Categories
Security Conflict

How Organized Crime and UN Peace Operations Came to Converge In Fragile States

UN Peacekeepers and UN Police from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
UN Peacekeepers and UN Police from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Photo: MATEUS_27:24&25/flickr.

In 1948, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was deployed as the first United Nations peacekeeping mission, mandated to monitor the Arab-Israeli ceasefire. In the aftermath of World War II, the international system had evolved into a bipolar order in which international actors were focused mostly on interstate disturbances and proxy wars. During this time, organized crime was mostly concentrated in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Naples, Palermo, and Tokyo, and of little significance to the international community. Peace operations and organized crime were separate and unrelated issues.

Categories
Government Elections History

Please Don’t Mention Transnistria

Finding peace in an uncomfortable setting, photo: Dasha Gaian/flickr

Last Sunday, parliamentary elections were held in Transnistria, where 123 candidates vied for 43 seats in the local Supreme Council. With the counting of the votes still ongoing, the favorite to hold on to parliament in this 530,000-strong quasi-state is the “Renovation Party”, which has also controlled the majority of seats in the past. For those who may be wondering, Transnistria is this long and narrow strip of Eastern Moldova bounded on one side by the Dnestr River and on the other by Ukraine.

After the dissolution of the USSR, Transnistria broke away from Moldova over fears that the former Soviet republic would seek reunification with neighboring Romania. In 1992, Moldova and Transnistria fought a short war which ended with a Russian-mediated settlement, enforced by Russian troops already stationed in the region. From the very first day, therefore, the breakaway region of Transnistria depended on Russia for support. Under growing international pressure, however, Russia then went on to sign the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe at a 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul, under which it pledged to withdraw all its troops and military equipment from Transnistria by 2002.

This pledge was, however, not adhered to.

Categories
Journalism

This Is for the Mara Salvatrucha

This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan
This Is For The Mara Salvatrucha, by Samuel Logan

ISN Security Watch correspondent Samuel Logan has just released his first book, “This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” (Hyperion Books), a non-fiction narrative about Brenda Paz and her last three years of life.

Paz was a young member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, who became a federal informant before she was killed after running away from witness protection.

“This is for the Mara Salvatrucha” uncovers little-known truths about the MS-13, one of America’s most violent street gangs, and reveals how the street life can be alluring. It also takes a close look at the the realities of living inside the US as part of a Latino immigrant community, underscoring the challenges with policing these communities and the fluidity of illegal movement across the US-Mexico border.

The book has been optioned by Paramount Vantage Films.

More of Sam’s extensive work about the MS-13 in ISN Security Watch:

Tri-state trouble with Mara Salvatrucha

Mexico’s Parallel Power

Prison Gangs and Organized Crime

Categories
Government

Italy: Double Standards

'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr
'Povera Patria', courtesy of Daniele Muscetta / flickr

A dogmatic society ruled by organized criminals and an antidemocratic populist leader… Sounds like some post-Soviet state? Well actually, I mean Italy.

I don’t understand why the country continues to enjoy such a privileged place in the EU, the G-8, and among the Western elite generally. Italy shows a serious democratic deficit and presents some worrying features of failing governance.