Improving Resource Governance and Building Sustainable Peace

In a recently published piece in World Development, Florian Krampe, Farah Hegazi and Stacy D VanDeveer explore the potentially dramatic benefits of improved environmental and resource governance for post-war peacebuilding.

They outline three causal mechanisms – or pathways – for environmental peacebuilding:

(a) the contact hypothesis,

(b) diffusion of transnational norms, and

(c) state service provision.

These insights offer opportunities for both applied policymaking and future social science research about how to build and sustain positive peace. The piece brings together a large range of recent research on post-conflict environmental peacebuilding, citing examples from East Timor, Nepal, South Sudan, and Colombia, among others.

How Relevant is #StopAsianHate in Norway?

Attacks in the USA and reports of pandemic-related harassment of Asians has brought the #StopAsianHate conversation to Norway. In the summer of 2020, the conversation about discrimination and racism spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement also brought forth topics like the experience of adoptees from South Korea. And the murder of Johanne Zhangija Ilhe Hansen in 2019, which we know was racially motivated, has also been named by Norwegian youth as part of the greater conversation around growing up with an Asian background.

Stop Asian Hate. Photo: Victoria Pickering / FLICKR

Debates about racism often get stuck in the question of what “counts” as racism or not, or to what extent something is racist based on the intentions of the one saying or doing something. Meanwhile we hear an increasing number of stories from youth sharing the experience of both extreme racist incidents and everyday types of discrimination in which they are treated differently based on their appearance.

We know these are not isolated incidents. We also know that racism and discrimination is not a constant in everyone’s lives – quite the opposite, in fact.Read More

A Forgotten Mission: Monitoring the Ceasefire in Hodeidah, Yemen

Yemen’s conflict has been described as a forgotten war. Peace, up until recently, has been even more forgotten. The new US administration has begun a new a military and diplomatic track to end the fighting. Biden has made Yemen one of his foreign policy priorities, selected veteran diplomat Timothy Lenderking as a new US Special Envoy to Yemen, and decided to end American support for offensive operations in Yemen –  most importantly arms sales to Saudi Arabia – while also reiterating support for the territorial integrity of the Saudi Kingdom. The first step of the new administration concerning Yemen was to revoke the foreign terrorist designation of the Houthis, a measure that the former Trump administration put in place in January 2021. While a new administration can revoke previous decisions from one day to another, realities on the ground take their own course. Soon after the US policy changes the Houthis launched renewed attacks on the government-controlled northern city of Marib and intensified cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Hodeidah Market in 2013. The port of the city is one of the main points of entry for food in Yemen. Rod Waddington via Wikimedia Commons

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Will the Taliban Gain From Negotiations?

In the summer of 2001, a Taliban delegation came to Oslo in the hope of holding talks with Norway’s government. The terrorist attacks in the United States that autumn put a stop to such talks, but the Taliban’s attempt at that time to break out of the “steel ring” of international isolation may give some indication of their current thinking. Twenty years later, and with a full NATO withdrawal underway, how willing are the Taliban to negotiate? What can be done to salvage the shreds of the West’s good intentions in Afghanistan? And what interests and scope for action does Norway have in this matter?

Ceremony marking the Joint Declaration between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and signature of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban. Present in the photo are Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General (second from the left); Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) (third from the left); and Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan (third from the right). NATO via flickr.com

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Does Infection Trump Everything?

On 7 April, prime minister Erna Solberg presented the government’s plan for reopening society. The plan provides predictability and clarity about prioritization, including the prioritization of children and young people. This is welcome, but the plan also reveals the problematic aspects of Norway’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie, Health Director Bjørn Guldvog, and NIPH Director Camilla Stoltenberg hold a press conference outlining the strategy for the reopening of society on 7th April 2021. Statsministerens kontor via flickr.com.

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From Peaceful Protest to Civil Conflict in Myanmar

Resistance to the 1 February, 2021 military coup in Myanmar is symbolised by a recent video: Images of young protesters killed by Myanmar’s Security Forces are accompanied by lyrics: “We are ghosts. We are already dead. If we die again today, in this life and the next, we will haunt you forever.” The video marks how dramatically the situation in Myanmar has evolved. Moving away from peaceful mass protest, Myanmar is on a trajectory to prolonged civil conflict. Both the living and the dead will continue to fill the streets.

Protest in Myanmar against the military coup on 14 February 2021. MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye via Wikimedia Commons

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Green Spaces for “Green” Energy: What Are the Implications of Damming Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda?

Murchison Falls, Uganda. Rod Waddington via flickr.com

Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda finds itself with a steadily growing population and emerging economy. Simultaneously, the government struggles to provide basic services to its growing population, while preserving its natural resources.

Encapsulated within this struggle is an ongoing debate between conservationists and the Ugandan government over the construction of hydroelectric dams in the Murchison Falls National Park. The struggle centers around two waterfalls that the park houses, Murchison and Uhuru Falls. Proposals to dam Murchison Falls, one of the world’s most powerful and one of Uganda’s main tourist attractions, were abandoned after strong opposition from the public, environmental conservationists, and Uganda’s tourist industry.

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Cobalt and the Congo: A Sustainable Green Energy Transition Cannot Be Built on Human Exploitation

General Motors, one of the United State’s most important automakers, announced in January 2021 that it would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Although one of the auto industry’s most ambitious moves, electric vehicles (EVs) cannot be produced or driven without cobalt, we cannot discuss this ferromagnetic metal without referring to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DR Congo is the world’s leading source of mined cobalt, supplying 100,000 metric tons or approximately 70% of the world cobalt mine production of 140,000 metric tons in 2019.

A piece of a 99.9 % pure plate of cobalt. Alchemist-hp via Wikimedia Commons

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The Democratic Civil Peace and Beyond: Scott Gates Interviewed by Nils Petter Gleditsch

Scott Gates as Director of the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) in 2009. Photo: Marit Moe-Pryce / PRIO

Scott Gates, interviewed by Nils Petter Gleditsch

‘Strong critical theory doesn’t play a big role in peace science anymore, or even in peace studies’, states American political scientist Scott Gates in this conversation with his long-term collaborator Nils Petter Gleditsch. Scott calls for more and better recording of data disaggregated in time and space; more work that takes advantage of quasi-experimental designs and other methods through which we can better ascertain causal inference; and further use of data from social media to better appreciate such phenomena as the relationship between social media use and protest activities.

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