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Fragile and Post Conflict States

Until now, the UK’s prevailing approach to global conflict and mass atrocities has been one of response and of firefighting. As a result, it too often resulted in missed opportunities to help mitigate harms. Whether in Rakhine in Myanmar in 2017, in Central African Republic in 2014, or Syria in 2011, the window of opportunity to help vulnerable populations closed before the UK had properly recognised the trajectory of violence. There is much to pick through, question, and challenge when reading the new vision for the UK’s international policy as set out in the outcomes document of the year-long Integrated Review of Defence, Development and Diplomacy published by Her Majesty’s Government on Tuesday. But—and particularly with regards to conflict, stability …

In February 2020, the Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban. Under what became known as the Doha Agreement, the US and all foreign forces promised to depart Afghanistan by May 2021, so as long as the Taliban held up its side of the deal to 1) enter into peace talks with the US-backed Afghan government and 2) ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. So far, the agreement is technically being implemented. Peace negotiations began in September 2020, though they have yet to produce results. The Taliban have also stuck to the letter if not the spirit of the deal by holding off attacks against US and Allied forces (although attacks against the Afghan government and civilians have continued). However, with the May deadline fast approaching, President …
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at UN Headquarters in 2018

With the diversion of Israel’s military resources towards West Bank, Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory appears imminent, pending approval from and coordination with the American administration. Struggling to rally right-wing voters amidst the fight for his political survival in the elections of April, September 2019 and March 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he would “apply Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank, if re-elected. Bolstered by the reversal of decades of American policy on the issue and the subsequent release of Trump’s much criticized, one-sided ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ in January 2020, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued the annexation agenda with the emergency government formed with Benny Gantz in March 2020. Considering the expected blockage of the Security …

The longstanding Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has generated massive human rights violations, becoming a humanitarian disaster. It is not only an internal matter for Myanmar, as it has destabilized the regional tranquility of South and Southeast Asia and triggered a global outcry. In this article, I will illustrate why major states, such as China, India, Russia, and the US, have adopted a policy of overlooking the Rohingya crisis. I have intentionally excluded the potential for a prominent leadership role from the already fragile Muslim world because of both their general absence from the central world leadership and their preoccupation with their own domestic crises. The Rohingya are the largest community among eight prominent Muslim groups in Myanmar and have lived in its Rakhine State (formerly Arakan) for generations. They are envisaged by the nation’s government and Buddhist population as illegal Bengali immigrants who came from what is …

In Measuring Peace, Professor Richard Caplan of the University of Oxford has written an insightful guide for students and practitioners of peace. The book will help those who want to understand the fundamental principles and existing practices of how to assess peace while at the same time outlining some critical political constraints. Caplan provides a succinct and clear analysis of key approaches to peace measurements, their weaknesses and ways to move forward. Due to its accessibility and policy relevance, the book also stands out among other publications that have sought to evaluate and grapple with the question of how to judge the quality of existing peace.  The key aim of the book is to give peacebuilders a ‘compass’ to navigate the post-war peace …

In a farewell speech to Colombia’s armed forces last year just prior to leaving office, ex-president Juan Manuel Santos boasted: “Today we have the best armed forces in our history.” Proudly, he added: “We’re a global reference!” And indeed, it seems as though Colombia had opened a new chapter. Since the 2016 peace accords with the country’s largest guerrilla organisation, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the nation appears to be on an uphill climb.  With the FARC at the negotiation table, the story goes, the country was finally able to look ahead and dedicate its resources to transition and reconstruction: the reintegration of former combatants, the redistribution of formerly occupied territories, and the recovery of an economy weakened by decades …

Global attention has focused on the Middle East once more after Turkey launched a military operation, named Peace Spring, moving into Northern Syria. The incursion was made possible by the prior withdrawal of US troops. Beforehand, there was little outwardly indication of the troubles to come: Daesh’s territory was conquered and the US and Turkey cooperated in the region. However, everything started to fall apart after the phone call between President Erdogan and President Trump, in which he agreed to withdraw US troops from Northern Syria, became public. Since then, commentators have criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw, and Turkey’s actions and intentions. It has been claimed that Turkey is solely motivated by its conflict with Kurdish forces, who have …

With renewed negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region on the horizon, the views of those people most affected by the war – the residents of eastern Ukraine – should be taken into account. Russia insists that the people living in areas of the Donbas currently controlled by separatists, who it supports, do not what to reintegrate with Ukraine. But two surveys I carried out in the Donbas in 2016 and 2019, revealed that a majority of those we surveyed in areas not controlled by the government would prefer to be part of the Ukranian state. The war in the Donbas started more than five years ago and has cost in excess of 13,000 lives. At least 1.4m …