The CSS Blog Network

ISN Quiz: Armed Non-State Actors

Test your knowledge of the ANSA ABC, the focus of our Special Report this week.

[QUIZZIN 7]

ISN Weekly Theme: Power-sharing

Shaking hands, photo: Aidan Jones/flickr

This week the ISN explores the promises and pitfalls of power-sharing arrangements as they evolve from negotiation to implementation and functional reality.

This week’s Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Dr Nicole Töpperwien of Ximpulse examines the delicate progression from armed conflict to power sharing.
  • A Podcast interview with Dr Michael Kerr of King’s College London explores the important negotiating role played by parties external to a conflict.
  • Security Watch stories about power-sharing arrangements from Zimbabwe and Kenya to Tatarstan.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including a recent US Institute of Peace paper on ‘Lebanon’s Unstable Equilibrium,’ following the creation of a power-sharing government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
  • Primary Resources, like the full texts of the Good Friday Agreement and the Zimbabwean power-sharing arrangement between the parties led by Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai.
  • Links to relevant websites, among them the BBC-run ‘Search for Peace’, which provides extensive information on the Northern Ireland peace process.

Is Peace (only) a Matter of Spirituality?

Beware of God

Beware of God / Photo : Synaptic Impulse - Flickr

Today is the International Day of Peace. Started by the General Assembly in 2002, it is supposed to celebrate peace worldwide.  According to the official calendar that lists all the events taking place in the world today to celebrate peace, at least 70% of the events are related to spirituality and to religious activities.

I find it quite ironic that peace is associated with religion when most of the conflicts that are currently taking place have at least a religious component if not a religious background: the civil war in Iraq, the insurgency in Afghanistan, civil war in Somalia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the insurgency in the southern Philippines and many more. I understand that religion and spiritual values can breed tolerance, cultural understanding and open-mindedness. Unfortunately this is not always the case and the most belligerent minds and groups often use religion as a justification for their distinctly unpeaceful agendas.

Wouldn’t it be possible to promote peace without including faith in the package? Couldn’t we establish a true understanding and a peaceful world by using different concepts? The ancient Greeks who invented democracy and laid the foundations for our modern civilization were also confronted with the need to make peace. At the time, peace was established on foundations of social justice, sound legislative processes and economic growth.

This ancient understanding of peace is one that the modern world would do well to keep in mind and it could serve as a useful alternative to spirituality for this International Day of Peace.

The Power of Photography: Life in a Failed State

Screenshot of Foreign Policy photo essay on failed states

Screenshot of Foreign Policy photo essay on failed states / www.foreignpolicy.com

In an insightful photo essay titled ‘Life in a Failed State’, Foreign Policy provides us with a sobering view on what life looks like in some of the most desolate countries in the world.

Haunting images serve as visual reminders of the failure of national governments and the international community to address the conflicts and history of instability and underdevelopment that underlies their fragility.

The 20 top countries on the 2009 Failed States Index are featured, among them: Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan.

Further, for a rare glimpse into life in North Korea, check out a haunting slideshow by Tomas van Houtryve for Foreign Policy.

ISN Weekly Theme: Nagorno-Karabakh

Landmines in Suarassy, Kashatagh Region, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, courtesy of Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2006

Landmines in Suarassy, Kashatagh Region, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, courtesy of Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2006

This week, the ISN focuses on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over this de facto independent territory has been running since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Mediation efforts by the ‘Minsk Group’, a group of OSCE member states, haven’t brought any substantial success. Some even argue that they’ve been counterproductive.

As other disputes stuck in a ‘no peace, no war’ situation for so long, Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to the ‘frozen conflicts’ species. But the dramatic meltdown of the South Ossetia conflict last summer showed that frozen conflicts should be taken very seriously indeed.

You might also want to check our resources on the whole Caucasus region or on mediation in peace processes in general.

Page 19 of 20