Regardless of whether Obama or McCain won last year’s US presidential elections, today’s event would have taken place either way. Today, Iraq is celebrating “National Sovereignty Day.” The date for today’s US combat troop withdrawal from all Iraqi cities, towns and villages was agreed upon by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was overly eager to see US combat troops leave (and take credit for it). » More
In an insightful photo essay titled ‘Life in a Failed State’, Foreign Policy provides us with a sobering view on what life looks like in some of the most desolate countries in the world.
Haunting images serve as visual reminders of the failure of national governments and the international community to address the conflicts and history of instability and underdevelopment that underlies their fragility.
The 20 top countries on the 2009 Failed States Index are featured, among them: Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan.
Further, for a rare glimpse into life in North Korea, check out a haunting slideshow by Tomas van Houtryve for Foreign Policy.
“Everyone dies, but not every death has the same meaning.” (Ulrike Meinhof)
It is June. Thousands of students gather on the streets, venting their anger at the Iranian leadership which they consider to be corrupt and dictatorial. Suddenly, shots tear through the air. A young protester taking part in a political demonstration for the very first time, covered in blood, draws some last breath on an empty side road.
That protester is not Neda Agha-Soltan, but Benno Ohnesorg. And we are not talking about June 2009 on the streets of Teheran, but rather of June 1967 on the streets of then West Berlin. And well, the corrupt and dictatorial Iranian leadership is not (yet) to be confused with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is still Persian with Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi ruling from the “Peacock Throne.”
This week, the ISN focuses on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over this de facto independent territory has been running since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Mediation efforts by the ‘Minsk Group’, a group of OSCE member states, haven’t brought any substantial success. Some even argue that they’ve been counterproductive.
As other disputes stuck in a ‘no peace, no war’ situation for so long, Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to the ‘frozen conflicts’ species. But the dramatic meltdown of the South Ossetia conflict last summer showed that frozen conflicts should be taken very seriously indeed.
- Check out this ISN Special Report on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by our senior correspondent in the South Caucasus, Karl Rahder.
- For information on current peace and stabilization efforts, check out this OSCE link and this ICBSS Policy Brief.
- And here are two papers pulled out of our Digital Library: one by the Elcano Royal Institute on foreign mujahedin in Nagorno-Karabakh and one by Swisspeace on ‘no war, no peace’ societies.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the event that lay the foundation for international humanitarian law and humanitarian aid. The grueling battle of Solferino saw the launch of Henry Dunant’s campaign that resulted in the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions setting today’s standards for humanitarian law.
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
The ICRC, which owes its existence to Solferino, commissioned an opinion survey about the needs and expectations of people in eight of the most troubled places in the world (Afghanistan, Colombia, DRC, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Philippines).
Not surprisingly, the study concludes that armed conflict causes extreme widespread suffering. Almost half of the people surveyed have personal experience of armed conflict. Numbers are topping in Haiti, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Liberia, where almost everyone is affected. Around half of the people with conflict experience are displaced or have lost contact with a close relative. Almost one-third have lost family members.
Contrary to what we probably would expect, people in these eight countries are optimistic about the future. All the same, anxiety and sadness rises and trust declines as a result of conflict.