Women, Peace and Security?

One of the military gender advisers talking to local kids in Faryab. Photo: Geir Bøe/Norwegian Defence

One of the military gender advisers talking to local kids in Faryab. Photo: Geir Bøe/Norwegian Defence

The Norwegian government had lofty ambitions to implement UN Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in Faryab Province in Afghanistan. However, attempts to realise these ambitions were half-hearted. The role of the gender adviser became a political alibi for the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team’s haphazard efforts to implement the resolution.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in October 2000. Norway, a leading nation in the fields of peace negotiation, human security and women’s equality, became one of the first countries to develop a national action plan to implement the resolution.

Rhetoric as Required

«Nå har vi tatt vår del av ansvaret», sa Greta Faremo i 2010. Hun var forsvarsminister i perioden da den politiske retorikken dreide seg fra at Norge måtte hjelpe Afghanistan, i retning av at afghanerne nå måtte klare seg selv. Photo: Torbjørn Kjøsvold/Norwegian Defence

Norway has borne «its share of responsibility», Grete Faremo said i 2010. She was Defence Minister in the period when politcal rethoric chaged from helping Afghanistan to making the Afghans help themselves.
Photo: Torbjørn Kjøsvold/Norwegian Defence

From “the pre-emptive defence of Norway”, to “conflict resolution and peace”, even in the event of “war-like actions”, Norwegian politicians have adapted their rhetoric on Afghanistan as required by circumstances and public opinion.

From day one, the Norwegian government has been enthusiastic in its support of intervention in Afghanistan. But over the years many different reasons have been put forward to justify Norwegian involvement. If one considers the period from 2001 to the present day as a whole, the only phrase that has remained set in stone is “a clear UN mandate”. Apart from that, it is possible to identify changes in the reasons put forward to justify Norway’s military presence in Afghanistan.

The End Of Migrants As We Know Them?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/80073447@N02/12390031535/

Embarkation of migrants, Cala Pisana, Lampedusa, (Matchbox Media Collective)

The UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants holds the promise of progress. But ahead of the summit, communications staff were pushing a warped view of migrant diversity. Even the International Organization of Migration (IOM) is straying from its mission to uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

When migration issues rose to the top of international agendas last year the word ‘migrants’ became a matter of contention. Many interventions were cast as a matter of clarification and correctness, but actually concealed a fundamental disagreement: do ‘migrants’ include ‘refugees’?

Refugee Resettlement as Humanitarian Governance: The Need for a Critical Research Agenda

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) visits the Catholic Centre for Immigrants in Ottawa, Canada, where he met with families who have arrived from Syria and the region and who are now part of Canada’s resettlement programme.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) visits the Catholic Centre for Immigrants in Ottawa, Canada, where he met with families who have arrived from Syria and the region and who are now part of Canada’s resettlement programme. Photo: UN/Evan Schneider

This blog post suggests understanding refugee resettlement as an instrument of humanitarian governance from the selection of refugees to their long-term integration. It presents a five-point research agenda aiming to investigate resettlement’s power dynamics in multiscalar perspective, with a focus on: political economy; the UNHCR’s competing goals; and the role of discretion, persuasion and coercion in resettlement’s discourse and practice.

This Week in South Sudan – Week 36

Monday 5 September The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) announced that despite their acceptance of the additional UN peacekeeping force, important details of the troop deployment still needs to be worked out, such as the exact number and the nationality of UN peacekeepers. Voice of America: “Some South Sudanese Want Restrictions on Troop Deployment” Tuesday… Read more »

Latest Kerry-Lavrov Deal on Syria Destined to Unravel

Obama and Putin found little joy in the meeting in Hangzhou

Obama and Putin found little joy in the meeting in Hangzhou

The agreement on managing the Syrian civil war, reached between the United States and Russia in Geneva in the early hours of Saturday, September 10, was both surprising and pre-determined. US Secretary of State John Kerry had invested so much effort in the endless rounds of marathon talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the absence of a deal would have amounted to a personal failure. US President Barack Obama, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a week ago in Hangzhou, China, for the G20 summit (September 4–5), was far from enthusiastic about the prospects for such a deal (Kommersant, September 5). And in his recent remarks at Oxford University, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was even more skeptical about Russian readiness to curtail support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Newsru.com, September 7). Yet, Lavrov radiated satisfaction with this past weekend’s compromise and supplied tired journalists with vodka to toast it, while expressing confidence that al-Assad’s forces would observe the agreed ceasefire (TASS, September 10).

Are We Nearing an End to Buddhist Extremism in Myanmar?

Ma Ba Tha and similar groups of extremist monks in Myanmar could face resistance after a government official finally rebuked their brand of nationalism.

The monk Ashin Wirathu, famous for his inflammatory speeches, at the Maseyein Monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar. Photo: Vincenzo Floramo

The monk Ashin Wirathu, famous for his inflammatory speeches, at the Maseyein Monastery in Mandalay, Myanmar. Photo: Vincenzo Floramo

It took just one dismissive comment from the chief minister of Yangon to seemingly deflate Ma Ba Tha. The Buddhist nationalist organisation has become known for its provocative segregation policies and derogatory depictions of Muslims, but now, almost for the first time, they were the ones under attack.

This Week in South Sudan – Week 35

Tuesday 30 August Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged South Sudan’s leaders to implement the August 2015 peace deal and stabilize the country during his one-day visit to Juba. The UN Humanitarian Aviation Services (UNHAS) was forbidden to deliver medical supplies after the Government of South Sudanese (GOSS) imposed a new control on transport of medicines… Read more »

Russia Underperforms at Pivoting

Putin discusses military matters in the Far East.

Putin discusses military matters in the Far East.

Vladivostok, which had an expensive facelift for the 2012 APEC summit, will this week host the Eastern Economic Forum, and President Vladimir Putin is due to preside over the proceedings. His goal is to reassert Russia’s commitment to playing a major role in Asia-Pacific geopolitics and to reinvigorate business ties with this dynamic region. The provisional results of Russia’s “pivot” to the East, launched two and a half years ago against the backdrop of the Ukraine conflict, are nevertheless quite disappointing. Not only has the volume of trade shrunk by about a third in this time, but Moscow’s ability to engage with the key issues on this hugely complex regional security agenda has proven to be lacking.

The main focus of Russia’s efforts was on upgrading the strategic partnership with China so that it would mature into something approaching an alliance. This hasn’t happened and the friendliness demonstrated by Putin and President Xi Jinping can barely mask the mutual disillusionment.

The rest of the article is in Policy Forum, 2 September 2016.

A Bug in the System

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

Palestine does not exist on the map and is also not easy to find in the jam-packed schedules of diplomats working with the Middle East.

A Twitter storm was unleashed a couple of weeks ago when rumours spread among pro-Palestinian activists that Google had removed Palestine from its mapping service. The internet ignited as only the internet can. The hashtag #PalestineisHere went viral, accompanied by demands that Google reinstate Palestine on its map.

It turned out, as happens from time to time, that the rumour mill was quite simply ill-informed. Google rejected the story. It had certainly not deleted Palestine from its map. In fact, it added, Palestine had never featured on Google Maps. A search for “Palestine” in Google Maps brings up a map of Israel, with dashed borders demarcating the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Google’s problem was a “bug” in the system. The bug had caused the dashed lines only to be displayed on the map, while the place names “Gaza Strip” and “West Bank” had been erased from the system. Could there be a more apposite metaphor for the situation of Palestine – and the Palestinians – today? Probably not.