Fewer Lives Being Lost in Conflicts

In 2017, approximately 90,000 people died as the direct result of armed conflict. This figure is down for the third year in a row, and is now 31 percent lower than in 2014.

Nearly a third of all conflicts – and four of the 10 most serious wars worldwide – now involve a local division of Islamic State (IS).

The largest and most important of the non-state conflicts in 2017 was the conflict between IS and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defence Force (SDF). SDF fighters in central Raqqa in 2017. Photo: Mahmoud Bali. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

Better but not good

The very latest data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) show that in 2017, there were 10 ongoing conflicts in the world that had each taken at least 1,000 human lives. These 10 wars were taking place in eight countries: Afghanistan, DR Congo, the Philippines, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria. In addition, there were 39 ongoing smaller armed conflicts, each of which had killed 25–1,000 people.Read More

New Education Policy in Burundi Could Halve Teenage Pregnancy

As of 2014, the Burundi government has pledged that children can continue their basic schooling until grade 9. The fertility impact of this new schooling policy is potentially strong. However, there are three important elements in this story that are less well understood: what will be the magnitude of this new policy’s effect; what is the causality in the relationship between fertility and education; and what are the mechanisms driving it?

Mother and Child. Photo: Gudrun Østby, PRIO

School-age children in Burundi are enrolled in the “Ecole Fondamentale” or “Basic School”. Since the introduction of new legislation in 2014, children in Burundi now attend school for a minimum of 9 years – rather than only 6 years, as was the case before 2014. Prior to 2014, selection into secondary school was made on a competitive basis, whereby all primary school graduates who wanted to continue their education after grade 6 had to take part in a nationwide test. Each year, there were many more candidates than available seats. As of 2014, the government has pledged that children can continue their basic schooling until grade 9.

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Russia Celebrates the Football Fiesta, but the Hangover Will Hit Hard

The start of the 2018 World Cup had everything millions of fans in Russia could wish for: Perfectly prepared stadiums, beautiful and short opening ceremony, and spectacular performance of the national team. The country has indeed come together and rejoiced in welcoming the greatest sport event, which will be watched with keen attention in every inhabited place on the globe.

Petro-football diplomacy. Photo: Kremlin Website

For eight years, 11 cities in Russia’s European part had prepared for greeting thousands of foreign tourists, and the joyful atmosphere in Moscow resembles the breathtaking opening to the world during the 1957 Festival of Youth and Students. Alexei Navalny, a defiant leader of “non-systemic” opposition, is amused at the beautification of the Moscow prison, which is miraculously transformed into a hotel-type establishment ready to accommodate over-enthusiastic fans.

Yet, not far behind this joy loom reflections on the perfectly organized 1980 Olympics in Moscow, which marked the terminal decline of the Soviet Union accelerated by the war in Afghanistan, and on the spectacular 2014 Olympics in Sochi, which became a preamble to Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine.

What Shapes Which Migration Flows We Study?

How might declonising the academy intersect with academic everyday practice, for instance in the context of migration studies? As efforts to decolonise the academy are gaining force, not least in universities in the United Kingdom, such as at the School of Oriental and African Studies, questions about how this timely intellectual scrutiny can or ought to affect academic everyday practice should be pondered. Especially in relation to how the ‘decolonise academia’ initiatives help foster greater knowledge and understanding, thus stimulating and furthering academic inquiry.’

Map of the British Empire from the India & Colonial Exhibition in London, 1886. PHOTO: The British Library

When we discuss decolonising the academy, we are talking about power, and more specifically power hierarchies. So, we are discussing unevenly distributed power when it comes to defining knowledge, which inevitably leads to skewed knowledge, to incomplete knowledge.

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Decolonize Academia!

Today the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) is holding a seminar titled Decolonizing the Academy.

Our aim is for this seminar to start a national discussion about the legacy of the colonial era in Norwegian academia – both in relation to its formal structures and the ways in which we as researchers conceptualize and categorize the world.

Defaced statue of Louis Botha outside the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town during the Rhodes Must Fall campaign. The wreaths were placed on the defaced statue by members of AfriForum. The AfriForum sign says Ek het help bou, ou! (“I helped build, friend!”) and #dankieJan (“#thanksJan”). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The debate about the need to decolonize academia has raged internationally for several years. Student movements at the University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford, under the hashtag #RhodesMustFall, have used their demands for the removal of statues of the colonialist Cecil Rhodes from campuses as the pivot for a comprehensive critique of structural inequality and racism in the university system. A formal launch of this discussion in Norway is of the utmost necessity, and is already long overdue.

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The Long Peace Most Likely Began during the Vietnam War

Two statisticians at the University of Oslo have blown a hole in Steven Pinker’s famous theory that the Long Peace dates from 1945 onwards. But Pinker is excited about the new calculations, which suggest that this more peaceful period instead began in 1965 – during the Vietnam War.

Washington 1971: The demonstrations against the Vietnam war may have made it more difficult to go to war. Foto: Leena A. Krohn / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

In his 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, the internationally famous psychologist and popular-science author Steven Pinker looks at history over several millennia and observes that the world has become gradually more peaceful. He has also described the period since World War II as “the Long Peace”, due to the decline in the number of interstate wars. But now Pinker seems to be having second thoughts, after reading a blog post written on January 15 by Professor Nils Lid Hjort of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oslo (UiO), following a seminar at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).Read More

I Am a Friend of Israel. And I Can’t Accept Its Indiscriminate Violence Against Palestinians in Gaza

The political leadership in Israel often uses the concept of “friend” and “enemy.” Other countries also use those concepts from time to time, but it seems that they are particularly prevalent in Israeli political language. For instance, Prime Minister Netanyahu talks of “true friend” Donald Trump, “close friend” Narendra Modi of India, while other leaders and nations may be more difficult to place on his friendship scale. Israel is a country I have engaged with professionally and personally for many years, and something I will continue to do. I consider myself a friend of Israel, but that raises the question: what does that mean?

A soldier from the Golani Brigade relaxes in the desert. PHOTO: Creative Commons/IDF

Since the end of March thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have taken part in demonstrations along the border with Israel. The Israeli military response has resulted in many deaths and many more serious injuries among the protesters. The protests are continuing.

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Norway – The Colonial Power

Protest outside Norwegian parliament to mark support for reindeer herder, Jovsset Ánte Sara. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Imagine this. Close to a small lake, there is a little building. It has stood there for 120 years – ever since your ancestors, who lived off fishing and foraging, built it. Your grandmother brings you to this place to pass your people’s traditions on to you. You go there in order to preserve knowledge, language, and cultural practices that have been passed down through generations, and that are at risk of being lost. Then one day, the state decides that this little, but important, building is built illegally. They set it on fire, and you have to see it burn to the ground.

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Does hunger cause conflict?

One of the consequences of war is disrupted food provision. The connection between conflict and hunger is indisputable when we look at today’s locations of the major global hunger emergencies: Rakhine in Myanmar, the Kasai Region in DR Congo, north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It is estimated that 80 percent of the World… Read more »

Climate and Security: Bridging the Policy-Academic Gap

In March, I argued that the connections between climate change and security are complex, contingent, and not fully understood.  Most of the academic literature has firmly focused on conflict onset with the broader security consequences largely understudied. For policy audiences, the nuance can be frustrating. It is difficult to know what to do with such… Read more »