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  • Author: Emily J. Munro
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Prevention strategies warrant more attention and can be a framework to apply to situations with different levels of urgency. The cases of the Arctic, the Sahel and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the value of prevention strategies in diverse ways. Anticipation is closely linked to prevention, and we should do more to understand how the future may unfold, and then act on the findings to help us to prevent crises and conflict. The interaction of issues often lies at the centre of the policy challenges we face today. It is necessary to unpack these interactions in order to strengthen our responses. Surprises cannot be entirely avoided, but we should place more emphasis on considering the implications of crises and ensure better integration of our approaches across the short, medium and long term.
  • Topic: Crisis Management, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Sahel, Arctic, Global Focus
  • Author: Tobias Vestner
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Human shields are increasingly used in modern conflicts, exposing civilians and other protected persons to high risk of death and injuries. Using human shields is a violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and customary international law. Armed forces confronted with human shields are faced with the dilemma between causing civil casualties that may undermine the legitimacy of their operations and refraining from attack which results in military disadvantages. To address the use of human shields, the respective normative framework and the enforcement of the prohibition could be strengthened. Strategic communication could also be deployed to delegitimize the use of human shields. Thematic engagement among states and with armed non-state actors could further prevent the use of human shields. Operational and tactical measures to circumvent human shields could further support states engaged in military operations and prevent incidental harm to civilians. Any action to address the use of human shields should be coordinated among states and international organizations.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Law, Civilians, International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fleur Heyworth, Catherine Turner
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The number of civil wars tripled in the decade to 2015. In this context, mediation is widely recognised as a critical tool for promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, and for conflict prevention and resolution. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has made mediation a strategic priority, stating in his latest address to the Security Council that “innovative thinking on mediation is no longer an option, it is a necessity.” i In addition, regional organisations including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) are also increasing their mediation capacity. It is also increasingly recognised that those who lead high-level mediation processes need to be more representative of diverse stakeholders who bring different perspectives and experiences. Increasing the diversity of mediators is important, because the experience of the mediator will determine how they assess the relative priority of issues in the peace process, and how they are able to connect across tracks to lead inclusive processes. The barriers to inclusion of people with diverse backgrounds are highlighted by the lack of representation of women: this specific field is recognised as one of the most ‘stark and difficult to address gaps’ in achieving gender parity.ii As stated by Mossarat Qadeem, the exclusion of women is not about culture, it is about power.iii A gendered lens helps us to identify the processes, biases and barriers which contribute to the marginalisation and exclusion not just of women, but of all stakeholders who should be at the peace table.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Leadership, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tobias Vestner
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Arms Trade Treaty and the Wassenaar Arrangement both seek to address the challenge posed by unconstrained transfer of conventional arms but differ in structure and approach. There are opportunities for synergies furthering the regimes’ common purpose. States members to both regimes can accentuate and interweave the strengths of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Transferring cutting-edge standards on export controls from the Wassenaar Arrangement to the Arms Trade Treaty would bolster the Arms Trade Treaty and foster global harmonization between exporting and importing countries. Political momentum on certain issues within the Arms Trade Treaty process may benefit the Wassenaar Arrangement’s further development. A derivative of the Wassenaar Arrangement’s regular ‘General Information Exchange’ on regions, transfers, and risky actors could be institutionalized within an Arms Trade Treaty working group. Sharing within the Wassenaar Arrangement information, concerns and practical challenges of states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty could make the Wassenaar Arrangement’s work more effective. Coordinating both regimes’ outreach activities, mentioning each other’s work and using each other’s documents for capacity building could mainstream arms transfer controls, prevent perceptions of conflicting standards as well as enable efficiencies regarding national efforts for compliance with international standards.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements, Arms Trade, Exports
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeremy Lin
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) fulfills a critical role in international financial governance as the global standards-setter for antimoney laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). Money laundering and terrorist-financing challenges are evolving, particularly as AML/CFT regimes in developed countries become more robust and illicit financial flows move deeper into primarily cash-based informal economies. Recent political maneuvering by FATF member states to influence the organization’s decisions and global AML/CFT standards-setting has demonstrated that the FATF and AML/CFT policymaking are vulnerable to individual state interests and that the organization’s political independence needs to be strengthened. To more effectively address the above challenges, the FATF should establish an independent oversight function, provide clearer guidance and technical support to countries with deficient AML/CFT regimes, and expand the diversity of its membership.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Monetary Policy, Governance, Financial Crimes
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Chartoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Throughout the late 90s, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda allegedly made numerous attempts to acquire nuclear material from illicit actors. Starting in 2004, Hezbollah has been deploying Iranian-made, military-grade drones for surveillance and engagement. Terrorist groups, illicit organisations, and other non-state actors have a long fascination with advanced weapons technologies. In the early 90s, the Japanese death cult Aum Shinrikyo pursued multiple avenues to develop chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, eventually succeeding in the creation and deployment of Sarin gas. Throughout the late 90s, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda allegedly made numerous attempts to acquire nuclear material from illicit actors. Starting in 2004, Hezbollah has been deploying Iranian-made, military-grade drones for surveillance and engagement. Despite the relative success of less sophisticated weapons, and the substantial expense and difficulty of acquisition for more advanced systems, non-state actors continue to pursue advanced weapons for two significant reasons. For less funded, less powerful non-state actors, advanced weapons substantially increase the scale of the force they can wield against enemies—they promise to “level the playing field”. Advanced weapon systems also offer a significant reputational and symbolic benefit to non-state actors, as the ownership of such weapons confer a status limited to only a handful of powerful nations. States have long recognized these risks, and established numerous arms and export controls to restrict and regulate the transfer of massively destructive weapons. However, international efforts to restrict proliferation of such weapons are currently lagging behind the emergence of new, possibly as-destructive, technologies. In particular, the last few years have marked the rapid development of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Considering their potential to escalate conflicts and inflict massive collateral damage, the international community has long been debating necessary restrictions on the implementation of autonomy in weapons systems, even considering a ban on fully-autonomous systems. However, such conversations have largely been limited to state use. The international community has been painfully slow to address the possible acquisition and use of LAWS by non-state actors.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Weapons , Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Misha Nagelmackers-Voinov
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Long considered a natural partner for peace through economic diplomacy and bilateral trade agreements, business has increasingly become ignored or demonised. The private sector comprises a wide diversity of organisations and is the part of the economy that is not run by a state, but by individuals and companies for profit. Small businesses/micro-companies serve as a good starting point for a conflict resolution process because they often constitute the only form of economic activity in a conflict zone. MNCs have a range of options to respond to conflict, but cannot openly take part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, and rarely become involved officially. Track Two diplomacy is their more likely area of involvement. The United Nations has frequently supported the view that the private sector can be a powerful agent of change. However, the UN still engages only two players in conflict resolution and peacebuilding: civil society/NGOs and armed actors. UN peace operations have never been expressly mandated to consult with business or use its influence to build peace. Combining the resources, expertise and leverage of all possible actors would produce a more formidable force for peace. World affairs would benefit from integrating the private sector into a new UN system of governance; new routes are possible for a truly inclusive approach, recognising the business sector’s positive contribution to sustainable peace through informal mediation and collaborative engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economy, Business , Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus