This article was originally published by the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) on 13 January 2017.
Recent developments herald a troubled year for the Afghans
During 2015 and 2016, the Taliban have been on an offensive and gained territory. Particularly they have made inroads into strategic areas where the Taliban can control the roads. At the same time, there is an active fight between the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Taliban over 20% of the Afghan territory. How the final battle will fall out is unknown, but if the ANSF loses, the Taliban can end up controlling up to one-third of the country.
The past couple of years have seen an increase in violent incidents, an increase in militant actors and in both the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and Afghan returnees from the EU, Pakistan and Iran. The increase of violence is related both to the force used by insurgents and the Afghan government. The increase in militant actors is due to the military operation, known as the Zarb-e-Azb, launched by the Pakistani army in the tribal areas of Pakistan, which has pushed over new militants to Afghan soil, but also due to the entrance of the Islamic State into Afghanistan.
Peace dove/Mural azulejos día de la PAZ
This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 12 January 2016.
Despite an increased spotlight on the disconnection between international peacebuilders and the communities in which they work, the situation does not appear to have improved dramatically in the past year, according to Séverine Autesserre, Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University’s Barnard College.
Dr. Autesserre, whose 2014 book Peaceland is credited with bringing the problem to wider attention, said there may have been a change in discourse, but not in practice.
A major issue is that many people and organizations think that they are the rare exceptions to the rule, she said in a conversation with International Peace Institute Policy Analyst Margaret Williams.
“People may agree with the analysis and the need for change, but they may feel it is only for other people,” she said. “That may be why we haven’t seen so many changes in the past year.”
She said policymakers, practitioners, peacebuilders, local authorities, local populations and others have at least shown a greater interest in the exceptions, and these could be highlighted as models for reform.
Image: USAID Africa Bureau/Wikimedia
This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 15 September 2014.
On 26 August 2014, the two parties to the South Sudan conflict – the government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM in Opposition) – reached their fourth agreement aimed at ending the violence that broke out in mid-December 2013. The latest accord mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is called the Implementation Matrix of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement, and gives the two parties 45 days to form a unity government.
It follows three previous agreements: the January 2014 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and Status of Detainees; the May 2014 Agreement on the Recommitment on Humanitarian Matters of the Cessation of Hostilities; and the June 2014 commitment to the formation of a transitional government of national unity, which was intended to have happened within 60 days.
John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, courtesy of U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr
This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations on 22 May 2014.
During his trip to South Korea at the end of April, American President Barack Obama announced a “pause” in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, nine months into Secretary of State John Kerry’s flailing initiative. As the plan’s April 29, 2014 deadline approached, progress towards a first framework-agreement remained slow, if not inexistent. Washington hedged its bets on an exchange to prevent the process from complete derailment: the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) acceptance to postpone the deadline for talks, in return for a package making such extension acceptable, including most notably a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s follow up on his July 2013 promise to release a number of Palestinian prisoners. » More
Photo: © Sara Hellmüller
The M23’s recent abandonment of its armed struggle has renewed hopes for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, it also underlines a major problem that has characterized peace negotiations over the past decade – namely their primary focus on the “noisiest” actors whose actions aim to shock the collective international conscience. For peace to be sustainable, greater efforts are needed to localize peace initiatives.
From the battlefield to the negotiation table
On 5th November 2013, the Head of M23, Bertrand Bisimwa declared that the organization would henceforth end its armed revolt in the eastern DRC and pursue its objectives through political dialogue. This change of approach can be explained by four factors. First, the M23 experienced some important losses on the battlefield after the United Nations bolstered its MONUSCO stabilization mission with an intervention brigade that possesses a robust mandate to neutralize armed groups. Ground was also lost to the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) after it was strengthened, restructured and made more capable of going after M23 rebels. In addition, diplomatic pressure and suspension of development aid, mainly by the United States and European Union, prompted Rwanda to decrease its backing of the M23. Finally, the appointment of Mary Robinson as UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and Russell Feingold as US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their diplomatic engagement has undoubtedly played a part in moving the warring parties from the battlefield to the negotiation table. » More