The armed conflict in Yemen has grown increasingly complex as existing cleavages have become ever-more entrenched, and new ones are emerging.
On the evening of Tuesday, September 10, Kosovo’s national football team played England in its biggest match to date. Prior to the match, the team had gone undefeated since October 2017. The success of the national team has echoed throughout the world and the team is fast becoming Kosovo’s most successful export. #ENGKOS and Kosovo were respectively the second and sixth biggest trends worldwide on Twitter that Tuesday evening. While not the intention, the success of the national team has given Europe’s youngest (and the world’s second-youngest) state positive international exposure in a time when its sovereignty is under its most serious attack since the declaration of independence in 2008. How can success in sports be of critical value to a small state like Kosovo?
Mete Hatay, interviewed by Cindy Horst
Seeing victim become perpetrator, perpetrator become victim – seeing them change places depending on the situation – triggered a lot of questions in my mind…
Whatever you imagine for the future, you always construct it from the past. And you cannot say, ‘let’s put the past behind us and start now’, because the property title still comes from the past. You cannot say: ‘All right, I’m keeping the property, let’s put the past behind us’, you cannot do that. Rhetorically, of course, you have to start a new life, but in reality, you always have the past haunting you – physically as well as emotionally, both through legal means, and in how history is written.
In order to tackle these problems of the different pasts, and different visions, and different truths, we have aimed to prepare a third space for multiple perspectives. So that everybody can bring their perspectives and have a debate about it. So that we can strive to a certain compromised truth somehow. To help develop new strategies.
Sverre Lodgaard, interviewed by Hilde Henriksen Waage
What kind of journey was it, from life as a young researcher at PRIO in the 1960s, to directorial roles at PRIO and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s? How do Sverre Lodgaard’s life and work connect with his research career, his directorial roles, and social trends? And how does his journey relate to the evolution of PRIO over a period of 60 years?
The journey runs from a small village in Trøndelag County, where Lodgaard spent his childhood and early teenage years, to Oslo. When, how, and why did Lodgaard arrive at PRIO, and why did he end up in jail for refusing to do military service? In the 1970s, PRIO became notorious for its political radicalization. Lodgaard’s research areas – East-West relations; the anti-nuclear movement; non-proliferation; disarmament; and heavy water – were a perfect fit with this radicalization.
But 1987 represented a watershed. That year, after having spent several years at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Lodgaard returned to PRIO as the organization’s director and embarked on a massive clean-up operation. PRIO was transformed from an institute of hippies and left-wing radicals into a reputable research institute, welcomed in from the cold by the Norwegian Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, political authorities, and the Research Council of Norway. A new epoch had begun.
In recent years, dozens of countries around the world have been closing civil society space, clamping down on the ability of civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate freely. Alarmingly, this trend is taking place not only in countries with autocratic governments, but also in democratic countries. How are CSOs being impacted, and how are they coping?
Inger Skjelsbæk, interviewed by Cindy Horst
We focus a lot more on conflict than we do on what peace actually is. What is it that creates well-being? What is it that makes you feel at ease in your own skin, in your own life, in your own sociopolitical context? What does it take? All narratives about who you are and what your prospects are, and how that impacts your well-being, depend on how these stories are reinforced or challenged by the communities you live in. If peace is just the absence of war, then you have peace lots of places. But if peace is also well-being and resilience to conflicts, then it is more challenging.
I meet Inger Skjelsbæk at a café in central Oslo, early in the morning when things are still quiet and we can speak undisturbed. I have known Inger since I started working at PRIO more than a decade ago, and in that period, she has been my boss and I have been hers. An interesting fact about Inger is that she pretty much grew up with PRIO, being the daughter of former PRIO director and researcher Kjell Skjelsbæk.
Lene Kristin Borg and Grete Thingelstad in Conversation with Stein Tønnesson
At a farewell lunch organized for PRIO Director Sverre Lodgaard at the end of his term in 1992, someone said that, under his leadership, PRIO had made a transition from anarchy to dictatorship. The speaker who said this expressed herself in favour of the dictatorship, which according to her had been necessary. Another speaker quoted Mao Zedong for stating that to make an omelette you need to break a few eggs. Some eggs had indeed been broken.
This comment comes from Grete Thingelstad, who served as Administrative Director (kontorsjef) at PRIO during the transformation period from 1989–95.
Lene Kristin Borg, PRIO’s current Administrative Director, adds the following remark:
PRIO’s anarchic past had completely vanished when I arrived in 1998. I came to a well-ordered institute, and it may surprise those who have heard about PRIO’s past but not about its present that after running PRIO for more than twenty years, I have not yet met Johan Galtung.
Japan and South Korea are facing the worst deterioration of bilateral ties in history after the 1965 normalization treaty came into force. Unfortunately, people in both countries seem to have forgotten that they successfully co-hosted a FIFA World Cup in 2002.
On Thursday President Trump made the unprecedented move to use a foreign power to punish domestic political actors. He tweeted that Israel should bar two congresswomen from entering the country. Prior to this tweet Prime Minister Netanyahu had decided that the congresswomen should be allowed to enter, but after the tweet he changed his mind. After the decision to deny them entry was made Israel approved Rashida Tlaib’s visit because she made a humanitarian appeal that she should be allowed to visit her grandmother – a Palestinian woman in her nineties living in the occupied West Bank. This was granted on the condition not to “promote boycotts against Israel” on the trip, conditions which she refused, saying “visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in … It would kill a piece of me.” Ilhan Omar is still barred from entering.
Israel’s decision to bar US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the state is a culmination of three trends in both the United States and Israel: weakening of the bipartisan nature of the US-Israeli relationship; illiberal developments in Israel; and an increasing criticism of Israeli politics in the US mainstream. In the short run these developments are cause for concern as they stifle open debate about Israel. In the long run this could be a signpost in a process away from unconditional US support for Israel.
Peter Wallensteen, interviewed by Siri Aas Rustad
PRIO was the engine of our Nordic peace research network. To ‘go to PRIO’ meant to be updated on the state of the art, to find out what was going on. The ideas generated could then be taken back home and used to build up one’s own activities.
Siri Aas Rustad: You have been immensely important for the development of peace research. You have made your mark in Sweden, but also internationally as a pioneer in gender, peace and security studies and through the creation of the leading data collection project, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program. If you think back on your childhood, was there anything in particular that influenced you in the direction of international relations and peace research?
Peter Wallensteen: I was born in 1945. My family had always been interested in international questions, and we travelled a fair bit. For example, when I was 10, we went by boat and car to England. The large political event that made me interested in international politics was the Suez Crisis with invasion of Egypt by Israel, France and the United Kingdom in 1956, at the same time as the Soviet Union invaded Hungary.