The CSS Blog Network

Mindanao’s Memorandum of Disagreement

Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines

In support of peace? Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines. photo: Mark Navales/flickr

The 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was meant to solve the seemingly intractable and bloody conflict raging, for decades, between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was meant to give the disenfranchised and marginalized Muslim minority of the southern Philippines a homeland, self-rule and near-equal status with the Philippine central government after centuries of bloodshed. Instead of bringing the conflict, which reflects a centuries-old stuggle, to an almost clinically clean end, the collapse of the MOA-AD in the summer and fall of 2008 revealed the deep fissures at the heart of the conflict and laid bare the government’s inability and unwillingness to push through a potentially momentous peace deal.

The Memorandum of Agreement had, almost overnight revealed itself as little more than a fractured ‘Memorandum of Disagreement’ devoid of real political backing or popular support. » More

Crisis and Risk Network: Critical Infrastructure Protection

Critical Infrastructure Protection / Crisis and Risk Network

Critical Infrastructure Protection / Crisis and Risk Network

“Critical Infrastructure Protection,” is the latest publication from the Crisis and Risk Network. The work examines different concepts of critical infrastructure protection.

The publication reviews new knowledge on the issue from 2008 and 2009 from a variety of western states, focusing on cybersecurity, international cooperation and public-private partnerships.

The publication subsequently discusses strategies to improve critical infrastructure protection. The authors analyze the advantages of highly flexible public-private partnerships and inter-organizational networks.

The article concludes by listing the implications for Switzerland and features an annotated bibliography with relevant research.

Johnny Mad Dog: A Film on Child Soldiers, Played by Former Child Soldiers

Former child soldiers / Screenshot: Johnny Mad Dog Foundation

Former child soldiers / Screenshot: Johnny Mad Dog Foundation


A small group of Center for Security Studies staff watched the film “Johnny Mad Dog” today. It’s a war film played by former child soldiers of Liberia, filmed in Liberia about one and a half years after the actual war (1998-2003).

The Johnny Mad Dog Foundation was created with the aim of bringing a framework and support to the actors in the movie, most of whom fought with Charles Taylor or the Lurd Forces.

The film is highly graphic, difficult to watch and absorb at times, as it shows very realistically the utter mess of urban warfare in contemporary Africa. The crazy way the kids dress seems total fiction, until one sees the photos of the actual child soldiers during the Liberian war.

In the making of the film, former child soldiers were interviewed, and they were very clear that they wanted to tell their own story, give a voice to the unspeakable experiences they had been involved in, how they were manipulated, so that in their turn they start manipulating and violating others.

Academics and even staff of ‘conflict resolution’ NGOs often work with texts, juggling concepts, theories and methodologies. In contrast, this kind of film puts a human face on to violence. It reminds one of the brutality that comes with conflict and the emotions that are conjured.

Once the war ends, the suffering continues, and it is extremely difficult for former child soldiers to find a place in society. However, it is not as though they have become war machines, the film shows how aspects of humanity remain, how they can switch their emotions off, but at times also on again. Video extracts from the film can be seen at TFM Distribution.

According to the Child Soldiers Global Report 2008, there are many tens of thousands of child soldiers in armed forces and groups, in about 19 different countries.

You can find more about the issue of child soldiers on the ISN website.

Crisis and Risk Network: Examining Resilience

Examining Resilience / Crisis and Risk Network

Examining Resilience / Crisis and Risk Network

The Crisis and Risk Network has released its latest fact sheet: “Examining Resilience: A concept to improve societal security and technical safety.” The fact sheet explains the concept of resilience in civil defense, defining resilience as a system’s ability to withstand shocks and to recover quickly.

CSS researchers Jennifer Giroux and Elgin Brunner note that many states recognize that not all threats can be averted and emphasize efforts to enhance the flexibility of technical tools as well as society as a whole. Specifically, they focus on the use of modern technologies such as mobile phones and social media in order to effectively communicate with the population. The fact sheet includes case studies and lays out implications for Switzerland’s civil defense.

UN, G20 and the Dollar

Dollars ! / Photo: pfala, Flickr

Dollars ! / Photo: pfala, Flickr

In the August 2009 ISN Special Issue entitled “Redesigning Global Finances- The End of Dollar Dominance?“, I asked whether the window of opportunity to redesign the global financial architecture has already passed with no real progress having been made. This week, the UN Trade and Development report was published, calling for a “new approach to multilateral exchange-rate management to complement stricter financial regulation.” Their critique of the dollar system contains the usual arguments: it is prone to fluctuations, creates current account disequilibria and requires poor countries to create huge reserves better used elsewhere. To mend this, they suggest nothing less than a new Bretton Woods system. Accordingly, it would be based on managed flexible exchange rates at sustainable levels, thus making great fluctuations and currency crisis a thing of the past and level the playing field for international trade. The report is interesting not because it contains revolutionary new ideas, but because a UN agency officially calls for alternatives to the dollar system.
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