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  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Over seven years, the government of President Álvaro Uribe has produced important security gains, but these have been accompanied by serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). Colombia is still not close to the end of its armed conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), paramilitary successors and new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) – all responsible for multiple atrocities against civilians – can survive with drug financing and, to a degree, due to the state's inability to extend its legitimate presence into many rural areas. To move toward lasting peace, the Uribe administration must not only maintain its security achievements but also urgently improve its security policy by addressing serious human rights issues and expanding the rule of law and national reach of the state's civilian institutions. Holding to account senior military involved in extrajudicial killings is a first step but insufficient to curb abuses. International cooperation should focus on supporting the fight to end impunity and protect basic rights.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ten months after the “August war” between Georgia and Russia, violent incidents and the lack of an effective security regime in and around the conflict zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia create a dangerous atmosphere in which extensive fighting could again erupt. Russia has not complied with key aspects of the cease-fire agreements that President Medvedev reached in August/September 2008 with French President Sarkozy in his then EU presidency role. Its 15 June Security Council veto of an extension of the sixteen-year-old UN observer mission mandate in Georgia and Abkhazia and its apparent intention to require the removal of the mission of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) by the end of the month are blows to regional security that will further fuel tensions. Most of the on-the-ground conflict resolution machinery is thus being dismantled. Moscow should review its counterproductive position and work for a reasonable compromise allowing the UN and OSCE monitors to continue their important work.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Moscow, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The assassinations of the chief of defence staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, on 1 March 2009 and Presi- dent Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira early the next day have plunged Guinea-Bissau into deep uncertainty. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was quickly sworn in as interim president pending the election the constitution requires. That the killings occurred only months after the acclaimed November parliamentary elections, however, indicates that, in current circumstances, the democratic process cannot cope with the rule of the gun, as well as the extent to which the military's use of force has overwhelmed state institutions. Without outside help to end military involvement in politics and impunity, it may be impossible to halt a slide into further violence. Elites need to stand up to the military, but they require support. The international community should work for an international or hybrid commission of inquiry into the killings. Security system reform needs to be improve d by better international coordination and creation of a national commission with enhanced autonomy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea-Bissau
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The semi-autonomous north-eastern Somali region of Puntland, once touted as a success of the “building blocks” approach to reestablishing national stability and widely viewed as one of the most prosperous parts of Somalia, is experiencing a three-year rise in insecurity and political tension. At its roots are poor governance and a collapse of the intra-clan cohesion and pan-Darood solidarity that led to its creation in 1998. Intra-Darood friction has eroded the consensual style of politics that once underpinned a relative stability. The piracy problem is a dramatic symptom of deeper problems that, left untreated, could lead to Puntland's disintegration or overthrow by an underground militant Islamist movement. A solution to the security threat requires the Puntland government to institute reforms that would make it more transparent and inclusive of all clans living within the region.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia, Puntland
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Almost six years of intense security operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by the administration of President Álvaro Uribe are beginning to produce tangible results. Government forces killed several important rebel field commanders in 2007 and two members of the central command in March 2008, including second-in-command Raúl Reyes, and have severely disrupted insurgent communications, prompting a loss of internal cohesion and decreasing illegal revenues. However, this progress has come at the cost of severely deteriorating relations with Ecuador and Venezuela and increased risk of political isolation after the controversial bombing raid on Reyes's camp inside Ecuador. Military gains can pay off only if combined with a political strategy that consistently pursues a swap of imprisoned insurgents for hostages in FARC captivity, reestablishes much needed working relations with neighbours along borders and strongly advances integrated rural development to consolidate security and broaden Colombia's international support.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Central America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: U.S.-backed security operations in the southern Philippines are making progress but are also confusing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency with dangerous implications for conflict in the region. The “Mindanao Model” – using classic counter-insurgency techniques to achieve counter-terror goals – has been directed against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and has helped force its fighters out of their traditional stronghold on Basilan. But it runs the risk of pushing them into the arms of the broader insurgencies in Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The U.S. and the Philippines need to revive mechanisms to keep these conflicts apart and refocus energies on peace processes with these groups. That imperative has become particularly acute since the Malaysian government announced withdrawal, beginning on 10 May, from the International Monitoring Team (IMT) that has helped keep a lid on conflict since 2004. If renewed attention to a peace agreement is not forthcoming by the time the IMT mandate ends in August, hostilities could quickly resume.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Philippines
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Ethiopia-Eritrea impasse carries serious risk of a new war and is a major source of instability in the Horn of Africa, most critically for Somalia. Following Ethiopia's refusal to accept virtual demarcation of the border by the now disbanded Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC), Asmara unilaterally imple­men­ted it and forced out the UN peacekeepers (UNMEE), significantly raising the stakes and shattering the status quo. Its insistence on recovering terri­tory the Commission awarded it – Badme in particular – could lead to unilateral military action by either side but is only one of several war scenarios. The Security Council and key individual states (the U.S., in particular) must recognise the dangers of their inaction and advance a reconfigured political process with new determination if there is to be a change in the calculations of the parties, who appear to be dangerously content with trying to maintain a level of simmering but unpredictable hostility.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: China's need for energy is growing faster than any other country's. Record economic growth results in demand that outstrips domestic supply, leading Beijing to look outward to ensure growth and stability. Concerns about the global oil market have led state firms to buy stakes around the world, often in countries shunned by Western firms. The investments are an important factor in Beijing's foreign policy. They also drive concerns that China's actions fuel or exacerbate conflict in the developing world and cause tensions with other major oil-importing countries as it locks up energy resources. China's energy needs have led it to play a more prominent role in international markets in recent years. This has generated concerns about the potential impact on other countries' energy security, and global and regional security generally. These are largely overstated, but China could take a number of steps, as its policymaking and implementation evolves, which would help create a more cooperative international environment on both energy and wider security issues.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le changement politique et économique réclamé par la population guinéenne au prix de près de 200 morts en janvier-février 2007 est largement compromis. Le limogeage du Premier ministre Lansana Kouyaté le 20 mai 2008 et son remplacement par Tidiane Souaré, un proche du président Lansana Conté, risque de compromettre l'ensemble du processus de réforme. Les déclarations apaisantes du nouveau chef de gou- vernement en faveur de l'inclusion et de la poursuite du « changement » ne doivent pas faire illusion. Le gouvernement Souaré-Conté a toutes les chances de remettre en cause les promesses d'élections législati- ves crédibles en décembre 2008, de compromettre le redressement économique du pays et d'enterrer la commission d'enquête indépendante qui doit identifier et poursuivre les auteurs de la répression sanglante de janvier 2007. Plus que jamais, les acteurs de la société civile, les responsables des partis politiques, les auto- rités religieuses et tous ceux qui souhaitent le chan- gement doivent opposer un front uni à la restauration du pouvoir sans partage de Lansana Conté.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's Maoists crowned their transition from under- ground insurgency to open politics with a convincing victory in 10 April 2008 constituent assembly (CA) elections. Their surprise win has thrown other parties into confusion, with the major mainstream ones unwilling to recognise their defeat and participate in a Maoist-led government, despite clear pre-election and constitutional commitments to maintaining cross-party unity. The CA nearly unanimously ended the monarchy at its first sitting and gave birth to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. However, extended, unedifying haggling over government-formation suggests the consensus-based approach to the constitutional process will be hard to implement. Building a lasting peace and delivering the change voters called for requires all parties to accept the new situation and cooperate under a Maoist-led government, in particular to deal with issues scarcely yet addressed including the security sector, reestablishment of law and order in some districts, land and local government.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Nepal