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Promoting the prevention and settlement of conflicts
Updated: 2 days 5 hours ago

Valji: Gender Equality “Core to Peace and Security”

Wed, 08/07/2015 - 20:45

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Nahla Valji, Officer in Charge of the Peace and Security Section at UN Women, told an IPI audience July 8th that achieving gender equality had a direct effect on the sustainability of peace processes. Speaking at a policy forum considering the Global Study on Resolution 1325, Ms. Valji declared it is imperative “to see gender equality and women’s empowerment as important and core to peace and security.”

Ms. Valji noted that including women in peace processes is about more than just diversity; there is an empirical record of improved results. “We’re now seeing the increased evidence of the correlation between women’s participation,” and, “the finalization of peace processes, the implementation of agreements, and the sustainability of the peace that they achieve,” she said.

The Policy Forum was co-sponsored by UN Women, and Ms. Valji represented the UN agency on the panel. Describing the early findings of the Global Study, she said, “Over the past 15 years, we have built an incredibly strong normative base.” However, she continued, “What we’re not seeing though, is consistent implementation.”

The Global Study, 15 years after its adoption, is a review of Resolution 1325, the landmark resolution of the United Nations Security Council on Women, Peace and Security. It recommends means for the resolution’s full execution in areas such as strengthening the gender architecture of the UN system, and removing obstacles to participation of women in peace and security operations.

Before the panel discussion, participants had met at the UN in small groups, to try to identify synergies with other reports.

Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, the Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN, also a co-host of the panel, opened the discussion by emphasizing it was essential, “to establish the connections between the different topics, to ensure that things are not looked at in isolation.”

To that end, Ambassador Gert Rosenthal brought to the attention of the panel a key interpretation of the High Level Review on Peacebuilding, for which he is Chair of the Advisory Group of Experts. “There is this idea in the United Nations that peace building is something that happens after a conflict,” he said. “In fact, on an agenda of the Security Council, the agenda item is called ‘post-conflict peacebuilding.’ And we think that’s the wrong concept. Peacebuilding can occur before, during, and after conflict.”

Youssef Mahmoud, IPI Senior Adviser, pointed out that men also bore responsibility for implementing Resolution 1325, criticizing “the prevailing erroneous notion that women peace and security is a women’s only issue that can only be addressed by women and understood by women.” Rather, he continued, it must be conceptualized as “a social agenda – an agenda for women and men.”

Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat, commented on the unique value women have brought to her multi-stakeholder consultations for the UN. “I think every regional consultation, something that has been said to us about what is important, it’s actually hope and security,” she said. “And women see things very differently in this sense, hope not just for themselves, but for future generations, for their children. It’s such a powerful message women are telling us.”

Ms. Valji similarly emphasized the need to incorporate women’s unique perspectives and stressed that their voices can even improve early warning mechanisms.

“Women have access to different sources of information, conflict analysis, early warning of conflict in communities,” she said. The Global Study found that women experience greater violence “as militarization and small arms spread in the months before conflict and tensions heighten.” These voices are lost, she explained, but could actually serve “as an early warning indicator, that we can use,” to prevent conflict.

The discussion concluded with the members of the audience posing questions to the panelists. Ms. Mahmood, answering a question about what it would take to ensure women are involved in implementing Resolution 1325, responded by asking her colleague to hold up her cell phone.

With the audience fixated on the device, Ms. Mahmood clarified, “If I had one wish, I would want every woman caught in crisis to have a solar powered mobile phone with unlimited credit, because it’s unbelievable how much information can be disseminated through the cell phone,” she said. “We have to look at the world through the future lens, the world in 2030. How will women have their voice, even when they try to quiet it down? How do we amplify? It’s the power of many working as one.”

IPI Senior Adviser Youssef Mahmoud moderated the conversation.

Watch event:

SRSG Landgren on Liberia in Transition

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 21:00

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Completing three years overseeing the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Karin Landgren reflected at IPI on the progress Liberia has made toward peace and stability, as well as the critical challenges facing the country.

Those years have been consequential ones for Liberia and the UN. During her tenure, the peacekeeping force saw significant drawdown, there was an outbreak of Ebola, and elections were held. The reduction of peacekeepers continues at present, as UNMIL’s mandate expires in a year’s time.

Emerging from war in 2003, Liberia signaled a new direction with the historic election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf three years later. As her term comes to an end in 2017, Presidential hopefuls will need to address reconciliation, security risks, and development.

“Liberia has made significant progress, including in the last three years,” she said. At her arrival, UNMIL had a peacekeeping force of 15,000, which was then reduced to 8,000, and, eventually, its military component was just 3,200.

Drawing upon that experience, Ms. Landgren speculated about the future of the country, as the UN works toward fulfilling its obligation to transfer security responsibilities to national authorities by June 30, 2016, in accordance with Resolution 2190 of 2014.

“Certainly the coming transition from UN Peacekeeping has to be managed very carefully,” she recognized. “UNMIL remains a reassuring presence. There is a real fear of a retreating UN.”

UNMIL’s security responsibilities have been different from other peacekeeping missions, particularly post-conflict missions. Overall, UNMIL’s role has not been to serve as a buffer between chaos and stability. Tasks are more of a supporting nature, such as guarding the country’s two main prisons. Approximately half a dozen tasks managed directly by UNMIL are to be taken over by Liberia in what she called “a staggered fashion” in the coming months.

The Liberian conflict is at a later stage, she said, and the peacekeeping mission serves to shore up national actors ahead of the full transition. “UNMIL has not been the first-line protection in Liberia, with the exception of protection of civilians, where required,” she said. “We have been the back up to national actors. So there has been a steady transition taking place throughout these years.”

This is not the only manner in which Liberia is unique among post-conflict countries. “Particularly for a post-conflict context, this is an environment largely free of political repression, of political prisoners, of extra judicial killings,” she emphasized.

Among the successes she highlighted were attracting $16-19 billion in foreign direct investment since 2005, and conducting a mid-term senatorial election last December, a considerable feat for any country emerging from conflict, let alone one at the center of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, along with neighbors Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“Ebola has also strengthened something in the Liberian national fabric,” Ms. Landgren said, describing Liberia’s “resilience.” Its citizens were even able to draw something positive from the public health emergency, she said.

“Ebola, at its best, called forth extraordinary examples of togetherness and community spirit, and this should not be lost.” She continued, “This is part of what makes decentralization so vital, drawing more of the country into its own governance.”

Noting the criticism the international response to the Ebola outbreak had generated, Ms. Landgren posed a few questions. “How does the world respond quickly to health emergencies?” she asked. “How do you get in quickly to communities, who are the front lines, who need to change their behaviors, often behaviors that are sensitive, religiously driven, dear to them, whether its burial practices or others that we’re talking about, and where there is this mistrust of central government; how do you get right into that inner circle of trust and get the right messages across in a reliable way?”

The Ebola crisis did take its toll on the frequently troubled border with Côte d’Ivoire. Before the outbreak, progress was being made, but unfortunately, that dialogue had to be “put on ice,” she explained. The border between the two countries was closed on the Ivorian side, which was unaffected during the Ebola Crisis.

With impacts ranging from loss of trade to the suspension of refugee repatriation, the border, which remains closed, is “something to watch,” she said. She predicts this will be a key issue in the leadership battles in both countries, with Côte d’Ivoire heading to the polls in October, and Liberia holding Presidential elections in 2017.

By Ms. Landgren’s evaluation, there is much to be celebrated in development of Liberian institutions, as a result of the mission’s support. “We’ve seen positive changes in terms of recruitment, training, capability,” she said. “By the security sector, it is primarily the police.”

However, discussing the national roadmap for the security transition, she highlighted three key areas in need of improvement in the country: resources, management, and public trust.

The lack of resources, in particular for the police force, was made abundantly clear to Ms. Landgren, when she “traveled around saying goodbye.” In the provinces, she said, “they have no functioning vehicles at all.” She said the police force is “struggling to establish a meaningful presence outside the capital.”

A second area where the security sector needs improvement is in management. It will be a challenge to “incentivize good administration and governance within the security sector,” she said, “when the pull of parallel ways of doing business is so powerful.”

The third area she anticipates as a challenge in the security transition will be building public trust for Liberia’s national institutions. Noting that “Governance in Liberia wasn’t strong before the war,” Ms. Landgren explained that transferring the trust developed by UNMIL to national institutions would not be easy because when the UN leaves, the Liberian government will not simply be “building up something that has existed in the past.”

In that connection, Ms. Landgren reminded the audience that Liberia remains a divided society, and a history of social exclusion has created cleavages between citizens and government, as the Security Council recognized.

In her consultations around the country, Ms. Landgren found that “more than one Liberian has told me, bitterly, that every relationship is transactional,” she said, of their opinion of their government. “These are lessons that start early. School children are asked to give cash or give sex for grades.”

These early interactions with national authority figures have real consequences for public trust, she said. “What we’re seeing and hearing is really the shadow system is stronger than the official system. The work they do in school is irrelevant to the outcome. And that their role models can abuse them with impunity.”

One way to address these cleavages will be “developing human capital, which could help level this playing field more,” she said. However, while aspects of the government remain personalized to the benefit of a “small, dominant elite,” rather than systems-based, as she described it, implementing such a policy “has not had high priority.”

For these reasons, economic planning is especially politicized in the country, and without providing economic opportunity for all Liberians, she said, the country is susceptible to relapse into conflict. “We don’t necessarily see the question of economic structure as part and parcel of peace consolidation, and I believe that it is – it must be.”

With its extractives-driven economy, Liberia has consistently experienced high growth rates, but the benefits have not trickled down. Ms. Landgren sympathized with a member of the audience who contended, “Liberia may be experiencing growth, but for whom? Who does it benefit?”

“The expression ‘growth without development’ was coined in the 1970s about Liberia, so to some degree this risks being déjà vu all over again,” she responded. “That is why this area of economic structure is directly linked to stability.”

She painted a picture of the kind of development the country is lacking. “Social services are very weak, as we also saw during Ebola. Growth has been the top priority,” she said. “Investment plans have centered on infrastructure and energy. Justice and security have also had relatively low priority.”

She concluded her answer by again giving voice to the many Liberians she has spoken with as SRSG. “There is discontent, there is resentment, when I exit the SRSG bubble and talk to Liberians about how they understand reconciliation,” she said.

“One common demand has often been ‘feeling part of economic development.’ People want the road to come to their village, they want access to market, and they want jobs,” she explained, citing the responses she received upon asking what would make citizens feel reconciled.

She emphasized that Liberia has done remarkably well for a country emerging from war; but its citizens, especially the youth, remain a risk factor without opportunities from jobs to education readily available. “A country with Liberia’s prospects should be able to do that. This is the wealthiest post-conflict country I’ve ever worked in,” she said. As a result, “it has enormous potential.”

“Liberia itself has defined how to arrive at a shared sense of nationhood,” she concluded. She praised plans for reconciliation already in progress, including the Reconciliation Roadmap of 2012, but lamented that the “activities in the roadmap are largely, if not entirely, funded by the partners.”

Ms. Landgren stressed that ownership of the national reconciliation project is what will enable its success. “What I would hope to see, is more of a push from Liberian society itself, to take hold of these ‘unity’ ‘reconciliation’ ‘accountability’ and ‘justice’ initiatives, and run with them,” she said. “We’re seeing some of that, which is encouraging.”

IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations Warren Hoge moderated the conversation.

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Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes

Thu, 18/06/2015 - 18:35

On Thursday, June 18, the International Peace Institute launched a new report, “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes.” The report examines the challenges and opportunities presented by women’s participation in peace and transition processes; shares new quantitative and qualitative evidence on the impact of this participation; and explores models and strategies for strengthening women’s influence throughout mediated processes.

Click here to view the event video on Ustream>>

Peace and political transition processes provide key opportunities to transform institutions, structures, and relationships in societies affected by conflict or crises. The agreements they produce set out elements of post-conflict planning, map power structures in society, and determine priorities for donor funding, all of which can influence the durability of the peace. Despite these wide-ranging implications, women’s participation in formal peacemaking remains low; according to UN Women, between 1992 and 2011, just 2 percent of chief mediators and 9 percent of negotiators in peace processes were women.

Based on research carried out at the International Peace Institute in New York and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, the report shows how the lag in women’s participation is linked to broader dilemmas in the peacemaking landscape today. Drawing on a comparative study of forty peace and transition processes from the Broadening Participation Project, it demonstrates that when women are able to effectively influence a peace process, a peace agreement is almost always reached and the agreement is more likely to be implemented. The report also features a case study on two distinct peace processes in the Philippines, where an unprecedented level of women’s participation offers lessons on their influence.

Welcoming remarks:
H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations

Panelists:
Ms. Marie O’Reilly, Editor and Research Fellow, International Peace Institute
Dr. Thania Paffenholz, Senior Researcher, Graduate Institute Geneva’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding
Ms. Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute

Moderator:
Mr. Youssef Mahmoud, Senior Adviser, International Peace Institute

Dialogue as a Critical Tool for Peacebuilding: Lessons from Burundi

Wed, 17/06/2015 - 22:31

On Tuesday, June 23rd, IPI together with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN, and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office will cohost a panel discussion on dialogue as a critical tool for peacebuilding, drawing lessons from Burundi.

 

Click here for the live webcast beginning at 1:15pm EST>>

The pursuit of dialogue, as a peaceful alternative to the resolution of disputes, is central to the practice of peacemaking and mediation. Beyond the peace table, dialogue also serves as a critical tool to consolidate peace in societies emerging from conflict. At this policy forum, panelists will explore the theory and practice of dialogue as a peacebuilding tool. How does dialogue intrinsically promote peacebuilding? Where has it failed to prevent the escalation of conflict, and why?

Panelists also will reflect on the use of dialogue in Burundi, from the Arusha Accords in 2000 and the national dialogue process in 2009 to the current political crisis. How have dialogue efforts in Burundi diffused tensions? What can international and regional actors learn from this strategic use of dialogue, whether mediated by a third-party or not? In Burundi and elsewhere, what lasting capacities for peace emerge from dialogue to sustain peace and prevent relapse into violence?

Opening Remarks:
Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations

Speakers:
Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support
Mr. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Burundi
Fr. Angelo Romano, Member of the International Department of the Community of Sant’Egidio

Moderator:
Ambassador Maureen Quinn, Senior Director of Programs, IPI

The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power

Wed, 17/06/2015 - 22:17

On Monday, June 22nd, IPI will host a Distinguished Author Series event featuring Thomas J. Christensen, author of The China ChallengeShaping the Choices of a Rising Power. 

Click here for the live webcast beginning at 6:20pm EST>>

In what is the critical bilateral relationship of the 21st century, China is seen as a rival superpower to the United States, and many imagine the country’s rise to be a threat to US leadership in Asia and beyond. In The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power, Thomas J. Christensen argues against this zero-sum vision, describing instead a new paradigm in which the real challenge lies in dissuading China from regional aggression while encouraging the country to contribute to the global order.

China benefits enormously from that global order and has no intention of overthrowing it. But that is not enough. China’s active cooperation is essential to global governance.  If China instead obstructs international efforts to confront nuclear proliferation, civil conflicts, financial instability, and climate change, those efforts will falter.

The conversation will be moderated by IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations, Warren Hoge.

Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes

Tue, 16/06/2015 - 19:01

Peace and political transition processes provide key opportunities to transform institutions, structures, and relationships in societies affected by conflict or crises. Despite these wide-ranging implications, women’s participation in formal peacemaking remains low. And empirical evidence regarding the impact of women’s participation on peace has been lacking.

The International Peace Institute’s new report, “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes” examines the challenges and opportunities presented by women’s participation in peace and transition processes. It shares new quantitative and qualitative evidence on the impact of this participation and explores models and strategies for strengthening women’s influence throughout mediated processes.

Based on research carried out at the International Peace Institute in New York and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, the new report shows how the lag in women’s participation is linked to broader dilemmas in the peacemaking landscape today. Drawing on a comparative study of forty peace and transition processes from the Broadening Participation Project, it demonstrates that when women are able to effectively influence a peace process, a peace agreement is almost always reached and the agreement is more likely to be implemented. The report also features a case study on two distinct peace processes in the Philippines, where an unprecedented level of women’s participation offers lessons on their influence.

The authors suggest that those seeking to strengthen a peace or transition process by advancing women’s meaningful participation can leverage four key strategies:

  • Build coalitions for women’s inclusion based on both normative and strategic arguments.
  • Establish a credible selection process when deciding who should participate.
  • Create the conditions to make women’s voices heard.
  • Keep power politics and the broader public in mind throughout the process to ensure that broader participation remains a positive force for peace.

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Somalia: The Road to 2016

Tue, 09/06/2015 - 21:42

On Tuesday, June 9th, IPI hosted Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia (UNSOM), and Ambassador Maman Sambo Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, who discussed the future of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the challenges Somalia faces as it prepares for a transfer of presidential and parliamentary power next year.

Click here to view the event video on YouTube>>

Mr. Kay termed 2015 the “year of federalism and delivery.” The first five months of the year have seen progress made on this agenda. Somalia is a country, once mired in conflict, which has progressively better functioning governance, where political dialogue is replacing the rule of the gun, and where violent extremism is being countered. Yet much more remains to be done in the run up to the electoral processes scheduled for 2016.

The event was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser, John Hirsch.

Security Council Retreat Examines Cooperation between Council and Regional Organizations

Thu, 04/06/2015 - 22:26

Regional organizations have been playing increasingly important roles in the maintenance of international peace and security in recent years. In parallel, their interactions with the UN Security Council have grown, presenting new opportunities and challenges for collaboration in advancing peace. How can the Security Council and regional organizations work together more effectively?

As organizations try to keep pace with rapidly evolving international peace and security dynamics, this meeting note offers a practical understanding of the nature of cooperation between the Security Council and regional organizations, such as the African Union, the European Union, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Focusing on the areas of conflict prevention, peace operations, counterterrorism, and humanitarian crises, it provides ideas for enhanced cooperation on different issues relating to international peace and security.

The report stems from the fifth annual Istanbul Retreat of the UN Security Council, convened by the government of Turkey, which council members attended from April 11 to 13, 2014. The Istanbul retreat seeks to provide an informal forum for Security Council members to discuss topics on the agenda of the council.

The following are among the ideas for improving collaboration between the council and regional organizations that emerged from the discussions:

  • Conflict Prevention: Produce a comprehensive overview of the council, UN, and regional organizations’ roles and responsibilities and enhance their joint early-warning efforts and information sharing. Support and develop the conflict prevention role of existing UN bodies, such as the Mediation Support Unit, the Peacebuilding Support Office, before creating alternative bodies.
  • Peace Operations: Rethink funding structures and capacity-building mechanisms to more adequately and sustainably support regional organizations in peace operations, including security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes.
  • Counterterrorism and Sanctions: Build new partnerships between the council and regional actors in counterterrorism, as most current efforts are state-centric. Develop strategies for peace operations that incorporate the interconnectedness of conflict and terrorism when necessary (e.g., AMISOM in Somalia).
  • Humanitarian Crises: Review refugee policy options and develop strategies with neighboring countries, host governments, and regional organizations for a coherent response to inflows of refugees, including capacity development of the host community.

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Securing Education for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Wed, 27/05/2015 - 18:00

Approximately 40 percent of school-age Syrian refugees in Jordan are not getting an education. As the Syrian war has entered its fifth year and humanitarian actors seek to bridge short-term humanitarian assistance with longer-term development goals, about 80,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan are still falling through the cracks when it comes to education.

This new report assesses the state of education for Syrian refugees in Jordan. It finds that despite generous efforts by the Jordanian government, the UN, and nongovernmental organizations to provide quality education for Syrian refugees, five significant impediments remain:

  • economic barriers in the education system and in Syrian refugee households,

    Click to see full graphic

  • legal and regulatory obstacles to school enrollment,
  • educational divides between Syrian and Jordanian students,
  • social tensions in schools, and
  • competing priorities for refugee households.

The author suggests a number of entry points for overcoming these obstacles. For example, improving employment opportunities for refugee parents would create the conditions at home that enable children to be sent to school. This could include granting Syrian refugees limited permits to work in certain jobs where they would not compete with the Jordanian labor force. In addition, easing refugees’ registration requirements or issuing an international document that grants access to basic services could facilitate more regular enrollment in education.

Click to see full graphic

Improved education for Syrian refugees is not just an end in itself, the author argues. While endowing refugees with knowledge that they can bring home when their country is ready to rebuild, better education for Syrian refugees will also contribute to stability and development in Jordan at a time when the host country seeks to remain a source of peace in a volatile region.

 

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Cultural Heritage During Armed Conflicts: International Community’s Duty & Right To Protect

Tue, 26/05/2015 - 18:59

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Diplomats, government officials, religious leaders, civil society and media representatives joined members of IPI MENA’s International Advisory Board on May 26, 2015 to discuss the international community’s responsibility to protect the world’s heritage during armed conflicts.

In a presentation on “The Cultural Heritage During Armed Conflicts: International Community’s Duty & Right To Protect,” a survey on the serious losses inflicted upon major world heritage sites was made by Mounir Bouchenaki, Director, Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH), Bahrain and Special Advisor to UNESCO Director-General For Culture. The presentation was introduced by IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji.

Mr. Bouchenaki detailed the major damage inflicted by radical religious groups to key world heritage sites in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and other MENA countries, including the recent terrorist attack that killed dozens of tourists and nationals in the prominent Bardo Museum in Tunis.

Mr. Bouchenaki said that, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution of February 15, 2015 and the UNESCO Chief Irina Bokova’s appeals to “Unite For Heritage” launched in Cairo last May, it is urgent to adopt and undertake special measures to protect and safeguard the rich and unique cultural heritage which became a target in a number of Arab countries’ theaters of armed conflicts based on extremism, ignorance, and intolerance.

Mr. Bouchenaki added, “At the present time, where extremist groups are distorting the message of the Islam as an argument for erasing the human heritage, the role of religious leaders in the Islamic world is fundamental in order to strongly condemn the destruction of cultural heritage and the illicit traffic of cultural properties.” He quoted the Grand Imam of Al Azhar as telling UNESCO Director General, “Islamic civilization is a civilization of recognition and connection.”

He urged governments, civil society networks, and individuals to work together to protect the world’s heritage, adding “we appeal to the international community to consider damage to world heritage sites and other historical places as a war crime and punish the offenders.”

Hatun Demirer, Ambassador of Turkey, said, “There are many historical monuments and buildings in the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa which once constituted Ottoman Empire territory,” adding that “ Turkey spares no effort to preserve this cultural heritage.”

She denounced “terrorist groups’ destruction of historical monuments,” equating it to “destroying the history and culture of several generations.” She stressed, “We should teach our children the value of our cultural heritage, and this subject should become a part of national curricula.” She called for “strong national and international legislations to end the illicit trade of cultural artefacts.”

Amani Soliman, formerly of the UNESCO Iraq office, said,  “My colleagues and I found that it was increasingly difficult to implement our projects and programs due to the very rigid security measures imposed on UN staff” working in conflict-torn areas. She added, “We had to delegate many responsibilities to local staff and partners. This raised a number of trust issues in an environment as divided as Iraq.”

“To what extent can our efforts be effective?” she wondered.

Fawzi Abdulal, Former Interior Minister of Libya and current Ambassador to Bahrain, expressed regret “that assaults against world heritage sites in Muslim countries stem from misunderstanding and distortion of the religious texts.”  He urged Muslim states to put additional efforts to curb this destructive agenda.

Ebrahim Nonoo, a representative of the Jewish community, said,  “There must be a link between UNESCO and the society communities to promote respect for heritage sites. This linkage needs to have some relevant obligation by groups in society to ensure respect for the sites.” He wondered whether this interaction existed.

Imam Salah Aljowder urged all religious leaders to “devote their sermons and campaigns to promote the protection of the world’s heritage.”  He pledged to devote parts of his Friday’s sermon to the need to protect heritage and decry using Islam in the intolerable destruction of the world’s cultural wealth.

Download participant list

Related Coverage:
Bahrain tops the ladder in helping to preserve heritage sites (24×7 News, May 27, 2015)
Bahrain base for archaeologists…(Gulf Daily, May 27, 2015)
Signs of Past (Daily Tribune, May 27, 2015)

In Arabic:
Al Watan, May 27, 2015
Al Wasat, May 27, 2015
Al Bilad, May 27, 2015
Al Ayam, May 27, 2015
Akhbar Alkhaleej, May 27, 2015

Silencing the Guns: Strengthening Governance to Prevent, Manage, and Resolve Conflicts in Africa

Tue, 26/05/2015 - 18:13

Since independence, African states and organizations have made significant investments in conflict management and resolution tools. So why do some African states and regions remain saddled by conflict and instability? How can African states leverage democratic governance to end wars?

The new report Silencing the Guns suggests that the key to ending conflict in Africa lies in fostering effective governance and creating political and economic institutions that can effectively prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts. Author Gilbert Khadiagala unpacks how and why democratic governance is linked to conflict prevention and management, and provides an overview of landmark trends that have influenced governance in Africa since the 1950s. He shows that not all forms of democratic governance reduce conflicts and examines the ways in which “developmental dictatorships,” corruption, and the privatization of security are posing obstacles for governance and peace today.

To strengthen governance as a tool for peace in Africa, the author offers the following recommendations:

  • African governments and states should prioritize national infrastructures for peace that allow early detection, prevention, management, and resolution of violent conflicts. They should enhance people’s participation in political and economic processes, promote sound and equitable livelihoods, and strengthen Africa-specific strategies for conflict transformation.
  • Regional economic communities should consolidate their current efforts to implement regional collective security and governance frameworks that promote peace, enshrine common democratic values, and foster disarmament and military reductions consistent with regional resources.
  • The African Union should advance implementation of normative frameworks around governance, conflict prevention, management, and resolution, such as the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture.
  • The international community should cut the sources of armaments that have fueled African wars and renew attempts to clamp down on unsustainable arms flows into Africa.

This report is a joint undertaking by the African Union and the International Peace Institute.

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State Formation, Humanitarianism, and Institutional Capabilities in South Sudan

Thu, 14/05/2015 - 23:46

As South Sudan’s fourth anniversary approaches, the fractured state teeters on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe that has left millions in need of aid as a result of renewed fighting in the ongoing civil war. The relapse into conflict has been an enormous setback for statebuilding, curtailing efforts to ensure that humanitarian relief reaches all civilians in need of it.

Through the nexus of humanitarianism and state formation, this issue brief assesses the international humanitarian system’s engagement in South Sudan during the period from statehood in July 2011 to the period immediately prior to the outbreak of the December 2013 crisis. Aside from responding to short-term needs, the author argues that humanitarianism ought to fit into the overall political strategy of supporting the process of state formation.

The report outlines the enormous needs and challenges facing South Sudan since independence, its emerging humanitarian crises, and the response of humanitarian actors and donors. It addresses South Sudan’s unique challenges of state formation and the importance of linking long-term state capacity building to aid delivery.

To advance aid delivery and improve implementation capacity in South Sudan, the author offers the following recommendations:

  • Meaningfully involve government in the design and execution of aid projects.
  • Finance projects that build on existing capacities at the lower tier of administration.
  • Consider direct cash transfers.
  • Raise local salaries to attract talent into the government.
  • Finance public works projects.

IPI_E-RPT-State-Formation-Humanitarianism-South-Sudan

Masoud: Arab Spring Future Will Be as Grim as its Past

Mon, 11/05/2015 - 17:30

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The Arab Spring uprisings failed to meet people’s expectations for bringing democracy to the Middle East because most countries in the region inherited a long history of authoritarianism that inhibited any move toward representative government.

This was the central point of Tarek Masoud’s talk at a May 11th IPI Distinguished Author Series event during which he explained the reasoning behind the new book he co-authored with Jason Brownlee of the University of Texas at Austin and Andrew Reynolds of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform.

The newly released book explains why some of the uprisings that shook the region beginning in 2011 managed to achieve regime change, while others didn’t. But it also goes deeper. Of the countries that overthrew their rulers—Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen—only one, Tunisia, has actually turned into a full democracy.

Mr. Masoud, the Sultan of Oman associate professor of International Relations at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the main reason why Tunisia succeeded is that the small country inherited a tradition of pluralism and internal balance of power that was missing from the state apparatus of countries such as Egypt and Libya.

“We could have predicted how the Arab Spring would end even before it began,” Mr. Masoud declared. “The future of the Arab world is going to look a lot like its authoritarian past—except worse,” he added, noting that “at least during the authoritarian past you had some modicum of state authority that protected people from the kind of Hobbesian war of all against all. Today, we don’t even have that.”

Tunisia, he said, is the Arab World’s only liberal democracy and the only success story of the Arab Spring. “The central obsession of this book is to explain why,” he added.

Mr. Masoud acknowledged that many have tried to tackle this question. But they have focused on the wrong answers, he said, such as the role played by the countries’ militaries, the impact of new communication technologies, or the different grievances that existed in those states. While these factors may address part of the question, Mr. Masoud said, they don’t actually answer it.

On grievances, for example, the Harvard professor said that in most cases these had been there for a long time, and so saying they provoked the 2011 uprisings doesn’t really answer the question of why then.

The same goes for the role played by the military, Mr. Masoud said. Revolutions succeed, the argument goes, only when a professional military decides to defect from the ruling regime. “But of course,” he said, “if you know anything about the militaries in those countries, it’s not at all the case.” Yemen, he said, did not have a professional military, but Yemenis still removed Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. And Tunisia, he continued, transitioned to democracy without the involvement of its military.

“Explaining why Tunisia didn’t have a military coup requires us to do more than just look at the army, because all the conditions for a military coup were actually there,” he said.

The answer, Mr. Masoud said, has to do with the kind of state Tunisians and Egyptians inherited, which in turn explains why their first post-revolution elections went in different directions.

“The difference really rests in understanding what happened among the politicians themselves,” he said. “In Tunisia, the politicians were actually able to come to some kind of an agreement, and therefore avoided the mass protests of the magnitude that we saw in Egypt.”

That agreement was the result of a relatively balanced first election in which the Islamist al-Nahda won 40 percent of the votes. In Egypt, however, Islamist parties gained a total of 70 percent of seats in the parliament. “There was a huge imbalance in the political landscape,” Mr. Masoud said, which “is the proximate explanation for why Tunisia goes one way and Egypt goes the other.”

This imbalance ultimately led to Egypt’s 2013 military coup, Mr. Masoud said, reflecting a political science truth that, in states where power is evenly shared, “the government does not feel that it can be arbitrary, and the opposition should not be revolutionary and irreconcilable.”

“I think this even balance of power existed in Tunisia,” Mr. Masoud said. “The liberal opposition saw that they got a majority of the vote in 2011, so they had no need to be revolutionary and irreconcilable.”

“The liberals in contrast in Egypt did not want another election…. They didn’t want that because they knew that compared to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists—both of whom had large ground operations—they would have a hard time mounting political campaigns, even finding candidates to run.”

When it comes to Libya, Mr. Masoud said the importance of inherited state traditions is even more evident. Muammar Qaddafi’s 40-year rule, Mr. Masoud said, was based on a philosophy of state dismantlement, carried out with the goal of eliminating any challenger to his rule.

“The problem,” Mr. Masoud said, “is that when you then overthrow Qaddafi, you as an ascendant democrat, have very little in the way of a state to actually govern the territory.”

The event was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations Warren Hoge.

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Somalis Are Resilient but Face Daunting Humanitarian Situation

Wed, 06/05/2015 - 21:11

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High-level UN humanitarian officials say that violence and instability make Somalia one of the most challenging environments when it comes to delivering aid, a reality that, however, does not question the laudable level of resilience demonstrated by Somalis over the years.

Philippe Lazzarini, the UN humanitarian and resident coordinator for Somalia, and Edem Wosornu, the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the country, spoke at IPI on May 6th of the high barriers that humanitarians encounter when assisting Somali civilians, all the while praising the perseverance of Somalis in their desire to restore political order in the country.

“Somalia is one of the most difficult contexts to deliver any type of assistance,” Mr. Lazzarini said. “It’s a very complex and fluid situation, and we have to admit that we will never completely grasp its reality.”

The East African country is currently undergoing a process of political and social restoration known as Vision 2016 which is poised to see Somalis holding democratic elections by September 2016, laying the foundations for a democratic, federal state.

Somalia has been in turmoil for the past 25 years, including a period from 1991 to 2012 with no central government. Recently, terrorist attacks by extremists from the al-Shabaab group have further exacerbated the security climate in the country, challenging both Somalis’ reconstruction efforts as well as international humanitarian aid delivery.

According to Ms. Wosornu, there are more than three million Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance, amounting to about a quarter of Somalia’s total population. Of the over 200,000 malnourished Somali children living in the country, Ms. Wosornu said that about 40,000 require medical attention in order to survive.

That said, both UN officials praised the high degree of resilience shown by Somalis in dealing with their situation over the years and praised their determination to build a stable and durable state. But this resilience, they said, needs to be accompanied by support from the international community, particularly in terms of funding for humanitarian programs.

Ms. Wosornu cited numbers from recent years, noting that humanitarian pledges are usually at least partially met. “This shows that people do care about Somalia, [whether it’s] the donor community, member states, or Somalis,” she said. “The key challenge… is to sustain attention” to the response.

The OCHA official also said that as challenges in the country change, so does the humanitarian effort. She recalled a recent episode in which helicopters had to rush assistance goods to an area that had only recently opened up, drawing some criticism for possibly violating humanitarian standards.

“We [knew] that the 30,000 children there [had] not been assisted; you know that they haven’t received polio vaccinations, so why wait and count them?” she said. “We found creative ways of delivering aid in Somalia without breaching or disrespecting our principles.”

But as humanitarian assistance adjusts, it needs to do so within certain boundaries, Mr. Lazzarini said. He mentioned the increasingly larger role played by NGOs and private actors, which are becoming more active when it comes to humanitarian assistance in Somalia, but sometimes pose problems of coordination. This is not a negative development in itself, he said, but it needs to be assessed cautiously.

“We have to make sure that the shift from agency-funded programs to international NGOs is based only on efficiency,” he warned, “and not on the fact that donors or member states do not want to cover some of the costs related to the safety of staff.”

Mr. Lazzarini and Ms. Wosornu also discussed the role played by African Union forces in stabilizing Somalia as well as the effects of regional conflicts on humanitarian delivery in the country.

The conversation was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser John Hirsch.

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2015 Vienna Seminar Examines the UN at 70

Wed, 06/05/2015 - 18:57

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On May 6-7, the International Peace Institute organized the 45th annual Vienna Seminar. The conference debated the fitness of the United Nations at 70 and discussed ways to enhance multilateralism and attracted over one hundred diplomats, military officers, representatives of inter-governmental organizations, students, academics, journalists and representatives of civil society who took part in six sessions on a wide range of topics connected to the theme of how to make the UN more “fit for purpose.”

The seminar began by highlighting that the UN was established in a different era, one that was facing a different set of challenges than exist today. Furthermore, the number of member states has almost quadrupled since 1945, creating greater diversity and complexity. Another major difference is that in the past, most threats to international peace and security came from states, whereas today many challenges stem from non-state actors, transnational networks, or flows (such as money, people, diseases, cybercrime) that do not respect borders.

A wide range of threats and challenges were highlighted, including pandemics, inequality, urbanization, climate change, resource depletion, forced migration, terrorism and organized crime. It was observed that successfully meeting these complex and often inter-related challenges requires states to work together. “There is no alternative to multilateralism,” said one participant.

At the same time, it was noted that the international system–particularly the UN–has not been able to adapt fast enough to the changes brought about by globalization. Nor has it been able to bring peace to a number of countries including Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Ways were discussed on how to improve global governance, humanitarian responses to crises, and peacekeeping.

Concerning health and humanitarian issues, it was observed that it is essential to break down silos, improve coordination, and focus on long-term structural reforms that strengthen national capacity and resilience rather than focusing mostly on short-term, international crisis responses.

It was stressed that issues should not be looked at in isolation. Examples given included the link between weak governance and poor health care (as in the case of Ebola) or the nexus between energy, water and food security.

There was a lively discussion on the risk posed by radicalized youth, and by the Islamic State (also know as Daesh), and why young people join such extremist movements.

The tragedy of forced displacement was a particularly hot topic of debate. According to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, there are now a record-high number of some 52 million refugees worldwide, many of them children living in refugee camps. A warning was given that if their needs are not addressed soon, they will be a lost generation. The specific problem of dealing more effectively with forced displacement across the Mediterranean was also discussed.

A session was devoted to the topic of conflict prevention and crisis management. It was noted that despite the fact that the UN was established, as it says in the charter, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” insufficient attention and resources are devoted to preventing and preparing for crises. The precedent of the UN Preventive Development Force (UNPREDEP) was recalled, and a plea was made for more preventive deployments.

Peacekeeping–a traditional theme of IPI Vienna Seminars–was debated, with a particular focus on how to deal with armed non-state actors, how to make more effective use of technology, the strengths and weaknesses of hybrid missions, as well as the legitimate and appropriate use of force.

Institutional change was also discussed. One participant suggested that Security Council reform should be approached in a more radical way, namely to create regional Security Councils. Another, from the Elders, suggested a more transparent and representative method for choosing future Secretaries-General. Several participants cautioned that it will be hard to enhance multilateralism at a time of serious geo-political rivalries, for example in relation to the Middle East, South China Sea, and Ukraine.

It was also stressed that the United Nations tends to be reactive and that more needs to be done to anticipate and adapt to change.

Some participants cautioned that perhaps we expect too much from the UN. It was also pointed out that there is a serious mismatch between the increased tasks that the UN is expected to carry out, and the pressures for zero growth by some member states.

Carrying on a 45-year tradition, the meeting was co-hosted by IPI together with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and Sports. In addition to marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, this year is also the 60th anniversary of Austria’s active engagement in the UN. The seminar took place in the historic Marble Hall of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Integration, Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Watch the high-level panel, “Is the UN Fit for Purpose?”:

Related coverage:
The U.N. at 70: Is It Still Fit for the Purpose? (Inter Press Service, May 14, 2015)

AU and UN Look for Ways to Strengthen Cooperation

Mon, 04/05/2015 - 16:00

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A group of high-level international diplomats and government representatives said the proliferation of conflicts in Africa points to the need for the United Nations (UN) to rethink the way it works with the African Union (AU) in promoting peace and security on the continent.

This emerged from a May 4th policy forum on the topic of “Advancing Chapter VIII: The AU-UN experience” co-hosted by IPI, the African Union Commission, and the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN. During the event, top AU and UN officials said that when it comes to solving Africa’s conflicts, Chapter VIII of the UN Charter should serve as the main point of reference. However, they also lamented that its text has largely been neglected over the years.

Chapter VIII of the UN Charter states that UN members should “make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies before referring them to the Security Council.” Over the years, the provision has been interpreted as urging the UN to support such regional arrangements in order to help maintain the peace.

“The very simple conclusion is that we cannot do it alone,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. “There is no organization, whether it’s the United Nations, regional organizations, or a government, that can handle today’s problems alone. In today’s globalized, complex world,” he continued, “we have to find solutions together.”

Mr. Eliasson said some of the conflict-mediation tools used so far are no longer relevant because the changing nature of conflict and the rise of new military actors have changed the calculus when it comes to war and peace. Organizations like the UN and the AU, he said, should adjust to this switch and realize that effective conflict resolution can only come through cooperation.

The first step to take would be for the UN to change the mindset with which it operates, he said, going from a vertical to a horizontal approach to regional organizations. “This means [we have to] look at the competences we have, identify the problems, put the problem at the center, and then ask ourselves who can do something about it,” he said, adding that this would ideally lead to an effective division of labor between the UN and other organizations.

The deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, Erastus Mwencha, agreed with Mr. Eliasson on the need for better communication between the UN and regional bodies such as the AU. “Let’s be candid and agree that we are sometimes part of the problem and therefore should be part of the solution,” he said. Africa currently hosts the vast majority of UN peacekeeping missions, he said, and at the various meetings and summits the discussions are always the same, covering the same issues.

“There is a danger that we are either working in silos [or] prescribing the same things,” he said. “We should ask ourselves: Can we be more innovative? Can we be active on the ground? Can we see action?”

Better cooperation in maintaining peace and security is all the more timely, the panelists said, given recent global developments. According to Peter Wallensteen, professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden, 2014 was one of the deadliest years in recent history in terms of battle-related casualties.

“We calculated that last year about 100,000 people died in political battles involving the use of weapons for political purposes,” he said. “Half of those deaths are recorded in Syria.”

The most striking factor behind these conflicts, Mr. Wallensteen said, is how internationalized they have become. “They are not just fought in a territory of one country,” he noted. “[There’s] a lot of international involvement, not only by far away countries but by neighbors”—which indicates that regions are also failing to ensure the peace.

For its part, the AU has been actively involved in conflict management and resolution on the continent, the panelists said. Annika Söder, Sweden’s vice-minister for Foreign Affairs, praised the work carried out by the AU over the past 15 years, noting that the situation now is very different from what it was back then. That said, she also stressed that there are some aspects of the AU-UN relationship that could be reassessed, first among them the issue of inclusivity, especially when it comes to peacebuilding efforts.

“If you do not involve ordinary people, if we do not see to it that there’s an ownership of the processes that we engage in,” she said, “they will obviously not last.”

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To Choose the Next UN Secretary-General, First Create a Procedure

Fri, 24/04/2015 - 22:03

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A coalition of independent individuals and nongovernmental organizations backed by former UN officials is calling for an established process to select the UN secretary-general that would make the procedure open, transparent, and merit-based.

Speaking at IPI on April 24th on “UN Reform: Selecting the Next Secretary-General,” representatives from global organizations, including the 1 for 7 billion campaign and The Elders, criticized the current procedure—such as it is—as outdated, secretive, and lacking any measure of fairness and democracy. The panelists noted how the citizens of the UN’s 193 member states have come to realize the importance this post represents and are now calling for a more active role in its selection.

“People do care, they really get this issue,” said Natalie Samarasinghe, the executive director of the UN Association of the UK. Ms. Samarasinghe, who was representing the 1 for 7 billion campaign, added: “[People] know what a fair selection process looks like, and they are absolutely shocked when they hear about how the UN currently proceeds. No job description, no timetable, no public scrutiny of candidates.”

Panelists noted that the UN Charter grants the General Assembly the authority to appoint the secretary-general “upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” However, they said, over the years the process that has emerged is one in which the Council—and at times only a select number of its five permanent members—decides who that person will be and sends the name to be rubber-stamped by the General Assembly.

“Members of the General Assembly must re-claim the responsibility the charter gives them,” said Edward Mortimer, senior adviser to The Elders on UN reform and formerly chief speechwriter and director of communications to then secretary-general Kofi Annan. “The Elders have called on the Assembly to insist that the Security Council recommend more than one candidate per appointment after a timely, equitable, and transparent search for the best qualified candidate, irrespective of gender or regional origin.”

Recommendations for improving the selection procedure abound. At their core, the proposals call for: appointing a secretary-general for a single, non-renewable term of seven years; providing a shortlist of more than one candidate—including both men and women; identifying a clear timetable with deadlines, including the opportunity for both member states and civil society to hear from the candidates; and focusing on skills and experience rather than geographic origin.

And it is on this last matter that some of the panelists disagreed, pointing to a larger debate currently taking place at the General Assembly.

In response to Mr. Mortimer’s proposal to abandon the geographic rotation system—currently, custom has it that secretaries-general rotate according to their regional origin—IPI Vice President Hardeep Puri said it is important not to understate the role played by regional groupings at the UN.

“In a system which is based on a very thin veil of consensus and broad acceptability, there have to be some rules which govern geographic rotation,” said Mr. Puri, who is also the secretary-general of the newly launched Independent Commission on Multilateralism. “I believe that this regional group [arrangement] is far more important than it appears from the outside.”

This point drew agreement from some members of the audience, including the permanent representatives of Croatia and Slovakia to the UN. According to the current planning, the next secretary-general is expected to be from an Eastern European country.

Vladimir Drobnjak, Croatia’s permanent representative, said the secretary-general’s selection procedure is something that the General Assembly has been working on for some time now. There have been resolutions calling for more transparency, he said, as well as debates proposing a more effective hearing process. But on regional groups, he said, matters are a little different.

“We can debate how they are composed,” he said. “But the whole UN system is based on regional rotation. The Security Council is composed based on regional groups and rotating members, and chairmanship of the main committees is based entirely on regional groups. So,” he continued, “regional groups are not just an auxiliary measure in the system. They are the heart of the system.”

The panelists also discussed the issue of gender balance in the process, now an increasingly topical issue. Jean Krasno, lecturer at Yale University and the City College of New York as well as the chair of the Campaign to Elect a Woman Secretary-General, said that today, 70 years after the UN’s foundation, there can no longer be an excuse for not considering a woman for the post. The UN, she said, has always called for equal rights between men and women, and “it’s time we honor those words.”

“A woman could do everything that a man can do in the office,” she said. “However, a woman can bring the knowledge of being a woman, the sense of discrimination, of vulnerability, and identification with women’s experiences all over the world.” Men can do this, she added, “but not with the same depth of knowledge.”

The event took place on the eve of the April 27th General Assembly debate on the topic, and was moderated by Mr. Puri.

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Evans: Past Nuclear Treaty Optimism Diminishing 5 Years Later

Wed, 22/04/2015 - 21:27

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Speaking on the eve of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans said the global optimism that had characterized the last review five years ago had largely disappeared, leaving in its wake widespread pessimism over the prospects for a nuclear-free world.

Mr. Evans, speaking at an April 22nd IPI event on “Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play,” said the 2010 NPT Review Conference had ushered in an era of positive feeling for those aspiring to a world without nuclear weapons, largely because of the substantial course of action the conference had set and because of the public position US President Barack Obama had taken on the issue at the time. Five years later, Mr. Evans said, a combination of geopolitical shifts and lack of political will had nullified those achievements.

“There have been some rays of sunshine,” he said, citing a framework nuclear agreement with Iran as well as the emergence of a global movement highlighting the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. “But beyond that,” he said, “overwhelmingly the story has been one of paralysis, it’s been one of minimum forward movement, and it’s been one of significant backsliding.”

The UN High Representative on Nuclear Disarmament Angela Kane agreed with Mr. Evans, pointing to today’s “dismal international climate” and “a stalling in the path to a nuclear-free world.”

This negative climate, Mr. Evans continued, is partly due to a drastic change in the way high-level policymakers view these weapons.

“I think the most worrying general development has been the significant reemergence of old Cold War mindsets, an old Cold War reflex thinking about the deterrent utility of nuclear weapons,” said Mr. Evans, now the chair of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND) at the Australian National University in Canberra. A more assertive foreign policy by countries such as Russia and China, Mr. Evans continued, has turned the global debate on nuclear disarmament into a “comfort blanket,” whereby the key arguments questioning the efficacy of nuclear weapons are left unaddressed.

Mr. Evans presented findings from the latest report published by the CNND with assistance from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). According to the report’s findings, dated December 2014, non-proliferation and disarmament are the two areas where the global movement has seen the worst setbacks. On the other hand, in the fields of nuclear security and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, there has been some progress.

The report estimates that there are currently 16,372 nuclear warheads distributed among the world’s nine nuclear-armed states—Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. Of these, four (India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan) are outside the NPT.

On disarmament, Mr. Evans said the key question is how serious these states are about a nuclear weapons-free world. The answer, he lamented, is not at all. “None of the nuclear armed states is committed to a specific timetable for the minimization, let alone the abolition, of their nuclear stockpiles.”

The month-long 2015 NPT Review Conference beginning April 27th could be an important moment for both nuclear and non-nuclear states, Ms. Kane said. “All state parties need to affirm that their national interests are best served by faithfully implementing and remaining in strict compliance with the treaty’s mutually reinforcing pillars,” she said. “Member states must remember that the NPT is a bargain, and progress on disarmament and nonproliferation are symbiotic, because one is simply not going to move without the other.”

Mr. Evans acknowledged that within each country, political and military leaders may have differing views on the relevance of nuclear weapons. In the US, for instance, he said there are a number of senior military officials who favor a dramatic reduction in the country’s nuclear stockpile. But, he continued, there is a big political and psychological component to not getting rid of them, one that in France, for example, is particularly strong.

“The French are actually true believers in nuclear weapons,” Mr. Evans said. “They genuinely believe that they are very important for national pride, prestige, and national security.”

Russia is also a hard case, he said, especially given Moscow’s increasing reliance on Cold War language. This was particularly evident in the context of the Crimean crisis, Mr. Evans added, over which Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to put his nuclear forces on alert.

The Chinese case is less clear-cut, Mr. Evans said, and actually offers some promising signs. “China has right from the beginning not staked too much on its nuclear arsenal,” he said. “It’s always operated on the basis of minimal credible deterrent…. It wants to be able to do visible retaliatory damage if it was ever attacked, but it’s still strongly committed—and I think not just rhetorically but genuinely—to a no-first-use posture.”

The conversation was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations Warren Hoge.

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Syria, Iraq, and Daesh: Regional Complexity and Global Ramifications

Wed, 22/04/2015 - 20:46

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On April 22, 2015, IPI’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) office hosted Ambassador Mokhtar Lamani, a  former UN representative in Syria, former Arab League official, and the former permanent observer of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at the UN, who discussed the origins and evolution of extremist organizations across the Middle East.

At the event—attended by government officials, diplomats, religious leaders, and representatives from think tanks and civil society—Mr. Lamani delved into the complex origins of religious political organizations and their metamorphoses into groups like al-Qaeda and its offshoots, including ISIS.

“Although ISIS is the same organization in both countries, there are similarities and differences between Syria and Iraq,” he said. “In Iraq, ISIS Iraqi fighters amount to two thirds [of the group, while] in Syria, national fighters constitute less than one third. The rest comprises operatives from different parts of the world.“

During the debate moderated by IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji, Mr. Lamani underlined the troubled situation in the six provinces of Iraq that have turned into key incubators for ISIS operatives.  Mr. Lamani said sectarian policies are the main culprit behind the emergence of these incubators in the country.

Mr. Lamani said that when the group began its campaign in the summer of 2014 managing to gain control of a territory as large as Jordan, it took the entire international community by surprise. This pushed the international community to “a reactive attitude instead of a proactive approach,“ he said. In that regard, the group now seems to have the edge over the international community, he continued.

Mr. Lamani also discussed possible solutions to the group’s advance, highlighting the need for a multifaceted response. “A military approach will not lead to a solution unless a multidisciplinary strategy covering the political, social, cultural, and educational needs is implemented,” he said.

The discussion also noted that in order to preserve, reinforce, and protect human rights in the region, international legal standards need to be supported by constitutional guarantees at the national level.

The event was also attended by the ambassadors of Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, who called for immediate action to tackle the acute humanitarian and refugee crises created by ISIS. The refugee crisis, they said, has had a strong impact on their countries‘ economic and social equilibrium.

Enhancing Partnership in Peace Operations Between UN and Regional Organizations

Tue, 21/04/2015 - 18:17

The changing nature of conflict and the emergence of new, asymmetric threats have raised the need for stronger and more effective partnerships in peacekeeping operations, particularly between the African Union (AU) and the United Nations. This is what emerged at an April 21st policy forum co-organized by IPI and the Permanent Missions of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Italy to the UN.

“[These] threats and complex operational challenges require a comprehensive, multidimensional approach and credible response mechanisms to maintain and restore peace,” said Sebastiano Cardi, the permanent representative of Italy to the UN. And this, he said, needs to take the form not only of reaction to crises, but very much of action to prevent them.

Violence at the hands of the Islamic State and its recent killings of civilians across the Middle East and North Africa have further underscored the need for better cooperation in peace and security matters, the panelists said. Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN, said peacekeeping cooperation is essential in that regard. “Capacity building, reliable funding, support for peacekeeping operations, and development of logistical capacity are priority areas,” he said.

Currently, close to 70 percent of the Security Council’s time is devoted to African peace and security issues, said Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Tekeda Alemu. In addition, 87 percent of UN peacekeepers are deployed in Africa through nine peacekeeping operations, a point made by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, who delivered the keynote address. It is therefore essential, the panelists said, for the AU-UN cooperation to become stronger and more efficient.

“Cooperation between the two has been underway for some time,” Mr. Alemu said. “It has been very effective, but there is a need for doing more.” There are important assets the AU can offer, the Ethiopian ambassador said, which, coupled with the work of the Security Council, could provide an important contribution to peace on the continent.

In December 2008, a special AU-UN panel on the modalities for support to AU operations published a report—commonly known as the Prodi Report, after its author, former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi—that highlighted the need for joint cooperation between the AU and the UN. The report made recommendations on how the two organizations can cooperate strategically in matters related to peacekeeping.

“We are hopeful that the Prodi Report will be implemented,” Mr. Alemu said. “It contains a number of very interesting ideas in connection with enabling the AU and the AU Peace and Security Council to play a more effective role in peace operations.”

In his address, Mr. Mulet outlined the practical challenges that peacekeeping missions face on the ground and how these have raised the need for stronger cooperation.

“Peacekeepers are increasingly deployed in places where there is no obvious political track, and carrying out our core mandate, the protection of civilians, becomes ever more challenging,” he said. “This, and the related regionalization and globalization of crises, requires partnerships… where we conduct operations as a joint collective endeavor between the UN and regional organizations, as no organization on its own can offer the multifaceted responses we need.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, Mr. Mulet said, and particularly in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR) where the respective UN missions MINUSMA and MINUSCA have benefited greatly from the political and military support provided by the AU and the European Union.

“Mali and CAR are indeed timely illustrations of the level of maturity and complementarity reached by the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and their peacekeeping partnership,” the UN official said.

Looking at the broader context, Mr. Mulet welcomed the recent announcements of the Arab League and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to develop their own peacekeeping forces.

The forum was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser John Hirsch and constituted the first part of an all-day event that discussed the topic in light of the UN’s 70th anniversary and the ongoing peace operations review process.

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