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  • Author: Robin Wright, Garrett Nada
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either. More than 120 million people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have experienced successful uprisings that ousted four leaders who together ruled a total of 129 years. But more than half of the Arab world's 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all. Defining a new order has proven far harder than ousting old autocrats. Phase one was creating conditions for democracy. Phase two is a kind of democratic chaos as dozens of parties in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia do political battle (and in some cases physical battle) over constitutions. Ancien regimes have not totally given up, as in Yemen. The cost of change has exceeded even the highest estimates, as in Syria. So most Arabs are probably disappointed with the “Arab Spring” for one of many reasons. Nevertheless the uprisings were never going to happen in one season. This is instead only the beginning of a decades-long process—as most in the West should know from their own experiences.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Post Colonialism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: William Byrd
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan has sizable underground mineral resources, which have potential positive economic impacts but also possible downsides—the so-called “resource curse” often involving negative macroeconomic, developmental, fiscal, governance, political and conflict effects. The success of the broader political transition in coming years as well as regional geopolitical factors will have a major influence on prospects for Afghanistan's underground resources. For “mega-resources” such as the Aynak copper and Hajigak iron deposits, the Afghan government has conducted credible tendering to ensure that contracts with foreign companies are on favorable terms for Afghanistan. Good-practice approaches for mega-resources should continue and be further strengthened, but there will probably be further delays in exploitation, and realization of potential will take much time. Exploitation of other largish and medium-sized resources may involve joint ventures with politically-connected Afghan firms and deals with local strongmen, or sometimes criminal networks with linkages to corrupt officials and insurgents. Spreading patronage can reduce short-run conflict risks, but there are risks of corruption, and conflicts could arise over time. For these resources, priorities include transparent contracting and clarity about ownership of companies; setting basic financial parameters for different resources (e.g. royalty rates) to reduce the risk of overly favorable arrangements for extracting entities; and addressing criminal elements and associated corruption. For smaller, concentrated, high-value resources (notably gemstones), informal exploitation using crude techniques is typically combined with illicit export trade, and local strongmen are involved, which can mean periods of stability but also conflicts when bargains are reopened or new actors get involved. The way forward for these resources includes gradually improving and regularizing the framework; setting low royalty rates to encourage formalization of existing activities rather than leasing resources to outsiders; technical assistance to promote more effective extraction; and encouraging processing and value addition within Afghanistan. Finally, further analytical work is required to better understand the political economy and conflict ramifications of mining in Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Political Economy, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Jennifer M. Keister
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A recent framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaves much yet to do in building peace in Mindanao, but does offer an opportunity for careful progress. Many of the problems that have plagued previous agreements in Mindanao's 40-year conflict still exist. The international community has an opportunity to support progress and avoid a repeat of previous agreements' disappointments. Careful foreign aid policies that empower locals and do not foster competition can be critical in building peace in Mindanao.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Armed Struggle, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Philippines
  • Author: Jonas Claes, Valerie Rosoux
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since 2007, Belgium has displayed a rather surreal degree of political chaos. Belgian politicians have provoked three cabinet resignations, 24 “royal” mediators, and more than 420 days of coalition formation. With the rise of Flemish nationalism and intercommunal tensions, the country seems to suffer from an intractable ethno-linguistic conflict. The maximum degree of reform Walloon parties can settle with is by far insufficient to Flemish nationalists, whose package of demands is considered unacceptable in Wallonia. One way forward is the creation of a nation-wide electoral district for federal elections in which every Belgian, regardless of residence, can vote for Flemish and Walloon candidates.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Education, Peace Studies, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Europe, Belgium
  • Author: Brian Rose
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The 2011 Conference on Disarmament (CD) began contentiously when Ambassador Zamir Akram, Pakistan\'s permanent representative to the United Nations, criticized United States\' support of India\'s membership in export organizations that would allow it to engage in nuclear trade. Pakistan believes such membership would further favor India and accentuate the asymmetry in fissile materials stockpiles of the two states. Strategic and security concerns drive Pakistan\'s commitment to block negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty. Progress during the CD seems unlikely if the United States and Pakistan remain entrenched in their respective positions.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, India, Asia
  • Author: Leonard S. Rubenstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: During the 1990s, economic mismanagement, political oppression, natural disaster, and loss of external subsidies after the end of communism led to a calamitous decrease in food production in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The public health infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, drug distribution and supply chains, and local clinics and hospitals, also deteriorated. At least half a million people died of starvation and millions more suffered acute or chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition increased vulnerability to disease at a time when the health system was incapable of effective response. Fifeen years later, neither health nor the food systems have recovered as the economy persistently stagnates. Health continues to be a low priority for the government. The availability of food is insufficient to meet population needs, hospitals and clinics are significantly ill-equipped, the medical workforce lacks appropriate training, and corruption in drug distribution is pervasive. Malnutrition and anemia, as well as diseases associated with poor sanitation, remain widespread. Over the last few years, DPRK has begun to accept international assistance to address health system needs, most notably to vaccinate children. Although these initiatives address some infrastructure needs, the continued centralized control of health and the lack of open discussion about key issues renders the possibility of reforms sufficient to meet the health needs of the people of North Korea dim. During the economic crisis, tens of thousands of North Koreans migrated to China despite harsh measures imposed by both governments to restrict border crossing and a refusal by China to give legal status to the migrants. To a limited extent, migration ameliorated the health impact of the crisis by stimulating illicit cross-border trade and informal markets that increased some North Koreans' access to food. Even after a disastrous effort by the DPRK government to shut the markets down in 2009, they are re-emerging. China's encouragement of these markets, along with regularizing the status of migrants in China, could advance its own economic interests as well as contributing to improving the health of North Koreans.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics, Health, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Israel, North Korea
  • Author: Theo Dolan, Alexis Toriello
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Salam Shabab (Peace Youth) is a unique reality TV series filmed in Iraq that brought together youth from six provinces of Iraq to compete for a chance to become youth “Ambassadors of Peace.” The views of young Iraqis participating in Salam Shabab, along with new surveys on youth perspectives, have begun to create a potential profile of the next generation of Iraqi leaders. Many Iraqi youth express conflicting views on politics and youth participation in Iraq. They are disappointed about not having their voices heard by political and civil society leaders, yet optimistic about their role in shaping the future of their country. Iraqi teenagers express tremendous pride in their local communities, which they associate with peace, unity and coexistence. Yet, the same youth often cannot clearly define what national identity means to them. Regarding their perceptions on building peace, Iraqi youth indicate that peace in Iraq can be achieved through unifying factors such as cross-cultural dialogue. According to them, the similarities among diverse people are more powerful in building peace than their differences. If given the opportunity, a vast majority of Iraqi youth are willing to take on a peacebuilding role, in part by connecting with other youth in Iraq and internationally.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Nina Sudhakar
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Gender is often used synonymously with the study of women. This narrow approach overlooks the relational quality of gender and fails to include masculinity issues in analysis and research, which can have important bearing on policy interventions. Taking a more inclusive view of gender roles in conflict, which also recognizes that these roles are dynamic, can lead to more informed research strategies and more productive policy interventions. To effectively combat instances of extreme gender violence, such as the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, a more nuanced understanding is needed of the actors involved. Instead of being passive actors during conflict, women may be combatants or direct participants in sexual violence. Examining the motivations, belief systems and internal dynamics of armed combatants can provide insight into the origins of sexual- and gender-based violence in conflict. Rather than representing an isolated event, sexual- and gender-based violence during conflict can perhaps best be viewed as a point along a continuum. In the postconflict period, damaged social and economic systems may contribute to the disempowerment of men seeking to return to traditional or customary roles. Coupled with the enduring impacts of trauma, the threat of emasculation can result in high levels of violence within the household environment.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Gender Issues, Peace Studies, Peacekeeping
  • Author: Patricia Gossman
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan public, along with the international community, appears increasingly supportive of opening negotiations with the Taliban to end the war. The Karzai administration also supports this, as reflected by the June 2010 Peace Jirga held in Kabul and the 70-member High Peace Council that was formed thereafter. In spite of the talks, no one in Washington or Kabul has clarified what reconciliation means in practice, particularly with respect to accountability for abuses that occurred during the rule of the Taliban as well as those that occurred when rival factions fought with each other before the Taliban came to power. On November 10, 2010 representatives from Afghan and international NGOs, as well as the UN, gathered for a one-day Conference on Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice in Kabul to revitalize public discussion on peace and reconciliation among the government of Afghanistan, the international community, and Afghan civil society. The discussions revealed a troubling disconnect between the High Peace Council and Afghan civil society representatives who strongly criticized the Council\'s inclusion of former militia leaders among its members, the lack of transparency in its activities, and the lack of clarity in its objectives. These criticisms indicate that for a peace process to have broad, popular support, the Afghan government and the international community must make greater efforts to engage local leaders in a dialogue and account for the interests of communities and interest groups that are not represented in the High Peace Council.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Brooke Stedman
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In the wake of Haiti's disastrous earthquake, international organizations have begun to recognize gender-based violence as a significant area of concern, particularly within Port-au-Prince's internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Other forms of gender-based violence include not only rape, but also sexual abuse. Sexual violence is often underreported or not reported at all. This lack of data can prevent accurate assessments of rates of violence or trends. Grassroots organizations are working to reduce and better document sexual violence and to establish local mechanisms for increasing security throughout Haiti's tent encampments.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Health, Natural Disasters