Mediation Perspectives: What is Mediation?

Pictured here are US Secretary of State John Kerry and Swiss Federation Council President Didier Burkhalter at the Geneva II conference on Syria. Image: Wikimedia

On 25 November 2014, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with various German mediation support NGOs, organized a conference on peace mediation. The aims of the conference were to explore the role that Germany can play in this field and to raise the country’s profile as a conflict mediator. As part of the discussion, one of the working groups focused on the types of human resources and institutional structures needed for effective mediation and mediation support. In this context, the first question to arise was “what is mediation?” Indeed, only once this question is answered can the relevant resources and institutions be assembled to effectively provide the desired forms of ‘mediation.’ This implies that the first step for organizations seeking to expand their role as mediators is to be clear about what exactly they have in mind. » More

Mediation Perspectives: Time to Build Bridges between Tribes in South Sudan

Image: European Commission/flickr

When, a decade ago, the independence of South Sudan became a serious option, it was politically correct to foster great illusions about its future. However, as Sudan itself was considered to be a failed state, there was a risk that simply dividing the country might create two failed states. In addition, a glance at the modern history of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda reveals a pattern from which South Sudan could hardly expect to escape.  In each of these countries, when victorious rebel armies took full political control, they established authoritarian regimes that remain in power decades later. » More

Comments Off

How (Not) To Write about African Wars

Rwandan genocide memorial church. Image: Adam Jones/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 30 September 2014.

Even a seasoned follower of political affairs might be excused for struggling to make sense of the seemingly worsening vortex of ongoing armed conflicts. Chances are, given the recent war in Gaza, the promising but still fragile developments in Afghanistan, and the twinned and tragic mess Syria and Iraq has become, his analytic brain might be reasonably overwhelmed.

But, to be sure, in the daily media discourse, some of the complicated nuances of these events have been gaining attention, making their way into public debates and helping form policy positions and diplomatic or military options. In short, news and information consumers are treated to a varied diet in relation to the coverage of world conflicts— most of which, in recent years, have been internal civil wars.

The argument holds, however, only if African civil wars are removed from the list. As it appears, those belong to a different category. For African civil wars, if the dominant media discourse is to be believed, explanations are easy and definitive. » More

Comments Off

Yemen Deal Brings Little Solace

Protestors in the streets of Sanaa. Image: Sallam/Wikimedia.

This article was originally published by IRIN on 23 September 2014.

With northern rebels claiming the capital Sana’a and Al-Qaeda militants increasing their attacks in the south, Yemen’s security crisis is likely to continue, experts believe. While a new agreement between the Houthi rebels and the government may have temporarily reduced fears of all-out civil war, the country’s political, security and economic crises are unlikely to ease, leading NGOs to fear increasing humanitarian needs. » More

Comments Off

Robust Peacekeeping – A Desirable Development?

Image: flickr/Irish Defense Forces


This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 2 September, 2014.

A UN-sponsored report recently concluded that more than 191,000 people have now been killed in the Syrian conflict. Commenting on the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay strongly criticized the Security Council for its inaction. The case of Syria has once again raised the question about the relevance of the UN and its ability to protect civilians. While civilians are being slaughtered on the battlefield, the UN Security Council fails to agree on an appropriate reaction. It may remind us of historical failures of the UN, like in Rwanda and Bosnia. What happened to the promises that “never again” would this happen? » More

Comments Off
Page 1 of 36