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International Organisations

In the prelude to the NATO summit in London commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the alliance, discussions were overshadowed by a now-infamous Economist interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. In the interview, the French President claimed that NATO is experiencing a “brain death” – a ‘mort cérébrale’ resulting from a lack of institutional capacity to prevent, mitigate, or effectively respond to unilateral action from individual allies which could be disruptive to the alliance’s agenda. President Macron’s remarks precipitated a debate concerning NATO’s relevance (or irrelevance) in the post-Cold War international system, its (potentially failing) adaptation to new security and strategic circumstances, and the constraints imposed by NATO’s seeming lack of institutionalisation and ability to prevent unilateral action …

Dr Hylke Dijkstra has recently published a new book entitled International Organizations and Military Affairs (Routledge, 2016). This book represents the first comparative study of the politics behind the scenes at the United Nations, NATO and the European Union concerning the use of military force. It is also the result of a research project carried out at the DPIR in Oxford. DPhil candidate Dana Landau interviews him on the most pertinent questions that arise from his work.

Since 1998 I have been carrying out applied research with colleagues and African organisations with survivors of sexual violence and torture. This research argues that sexual violence perpetrated in conflict and post-conflict settings causes devastating effects to individuals as well as whole communities. It results in extensive damage to survivors’ psychological, reproductive and gynaecological health. Ongoing research reveals that more women and girl-children survive conflicts than are killed; yet with tremendous wounds to their bodies and minds; assaults on their dignity, their feelings of self-worth and their future. In contrast, there are rarely consequences for the perpetrators. Applied research carried out in Uganda, Liberia and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with colleagues and African organisations, argues that sexual violence is not solely a war crime and although extremely prevalent during conflicts, my research argues it has contaminated the post-conflict domestic sphere with high levels of community-perpetrated domestic violence and rape, particularly against young girls. Survivors’ shame and stigma is exacerbated by severe social rejection, particularly for women and girls who become pregnant from rape, former abductees and those with AIDS and HIV infection. Many resultant physical and mental health problems are not treatable by the grossly over-stretched and under-resourced health care systems. Capacity building within primary health care and justice services needs to address psychological trauma, increase resilience and recovery through support groups, trauma counselling and improvement to mental health policies. It is vitally important that service providers (who have also often experienced human rights abuses) are assisted to develop peer support and supervision groups and receive culturally sensitive training in supporting traumatised survivors and their children born from rape. In conjunction with greater protection for their work, and regular salaries this would assist to prevent ‘burn out’.

After long years of silence and quiescence, the Non-Aligned Movement gained momentum in the debate about global governance and the management of alternative strategies of engagement with the world of international affairs. The setting was an unusual one per se, suggesting that the 16th gathering of the NAM was likely to be of a different nature. Indeed, Tehran, during the heated summer of 2012, seemed to be one of the less aligned capitals of the world, for a number of issues, widely debated in political science circles as well as among foreign policy decision-makers. Crippling sanctions, shadow negotiations and an on-going regional conflict in the Middle East, with several branches developing in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and perhaps Yemen, have put …

On Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, the University of Oxford Centre for International Studies (CIS) hosted an international interdisciplinary conference, jointly convened by the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), and the Centre for Sustainable Development & International Peace at the University of Denver. Featuring a variety of scholars and leaders in the field of peace and conflict studies, international development and theology, the conference aimed to “deepen the understanding of the paradoxical role of religion and spirituality in the contemporary social and political context, and its potential to shape global governance.” The first panel, entitled “Religion, Civilization and Globalization”, began with a presentation by Katharine Marshall, Senior Fellow at the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace and World …

The institutions of the United Nations are slaves to the objectives of Western powers, and these powers are determined to make Africa an appendage to the West. Or so Thabo Mbeki claims. Mbeki, the former president of South Africa and the founding chairperson of the African Union, made these comments in a recent speech deploring what he termed the ‘re-colonisation’ of Africa. Mbeki went on to suggest that recent armed interventions in Africa were representative of the West’s willingness to exploit the universal principles of democracy, human rights and good governance to further their material interests. Re-colonisation is an idea that by now suffers from severe intellectual fatigue. The harshness of Mbeki’s terms of reference is reminiscent of the ramblings …

Recognizing that tobacco consumption has become a leading cause for premature death worldwide, the international community, under the auspice of WHO, successfully developed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) with unanimous adoption by the 192 member states in May 2003. It is the first time that the Organization has used its constitutional right to develop an internationally legal instrument in global health governance. Therefore, it is a seminal event in global health. It also represents an unprecedented collective action to curb the global tobacco epidemic. The convention came into force in February 2005. With 174 party members covering 87% of the World’s population, the FCTC has been among the most widely and rapidly embraced international conventions devoted to health …

Tony Blair’s establishment of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has been lauded by reporters and bloggers as being indicative of a “new” way for the international community to engage with African countries to assist in poverty reduction and to move “beyond aid” by “attract[ing] sustainable investment” to the continent. While the tenets of Blair’s AGI are fairly clear — focusing on strengthening African leadership and good governance and boosting economic growth through sustainable development of infrastructure — a visit to the AGI website is less than clear on how the initiative will (or can) ensure the necessary good governance. The AGI model can be summarized as: Leadership (founded on skills, systems and structures)  + prioritisation  + planning  + performance management  …