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Justice in Syria Could Help Break the Cycle of Revenge: Interview with Jeffrey Howell

Image: Wikipedia.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 2 April 2014 on the IPI Global Observatory.

While the war in Syria rages on, the concept of justice may seem like a distant ideal. But one group is collecting documentation on war crimes and crimes against humanity so that perpetrators may be brought to justice when the conflict ends. At that time, “the decision to prosecute should be made so that the victims of this conflict have not died in vain,” said Jeffrey Howell, Chief of Staff for the Syrian Accountability Project, which was started at Syracuse University’s College of Law in 2011. In the long term, this can also contribute to peace by breaking the cycle of revenge, according to Mr. Howell, since “you can’t rebuild your country on revenge; you can only rebuild your country on justice.”

This interview was conducted by Margaret Williams, Research Assistant at the International Peace Institute. » More

Reducing the Risk of War with Water

Reservoir and intake tower behind the Katse Dam, Lesotho. Photo: Beest/Wikimedia Commons.

Water has become a hot button issue on the international stage. The fear of water scarcity and its implications for human security has been acknowledged by leaders and decision makers across the globe. For example, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has warned that “the consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict.” Yet, the challenges posed by water scarcity are a manifestation of the lack of management of resources rather than an actual physical shortage. So while conflict over water resources is possible in many parts of the world, the threat is not due to scarcity but mismanagement. This begs a question – can water bodies ever be jointly managed for equal benefit? We at the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) believe so.

The Good News

According to the findings of our new report “Water Cooperation for a Secure World”, any two countries that are engaged in active water cooperation do not go to war. We are also convinced that if countries cooperate to ensure water supplies they are also far less likely to come to blows over ideologies, economic competition and other factors. Indeed, cooperation between states over water resources not only reduces the chances of war, but also enhances the prospect for social and economic development in other areas. » More

Shocking Satellite Photos Open New Avenues for Conflict Prevention and Response

Before-and-after images posted by Human Rights Watch show buildings destroyed or severely damaged by violence that began on March 20, 2013 in Meiktila, Myanmar.

Before-and-after images posted by Human Rights Watch show buildings destroyed or severely damaged by violence that began on March 20, 2013 in Meiktila, Myanmar.

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. » More

The ISN at this year’s Global Media Forum

Global Media Forum Banner

Bonn is hosting the second Global Media Forum (GMF), 3-5 June, organized by Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

The forum addresses conflict prevention in the multimedia age, with the main topics including media freedom, media in Africa and the challenges posed by new technologies.

Read all about it, as the Deutsche Welle has recently launched the GMF blog. The conference organizers are also on Twitter @DW_GMF. Photo material will be available on the Deutsche Welle Flickr page.

As for us, we will be at the GMF in Bonn this year. Stay tuned for our liveblogging from the GMF and for our conference daily tweets (@cviehmann on Twitter).

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