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  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Algeria is emerging as an indispensable broker of stability in North Africa and the Sahel. Where insecurity, foreign meddling and polarisation are on the rise across the region, it has at key moments promoted dialogue and state-building as the best means for lifting neighbours out of crisis, thus to safeguard its own long-term security. What some call Algeria’s “return” to regional politics after a long absence since its “black-­decade” civil war in the 1990s has been positive in many respects: its approach of promoting inclusion and compromise to stabilise its neighbours, driven by enlightened self-interest, presents an opportunity for an international system that has struggled to tackle the challenges engendered by the Arab uprisings. Yet, its ambitions have self-imposed limits. A moribund domestic political scene – a regime riven by factionalism and uncertainty over who might succeed an ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika – cast a fog over the political horizon. Relations with other powers with clout in the region, notably Morocco and France, have room for improvement
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regional Cooperation, International Security, Governance
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somaliland’s hybrid system of tri-party democracy and traditional clan-based governance has enabled the consolidation of state-like authority, social and economic recovery and, above all, relative peace and security but now needs reform. Success has brought greater resources, including a special funding status with donors – especially the UK, Denmark and the European Union (EU) – as well as investment from and diplomatic ties with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), though not international recognition. It is increasingly part of the regional system; ties are especially strong with Ethiopia and Djibouti. Given the continued fragility of the Somalia Federal Government (SFG), which still rejects its former northern region’s independence claims, and civil war across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen, Somaliland’s continued stability is vital. This in turn requires political reforms aimed at greater inclusion, respect for mediating institutions (especially the professional judiciary and parliament) and a regional and wider internationally backed framework for external cooperation and engagement.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance, Elections
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somaliland
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Endemic violence in Pakistan's urban centres signifies the challenges confronting the federal and provincial governments in restoring law and order and consolidating the state's writ. The starkest example is Karachi, which experienced its deadliest year on record in 2013, with 2,700 casualties, mostly in targeted attacks, and possibly 40 per cent of businesses fleeing the city to avoid growing extortion rackets. However, all provincial capitals as well as the national capital suffer from similar problems and threats. A national rethink of overly milita rised policy against crime and militancy is required. Islamabad and the four provincial governments need to develop a coherent policy framework, rooted in providing good governance and strengthening civilian law enforcement, to tackle criminality and the jihadi threat. Until then, criminal gangs and jihadi networks will continue to wreak havoc in the country's big cities and put its stability and still fragile democratic transition at risk.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Crime, Governance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Russia has invested extensive resources and prestige in the Winter Olympics to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, 7-23 February 2014. The tab, an estimated $51 billion, does not include a nationwide security operation to protect the venue against attack by a resilient and ruthless armed jihadi movement. A spate of bombings, including two in December in the southern city of Volgograd, show that North Caucasus Islamist terrorists are determined to strike opportunistically across the country to mar the games and challenge President Vladimir Putin, who has promised a "safe, enjoyable and memorable" Olympic experience. If ripple effects of security for Sochi and the ambitious regional tourism project the games are meant to inaugurate are not to worsen the situation in the war-to rn North Caucasus, local communities must be assured they will benefit from the development plans, not fall victims to rapacious local elites or the abuses allegedly accompanying the Games. Equally important, they will need guaranteed long-term security, not simply oppressive security regimes.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, International Affairs, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Caucasus, Sochi
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 15 December 2013 the world's newest state descended into civil war. Continuing fighting has displaced more than 1,000,000 and killed over 10,000 while a humanitarian crisis threatens many more. Both South Sudanese and the international community were ill-prepared to prevent or halt the conflict: the nation's closest allies did little to mediate leadership divisions within the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement's (SPLM). The SPLM and its army (SPLA) quickly split along divisions largely unaddressed from the independence war. Were it not for the intervention of Uganda and allied rebel and militia groups, the SPLA would likely not have been able to hold Juba or recapture lost territory. The war risks tearing the country further apart and is pulling in regional states. Resolving the conflict requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment. Governance, including SPLM and SPLA reform and communal relations, must be on the table. Religious and community leaders, civil society and women are critical to this process and must not be excluded.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, International Cooperation, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The war in Afghanistan entered a new phase in 2013. It now is increasingly a contest between the insurgents and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Many within and outside the government are more optimistic about stability in the wake of a relatively successful first round of presidential elections on 5 April 2014. However, any euphoria should be tempered by a realistic assessment of the security challenges that President Karzai's successor will face in the transitional period of 2014-2015. Kabul may find these challenges difficult to overcome without significant and sustained international security, political and economic support.
  • Topic: International Security, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's first census in over 30 years, an ambitious project conducted in April 2014 with technical advice from the UN and significant funding from bilateral donors, has proved to be highly controversial and deeply divisive. A process that was largely blind to the political and conflict risks has inflamed ethnic and religious tensions in this diverse country. The release of the inevitably controversial results in the coming months will have to be handled with great sensitivity if further dangers are to be minimised.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Violence has exacerbated an already tense political situation in Venezuela and made finding a solution both more urgent and more complex. Nationwide unrest, following deaths at a protest called by student leaders and a sector of the opposition on 12 February, sparked a political crisis that involved Venezuela's neighbours in efforts to find a negotiated settlement. By early May it had cost around 40 lives and led to scores of human rights violations. Failure to end the violence through negotiations has hindered the task of resolving serious social and economic problems. It has also damaged the credibility of regional institutions. To reverse the crisis and turn this tipping point into an opportunity, both parties must commit to a political dialogue based on the constitution; the government must abide by its human rights commitments and restore the rule of law and the separation of powers; the international community must provide both sides with guarantees, technical assistance and political impetus.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Lebanese Shiite armed movement Hizbollah has gone all-in for Syrian President Bashar Assad. It has shown it will back his regime by any means necessary, despite doubts about its capacity to win a decisive victory and regardless of the risks to the movement's own moral standing and cross-sectarian appeal. As it is drawn ever-deeper into its neighbour's civil war that seems poised to endure for years, it finds itself increasingly distracted from its original anti-Israel focus and risking a profound reshaping of its identity.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated as president of Afghanistan on 29 September, under difficult circumstances. He inherited a government that is running out of money and losing ground to a rising insurgency. His ability to confront those problems and other challenges as foreign troops withdraw will be shaped by the aftermath of the political contest that brought him to power. Forming a national unity government with his election rival Abdullah Abdullah presents opportunities to stabilise the transition, preventing further erosion of state cohesiveness. Yet, it also poses risks, particularly of factionalism within Kabul, which could undermine urgently needed reforms. Given the international role in developing the agreements that have created this new partnership, and the absence of mechanisms to resolve internal differences, the international community should serve as a guarantor of Kabul's new political order and, if necessary, mediate any serious disputes that arise.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nigeria's presidential, parliamentary and state gubernatorial and assembly elections, scheduled for February 2015, will be more contentious than usual. Tensions within and between the two major political parties, competing claims to the presidency between northern and Niger Delta politicians and along religious lines, the grim radical Islamist Boko Haram insurgency and increasing communal violence in several northern states, along with inadequate preparations by the electoral commission and apparent bias by security agencies, suggest the country is heading toward a very volatile and vicious electoral contest. If this violent trend continues, and particularly if the vote is close, marred or followed by widespread violence, it would deepen Nigeria's already grave security and governance crises. The government, its agencies and all other national figures must work urgently to ensure that the vote is not conducted in an explosive situation as this could further destabilise the country.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Ethnic Government, Governance, Sectarian violence, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 22 May, for the twelfth time in Thailand's history, the army seized power after months of political turbulence. This is not simply more of the same. The past decade has seen an intensifying cycle of election, protest and government downfall, whether at the hands of the courts or military, revealing deepening societal cleavages and elite rivalries, highlighting competing notions of legitimate authority. A looming royal succession, prohibited by law from being openly discussed, adds to the urgency. A failure to fix this dysfunction risks greater turmoil. The military's apparent prescription – gelding elected leaders in favour of unelected institutions – is more likely to bring conflict than cohesion, given a recent history of a newly empowered electorate. For the army, buyer's remorse is not an option, nor is open-ended autocracy; rather its legacy, and Thailand's stability, depend on its success in forging a path – thus far elusive – both respectful of majoritarian politics and in which all Thais can see their concerns acknowledged.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Jonglei state's combustible mix of armed political opposition, violent ethnic militias and dysfunctional political system were part of the tinder that led to the eruption of the civil war in South Sudan in late December 2013. Despite eleven months of peace talks, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the war threatens to reintensify in the coming weeks. The negotiations do not reflect the diversity of armed groups and interests in South Sudan and the region, most of which are nominally allied with either President Salva Kiir's government or former Vice President Riek Machar's Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/ A-IO). The constellation of regional and South Sudanese armed groups in Jonglei is emblematic of the regional, national and local challenges to peace and the pattern of a war that cannot be resolved by engaging only two of the nearly two-dozen armed groups in the country and ignoring those that have not yet engaged in the fight.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Governance, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Sudan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: If the Santos administration and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are to lay the foundations for lasting peace as they continue to make head-way toward successfully concluding talks underway since late 2012, they need to agree on a clear, credible and coherent plan for dealing with human rights abuses committed by all sides. This is not easy. Any sustainable agreement must be acceptable well beyond just the two parties. Finding common ground between the guerrillas, the government, the critics of the peace talks, victims and a public largely unsym- pathetic to FARC would be difficult at the best of times but will be even harder on the cusp of the 2014 electoral cycle. However, with courts, Congress and voters all having important roles to play in ratifying and implementing transitional justice measures, both parties' long-term interest in a stable transition should outweigh the costs of agreeing to a deal that goes beyond their own narrow preferences. Otherwise, flagging popular support, political controversy and legal challenges risk undermining both justice and peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Peace Studies, Torture, Treaties and Agreements, Governance
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of one of Lebanon' s bloodiest battles since the end of the civil war: the deadly, three - month war pitting a jihadi group against the army in the Nahr al - Bared Palestinian refugee camp. Since then, the camp ' s displaced and resident population has suffered from slow reconstruct ion of their residences, a heavy security presence that restricts their movement and livelihood as well as the absence of a legitimate Palestinian body to represent their interests. Today, there are bigger and more urgent fish to fry, none more so than dealing with the ripple effects of Syria ' s raging internal conflict on inter - sectarian relations in Lebanon and the risk that the country once again could plunge into civil war. But it would be wrong to toss the refugee camp question aside, for here too resides a potential future flare - up.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite the establishment of anti-corruption agencies, Burundi is facing a deepening corruption crisis that threatens to jeopardise a peace that is based on development and economic growth bolstered by the state and driven by foreign investment. The “neopatrimonialist” practices of the party in office since 2005 has relegated Burundi to the lowest governance rankings, reduced its appeal to foreign investors, damaged relations with donors; and contributed to social discontent. More worrying still, neopatrimonialism is undermining the credibility of post-conflict institutions, relations between former Tutsi and new Hutu elites and cohesion within the ruling party, whose leaders are regularly involved in corruption scandals. In order to improve public governance, the Burundian authorities should “walk the talk” and take bold steps to curtail corruption. Civil society should actively pursue its watchdog role and organise mass mobilisation against corruption and donors should prioritise good governance.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Most Ugandans are better off than they were a quarter-century ago, when Yoweri Museveni became president. But frequent demonstrations and violent crackdowns indicate many are deeply dissatisfied with his administration. This is largely the consequence of a slow shift from a broad-based constitutional government to patronage-based, personal rule. In this respect, Museveni has followed a governance trajectory similar to that of his predecessors, although without their brutal repression. Like them, he has failed to overcome regional and religious cleavages that make Uganda difficult to govern and has relied increasing-ly on centralisation, patronage and coercion to maintain control. Unless this trend is corrected, Uganda will become increasingly difficult to govern and political conflict may become more deadly.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Governance
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After May's parliamentary elections, Armenia is preparing for a pivotal presidential vote in 2013 that will determine whether it has shed a nearly two-decade history of fraud-tainted elections and put in place a government with the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reform and resolve its problems with Azerbaijan. President Serzh Sargsyan has a brief opportunity to demonstrate statesmanship before he again faces the voters in what is likely to be a competitive contest. Sargsyan has demonstrated some courage to promote change, but like his predecessors, he has thus far failed to deal effectively with serious economic and governance problems, including the debilitating, albeit low-intensity, Nagorno-Karabakh war. Another election perceived as seriously flawed would serve as a further distraction from peace talks and severe economic problems. The likely consequences would then be ever more citizens opting out of democratic politics, including by emigration.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Development, Economics, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Plagued by factionalism and corruption, Afghanistan is far from ready to assume responsibility for security when U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in 2014. That makes the political challenge of organising a credible presidential election and transfer of power from President Karzai to a successor that year all the more daunting. A repeat of previous elections' chaos and chicanery would trigger a constitutional crisis, lessening chances the present political dispensation can survive the transition. In the current environment, prospects for clean elections and a smooth transition are slim. The electoral process is mired in bureaucratic confusion, institutional duplication and political machinations. Electoral officials indicate that security and financial concerns will force the 2013 provincial council polls to 2014. There are alarming signs Karzai hopes to stack the deck for a favoured proxy. Demonstrating at least will to ensure clean elections could forge a degree of national consensus and boost popular confidence, but steps toward a stable transition must begin now to prevent a precipitous slide toward state collapse. Time is running out.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Corruption, Ethnic Conflict, War, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En dépit du fonctionnement régulier des institutions et du discours officiel vantant les progrès en matière de déve- loppement et de sécurité, le Burundi est en train de perdre les acquis de l'accord d'Arusha. En raison de l'impasse électorale de 2010, le système de partage du pouvoir conçu à Arusha a fait place à un monopartisme de fait qui se traduit par la fin du dialogu e entre l'opposition et le gouvernement, une dérive autorita ire et le retour de la vio- lence politique. Le respect de la minorité politique et de la règle de droit, essentiel à la démocratie, semble ignoré depuis 2010. Afin de pérenniser les acquis du processus de paix et la stabilité du pays, la classe politique burundaise doit renouer avec le dialogue, ga rantir le pluralisme poli- tique en vue des échéances électorales de 2015 et veiller à un processus de justice trans itionnelle consensuel. En rai- son de leur implication dans le processus de paix, l'importance de leur aide au Burundi et l'absence de bailleurs alternatifs, les partenaires internationaux actuels doivent mettre ces trois questions au centre de leur dialogue avec le gouvernement.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Corruption, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's leaders continue to demonstrate that they have the political will and the vision to move the country decisively away from its authoritarian past, but the road to democracy is proving hard. President Thein Sein has declared the changes irreversible and worked to build a durable partnership with the opposition. While the process remains incomplete, political prisoners have been released, blacklists trimmed, freedom of assembly laws implemented, and media censorship abolished. But widespread ethnic violence in Rakhine State, targeting principally the Rohingya Muslim minority, has cast a dark cloud over the reform process and any further rupturing of intercommunal relations could threaten national stability. Elsewhere, social tensions are rising as more freedom allows local conflicts to resurface. A ceasefire in Kachin State remains elusive. Political leaders have conflicting views about how power should be shared under the constitution as well as after the 2015 election. Moral leadership is required now to calm tensions and new compromises will be needed if divisive confrontation is to be avoided.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En Côte d'Ivoire, la sortie de crise est menacée par une situation sécuritaire volatile et des blocages politiques. Le dernier trimestre a été marqué par une série d'attaques meurtrières qui ont visé un commissariat de police, l'un des principaux camps militaires du pays, plusieurs posi- tions de l'armée et une centrale électrique. Ces incidents ont été précédés par d'autres violences à l'Ouest. Même si ces évènements ne constituent pas une menace immé- diate pour la stabilité, ils indiquent que, pour certains, la guerre n'est pas terminée. Lenteur de la réforme du sec- teur de la sécurité, gel du dialogue politique, fragilité de la coalition au pouvoir, ret our de la violence verbale, révélation de projets de coup d'Etat, doutes sur la réalité d'une volonté de réconciliation nationale, sont autant de signes préoccupants. Le présid ent Alassane Ouattara et son nouveau gouvernement formé le 22 novembre ne doivent pas compter exclusivement sur la relance économique et le verrouillage sécuritaire pour consolider la paix. La com- munauté internationale ne do it pas détourner son regard d'un pays dont la stabilisation est d'autant plus cruciale pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest que le Mali voisin a basculé dans une crise profonde et durable.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Poverty, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Sri Lankan government’s refusal to negotiate seriously with Tamil leaders or otherwise address legitimate Tamil and Muslim grievances is increasing ethnic tensions and damaging prospects for lasting peace. The administration, led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of Mahinda Rajapaksa, has refused to honour agreements with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), broke n promises to world leaders and not implemented constitutional provisions for minimal devolution of power to Tamil-speaking areas of the north and east. Militarisation and discriminatory economic development in Tamil and Muslim areas are breeding anger and increasing pressure on moderate Tamil leaders. Tamil political parties need to remain patient and keep to their moderate course, while reaching out more directly to Muslims, Upcountry Tamils and Sinhalese. International actors should press the government more effectively for speedy establishment of an elected provincial council and full restoration of civilian government in the north, while insisting that it commence serious negotiations with elected Tamil representatives from the north and east.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has squandered the goodwill and support it received and achieved little of significance in the two years it has been in office. It is inept, increasingly corrupt and hobbled by President Sharif's weak leadership. So far, every effort to make the administration modestly functional has come unstuck. The new leaner cabinet looks impressive on paper but, given divisive politics and the short timeframe, is unlikely to deliver significant progress on key transitional objectives, such as stabilising Somalia and delivering a permanent constitution before August 2011, when the TFG's official mandate ends. Although the Transitional Federal Parliament unilaterally has awarded itself a further three-year-extension, urgent attention needs to be given to the government's structural flaws that stymie peacebuilding in central and south Somalia. If the TFG does not make serious progress on correcting its deficiencies by August, the international community should concentrate its support on the more effective local entities, until a more appropriate and effective national government is negotiated.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Deeply entrenched connections between criminal and political actors are a major obstacle to conflict resolution in Colombia. Illegal armed groups seek to consolidate and expand their holds over local governments in the October 2011 governorship, mayoral, departmental assembly and municipal council elections. The national government appears more willing and better prepared than in the past to curb the influence of illegal actors on the elections, but the challenges remain huge. The high number of killed prospective candidates bodes ill for the campaign, suggesting that the decade-old trend of decreasing electoral violence could be reversed. There are substantial risks that a variety of additional means, including intimidation and illegal money, will be used to influence outcomes. The government must rigorously implement additional measures to protect candidates and shield the electoral process against criminal infiltration, corruption and fraud. Failure to mitigate these risks would mean in many places four more years of poor local governance, high levels of corruption and enduring violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Six months after the transition to a new, semi-civilian government, major changes are taking place in Myanmar. In the last two months, President Thein Sein has moved rapidly to begin implementing an ambitious reform agenda first set out in his March 2011 inaugural address. He is reaching out to long-time critics of the former regime, proposing that differences be put aside in order to work together for the good of the country. Aung San Suu Kyi has seized the opportunity, meeting the new leader in Naypyitaw and emerging with the conviction that he wants to achieve positive change. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) seems convinced that Myanmar is heading in the right direction and may soon confer upon it the leadership of the organisation for 2014. This would energise reformers inside the country with real deadlines to work toward as they push for economic and political restructuring. Western policymakers should react to the improved situation and be ready to respond to major steps forward, such as a significant release of political prisoners.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Burma, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Après l'élection d'Alpha Condé à la présidence en novembre 2010, des élections législatives doivent clôturer une nouvelle étape de la transition politique guinéenne. La récente expérience de politisation violente des ethnicités et le manque de confiance des acteurs politiques dans le dispositif électoral sont des motifs d'inquiétude. Le président Condé a engagé unilatéralement une refonte du système électoral, mais il suscite d'autant plus de méfiance que les perspectives du parti présidentiel pour les législatives sont incertaines. Il n'a prêté que peu d'attention, et bien tard, à la réconciliation et au dialogue avec son opposition, très mobilisée. La Guinée ne peut se permettre ni un bricolage du système électoral ni une nouvelle campagne fondée sur des arguments ethniques. Un accroissement des tensions à l'approche du scrutin pourrait susciter des violences intercommunautaires. Il pourrait aussi offrir une opportunité d'agir à ceux qui, dans l'armée, se satisfont mal d'avoir regagné les casernes. L'attaque lancée le 19 juillet 2011 par des militaires contre la résidence du président confirme la réalité de ce risque. Un véritable accord entre les principaux acteurs politiques sur les modalités des élections législatives est impératif et urgent. Sans une forte implication internationale, les chances de parvenir à un tel accord sont minces.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The ability of Pakistan's radical Islamic parties to mount limited but potentially violent opposition to the government has made democratic reform, and by extension the reduction of religious extremism and development of a more peaceful and stable society, more challenging. This is a reflection of those parties' well-organised activist base, which is committed to a narrow partisan agenda and willing to defend it through violence. While their electoral support remains limited, earlier Islamisation programs have given them a strong legal and political apparatus that enables them to influence policy far beyond their numerical strength. An analysis of party agendas and organisation, as well as other sources of influence in judicial, political and civil society institutions, is therefore vital to assessing how Pakistan's main religious parties apply pressure on government, as well as the ability and willingness of the mainstream parties that are moderate on religious issues to resist that pressure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Failure to address the systematic crimes committed during Nepal's ten-year civil war is threatening the peace process. There has been not a single prosecution in civilian courts for any abuses. The cultures of impunity that enabled the crimes in the first place have remained intact, further increasing public distrust and incentives to resort to violence. The immediate priorities should be prosecutions of the most serious crimes, investigation of disappearances and action to vet state and Maoist security force members.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Crime, Human Rights, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As a rule, Iraq's post-Saddam elections have tended to magnify pre-existing negative trends. The parliamentary polls to be held on 7 March are no exception. The focus on electoral politics is good, no doubt, but the run-up has highlighted deep-seated problems that threaten the fragile recovery: recurring election-related violence; ethnic tensions over Kirkuk; the re-emergence of sectarianism; and blatant political manipulation of state institutions. The most egregious development was the decision to disqualify over 500 candidates, a dangerous, arbitrary step lacking due process, yet endorsed by the Shiite ruling parties. Under normal circumstances, that alone might have sufficed to discredit the elections. But these are not normal circumstances, and for the sake of Iraq's stability, the elections must go on. At a minimum, however, the international community should ramp up its electoral monitoring and define clear red lines that need to be respected if the results are to be considered legitimate. And it should press the next government to seriously tackle the issue – long-neglected yet never more critical – of national reconciliation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Already delayed six times, Côte d'Ivoire's presidential election is still some way off. Over two months after President Gbagbo dissolved the Independent Electoral Commission (Commission Électorale Indépendante, CEI) and the government, preparations are at a virtual standstill. The process of electoral identification already carries serious risks of violence. Armed groups and militias, the resurgence of xenophobic language and a challenging socio-economic situation make for an explosive environment, threatening the stability of this key West African country. Unless its politicians urgently meet the challenge of escalating tensions, accelerate electoral preparations and desist from hate speech, and unless regional, UN and other international partners establish the operational, political and security mechanisms necessary to prevent violence, the peace process could very well collapse, with dramatic consequences for the country and its neighbours. Côte d'Ivoire's civil war erupted in September 2002, when a section of the army attempted a coup d'Etat. The coup failed, but the insurgent soldiers took control of the northern part of the country. With the arrival of young intellectuals and under the leadership of former student leader Guillaume Soro, they articulated grievances that northerners were treated as second class citizens. An on-and-off war continued until the signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement in March 2007, which considerably calmed the situation. Since the middle of 2009, however, tensions have risen again over the electoral process and the question of Ivorian identity and nationality.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Politics, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Cameroon's apparent stability in a turbulent region cannot be taken for granted. The co-option of elites through the distribution of state largesse, and the emigration of many educated young people provide a certain safety valve for tensions, but the failure of reform and continued poor governance mean people no longer believe in the rule of law or peaceful political change. Multiple risks of conflict exist in the build-up to presidential elections in 2011 and beyond. This background report, Crisis Group's first on Cameroon, analyses the historical roots of the current impasse.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Cameroon
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The June 2009 swearing in as prime minister of Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni Future Current movement, marks a turning point, the end of a period of exceptional domestic political turbulence and regional tensions that began with the 2005 murder of his father, Rafic; led to institutional paralysis; and culminated with the violent May 2008 showdown between government and opposition. It also presents the new leader with a host of novel challenges. The man who took the helm of a once deeply divided Sunni community must discard much of what enabled his rise, if he is to succeed now that he is in power. With Hizbollah, the principal Shiite movement, he must move away from the sectarianism that has become Lebanon's political stock-and-trade. The Future Current should initiate the process of becoming a more genuine, institutionalised party, breaking from the clientelism that will otherwise inhibit the prime minister's transition from community leader to statesman. And Hariri must continue to navigate the difficult normalisation with Syria, over coming deep mistrust among his constituency toward Damascus.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than two years after declaring independence, Kosovo struggles with uneven rule of law and a weak justice system that is failing its citizens. The police, public prosecutors and courts are erratic performers, prone to political interference and abuse of office. Organised crime and corruption are widespread and growing. Realising that prosperity, relations with the European Union (EU) and affirmation as an independent state depend on the rule of law, the government has taken important steps, replacing key officials and passing long-delayed reforms. But critical weaknesses remain, notably in the courts, and the government, supported by the international community, must act swiftly to curtail them.
  • Topic: Government, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ilham Aliyev's presidency has been marked by stabilisation of the political life of the country and economic growth driven by oil exports. This stability, however, has come with the consolidation of authoritarian rule, greater suppression of freedoms and an increased reliance by elites on corruption and patronage networks to dominate virtually all aspects of public life. With a marginalised and demoralised opposition, little independent media and rent-seeking elites who have vested interests in the preservation of his power, Ilham Aliyev has a level of control over society that his father never possessed. The international community has little leverage with which to pressure the regime, but it should do more to persuade the leadership to see that even its own self-interests lie in gradual but genuine liberalisation.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Human Rights, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En mars 2009, acculé par des manifestations, ainsi que par une mutinerie de l'armée, l'ancien président Marc Ravalomanana remet le pouvoir à un directoire militaire, qui le transmet immédiatement au maire de la capitale de l'époque, Andry Rajoelina, meneur des mouvements de contestation. 1 A la tête de l'Etat depuis lors, la Haute au- torité de la transition (HAT) monopolise le pouvoir, alors qu'une opposition structurée en « mouvances » représen- tant les anciens présidents du pays réclame une gestion inclusive et consensuelle de la transition defait, ouverte par la chute de Ravalomanana et l'installation au pouvoir de la HAT. 2 Ce mode de gestion av ait fait l'objet d'accords en 2009 à Maputo et à Addis-Abeba entre les quatre chefs de mouvances, mais ceuxci ont été annulés de manière unilatérale par le président de la HAT.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu is in a bind. Israel is facing arguably unprecedented pressure to halt all settlement activity, led by a new and surprisingly determined U.S. administration. But the prime minister also heads a distinctly right-wing coalition and faces intense domestic pressure from settlers and their allies. However important, what will emerge from current discussions between Washington and Jerusalem will only be step one in a long process designed to achieve a settlement freeze, settlement evacuation and a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians. Understanding how Israel might deal with these challenges requires understanding a key yet often ignored constituency - its growing and increasingly powerful religious right.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia's political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF's ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter- ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia's governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia's polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The United Nations should hand over formal control of the Timor-Leste police as soon as possible. A protracted process that began in May has taken a bureaucratic approach to assessing whether they are ready to take charge, but the reality on the ground is that the Timorese police have long operated under their own command. Without an agreed plan for reforming the country's police after the 2006 crisis, the UN and the government have made a poor team for institutional development. A longer handover may further damage relations between the UN's third-largest policing mission and the Timor-Leste government, which has refused to act as a full partner in implementing reforms. The UN has a continued role to play in providing an advisory presence in support of police operations. For this to work, the government must engage with the UN mission and agree upon the shape of this partnership. To make any new mandate a success, they need to use the remaining months before the current one expires in February 2010 to hammer out a detailed framework for future cooperation with the police under local command.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia