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This week's editor


Phoebe Braithwaite is openDemocracy’s submissions editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Not the Only Survivor in the Village

Survivors of gender based violence and their supporters can deliver powerful messages for peace, reflects Betsy Kawamura.

Perpetuation and perpetration: the momentum of violence

So many armed men began their lives as victims of loss and grief. So many have gone on to become the source of bereavement for others. Trying to understand how soldiers make this transformation is crucial to understanding how violence is perpetrated in conflict. Jocelyn Kelly writes from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference

Peace negotiations: did you carry a gun?

'If sons are fighting, doesn't it make sense for their mother to help make peace?' Jenny Morgan reports on conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference

Horror and hope meet hand in hand

Blogging from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, Laura Carlsen sees the strength in the women gathered there and voices a collective hope about meeting the challenge of ending sexual violence in conflict.

Making the impossible possible

Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams talk about strategies for change, drawing on their experiences of working for human rights reforms in Iran and of campaigning to ban landmines. (Video)

Guantanamo Bay: the shadow cast over the 'special relationship'

Guantanamo Bay is unlikely to be discussed by Cameron and Obama during the president's first state visit to the UK this week. Yet Britain could use our special relationship with the US to call for Obama to keep his promise, and close the detainment facility

Debating the Libyan intervention: precedents and departures in international humanitarian law

The Oxford University's Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict debate the meaning of the Libyan intervention for international law and whether the UN Resolution 1973 permits the targeting of Gaddafi and the supplying of rebel fighters.

Hopes and expectations: ending sexual violence in conflict

The Nobel Peace laureates, Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams and Mairead Maguire, open the third international conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative: Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict. (Video)

Jessica Horn discusses militarism

Jessica Horn, writer, women’s rights consultant and openDemocracy 50.50 blogger, discusses her thoughts on different approaches to militarism at the Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict conference. (Video)

The pragmatism of hope

Hope may be a rare word in the discourse of realpolitik that frames much official discussion on conflict and security today. It is certainly not counted amongst the quantifiable resources in security or peacebuilding budgets. And yet it is a word that I have heard consistently over the past two days of the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference.....

Pro-democracy activists arrested in Georgia

Staunch former Saakashvili supporters and political insiders take to the streets of Georgia - and are arrested - as protests in the capital Tbilisi continue.

The Arab revolutions and al-Qaida

The democratic wave in the Arab world confirms the emptiness of al-Qaida’s ideology, strategy and rhetoric. The death of Osama bin Laden can be seen as part of this wider process, says Khaled Hroub. 

Prevention is the cure

“There is a reason that international institutions have been so slow to move on this agenda - it is because impunity begins at home!”- Joanne Sandler, deputy director, UN Women. Jessica Horn reports from the Nobel Women's Initiative conference on ending sexual violence against women.

'Wounded warriors': sexual assault in the US military

Sexual violence in the US military is massively under-reported -- when the US Airforce commissioned Gallup to do a poll, one in five serving women said they had been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, and one in twenty men; but very few had formally reported the attacks to their commanding officer - Jenny Morgan reports from the Nobel Women's Conference in Quebec

The mass crime of rape: ending impunity

A group of us gasped when one tiny mother of five, who looked no older than my 20-year old daughter, lamented, “When I think about my life here, I often feel I’d rather be back in the bush with the Lord’s Resistance Army, at least there I had a community". While we are making some progress in fitful efforts at prosecution, we are failing victims of rape miserably, reports Susannah Sirkin.

Understanding ‘Spanishrevolution’

For the last week, Spain has been rocked with its own ‘Spanishrevolution’ - a civil movement which has sprung up to demand deep democratic changes.

Libya: the costs of stalemate

The west's military-political strategy prolongs the war in Libya and gives space to authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region.

(This article was first published on 19 May 2011)

Bin Ladenism: its prospects

The death of Bin Laden, hailed as a victory by the United States and the western world, rued and regretted in some parts of the Muslim world ends a chapter in world politics.

Dire need for child and adolescent psychiatrists in Afghanistan

The number of psychiatrists currently working in the country can be counted on one hand, and psychology and psychotherapy are so underdeveloped as to be virtually non-existent. The situation for the mental health problems of children and adolescents is even worse.

Nepal’s difficult constitutional transition

The resolution of violent conflicts, like the one Nepal has endured for over a decade, cannot unfortunately be a linear, logical and smooth process: its impasses are not of a legal nature, but political.

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Nine

We present the penultimate episode from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

Breaking the conspiracy of silence

"I was 12 years anguish ended when my family left Okinawa after this man had paid me $5 during our last encounter for my ‘services’," Betsy Kawamura

Sudanese women demand justice

The systematic use of sexual violence along with torture, cruel and degrading treatment – such as the common use of flogging - continue to be one of the major security threats and tools of repression targeting women and communities all over Sudan. Amel Gorani reports on those who are daring to speak out

Who do they think they are? War rapists as people

War is social, and examining soldier identity and male bonding may give us insight into how the incidence of sexual violence in war might be reduced, says Cynthia Cockburn

Sexual violence: the healing imperative

How far do our post-conflict reconstruction efforts go when it comes to addressing the trauma and loss that women and girls experience during conflict? Jessica Horn reports ahead of the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference on ending sexual violence in conflict

Sexual violence and war: inevitable?

A key reason for the seeming ubiquity of sexual violence in war is not its inevitability, but the impunity associated with it, says Maria Neophytou

My right, my responsibility

Nairobi Women's Hospital treated more than 300 women who had been gang raped in the aftermath of the contested Presidential election. Speaking from personal experience, Wangu Kanja reports on the challenges these women now face

The Arms Trade Treaty: why women?

It would not be possible to rape women in front of their communities and families, on such a large scale in much of the world’s conflicts, if the availability of small arms and light weapons was controlled, says Sarah Masters

Accountability and justice in Sri Lanka: a new chapter at last?

The recommendations in the Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka provide a good starting point for what should be done to free the country from its cycle of violence.

Is al-Qaeda establishing a small Shari’a emirates in Yemen?

Al Qaeda are trying to make up for the Arab spring in several areas, including Yemen.

What happened to Britain’s wartime know-how?

Senior military figures have called on the British Prime Minster to scrap proposals to increase Britain's overseas aid spending and enshrine it in law. But Britain should keep its promise and go further, restoring the wartime UN to the proper place in its political culture.

Redefining security: human rights and economic justice

Security is impossible without people’s freedom to organize and defend their rights, a cornerstone of the exercise of citizenship. History gives us ample evidence of this, say Lydia Alpizar and Masum Momaya

Women: redefining peace, democracy and security

From May 23-25, women activists and scholars from around the world will gather in Quebec at the invitation of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to discuss 'Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict'. Jenny Morgan and Jessica Horn will be reporting for openDemocracy 50.50

Ocampo targets Gaddafi: will International Criminal Court help end abuse of civilians in Libya?

Libya falls in a category where criminal justice should be sequenced so it does not hamper the possibility of a negotiated end to the conflict. Issuing arrest warrants on Gaddafi and his comrades is an undesirable move.

Africa Centre politics: microcosm of failed democracy

The Africa Centre in London has been a refuge and cultural beacon for four decades. After a secret deal to sell the building was leaked, a campaign was launched to save the Centre reaching across Africa and the diaspora. Yet the people are not being heard, reflecting the failures of democracy in the continent itself
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