When will the South Sudan Peace Process move beyond delays and deadlocks?

The sixth session of Phase II of the IGAD-led multi-stakeholder peace negotiations officially opened on 22 September and adjourned on 5 October 2014. Participants included representatives of the Government of South Sudan, the SPLM in Opposition, the SPLM Leaders (former detainees), civil society organizations and faith-based organizations. Progress has been made in this round of… Read more »

Norway’s Outdated Citizenship Legislation

The war in Syria, the threat of Islamic radicalisation, and fears that terrorists may recruit Norwegian citizens have sparked renewed debate about Norway’s citizenship legislation.

Meanwhile, another debate continues to be forgotten: We call for a reopening of the debate on dual citizenship, as Norway’s antiquated legislation is out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours. Both debates are important, and both should be addressed now. But these are two separate debates. Read More

New NATO Cyber Defense Policy: Unclear on Key Issues

Against the background of increasing dependence on technology and on the internet, NATO is advancing its efforts to confront the wide range of cyber threats. Presented at the organization’s 2014 summit in Wales, on 4 September 2014, a new defense policy states that there is no distinction between cyber attack and physical attack. 


NATO Foreign Ministers’ dinner September 2014
CC BY 2.0 Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The update from the 2011 policy, to keep pace with technology developments, includes changing NATO’s mission of collective defence with respect to cyber attacks. 

Since the late 1990s, military, political and commercial actors have worked to frame cyber-attacks as forms of warfare. NATO’s new cyber defense policy (presented at the NATO 2014 summit) provides that cyber-attacks may activate the collective defense clause under Article 5 of the NATO charter. This formal shift marks a new milestone in the militarization of cyberspace. 

As expected, the new policy is unclear on key issues. For example, the threshold for triggering the application for Article 5 will be determined on a case-by-case basis. As noted by Oana Lungescu, spokeswoman for NATO, “we will not say in exactly which circumstances or what the threshold of the attack has to be to trigger a collective NATO response.”

Read more at the UI Blog.

This Week in South Sudan – Week 42

Monday 13 October South Sudan’s former justice minister, John Luk Jok, warned of “disregard of the constitution.” Interparty dialogue in Tanzania between South Sudan’s political factions. UN envoy reported horrific levels of sexual violence in South Sudan, a Joint Communique with the SPLM has been sign to tackle the situation. The SPLM-in-Opposition claimed Ugandan military… Read more »

Russian military keep conquering the Arctic

Guns are not quite silent in the devastated Donbass, and Putin’s order to withdraw troops from the border area is no different from his several prior zigzags in manipulating this conflict, so that no real redeployments are taking place. What is happening in this pause, is the new spike in Russian military activities in the… Read more »

Ebola: A Humanitarian Crisis or a Crisis of Humanitarian Governance?

With more than 8,000 confirmed, suspected and probable cases of Ebola and nearly 4,000 deaths, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the impact of this Ebola outbreak far surpasses all previous outbreaks registered since the disease was identified in 1976. But what type of crisis is this? Is this just another humanitarian crisis in a year unusually crowded with emergencies, or is it also a serious crisis of humanitarian governance?

Nurse receives suspected Ebola patient in MSF Ebola Treatment Centre in Sierra Leone.
Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui / MSF

What kind of crisis is this?

In popular culture and current media coverage, Ebola is often portrayed more as a civilisational crisis than a humanitarian one: the fear-mongering and alarmist outbreak narratives, including frequent allusions to Zombies, are reminiscent of the early coverage of HIV/AIDS in the mid-1980s. The racial connotations are equally familiar but much older: the blaming of victims for their primitive food habits (bush meat), irrational customs (burial practices) and hostility to modern medical practice (including sorcery and physical attacks on health workers) has the ring of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness about it. Africa is yet again a diseased place, with ambiguous relationships between animal and man and the living and the dead.

Read more at the Humanitarian Space.

Women and Public Life in the Somali Region

Somali women are often perceived as a homogenous social group perpetually living in destitution as victims of mutilation, sexual exploitation, famine, and war. Whilst we must not ignore atrocities committed against them, it is important to demonstrate that Somali women are not passive victims, and to not disregard a history replete with stories of extraordinary women.

Fatima Jibril, Founder of Somali Horn Relief International, speaking at the Global Open Day for Women and Peace 2010. (Credits: UNIFEM)

There is a lack of awareness of the remarkable Somali women who have refused to accept patriarchy, and who have fought for women’s rights to engage actively and equally as stakeholders in Somali society. The diversity of Somali women’s experiences within society — as politicians, teachers, activists, or working in businesses or international organizations — must be widely acknowledged in our understanding of the Somali region.Read More

Gandhi’s Legacy: A Century of Peaceful Troublemakers

There are really two types of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates—elites (or elite-led institutions) and ordinary people. Elite winners generally seem to be those that are trying to forge or preserve peace. But ordinary individuals tend to be troublemakers—those that are trying to use nonviolent action to upset the status quo to bring more justice to oppressed peoples.

The 2014 laureates share much in common with Gandhi.
Photo: Wikipedia

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Peace for the Next Generation

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two people, from two countries with shared challenges. But the award raises questions: Does India have the will to abolish child labour? And can Malala Yousafzai influence Pakistani women and girl’s rights from abroad?

Child labor is a regional problem, here are young boys turning over bricks at one of the hundreds of outdoors kilns that ring Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka. Across South Asia, boys and girls are recruited to manual labor positions in order to help provide for their families. Often, this means that they must drop out of school in order to help the family get enough money for food and shelter.
Photo: Jason Miklian, PRIO

The two candidates who were awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize are of different ages and experience. What they have in common, however, is the importance they attach to children’s, young people’s and girls’ rights, and the hope that this will contribute to a more peaceful world in the longer term. At the same time, the awarding of the prize raises two questions: whether there is the political will in India totally to abolish child labour; and what influence an activist based outside her own country can have on improving the situation of girls and women in Pakistan.

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