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  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia needs to learn promptly the lessons from the sporadic violence witnessed in its local elections during 2010 as there is some evidence these easily preventable incidents could be increasing in frequency since the last cycle. While most district polls pass peacefully, the small number that do not reveals nationwide institutional weaknesses that should be fixed. These contests are often intense personal rivalries for community power that can be highly emotive and, if not closely watched, can quickly turn violent. While religious and ethnic ties are accentuated by these tense races, to date they have not triggered any sectarian schisms. Many confrontations could be avoided in future polls by relatively simple changes in practices, policies and laws. Rather than being too small for national attention, these political battles matter to this large country because, since decentralisation, it is this level of public administration that has the greatest impact on the lives of citizens. How these elections take place can determine the judgments that voters make on the success or failure of democracy throughout the archipelago.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The principal preoccupation of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is to win the elections now scheduled for 11-13 April 2010. It has manipulated the census results and voter registration, drafted the election laws in its favour, gerrymandered electoral districts, co-opted traditional leaders and bought tribal loyalties. It has done this all over Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where it has had freedom and means to carry out its strategy, since that is the only region still under emergency rule. Because of the fundamentally flawed process, the international community, working closely with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP), should acknowledge that whoever wins will likely lack legitimacy; press for Darfur peace talks to resume immediately after the elections; insist that any Darfur peace deal provides for a new census, voter registration and national elections; and lay the groundwork for a peaceful referendum on southern self-determination and post referendum North-South relations.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 31 January, Iraqis will head to the polls in fourteen of eighteen governorates to elect new provincial councils. The stakes are considerable. Whereas the January 2005 elections helped put Iraq on the path to all-out civil war, these polls could represent another, far more peaceful turning point. They will serve several important objectives: refreshing local governance; testing the strength of various parties; and serving as a bellwether for nationwide political trends. In several governorates, new parties or parties that failed to run four years ago may oust, or at least reduce the dominance of, a handful of dominant parties whose rule has been marred by pervasive mismanagement and corruption. This in itself would be a positive change with far-reaching consequences as the nation braces for parliamentary elections later in 2009.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The vast Palestinian refugee population is routinely forgotten and ignored in much of the Middle East. Not so in Lebanon. Unlike in other host countries, the refugee question remains at the heart of politics, a recurrent source of passionate debate and occasional trigger of violence. The Palestinian presence was a catalyst of the 1975-1990 civil war, Israel's 1982 invasion and Syrian efforts to bring the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to heel. Virtually nothing has been done since to genuinely address the problem. Marginalised, deprived of basic political and economic rights, trapped in the camps, bereft of realistic prospects, heavily armed and standing atop multiple fault lines–inter-Lebanese, inter-Palestinian and inter-Arab–the refugee population constitutes a time bomb. Until the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved, a comprehensive approach is required that clarifies the Palestinians' status, formally excludes their permanent settlement in Lebanon, significantly improves their living conditions and, through better Lebanese-Palestinian and inter-Palestinian coordination, enhances camp management.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Post Colonialism, Sovereignty, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While Bosnia and Herzegovina's time as an international protectorate is ending, which is in itself most welcome, now is the wrong time to rush the transition. The state put together by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement after a long war will never be secure and able to take its place in the European Union (EU) until it is responsible for the consequences of its own decisions. But tensions are currently high and stability is deteriorating, as Bosniaks and Serbs play a zero-sum game to upset the Dayton settlement. Progress toward EU membership is stalled, and requirements set in 2008 for ending the protectorate have not been not met.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the ten years since Belgrade ceded Kosovo to UN and NATO control, integration of the Serbs into Kosovo's political life has been one of the greatest challenges. Since the former Serbian province's declaration of independence in February 2008, this challenge has become still more complicated. The rejection of Kosovo's independence by the vast majority of its Serb inhabitants has been encouraged by Belgrade, which has developed and, since February 2008, extended a framework of parallel structures that provide Serbs with tangible evidence of the continued presence of the Serbian state and hope that one day Kosovo's independence may be overturned. This hope is also kept alive by Belgrade's diplomatic activities, above all through the case it brought at the International Court of Justice in October 2008 seeking to have the independence declaration ruled illegal. It is encouraged by the support of Russia and by five EU member states that have not recognised Kosovo.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Kosovo, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As sectarian violence in Iraq has ebbed over the past year, a new and potentially just as destructive political conflict has arisen between the federal government and the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil. This conflict has manifested itself in oratory, backroom negotiations and military manoeuvres in disputed territories, raising tensions and setting off alarm bells in Washington just as the Obama administration is taking its first steps to pull back U.S. forces. A lasting solution can only be political – involving a grand bargain on how to divide or share power, resources and territory – but in the interim both sides should take urgent steps to improve communications and security cooperation, run joint military checkpoints and patrols in disputed territories and refrain from unilateral steps along the new, de facto dividing line, the so-called trigger line.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sri Lanka's judiciary is failing to protect constitutional and human rights. Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and worsened ethnic tensions. Rather than constraining militarisation and protecting minority rights, a politicised bench under the just-retired chief justice has entrenched favoured allies, punished foes and blocked compromises with the Tamil minority. Its intermittent interventions on important political questions have limited settlement options for the ethnic conflict. Extensive reform of the judicial system – beginning with a change in approach from the newly appointed chief justice – and an overhaul of counterproductive emergency laws are essential if the military defeat of the LTTE is to lead to a lasting peace that has the support of all ethnic communities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant against President Bashir for atrocity crimes in Darfur has brought Sudan to a new decision point. The longruling National Congress Party (NCP) has defied the court, gained African Union (AU) and Arab League pressure on the Security Council to suspend the case and restricted humanitarian aid in Darfur, putting several million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others at risk. Darfur rebels have been emboldened, reducing prospects for diplomatic progress. Simultaneously, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the North-South civil war is unravelling. As a new U.S. special representative begins to make his mark, the international community may be ready to sacrifice the justice issue for a quick-fix deal that would ensure elections in 2010. But Sudan will have peace only when its impunity system is dismantled. The right course is to build leverage by strongly backing the ICC so as to persuade the NCP that it will only secure the deferral of Bashir's case by adopting and implementing serious reforms.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Genocide
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • 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