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  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Three decades of efforts to reunify Cyprus are about to end, leaving a stark choice ahead between a hostile, de facto partition of the island and a collaborative federation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities living in two constituent states. Most actors agree that the window of opportunity for this bicommunal, bizonal settlement will close by April 2010, the date of the next Turkish Cypriot elections, when the pro-settlement leader risks losing his office to a more hardline candidate. If no accord is reached by then, it will be the fourth major set of UN-facilitated peace talks to fail, and there is a widespread feeling that if the current like-minded, pro-solution Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders cannot compromise on a federal solution, nobody can. To avoid the heavy costs this would entail for all concerned, the two leaders should stand shoulder to shoulder to overcome domestic cynicism and complete the talks, Turkey and Greece must break taboos preventing full communication with both sides on the island, and European Union (EU) states must rapidly engage in support of the process to avoid the potential for future instability if they complacently accept continuation of the dispute. A real chance still exists in 2009-2010 to end.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Conflicts among tribes have claimed several thousand lives in South Sudan in 2009, with the worst violence in and around the vast, often impassable state of Jonglei. Violence often afflicts pastoral communities, but in this area it has taken on a new and dangerously politicised character. With the death toll over the past year exceeding that in Darfur and displacement affecting more than 350,000 people, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should recognise the primarily local nature of the conflicts, extend state authority and prove itself a credible provider of security lest the problems become major obstacles on the road to self-determination and beyond. International partners must simultaneously step up their support or risk seeing the South become increasing unstable ahead of national elections and the self-determination referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Macedonia is a relative success story in a region scarred by unresolved statehood and territory issues. International engagement has, since the 2001 conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency, brought progress in integrating Albanians into political life. This has been underpinned by the promise of European Union (EU) and NATO integration, goals that unite ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. But the main NATO/EU strategy for stabilising Macedonia and the region via enlargement was derailed in 2008 by the dispute with Greece over the country's name. Athens claims that, by calling itself “Macedonia”, it appropriates part of the Hellenic heritage and implies a claim against Greece's northern province. At summits it blocked Macedonian membership in NATO and EU accession talks until the issue is settled. Mystifying to outsiders, the dispute touches existential nerves, especially in Macedonia, and has serious regional implications. The parties need to rebuild trust; member states need to press both to compromise, especially Greece to respect its commitment not to block Skopje in international organisations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, NATO, Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Štrpce, one of Kosovo's largest Serb enclaves and one of the few with good Serb-Albanian relations and economic prospects, risks falling victim to the status dispute between Belgrade and Pristina. But it also has a chance to demonstrate to Serbs that they can protect their interests within Kosovo's constitutional order. Since May 2008, the municipality has been governed by competing authorities, both Serb-led: an official government appointed by the UN in the face of local opposition and a parallel regime elected in defiance of Kosovo law. Neither has the capacity to perform its duties. The impasse has deprived this peaceful enclave of effective government and devastated its economy, notably by preventing regulation of its lucrative property market and blocking privatisation of the Brezovica ski resort. Local elections on 15 November 2009 can end the un- easy status quo, give Štrpce a legitimate government and unlock its economic potential. Belgrade, Pristina and the international community should encourage voting and thereafter equip the municipal government with the expanded powers and resources it needs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Serbia, Balkans, Albania
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) post-war status quo has ended but the international community risks muddling the transition by delaying decisions on a new kind of engagement. Republika Srpska (RS), one of the state's two entities, has defied the High Representative, Bosnia's international governor, and the international community has not backed him up. Instead, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) launched in October 2009 on the Butmir military base outside Sarajevo a high-level effort to persuade the country's leaders to adopt far-reaching constitutional reforms and allow the mandate of the High Representative and his office (OHR) to end. Disagreements over the scope and content of reform make agreement uncertain. But Bosnia's leaders should adopt as much of the EU-U.S. proposal as possible, and the international community should end its protectorate in favour of a new, EU- and NATO-led approach including strong security guarantees.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the announcement of the contested presidential election results on 30 December 2007 giving a second term to Mwai Kibaki, Kenya has been in its worst political crisis since independence. Over 1,000 people have died and 300,000 have been displaced in violence with a serious ethnic character. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan conducts negotiations for a political settlement, calm has partly returned, but the situation remains highly volatile. To address the causes of the crisis, it will not be enough for the Annan team to broker a deal on the mechanics of a transitional arrangement between political opponents and schedule negotiations on a reform agenda. A sustainable settlement must address in detail a program of power sharing, constitutional and legal reform and economic policies that convinces the drivers of violence to disarm. For negotiations to succeed, the international community must enhance its pressure, including aid conditionality and threats and application of targeted sanctions against spoilers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sri Lanka is in civil war again, and there are no prospects of a peace process resuming soon. On 2 January 2008, the government announced its withdrawal from a ceasefire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This formalised a return to conflict that has been underway since 2006 but also presaged worse to come. The humanitarian crisis is deepening, abuses of human rights by both sides are increasing, and those calling for peace are being silenced. There is no present chance of a new ceasefire or negotiations since the government, despite pro forma statements in favour of a political solution, is dependent on hardliners and appears intent on a military decision. International actors must concentrate for now on damage limitation: protecting civilians from the war's worst effects and supporting those working to preserve Sri Lanka's democratic institutions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There are strong indications that Uzbek security forces murdered one of Kyrgyzstan's most prominent journalists, Alisher Saipov, in October 2007 during the build-up to Uzbekistan's end of year presidential elections, most likely because of his involvement in Erk (Freedom), a leading exile opposition party. If this is the case, it would appear that the security organs, which are the key to keeping President Islam Karimov in power, are increasingly willing to move against any perceived danger, even if it involves pre-emptive strikes in foreign territory. This may be a sign not only of the ruthlessness of the regime but also of its increasing fragility. At the least it underlines the need for the U.S. and the European Union (EU) to resist the temptation to respond to Karimov's dubious December 2007 re-election with efforts at re-engagement, in the apparent hope of regaining or retaining military bases for Afghanistan operations or of outflanking Russia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is not lost but the signs are not good. Its growing insurgency reflects a collective failure to tackle the root causes of violence. Six years after the Taliban's ouster, the international community lacks a common diagnosis of what is needed to stabilise the country as well as a common set of objectives. Long-term improvement of institutions is vital for both state building and counterinsurgency, but without a more strategic approach, the increased attention and resources now directed at quelling the conflict could even prove counterproductive by furthering a tendency to seek quick fixes. Growing tensions over burden sharing risk undermining the very foundations of multilateralism, including NATO's future. The U.S., which is demanding more commitment by allies, must realise that its unilateral actions weaken the will of others. At the same time, those sniping from the sidelines need to recognise that the Afghan intervention is ultimately about global security and do more.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, Taliban
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The violent crushing of protests led by Buddhist monks in Burma/Myanmar in late 2007 has caused even allies of the military government to recognise that change is desperately needed. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have thrown their support behind the efforts by the UN Secretary-General's special envoy to re-open talks on national reconciliation, while the U.S. and others have stepped up their sanctions. But neither incomplete punitive measures nor intermittent talks are likely to bring about major reforms. Myanmar's neighbours and the West must press together for a sustainable process of national reconciliation. This will require a long-term effort by all who can make a difference, combining robust diplomacy with serious efforts to address the deep-seated structural obstacles to peace, democracy and development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Burma, United Nations, Southeast Asia, Myanmar