Climate-conflict research: A decade of scientific progress

The last decade was the warmest on record, with 2020 tied with 2016 for the all-time high average annual global temperature. This 10-year period also saw armed conflicts at severity levels not seen since the Cold War era. Could there be a causal link between these trends?

To the frustration of policymakers and laymen alike, empirical research has been unable to provide a simple and coherent answer to this question. Instead, studies of climate-conflict connections have for a long time continued to produce diverging findings and – occasionally – inspired heated debates. So, where do we stand?Read More

A Critical Moment for Women’s Political Rights in Intra-Afghan Negotiation and Beyond

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with the Afghan Government Delegation in Doha, Qatar, on September 12, 2020, including Habiba Sarabi, far right. Photo: State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain

One year ago, on February 29, 2020, the Doha Agreement was signed between the United States and the Taliban. This agreement outlines a process for a gradual withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan, Taliban’s commitment to preventing the use of Afghan soil against the US and its allies security, and the initiation of intra-Afghan negotiations on modalities for comprehensive ceasefire and agreement on the political roadmap. Once both sides complied with the release of prisoners as mandated in the Doha Agreement, the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban took place in September last year that produced rules and procedures for negotiations.

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Myanmar – from one dictatorship to another

The coup d’état in Myanmar marks a defeat for the military’s attempt to create a “discipline-flourishing” democracy.

Myanmar protesters in Thailand. Photo: Prachatai

The coup occurred on 1 February, just before the newly elected parliament was set to convene. This timing made it easy to arrest the country’s leading politicians. The military used allegations of electoral fraud as a pretext. The real cause of the coup was probably the resounding victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, in the election on 8 November, which left the army chief, Min Aung Hlaing, fearing for his future. He was concerned about increased pressure to amend the military-drafted constitution and the loss of his own authority. His term as army chief was also due to expire shortly and his successor would be appointed by the newly elected president. Through the president, Suu Kyi would be able to influence the appointment of the new army chief. This did not suit Min Aung Hlaing at all. He saw his task as being to ensure that the military remains a state within a state.

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Diversity in Norwegian Academia 2021

Diversity ensures democratic and epistemic legitimacy. Although the Norwegian research sector and higher education institutions have steadily improved at ensuring diversity in recruitment processes, there is still scope for improvement in utilizing the resultant diversity.

Photo: Stockphoto / Stock

Recently, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and Statistics Norway released new statistics on diversity. These updated figures include information about immigrants and descendants of immigrants employed in academic roles in the research and higher education sector in Norway during 2007-2018.

The statistics show that the proportion of immigrants in such roles has increased from 18 to 29 percent (with considerable variation across disciplines); immigrants most often occupy temporary or trainee positions; and notably, immigrants’ descendants are clearly underrepresented in academic positions, despite the fact that this group comprises a significant proportion of students in Norway.

Feroz Mehmood Shah and Marta Bivand Erdal from the Young Academy of Norway (AYF) commented on the diversity statistics when they were published at a webinar hosted by the Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF). In this piece we reflect on their feedback and identify three key challenges for diversity in Norwegian research and higher education moving forward.Read More

Tech-Based States of Emergency: some key takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the acceleration of pre-existing technological trends. As states introduce new rules and technological solutions to fight the pandemic, it can be tempting to view these technological applications as neutral scientific decisions. However, we must critically examine these decisions because times of crisis set standards which can last long after the states of emergencies end. For example, it is clear that the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 fundamentally changed many societies’ perception of “normal” in issues such as surveillance or in smaller routines when it comes to air travel, for example. These routines remain to this day, two decades after the fact, and in many cases some of the surveillance practices have only grown bigger.

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Climate, Crop, and Conflict: a matter of space?

Anthropogenic climate change poses unprecedented threats to socio-ecological systems, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Among others, global warming has resulted in an increased frequency, intensity and duration of extremes, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy precipitations. Climate-related impacts include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, increased morbidity and mortality, and potential implications for mental health and human well-being.

Figure 1″Refugees from South Sudan in El Daein, East Darfur” by UNAMID Photo.

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Parliamentary Election in Kosovo: Democratic Development and Desire for Change

View from Vetëvendosje’s protest in Mitrovica against deals with Serbia. Photo: AgronBeqiri via Wikimedia Commons

Less than a year after the fall of the Kosovo government led by left-wing reformist party Vetëvendosje (“Self-Determination”), the same party has returned to power. Following a landslide victory in the parliamentary election last Sunday, Vetëvendosje is set to form a government with a markedly stronger mandate than the first time around. The election outcome marks a power shift from an old political elite to a younger generation of politicians with a progressive vision, a positive development in the Western Balkans. Moreover, it signals that it is time for the EU and US to set a new direction for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

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72 Million Children Are at Risk for Sexual Violence in Conflict. What Can Be Done?

A staggering 72 million children—17% of the 426 million children living in conflict areas globally, or 1 in 6—are living near armed groups that have been reported to perpetrate sexual violence against children.

That means 3% of all children in the world are living at risk for sexual violence in a conflict zone.

Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd/Save the Children

This is one of the figures of wartime risk reported in Save the Children’s 2021 report Weapon of War: Sexual Violence Against Children in Conflict. The figure is based on a new study conducted at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

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Can we avoid conflict relapse? Some lessons from Haiti’s 2004, 2016 and 2021 crises

Over recent years few countries have made significant progress toward sustaining peace. It is important to better understand what works and what does not in conflict-affected countries. Here I will present a summary of my research on peace-building efforts in Haiti throughout the period 2004-2015, as well as some additional considerations of the political crisis of 2016 and ongoing crises since.

UN/MINUSTAH/Jesús Serrano Redondo, CC BY-SA 4.0

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