Categories
Intelligence Technology

Brazil Doubles Down on Cyber Security

Brazilian flag. Image: bea_marques/Pixabay.

This article was originally published by OpenDemocracy on 20 November, 2014.

Brazil has embraced the digital age with more gusto than most countries. It is one of the top users of social media and recently signed-off on a bill of rights for the Internet, the marco civil. The country is also a leader in the development of online banking with more than 43% of web users engaging such services, and can be proud of a thriving software industry, including some world beating companies.

But as computer users around the world are beginning to grasp, the spread of the digital world has its downsides. Alongside all the great things the Internet offers, not least new forms of political and economic empowerment, it brings some very serious threats.

Categories
International Relations

The United Nations Turns to Stabilization

A United Nations long range patrol in Liberia, 2006. Image: Irish Defence Forces/Flickr

This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 5 December 2014.

Stabilization is catching on in security and development circles. It is the object of growing attention among military practitioners in particular, and US-led stability operations are currently ongoing in at least 50 fragile settings, especially in the Americas, Africa and the Middle East. Other governments including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are invested in stabilization, albeit adopting different approaches. Although expanding in number and scale, the conceptual and operational parameters of these stabilization interventions are still opaque. Moreover, their actual record of success is still only dimly understood. There is in fact an emerging backlash challenging the underlying theory, assumptions and practices of stabilization.

Categories
Humanitarian Issues Regional Stability

Central American Blow-Back

Image: Amnesty International/Flickr

They are usually given the choice to leave immediately or stay, and be killed. Central America´s desperate, or deseperados, are fleeing their homes in record numbers. This year alone more than 60,000 undocumented children have already made the perilous trek from the northern triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to the United States.

The scale of the displacement crisis is staggering. U.S. customs officials picked-up 17,500 unaccompanied children from Honduras, 15,700 from Guatemala and 14,500 from El Salvador this year. There were just 3,000 from all three countries combined in 2009.

Many of these children are now in limbo, interned in 100 shelters scattered along the US-Mexico border. They join an estimated 11.7 million pool of “illegals” that negotiated extreme hardship in pursuit of a better life.

Categories
Social Media Government

Brazil’s Wired Protests

Image by Alexander Hugo Tártari / Flickr.

The mass demonstrations that convulsed Brazil in June and July 2013 are more than a raw display of people power; they confirm that we are living in a new era of digitally enhanced protest.

The storyline is by now well rehearsed. What started out as a modest protest by the little-known Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement)–a group calling for free public transport over the past decade–went viral. Only a few thousand members initially turned up in São Paulo to reject the equivalent of a $0.09 hike on bus fares and corrupt tendering processes for the issuance of transportation licenses.

When their protest was brutally put down by the military police, over a million people from more than 350 cities in Brazil and around the world took to the streets to march against all manner of grievances. The rapid spread of these demonstrations is the ultimate expression of open empowerment–the emboldening of millions of wired young people worldwide to press for change.

Categories
Security

Fragile Cities Rising

Aerial view fo a favela. Photo: Domenico Marchi/Flickr
Favela Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Domenico Marchi/Flickr.

A new social category recently emerged on the security and development landscape–the fragile city. The preoccupation with “fragile” and “failed” cities–at least in military circles–echoes many of the very same anxieties associated with failed and fragile states. Such cities are said to experience ruptures in the social contracts binding governments and citizens and a declining ability to regulate and monopolize legitimate violence across their territories. In extreme cases, municipal governance systems and security apparatus collapse altogether.

The dizzying pace of urbanization in the twenty-first century is believed to exacerbate fragility in large and intermediate cities. The United Nations estimates that the world’s slum population will reach two billion by 2030, accounting for the majority of all future global population growth. A growing cadre of relief and development specialists is also aware how some cities–Ciudad Juárez, Medellín, Karachi, and Tegucigalpa–are synonymous with a new kind of fragility with severe humanitarian implications. While not necessarily affected by armed conflict, these and other urban centers are seized by levels of violence on par with war-torn Abidjan, Benghazi, Damascus, or Mogadishu.