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  • Author: Pieter Feith
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Even though the first contacts between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) had already taken place before the December 2004 tsunami struck, the disaster consolidated the political will to leave old grievances behind and join forces in the reconstruction process and the creation of a sustainable future for the people of Aceh. The determination of both parties, considerable pressure from Aceh's people, and significant support from the international community helped ensure a solution to the thirty-year armed conflict with dignity for all. The Aceh Monitoring Mission was the first European Security and Defence Policy operation in Asia and was conducted with five participating states from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The European Union (EU) and ASEAN are now in a position to build on this experience and use AMM as a model for future cooperation in crisis management between regional actors. Parallels may be drawn to the root causes and possible solutions of other, somewhat similar conflicts in the region. The EU will stand by the people of Aceh in the ongoing peace and reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction processes and is determined to develop a lasting and comprehensive partnership with Indonesia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: A. Tariq Karim, C. Christine Fair
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Although Bangladesh is generally considered to be a secular democracy, recent years have seen a steady erosion of the important principles underlying it. Bangladesh's political system is mired in conflict as the two mainstream parties battle for control of the country and its resources. With neither party able to win a majority, both have sought alliances of convenience to secure power. Neither party has addressed pervasive corruption and systemic failure to provide good governance and law and order. The choices Bangladeshis make—or, more critically, are permitted to make—in the coming months will have great import for the country's future. Because politics in Bangladesh has become a zero-sum game with no meaningful political role for the opposition, the stakes are high for both the opposition Awami League (AL) and the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Increasingly, Islamist parties have emerged as political kingmakers with newfound legitimacy. In the 2001 elections the BNP came to power because of its alliance with key Islamist parties, even though the latter commanded few votes on their own. Since the late 1990s, Islamist militancy has spread throughout the country, raising questions about Bangladesh's internal security and the consequences for South Asian regional security. The serial bombings of August 2006 shocked most observers, even though the massive attack killed only two persons. The upcoming January 2007 elections are in many ways a referendum on the two parties' competing visions of Bangladesh and the role of Islam in the public and private spheres. Unfortunately, a number of irregularities in the election preparations call into question their freeness and fairness, threatening civil unrest. The attention and dedicated involvement of the international community is paramount to ensure free and fair elections in Bangladesh.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: J Alexander Thier, Leigh Toomey
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A legitimate, functioning and coherent justice system is urgently needed to establish peace and stability in post-Taliban Afghanistan. After three decades of war, continued insecurity, endemic corruption, and lack of resources hobble the formal justice system. Informal, community-based dispute resolution mechanisms—which are more readily accessible and understood than formal courts by most Afghans, particularly outside urban areas—are widely used to resolve both civil and criminal matters. These mechanisms are critical to maintaining stability within communities, and at present handle over 80 percent of disputes in Afghanistan. At the same time, informal or traditional practices may fall short of due process and human rights standards.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Lynn Tesser
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On November 21, 2006, Nepal's government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) to formally end their ten-year conflict, which has resulted in an estimated 13,000 deaths. The agreement has been widely hailed as historic and many observers feel cautiously optimistic, in spite of the hurdles that lie ahead. On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Institute of Peace sponsored a one-day program in Washington, D.C., to address the challenges Nepal now faces. It brought together a broad spectrum of attendees, from representatives of academia and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Presenters were asked to comment on particular challenges that Nepal faces during the peace process. This USIPeace Briefing provides an overview of the presentations given at the conference, and includes remarks from Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch (former U.S. ambassador to Nepal and president of the U.S.–China Education Trust); Dr. Chitra K. Tiwari (journalist, The Washington Times); Dr. Jaya Raj Acharya (senior fellow, USIP); and Kul Chandra Gautam (assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of UNICEF). It was prepared by Lynn Tesser, program officer in USIP's Jennings Randolph Fellowship program.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Karon Cochran-Budhathoki
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing highlights the findings regarding the security situation in Nepal in the run up to constituent assembly elections scheduled for November 22, 2007. Since February 2007 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has held individual meetings and group dialogue sessions on strengthening security and the rule of law in Nepal. These events have taken place in Washington, D.C., Kathmandu, Banke, Siraha, Kailali, Jhapa, Chitwan and Rupandehi Districts. During the sessions and meetings, including with members of the security sector, challenges and solutions to strengthening security and the rule of law were identified and discussed. While election security for the upcoming Constituent Assembly Election was not the primary subject of the discussions, various participants offered a number of recommendations and raised several concerns. Additionally, general security issues, many of which are related to election security, were discussed and can be included in a broader long-term security strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since they reorganized their forces in Pakistan in 2003, Taliban and other anti-government militia have sought to disrupt democratization efforts and sow a climate of fear in Afghanistan. As a result, violence has crept back onto the international radar screen in the last couple of years, a brutal reminder the insurgency is far from defeated. This rise in bloodshed is particularly problematic today, as U.S. forces begin this summer to transfer control of insurgent-heavy regions of the country to NATO. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a recent special session of its Afghanistan Working Group dedicated to this topic, with counterinsurgency experts Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation and Colonel David Lamm of National Defense University. Beth DeGrasse, coordinator of USIP's Afghanistan Working Group
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Afghan government and international community have charted out a joint strategy to tackle the country's most pressing challenge: building state institutions. Approved earlier this month at a conference in London, the Afghanistan Compact maps out the country's way ahead and reaffirms the shared commitment of the international community. USIP held a Current Issues Briefing in early February 2006 to review the Afghanistan Compact. The speakers at the briefing were Barnett Rubin, director of studies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, and Alex Thier, senior advisor in USIP's Rule of Law program. Beth DeGrasse, coordinator of USIP's Afghanistan Working Group, moderated the discussion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, New York, Asia