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Government Development

The Pillars of Peace

Pillars of peace. Image: Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
Pillars of peace. Image: Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

One of the major challenges facing the peacebuilding and development community today is how to balance short term humanitarian assistance with long term efforts to build capacity and resilience. We see this tension played out in many countries receiving significant overseas development assistance (ODA). Part of the problem is a lack of reliable data which, in turn, affects our ability to understand the effectiveness of the resources that international donors have channeled into peacebuilding efforts. This does not imply that these efforts are failing, but rather that we don’t know enough about their impact and the extent to which they are making progress towards building long-term capacity and resilience.

To help monitor and evaluate the long term progress of countries, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has developed a framework that analyzes data and attitudinal surveys in conjunction with current thinking about the long term drivers of peace, resilience and conflict. Recently launched in Geneva, the Pillars of Peace report identifies the attitudes and structures that typically underpin peaceful societies. The report shows that countries which tend to be more peaceful have a number of characteristics in common. For instance, peaceful countries are more equitable, have lower levels of corruption and higher levels of human capital. This shows that development assistance needs to look beyond short term efforts to contain violence and instead focus on the slow moving but underlying ‘Pillars’ that support peaceful societies.

Categories
Government

Democracy Promotion’s Mixed Track Record

A man in Jakarta shows his inked finger at a polling station to proof he voted in the 2009 presidential election, the second since the fall of the Suharto regime. Photo: Isabel Esterman.

Once widely considered a desirable endpoint for all nations, democracy’s seeming benefits are now openly questioned by many. The poor results of democratization in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the rise of economically successful non-democracies such as China, have caused democracy promotion to lose some of its luster. So, given these recent trends, what are democracy’s prospects for the future?

This question was the primary focus of a recent panel discussion hosted by the Forum Aussenpolitik (foraus) and NCCR Democracy at the University of Zurich. Entitled “Democracy Promotion: Lessons from Different Regions of the World,” the discussion featured three experts who analyzed the ways and means of democracy promotion; its feasibility; how and whether it should be encouraged, and its successes and failures.

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Uncategorized

What’s Next, Malaysia?

Malaysian flag. Image by Eric Teoh/Flickr.

As expected, the National Front (BN) coalition won Malaysia’s May 5 election, but not without widespread allegations of electoral fraud, including the use of Bangladeshi migrants as illegal voters and other gerrymandering tactics. The opposition People’s Pact (PR) coalition leader Anwar Ibrahim refused to concede defeat and held a protest rally on May 8, attended by about 100,000.

The election’s outcome and the immediate responses by BN leadership threaten to undermine the powerful example of Malaysia as an Islamic country with parliamentary democracy and a parallel legal system of civil and Islamic laws. Even though the US has recognized the BN win, the White House has called on the Malaysian authorities to investigate the claims of election irregularities. It is imperative that the United States spoke out on this issue as it still plays a huge role in promoting democracy through fair elections.

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Elections Foreign policy

Andreas Falke on the 2012 US Presidential and Congressional Elections

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the first presidential debate. Photo: VOA/Wikimedia Commons

On 8 November, our parent organization – the Center for Security Studies – hosted a colloquium on the recently completed Presidential and Congressional elections in the United States. The guest speaker, Professor Andreas Falke, not only analyzed the election data for his audience, he also speculated on how the election’s outcomes might impact US domestic and foreign policies over the next four years, to include its influence on transatlantic relations.

Hosting Professor Falke also provided us with the opportunity to put some questions of our own to this keen observer of American politics. In the following podcast, we ask him whether he thought there was anything surprising about the election results, what the future holds for the US Republican Party, and what else we might expect from President Obama in his second term.

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Intelligence Government

Occupy Eyes the Drones

In Front of the Left Forum
In front of the Left Forum. Photo: World Can’t Wait/flickr.

A hallmark of U.S. President Obama’s foreign policy has been a scaling down of troop presences in conflict areas, but without scaling down efforts in the War on Terror. Obama has pursued this as vigorously as his predecessor, but he has more strategically come to rely on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)–commonly referred to as drones–to target individual terrorists and terrorist camps.

From the beginning of this program, some groups have expressed concerns over the civil liberty implications of the use of UAVs. Privacy concerns, since UAVs are largely used in reconnaissance, were forefront in the minds of activists–until Anwar al-Awlaki.