Categories
Security Environment

A New View of Disaster Risk and Reduction: An Interview with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA

Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Environmental Change and Security Program’s New Security Beat on 21 October 2019.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recently released the fifth edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR19). The report highlights the increasingly complex interaction between hazards, and provides an update on how risk and risk reduction are understood in practice. GAR19 also highlights how the latest Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework integrates into global goals such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To better understand the scope and significance of this report, New Security Beat sat down with Roger Pulwarty, Senior Scientist at NOAA, and a lead author of the GAR19.

Categories
Security Politics

Right-wing Populism and the Attack on Cooperative International Security

Image courtesy of Palácio do Planalto/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 23 August 2019.

The contemporary political environment has seen a paradoxical hijacking of key liberal peace and security concepts which helped to secure the post-Cold War era. With key concepts like human security undermined, what will come next? The following is an initial reflection as my colleague, and I embark on a larger study of how the emergence of right-wing populist nationalism has become a significant global phenomenon and what impact it has had for dominant theories of security in the post-World War II liberal international system. From the challenges to the NATO alliance to questioning the link between poverty and violence, the peace, security and development agenda has been radically transformed in a few short years, with trust between former allies eroding and the moderate level of predictability in the liberal international system being shaken.

Categories
Energy

Fukushima Six Years After: East Asia’s Nuclear Energy Conundrum

Courtesy of thierry ehrmann/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on 16 March 2017.

Synopsis

Human factors such as complacency and lack of questioning attitude have been  identified as key contributors to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But six years after the incident, East Asian states have yet to address human factors to make nuclear energy safe and secure in the region.

Commentary

JAPAN COMMEMORATED the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster on 11 March 2017. Since the tsunami–triggered disaster, qualified observers assess that the biggest risk associated with nuclear power comes not from the technology of the infrastructure but from human factors. The Fukushima incident must be regarded as a technological disaster triggered not just by “unforeseeable” natural hazards (earthquake, tsunami), but also human errors.

Comprehensive reports on Fukushima, including findings made by the Japanese parliament and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), examine how human factors such as the complacency of operators due to ‘safety myth’, the absence of regulatory independence from the nuclear industry, and reluctance to question authority all contributed to the “accident”. The Fukushima incident, like others before it, accentuates the utmost importance of addressing human and organisational factors so as to prevent nuclear accidents from occurring, or mitigate their consequences if they do occur.

Categories
Security Health Humanitarian Issues

War on Disease? Zika Sheds Light on Growing Military Role in Global Health

Administering a vaccine to a child

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 5 February 2016.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, with the potential to infect up to four million people in the Americas by year’s end. Under increasing pressure to slow the spread of the disease, the Brazilian government has stepped up its response, including mobilizing 220,000 military personnel to cities across the country.

According to Brazil’s ministry of health, the military will be used to spread awareness by going door-to-door, handling out pamphlets, and distributing mosquito repellent. However, it is believed that the troops will also use this opportunity to identify which homes are potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes and target those sites for surveillance and fumigation. Mosquitoes are known to carry the Zika virus, which has been linked with the rare congenital condition microcephaly in newborn babies.

Categories
History Human Rights Humanitarian Issues Justice

Rwanda: How to Deal with a Million Genocide Suspects

Skulls of victims of the 1994 genocide. Image: Steve Evans/Flickr

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 7 April, 2015.

Twenty-one years ago – on April 7, 1994 – the genocide that would kill up to one million people in Rwanda began. Another million individuals would be implicated as perpetrators, leaving Rwandans and many others to ask: how does a country begin to bring so many suspects to justice?

In 2002, the Rwandan government created the gacaca – or “grass” in the country’s official language of Kinyarwanda – court system to tackle this enormous problem. Based on a traditional form of community dispute resolution, the gacaca courts functioned for ten years – until 2012.

Despite receiving much international attention at their outset, little is known about what the courts actually accomplished. This is surprising. For the past three years, I have been analyzing court data and conducting research in Rwanda to better understand this unique legal system whose punishments for the “genocidaires” (or those involved in the genocide) would likely be seen as light in many other countries.