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  • Author: Lara Friedman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: With their own interests challenged and growing domestic constituencies pressing for action, European leaders are asking what Europe can do to reaccredit its policies in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, notwithstanding U.S. opposition. In this context the time has come for Europe to adopt a new Middle East policy paradigm in which European leverage is identified and employed as part of a coherent effort aimed not at altering the behavior of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but at altering the political environment in which Netanyahu and his challengers on the right operate.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Leila Hilal
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The counterterrorism effort launched by the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition has sidetracked international attention away from a political resolution to the Syrian civil war. Officials, analysts and peace practitioners alike are latching on to quick fixes aimed at mitigating violence at the local level. Although stakeholders are mindful of the need to match bottom-up de-escalation efforts with top-down interventions, a comprehensive approach is as elusive as ever. The United Nations (UN) secretary-general's appointment of a new special envoy for Syria presents an opportunity for building an inclusive peacemaking strategy for the country. This policy brief provides a series of recommendations for the development of a strategy led by the UN with support from key countries.
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Silke Pfeiffer
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: While a peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government seems to be within reach, a number of substantial and procedural issues might still cause controversies. One such topic is the question of how a potential peace agreement should be ratified. Both parties have made clear that ratification should involve direct citizen participation. The FARC's proposal for a broadly mandated Constituent Assembly is effectively not politically viable. Other constitutional options have practical, political and legal implications. A final formula will need to deal with the armed group's concern for the legal security of its members while rapidly generating a political mandate to proceed with implementation. The inevitable time lag between signature and ratification will most certainly become a political liability because the FARC is likely to refuse to lay down its weapons in this period. With low levels of trust between the parties and a society deeply sceptical of the guerrilla's intentions to abandon the armed struggle, all sides will feel the need to be protected against risks of non-compliance. The greatest risk related to citizen ratification remains non-approval, because large parts of the population continue to be sensitive – if not opposed – to the idea of granting wide-ranging concessions to the FARC. Mobilising a strong political and social majority behind the peace process and a potential deal is a priority if a final agreement is to survive popular scrutiny and become a foundation for lasting peace.
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Kate Meagher
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Addressing the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria requires policymakers to look beyond Western security templates of Islamic terrorism to grasp the underlying causes of what is primarily a Nigerian conflict. This policy brief examines the four explanatory factors behind the insurgency: economic marginalisation, governance failures, extremist operations and security failures. Economic causes are traced to poverty, unemployment and extreme inequality between northern and southern Nigeria, while governance failures relate to national religious polarisation, political brinksmanship among religious elites, and rampant corruption in the face of mass poverty. The focus on extremist operations considers the shifting objectives and recruitment strategies of Boko Haram, which tend to confound clear policy analysis, while an assessment of security failures notes their role in driving rather than reining in radicalisation. Recommendations for international policy interventions focus on four areas of constructive engagement. These include diplomatic pressure on the Nigerian government to demonstrate adequate political will to address the insurgency, supporting human rights training and providing appropriate equipment for the military, providing more socially differentiated support for the generation of dignified livelihoods appropriate to both the educated and uneducated unemployed, and more concerted support for the compensation of Boko Haram's victims.
  • Political Geography: Nigeria
  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Boko Haram is a radical Islamist movement shaped by its Nigerian context and reflecting Nigeria's history of poor governance and extreme poverty in the north. The movement is unique in that it combines a sectarian, radical Islamic agenda with violence. Its stated goal is the establishment of a sharia state, but it shows little interest in actually governing or implementing economic development. It is based on the fundamentalist Wahhabi theological system and opposes the Islam of the traditional northern Nigerian establishment, which is broadly tolerant. Boko Haram and its more radical splinter, Ansaru, are steadily expanding their area of operations. Kidnapping has become a major source of revenue and is widespread, while attacks have occurred in Lagos and Kano. The government's response has been to treat Boko Haram as a part of the international al-Qaeda movement. Security service abuses are likely a driver of some popular support for or acquiescence to Boko Haram. The struggle between the government and Boko Haram has dire humanitarian consequences. Many people have been internally displaced in northern Nigeria and many refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. The international community may be asked to help provide humanitarian assistance in what is one of the poorest parts of the world.
  • Political Geography: Nigeria
  • Author: David M. Anderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The massacre at Mpeketoni in June 2014 signalled a new departure for al-Shabaab in its violent attacks on the Kenyan state. Justifying the attack as retaliation for the extrajudicial killings of Muslim leaders and the general oppression of Muslims, and as an act of war, al-Shabaab dem-onstrated a keen awareness of the sensitive political position of Kenya's Muslim population. Having been founded in a nationalist context in Somalia, al-Shabaab appears now to be rein-venting itself in the context of Kenya's troubled domestic politics. Claims that the Mpeketoni violence was based on local politics only underline the success of al-Shabaab's “reinvention”. The Kenyan state has done little to win support amongst its own Muslim population for its cur-rent invasion of southern Somalia. Its efforts to contain al-Hijra, an al-Shabaab franchise now operating in Kenya, has involved heavy-handed policing, most recently in Operation Usalama Watch, and has seen the killing and “disappearance” of more than 20 Muslim leaders. Kenya's government now needs to rebuild trust with Muslim communities in its north-eastern border areas, and elsewhere, and to seek a consensus against radicalisation. This should involve a reconsideration of policing methods, the creation of opportunities for political dialogue with Muslim leaders, and a more sensitive, culturally appropriate and equitable approach to Muslim communities in general.
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Somalia
  • Author: Ali Bilgic, Daniela Nascimento
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Although Turkey had no past colonial involvement with African countries, there has been an increasing revival of Turkey's relation with the continent since the end of the 1990s, which reached a peak after 2005. From then on, along with a focus on Central Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East, Turkish foreign policy started shifting its focus to Africa, and as a new donor country Turkey's political and economic relations with sub-Saharan African countries have intensified significantly. This policy brief analyses and discusses the main economic, political, and strategic motivations behind these shifts and priorities, as well as some of the perceptions and current challenges this change in policy faces.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Balkans
  • Author: Andrey Makarychev, Licínia Simão
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: It was not until 2007 that the concept of development assistance became part of the Russian foreign policy toolkit. This policy brief explains Russia's development assistance policy – mainly towards Africa – as an effect of the country's global commitments and socialisation dynamics, on the one hand, and Moscow's growing interest in exploring the potential of soft power as an indispensable element of its diplomacy, since both aspects are interrelated. The policy brief also looks at the mismatches between Russia's normative discourse in its assistance towards Africa, and the economic and geopolitical interests it pursues simultaneously. This provides room for reflection on the specificities of so-called South-South cooperation, with which the BRICS grouping in particular is often associated.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Tiziana Trotta
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The United Nations Peace Conference on Syria is due to take place on 22nd January in Geneva. The Syrian Government and opposition will meet for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011. Nevertheless, there are very few prospects of finding a satisfactory solution to end the conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Islam, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Adriana Skorupska, Konrad Zasztowt
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Georgia is to remain the leader among post-Soviet countries in terms of successful democratisation, it must conduct an effective decentralisation of power. During its nine years in power, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement rather oversaw a consolidation of power. The transfer of power to the Georgian Dream coalition in 2012 raised hopes that real decentralisation might happen. Poland has been engaged for years in the transfer of know-how and best practices in the field of local democracy building to its Caucasian partner. It should continue its support to the government in Tbilisi. This, however, should be combined with a constructive critique of Georgian reformers’ actions.
  • Topic: Communism, Reform, Democracy