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29/9/2021
Rebel politics after the coup: Myanmar’s Ethnic Armed Organizations and their social foundations
David Brenner

In February 2021, Myanmar’s generals ended their own experiment with electoral democracy and staged a coup against the re-elected civilian government. Since then, violence has engulfed a country that is already home to the world’s longest ongoing civil war between ethnonational rebel movements – known as Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) – and the military of an ethnocratic state – the Tatmadaw. As the conflict is largely confined to the country’s far-flung peripheries, observers and policymakers alike have often relegated it to a second order priority. In the wake of the coup, however, EAOs have come into the spotlight in Myanmar politics.

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T.note
29/9/2021
Beyond the handshake moment: peace agreements and the ending of civil wars
Mats Berdal

After years, sometimes decades, of civil war, the temptation to treat the formal signing of peace agreements as the culminating endpoint in the struggle for ‘just and lasting’ peace has often, and for good reason, proved strong. The tendency to view the handshake moment also as a watershed moment has only been reinforced by the high-flown language and grand promises contained in the agreements themselves. When it comes to the actual afterlife of peace agreements, however, the contrast between promise and reality has often been stark. The truth is that peace agreements reached following civil wars over the past thirty years have rarely lived up to the promises enshrined in the agreements, let alone the hopes for societal transformation and ‘positive peace’ adumbrated at the time of their signature.

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T.note
12/7/2021
Why not sourcing gold from conflict-affected and high-risk areas is not responsible sourcing, and what to do about it
Fabiana Di Lorenzo, Adam Rolfe

Over the last decade we have witnessed a sharp increase in due diligence legislation for the minerals supply chain, codifying higher company performance requirements when it comes to the sourcing of gold. This is not the place to list all soft and mandatory legislation on supply chain due diligence; however, should the reader so desire they are welcome to take a look at this brief article by Camila Gómez Wills. For now, it is sufficient to note that civil society’s and customers’ expectations on responsible sourcing are progressively being embedded in law, as the European Union Conflict Minerals Regulation and the upcoming European mandatory human rights and environmental supply chain due diligence law demonstrate.

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T.note
28/12/2020
The myth of ‘ungoverned space’. Some implications for exogenous state-building and human security
Mats Berdal

Heightened anxiety in the West about ‘ungoverned territories’ was a direct consequence of the events of 9/11. The analysis and dominant policy prescriptions proposed for dealing with them, however, can be traced back to the ‘state failure’ debates of the 1990s, when many Western analysts and policymakers came to view the ‘building’ of modern liberal states along Weberian lines as the solution to the scourge of civil war in the post-Cold War era. In fact, while the underlying motives for engaging with ‘failed states’ in the 1990s and ‘ungoverned space’ after 2001 may have differed, the diagnosis of the core challenge that needed to be addressed rested on fundamentally similar assumptions.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Ebola at the frontier: a new dimension of human security threat on the Uganda-DRC border
Jerome Ntege

Ebola at the frontier is an invisible enemy that causes non-traditional insecurities ranging from state neglect and draconian quarantines to starvation, conflict triggered by deprivations, and cross-border crises. Ebola is a lethal disease, in some situations having a 90% fatality rate, with horrific symptoms including high fever, diarrhoea and profuse internal and external bleeding. Because Ebola can also be relevant to bio-insecurity through bioterrorism, it creates security concerns and prompts policies that lead to the seclusion of the suffering bodies. In a bid to prevent the spread of Ebola, states close borders and raise barriers at national boundaries. Consequently, borderland people get caught up in deplorable crises beyond the epidemics themselves: local people face serious undocumented human insecurity.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Peacebuilding: who needs a model?
Élise Féron

Over the past few decades, the field of peacebuilding has been in turmoil, at both the theoretical and the empirical levels. At the theoretical level, the concept of peacebuilding has faced a continuous and sustained critique, on various grounds, such as accusations of neglecting local actors’ voice and agency, of advancing hegemonic interests and neocolonial agendas, or of reproducing pre-existing hierarchies of power in post-conflict societies. In the face of these critiques, the meaning and practices of international peacebuilding, in particular UN-led peacebuilding, have somewhat evolved, notably as more attention is paid to local processes and actors (what has been called the ‘local turn’ in peacebuilding), and as the attempt is made to build synergies with local ‘cultures of peace’.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Good governance and strong institutions beyond the state: the Salween Peace Park in Myanmar
David Brenner

Myanmar’s security sector has not only demonstrated for decades its incapability to provide human security in the face of protracted armed conflict. More importantly, the country’s security institutions have long been the main source of insecurity for large parts of the population, and remain so today despite the limited liberalisation of Myanmar’s polity since 2011. A journey to the war-torn Karen communities in Myanmar’s eastern borderlands towards Thailand demonstrates that promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies in Myanmar needs to start with appreciating the ethno-politics of conflict in order to rethink and engage institutions beyond the state.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Cities in a Crisis: COVID-19 and Climate-Fragility Risks in urban environments
Susanne Wolfmaier

Around 90% of all reported COVID-19 infections occur in urban areas. This staggering statistic makes it clear that the impacts of the pandemic will most affect the urban poor. In many parts of the world, food supply has become the most urgent need for people in cities. In Nairobi, when the COVID-19 related restrictions were in place, 70% of the urban poor ate less, and more than three quarters incurred higher expenses. One reason why the pandemic has had such a severe impact on food access in cities is that incomes are lower in the informal sector, where the majority of the urban poor are employed, though increased food prices due to reduced supply and the suspension of school meals have also played a role. Unsurprisingly, health services are under strain in informal settlements where many residents lack access to healthcare, which is particularly alarming as poor health is the predominant reason why city dwellers slip into chronic poverty.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Historicising Peace and Conflict Studies: the problems of thinking that the world began in 1989
Roger Mac Ginty

It is very common to read Peace and Conflict Studies books and articles that have a frame of reference that is exclusively post-1989. Many articles and book chapters begin with the words ‘After the Cold War’ or use the phrase ‘post-Cold War’. Certainly the end of the Cold War was a massive event. The Cold War was not just a geopolitical event, it was also a way of organising thinking. Many analysts saw the world through the lens of the Cold War: states and organisations were either pro-US or pro-Soviet. An entire category of terminology was developed during the Cold War: iron curtain, détente, hotline, superpower and so on. And then the Cold War ended in a way, and at a speed, that surprised virtually everyone. The usual ‘map’ of the world no longer applied, and analysts had to find new ways to describe peace, conflict and development.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Building peace in the pandemic: prospects and pitfalls
Kieran Mitton

In March 2020, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus rapidly spread around the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres made an impassioned plea for ‘an immediate global ceasefire’. Urgency centred on the uniquely global challenge presented by the pandemic and its potential to compound multiple intersecting forms of insecurity already affecting residents of conflict-zones. The virus would not discriminate between warring sides nor respect territorial boundaries. A global ceasefire, it was hoped, could open-up desperately needed humanitarian corridors and coordinated health interventions. More than this, it might provide an opportunity to reinvigorate peace processes, reducing insecurity well beyond the pandemic.

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T.note
28/12/2020
Beirut blast disaster response: international aid and grassroots mobilization
Roberto Renino

The blast – equivalent to an earthquake of 3.5 magnitude – has been included among the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions, alongside other accidents resulting from the detonation of ammonium nitrate, such as the 2015 explosion in Tianjin, China. More than half of the approximately 200,000 damaged buildings in Beirut had their windows destroyed, injuring people in the streets and increasing the risk of burglary and looting, as assessed by the Lebanese Red Cross.

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T.note
28/12/2020
The COVID-19 crucible: health and national security in failed states
Charles Geisler

As our planet feels the siege-effects of an elusive pandemic, we are wise to reflect on the relationship between national health and national security. It is easy to see this relationship as always positive. Emerson put it succinctly: ‘the first wealth is health’. Decrepitude is bad for all parties – it weakens populations and imposes costs on states. But does national security ever come at the expense of public health and wellness – for example, in failed states? Might massive health failures be the signature of a failed state?

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