Making a Regional Peacemaker

On March 3 the PRIO-CSS Jordan seminar, “Preserving Spaces for Dialogue in the Middle East”, was situated by the shore of the Dead Sea. The view was both beautiful and thematically fitting, because while most people associate the Dead Sea with a rather exotic seaside tourist destination, and the Kingdom of Jordan with being a peaceful hub in a turbulent region, this exact location allowed us to reflect on the fact that this has not always been true. Peace, like war, is made, and we can learn several lessons from the past. Reflecting on the precise conference site, as the historian on the panel, I therefore asked that we take some steps back in time.

From left: Dr. Zaid Eyadat, Director, CSS, H.E. Reem Abu Hassan, Former Minister for Social Development in Jordan, Dr. Jørgen Jensehaugen. Photo: Indigo Trigg-Hauger/PRIO

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A Youth Perspective on Youth Participation and Inclusion in the Middle East

Can we improve democracy and promote peace by becoming better at including youth and create spaces for youth participation in political processes? Last week I had the great honor of representing Norwegian youth on a panel discussion about this very topic during a seminar hosted by PRIO during the royal state visit to Jordan. The panel included PRIO Director Henrik Urdal, a representative of the Jordanian Youth Parliament, and the Jordanian Minister for Youth. We all agreed that youth inclusion and participation is key to create a lasting peace and representative democracy, as long as it is done in a way that really takes youth and their opinions seriously.

Rode Margrete Hegstad on the panel in Jordan.

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PRIO Has the Leading Experts on Protests

How does a country’s security apparatus react to a protest movement?

And what happens in the aftermath of successful protests?

PRIO is conducting three major research projects about protest movements, securing its position as an international leader in this field.

Photo: Artemas Liu / Wikimedia Commons

In 2019, the world experienced a surge of non-violent protest movements. Such movements have spearheaded the removals of illegitimate heads of state. For example, a protest movement in Sudan removed Al-Bashir after 30 years in power, and in November, a protest movement in Bolivia succeeded in deposing Morales. What is still unclear about these “successful” protests is what will happen afterwards. Experiences from the Arab Spring, now almost 10 years ago, give grounds for somewhat restrained optimism.

Although a protest movement may overturn a regime, democratization is not the inevitable result. The Arab Spring illustrates how hopes of democracy in the wake of mass mobilization are not always satisfied. While Tunisia has made major steps towards democracy, Egypt has moved in the wrong direction.Read More

Improved Data to Assist in the Prevention and Management of Conflicts

Today, the Praia City Group on Governance Statistics is launching its Handbook on Governance Statistics. The Praia Handbook on Governance Statistics provides improved data that can assist in the prevention and management of conflicts.

What is the Handbook about?

There have been many attempts to advance governance statistics at different levels, e.g. UNDP’s efforts to support countries’ own governance assessments over the past decade and regional efforts such as the Governance, Peace and Security surveys that form part of the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA), a joint initiative by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, UNDP and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

But the ‘Praia Handbook’ is the first attempt at “conceptualization, measurement methodology and dissemination of governance statistics” that is solidly anchored in the global work of United Nations Statistical Commission, the UN’s body that brings together National Statistical Offices (NSO) from across the globe.Read More

Boris Nemtsov Still Marches with the Russian Opposition

PRIO Director Henrik Urdal included Russian NGOs standing against the rise of autocracy, and personally Alexei Navalny, in his short-list of candidates for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week, Russian opposition remembered Boris Nemtsov, murdered five years ago, by a march in downtown Moscow, which gathered some 25.000 people. This article reflects on the shifts in Russian society.

Boris Nemtsov at a protest march in 2014.

The Kremlin did not utter even one word to mark the fifth anniversary of the high-profile murder that happened right under the walls of the seat of power in Russia. Boris Nemtsov, a joyful and charismatic leader of the democratic opposition, was shot as he walked along a bridge connected to Red Square.Read More

Governing Global Health Emergencies: the Role of Criminalization

The point of departure for this blog is the apparent frequency of criminalization strategies in early government responses to the Corona virus. While much attention has been given to the securitization of global health responses – also in the case of Corona – less systematic focus has been given to the partial criminalization of infectious diseases as a strategy of global health governance.

As the scope of the Corona outbreak is broadening, the number of countries deploying criminalization measures is also rapidly increasing.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

China has introduced harsh regulations to deal with the Corona virus, including ‘medical-related crimes’ involving harassment and violence against medical personnel, refusal to submit to quarantine and obstructing dead body management. Singapore and Hong Kong have criminalized the breach of travel restrictions and misleading authorities or spreading false rumours. Taiwan plans sentencing the violation of quarantines. Iran will flog or jail people who spread false rumours. A Russian prankster is facing jail-time for Corona ‘hooliganism’. In the US, prospective quarantine violators from the infamous cruise ship Diamond Princess were facing fines or jail time.

Beyond governments’ need to be seen doing something in the face of public panic across the Global East and the Global North, how should we think about this propensity to reach for penal measures?Read More

Teaching transitional justice after conflict and terror: Cases of Kosovo and Norway

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and Kjersti Lohne ask: How can education help to realize the multiple goals and visions of transitional justice, and how can transnational justice be adapted to new educational objectives?

This is the first post in an occasional series on the legal, bureaucratic and political aftermaths of the July 22 terror attack and research done under the auspices of the LAW22JULY:RIPPLES project  (SAMRISK) and other PRIO projects.

Claudio Poli via Wikimedia Commons

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Olav Bjerkholt (1942–2020)

Olav Bjerkholt, professor emeritus of economics at Oslo University, passed away on 16 February. A mathematician who converted himself to an economist, he worked in the Research Department at Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå, SSB) for 30 years. He then moved to the University of Oslo as professor of energy and oil economics.

In his emeritus years, he devoted his energy mainly to the history of the economics profession and published several articles about the two Norwegian Nobel laureates in economics, Ragnar Frisch and Trygve Haavelmo as well as other pioneers of the discipline.

Olav Bjerkholt made important contributions to PRIO’s research during two separate periods. Read More

Why We Need Research on Migrant Transnationalism Today

A post from board members of the ‘Migrant transnationalism’ Standing Committee, IMISCOE-network.

Milada Vigerova via Unsplash

The amount of remittances sent by migrants to countries of origin continues to increase and equals more than three times the annual volumes of global development assistance (ODA). Migrants’ cross-border ties include visits, political engagement, business investments, and more. With more than 272 million international migrants – one in every thirty people in the world – cross-border ties merit systematic scholarly attention.

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SDGs and the Rule of Law: the need to globalize the ethics of legal tech

In the context of the rapid adoption and integration of legal technology at a global level, this blog post will problematize the consequences of the bias of current discussions on the ethics of legal tech in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs strongly emphasize the importance of the rule of law as a basis for development.  While there is a fast-growing literature on the ethics of legal tech, this literature, and the problems identified and discussed, are problems characteristic of the U.S legal system. No attention is given to issues specifically relevant for the SDGs.  This blog post maps out an initial set of issues for critical discussion.

Photo: NASA CC BY

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