albanian-nationalist motives blur into one another. &nbsp;But its case was mostly circumstantial and it could not establish clear evidence of the alleged fundamentalism of the accused or indeed their guilt, relying strongly on the statement of a protected witness.&nbsp; </p> <p>After the sentencing thousands of Albanians took to the streets <a href="">protesting</a> against the verdict. The protests turned violent amid calls for Greater Albania and Islamist slogans, echoing the 2012 protests. An envisaged counter-demonstration by Macedonians failed to materialise and later a second Albanian demonstration passed off peacefully. &nbsp;</p> <p>As neither the DUI, the Albanian party in government, nor the main Albanian opposition party, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), supported the protests, they quickly petered out.&nbsp; The DUI did, however, raise doubts over the fairness of the trial and demanded a retrial. Although the protests did not escalate, the underlying tensions remain unaddressed and have the potential for future street protests and violence. </p> <h2><strong>Strange bedfellows</strong></h2> <p>There are some parallels to the environment in which the violence in 2001 broke out. The VMRO-DPMNE had won the 1998 elections and, torn between a moderate conservative platform and extreme nationalism, formed a coalition with the DPA. They were strange bedfellows but their coalescence reaffirmed the Macedonian tradition of grand coalitions including a party of the Macedonian majority and an Albanian party. This co-operation in government did not however translate into increased inclusion of Albanians in public institutions and the state remained largely mono-ethnic. </p> <p>Today again, the conservative-nationalist VMRO-DPMNE is in government and in coalition with the dominant Albanian party, now the DUI successor to the rebels of 2001. But the Macedonian state is no longer unrepresentative of its minority population: Albanians have come to make up a significant share of civil servants, including police officers. In 2011 an Albanian became minister of defence, breaking a long taboo reserving critical ministries—such as the Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence—for Slav Macedonians. &nbsp;A conflict between Albanians and the Macedonian state no longer pits the Macedonian majority against Albanians by default.&nbsp; </p> <p>But a strong system of patronage means that jobs are only available to party members or loyalists, whether drawn from the majority or minority populations. In addition, thousands of Albanians have been hired to fill quotas but lack a workplace. They thus receive state salaries while staying at home. This means that the state is less representative of its diversity than numbers might suggest and many Albanians (and Macedonians) see it as representing particular parties, not the public at large. Just like in 2001, a grand coalition between Macedonians and Albanians is not seen as delivering tangible benefits for all. </p> <p>Many of the Macedonian majority feel excluded and marginalised—especially if they do not support the governing party—but for Albanians this more readily translates into a general reservation about the state. &nbsp;In sharp contrast with 2001, alienated young Albanians have no clear political group to represent them and even the diffuse nationalist and religious messages at the protests differs from earlier phases of contention when nationalism dominated. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Context changed</strong></h2> <p>Furthermore, the regional context has changed. In 2001 the political and security situation in Kosovo had not stabilised and the Albanians in Macedonia could count on support from clandestine groups in Kosovo , while they co-operated with the National Liberation Army in southern Serbia, which similarly sought to bring Albanian-dominated municipalities under its control. Now Albanian elites in Macedonia and Kosovo have opposed the protests and are generally weary of the more radical slogans. </p> <p>Some of the differences between 2001 and today are however discouraging. Although Ohrid improved Albanian representation in the state and enhanced minority rights, it did not foster intercommunal dialogue. In fact, some of the group rights, especially in education, have served to legtimise further segregation. In parallel, the ruling VMRO-DPMNE has engaged in an aggressive nation-building campaign, which imposes a vision of the country dominated by the ruling party with a skewed monocultural slant. </p> <p>The most visible sign is the project “<a href="">Skopje 2014</a>”, (which has transformed the face of the latter from a drab post-communist capital to a place celebrating a fictitious line of national continuity to the ancient Macedonians, littered with statues of not just Alexander the Great and his parents but also dozens of national heroes (many unknown to all but a few historians) from different eras. Dozens of buildings have been constructed or rebuilt to evoke historical episodes of Macedonian national expression, drawing on imaginary links to the medieval while—for all their eclecticism—deliberately excluding any reference to the Albanian or Muslim heritage of Skopje. The centre is now surrounded by buildings which shield it from the old Ottoman centre, the <em>Čaršija</em>, and the predominantly Albanian parts of the city. </p> <p>The main opposition to the project came from civil-society activists, such as architecture students. But that opposition acquired an ethnic dimension when the government sought to reconstruct a medieval church within the premises of the Ottoman fortifications of Kale, located in the predominantly Albanian section of Skopje. </p> <p>The symbolic exclusion of Albanians and those Macedonians who do not share the historical (mis-)understanding of the urban-planning project reflects the larger problem of Macedonia. The ruling party has dominated the state since 2006 and used its influence to dominate public space and marginalise political opponents. Through patronage and illiberal politics, it controls most of the press and the public sector and has repeatedly triggered early elections to secure its dominance. As such, democracy in Macedonia has weakened considerably in recent years. The strong ethnic segregation and its reflection in politics have rendered opposition more difficult to articulate and the government less vulnerable to challenge. </p> <p>But the July protests point to an underlying grievance, aggravated by high unemployment and few prospects for young Albanians (and Macedonians) outside the party structures. Authoritarian tendencies, ethnonationalist state-building and segregation of the two largest communities make for a combustible mix. Even if the protests have died down, Macedonia is probably the only country of the former Yugoslavia where ethnic violence remains a real risk.&nbsp;</p></span></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ljubica-spaskovska/from-feudal-socialism-to-feudal-democracy-trials-and-tribulati">From feudal socialism to feudal democracy - the trials and tribulations of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Macedonia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? openSecurity Macedonia Conflict Democracy and government human rights europe Florian Bieber Peacebuilding Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:15:04 +0000 Florian Bieber 84755 at Yemen: a state born of conflict <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Yemen has slipped well down the global agenda—behind Israel-Palestine, Syria and Iraq—but, as security deteriorates, significant international effort is needed to renew its stalled transition.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Earlier this month the Houthis, a tribal grouping from the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam concentrated at Yemen’s north-western border with Saudi Arabia, seized Amran City, capturing and killing the 74-year-old commander of the 310th armoured brigade, Brigadier General Hamid Mohammed Abdullah Al-Qushaibi. The brigadier was a member of the principal Islamist oppositionist party, Islah, and a respected figure with a long military career. It is not without irony that he had taken part in the military <em>coup d’état</em> in 1962 which unseated the ruling imam, Muhammad al-Badr, and sparked an eight-year civil war between Egyptian-backed republican forces and al-Badr’s Zaydi royalists. In a sinister twist, Al-Qushaibi’s body was returned to Sanaa purportedly sporting signs of torture.</p> <p>On 11 July the president of the United Nations Security Council, Eugène-Richard Gasana of Rwanda, expressed the council’s “grave concern about the serious deterioration of the security situation in Yemen in light of ongoing violence in Amran”. UNSC resolution 2140 this year had demanded that those seeking to undermine the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) desist from violence and get behind the political transition initiated by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Gasana reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian and human-rights law.</p> <p>This latest round of fighting has many causes, most fuelled by political failure to implement the recommendations of the NDC, as well as inherent economic weakness. This has confounded all attempts by the Yemeni government to end the Houthi insurgency in the north and the huge secessionist push in the south.</p> <h2><strong>“Dancing on the heads of snakes”</strong></h2> <p>Yemen is a state born of conflict which has been edging towards a tentative peace since unification between north and south in 1990. Throughout his time as president, from 1978 to 2011, Ali Abdullah Saleh referred to his coalition-building between the various tribal, ethnic and political groupings as “dancing on the heads of snakes”. The main plank in his strategy for maintaining power was to dispense patronage, to allies and political opponents alike, to offset the same violent challenges that had toppled his predecessors. But this strategy proved ineffectual when a growing tide of disaffection in the wake of the Arab Spring plunged Yemen once more into crisis.</p> <p>Under the terms of the GCC initiative in 2011, Saleh’s former deputy, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, was to serve as a caretaker head of state until March 2014, handing power then to a democratically elected successor. Yet because the NDC did not present its recommendations until January this year—several months later than anticipated—this deadline was missed and the process awaits completion.</p> <p>Moreover, the international community seems to see the NDC recommendations as an end in themselves, rather than in the context of a process requiring further diplomatic investment. Indeed, in the past year western diplomats have departed Yemen in droves as security has deteriorated. With the exception of the British ambassador, a courageous former top diplomat in Tehran, Jane Marriott, the west has all but abandoned Yemen—outside of a “counter-terrorist” response which emphasises containment via a controversial drone programme.</p> <p>For analysts of Yemeni politics and society, the glacial pace of the NDC reform process is unsurprising. In the heady days of the Arab Spring, when six states—Libya, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt—were in the throes of revolutionary change, a new dawn for the Middle East and north Africa appeared to loom. With hindsight, the “spring” quickly turned to a harsh “winter of discontent”, with change coming to only two countries: Libya and Tunisia. The remainder have in some respects returned to the status quo, even if the long-serving heads of state of four have been replaced.</p> <h2><strong>Elite divisions</strong></h2> <p>Security-sector reform has been no more rapid than the political transition to which it is intimately linked: it reflects the divisions in Yemen’s ruling elite. On the one hand, the old regime’s interests are represented by Abdullah Saleh’s son General Ahmed Ali Saleh, the heir apparent; on the other, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s former tribal brother-in-arms, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, sided with anti-Saleh protesters in 2011. Before being stood down by President Hadi, both men headed the two largest military-security powerbases in the country, the Republican Guard and the <em>Firqa</em> (or tribal guards), where loyalty flows towards power centres and patronage flows away. Hadi initiated a process of military and security restructuring in April 2013 but both powerbases remain very much in place. As a <a href="">report</a> in April by the International Crisis Group noted, “Only by closely integrating the process of military-security restructuring within the larger effort to produce an inclusive political consensus—a national pact and new constitution—can the two be successful.”</p> <p>And then there is Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP can trace its roots back to those Yemenis who returned to their country in the early 1990s fresh from fighting alongside the <em>mujahedeen</em> in Afghanistan. They were initially courted by Ali Abdullah Saleh but were prone to volatility and were responsible for the bombing of the Goldmore Hotel in Aden in December 1992, where US marines were quartered en route to Somalia, and, most spectacularly, the suicide bomb attack on the <em>USS Cole</em> in October 2000. It was not until 2009, however, that AQAP emerged as a cohesive component of Al-Qaeda’s “general command”. Then the threat came from the hate preachings of Anwar Al-Awlaki, reportedly the inspiration behind the actions of Major Nidal Hussein, who was eliminated by the US in a missile strike in 2011. After Awlaki’s death AQAP became known as Al-Qaeda’s most deadly franchise and even managed to seize and hold ground in Zingibar, Mukalla and other parts of Abyan and Shabwa provinces in the south.</p> <p>With the success of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) or now simply the Islamic State (IS), some are asking whether it has sought to team up with its Yemeni counterparts. There may be something to this: Ibrahim al-Asiri (32), a Saudi citizen regarded as the chief AQAP bomb-maker, is based in Yemen and the formation of <a href="">Ansar al-Sharia</a>, which has a Yemeni section, has provided fertile ground for IS’s transnational ambitions.</p> <h2><strong>Serious questions</strong></h2> <p>This leaves serious questions for western counter-terrorism officials who have placed a premium on containing the problem within Yemen. Katherine Zimmerman of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute has criticised the Obama administration’s containment strategy, arguing that the theoretically low-cost but high-return “<a href="">Yemen model</a>” is flawed. And the emphasis of such investment as there is on the tactical and operational—providing transport aircraft to give the Yemeni armed forces greater operational reach, with limited US military personnel to train, mentor and advise them—neglects a broader strategic response to a security problem which cannot be resolved by hard power alone.</p> <p>Conflict in Yemen is often forgotten as the world turns to other perennial disputes in Israel-Palestine, Syria and Iraq. Only through a more concerted regional effort to promote the peaceful resolution of disputes—without resort to violence, proxy conflict or remote-control containment—can meaningful change be secured.</p> North-Africa West-Asia global security middle east fundamentalisms Aaron Edwards Houthi insurgency in Yemen and Saudi Arabia Non-state violence Peacebuilding Sat, 26 Jul 2014 10:15:24 +0000 Aaron Edwards 84724 at As Israel-Palestine descends into violence, what should Europe do? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The latest effort by the Israel-aligned US to renegotiate the asymmetric power relationships of the Middle East has inevitably failed, with brutal violence following; it is time, as an alternative, for the EU to generalise the rule-based constraint on Israeli action it has tentatively essayed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="// child arrives at Gaza city morgue.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// child arrives at Gaza city morgue.jpg" alt="Body of child in Gaza hospital morgue snapped by photographers" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Death in war's spotlight: a Palestinian child in a Gaza hospital morgue. Ahmed Hjazy / Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The seemingly dormant Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reawakened. A sequence of events triggered by the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli students and the burning alive of a Palestinian teenager has seen the region descend once again into a vortex of violence. Settler attacks on Palestinian civilians, Israeli raids and arrests, Palestinian rioting in the west bank and east Jerusalem, rocket fire from Gaza, the launch of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” with mounting Palestinian casualties and the threat of an Israeli ground operation in the strip have raised the spectre of a third <em>intifada</em>. In light of this escalation, the predictable failure of talks mediated by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the all-round regional chaos, what should the European Union and its member states do?</p> <p>The EU has never been and is unlikely to be a mediator in Israel-Palestine. Yet it has historically played a pioneering role in the conflict. From the <a href="">Venice Declaration</a> in 1980 to outright support for a two-state solution in 2001, the EU has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to be ahead of the curve. And, away from the media spotlight, the last decade has slowly but surely seen the EU changing the paradigm governing its relations with Israel and Palestine, shifting away from political discretion towards rule-bound action. Pursuing this pioneering path in the Middle East “peace process” is a responsibility the EU cannot elude.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Discretionary sanctions</strong></h2> <p>Following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and in the framework of the <a href="">Middle East Quartet</a>, the EU endorsed and implemented highly discretionary sanctions towards the elected Palestinian government—after the split between Fatah and Hamas, specifically the Hamas-led administration in Gaza. While the condition of non-violence is sacrosanct and firmly embedded in international law, the remaining conditions were highly political and almost designed so as not to be fulfilled. That policy of conditionality was premised on the hope and expectation that Hamas would at worst capitulate and at best wither away. Notwithstanding almost a decade of sanctions, the policy has dismally failed. Even in the west bank, the resistance movement has anything but vanished. </p> <p>Implicitly acknowledging the bankruptcy of the policy, the EU (and the US) tacitly nodded at the Palestinian government formed via agreement between the factions in 2014. While igniting Israeli ire, this technocratic coalition (arguably closer to the Palestinian Authority than to Hamas) became the first sign of intra-Palestinian reconciliation since the collapse of the “national unity” government in 2007. </p> <p>The challenges to the survival of the new government are however monumental. Not only does it have to withstand Israel’s onslaught on Gaza but it must also pursue the structurally complex task of reunification after seven years of physical separation, mistrust and animosity. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority still has no presence in the strip. The 50,000 civil servants in Gaza hired by the Hamas authority have not received their salaries since the government’s formation; the PA lacks the funds to pay them and fears that doing so would trigger EU and US retaliation. And the reintegration of the PA and Hamas security apparatuses remains a distant prospect, not to speak of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza—the more so after the current wave of violence. </p> <p>In this context, the EU is called upon to put its money where its mouth is. If indeed it supports Palestinian reconciliation and accepts the current technical government, it should do what to takes to ensure its survival. With the odds stacked so heavily against it, active support rather than passive acceptance is essential.</p> <h2><strong>Rule-bound action</strong></h2> <p>When it comes to dealing with Israel, recent years have witnessed the evolution of an EU consensus on rule-bound action. For decades, the EU accepted a binary policy divide—co-operation versus pressure—in which the intra-EU tide weighed heavily in favour of the former. Over t<span>ime and with mounting headaches caused by the EU’s bending of the rules so as not to upset its political relations within Israel—take, for instance, the decades-old problem of product-origin rules and the EU’s preferential treatment of Israeli settlement products—the tune has started to change. Rather than the either/or, carrot/stick approach, rule-bound co-operation is increasingly becoming the only and most desirable third way. Not only is it the only feasible route for a rule-based EU to maintain and deepen co-operation with Israel. It is also the most effective strategy to temper, rather than fuel, the dynamics of the conflict.</span></p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">In this context, the EU is called upon to put its money where its mouth is.</span></p><p><span></span>The 2013 EU guidelines on funding to Israel, which explicitly excluded as beneficiaries Israeli entities in the occupied territories, represent the first evidence of this new approach. The guidelines are important not because their implementation will cause financial damage to the settlement enterprise, still less because such damage might induce Israel to end the occupation. They are however crucial—hence the uproar they occasioned in Israel—because for the first time EU practice has aligned with its declaratory support for international humanitarian law and the two-state solution. </p> <p>The effectiveness of this policy is demonstrated by Israel’s ultimate acceptance of the guidelines. Criticism notwithstanding, the Israeli government did not slam the door in the EU’s face. It ultimately signed up to the EU Horizon 2020 programme, contenting itself with an annexed declaration in which it restated its domestic position without this having any legal consequence for the EU. When the EU presented its position to Israel as a legal necessity and not as a discretionary political act, Israel screamed and shouted but ultimately complied. </p> <p>The challenge today is of pursuing this path and making the funding guidelines the harbinger of a new approach, rather than an incidental digression from old habits. The EU high representative, Catherine Ashton, had promised a new set of guidelines on the labelling of Israeli products, indicating their exact origin, thus allowing EU consumers to make informed choices. But those guidelines never appeared, as the EU was once again put under the magic spell of the “peace process” and its relaunch under Kerry’s impulse. Rather than viewing the labelling guidelines as another small step assisting the US-led peace effort, the EU and its member states suspended the work on them. Following the appointment of the new EU high representative, that work should be revived. It should be pursued even more vigorously if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were to be renewed. </p> <p>What these episodes reveal is the EU’s ability to signal to Israel and the wider world the broader principle governing the conduct of its bilateral relations. Once that rule-based principle is fully internalised, its scope for application is infinite—from police co-operation to EU assistance for the Israeli-controlled “<a href="">area C</a>” in the west bank. When put together and conceptualised as a coherent strategy, its appeal may spread beyond the EU, perhaps one day reaching the other side of the Atlantic. </p> <h2>“Peace process”</h2> <p>What then about the “peace process”? When the Kerry-mediated talks were launched, few believed they would finally deliver the two-state solution painstakingly delineated over the two decades since <a href="">Oslo</a>. And yet the international community, <em>in primis</em> the EU, religiously praised the process and prayed for its success. The candid explained that blind faith was obligatory: negotiations might not resolve the conflict but they would prevent its escalation at a time of mounting regional chaos and, anyway, there was no alternative. </p> <p>Events over the last few days have revealed the fallacy of this reasoning. A process destined to fail—after two decades it is difficult to argue otherwise—cannot be taken to be better than no process at all. Indeed, it creates hopes which, when dashed, increase rather than reduce the chances of escalation; hence the pattern of a conflict frequently punctuated by violent eruptions. Furthermore, dogmatic insistence shuts down all space for creative thinking about alternative processes and end-points, as Europe pioneered as far back as 1980. </p> <p>The EU is not a mediator but it does have a role and responsibility. It also has high stakes in the resolution of a conflict in which it has invested so heavily. After 20 years of funding to support a Palestinian state which has precious little chance of seeing the light of day, it is legitimate for the EU to ask whether this continues to be a realistic way forward. </p> <p>That is not to say that the EU should abandon the goal of a two-state solution or turn its back on the “peace process”. Rather, it should open up a debate, at least internally, on the fundamentals of the process and its presumed conclusion. The Middle East today is unrecognisably different from the early 1990s, when the building-blocks of Oslo were put in place. The EU cannot blindly assume that the Oslo <em>acquis</em> remains relevant today, out of sheer terror of contemplating alternatives. Precisely because the EU does not bear upon its shoulders the responsibilities of mediation, it should use its freedom and its duty towards the conflict parties to engage in an out-of-the-box discussion on the possible way ahead.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/arie-nadler/israelis-and-palestinians-time-to-acknowledge-other%E2%80%99s-trauma">Israelis and Palestinians: time to acknowledge the other’s trauma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/doris-carrion/nostate-solution-for-israel-and-palestine">The no-State solution for Israel and Palestine</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Palestine Conflict International politics human rights middle east europe Israel Palestine: asymmetry Nathalie Tocci Palestinian Israeli conflict Diplomacy International Law Non-state violence Peacebuilding State violence Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:20:51 +0000 Nathalie Tocci 84392 at Burundi, une démocratisation génératrice de violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>La communauté internationale a indirectement contribué à faire du Burundi une démocratie de façade, aujourd’hui en proie à une crise politique, voire sécuritaire. <strong><em><a href="">English</a></em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Alors que Pierre Nkurunziza, président du Burundi, a tenté de réviser la constitution et de briguer un troisième mandat présidentiel, le pays présente des signes inquiétants d’instabilité, voire de crise politique. Si à travers son discours la communauté internationale se dit préoccupée par la situation politique, son action se concentre autour de programmes d’urgence et d’aide à la &nbsp;préparation des élections générales de 2015. Ce type de programmes avait été mis en place pour les élections de 2010, mais l’instabilité politique demeure. Ainsi, le temps est peut-être venu de poser clairement la question de l’état de la démocratie au Burundi&nbsp;et de l’impact des programmes internationaux sur la scène politique. Quelle est la pertinence de ces programmes si les conditions politiques et sécuritaires de leur application ne sont plus respectées&nbsp;? </p> <h2><strong>La démocratie burundaise, mythe ou réalité&nbsp;?</strong></h2> <p>L’espace politique burundais se ferme et se replie autour du parti au pouvoir, le CNDD-FDD. Le gouvernement a récemment réduit le champ d’action et de libertés des partis d’opposition et de la société civile. En mars, après une violente manifestation opposant forces de sécurité et militants, le gouvernement a suspendu le MSD (Mouvement pour la solidarité et la démocratie) contraignant ainsi son président, Alexis Sinduhije, à fuir le pays. Quarante-huit militants de ce parti ont quant à eux été condamnés à la prison à perpétuité. Le parti de l’Uprona, victime de la stratégie de <em>nyakurisation</em><a name="art1"></a><a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> mise en place par le parti présidentiel, est fragilisé et sur le point d’imploser. Quant au FNL (Forces nationales de libération), ancien groupement rebelle à majorité Hutu et signataire des accords d’Arusha en 2008, et au Frodebu, formation politique à dominance Hutu, ils s’efforcent de dénoncer les pratiques de mauvaise gouvernance et de corruption, mais sont freinés par la campagne d’intimidation politique orchestrée par le parti au pouvoir. Si la principale coalition d’opposition, ADC-Ikibiri, réunissant onze partis, dénonce publiquement la fermeture de l’espace politique et la « dérive dictatoriale »<a name="art2"></a><a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> du pays, elle semble toutefois dépourvue de marche de manœuvre face au CNDD-FDD, qui ne cache plus ses intentions de rester au pouvoir et semble prêt à tout pour y parvenir. </p> <p>En effet, en présentant devant l’Assemblée nationale un projet de révision constitutionnelle, finalement rejeté, le président burundais a récemment fait entendre sa volonté de reconduire son mandat.<a name="art3"></a><a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> En parallèle, des allégations onusiennes visant son parti ont été formulées concernant des distributions d’armes destinées aux <em>Imbonerakure</em>, le mouvement de la jeunesse du parti CNDD-FDD. Le parti dément ces accusations mais un climat de crainte et de méfiance s’installe, alimenté par les récentes violences qui ont éclaté entre les <em>Imbonerakure</em> et des militants du parti d’opposition Frodebu Nyakuri. </p> <p>La société civile pâtit également de ce raidissement politique et de ce changement de cap : la liberté d’expression perd du terrain face à la montée en puissance du parti présidentiel, au pouvoir depuis 2005. Les militants pour la défense des droits de l’Homme sont de plus en plus visés par le pouvoir, à l’instar de Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, leader de l’APRODH (Association burundaise pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues), aujourd’hui encore détenu à Bujumbura. Ainsi, un an avant l’organisation des élections, les conditions semblent propices à une victoire courue d’avance du parti au pouvoir. Face à ce constat alarmant, il devient légitime de s’interroger sur l’état de santé de la démocratie burundaise, incarnée par les accords d’Arusha<a name="art4"></a><a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> et consacrée par la mise en place du modèle consociatif de partage du pouvoir entre des communautés ethniques.</p> <h2><strong>Les bailleurs de fonds au chevet d’une démocratie mourante</strong></h2> <p>En 2010, le spécialiste du modèle consociatif Stef Vandeginste affirmait : « malheureusement, force est de constater qu’au niveau politique national, une autre tradition s’est fermement installée : celle de régler des conflits touchant au pouvoir politique par les armes et des violations massives des droits de l’homme ».<a name="art5"></a><a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> Ce constat n’a jamais été plus vrai qu’aujourd’hui : alors que le parti au pouvoir tire les ficelles du jeu politique, la démocratie burundaise semble aujourd’hui n’être que le pâle reflet de ce qu’elle fût après les élections de 2005. </p> <p>Le processus électoral est lancé. L’adoption d’un nouveau code électoral, d’un code de bonne conduite ainsi que la volonté non dissimulée du président actuel de se représenter pour un troisième mandat semblent l’indiquer. Le Burundi est le premier pays de la région des Grands Lacs à entamer sa course électorale, avant la République du Congo (2016), la République Démocratique du Congo (2016) et le Rwanda (2017). Et la communauté internationale est au rendez-vous : les bailleurs de fonds apporteront leur soutien au processus électoral et devraient normalement financer jusqu’à 80 pour cent des prochaines élections. </p> <p>Le programme des Nations unies pour le développement (PNUD), à travers son programme <a href="">PACE 2015</a> (Projet d’appui au cycle électoral) dédié au Burundi, vise le renforcement des capacités organisationnelles, techniques, financières et opérationnelles des principaux acteurs inclus dans le processus électoral. Une attention particulière est de fait apportée à la CENI (Commission électorale nationale indépendante), mais aussi aux partis politiques et aux organisations de la société civile, dans le but de favoriser la tenue d’un dialogue national. L’Union Européenne soutient le PNUD dans cette entreprise, ainsi que les bailleurs bilatéraux traditionnels du Burundi, la Belgique en tête. Même si l’Union Européenne finance d’autres programmes plus holistiques,<a name="art6"></a><a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> à travers son programme d’appui à la CEEAC (<em>Communauté économique des états de l'Afrique centrale</em><em><strong>)</strong></em> en matière de paix et de sécurité (<a href="">PAPS II</a>) elle intervient pleinement dans le domaine du cycle électoral. A travers un effort de formation, de prévention de la violence électorale et de la coopération entre parties prenantes pour l’organisation des élections, l’UE s’inscrit dans la même dynamique que le PNUD.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>S’il est certain que ces programmes ont un effet positif sur le pays, ils restent pourtant très éloignés du contexte spécifique dans lequel ils s’inscrivent. Les acteurs externes commettent trop souvent l’erreur de considérer la démocratie comme une seule et unique réalité, dont eux-seuls détiennent la clé. Une mauvaise analyse politico-sécuritaire d’un pays peut conduire à y implémenter des programmes biaisés et potentiellement perturbateurs.<a name="art7"></a><a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> </p> <h2><strong>La «&nbsp;démocrature&nbsp;» instaurée&nbsp;? </strong></h2> <p>Préoccupés par l’implémentation de ces programmes, les bailleurs le semblent beaucoup moins par les impacts qu’un tel soutien pourrait avoir <em>a posteriori</em> sur le pays. Compte tenu du climat politique qui règne actuellement à Bujumbura, il importe de se pencher sur les possibles effets sur la scène politique burundaise. Par exemple, comment instaurer un dialogue ouvert entre parti au pouvoir et partis d’opposition alors même que ces-derniers sont opprimés et les militants emprisonnés&nbsp;? Si le Président Nkurunziza se représente, en &nbsp;contournant l’article verrou de la constitution qui cadre la reconduction de son mandat,<a name="art8"></a><a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> la communauté internationale financera des élections<em> </em>probablement controversées, voire dangereuses pour la cohésion nationale.</p> <p>Les programmes de soutien au processus électoral comportent aujourd’hui des limites qu’il devient difficile d’ignorer. Souvent éloignés d’un contexte sécuritaire et politique spécifique, ils sont axés avant toute chose sur la recherche de résultats. Ils peuvent pousser les Etats à coller à un modèle préétabli de démocratie, donnant ainsi naissance à des&nbsp;démocraties de façade. Les élections peuvent en effet servir de légitimation à des régimes pourtant loin de respecter les règles rudimentaires de la démocratie, même imparfaite. N’est-ce pas le cas du Burundi&nbsp;? Peut-on encore parler de liberté d’expression, de droits de l’Homme ou de pluralisme politique&nbsp;? Ainsi, la mise en place de tels programmes dans un contexte de déroute politique peut donner naissance aux «&nbsp;autoritarismes électoraux&nbsp;», régimes hybrides mêlant conjointement éléments autoritaires et éléments démocratiques.<a name="art9"></a><a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> Si pour l’instant rien n’est certain quant à l’avenir du cycle électoral burundais, il est certain que si la communauté internationale finance les élections alors que la constitution est contournée et la démocratie mise à mal, la légitimité de son action et de ces programmes sera remise en cause.</p> <p>Au lieu de recycler des programmes qui ont déjà démontré leurs limites par le passé, les bailleurs de fonds devraient les repenser dans une démarche plurielle. Pour Oliver Richmond, directeur du Centre pour la Paix et l’Etude des Conflits basé en Grande-Bretagne, il est nécessaire de repenser ces programmes qui obéissent selon lui à des concepts neutres et aculturels.<a name="art10"></a><a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> Dès lors, élaborer les programmes en partenariat direct avec les partis politiques et les organisations de la société civile burundaise est bien entendu la condition <em>sine qua none </em>à leur bon fonctionnement. En effet, les dynamiques locales, qu’elles soient sociétales, religieuses, ethniques, politiques et conflictuelles, doivent être comprises par les bailleurs de fonds et intégrées dans l’élaboration des programmes,<a name="art11"></a><a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> Au Burundi, les bailleurs devraient accorder autant d’importance aux élections collinaires, locales, qu’aux élections nationales. En effet, la population locale dit respecter davantage&nbsp;le lien collinaire, c’est-à-dire le lien local et familial, que le lien national, jugé trop lointain et abstrait. Ainsi, à court terme, le niveau de participation politique serait plus important si l’accent était mis sur l’approche locale, ce qui sur le moyen terme pourrait accroitre la «&nbsp;conscience politique&nbsp;» burundaise. </p> <p>Les bailleurs de fonds devraient également se poser la question des impacts de leurs programmes sur la scène politique. En effet, il est possible que les programmes qu’ils proposent puissent involontairement contribuer à un changement de nature des régimes en place ou des intentionnalités politiques des élites. L’insécurité chronique du Burundi met ainsi en exergue les lacunes des programmes de démocratisation et de Désarmement, démobilisation et réintégration (DDR) prônés par la communauté internationale et leurs impacts sur la stabilité du pays. La tentative de mettre en place un programme DDR après la signature des accords d’Arusha s’est soldée par un bilan en demi-teinte. L’échec du DDR, concrétisé par l’absence de mesures efficaces de réintégration pérenne et durable des anciens combattants dans la vie professionnelle et civile après le désarmement, explique en grande partie la reprise des armes à partir de 2011, et l’instabilité politique actuelle. Pour contrer cette dynamique d’escalade de la violence, la mise en place d’une réelle réintégration professionnelle doit accompagner les programmes de DDR&nbsp;; des chantiers à haute intensité de main d’œuvre doivent être proposés et repensés. </p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong><strong></strong></h2> <p>Le Burundi replonge irrémédiablement dans une crise politique. Les efforts qui ont été faits durant les brèves années de paix semblent céder face au poids du passé. Les clivages ethniques réapparaissent, laissant craindre un retour de la violence. La pauvreté est plus réelle que jamais, et la démocratie semble s’incliner face au désir de pouvoir du CNDD-FDD. Pour prévenir le regain de violences au Burundi, les bailleurs de fonds doivent avant tout arrêter de penser en termes de résultats sur le court terme, repenser leur action dans une stratégie de long terme et s’interroger sur la pertinence de certains de leurs programmes.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a name="_ftn1"></a><a href="#art1">[1]</a> Ce terme est emprunté au Frodebu-Nyakuri, premier parti politique d’envergure secoué par une crise interne depuis l’arrivée du CNDD-FDD au pouvoir en 2005. Il désigne la manipulation de certains politiciens par le pouvoir afin de provoquer une division au sein d’un part de l’opposition. </p> <p><a name="_ftn2"></a><a href="#art2">[2]</a> « Le gouvernement burundais réagit à la mise en garde de l'ONU », RFI, 4 juin 2014</p> <p><a name="_ftn3"></a><a href="#art3">[3]</a> « Burundi: l'Assemblée nationale retoque le projet de révision constitutionnelle de Nkurunziza », <em>Jeune Afrique</em>, 21 mars 2014</p> <p><a name="_ftn4"></a><a href="#art4">[4]</a> La signature des accords d’Arusha marque le début du processus de transition démocratique au Burundi. Si les années qui suivent la signature de l’accord sont encore rythmées par des conflits armés sporadiques,&nbsp; leur intensité et le nombre de victimes décroissent.</p> <p><a name="_ftn5"></a><a href="#art5">[5]</a> Stef Vandeginste, « Théorie consociative et partage du pouvoir au Burundi », Institut de Politique et de Gestion du Développement, Université d’Anvers, février 2006, Anvers, p8</p> <p><a name="_ftn6"></a><a href="#art6">[6]</a> Le soutien de la communauté internationale se manifeste notamment à travers le Cadre stratégique de croissance et de lutte contre la pauvreté II (CSLP II) ou encore la Stratégie nationale de bonne gouvernance et de lutte contre la corruption (SNBGLC). Ces programmes interviennent dans les domaines de l’appui à la bonne gouvernance, la décentralisation, la lutte contre la corruption et la justice transitionnelle, ainsi que les processus de RSS (réforme du secteur de la sécurité) et de DDR (démobilisation, désarmement, réintégration). En d’autres termes, ces programmes visent le maintien de la démocratie et de la paix au Burundi.</p> <p><a name="_ftn7"></a><a href="#art7">[7]</a> Center for Security Studies « Démocratisation après les conflits : les pièges de l’influence extérieure» Politique de sécurité : analyse du CSS 79, Zurich, septembre 2010</p> <p><a name="_ftn8"></a><a href="#art8">[8]</a> Pierre Nkurunziza a été élu une première fois au suffrage indirect par le parlement (2005) et une seconde fois au suffrage direct (2010). Il peut se représenter s’il déclare qu’il n’a été élu qu’une seule fois au suffrage direct sur les deux autorisées (article 96) ou en amendant la constitution&nbsp;: ce qui est légal dans la mesure où ça ne nuit pas à la cohésion nationale (article 299).</p> <p><a name="_ftn9"></a><a href="#art9">[9]</a> Patrick Quantin, « La démocratie en Afrique à la recherche d’un modèle », <em>La démocratie en Afrique</em>.&nbsp;<em>Pouvoirs</em><span> 129, 2009/2, Editions du Seuil. Paris, p74</span></p> <p><a name="_ftn10"></a><a href="#art10">[10]</a> Oliver P. Richmond, « Liberal peace transitions: a rethink is urgent », <em>openDemocracy</em>, 19 novembre 2009. “Indeed, what has become known as 'statebuilding' around the conflict-affected parts of the world today is nothing more than a grand experiment drawing on several hundred years of western political and economic experience, interests, and culture, affecting millions of people's lives often carelessly and in a way that makes little sense to them”. </p> <p><a name="_ftn11"></a><a href="#art11">[11]</a> Pour optimiser les effets positifs de ces programmes, la démocratie doit être abordée comme une expérience plus qu’un régime politique. Une étude approfondie du contexte, des dynamiques locales ou régionales, et des rapports de force est donc nécessaire afin de mettre en place des programmes de soutien au processus électoral, ou de bonne gouvernance, adaptés.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyduine-ruronona/50-ans-d%E2%80%99ind%C3%A9pendance-au-burundi-envers-une-gouvernance-pour-la-paix">50 Ans d’indépendance au Burundi: envers une gouvernance pour la paix</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyduine-ruronona/la-transformation-des-vies-au-burundi-%C2%AB-maintenant-je-ne-suis-plus-battue-%C2%BB">La transformation des vies au Burundi : « maintenant je ne suis plus battue »</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Civil society Democracy and government International politics 'term-id:[26644]' Africa Charlotte Arnaud oS analysis Diplomacy Peacebuilding Fri, 04 Jul 2014 14:15:06 +0000 Charlotte Arnaud 84226 at Burundi: a democratisation from which violence may stem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The international community has indirectly contributed to making Burundi a facade democracy, now prey to a political and even a security crisis. <em><strong><a href="">Fran<span style="line-height: 1.5;">ç</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">ais</span></a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>While the president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, has attempted to revise its constitution and seek a third presidential term, the country presents worrying signs of instability, indeed of political crisis. Although the international community declares itself concerned about the political situation, its activity is focused on immediate programmes to assist preparation of the general elections of 2015. Such programmes were implemented before the 2010 elections but political instability remains. The time may thus have come to question frankly the state of democracy in Burundi and the impact of international programmes on the political scene. What is the relevance of these programmes if the political and security conditions of their application are no longer met? </p> <h2><strong>Democracy in Burundi—myth or reality?</strong></h2> <p>The Burundian political space is encompassed by and revolves around the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD. The government has recently reduced the space for, and freedoms enjoyed by, opposition parties and civil society. In March, after violence at a demonstration between security forces and militants, the government suspended the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD), thus forcing its leader, Alexis Sinduhije, to flee the country. Forty-eight activists of the party were sentenced to life imprisonment. The Uprona party, victim of the strategy of <em>nyakurisation</em><a name="art1"></a><a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> put in place by the presidential party, is weakened and on the verge of imploding. The National Forces of Liberation (FNL), a former mainly-Hutu rebel group and signatory to the Arusha accords of 2008, and the Frodebu, another Hutu-dominated political formation, strive to denounce the practices of bad governance and corruption but are hampered by the campaign of political intimidation orchestrated by the ruling party. And while the main opposition coalition, ADC-Ikibiri, bringing together eleven parties, publicly denounces the closure of political space and the “dictatorial drift”<a name="art2"></a><a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> of the country, it seems devoid of a line of attack against the CNDD-FDD, which no longer conceals its intention to remain in power and seems ready for whatever it takes to do so. </p> <p>Indeed, the Burundian president recently made known his willingness to extend his mandate, presenting a draft constitutional revision to the National Assembly which in the end was rejected.<a name="art3"></a><a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> At the same time, the United Nations has charged his party with distributing weapons to the <em>Imbonerakure</em>, the CNDD-FDD’s youth movement. The party denies the accusations but a climate of fear and mistrust festers, nourished by the recent violence which erupted between the <em>Imbonerakure</em> and activists from the opposition Frodebu Nyakuri.</p> <p>Civil society also suffers from this political hardening and change of course: freedom of expression loses ground against the growing strength of the presidential party, in power since 2005. Human-rights activists are increasingly targeted by the state—like Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, leader of the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), still held in Bujumbura. So, one year before the elections, the conditions seem conducive for the outcome to be a foregone conclusion for the party in power. Faced with this alarming observation, it becomes legitimate to wonder about the state of health of democracy in Burundi, born of the Arusha accords<a name="art4"></a><a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> and consecrated by the putting in place of the consociational model of ethnic power-sharing.</p> <h2><strong>Donors at the deathbed of democracy</strong></h2> <p>In 2010, Stef Vandeginste, a specialist on the consociationalist model, said: “Unfortunately, it must be noted that at the national political level, another tradition is firmly estalished: to resolve conflicts touching on political power by arms and by massive violations of human rights.”<a name="art5"></a><a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a> This observation has never been more true than today: while the party in power pulls the strings of the political game, Burundian democracy seems only a pale shadow of what it was after the 2005 elections. </p> <p>The next electoral process has started—as the adoption of a new electoral code and a code of conduct, as well as the undisguised desire of the president to stand for a third term, would indicate. Burundi is the first country in the Great Lakes region to begin its electoral race, before the Republic of the Congo (2016), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2016) and Rwanda (2017). And the international community is at the rendezvous: the donors will give their support to the Burundian electoral process and should normally finance up to 80 percent of the cost of the coming elections. </p> <p>The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its <a href="">PACE 2015</a> (Project to Support the Electoral Cycle) programme dedicated to Burundi, aims to reinforce the organisational, technical, financial and operational capacities of the main actors in the electoral process. Particular attention is paid to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) but also to political parties and organisations of civil society, with the aim of promoting a national dialogue. The European Union supports the UNDP in this undertaking, as do the traditional bilateral donors to Burundi, with Belgium in the lead. Although the EU finances more holistic programmes,<a name="art6"></a><a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a> through its programme of support to the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) in regard to peace and security (<a href="">PAPS II</a>) it intervenes fully in the electoral cycle. Via work on training, prevention of electoral violence and co-operation among stakeholders involved in the organisation of the elections, the EU engages in the same dynamic as the UNDP. </p> <p>While these programmes certainly have a positive effect on the country, they remain distant from the specific context in which they are inserted. The external actors too often commit the mistake of seeing democracy as a single and unique reality, to which they alone hold the key. A poor political-cum-security analysis of a country can lead to implementing biased and potentially disruptive programmes.<a name="art7"></a><a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> </p><h2><strong>A hybrid regime</strong></h2> <p>Preoccupied by the implementation of these programmes, donors seem much less concerned about the impacts such support could have <em>a posteriori</em> on the country. Yet, given the political climate prevailing in Bujumbura, it is important to address the possible effects on the Burundian political scene. For example, how can one institute an open dialogue between the ruling party and opposition parties, when the latter are oppressed and their activists imprisoned? If President Nkurunziza stands again, thereby openly bypassing article of the constitution which constrains the renewal of his mandate,<a name="art8"></a><a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> the international community will finance what will be controversial elections, which probably will endanger national cohesion.</p> <p>The programmes to support the electoral process today carry limitations that become difficult to ignore. Often remote from the specific security and political context, they are based first and foremost on the search for results. They can push states to stick to a predetermined model of democracy, thus giving birth to facade democracies. Elections may indeed serve to legitimise regimes which are far from respecting, even imperfectly, the basic rules of democracy. Isn't this the case with Burundi? Can we still speak of freedom of expression, human rights and political pluralism there? The implementation of such programmes in a context of political disarray may thus give rise to “electoral authoritarianisms”, hybrid regimes combining authoritarian and democratic elements.<a name="art9"></a><a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> If for the moment nothing is certain about the future of the Burundian electoral cycle, it is certain that if the international community finances the elections while the constitution is deliberately bypassed and the democracy weakened, the legitimacy of its action and these programmes will again be put in question.</p> <p>Instead of recycling programmes which have already shown their limitations in the past, donors should consider a more pluralistic approach. For Oliver Richmond, director of the Centre for Peace and the Study of Conflicts, based in Britain, it is necessary to rethink programmes conceived as neutral and acultural.<a name="art10"></a><a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> Consequently, developing programmes in direct partnership with political parties and Burundian civil-society organisations is clearly the <em>sine qua non </em>of their proper functioning. Indeed, the local dynamics, be they societal, religious, ethnic, political or conflictual, must be understood by donors and integrated into the development of programmes.<a name="art11"></a><a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> In Burundi, donors should give as much importance to &nbsp;local as to national elections—links to family and vicinity are more respected than those to the national level, considered too distant and abstract. In the short term, political participation would thus be enhanced if the focus was on the local; in the medium term this could enlarge a Burundian "political consciousness". </p> <p>Donors should also ask the question of the impact of their programmes on the political scene. Indeed, it is possible that the programmes they propose may unintentionally contribute to a change in the nature of regimes or in the political goals of the elites. The chronic insecurity in Burundi thus highlights the shortcomings of the programmes of democratisation and of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) advocated by the international community and their impact on the stability of the country.The attempt to implement a DDR programme after the signing of the Arusha accords had mixed results. Its failure, exemplified by the absence of effective measures of lasting reintegration after disarmament of former combatants in professional and civil life, explains in large part the reassumption of arms from 2011 and the current political instability. To counter this dynamic of escalation of violence, real vocational reintegration must accompany DDR programmes— labour-intensive construction projects must be proposed and rethought.</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>Burundi is plunging back irretrievably into a political crisis. The efforts made during the brief years of peace seem to be falling foul of the weight of the past. Ethnic cleavages are reappearing, creating fear of a return to violence. Poverty is more acute than ever and democracy seems to bend to the CNDD-FDD’s will for power. To prevent the resurgence of violence in Burundi, donors should stop just thinking in terms of short-term results, rethink their approach within a long-term strategy and reconsider the relevance of some of their programmes.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a name="_ftn1"></a><a href="#art1">[1]</a> This term is borrowed from the Frodebu-Nyakuri, the first major political party shaken by an internal crisis inner following the arrival of the CNDD-FDD in power in 2005. It refers to the manipulation of politicians by the party in power to cause a division within a part of the opposition. </p> <p><a name="_ftn2"></a><a href="#art2">[2]</a> "The Burundian government responds to the warning from the United Nations", RFI, 4 June 2014</p> <p><a name="_ftn3"></a><a href="#art3">[3]</a> "Burundi: National Assembly rejects the draft constitutional revision of Nkurunziza", <em>Jeune Afrique</em>, 21 March 2014</p> <p><a name="_ftn4"></a><a href="#art4">[4]</a> The signing of the Arusha accords marked the beginning of the democratic transition in Burundi. If the years following the signing of the agreement remain marked by sporadic armed conflicts, their intensity and the number of victims declines.</p> <p><a name="_ftn5"></a><a href="#art5">[5]</a> Stef Vandeginste, "Consociational theory and the sharing of power in Burundi", Institute of Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, February 2006, Antwerp, p8</p> <p><a name="_ftn6"></a><a href="#art6">[6]</a> The support of the international community manifests itself notably through the Strategic Framework for Growth and the Struggle Against Poverty II (PRSP II) and the National Strategy for Good Governance and the Struggle against Corruption (SNBGLC). These programmes intervene in the areas of support for good governance, decentralisation, the struggle against corruption and transitional justice, as well as the process of SSR (security sector reform) and DDR (demobilisation, disarmament, reintegration). In other words, these programmes aim to maintain peace and democracy in Burundi.</p> <p><a name="_ftn7"></a><a href="#art7">[7]</a> Center for Security Studies “Post-conflict democratisation: the pitfalls of external influence", Security Policy: CSS analysis 79, Zürich, September 2010</p> <p><a name="_ftn8"></a><a href="#art8">[8]</a> Pierre Nkurunziza was elected first indirectly by the parliament (2005) and a second time by direct suffrage (2010). He can stand again if he declares that he was directly elected only once out of the two mandates (article 96) or through amending the constitution, using the provision that a revision which does not harm national cohesion can be legal (article 299).</p> <p><a name="_ftn9"></a><a href="#art9">[9]</a> Patrick Quantin, “Democracy in Africa looking for a model", <em>Democracy in Africa</em>.&nbsp;<em>Pouvoirs</em><span> 129, 2009/2, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, p74</span></p> <p><a name="_ftn10"></a><a href="#art10">[10]</a> Oliver P. Richmond, "Liberal peace transitions: a rethink is urgent", <em>openDemocracy</em>, 19 November 2009: "Indeed, what has become known as 'statebuilding' around the conflict-affected parts of the world today is nothing more than a large experiment drawing on several hundred years of western political and economic experience, interests, and culture, affecting millions of people's lives often carelessly and in a way that makes little sense to them." </p> <p><a name="_ftn11"></a><a href="#art11">[11]</a> To maximise the positive effects of these programmes, democracy must be addressed as an experience more than a political regime. A profound study is therefore necessary of the context, the local or regional dynamics and the balance of forces to put in place adapted programmes of support to the electoral process or of good governance.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/r%C3%A9gine-nishimagizwe-marie-goretti-bwoyero-appoline-bihorubusa-sylvane-ntakonkibigira/ou">Our voices: Violence against women and impunity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/david-e-kode/non-governmental-diplomacy-key-to-redressing-human-rights-violations-in-burundi">Non-governmental diplomacy: a key to redressing human rights violations in Burundi</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyduine-ruronona/burundi-at-50-towards-governance-of-peace">Burundi at 50: towards a governance of peace</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Burundi </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Burundi Conflict Democracy and government International politics 'term-id:[26644]' Africa Charlotte Arnaud oS analysis Diplomacy Peacebuilding Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:09:59 +0000 Charlotte Arnaud 84222 at Drugs and the peace process in Colombia: a moderate radical step <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> The third point of agreement reached in the Havana negotiations may finally pave the way for the gradual end to the “war on drugs”, and defuse one of the issues – the drug trade – that has most hindered peace in Colombia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> The agreement reached in Havana on May 16th 2014 between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) entitled “Solution to the problem of illegal drugs” is momentous in that it constitutes a limited step forward with regard to a very complex issue that is underpinned by a series of very important premises.</p> <h2> <strong>The underlying assumptions </strong> </h2> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> In essence, the agreement appears to be informed by two basic postulates. The first relates to the drugs phenomenon and the second to the key stakeholders in the agreement. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> The focus of the current paradigm for dealing with illegal drugs is to achieve abstinence and eliminate psychoactive substances that have been declared illegal. This approach places the emphasis on the object – the drug – and not on the subject – the human being. The strategy is geared towards punishing and selectively prosecuting certain (direct and indirect) participants and towards certain stages in the phenomenon. This means that, based on rather opaque criteria, there is a relative level of tolerance towards the practices of some actors under some circumstances. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> In general, those most directly affected by practices centred on coercion and harassment are peasants and informal workers involved in the growing of plantations and the harvesting of crops; indigenous people and the rural poor who have to suffer the consequences of policies directed at forcibly eradicating plantations (often by the use of chemicals) and interdiction efforts; the “mules” who carry drugs to the areas of demand; and the inhabitants of disadvantaged neighbourhoods where violent territorial struggles take place between traffickers, corrupt police, dishonest politicians and criminal organisations. </p><p class="western" lang="es-AR">Also affected are sectors of the population who are stigmatised, especially young people, because they live in areas where drug dealing goes on, and the weakest groups who lack the political pressure necessary to ensure that their “view” of the drugs “problem” is taken into account. These and other actors are the weak link in a lengthy and complex chain that culminates in an enormously lucrative business for a few. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Vulnerable human groups who are severely harassed therefore end up dead, or in prison, or without access to health care or alternative opportunities for a decent life. In general, those who reap the greatest benefits from illegal trade enjoy wealth and investments that go untouched, despite the existing array of laws and restrictions of various kinds that are meant to deal with this issue; social standing among the well-to-do classes, who usually welcome the “nouveau riche”; economic and political incorporation into the cracks between illegality and legitimacy and into a state (at the local, department and/or federal levels) that has been partially immobilised because of collusion between certain officials and criminal organisations; the ability to coopt and corrupt officials at the national and international levels; and the personal security guarantees provided as a result of the deregulated small arms market and the services of many private security companies. </p><p class="western" lang="es-AR">This dual model, in which development considerations are noticeably secondary, has served to increase social divisions, economic inequities, political differences and international asymmetries. The agreement between the government and the FARC seems to be inspired by the desire to question some of the foundations of this model and seek public policies other than those that currently prevail (in Colombia and elsewhere). </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> With regard to the second postulate, the agreement assumes that the guerrillas are ready, willing, and able to break with and get out of the drugs trade once and for all and that the elites and institutions are sufficiently interested, determined and capable to tackle the dismantling of this illegal trade that has permeated society and the state for years. </p><p class="western" lang="es-AR">The precedent set by the negotiations between the paramilitaries and the administration of President Álvaro Uribe (2002-10) is not promising, because the armed actors, ruling classes and state sectors have all failed to get rid of the illegality that had penetrated institutions for decades. The hope, both at home and abroad, is that the agreement with the FARC will be the beginning of effectively overcoming the drugs phenomenon. </p> <h2> <strong>The negotiating approach</strong></h2> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> There were two possible paths that the dialogue between the parties could have taken as far as the nature of this issue is concerned. One was to look at the intricate web that characterises the drug problem, which would have meant addressing the entire “value chain” it entails (cultivation, production, processing, trafficking, distribution, marketing, financing, sale and use) and associated aspects (domestic organised crime, transnational criminal alliances, links between illegal economies of various kinds, etc.). Another was to focus on several specific aspects of the drug question that have particularly negative impacts and significance for Colombia. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> The negotiators, for reasons of expediency and/or conviction, chose the second route. The agreement should therefore be examined from this perspective and not from a more all-embracing viewpoint. Given the circumstances in Colombia, the option chosen seems the most reasonable, in that it can be advanced and hopefully resolved within the country, and the most realistic, in that it is in keeping with a “<a href="">modest peace</a>”, given the existing political and military realities.</p> <h2> <strong>The commitments made</strong></h2> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Some aspects of the agreement reached in Havana are particularly interesting. The government achieved several important things. Firstly, the agreement affirms the view widely held in the country by most of the authorities and a significant section of the community of national and foreign experts that there is a link between the armed conflict and illegal drugs.&nbsp;<span>Indeed, although the communiqué initially states that “the internal conflict in Colombia has a long history, dating back several decades, that pre-dates and has causes that are unconnected with the emergence of illicit crop cultivation and the production and marketing of illegal drugs within the country”, later on it says that “the cultivation, production and marketing of illegal drugs have also permeated, fuelled and financed the internal conflict”. The first statement probably satisfies the FARC and the second endorses the official position.</span></p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Secondly, no criticism has been made of the role (tolerance, collusion, profiteering) played by the establishment in the evolution of the drug problem or by other actors, either internally (paramilitaries, the security forces) or externally (the US), that have been linked with the issue. The FARC has avoided resorting to rhetorical diatribes and the government has paid no symbolic price, either domestically or externally, for a lengthy and futile “war on drugs”. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Thirdly, the executive (especially under the government of President Juan Manuel Santos) has received backing for policies that are already being implemented as part of a less-punitive approach. For example, the parties reportedly agreed&nbsp;</p><p class="western" lang="es-AR"><span class="blockquote-new">that the National Government will lobby for an international conference to be held under the auspices of the United Nations to reflect on and make an objective evaluation of the policy for combating drugs and move forward in building consensus around any adjustments that need to be made.</span></p> <p class="western"><span>In fact, and thanks in part to the steps taken by the Santos government, it has already been agreed that a special session on drugs will be held in 2016 under the auspices of the United Nations.</span></p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Fourthly, the executive has obtained a commitment from the FARC that the latter will abandon its ties with the drug phenomenon. The wording used was that “in an end-of-conflict scenario” the guerrillas are prepared to “end any relationship which, in the context of the rebellion, may have arisen in connection with this phenomenon”. This has meant a noteworthy victory for the government. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> For its part, the FARC has also achieved certain goals. Firstly, for years it has demanded the provision of genuine services and social development at the rural and urban levels to tackle the drug issue. To do this it was agreed that a new national plan to eradicate illicit crops, together with a comprehensive plan concerning drug use, would be implemented. </p><p class="western" lang="es-AR">Secondly, emphasis has been placed on strategies affecting some interests of the economic and political sectors that have been associated with or benefited from the growth of the drug trade. Thus greater action is to be taken against assets generated by drug trafficking and the laundering of narcotic-related proceeds, together with more direct efforts to combat the corruption associated with the drug business. </p> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> Lastly, there are two points that both the government and the FARC see as successes. Firstly, for both the matter of territory was and is crucial: in the case of the former, so that it can regain sovereignty (once peace has been won) and in the case of the latter, so that it can maintain its influence (once it has become a legal political force). Secondly, the vast majority of what has been agreed in the negotiations under this agenda item – in an agenda that covers five issues – does not need to go through Congress.&nbsp;This means that it will rely on measures drawn up and implemented by the executive.</p> <h2> Is there hope?</h2> <p class="western" lang="es-AR"> In short, after decades of a failed “war on drugs” in Colombia, the agreement seems to show that the best way to approach the drug question is to restore the legitimacy of institutions, increase the state’s capacity to combat crime, move in the direction of protecting the most vulnerable, design effective rather than sensational strategies to deal with those who benefit most from the drug trade, and implement comprehensive public policies that are focused on people’s well-being.&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><em>This report was <a href="">originally published</a> by the Norweigian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/washington-office-on-latin-america/towards-lasting-peace-reforming-drug-policy-in-colom">Towards a lasting peace: reforming drug policy in Colombia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/darynell-rodriguez-torres/colombias-peace-process-three-challenges">Colombia&#039;s peace process: three challenges</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/ivan-briscoe-timo-peeters/back-to-basics-for-colombias-rebels">Back to basics for Colombia&#039;s rebels</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/daniel-kovalik/deadly-wages-of-%E2%80%9Cfree-trade%E2%80%9D">The deadly wages of “free trade”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/QuietRevolution">A quiet revolution: drug decriminalisation policies in practice across the globe</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Colombia Juan Gabriel Tokatlian Conflict in Context: Colombia Security in Latin America and Caribbean Peacebuilding Wed, 02 Jul 2014 09:21:01 +0000 Juan Gabriel Tokatlian 84171 at Nepal's Truth and Reconciliation Commission: revised, but revitalized? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Nepali citizens have long been denied justice, but continued civil society pressure on the new, long-delayed Constituent Assembly will hopefully improve parliamentary efforts to give the dragging peace process and long-awaited Truth and Reconciliation Commission some resolution.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>In January 2014 Nepal’s Supreme Court passed a directive to restructure the still unestablished Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), most importantly prohibiting potential amnesties for serious crimes. Over seven years since the decade-long civil war, this represented some hope for tired Nepalis to finally end impunity for war-time crimes.</span></p> <p>However, <a href=";news_id=71375">criticism</a> at the 110th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in March 2014 nearly 3 months later illustrates continuing <a href="">slow</a> progress in the reforms, and demonstrations and hunger <a href="">strikes</a> reflect victims’ deep <a href=";NewsID=409723">frustration</a> with this stalling. In April, TRC legislation was finally voted through the Constituent Assembly, but controversy remains. </p> <h2><strong>History of violence</strong></h2> <p>Following the war, the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) <a href="">provided</a> for a TRC. This has, however, been long delayed by <a href="">political power struggles</a>, and military and political leaders’ reluctance to open their war-time pasts to scrutiny. Post-war transition has been slow and shaky, and prospects looked even bleaker with the Constituent Assembly’s dissolution in early 2012, after running out several extensions of its mandate to draft a new constitution. November 2013’s successfully-held Constituent Assembly elections, though, and the fresh parliamentary composition, are hopefully the basis for progress in transition and development.</p> <p>During the war an estimated <a href="">17,800</a> died according to Nepal’s government, hundreds were forcibly <a href="">disappeared</a>, and thousands more suffered injury, torture, and rape. Civilians were <a href="">targeted</a> with extrajudicial killings and torture by both state security services and rebels, in battles and repression of enemy support. Unfortunately, corruption and torture in detention <a href="">continue</a> to be serious post-war problems among the police, army, and party cadres. </p> <p>While the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army has since been <a href="">dissolved</a>, the Nepali Army remains, and has changed <a href="">little</a> since the undemocratic monarchist regime save for its name losing ‘<a href="">Royal</a>’. The military was under monarchist control during the war, and helped to suppress the 2006 Jana Andolan II mass popular protests against the last king Gyanendra’s autocratic and militaristic rule. It has long faced calls to <a href=";NewsID=254955">democratize</a> and ‘<a href="">right-size</a>’. It lacks a culture of accountability and has been resistant to <a href="">changes</a> outlined in the CPA, including down-sizing and establishing a TRC.</p> <p>Numerous post-war politicians, particularly those in war-time positions of power on either side, have been similarly slow to act, and have even used broad discretionary powers in transitional legislation to interfere in investigation, essentially avoiding effective prosecution. This lack of progress has been exacerbated with parties’ power-play and their apparent wariness of antagonizing the military.</p> <p>A successful TRC depends on the <a href="">cooperation</a> of military figures and politicians, especially from either Maoist party – UCPN-M or CPN-M – who likely fear their own investigation. Despite some judicial counter-efforts, successive post-war governments have <a href="">withdrawn</a> hundreds of cases, including many murder charges, often on the basis that security personnel were “acting in good <a href="">faith</a>”, especially with politically-affiliated individuals. </p> <p>The lack of <a href="">any</a> effective prosecution of war-time crimes is a major injustice to victims, and this impunity could potentially cause serious unrest and undermine Nepal’s fragile transition towards stronger democratic institutions.</p> <h2><strong>Supreme Court safeguard</strong></h2> <p>In March 2013 <a href="">controversial</a> TRC legislation was <a href=";id=18&amp;lang=en">opaquely</a> pushed through. It merged the TRC and disappearance commissions and, despite CPA and international <a href=";Cr=Nepal&amp;Cr1=#.UwP7r4UqL1U">legal</a> obligations, gave wide <a href="">scope</a> for arbitrary decisions on amnesty even for serious crimes. The Supreme Court suspended it two weeks later, <a href="">responding</a> to wide civil society <a href="">criticism</a> and <a href="">petitioners</a> demanding public consultation and restriction of amnesty powers.</p> <p>The January 2014 Supreme Court <a href="">ruling</a> then fully overturned this legislation. This limited amnesty provisions, separated the TRC and disappearance commission to ensure their effective implementation, made suspected human rights violators ineligible for commission appointment, and reduced the politically-appointed Attorney General’s discretionary power to decide on prosecution. </p> <p>These were important decisions for transitional justice and independent investigation, and their passing early in the new Constituent Assembly’s tenure put the long-neglected issue into fresh focus. Civil society, <a href=";news_id=71838">legal</a> professionals, and victims’ <a href="">groups</a>, have also made repeated public <a href="">demands</a> for truth and justice, and maintained pressure with <a href="">protests</a> and efforts to <a href="">record</a> testimonies of abuses.</p> <h2><strong>Political obstruction</strong></h2> <p>Legislation to establish a TRC and Commission for Inquiry of Disappearances was <a href=";NewsID=412873">voted</a> through on 25 April, although <a href="">opposed</a> by some <a href="">smaller</a> parties. Nepali and international rights groups widely <a href="">criticized</a> it for having effectively just lightly <a href="">reworked</a> the version <a href=";NewsID=412220">already</a> rejected by Nepal’s Supreme Court, and quickly <a href=";news_id=73214">demanded</a> that it be significantly amended and <a href=";NewsID=413026&amp;a=3">made</a> "victims-friendly". Some <a href=";news_id=73533">changes</a> were included, but were insufficient, and even largely <a href=";news_id=73210">disregarded</a> the recommendations of the government’s own taskforce. The bill separated the TRC and disappearance commission, but still failed to address vague wording allowing high discretion on <a href="">amnesties</a> even for <a href="">serious</a> crimes. </p> <p>UCPN-M Maoists have often called for a TRC, but with amnesty provisions. While electorally weakened after November 2013 polls, the UCPN-M can still dissent to hinder comprehensive investigation, and in mid-April it <a href=",-govt-tables-trc-bill.html">stalled</a> the Constituent Assembly over the prosecution of Maoist cadres in regular courts outside of the TRC. The hardliner splinter-party CPN-M is relatively small but <a href=";news_id=71752">could</a> cause public disruption or use intimidation if members feel threatened. With upcoming local-level <a href="">elections</a> this year parties could work on this issue to gain support but, unfortunately, other parties have also previously resisted comprehensive TRC legislation.</p><p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// maoist.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// maoist.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A fragile peace: Maoists protested following the resignation of former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" in 2009 after his move to fire Army Chief General Rookmangud Katawal<span>&nbsp;was opposed by President Ram Baran Yadav. Katawal was fired for refusing to integrate former Maoist rebel soldiers into the regular army, a key part of a 2006 peace deal that ended a decade of civil war.</span></p> <p>Some politicians repeatedly emphasize the paramount importance of reconciliation and national unity. This is undoubtedly necessary for transition and durable peace, and victim support must be addressed alongside investigation. However, reconciliation must not be used as a screen for impunity for serious crimes, undermining <a href="">participatory</a> truth-seeking, reparations, and rule of <a href="">law</a>. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2>Challenging a culture of impunity </h2> <p>The transition has not yet overcome a deep culture of impunity, despite pressure on political and military leaderships. International criticism is <a href="">rejected</a> by some as foreign <a href=";news_id=72706">interference</a>, but claims of threatened sovereignty appear as a rather transparent attempt to dodge accountability, especially with heavy criticism from <a href=";news_id=73214">domestic</a> rights and victims <a href="">groups</a>, and even <a href="">scepticism</a> from some members of the largest three parties. Furthermore, the military, sometimes directly <a href="">contravening</a> Supreme Court orders, has continued to be criticized for <a href="">shielding</a> and even promoting personnel accused of crimes, while <a href="">reportedly</a> punishing those taking positive steps towards investigation. </p> <p>Military figures may exert pressure on politicians to weaken investigation, but with public pressure visibly against this, this influence may be gradually tempered. Similarly, they lack the international support of past years, and accusations of human rights abuses and <a href="">endemic</a> impunity continue to taint the military’s image. In January 2013, the UK <a href="">detained</a> Colonel Kumar Lama on war-time <a href="">torture</a> charges, meeting criticism from Nepal’s military and government but <a href="">praise</a> from human rights campaigners. Indeed Sheila Varadan, an International Commission of Jurists advisor, <a href="">warned</a> that “there will be more Lamas” if Nepal does not legally reform to address war-time crimes.</p> <p>After over seven years of slow progress, political and military figures who continually hinder truth-seeking, against vocal criticism from Nepali and international civil society, are likely to lose further popular credibility. A seriously flawed transitional justice process would only worsen existing socio-political tensions, and could also damage Nepal’s image globally or threaten international aid and assistance. Participation in UN <a href="">missions</a> could be restricted, to which Nepal has contributed significantly and which are sources of army <a href="">funds</a>, and personnel may avoid such international trips if they risk <a href="">criticism</a> or detention.</p> <p>Under the monarchy’s militarist system the army was powerful, important for cooperation with influential <a href=";context=himalaya">India</a>, and little troubled by accountability. Since the war, having defended the defunct monarchy, repressed Jana Andolan II, and been subjected to demands for democratization and investigation, the military would invite further criticism and isolation if they continue to indefinitely resist accountability. Nepali citizens have long been denied justice, but continued civil society pressure on the new, long-delayed Constituent Assembly will hopefully improve parliamentary efforts to give the dragging peace process and long-awaited TRC some resolution.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/juli%C3%A1n-barajas-tamara-cremo-tour%C3%A9-issoumaila-prativa-khanal-ghada-louhichi-elsa-saade/t">Truth is the legacy we want</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/leena-rikkila-tamang/nepal-constitutional-impasse">Nepal, a constitutional impasse</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/meenakshi-ganguly/nepal-wrong-trail-right-track">Nepal: wrong trail, right track</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/manjushree-thapa/nepal-containing-maoists-handling-india">Nepal: Maoists&#039; lock, India&#039;s door</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-volodzko/modern-rise-of-nazi-chic">The modern rise of Nazi chic</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openSecurity openSecurity Liam D. Anderson Security in South and Central Asia Peacebuilding State violence Transitional Justice Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:10:19 +0000 Liam D. Anderson 83716 at