What to Expect from India at COP23?

Climate change is not a one-way street of cause and effect. International negotiations on climate change and the reduction of emissions are equally complex. A consistent Indian demand has been  green technology transfer from “high-emitting” developed countries. An equally longstanding principle is that of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, or CBDR-RC.

Despite the continuities, India´s negotiating position on the reduction of CO2 emissions is not easily summarized. At times, there haven been rapid shifts and apparent mismatches between statements of principle and action. India´s position and it’s involvement in Conference of the Parties (COP) summits has also developed over the years.

What can we expect from India at the COP23 Summit in Bonn? Find out more at the Hilton Bonn, 17 November 2017: Register here

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“No backsliding” on Women’s Inclusion in Peace Mediation

Last week, Norway made history with Ine Eriksen Søreide becoming the country’s first female foreign minister. Even in relatively gender-equal countries like Norway it is still rare to find women holding top positions in the so-called “hard issue” sectors of foreign affairs and peace and security. Barriers to the full involvement of women in work to prevent and resolve violent conflicts still persist.

Elisabeth Slåttum, former Norwegian Special Envoy for the Philippines peace process, invites the Philippines Government delegation and National Democratic Front of the Philippines delegation back to the peace table, April 2017. Credit: NOREF

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Totalitarianism Closing in on China

The only drama in the “two sessions” jamboree in Beijing this spring is that there was no drama at all. Each year the Chinese political élite, 5000 men and a few women strong, congregate in the capital for a week of meetings of the legislature, the National People’s Congress, and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. This year the choreography was faultless. Even reporters who were assigned to provide their editors at least some copy, could find next to nothing to write about. In Beijing, all is steady and all is under control.

18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The gathering was the dress rehearsal for the upcoming Communist Party’s National Congress in a few days, the once every five year event where real power is at play. We can expect that meeting to be equally orchestrated with no irregularities to suggest confusion in the leadership. The “core” leader, Xi Jinping (as he is now officially designated), will be anointed for another five years, more of his cronies will take positions in the leadership reshuffle, and ways will be found for his ally, Wang Qishan, now in charge of Party discipline and anti-corruption, to stay on in a top post although he by age-rules should be obliged to retire. Again, there will be no drama.

So what is the nature of the regime that holds the grip on national politics that no ripples are allowed to disturb the harmony? We know enough to give a reasonably clear answer to that question, although there are also remaining unknowns on which we can only speculate.Read More

Nuclear Disarmament and The Nobel Peace Prize

Since the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Linus Pauling in 1962, contributions to nuclear disarmament have recurrently been an explicit motivation for granting the Prize.1

According to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Prize this year for creating new momentum in disarmament efforts by again drawing “…attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

The motivation of the 2017 Peace Prize follows that of earlier Prizes for nuclear disarmament, for example, the one awarded to Alva Myrdal in 1982. Myrdal received the Prize for her contributions to the nuclear disarmament negotiations in Geneva and for her broader efforts to raise awareness, not least through her book, The Game of Disarmament (published in 1976). The book, which also draws on information obtained in discussions with the future Nobel Laureates in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (recipients in 1995), graphically describes both the catastrophic consequences of a global nuclear war and critically picks apart the arguments made in support of nuclear weapons; a similar approach for which ICAN was awarded in 2017, this time underlining the humanitarian impact of any use of nuclear weapons.Read More

A Daring Peace Prize

In selecting the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has made a daring move.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute, 2017

This year’s laureate was the driving force behind the recently concluded Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

As of last Friday, October 6, the date of the prize announcement, the Treaty has been ratified by only three states (Guyana, Thailand, and Vatican City), far short of the 50 needed for it to enter into force. And even should that number be met in the near future, it remains that the Treaty will be binding solely on those states that have endorsed it.

Unless a state possessing nuclear weapons is soon willing to join their ranks – a highly improbable scenario given that no such state was among the 122 signatories of the Treaty, and indeed the nine members of the nuclear club entirely boycotted the proceedings – the Treaty will have application only to those without nuclear weaponry, hardly a glorious result.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 40

Tuesday 3 October After clashes in Waat, the warring factions file contradicting reports as they both claimed victory, before more fighting ensued later in the week. Wednesday 4 October To boost bilateral trade and the South Sudanese economy, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is negotiating with the Government of Sudan to reopen river transportation… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 39

Tuesday 26 September US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley called on South Sudan’s leaders to achieve peace while urging the UN Security Council and regional actors to do more to resolve the country’s suffering. Wednesday 27 September Salva Kiir ordered the country’s security organs to fully cooperate with the UN Regional Protection Force, saying… Read more »

Alva Myrdal, Research, and Nuclear Disarmament

The time for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is coming up, and as identified by PRIO’s Director, there are many worthy laureates.

Alva Myrdal in 1966. Photo: Dutch National Archives / Wikimedia Commons

35 years ago, Alva Myrdal (1902-1986) received the prize for her work with nuclear disarmament – a question that has unfortunately resurfaced and is again a likely theme for the peace prize. To a peace researcher, Alva Myrdal’s approach and attitude towards the role of knowledge in reversing a negative conflict trend is inspiring, particularly at a time when darkness appears to be drawing ever closer. As expressed by the Nobel committee chairman,

“…her name has become a rallying point for men and women who still cling to the belief that in the last resort, mind is bound to triumph over matter.”

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 38

Monday 18 September SPLM (IO) criticized IGAD’s plan to revitalize the 2015 peace accord. (IO) claim the approach is biased in favour of President Kiir and calls for a new peace and mediation process. Tuesday 19 September South Sudan’s High Court acquitted six former presidential aides who were initially sentenced to life in prison in… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 37

Monday 11 September New report from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS): “How the AU can promote transitional justice in South Sudan” The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) summoned the U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires to formally protest the recent US sanctions against three current and former GoSS officials. During his recent visit to Juba, the… Read more »