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Can We Predict Political Uprisings?

Image courtesy of MudflapDC/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 19 June 2017.

Forecasting political unrest is a challenging task, especially in this era of post-truth and opinion polls.

Several studies by economists such as Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler in 1998 and 2002 describe how economic indicators, such as slow income growth and natural resource dependence, can explain political upheaval. More specifically, low per capita income has been a significant trigger of civil unrest.

Economists James Fearon and David Laitin have also followed this hypothesis, showing how specific factors played an important role in Chad, Sudan, and Somalia in outbreaks of political violence.

According to the International Country Risk Guide index, the internal political stability of Sudan fell by 15% in 2014, compared to the previous year. This decrease was after a reduction of its per capita income growth rate from 12% in 2012 to 2% in 2013.

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Finally! A Peace Policy for Kenya

“Keep Peace”, carved in a tree in Kibera, Kenya during the post election violence in 2008. Image: The Advocacy Project/Flickr

This article was originally published by Saferworld on 4 November, 2015.

The need for a national framework to guide efforts to prevent conflict and build peace in Kenya cannot be overstated. For a long time Northern Kenya was seen as the most problematic region of the country, with frequent incidents of cattle rustling fuelled by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The rest of Kenya remained ‘peaceful’, except for the cycles of political violence that have erupted during every election since the introduction of a multi-party democracy in 1992. The worst political violence was experienced in 2007–08, raising concern about the country’s capacity to deal with such high levels of violence and the effectiveness of its early warning and response, mediation, and security deployment. » More

In Northern Ireland and Beyond, Peace Takes Time: Q&A with Gary Mason

A Belfast mural attacking the British Government. Image: Miossec/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 10 April 2015.

It is now 17 years since the Good Friday Agreement brought what seemed to be a definitive end to the decades-long sectarian crisis in Northern Ireland. But, in a case that has repercussions for other peace processes such as Israel-Palestine, one of the architects of the agreement says there is still much work to be done before a line can be drawn beneath the conflict once and for all. » More

Political Turmoil and the Pakistani Army – What’s next?

Imran Khan, Pakistani Opposition Leader. Image: WEF/Wikimedia

This article was  originally published as Why Pakistan’s Army Stands to Gain From Political Turmoil  by the East Asia Forum on 18 September, 2014.

The political turmoil in Pakistan is approaching a decisive point. The ongoing protests led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri against Nawaz Sharif’s government have the potential to develop into a clash between democracy and the military. Already the crisis has given the Pakistani army greater political leverage. » More

Book Review: The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim

Image: Robert Croma/Flickr

This article was originally published by the LSE Review of Books on 15 September, 2014.

The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited. Louisa Lim. Oxford University Press. 2014.

It is astonishing that the 25th anniversary of one of the key events in China’s modern history has triggered comparatively little academic activity. The occupation of Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators in the spring of 1989 and the ensuing massacre in the streets of Beijing committed by the People’s Liberation Army was an event that brought many consequences for China. It thoroughly put an end to any reform of China’s political system while ensuring the continuation and indeed acceleration of the country’s economic transformation. It also ushered in a new era in which the history of class struggle has been turned into a history of China’s national humiliation. Finally, it made it possible to elevate nationalism and consumerism to core values supported by the party-state and to legitimate to a considerable extent the enormous effort and cost of the now most important task of ‘stability maintenance’. » More

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