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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Why 14 January 2011 will go down in history

Mohamed Ali Harrath is a former Tunisian dissident who was imprisoned and tortured after he set up a Muslim political party in Tunisia and had finally to flee the country. Now he is thinking of making a return visit.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law in context

The misuse of religion by the state and the fragmentation of Pakistan’s political society have both been evident since Pakistan’s birth in 1947, long before Pakistan became the ally of the US and Britain

Assam rebels ready for peace talks

A leader of the Indian separatist group Ulfa indicates he is ready for peace talks with the government. Unconfirmed reports emerge that China has stationed troops in northeast North Korea. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

From geopolitics to human security? - a review

Is the human security blueprint presented in the book by Mary Kaldor and Shannon D.Beebe achievable in a states system or does it depend upon a more cosmopolitan milieu? Andrey Makarychev reviews The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon

Transnational networks and state-building in the Balkans

Informality allows people to change their immediate circumstances for the better, but it locks the state and society in a vicious circle of reproduction of a weak state, promising insecurity for the majority and prosperity for the few

Pluralism: what relevance for Uganda?

As Uganda moves into an intense election period under a multi-party system, Western notions of pluralism appear irrelevant in a context where cultural diversity often results in exclusion, to the detriment of the public good

Trouble ahead in Nepal

While the major political parties are busying themselves in realpolitik, the rest of the country, especially the southern part of Nepal and the hilly districts of west, feel that there is no government to speak of

Post-Wikileaks lessons from the Tunisian ‘intifada’

The real scandal revealed on closer examination of diplomatic cables from the MENA region, is the gulf that separates what US diplomats acknowledge in private and what US leaders say (and do) in public, vis-a-vis democracy promotion in the Middle East

War theater: Black Watch

Rahul Rao reviews the play Black Watch, which has become one of the most celebrated contemporary "war plays" since it first opened in 2006.

Afghanistan: losing the Afghan people

Through in-depth conversations with Afghans in the provinces of Balkh, Baghlan, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, and Nangarhar, a better understanding was sought of both the dynamics of violence at local levels and Afghan, not international, aspirations for the future of their country

Hariri returns to Beirut as Lebanon teeters on the brink of chaos

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri returns to Beirut in the face of opposition demands that he remain in exile. Years of political repression in Tunisia may be at an end as President Ben Ali flees the country. Iraqi soldiers shoot US counterparts, wounding three. All this and much more, in today’s security update…

Messages from Tunisia

What message should Tunisians and the peoples and governments of the Arab world and beyond take from the Tunisian uprising, asks Mohammed Hussainy.

The Iraq surge 2007-2008 – what does Human Security have to say about it?

The multinational forces succeeded in gaining the trust of communities by changing the focus of the mission from the prosecution of insurgents to protection of civilians. This is a significant departure from past practices

Tunisia: Yezzi fock (It’s enough!)

In the end one never knows why it is that social conditions erupt into revolt. More often than not they do not. But still, there are a number of factors which might explain the current unprecedented protests

Tunisia: a moment of destiny for the Tunisian people and beyond?

Abolkacim Ashabi once wrote, "If the people one day decide to live, fate must answer and the chains must break." Bouazizi’s martyrdom may have triggered a popular revival, many now believe, which will ensure that it is only a matter of time before Ashabi’s prophecy is fulfilled.

UN departure from Nepal sparks fears of security vacuum

After four years, the UN peace mission in Nepal will leave the country with an uncertain political and security future. Kyrgyz national commission blames Uzbeks for last year’s deadly ethnic violence. Sudan may be removed from the US state terror sponsor list by summer, officials say. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

A world in breakdown

The events of a single day in three continents are a lesson in the interlocking crises that will define the decade.

The 'problem' with Côte d’Ivoire: how the media misrepresent the causes of conflict

Much media coverage of conflict in the Ivory Coast relies on a familiar explanation of Africa's wars - that they stem from immutable tribal and sectarian differences. Despite religious and ethnic faultlines, conflict in the Ivory Coast is above all political, argues Patrick Meehan.

South Sudan heads to polls amid renewed violence in Abyei

South Sudan heads to polls amid renewed violence in Abyei. At least fourteen dead in Tunisian employment protests. Eta declares “permanent and general” ceasefire.

The dangers of illiberalism call for a pluralist state

Paul Hirst explored one particular cause for the creeping authoritarianism of the liberal democratic state that he identified before 9/11: the worsening crisis caused by the attempt to govern by one community standard in a diversifying world.

Time to revisit Associative Democracy?

Revisiting Associative Democracy, an e-book, draws together the ideas and thoughts of a group of people who met last October to discuss, scrutinise and develop Paul Hirst’s views of Associative Democracy and their current relevance. The editor and seminar organiser gives us a tour de horizon of the ensuing debate to open up discussion.

Renewing democracy through associations

Participants in the Revisiting Associative Democracy seminar organized last October by Andrea Westall and Stuart White in London’s Coin Street Community Centre were invited to read this usefully condensed account of Paul Hirst's normative political theory, published in 2002.

Which human security?

There exist in fact a range of useful definitions, some of which are deployed by governments already, that could serve a far greater number of vulnerable human beings. A more rounded application of human security would have identified the international system as a domain that needs to be rendered ‘safe’.

Al-Sadr returns to an uncertain and unstable Iraq

Ranj Alaaldin explores the significance of Muqtada al-Sadr's return to Iraq for the nation's politics, and the US and Iranian stakes in the country.

Ouattara calls for West African intervention force to remove Gbagbo

President-elect Alassane Ouattara has called for a West African intervention force to remove Laurent Gbagbo from power in Ivory Coast. Women face an increased risk of sexual violence in post-quake Haiti, says new Amnesty report. Police kill two protestors and detain opposition leaders in Arusha, Tanzania. All this and more in today's Security Briefing.

A new military paradigm

A near-decade of global war since 9/11 highlights the urgent need for revision of Washington’s military-led global strategy. A fresh analysis offers the ingredients for change.

The risks of mayhem in Italy

Against background mutterings about global anarchism and agents provocateurs, Italian students protest against Italy’s university reform bill

Remnants of a Greek past, image from the future

The tendency to deflect all discussion of protest and resistance onto the issue of violence is also misleading when it comes to assessing the track record and future prospects of Greek anarchism

4-Star Wars: flashpoint in Kyrgyzstan

Supplying fuel to the American government to keep military planes running into Afghanistan is a lucrative business. Involving as it does politics and politicians in desperately poor Kyrgyzstan, it is also a highly controversial one. Nick Kochan writes on the fuel contracts that have come to be viewed as issues of sovereignty for the new Kyrgyz government

Breaking our promise to Haiti

The Haitian government’s handling of the situation has been spectacularly poor. But the international aid sector's record has also been dismal.

Sri Lanka prohibits UN war crimes investigation

Sri Lankan officials forbid the UN from conducting an independent investigation into alleged war crimes in that country. A new report claims that 57 journalists were killed around the world in 2010; 25% fewer than last year. All this and more in today's security briefing.

The SWISH Report (17)

What is the condition of al-Qaida, and what are its prospects in 2011 and beyond? The movement commissions the well-regarded SWISH management agency to deliver a further independent evaluation, to which openDemocracy has exclusive access.

The year in security

openSecurity's briefings team highlight a selection of security developments from the past year and the clues they hold for 2011.

The human organs of the Council of Europe: there is no evidence in the Marty report

Dick Marty's report to the Council of Europe reflects the unfortunate politicisation of that body by Russia since accession in 1995. Kosovan politics is not clean, but there is no evidence of organ trafficking by Thaçi. And Marty's judgement is clouded by his anti-American instincts. Christophe Solioz disagrees here

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