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This week's editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Tunisia and the world: roots of turmoil

The uprising in Tunisia is at once a response to systemic inequity and injustice and an expression of the limits of elite control. But to the economic and political ingredients of the revolt must be added the potent if less evident one of global environmental crisis.

New Philippine counter-insurgency strategy fails to address the causes of conflict

A new, purportedly human rights-orientated counter-insurgency strategy has little chance of success in the Philippines if the clientelism of a flawed political and economic system is not simultaneously addressed, argues Mark Dearn

Lebanon: long live the settlement, the settlement is dead

Public opinion is deeply divided in Lebanon after renewed diplomatic efforts faltered in reaching a settlement over decisions of who will be Prime Minister, as well as the imminent Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment

It is right to resist Islamophobia in Britain

Conservative Party Chair Sayeeda Warsi spoke out against Islamophobia and has met with a barrage of criticism from the right and a clear voice of support from a fellow Conservative Peter Oborne. There should be more like him.

One year anniversary of Obama’s broken promise to shut Guantanamo Bay

If Barack Obama had kept his word, Guantánamo Bay would have closed down by this day last year. The continuing existence of the detainment facility is a British, as well as an American, problem - not least because of the British detainee held there for almost nine years without charge.

A party to death

Gabour, Giffords, gangs, guns and self-righteous thugs. The massacre in Arizona is part of a murderous culture, one in which death and violence are a norm and hardly reprehensible. It needs weapons to survive, but also a sentiment of righteous indignation that only a real or imagined support group can offer

Little optimism as Turkey hosts Iran nuclear talks

Expectations are low in latest round of Iranian nuclear talks. US threat to redeploy military forces instrumental in Beijing clamping down on Pyongyang. South Sudan set to ‘overwhelmingly’ vote for independence. All this and more, in today’s security update…

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad' renowned for use of torture

UK government linked to Bangladeshi 'death squad', renowned for use of torture. Eight arrested over mass rape in eastern DRC. The UN votes to increase peacekeepers in Ivory Coast as mediation fails. Nigerian troops ordered to shoot-to-kill in Jos as violence increases ahead of elections. All this and more in today’s briefing...

This week's theme: Human Security in practice

Mary Kaldor’s latest book is The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace co-authored with an American serving army officer, Shannon Beebe and published by Public Affairs. The book was primarily aimed at an American audience in the hope that the actual experience of Iraq and Afghanistan may open up an opportunity for rethinking security. It taps into what is already a wide-ranging debate in security circles. Here, our Human Security columnist introduces a special series of articles commissioned for openDemocracy on this theme


In the end, this is a war about fundamental human justice in almost every conceivable sense of that phrase. The solution, if there is one, will require an international response. From openDemocracy.

Africa: Security and development for the twenty-first century

If the west is to continue to assert that there should be African solutions to African problems - as is so often espoused - then it is the west that must change its security paradigm

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’.
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