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  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The International Conference on Asian Food Security (ICAFS) took place from 21–22 August 2014 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore. ICAFS 2014, themed 'Towards Asia 2025: Policy and Technology Imperatives' was aimed at understanding the mid-to-long term trends and challenges that affect Asian food security with in the horizon of 2025 and beyond as the region faces significant challenges posed by changes in demography and consumption patterns, performance decline in agriculture, environmental degradation, natural resource depletion and climate change. This conference sought to address questions relating to the future of food policy and technology that contribute to food security in Asia. The choice of the time-horizon of 2025 was specifically earmarked for a number of reasons. The first session is dedicated to highlighting the identified trends and challenges to food security in 2025. From a national planning standpoint, a decade usually represents a good medium-run timeframe for policies to be formulated and enacted. On a regional level ASEAN's post 2015 agenda will also be looking into a 10-year timeframe. The International Food Policy research Institute (IFPRI), the world's leading food policy research centre, has also chosen 2025 as the time period by when the world should aim to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Hence there seems to be a good convergence on this particular timeframe; one we should all as institutions and individuals commit to make the region and world more food secure. Session 2 highlights the food security challenges and opportunities in the context of Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This session addresses issues such as how to increase productivity and supply chains; challenges and opportunities for policy, science and technology interventions as well as how to modernize food supply chains. Session 3 presents the topic of market integration and trade facility. The idea is to promote regional integration and food trade as means for sustaining food security by increasing economic access to food. This is relevant to the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 agenda, which includes tariff reduction, enhanced trade facilitation, reduction in barriers to trade among others, and aims to accelerate economic growth and development. Benefits and challenges are also discussed based on the context of the region's two biggest economies, China and India, anticipating 2025.Session 4 discusses options for financing and investing in agricultural development and technological innovation. With global reduction in public spending on research and development (R) in agriculture, options should be diversified where it allows private sectors and other alternative financing such as insurance and micro financing to help poor and vulnerable farmers. Session 5 suggests an integrated approach for Asia towards 2025. This session looks at the role of science and R in further boosting agricultural production and the need for systematic surveillance of food security through different monitoring systems using different types of indexing and benchmarking tools. These monitoring systems should be able to be responsive to potential calamities and mitigate shocks of natural disasters.
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia
  • Author: Chenyang Li, James Char
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In discussions on Myanmar's political reforms since the installation of a civilianised military regime in 2011, most analysts have focused on the bedevilment of bilateral ties between Beijing and Naypyidaw. To be sure, China has since become more attuned to the concerns of non-state actors with the opening up of Myanmar's political space as well as recalibrated its strategies in the face of renewed diplomatic competition from other countries in vying for the affections of the Burmese leadership. In acknowledging the corrections China's Myanmar policy has undergone, this article argues that Beijing's factoring in of Burmese national interests and development needs can help enhance its prospects. While a return to the previous robust bilateral relationship may appear inconceivable in the near future, this article concludes that there is still hope for Beijing in overcoming the challenges posed by Naypyidaw's political transition should it be able to keep up with the latter's evolution over the longer term.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Myanmar, Naypyidaw
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's military, the Tatmadaw, has been the dominant institution in the country for most of its post-independence history. After decades of military rule, it began the shift to a semi-civilian government. A new generation of leaders in the military and in government pushed the transition far further and much faster than anyone could have imagined. Major questions remain, however, about the Tatmadaw's intentions, its ongoing involvement in politics and the economy, and whether and within what timeframe it will accept to be brought under civilian control. Transforming from an all-powerful military to one that accepts democratic constraints on its power will be an enormous challenge.
  • Topic: Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: East Asia, Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 13 avril 2014, deux ans et un jour après le coup d'Etat qui a empêché la victoire du Parti africain pour l'indépendance de la Gu inée et du Cap-Vert (PAIGC) à l'élection présidentielle de mars-avril 2012, au terme d'une série de reports et de crises, la Guinée-Bissau va enfin tenir ses élections. Ce s élections législatives et présidentielles ne résultent pas d'un consensus endogène fort. Elles auront lieu parce que le pays est au bord de la banqueroute et que la communauté internationale, moins divisée qu'au moment du coup d'Etat, a exercé une forte pression. Elles ne sont qu'une première étape dans la transition, et les problèmes de fond qui minent la stabilité demeurent. Les scrutins ne manqueront pas de bousculer des intérêts établis et de mettre en jeu l'équilibre du pays. Le nouveau pouvoir devra favoriser le consensus et le pluralisme politique. La communauté internationale, quant à elle, doit rester attentive dans la période cruciale qui s'engage.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: De juillet à décembre 2013, la Tunisie a connu une crise politique dont les éléments de sortie n'étaient pas fournis d'avance, mais dont l'issue était assez claire : violences ou compromis. Depuis la promulgation de la Constitution et la nomination d'un nouveau gouvernement indépendant dit de technocrates, remplaçant la troïka emmenée par le parti islamiste An-Nahda, en janvier 2014, le pays est entré dans une nouvelle phase de transition. Si celle-ci semble moins agitée que la précédente, son issue demeure tout aussi incertaine. L'enjeu de la période actuelle est de prolonger le consensus issu du dialogue national et de préparer le prochain rendez-vous électoral, qui va suspendre en partie le compromis, tout en prévenant le retour de la polarisation. Plutôt que de se concentrer de manière exclusive sur un partage du pouvoir qui implique l'équilibre électoral entre islamistes et sécularistes, les forces politiques devraient aussi envisager les scénarios les plus inattendus, s'entendre pour limiter le pouvoir des gagnants et garantir la sérénité des perdants.
  • Topic: Politics, Armed Struggle, Reconstruction, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite the recent military surge against Somalia's armed Islamist extremist and self-declared al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, its conclusive "defeat" remains elusive. The most likely scenario – already in evidence – is that its armed units will retreat to smaller, remote and rural enclaves, exploiting entrenched and ever-changing clan-based competition; at the same time, other groups of radicalised and well-trained individuals will continue to carry out assassinations and terrorist attacks in urban areas, including increasingly in neighbouring countries, especially Kenya. The long connection between Al-Shabaab's current leadership and al-Qaeda is likely to strengthen. A critical breakthrough in the fight against the group cannot, therefore, be achieved by force of arms, even less so when it is foreign militaries, not the Somalia National Army (SNA), that are in the lead. A more politically-focused approach is required.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Israel and Hamas are locked again in combat likely to yield – beyond tragic life and property loss – a return to a destructive status quo. The immediate triggers were the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli yeshiva students, for which Israel holds Hamas responsible, and the revenge torture and murder of a Palestinian teen by vigilante Israeli Jews. The nature and extent of Hamas's involvement in the initial obscenity remains unclear, but the attack's consequences are anything but. Since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July, 168 Palestinians have been killed (80 per cent civilians, a fifth of whom were children) and about 1,150 wounded. Some 1,000 rockets have been launched toward Israel, of which about 200 were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system. Previous rounds ended with each side claiming at best a Pyrrhic victory, because Israel can achieve lasting stability only when Gaza does, and vice versa. Breaking this pattern is even more urgent today, because the stakes of this escalation could be higher.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The large emigration of youths is the clearest sign of extreme domestic discontent with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki's government. Social malaise is pervasive. An ever-growing number of young people have fled over the last decade, frustrated by open-ended national service – initiated in 1995 and expanded during the war with Ethiopia (1998-2000). Yet, this flight has resulted in neither reforms nor a viable movement to create an alternative to the current government. Once outside, the ties that bind émigrés to their birthplace are strong and lead them to give financial support to the very system they escaped, through the 2 per cent tax many pay the state as well as remittances sent home to family members.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Immigration, Youth Culture, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: That nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the UK, U.S. and Germany) were extended beyond the 20 July 2014 deadline was neither unexpected nor unwelcome. The parties ha d made enough headway to justify the extension, which was envisioned in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that was signed in November 2013 and came into force in January, but given the political and technical complexity, they remain far apart on fundamental issues. Unless they learn the lessons of the last six months and change their approach for the next four, they will lose the opportunity for a resolution not just by the new 24 November deadline but for the foreseeable future. Both sides need to retreat from maximalist positions, particularly on Iran's enrichment program. Tehran should postpone plans for industrial- scale enrichment and accept greater constraints on the number of its centrifuges in return for P5+1 flexibility on the qualitative growth of its enrichment capacity through research and development.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Middle East, France