High season for military activities in the High North

The new round of US and EU sanctions targets very specifically exploration projects in the Arctic, so both Exxon-Mobil and Statoil announce postponements and cancellations in their respective partnership plans with Rosneft. The Western majors hardly have ay regrets about it – doing business in Russia in general, and with Rosneft in particular, becomes bad for business… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 37

Monday 8 September South Sudan’s Presidential spokesperson accused IGAD of being impartial. The South Sudan Information Minister described journalists reporting the SPLM/A-in-Opposition’s view as “rebels and agitators”. At least 40 people were killed in clashes in Warrap State. UNMISS started construction work on the Bor-Juba road to improve security. Unity State youths announced that they… Read more »

War Breeds War

As a result of civil wars, some of the world’s least developed nations are now further away from achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals than they were when the goals were first adopted. 

13 years after the civil war is over, a school dormitory in Mozambique looks like this. Photo: Adam Valvasori via Flickr

The UN General Assembly adopted the Millennium Development Goals in September 2000. Following lengthy debate, the assembly agreed on eight goals that the whole world could endorse. The eight goals centred on poverty and hunger; child mortality; maternal mortality; education; HIV/AIDS; equality; sustainable development; and global partnerships for development. The deadline for achieving the goals is the end of 2015.

Many countries have now achieved all eight goals. In particular this is true of a group of Asian countries that have experienced impressive socio-economic growth in recent years. Unfortunately, the world’s least developed countries are generally failing to achieve the goals. Some of these countries, for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) and Nigeria are now further from achieving the goals than they were when the goals were adopted.Read More

Is it Acceptable to Lie for a Good Cause?

Humanitarian organizations may easily succumb to the temptation to misuse numbers and statistics in order to promote their own causes. Does the end justify the means?

Illustration: Espen Friberg / Morgenbladet

Disasters are most dangerous for moms
reported Save the Children’s Carolyn S Miles in Huffington Post when presenting the organization’s State of the World’s Mothers report for 2014. The claim was followed by a number: women and children are ‘14 times more likely to die in a disaster than men’. A sky-high number when one is talking about differences in death rates and a colossal injustice if the information is reliable. But it’s not.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 36

Monday 1 September The Eastern Equatoria governor removed Yei County leaders. The SPLM Juba branch asked the parliament to endorse a transitional government. The South Sudan government asked for support for the IGAD protocol on agreed principles. Riek Machar appointed diplomats to represent SPLMiO. Health workers in South Sudan threatened to strike. Tuesday 2 September The… Read more »

Assaulting Ukraine, Putin dares the West to respond


Just 75 years ago, the devastating war arrived to Europe – and this brave Polish cavalry perished fighting tanks. These days tanks are again rolling – and Europe needs to find a way to stop them.

The summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that opens in the Welsh Celtic Manor resort tomorrow (September 4) will feature the Ukraine crisis as an agenda item of top priority and extreme urgency. Only a week ago, this crisis appeared manageable as Russian President Vladimir Putin shook hands with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Petro Poroshenko, in Minsk under the watchful eye of Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The next day, however, Russian tanks rolled into the border city of Novoazovsk, catching the Ukrainian forces in the rear and altering the course of hostilities in eastern Ukraine (Kommersant, August 28). For weeks prior to that direct intervention, the rebel forces had been in retreat toward the strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk, but the arrival of reinforcements from Russia set off a counter-offensive, in the course of which several Ukrainian battalions were surrounded (Polit.ru, August 29).

The pro-Russia forces have not made any further advances so far, not even toward the strategically significant but defenseless Mariupol. Thus, the Russian intervention has stopped just short of a full-blown invasion for the time being, although some 10,000 troops are standing ready along the border with Ukraine (Novaya Gazeta, August 28). Putin has thus delivered a hard blow that is supposed to prove his point: Kyiv cannot win the war against the separatist forces in Donbas. At the same time, however, he has not committed himself to an overt war with Ukraine, which is far from popular in Russian public opinion (Slon.ru, August 28). Apparently, no one in the Kremlin realizes that this strong move has hamstrung the Ukrainian leadership from being able to pursue any kind of political compromise, because doing so would amount to Kyiv capitulating to external aggression. Consequently, the road-maps discussed in Minsk have been effectively canceled (Vedomosti, August 28). Poroshenko presented his case at the EU summit in Brussels, on August 30, explaining that the “anti-terrorist operation” (never an accurate term) has been transformed into a desperate defense against Russian intervention—as a result, he secured an increase in aid as well as a decision to enforce new sanctions (Gazeta.ru, August 31).

The rest of the article is in EDM, 3 September 2014.

State Briefing: Jonglei State

State Capital: Bor Approximate population: 1,443,500 Number of IDPs sheltering in the state: 579,700 Jonglei is the largest state in South Sudan and one of the areas hardest hit by conflict. Three days after the civil war started in Juba 15 December2013 the state became a battle ground.  The SPLA division led by Peter Gadet… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 35

Monday 25 August The UN condemned the detention of the ceasefire monitors in Unity State. East African leaders set a new deadline for the South Sudan peace talks. The warring parties in South Sudan signed a new peace deal. Salva Kiir agreed to have a prime minister position in the transitional government. Uganda and Ethiopia… Read more »