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  • Author: Morten Bøås
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Political instability and administrative weakness have been permanent features of the Central African Republic (CAR) ever since independence. This is, therefore, the history of a collapse foretold. Michel Djotodia may have had good intentions when he put together the Séléka alliance; the problem was that the only thing that kept it together was the desire to get rid of François Bozizé. When Bozizé was gone, the coalition's internal coherence also disappeared. Thus, for lack of other options, the alliance members continued to make their livelihoods based on plunder. As the situation worsened, the communities plundered established their own militias, and the stage was set for a simmering sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims. It is in this mess of communal violence that the international forces are supposed to re-establish law and order. The main challenge, however, is how to avoid adding fuel to the sectarian fire. The international forces must tread carefully, and any attempt at disarming militias must be conducted with this in mind. What has happened and is happening is tragic, but it is neither genocide nor a full-blown sectarian conflict. This can still be avoided if the international forces behave impartially with regard to the two main religious communities in the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, Religion, Sectarian violence, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Jonathan Steele
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: With two years left before the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan completes its mission, Afghans are in a state of confusion and uncertainty about their individual prospects and their country's fate. Interviews with a wide range of government and opposition politicians, civil society activists and ordinary Afghans reveal disappointment with the results of 11 years of foreign involvement, and anxiety that the coming years will bring economic hardship and greater political violence and insecurity
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Peace Studies, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Riina Isotalo
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This report investigates the civil defence-civilian protection interface in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Findings show that international support to Palestinian civilians' safety is divided along the lines of civilian protection and civil defence. There are also striking differences between the Gaza administration's and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) approach to the interface of civilian protection and civil defence. The former has an explicitly gendered view and integrates internal and external threats to safety. At present, the PA is committed to the Hyogo Framework of Action and its approach reflects the international aid policy approach. However, gendered examples suggest that the cultural value basis of civil defence is not very different in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Interviews with officials from West Bank municipalities show varying levels of awareness of civil defence law and national strategy, and variations in municipalities' existing civil defence practices in the West Bank. Existing plans and policy documents focus on natural hazards and appear to be gender blind, which, in the light of past experiences in the OPT and elsewhere, may increase violence against women in emergency situations. The report concludes that the encouragement of communitybased emergency preparedness by the PA and the international community reflects the privatisation of important segments of safety and protection to families and households.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Civil Society, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Felipe Gómez Isa
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: One of the key indicators to determine the degree of success of any given peace process is the stable participation in national politics of former members of armed groups in rebellion against the state. In the case of Colombia, the traditionally exclusive nature of its political system explains why both the enlargement of spaces for democratic participation and the political participation itself of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP) have become key issues to be discussed at the talks in Havana. It would be highly desirable for the obstacles and reticence evinced by specific political sectors to be overcome so that the current peace process can result in both the political participation of the demobilised members of the FARC-EP and greater democracy in Colombia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Isaline Bergamaschi
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This policy brief deals with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). It explains its first achievements and the two main challenges it has faced so far: issues of leadership, including co-ordination between actors and capacities, on the one hand, and issues related to security conditions and the absence of peace, on the other. Finally, the policy brief proposes some recommendations to the actors involved – MINUSMA itself (i.e. its civilian and military personnel) and the UN member states supporting it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Madawi al-Rasheed
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The Saudi regime has a vested interest in the Saudi public remaining fragmented and unable to bridge the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide. Both Shia and Sunnis in Saudi Arabia have been invigorated by the ongoing Arab uprisings, and in their own regions have staged minor protests demanding similar rights. However, the regime's entrenched sectarian propaganda has succeeded in isolating the Shia and delaying a confrontation with Sunni Islamists. In the short term this may be a successful strategy, but in the long term it may fail to contain the frustration of Saudis who want serious political reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Cathrine Thorleifsson
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines the paradox of Mizrahim (Arab Jews) supporting right-wing Israeli policies through a case study of the border town of Kiryat Shemona. Based on ethnographic research, it illuminates the enduring power of ethno-nationalism and demonstrates how it affects Mizrahi lives. Mizrahim became trapped by Israeli nation-building on the geographic and socioeconomic margins of the state positioned between the dominant Ashkenazi elite and the Palestinian population. Factors such as Mizrahim's partial inclusion in the nation; tensions between Jews and Arabs, and between the secular and the religious; the decline of the welfare state; and a shared perception of threats and dangers informed everyday nationalism in the town. Mizrahim contested Ashkenazi Israeliness through ethnic and transnational identifications and practices. Simultaneously, their support for the nation-in-arms and identification as "strong"and "civilised" reinforced the dominant logic of ethno-nationalism. Mizrahi support for right-wing militarism is likely to persist as long as national unity is used as a colonial practice by the centre. The inclusion of Mizrahim as equals together with other marginalised citizens would necessarily entail an Israeli Spring.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Nationalism, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Diana Felix da Costa
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Despite the Murle group being politically and economically marginalised, local and national political and popular discourses portray this group as the main aggressor in South Sudan's Jonglei State. This widely asserted narrative ignores the fact that responsibility for the cycle of violence in Jonglei rests with all those perpetrating violence and certainly not solely with one group. While sharing an overarching ethnic identity, when it comes to issues of peacebuilding, the Murle can be neither seen nor treated as a consolidated group. Rather, there are cattlekeeping Murle living in the lowlands of Pibor county and agrarian Murle living in the Boma Plateau; there are also age-sets, clans and many other differentiating factors. Accusing all Murle of responsibility for violence only serves to magnify the sense of marginalisation and isolation felt by the Murle as a whole. This policy brief seeks to address some of the differences between the cattlekeeping lowlands Murle and the cultivating highlands Murle from the Boma Plateau. By doing so, it highlights the importance of understanding cultural specificities and the local political economy and, when it comes to peacebuilding, of differentiating who is responsible for a specific conflict and who has influence over those responsible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Economics, Ethnic Conflict, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Derek Lutterbeck
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Tunisia under Ben Ali was a police state par excellence and reforming the country's internal security apparatus has thus been one of the major challenges since the long-standing autocrat's fall. This policy brief examines the various efforts to reform Tunisia's internal security system in the post-Ben Ali period and the challenges this process faces. It argues that reforms in this area have been limited so far, focusing mainly on purges rather than on broader structural or institutional reform of the country's police force. Moreover, not only have human rights violations committed by the police – despite important improvements – continued on a significant scale, but there are also concerns that the police will once again be instrumentalised for political purposes, this time by the Ennahda-led government. Indications to this effect have included in particular the seeming complacency of the police vis-à-vis the growth in religiously inspired violence. The recent killing of opposition leader Chokri Belaid in the first political assassination in Tunisia since Ben Ali's fall has further underscored the need to reform the country's internal security system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Human Rights, Regime Change, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Jort Hemmer
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Monday July 9th 2012 marked South Sudan's first anniversary as an independent state. But one year down the road, what is there to celebrate for this newborn polity? Faced with political stability and enduring external and domestic threats to its security, the nascent state of South Sudan has evolved into a patronage and crisis management tool for the ruling elite, putting the benefits of governance well beyond the reach of the majority of the population. There is little doubt that continuing conflict with Sudan, extreme underdevelopment and dependence on oil revenues will ensure that South Sudan remains a state in emergency for years to come. In many ways the characteristics and uses of this emergency dominate domestic political calculus. Essential institutional reforms have been postponed, as has any real democratic opening. Until a measure of calm in South Sudan's relations with Sudan is achieved, donors will have to look for areas of engagement where their objectives do not interfere with the short-term interests of a government that subsists on a war footing. In this regard South Sudan's decision to suspend oil production and the subsequent need to generate alternative revenues may offer new opportunities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Development, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan