The Soma Mining Disaster: A Tragedy Foretold

As the rescue operation into Turkey´s worst industrial accident came to end on Saturday, 17 May, the number of dead was confirmed at 301 (of 787) with scores still unaccounted for. PRIO researcher Pinar Tank has published a post the New Middle East Blog 23 May 2014.

Miners in Soma, waiting for news from the mines. Photo: Wikipedia

Democracy, Democratization, and Political Violence

The process of democratization is often violent in the short run, and democratic governments are more constrained in their use of force against insurgents than non-democratic authorities. But are democracies really more prone to political violence than other political systems? This is the theme of a short article published at the International Relations and Security Network (ISN) at ETH Zürich.Read More

Business and Peace

These days, the Business for Peace Symposium is happening in Oslo. Business leaders from all over the world are gathered to discuss how business can contribute to peace and hinder conflict. Some of the most distinguished guests have arrived from Cyprus, namely Manthos Mavrommatis, Honorary President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Vargin Varer, Vice President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.Read More

Edward Snowden: the last Big Brother?

openclipart/user unknown. Public domain.

Following last year’s revelations, Edward Snowden seems to be trapped in a role ironically reminiscent of another famous character – George Orwell’s Big Brother.

You are being watched. This classical surveillance slogan hides a subtler, and more insidious message: you must believe you are always being watched, and you probably are, but you will never be certain of that, or get the full picture of how. That is the logic behind the motto. And on this logic relies the functioning of surveillance’s ghostly dynamics: a logic of uncertainty and fear….

Read more in the original article that was published 13 May 2014 at Open Democracy.



Electing India’s Future

In April, 800 hundred million people began casting their ballots all across India in the largest election the world has ever seen. When we think of voting in India, we often picture a poor elderly villager showing a big ink-stained thumb and boasting a wide smile as proof of democracy in action. But elections in today’s India mean big money, big ideas and a growing focus on big urban centers as the drivers of development that will continue to catapult it from a 20th century agrarian laggard to a 21st century global power.Read More

Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Issues for the International Community

Original photo source: E&T

On May 13-16 a United Nations (UN) expert meeting will discuss ‘questions relating to emerging technologies’ in lethal autonomous weapon systems. Such systems are distinguished by being mobile and selecting targets autonomously without direct human supervision. This type of expert meeting represents the lowest rung of the UN ladder. The Chair of the meeting will simply write up a report to be presented later in 2014 to the annual discussions by States on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. But the expert meeting in May could be the start of a process which might see the development of new national and international law to regulate or prohibit the use of artificial intelligence without human supervision in weapon systems. Read More

Activists, Authorities and the Problem of Telling the Difference

Michael Maier, via Wikimedia.

Discussion about who killed Anna Mae Aquash of the American Indian Movement in the 1960s raises some interesting thoughts regarding what takes place when governments and challengers square off against one another. Underlying most research on the topic and popular understanding is the idea that governments and challengers represent different sides of a conflict – each has their own motives for engaging (i.e., ideology or goals), their own means for engaging (e.g., identified as “mobilizing structures” in the social movement literature) and their own sense of opportunity (i.e., when the time is ripe to strike). We alternatively call this “intrastate conflict processes” or “the conflict-repression nexus” (for the political science oriented among us) and “contentious politics” or “protest-protest policing” (for the sociological oriented). This approach has influenced how researchers study the topic and, as a result, it has broadly influenced what we can know.

Those interested with conflict, this a major problem.

Read more in the blogpost at Political Violence @ a Glance published 29 April, 2014


Arctic – the zone of confrontation

When Nezavisimaya gazeta published an article entitled “Arctic – the zone of confrontation”, I paid scant attention assuming that it was just an effort to remind that Ukraine was not everything. But then Putin held the meeting of the Security Council and ordered to set up a super-commission that would supervise all Arctic policies. Nikolai… Read more »

Rwanda, Remembrance and Research: Or, How Rwandan Violence Taught Me to Embrace Subnational/Disaggregated Conflict Studies and Integral Conflict Research

Genocide victims. Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D., via Wikimedia.

Fourteen years ago I began a journey to understand the political violence that took place in Rwanda during the year of 1994. Toward this end, I brought with me the skills that I had at that time: 1) an interest in media as well as government-generated data and content analysis, 2) an approach that was pooled at the nation-year, cross-sectional and time series in nature, and 3) an interest in state repression/human rights violation. All of this would change when confronted with Rwanda. Indeed, after full immersion into the case (from about 2000-2004, as well as reflection over the next ten years), I moved from being mostly interested in media and government sources to being mostly interested in human rights NGOs; I became more interested in the variation within countries than between them; and,I was no longer just interested in state repression/human rights violation but essentially every form of political violence.

Rwanda has this type of effect on you.

Read more in the blog post published at Political Violence @ a Glance on April 10, 2014




Climate Change and War

IPCC Cover

The day after the publication of the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the effects of climate change, Norwegian daily newspaper Dagsavisen was able to report that Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment now envisaged a future world with more conflicts. This is in line with claims made earlier by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Against this background, I embarked with some anticipation on the report’s 2,679 pages. I found that each of the four chapters that address this question gives a slightly different answer.Read More