only search

This week’s editor

Claire Provost

Claire Provost is editor of 50.50 covering gender, sexuality and social justice.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

N Korea food crisis set to continue

N Korea food crisis set to continue. Turkey and Iran to collaborate against Kurdish rebels. Southeast Asia flooding kills hundreds, displaces thousands. Obama announces US troop withdrawals from Iraq. All this in today’s security briefing...

Escapades at sea: sovereignty, legality and machismo in the Eastern Mediterranean

The latest episode of the Cyprus conflict - a dispute over the exercise of sovereignty at sea and the delimitation of sea zones between Turkey and Cyprus - highlights the role of political machismo in the practice of sovereignty, disregarding international law and further undermining prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Revolutionary change in the Arab world: what prospects for Palestinians?

It may be that the era of Palestinian nationalism as it was born, post-1948, is coming to an end. Instead we may be heading in a new direction of unity and common identity across boundaries; 1948, 1967, Diaspora - a form of unity of ‘condition’.

A war on Iran: the delusive logic

The arguments for and against an armed attack on Iran by the United States - or Israel - are sharpening. The increasing tension that surrounds the issue could itself precipitate a conflict that would be far lengthier than its advocates believe.

Can Intervention Work? by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus: book review

It is possible to walk the tightrope between the horrors of over-intervention and non-intervention. Mary Kaldor agrees, while insisting on distinguishing between genuine humanitarian interventions and the War on Terror.

Vietnam, Myanmar foster ties with India, illustrating the art of balancing relations with great powers

The presidents of Vietnam and Myanmar visit New Delhi to strengthen cooperation with India. Kenya launches military operations against al-Shabab in Somalia following the kidnapping of aid workers. The US sends advisors to help fight the Lord's Resistance Army, and a recent poll reveals the Afghan population's perception of the situation in its country. All this in today's security briefing.

Egypt’s souring transition

For the junta, the transition is not and maybe should never be a complete rupture with the old system, inevitably at their expense and a threat to their entrenched economic and social privileges.

Democracy in revolution: the Mediterranean moment

By showing us the possibility of democracy in revolution, they have ignited a revolution in democracy, one that is redefining the meaning of both terms.

Relocation failures in Sri Lanka

The tragic consequence of internal displacement in Sri Lanka and the failure of the government to address the situation will most likely be renewed instability.

A hundred years of bombing: what has it done to us?

November 2011 marks the centenary of a world-historic event. An Italian pilot, Guilio Cavotti dropped the first bombs from an aeroplane on to the oasis of Tagiura outside Tripoli. The development of aerial bombardment was more than just a military revolution. It changed both war and peace. openDemocracy is the media partner for Shock and Awe: a hundred years of bombing from above and this is an invitation to a debate.

Flames in Rome

Riots overshadowing the "Occupy Rome" protests last Saturday showed how utterly unprepared both organisers and the police were for a predictable hijacking of the protests, while the government continues to turn a blind eye to the root causes of the discontent.

From the American Century to a cosmopolitan order

The universal constitutional stepping stones of the twentieth century give clues as to what the form and shape of organizations and institutions should be, globally, but they offer no simple blueprints. These can only be worked out in the process of travel, with fellow travel companions, in dialogue and activities shaped by and consistent with cosmopolitan principles.

Iran's message in a bottle

Allegations of an Iranian assassination attempt to be carried out in Washington has prompted diverse responses and analyses. Here, Arash Falasiri depicts an Islamic Republic fighting for its life in increasingly unfavourable circumstances and a Revolutionary Guard determined to capture still more of the public and economic sphere under the spectre of war.

Tunisia: wasn’t this what we hoped for?

Following the successful revolution of January 2011, Tunisia has begun to rebuild itself. There are many challenges still to be faced however, amongst them the re-emergence of the Islamist movement, Hizb al-Nahda.

Safety from below: is non-state security the way forward?

Many communities in countries torn apart by violence look beyond the state for their protection, to neighbourhood watch groups, civilian patrols or self-help associations. Interest in these non-state providers has risen sharply in the donor community, but can the risks of supporting vigilantes and criminal rackets be contained?

Talking with Khalil: the subtle violence of constant occupation

On a journey to the West Bank, the author encounters one small instance of the broader machinery that Israel uses to sustain its occupation of Palestine. The days of battle are over. Now the Palestinians suffer the indignity of daily humiliations, and the slow and quiet effort to snuff out any dream of statehood

Stay alive: turning around a failing war

A deep strategic rethink is needed to reverse the dismal failure of the war on drugs and gangs, particularly in the way this has been fought across Central America and the Caribbean. Intimate community engagement and integral policy approaches are crucial steps in moving on from the bankrupt iron fist.

Lessons of the hummingbird

In the company of souls departed and souls vibrantly alive, Jessica Horn reflects on the significance of the lives of Nobel laureates Leymah Gbowee and the late Wangari Maathai, and the transgressive power of African women on a mission.

Elections in Kyrgyzstan and the threat of inter-ethnic violence

Tensions in Kyrgyzstan are often reduced to a division between the north and south of the country, and it is widely feared that the upcoming presidential elections will trigger violent conflict. But are the causes of disagreement so simple, asks Elmira Satybaldieva, and is it necessarily true that violence will follow?

Greece’s failed state and Europe’s response

Far more dangerous than the present financial crisis threatening the euro, Greece looks like a failed EU state, which puts at risk the stability of the entire European project.

The people are too big to fail

Stefan Simanowitz spent a week with the protesters in New York, who are allowing themselves to think about alternatives

Grey zones and first families: the reality of everyday violence in Central Asia

Central Asia has gained a reputation for sporadic outbreaks of ethnic unrest and Islamist insurgency. But the popular depiction of the stans underestimates the most significant sort of violence – the struggle of much of its population to make ends meet under regimes that pride themselves on control, self-glorification and the latent threat of chaos.

Fortress elite: criminal revolt and civil resistance in Guatemala

Guatemala’s elite, which has tried since 1996 to engage in politics to ensure that democracy produces conservatism and economic libertarianism, is now expressing some unorthodox ideas. The most radical will say over the dinner table that the answer to the security crisis is more violence.

Iran and America: components of crisis

Washington's charge that high-level Iranian cadres were planning an attack in the United States signals the real possibility of dangerous confrontation between old adversaries.

Inside Mexico’s maze of mirrors

Mexico’s government has led a five-year war against organized crime that has turned parts of the country into sites of atrocious violence, claimed more than 40,000 lives, and generated heated debate over its priorities and preferences. With elections on the horizon, has the time come to correct the errors of this strategy, or is the lobby for war too strong?

Bolts from the blue: method and madness in the West

The Norwegian massacre and the gun attack on a US congresswoman were both dismissed as the work of deranged loners. But instead of signifying nothing, they were extraordinarily expressive of current political life. The author trawls through a host of supposedly pathological murders in the richest societies of the West to find deep and recurring patterns.

Gangs and wolves: violence and vulnerability in a global economy

Forces of globalization provide the link between the areas of extreme criminal violence in poorer countries and the random attacks carried out by fundamentalists in the west. On all sides, economic interconnectedness has brought wealth to some, criminal opportunities to others, and vulnerability to everyone.

A global revolution is under way

It is necessary to find a new system where decisions can only be taken if they have sufficient support from the people to legitimate them. This is why we cannot deny that we have entered into a new era.

Beyond good versus evil: fighting Somalia’s perpetual war

The country has suffered de facto secessions, appalling destruction and humanitarian disasters – but still both the war and the Somali people march on. Can the international community help find a way out of conflict in Somalia, or is it blundering into yet another category mistake?

Chronic violence: the new normal in Latin America

Across Latin America, violence is becoming a perverse ‘normality’, undermining social relations and endangering the prospects for democracy. Reproduced by a complex web of influences, violence is reshaping everyday life, religion, politics and architecture, and has thoroughly outstripped the responses of vulnerable governments and the international community. A fundamental shift is required in the way we understand this phenomenon.

Dante in Karachi: circles of crime in a mega city

Karachi’s astonishing violence is generally ascribed to political and ethnic rivalry. While this may be true to an extent, its roots run deep into the incredibly complex structure of this city of 18 million people, where politicians, criminals, terrorists and migrants from nearby warzones compete for power and survival

Bound to violence: young lives in Freetown

Civil war ended a decade ago, but the huge population of young people in the West African state of Sierra Leone must still learn to turn on the tap of aggression if they wish to survive and prosper.

"Mighty be our powers": peaceful women and the global south

“We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context. Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy.” Thorbjoern Jagland, chair of the Nobel Prize Committee

Killing time in Medellin

After a few years of relative peace under the rule of a mafia boss, the Colombian city of Medellín, birthplace of the first great narco-trafficking cartel, has seen violent crime soar once again. The culprits are from a new generation of urban youth specializing in protection rackets, drug sales and assassinations

Liberia: the post-election challenges

The years of conflict in Liberia have left a heavy legacy and ensured that the return to democracy has been bumpy. This makes both major internal reform and international support for the west African state vital, says Gilles Olakounlé Yabi.

Syndicate content