New Mapping of Children Affected by Armed Conflict

This weekend, decision-makers from all over the world will come together to discuss current and future security challenges at the Munich Security Conference (MSC), which has become the major global forum for discussion of security policy. At the conference, Save the Children will launch its new report The War on Children: Time to End Grave Violations against Children in Conflict. The report is based on a new mapping of children in armed conflict conducted at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Our findings are quite alarming: we find that more than half the world’s children are living in conflict-ridden countries, and furthermore, one in six children live in close proximity to where the actual violence occurs.

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Women’s Inclusion in the Peace Process in Mali

Women have been marginalized throughout the Malian peace process and their inclusion has received little priority, contrary to UN Security Council resolutions on the involvement of women in peace processes.

Although legislation and policy frameworks promoting their inclusion are in place, implementation is lagging behind.

Despite difficulties in the Malian peace process, there are opportunities to improve women’s inclusion, which should be seized immediately, before the peace process moves onto the next stage and the issue of inclusion becomes even more complex.

Photo: Nicholas Griffin, USAID / Pixnio

Women have historically been excluded from formal processes dealing with war and peace, yet they often represent the majority of those affected by war. In Mali, the security situation prevents women from moving around safely, accessing markets, and organizing themselves across communities. Women are at risk of experiencing violence when leaving their homes or communities.

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Postcolonial states and ‘excessive militarism’: The Indian story

By Swati Parashar Do all states embrace militarism as a natural condition of their existence? Can militarism in different states be differentiated in content and form? How do states engender security through militarism? How is civilian consent built around militarism, especially in postcolonial states? In an era when populist regimes seem to dominate the political… Read more »

From Principle to Practice: Humanitarian Innovation and Experimentation

Without methods to gauge success and failure, and without appropriate ethical frameworks, humanitarian tech may do more harm than good.

A passenger arriving at Monrovia’s Roberts International Airport takes advantage of effective, if not innovative, humanitarian intervention. Photo: Sean Martin McDonald

Humanitarian organizations have an almost impossible task: They must balance the imperative to save lives with the commitment to do no harm. They perform this balancing act amidst chaos, with incredibly high stakes and far fewer resources than they need. It’s no wonder that new technologies that promise to do more with less are so appealing.

By now, we know that technology can introduce bias, insecurity, and failure into systems. We know it is not an unalloyed good. What we often don’t know is how to measure the potential for those harms in the especially fragile contexts where humanitarians work. Without the tools or frameworks to evaluate the credibility of new technologies, it’s hard for humanitarians to know whether they’re having the intended impact and to assess the potential for harm. Introducing untested technologies into unstable environments raises an essential question:

When is humanitarian innovation actually human subjects experimentation?

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Confessions of a Defector from Sociology (1)

I am very grateful to the Norwegian Sociological Association for awarding me its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 (Norwegian original here, English translation here).







In fact, I find this exceptionally generous. Although I was once a board member of the association, I have only dealt with it once in the past 25 years, and that was when I cancelled my membership. Fortunately, my wife decided that our home could not do without Acta Sociologica, so she joined at the same time that I left. At about the same time, I redefined myself as a political scientist and joined the Norwegian Association of Political Science. This raises three questions: Why did I become a sociologist? Why did I leave? And: Do I regret it?Read More

Nils Petter Gleditsch

The Norwegian Sociological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 goes to a researcher whose exceptional career has had a significant impact on international social research. The reasons for the jury’s decision appear below.

Brief biography

For this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, there is a link between the circumstances of his birth and his field of research. Nils Petter Gleditsch was born in London during a major interstate conflict, the Second World War. On 26 February 1979, an editorial in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten commented that this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award was ’a political propagandist’ against whom readers should be on their guard. ’The serious researcher disappears into the fog’, complained Aftenposten, which warned against the ‘scientific’ method of which Gleditsch had become an exponent. Gleditsch had recently revealed the presence of US-funded signals intelligence stations in Norway, an act that brought him a fine and a suspended prison sentence.Read More

Why did Mali fall into jihadist hands?

Jihadists have succeeded in taking control of more than half of Mali, where many people in rural areas are now adherents of one armed group or another. This situation is largely the result of widespread frustration with the bad governance by the country’s corrupt ruling elites. While the jihadists have managed to take advantage of… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 5

Wednesday 31 January SPLM/A (IO) leader, Riek Machar unveiled a position paper for the second round of the High-Level Revitalization Forum, demanding a transitional unity government for 27 months. GoSS, on the other hand, declined to announce their position prior to the negotiations. The Government of South Africa and GoSS signed a memorandum of understanding on… Read more »

From Wales to Catalonia and Beyond: Gene Sharp and Non-Violent Nationalism

Photo: Right Livelihood Award 2012

Gene Sharp – a pioneer in the study of non-violent action – died peacefully at the age of 90 on 28 January 2018. Obituaries in many newspapers have highlighted his contributions to the study of non-violent resistance against dictatorial regimes, pointing to how his work inspired the Arab Spring and his reputation as a “dictator’s worst nightmare”.

However, there has been less attention to other sides of Sharp’s work and other important forms of non-violent action. Indeed, Sharp’s first 1957 published pamphlet Which Way to Freedom? was written for the Welsh Nationalist Party Plaid Cymru, and argued for non-violence as a more effective way for national liberation than violence.Read More