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  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Puntland is the first of Somalia's federal units to attempt transition from clan-based representation to directly-elected government, but poor preparations and last-minute cancellation of local elections in July underline the challenges of reconciling competing clan interests with a democratic constitution. Cancellation pragmatically averted violence, but societal tensions remain unaddressed. The presidential vote by a clan-selected parliament in January 2014 will thus be fraught. Weak political and judicial institutions will struggle to mediate, risking involvement by partisan arms of the state. Direct elections are no panacea for reducing the conflict risks, but hard-won incremental progress on the constitution and local democratisation must not be abandoned. The cancelled ballot's lessons should be instructive for promised elections in the rest of Somalia. Better technical preparations matter, but Puntland's experience shows that donors and other international actors also need to be heedful of local political realities, including support of elites, robustness of institutions and viability of electoral districts.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kyrgyzstan's government has failed to calm ethnic tensions in the south, which continue to grow since the 2010 violence, largely because of the state's neglect and southern leaders' anti-Uzbek policies. Osh, the country's second city, where more than 420 people died in ethnic clashes in June of that year, remains dominated by its powerful mayor, an ardent Kyrgyz nationalist who has made it clear that he pays little attention to leaders in the capital. While a superficial quiet has settled on the city, neither the Kyrgyz nor Uzbek community feels it can hold. Uzbeks are subject to illegal detentions and abuse by security forces and have been forced out of public life. The government needs to act to reverse these worsening trends, while donors should insist on improvements in the treatment of the Uzbek minority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • 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: Bangladesh could face a protracted political crisis in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government changes course and takes a more conciliatory approach towards the political opposition and the military. In December 2008, following two years of a military-backed caretaker government, the Awami League (AL) secured a landslide victory in what were widely acknowledged to be the fairest elections in the country's history. The hope, both at home and abroad, was that Sheikh Hasina would use her mandate to revitalise democratic institutions and pursue national reconciliation, ending the pernicious cycle of zero-sum politics between her AL and its rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Three and a half years on, hope has been replaced by deep disillusionment, as two familiar threats to Bangladesh's democracy have returned: the prospect of election-related violence and the risks stemming from an unstable and hostile military.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As messy as it has been and unfinished as it remains, Yemen's transition accomplished two critical goals: avoiding a potentially devastating civil war and securing the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled the impoverished country for over three decades. It also cracked the regime's foundations, while making it possible to imagine new rules of the game. Still, much remains in doubt, notably the scope and direction of change. The nation essentially has witnessed a political game of musical chairs, one elite faction swapping places with the other but remaining at loggerheads. Important constituencies – northern Huthi, southern Hiraak, some independent youth movements – feel excluded and view the transition agreement with scepticism, if not distain. Al-Qaeda and other militants are taking advantage of a security vacuum. Socio-economic needs remain unmet. The new government must rapidly show tangible progress (security, economic, political) to contain centrifugal forces pulling Yemen apart, while reaching out to stakeholders and preparing the political environment for inclusive national dialogue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Civil War, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Almost ten years after the Bali bombing that brought terrorism in Indonesia to international attention, the country's violent extremists are weak and divided but still active. In the face of strong police pressure, they are finding ways to regroup on the run, in prison and through internet forums, military training camps and arranged marriages. In many cases, the same individuals keep reappearing, using old networks to build new alliances. The fact that they have been singularly inept in their operations in recent years does not mean that the danger of attacks is over. There are signs that at least some are learning lessons from past failures and becoming more sophisticated in recruitment and fundrais-ing. Better understanding of how extremists regroup could lead to more effective counter-radicalisation programs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although it should provide development opportunities, renewed oil interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) represents a real threat to stability in a still vulnerable post-conflict country. Exploration has begun, but oil prospecting is nurturing old resentments among local communities and contributing to border tensions with neighbouring countries. If oil reserves are confirmed in the east, this would exacerbate deep-rooted conflict dynamics in the Kivus. An upsurge in fighting since the start of 2012, including the emergence of a new rebellion in North Kivu and the resumption of armed groups' territorial expansion, has further complicated stability in the east, which is the new focus for oil exploration. New oil reserves could also create new centres of power and question Katanga's (DRC's traditional economic hub) political influence. Preventive action is needed to turn a real threat to stability into a genuine development opportunity.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A spate of violence in Papua in May and June 2012 exposed the lack of a coherent government strategy to address this multidimensional conflict. Shootings of non-Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura in June, likely involving pro-independence militants, were followed by the death of one of those militants at police hands, highlighting the political dimension of the problem. In Wamena, a rampage by soldiers after the death of a comrade shows the depth of distrust between local communities and the army, and the absence of mechanisms to deal with crises. The shooting of five Papuans by newly arrived members of a paramilitary police unit (Brigade Mobile, Brimob) in a remote gold-mining area of Paniai highlights the violence linked to Papua's vast resource wealth and rent-seeking by the security apparatus with little oversight from Jakarta. While these events are still under investigation, they signal that unless the Yudhoyono government can address these very different aspects of the conflict, things may get worse. An overhaul of security policy would help.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Papua
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kosovo has implemented much of the Ahtisaari plan – the blueprint for its democracy, providing substantial rights for Serbs and other minorities – and deserves to be fully independent, but there should be no slippage, and remaining parts of the plan should be honoured. The Pristina government mostly abides by it, and many Serbs south of the Ibar River now accept its authority, obey its laws and take part in political life in a way unimaginable four years ago. These achievements are threatened, however, by the tense Kosovo-Serbia relationship, declining Serb numbers and Pristina's frustration at its inability to extend its sovereignty to the Serb-majority northern areas and to achieve full international recognition. A surge in ethnically-motivated attacks shows peace is fragile. The government should remain committed to the Ahtisaari requirement for minorities. But the plan was not meant to work in isolation and cannot be separated from the overall Kosovo-Serbia relationship. Belgrade needs to earn Pristina's trust and acquiescence for its continued involvement on Kosovo territory, especially the south.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, Pristina
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After decades of failed negotiations and attempts to defeat the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) militarily, a political solution to the Western Hemisphere's oldest conflict may be in sight. Following a year of secret contacts, formal peace talks with FARC are to open in Oslo in October 2012 and continue in Havana. They may be extended to the ELN. There seems a firmer willingness to reach an agreement, as the government realises military means alone cannot end the conflict and FARC appears to recognise that the armed struggle permits survival but little else. With no ceasefire in place, both sides must act with restraint on the battlefield to generate immediate humanitarian improvements. And they will need to balance the requirements of fast, discreet negotiations and those of representativeness and inclusion. The government and the guerrillas have the historic responsibility to strike a deal, but only strong social and political ownership of that deal can guarantee that it leads to the lasting peace that has been elusive for so long.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Government, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Armed Struggle, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America