A recent spate of violence in Sudan’s western region of Darfur has left tens of thousands displaced; humanitarian agencies say they are struggling to access populations in need of support.
An estimated 2.3 million people remain displaced by Darfur’s decade-long conflict.
A number of peace agreements – most recently the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur – have failed to halt the intermittent clashes between the government and rebel groups in the region. In early April, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) in East Darfur State displaced several thousand people; SLA-MM managed to capture took two towns – Muhajiriya and Labado – for ten days, but the SAF has since retaken them.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder once said, “They have it wrong if they ask if Schroeder favors Britain over France or France over Britain. Schroeder favors Germany.” Watching David Cameron with family enjoying a German weekend break with Angela Merkel one could be forgiven for thinking all is well in the British-German relationship. And yet for all the well-publicized frictions it is equally clear that Cameron and Merkel get on. It is also clear that the two countries need and will need each other. Is this the beginning of a British-German axis?
There is after all much to unite Britain and Germany. According to the CIA World Factbook (it must be true then) Britain and Germany are the two biggest EU countries with the two largest economies by purchasing power parity. Germany is Europe’s economic leader whilst Britain remains (just) Europe’s military leader. The two countries also share a surprisingly close strategic relationship on a whole raft of issues not least the two most pressing: the lack of fiscal resources and the need for Europe to become competitive.
An outcome that does not make everyone happy is the hallmark of a successful negotiation process, to paraphrase Australian Ambassador Peter Woolcott, president of the United Nations’ Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). He and his team certainly achieved that goal. Most states and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) agree that the treaty text does not meet the expectations that were created over the past two decades. However, mitigating this situation is the belief that six years after the ATT has come into force, states will be able to make amendments to strengthen the treaty. Whether this is viable is a question for another day.
The immediate future of the ATT, in the case of Africa, is to find answers to the question on implementation. Each African state will have to evaluate what resources it has available and then determine what resources are needed to implement the treaty. Several states have been developing capacity on reporting on other treaties and instruments such as the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA) and the International Tracing Instrument. These instruments impact on different areas of conventional arms, and small arms and light weapons.
Within a week after sectarian riots and arson attacks tore through central Myanmar, conflict monitors and human rights advocates could see the damage via satellite images and tally the number of buildings burned and acres destroyed. In the not-so-distant past, similar data collection required weeks or months of field surveying and interviews with victims and observers; in some cases, post-conflict documentation was delayed for years by government prohibitions on investigations, as well as ongoing violence and safety risks. But the use of geospatial technology such as satellite imagery is rapidly changing human rights monitoring and conflict prevention work, making detailed documentation of violence and rights abuses possible almost in real-time.
Political heavyweights such as David Cameron and Angela Merkel have recently proclaimed that multiculturalism has failed, underlining the tension between the securitisation of migration and the on-going need for integration, or the incorporation of minorities into society. European Multiculturalisms: Cultural, Religious and Ethnic Challenges offers an assessment of the different ways in which European countries have dealt with diversity. Multiculturalism is one such ‘mode of integration’ that recognises that ‘social existence consists of individuals and groups, and that both need to be provided for in the formal and informal distribution of powers’ (p. 4). While the presumed crisis of multiculturalism has given it an air of obsoleteness, the authors argue that in fact, multiculturalism remains the best way to conceptualise citizenship in the globalised and diverse societies of Europe.
The book presents findings from a large international research project (EMILIE) and consists of two parts that reflect the twofold aims of this interdisciplinary study: the first part contains theoretical and conceptual reflections and refinements; and the second part focuses on the empirical and comparative exploration of the political responses developed during the alleged crisis of multiculturalism in seven case studies: five in Northern Europe, where immigration has been on the political agenda for some time now (Belgium, the UK, Denmark, France and Germany); and two in Southern Europe, where immigration has become an issue only relatively recently (Spain and Greece). Two countries in Central Eastern Europe, which face emigration rather than immigration, are also sometimes referred to (Poland and Latvia). Together, they help to both grasp and evaluate recent developments in the accommodation of minorities, and particularly Muslims, and contribute to our understanding of the ‘crisis of multiculturalism’ as well as the variety of multiculturalisms present in Europe.