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  • Author: Pieter Feith
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Even though the first contacts between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) had already taken place before the December 2004 tsunami struck, the disaster consolidated the political will to leave old grievances behind and join forces in the reconstruction process and the creation of a sustainable future for the people of Aceh. The determination of both parties, considerable pressure from Aceh's people, and significant support from the international community helped ensure a solution to the thirty-year armed conflict with dignity for all. The Aceh Monitoring Mission was the first European Security and Defence Policy operation in Asia and was conducted with five participating states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The European Union (EU) and ASEAN are now in a position to build on this experience and use AMM as a model for future cooperation in crisis management between regional actors. Parallels may be drawn to the root causes and possible solutions of other, somewhat similar conflicts in the region. The EU will stand by the people of Aceh in the ongoing peace and reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction processes and is determined to develop a lasting and comprehensive partnership with Indonesia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: A. Tariq Karim, C. Christine Fair
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Although Bangladesh is generally considered to be a secular democracy, recent years have seen a steady erosion of the important principles underlying it. Bangladesh's political system is mired in conflict as the two mainstream parties battle for control of the country and its resources. With neither party able to win a majority, both have sought alliances of convenience to secure power. Neither party has addressed pervasive corruption and systemic failure to provide good governance and law and order. The choices Bangladeshis make—or, more critically, are permitted to make—in the coming months will have great import for the country's future. Because politics in Bangladesh has become a zero-sum game with no meaningful political role for the opposition, the stakes are high for both the opposition Awami League (AL) and the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Increasingly, Islamist parties have emerged as political kingmakers with newfound legitimacy. In the 2001 elections the BNP came to power because of its alliance with key Islamist parties, even though the latter commanded few votes on their own. Since the late 1990s, Islamist militancy has spread throughout the country, raising questions about Bangladesh's internal security and the consequences for South Asian regional security. The serial bombings of August 2006 shocked most observers, even though the massive attack killed only two persons. The upcoming January 2007 elections are in many ways a referendum on the two parties' competing visions of Bangladesh and the role of Islam in the public and private spheres. Unfortunately, a number of irregularities in the election preparations call into question their freeness and fairness, threatening civil unrest. The attention and dedicated involvement of the international community is paramount to ensure free and fair elections in Bangladesh.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia