The European Union’s (EU) separatist movements have never had it so good. Faltering economic conditions, unpopular austerity measures and ‘out of touch’ governments have combined to reignite secessionism like never before. As a result, separatist fervour has never been so vocal – both in public and the national corridors of power. And there’s more to come. » More
Why is Al-Shabaab increasingly targeting Kenya?
In its statement following the attack, Al-Shabaab claimed it acted to avenge atrocities it alleges have been committed by the Kenyan military deployed in Somalia (now part of the African Union peace-support operation AMISOM). This puts pressure on the Kenyan commitment to that mission. Al-Shabaab also claimed that its fight is to liberate “all Muslim lands under Kenyan occupation”, including “north-astern province and the coast”. Despite being anachronistic given Kenya’s recent divisions into county based government, this language chimes with pan-Somali nationalist and irredentist slogans of the 1960s and 70s. » More
As tens of thousands of Western troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in recent months, there remains a pressing need for peacekeeping troops in many other unstable parts of the world.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, recently asked Europe to contribute more UN peacekeeping troops. This may sound ironic as the United States stopped providing Blue Helmets after the 1993 debacle in Somalia, which cost the lives of 43 U.S. soldiers. Europe, however, should answer the American call. Studies show the deployment of peacekeeping troops can diminish the chance of renewed conflict by 80%. In recent examples, UN Blue Helmets have calmed the situation in northern Mali and prevented atrocities in the Central African Republic. » More
Climate change, Ebola, IS, Ukraine … The world is not short of crises which cry out for a collective response. That is why, for 69 years, we have had the United Nations. People still expect it to provide that response, yet they are often disappointed.
Blame falls on the secretary-general (SG)—often unfairly, since he is really only the top civil servant. Political decisions are taken by the member states, in the General Assembly or the Security Council.
Still, among those decisions, choosing the right SG is one of the most important. He leads more than 40,000 staff, and oversees the work of 30 UN funds, programmes and agencies, dealing with a wide range of global issues.
The UN Charter allows him to alert the Security Council to “any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”. Behind the scenes, his “good offices” can be crucial in preventing or resolving conflict.
In recent decades he has played an important public role, reminding the world of the UN’s basic principles, suggesting ways to apply them to new problems and mobilising world public opinion to confront major challenges. He’s the nearest thing we have to a world leader. » More
Did Security Jam 2014 strike the right balance in terms of issues discussed, topics, categories etc.?
I believe that Security Jam 2014 did strike the right balance. Essentially it sought to unpack how Europe (i.e. the EU/NATO) would be able to adapt to new global security challenges. The discussions had were not just about weaponry and streamlining the processes by which EU/NATO constituent states operate, it sought to uncover other interesting elements of the security equation such as civil-military relations and the organizational implications of undertaking security in the 21st Century. And by security, I am using its broadest interpretation i.e. using the military instrument in missions other than war fighting, such as peacekeeping, providing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and cyber security. Furthermore, the forums on contemporary issues such as Ukraine and Syria, added a sense of urgency to the Jam. » More