The Other Side of Facebook in Myanmar

Facebook has been making headlines this year with what seems like scandal after scandal, from the Cambridge Analytica data breach to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying in front of the United States Congress as a result. But perhaps one of the most serious scandals has been the social media platform’s role in Myanmar in spreading hate speech and inciting offline violence. In September, the United Nations Human Rights Council concluded in a report following its fact-finding mission in Myanmar that Facebook had been used to incite violence, in particular violence against the Rohingya Muslim community that amounted to genocide.

Social media user in Myanmar. Photo: Asian Development Bank/Flickr

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The INF Treaty Demise: Natural Causes and Bad Blunders

Dan Smith, Director of SIPRI, has published a very informative and thoughtful blog on the apparently imminent breakdown of the INF Treaty. Following up with a week-old second thoughts, I can share this article (adapted from the Order from Chaos, published by the Brookings).

President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev shake hands after signing the INF Treaty.

The discussion of the pending U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (1987) has fast progressed from the over-dramatized first reactions to even more frantic second-thoughts. Since the political decision has not yet been finalized in a formal notice to Russia, it is essential to sustain sober expert attention on the consequences of the move—which, to be clear, would break down a key pillar of the arms control system. The plea for a proper evaluation of these consequences comes loud and clear from Europe, which is going to find itself on the receiving end of Russian responses. Washington’s argument that Russian violations of the treaty—which bans testing and deployment of ground-based missiles—prompted the U.S. decision on withdrawal is solid, but Russia will still respond and perhaps pro-actively. Moscow has good reasons to assume that while it is ready to lift this ban with the treaty’s demise, the United States and NATO are not.

The Kremlin sought to provoke the Trump administration—known for its eagerness to break international agreements—into rushing the unilateral withdrawal. It has achieved just that, but is hardly in a position to harvest any political dividends.

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Where are the Women in Peace Agreement Implementation?

Zack Lee via Flickr

“In 2020, the United Nations, Members States, regional organizations and civil society will mark the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000). The lead up to this milestone and the anniversary itself, provide important opportunities to highlight and appraise progress and revise strategies…” (S/2018/900, 2018).

An upcoming event which sets the tone for this year’s Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security is the quickly approaching 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, the first resolution on Women, Peace, and Security. Unfortunately, the UN will be able to report little progress on women’s inclusion in peace agreement negotiation and implementation. The Secretary General’s report is refreshingly frank in its description of the problem—“chilling reading” as observed by the Swedish Foreign Minister in her Open Debate statement on October 25th. Moving forward, the Secretary General has noted an important role for systematic research and names the Kroc Institute’s Barometer Initiative in Colombia as an example.Read More

The Needs, Challenges and Power Dynamics of Refugee Resettlement

This fall, the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) was held in New York. The 193 UN member states gather annually to discuss, and sometimes act upon, global issues. Refugees were on the agenda in 2018, not only because numbers are historically high (25.4 million at the end of 2017) but also because the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was there to present its proposal for a Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).

CC : UNHCR/Johan Bävman

The GCR results from a two-year process that began with the adoption of the New York Declaration in 2016, led by UNHCR. The final GCR draft lists three main focus areas for refugee protection: reception and admission; meeting needs and supporting communities; and solutions. The GCR builds on the three traditional durable solutions to refugees – local integration, voluntary repatriation and resettlement – and adds other local solutions and complementary protection to the fold. Resettlement is dealt with in paragraphs 90 to 93 of the GCR and is presented as a mechanism of burden- and responsibility-sharing. Yet it is unlikely that the resettlement commitments put forward in the GCR will significantly change how resettlement is used globally, in spite of increasing resettlement needs.Read More

The Feminist Foreign Policy Agenda: Resolution 1325’s Legacy

On 25 October, the UN Security Council held its yearly meeting on women, peace and security. It has been 18 years since the Security Council adopted resolution 1325, which called on the UN and the international community to include women and their rights and interests in work toward peace and security. The resolution also urged the international community to increase efforts to fight against the use of sexual violence in conflict. How much has been accomplished since 1325 was adopted?

A discussion during Open Days on Women, Peace and Security in Kabul, Afghanistan (Photo: UNAMA, Flickr CC BY).​

Our normative understandings have changed significantly over the last 18 years. The way we understand and define security has shifted. The same is true of conflict prevention, management, and peace building. This normative shift has also had an impact on the attention paid to women’s participation and the advancement of women’s rights in peace and security. Seven follow-up resolutions to resolution 1325 have been adopted, each with even more precise and binding language than the original. Women, peace and security (WPS) has become its own agenda, with ever-growing support.Read More

The Sargentini Report and Hungary: How to Shape a Parallel Reality

Hungary is in the international spotlight again. On 12 September 2018, the European Parliament voted in favor of the Sargentini report – named after the author, the Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini– with a two-thirds majority. The report called for the activation of Article 7 (1) of the Treaty on European Union which can lead to the suspension of a member state’s voting rights as a punitive measure. The report condemned the illiberal developments that have taken place in Hungary over the last eight years. Sargentini found that the regime of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán presents a “systemic threat” to the European Union’s democratic values. Article 7 has also been triggered against Poland, but by the European Commission, not the European Parliament, in order to defend the independence of the judiciary. The Sargentini report lists 12 areas of concern: the functioning of the electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, corruption, privacy, freedom of expression, academic freedom, freedom of religion and association, the right to equal treatment, minority rights, refugees’ rights, and economic and social rights.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a meeting in Moscow. Photo: Kremlin.ru

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Lessons from Camp David

Forty years ago, President Jimmy Carter orchestrated peace between Israel and Egypt; yet the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is further than ever from a solution. Those outcomes are closely linked. There are lessons for President Donald Trump to learn from Carter’s experience, if he is attentive.

An Israeli settlement near Jerusalem, 2005. Photo: Xavier Malafosse / Wiki Commons

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Why the Nobel Peace Prize Went to Two People Fighting Sexual Violence in War

Denis Mukwege of Congo, left, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor from Iraq. (Christian Lutz/AP)

As Islamic State forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014, they captured the city of Mosul and then attacked the nearby Yazidi people. Thousands of Yazidis were executed — and some 3,000 girls and women were kidnapped. Most were sexually enslaved.

One of the two recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is a survivor named Nadia Murad. The other winner is Denis Mukwege, the gynecologist who founded Panzi Hospital, which treats and supports girls and women brutalized by sexual violence in Congo. The Nobel committee recognized their advocacy on behalf of victims of wartime sexual violence.

Wartime sexual violence, which includes sexual torture and forced marriage, as well as rape and sexual slavery, inflicts excruciatingly painful, sometimes mortal injuries and suffering on victims, their families and their communities. But two decades of social science research has shown that these crimes are not inevitable and unavoidable collateral damage. These crimes can be mitigated — but this depends on understanding why and how wartime sexual violence occurs.

As Islamic State forces swept through northern Iraq in 2014, they captured the city of Mosul and then attacked the nearby Yazidi people. Thousands of Yazidis were executed — and some 3,000 girls and women were kidnapped. Most were sexually enslaved.

One of the two recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is a survivor named Nadia Murad. The other winner is Denis Mukwege, the gynecologist who founded Panzi Hospital, which treats and supports girls and women brutalized by sexual violence in Congo. The Nobel committee recognized their advocacy on behalf of victims of wartime sexual violence.

Wartime sexual violence, which includes sexual torture and forced marriage, as well as rape and sexual slavery, inflicts excruciatingly painful, sometimes mortal injuries and suffering on victims, their families and their communities. But two decades of social science research has shown that these crimes are not inevitable and unavoidable collateral damage. These crimes can be mitigated — but this depends on understanding why and how wartime sexual violence occurs.

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Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

The choice to award the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad is both timely and wise. The two Nobel laureates embody different dimensions of conflict-related sexual violence. Further, the prize comes at a time when we mark the one-year anniversary of the #metoo movement, when trust in international bodies and agreements is on the decline, and when violent extremism is on the rise.

While this Nobel Peace Prize is by no means a #metoo prize, there are features of the movement that are compatible with the fight against conflict-related sexual violence.

The #metoo movement has moved the conversation about sexual abuse and harassment from a focus on how to improve protection and mitigate effects on victims, to a focus on the men, male cultures and organizations which enable sexual harassment and abuse.Read More

The mass killing of women activists in Latin America: making political violence visible

In 2017, Latin America was described by the UN as the world’s most violent continent for women. The assassinations of women activists and community leaders have continued across the region in 2018. While the killing of Marielle Franco, a favela community leader, and the unraveling of government-private enterprise collusion in the 2016 killing of Berta Cáceres, an environmental activist in Honduras, have been portrayed as political murders by international media, there is substantial academic work to do with respect to theorizing the gendered aspects of these types of killings.

Photo: Laëtitia Buscaylet via Flickr

In their influential edited volume Violent Democracies in Latin America (2010) Arias and Goldstein argue that the ‘evolutionist’ democracy theory’s understanding of disorder as a failure of institutions fails to grasp Latin American politics in the context of proliferating violence. They offer the concept ‘violent pluralism’ as a prism for interrogating and understanding the co-existence of structural and personal, political and social violence and democracy in contemporary Latin America. Violent pluralism is defined as ‘states, social elites, and subalterns employing violence in the quest to establish or contest regimes of citizenship, justice, rights, and a democratic social order’. However, as a theory on violent democracies, the theory of violent pluralism is silent on the gendered realities of this violence as it plays out in Latin America. Considering the success of this concept, it is important that the concept has the capacity to help make visible how much of the political violence in the region takes the shape of violence against women involved in grassroots mobilization.

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