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T.note
21/12/2020
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
16/12/2020
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
27/11/2020
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
17/11/2020
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
6/11/2020
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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Event
27/10/2020
Year-Long Engaging Conflict 2020
T.wai
Year-Long Engaging Conflict is a series of online seminars addressing some of the most critical issues in peace and conflict studies. Drawing from the themes and faculty of the Engaging Conflict Summer School, the seminars aim at critically exploring the complex dynamics of conflict as well as the relevance and impact of different research agendas, policy choices and normative standing.
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T.note
23/10/2020
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
19/10/2020
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
9/10/2020
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
28/9/2020
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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T.note
21/9/2020
Armed non-state actors: a brief attempt at a portrayal
Michael von der Schulenburg
Although ANSAs are now central to armed conflicts worldwide, there is no agreed definition about who or what they are. Proposed definitions appear to focus on terrorism and security issues, ignoring the fact that ANSAs are far more complex social and political phenomena. To recapture their diversity, it might be better to define ANSAs more widely as organized and structured groups that: (a) replace state authorities in controlling partly or fully the lives of groups of populations; (b) challenge states’ monopolies of the use of force in pursuit of their political and/or criminal aims; (c) operate outside any international law and international conventions; and (d) are not legally recognized entities.
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Event
3/5/2020
Engaging Conflict 2020: moving to online format
Organizing committee
Due to the global pandemic, Engaging Conflict 2020 will be held in online format.
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T.note
2/3/2020
Preventing the Rohingya genocide in Rakhine: The ICJ Provisional Measures in The Gambia v. Myanmar
Mauro Politi
The order issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ or “the Court”) on 23 January 2020 (“the Order”), indicating provisional measures in the dispute between The Gambia and Myanmar on the application of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (also “the Genocide Convention”), represents an important step in the efforts of the international community to put an end to the humanitarian emergency in Myanmar/Bangladesh and related grave crimes against the Rohingya population.
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T.note
24/1/2020
Endangered Cambodian indigenous peoples: Land dispossession and cultural genocide
Frédéric Bourdier
Indigenous peoples who previously lived in the forests have become a human obstacle for local private enterprises and transnational corporate ventures involved in resource extraction/conversion (timber, minerals, hydro and agribusiness). Immediate economic benefits are expected, without anything being offered to indigenous peoples besides underpaid and precarious daily-wage employment. For those who manage to keep small portions of land, an aggressive political discourse tainted with disdain for traditional livelihoods has contributed to the progressive abandonment of swidden agriculture in favour of monocrop plantations, thereby transforming the peasants of the forest into market-dependent producers.
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T.note
14/1/2020
The contribution of civil society organizations in responding to terrorism in Uganda
Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, Kanakulya Dickson, Venerandah Mbabazi
Measures to counter extreme violence are often assumed to be effective when in fact more research and analysis is required to better understand their actual effectiveness and impact. Most studies on African responses to terrorism focus solely on state-led interventions, with little attention being paid to non-state agency. Acknowledging this gap, in 2016, Makerere University launched a research project funded by the United States Institute for Peace on the nature, impact and effectiveness of counter-terrorism and peacebuilding activities carried out by non-state actors, particularly CSOs.
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T.note
14/5/2019
Increasing public confidence and satisfaction in policing through a victim-centred approach: a pilot project in Kosovo
William Brame, Giuseppe Lettieri
Citizens’ confidence in policing agencies represents a performance indicator of police reliability, trustworthiness and understanding of communities’ concerns. Many studies proved that citizens’ perceptions of policing agencies directly affect the police’s capacity to tackle crime and be aware of major security and safety concerns of local communities. Moreover, cases in which an improved service was provided to different typologies of victims showed positive effects on the overall level of confidence in police work. This becomes particularly true in countries that have experienced conflict, violence and political turmoil, where the police are often associated with the ruling power and those that have committed atrocities and severe violations of human rights.
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T.note
14/2/2019
Combating insecurity through membership? Gang girls in Medellín, Colombia
Katharina Mann
It is uncontested that urban violence, fuelled by street gangs, presents new challenges to security. Big cities around the globe are increasingly witnessing the emergence of youth gangs in their poor neighbourhoods. Armed, tattooed young men dominate the images of these street groups, which are linked to heightened and fragile concepts of masculinity. But what insights do we gain when we consider gangs beyond the gender-sensitive focus on men, to illuminate female gang membership? For one thing, we need to acknowledge that the urban deprivation structures from which gangs arise are pertained by different gender realities. For another, young women play manifold roles in gangs as they offer spaces for gender performances beyond traditional role models.
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T.note
14/12/2018
Hovering between peace and war: the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Luca Jourdan
Uncertainty is exacerbating existing conflict dynamics in the country. In 2016, the Kasai province witnessed the outbreak of a rebellion led by Jean-Pierre Mpandi, a local leader opposed to the Kinshasa government, which failed to recognize him as a traditional leader. The harsh reaction of the central government and the military intervention in the region resulted in thousands of refugees flooding into Angola. Despite the turmoil in Kasai, the greater risk of conflict comes from the eastern regions, most notably North Kivu and South Kivu. There, political uncertainty favours the proliferation of armed groups in a context of fragmentation and fluid alliances. In the area surrounding Beni, a town in North Kivu, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) continues to rage.
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T.note
14/12/2018
What’s in a term? The challenge of finding common terminology for ethnic alliance-building in Myanmar’s peace process
SiuSue Mark
Those actively involved in or supporting Myanmar’s peacebuilding process should acknowledge the fact that the challenge among ethnic actors to reach an agreement over terminology weakens their efforts to articulate collective identities and desired alternatives. Nation-building in Myanmar will require to strike the balance between recognizing ethnic grievances and moving the country forward, towards inclusive secular political institutions. And for this, terminology has an important supporting role. In the long run, the term “citizen” would ideally be the most suitable to build a political community in which all people, irrespective of their ethnic belonging, accept and abide by a common set of institutions that are neutral towards identity markers. Yet, other terms should also remain and valued to acknowledge the rich diversity that makes up the Union of Myanmar.
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T.note
14/10/2018
War and the coming of Artificial Intelligence
Cristopher Coker
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already transforming our lives, for good or ill. And in the case of war, killing machines are not just the weapons of the future; they are already here. Israel already uses the Harpy, a drone that seeks out and destroys radar systems on its own without human permission, loitering in the sky until a target appears.
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T.note
14/8/2018
Minsk Agreements: a difficult solution for Ukraine
Giulio Benedetti
The conflict has brought about a decisive loss of Moscow’s leverage in relation to Kiev. Reintegrating Donbass on the terms indicated by the Minsk Agreements would mean a partial restoration of this influence, an outcome that few in Ukraine are likely to accept swiftly. But the return of a robust group of then-separatist deputies into the heart of Ukrainian politics and the virulent opposition that the nationalists would probably have towards such a scenario are not the only costs that the government would have to face. In fact, once reintegrated into Ukraine, the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk would require substantial investment to reconstruct an industrial system that was already suffering before the political troubles because of the economic crisis. It is not by accident that the economic development of the regions was explicitly included in the text of the Agreements and thus laid on the table of future negotiation.
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T.note
14/7/2018
Beyond the militarist approach: a new challenge for Mali
Francesco Merlo
The security crisis in Mali has deep roots. First, it is linked to its geographical challenges, because it is a landlocked state, subject to desertification of rural areas and exposed to wider regional instability. Second, with over 30 ethnic groups, Malian civil society is highly fragmented and these divisions are particularly strong between sub-Saharan identities (where the Bambara predominate) and Arab-Berber identities (whose main group are the Tuareg). Third, Mali has a long history of bad governance, especially in its north-eastern provinces, where poor administration has enforced social, economic and political inequalities between those living in the south-west, mainly of sub-Saharan ethnicities, and those in the north-east, where the Tuareg are concentrated. The combination of these structural fragilities has led to the exacerbation of tensions between ethnic groups, where the growing use of identity politics has been instrumental in deepening the interethnic cleavages and sharpening the conflict.
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T.note
14/6/2018
The specter of MS-13: Understanding fears and perceptions of belonging among diaspora Salvadorans
Donna De Cesare
The US President frequently claims that illegal immigrants cause the loss of innocent lives and often cites the gang MS-13 as justification for harsh treatment of immigrants. Although the resulting fear and pain inflicted are most acute among those hard-working immigrants who have built their lives in the US, it also creates anxiety among Latino diaspora communities in Europe. The US has a long history of criminalizing and stigmatizing immigrants even though it also takes pride in being a nation of immigrants. Irish and Italians who migrated in vast numbers in the 19th and 20th centuries suffered discrimination and prejudice and were characterized in the US press and in political speeches as criminals, drunkards, brawlers, Mafiosi, undesirables. The danger in the 21st century is that these aspersions have not only broad repercussions, but are deeply socially divisive with potentially deadly consequences.
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T.note
14/4/2018
War By Another Name? The ‘Urban Turn’ in 21st Century Violence
Kieran Mitton
In the early twenty-first century, as inter-state war appeared to decline in frequency, new forms and discourses of ‘war’ took prominence, epitomised by the ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘War on Drugs.’ For some critics, the use of the term ‘war’ in these contexts was deeply problematic. Ensuing debate underlined that precisely what constitutes war, and what divides it from peace and other situations of violence, would now be questioned in unprecedented and fundamental ways.
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T.note
14/4/2018
Whither EU–Russia Relations?
Irina Busygina
Today, relations between Russia and the European Union are in a deep and protracted crisis: what started as a project of high hopes, ambitions and enthusiasm in the early 1990s is now associated with deep disappointment, despite the geographical proximity and economic interdependence that arguably compel both sides to cooperate. Why has the relationship between Russia and the EU deteriorated so quickly and seemingly irreversibly – at least in the short and medium term?
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T.note
14/12/2017
Counter-terrorism in the United Kingdom: between security and human rights
Stefano Bonino
Since the late 1970s, when a wave of contemporary immigration to the United Kingdom was supplemented by an influx of Islamists from Arab and South Asian countries, the United Kingdom has had to figure out how to best incorporate different ideologies within its liberal-democratic socio-political structure. In the mid-1990s, with the arrival in the UK of Arab jihadists with ties to al-Qaeda, the effectiveness of state multiculturalism and its relaxed attitudes towards beliefs that go against democratic values were once again put to the test. Being both a close ally of the United States – even in controversial foreign policy decisions – and a country that hosts a large population of Pakistanis who can easily access terrorist camps and militant groups in Afghanistan, the United Kingdom has seen an estimated 850 jihadists travel to Syria and Iraq in the name of jihad.
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T.note
14/10/2017
The Politics of Conflict-Generated Diasporas
Elise Féron
Over the past decade, the literature on diaspora politics has been growing. The concept of diaspora is a much-debated one, with definitions generally focusing on core features, such as its being: a voluntary or involuntary dispersion; a collective memory and myth about the country of origin; a troubled relationship with the country of settlement; a commitment to the homeland’s safety and prosperity. Other core features include the presence of the issue of return, though not necessarily a commitment to do so, or a diasporic consciousness, which can be expressed through the creation of diaspora organisations. From that perspective, groups of migrants may constitute a diaspora if, with time, they develop these organisational and imaginative elements upon which they develop a shared identity.
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T.note
14/7/2017
Why Institutions of Security Can Fail to Provide Experiences of Security
Gearoid Millar
Institutions of security – the military, police and judiciary – are critical for peaceful governance in states throughout the world. It is for this reason that so much funding and manpower is committed to Security Sector Reform (SSR) in post-conflict peacebuilding: the rewriting of constitutions and laws, the establishment of courts and prison systems, the restructuring of militaries and the retraining and redeployment of police. Such processes function to re-establish the institutions of security. However, do such processes result in experiences of security? Should it be taken as given that a restructured military and a retrained police force make people feel more secure?
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T.note
14/6/2017
Identity manipulation and spontaneous mobilization: the persistence of low-intensity conflict in the Rwenzori region
Stefano Ruzza
Among the violent events that have affected – and unfortunately still affect – Uganda, a prominent place is undoubtedly occupied by the insurgency in the northern regions, the key figure of which is the infamous Joseph Kony. Less well known, also due to lower levels of violence, are the vicissitudes affecting the western portion of the country, in particular the region called Rwenzori: an area on the border with Congo, which has a long tradition of rebellion against the Ugandan government. It has also become infamous for a series of episodes that have caused several hundred deaths altogether.
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T.note
14/2/2017
Climate change and natural resources in the Arctic
Temuu Palosaari
The Arctic can be presented as a prime example of a region where international legislation appears to be effectively working. The coastal states of the Arctic Ocean – Canada, Iceland, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark/Greenland – have jointly declared that they will follow the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and have been mapping their seabed to provide scientific evidence of their territorial claims to the United Nations. The UN Commission on the Limits on the Continental Shelf (CLCS) will then give recommendations regarding the maritime boundaries of each state. Questions of ownership of underwater minerals, oil, and gas will also be solved on international law.
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T.note
14/11/2016
Human (In)Security in Africa and Climate Change
Charles Geisler
Agonistes, the name John Milton gave to the biblical Samson, could apply to Africa as that continent confronts radically altered climate conditions. Africa survives on agriculture, the source of 64 percent of its employment. On top of neocolonialism, recurring epidemics, resource plunder, deep ethnic divisions, global land grabs, civil wars and weak-state circumstances, African farmers confront mounting weather woes and related sea level incursions.
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T.note
14/7/2016
Systems in conflict, systems in peace
Lorraine Charbonnier
Understanding the nature of violent conflicts is a long-standing quest that has always attracted scholars and practitioners. However, conflict analysis as a form of applied qualitative research for the study of the profile, causes, stakeholders, and dynamics of conflicts only emerged in the mid-1990s. It evolved thereafter, driven by advancements made in academic research on conflicts, the collection of field experiences, and the observation of tangible changes occurring internationally.
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T.note
14/2/2016
(Un)democracy and security in the African Great Lakes Region
Stefano Ruzza
The lack of leader turnover, even when justified with claims of stability and prosperity, comes at the expenses of democratic quality.
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T.note
14/11/2015
Military Spending in East Asia: A Growing Concern?
Stefano Ruzza, Giorgia Brucato
Empirical proof of growing tensions in the Far East can also be traced in the data on global military expendituree, as presented in the latest edition of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook.
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Street gangs as a form of glocal radicalization
Fabio Armao
The spread of youth gangs has accompanied the origin and development of large industrialized cities, starting with countries such as the United States of America. In recent decades, however, the phenomenon has undergone unprecedented expansion also in Europe and emerging countries as a result of the uncontrolled growth of urbanization; and it has taken on new transnational forms, thanks to the increased criminal mobility favoured by globalization.
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