22 July 2011: Contested Closures

As part of PRIO’s contribution to the 10 year commemoration of 22 of July, the author challenges perceptions of justice after mass atrocity that equates justice with law and criminal justice with closure.

22 July Memorial. Photo: Ann Kristin Lindaas / KMD / CC BY-NC 2.0

After mass violence, “the promised exercise of legal justice — of justice by trial and law — has become civilization’s most appropriate and most essential, most ultimately meaningful response to the violence that wounds it” the U.S literary critic Shoshana Felman argued in her book The Juridical Unconscious.Read More

The New Pattern of Conflict in Myanmar

A new conflict pattern has appeared in Myanmar. Amidst a spiraling economic, social and health crisis, armed fighting is no longer confined to ethnic minority areas but has cropped up in cities and regions where the ethnic Bamar are in majority. They see themselves as pursuing a nation-wide resistance. Preventive diplomacy is needed to stop the country’s descent into omnipresent civil war.

From protests to armed struggle

Following Myanmar’s military coup on 1 February 2021, an unprecedented non-violent Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) emerged and spread to most of the country. After some hesitation, the military (Tatmadaw) launched a brutal crackdown. The Tatmadaw’s reaction was not new. In 1988, it crushed a revolt in Yangon, killing thousands. In the 1990s, it killed much greater numbers of civilians when defeating the Mong Tai Army in Shan State and destroying the strongholds of the Karen National Union (KNU) in Kayin State. In 2016–17, it raped, murdered and burned the villages of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, driving 800,000 across the border to Bangladesh. These are just the worst examples.Read More

1 in 8 Children Are at Risk of Being Recruited by Armed Actors

The recruitment and use of children as soldiers is one of the United Nations Security Council’s ‘six grave violations’ against children in times of war, as well as one of the most significant consequences of armed conflict in terms of children’s wellbeing. On 30 November, Save the Children launched its new report Stop the War on Children: A crisis of recruitment. The report is based on a new mapping of children at risk of being recruited or used in armed conflict conducted at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Photo: UNMISS / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Our findings are quite alarming: We find that, in 2020, approximately 337 million children (more than 1 in 8) were living in a conflict zone in which one or more actors recruited children. We also find a worrisome upward trend. Our estimates suggest that the risk of recruitment has steadily increased over the past 30 years, with the highest recorded number of children at risk in 2020.

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Good Reads: Resource Sovereignty

Green Curses research project member Dr. John Andrew McNeish, Professor at the Faculty of Landscape and Society at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, has just published two books on contestations over natural resources.

The first book, a monograph authored by McNeish and entitled Sovereign Forces: Everyday Challenges to Environmental Governance in Latin America, looks at diverse claims to sovereignty over natural resources in the Latin American context. It considers how sovereign claims made from below – by indigenous and peasant peoples – are a critical part of struggles over power, territory, and belonging connected to natural resources. Latin American states are a product of these struggles.

The second book, entitled Our Extractive Age: Expressions of Violence and edited together with Judith Shapiro at American University, examines the intimate interconnection between natural resource extraction and violence.

In mid-November, Green Curses project member Dr. Kendra Dupuy had the chance to sit down with Professor McNeish to discuss an important topic raised in Sovereign Forces: the connections between resource sovereignty and environmental governance.Read More

European Union-Belarus Border Crisis: Why the narrative of “hybrid warfare” is dangerous

The 2021 EU-Belarus border crisis was preceded by a rapid deterioration of the already strained European Union (EU)-Belarus relations, in most part due to the Ryanair 4978 incident and the concomitant wide-ranging sanctions imposed by the EU on the authoritarian government of the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has often been referred by the media as “Europe’s last dictator.”

What followed has been the creation of an artificial “influx” of migrants by the Lukashenko government, being pushed toward the neighboring borders of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Since June 2021, the Belarusian government has been facilitating the journeys of refugees and asylum seekers to Minsk, encouraging and navigating them to cross into the three neighboring countries by foot.

Guarding the border between Poland and Belarus. Photo: Egor Eryomov / RIA Novosti / CC-BY-SA 3.0

As a result, migrants are currently being violently pushed back and forth in no man’s land by border guards, perishing in sub-zero temperatures with no food, no water and no assistance from any humanitarian organization, unable to claim asylum or find refuge. According to reports, 7 migrants have died, at least 2 reportedly due to hypothermia and exposure to other elements.

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Norway Promises to Increase Focus on “Women, Peace and Security”

On Thursday 21 October, the UN Security Council held its annual debate on “Women, Peace and Security” (WPS). Under Kenyan presidency, all the UN member states had the opportunity to give statements on this topic, which has been a permanent feature on the Council’s agenda ever since October 2000, when the Council adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

According to Resolution 1325 – and its nine follow-up resolutions – women should be included in all stages of peace negotiations, conflict management and peace-building. Combating conflict-related sexual violence is also central to the WPS agenda.

Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, addresses a Security Council meeting. Photo: UN Photo / Ariana Lindquist

The theme for this year’s debate was “Investing in Women in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding”, but the participating member states used the occasion as an opportunity to address a broad spectrum of topics based on their own security-policy priorities. The Norwegian contribution drew attention because Norway was one of only a few countries to make concrete commitments to increase investments in the WPS agenda.Read More

Climate Resilience and Conflict: Multi-stakeholder Partnerships As A Way Forward?

As world leaders convened in Glasgow for the 26th annual Conference of Parties (COP 26) in hopes of accelerating action on the Paris Agreement and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the correlation between climate change and conflict is receiving more attention.

Green Partners by Christopher Graham (acrylic on canvas – digital)

In recent years, there has been an outpouring of evidence that climate change is intensifying and driving conflict situations around the world. The socio-ecological consequences of climate change places additional pressures on urban and rural communities that are already resource strapped and politically volatile. Many conflict hotspots are therefore increasingly being recognized as climate hotspots, and vice versa.

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Protection of Education in Conflict Zones – a Step in the Right Direction

On Friday October 30, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of education in conflict zones.

This is one of the most important matters on which Norway has facilitated negotiations in the Security Council and the resolution is a major step in the right direction for protecting the right of the most vulnerable children to attend school. Education is also good peace policy. The next goal must be for the education provided to meet certain quality standards and for all children to have the right to attend school, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. This is crucial for creating peace and development in the longer term.

School children in Myanmar. Photo: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid / Flickr

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What Do We Know About State-Civil Society Engagement for Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council?

On October 21, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held its annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) under the presidency of Kenya, one out of ten members of the UNSC that was elected to serve by the UN General Assembly (a so-called E10 state). Kenya has joined forces with two other elected members, Ireland and Mexico, in a ‘troika’ to jointly push for WPS as these states hold three executive presidencies in the Council this autumn.

While important research has been conducted on the central role of women’s civil society organizations for establishing and promoting WPS, we know less about the role of elected states in the UNSC. What we do know is that individual E10s have played key roles in the adoption of UNSC resolutions on WPS – from Namibia in 2000 and onwards – and in efforts to realize the content of the now 10 WPS resolutions. Moreover, while there is good reason to believe that these states’ collaboration and exchange with civil society actors has been central to E10 WPS efforts, our knowledge of such “E10-civil society engagements” is even more limited.

Photo: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This blog post seeks to promote further policy-scholar exchange and research on this topic by centering in on the conditions under which an E10 operates in the Council, and on the role of what we can call positive E10-civil society engagements – that is, where, why, and how an E10 and civil society actors either directly collaborate or deliberately build on each other’s efforts to promote WPS. This blog post is based on a report studying Sweden’s 2017–18 UNSC term which collects existing research, in-depth interview material, and data capturing WPS developments.Read More

Niger’s Kandadji Dam Project: Conflict Concerns

The Kandadji Dam project in Niger is projected to  displace about 38,000 people living near the Niger River due to the ongoing activities. The economic development goals of the project are to address food, water and energy insecurities in the region. The  initiative is part of the larger Niger River Basin scheme. Niger lies in a semi-arid zone prone to desertification  and is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The Niger River. Photo: Oumarou Hamadou

Project planners have overlooked the question of land, its use and cultural significance. Indeed, how can land, its use and cultural significance affect the human security of those impacted by the Kandadji Dam’s construction activities? Conceptually, land has distinctive particularities compared to other resources. Most notably, is its immobility, the transnational relationships associated with it, the efforts to control it, and the depth of attachments people develop for it.Read More