The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Addressing the Structures

In a series of brief blog posts, researchers of the PRIO Middle East Centre offer their reflections on the unfolding Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

The two-way rocket salvos into and from Gaza feels like a tedious repetition of tragedies past. The world has seen this before, and tragically we will probably see it again in the not too distant future.

Diplomats might be working tirelessly to end this conflict and secure a ceasefire, but they will not address the structures that brought us here. There are many such structures, all of which must be addressed.

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The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Geopolitics of the non-ceasefire

In a series of brief blog posts, researchers of the PRIO Middle East Centre offer their reflections on the unfolding Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

The proposition for cessation of violence in the suddenly exploded Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears so natural and necessary that the lack of any progress in its advancement after ten days of rocket salvoes and air strikes may appear shocking – unless we take a closer look at the stakes of key external influencers.

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Mind the Gap: Policy, Righting wrongs and circumventing oil curses in Uganda’s Albertine region

Uganda has signed a pipeline deal with Tanzania and Total to transport crude oil from Uganda’s Albertine region to Tanzania’s Tanga port for refining, but the secrecy that surrounds this $3.5 billion project attracts questions around its viable benefit to the citizenry. For Uganda, this oil presents huge opportunities and significant risks.

Proposed Uganda pipeline. Wikimedia Commons

At all London Tube stations, there is a consistent reminder to “mind the gap between the train and the platform.” This is to always alert travelers about the risk of not taking the necessary precautions when entering and leaving the train wagons. It is precisely to avoid any accident that may arise when they miss a step and get trapped in the gap between the train and the platform.

I apply this analogy to Uganda’s oil resource programing and the highly theorized ‘resource curse’ or ‘paradox of plenty’ or the ‘poverty paradox’ to insist on Uganda’s need to ‘mind the gap’ between her oil resource and the likely outcomes.Read More

The Pitfalls of Peacemaking

The revelations in the Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) of Terje Rød-Larsen’s links to Jeffrey Epstein are a reminder that personal goals, dreams and ambitions can become entwined in professional choices in unfortunate ways – including for well intentioned foreign policy actors.

Terje Rød-Larsen and IPI staff in 2017. Photo: IPI / Wikimedia Commons

The International Peace Institute in New York, the think tank Terje Rød-Larsen led for years, has received millions of kroner from sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s foundation. The man who in his time contributed to negotiating the incredible Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO has seen his international status fall from ‘star diplomat’ to that of a hustler kicked out of his own institute.

For the Norwegian authorities, the problem is that over the years, Rød-Larsen’s think tank has also received over NOK 130 million of Norwegian government funding. This has caused both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Office of the Auditor General to instigate investigations into Rød-Larsen’s working practices and networks.

For those of us who have been following Norwegian peace diplomacy for a while, this fall from grace did not come as a total shock.Read More

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

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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

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