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  • Author: Emily J. Munro
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Prevention strategies warrant more attention and can be a framework to apply to situations with different levels of urgency. The cases of the Arctic, the Sahel and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the value of prevention strategies in diverse ways. Anticipation is closely linked to prevention, and we should do more to understand how the future may unfold, and then act on the findings to help us to prevent crises and conflict. The interaction of issues often lies at the centre of the policy challenges we face today. It is necessary to unpack these interactions in order to strengthen our responses. Surprises cannot be entirely avoided, but we should place more emphasis on considering the implications of crises and ensure better integration of our approaches across the short, medium and long term.
  • Topic: Crisis Management, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Sahel, Arctic, Global Focus
  • Author: Tobias Vestner
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Human shields are increasingly used in modern conflicts, exposing civilians and other protected persons to high risk of death and injuries. Using human shields is a violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and customary international law. Armed forces confronted with human shields are faced with the dilemma between causing civil casualties that may undermine the legitimacy of their operations and refraining from attack which results in military disadvantages. To address the use of human shields, the respective normative framework and the enforcement of the prohibition could be strengthened. Strategic communication could also be deployed to delegitimize the use of human shields. Thematic engagement among states and with armed non-state actors could further prevent the use of human shields. Operational and tactical measures to circumvent human shields could further support states engaged in military operations and prevent incidental harm to civilians. Any action to address the use of human shields should be coordinated among states and international organizations.
  • Topic: Security, Military Strategy, Law, Civilians, International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fleur Heyworth, Catherine Turner
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The number of civil wars tripled in the decade to 2015. In this context, mediation is widely recognised as a critical tool for promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes, and for conflict prevention and resolution. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has made mediation a strategic priority, stating in his latest address to the Security Council that “innovative thinking on mediation is no longer an option, it is a necessity.” i In addition, regional organisations including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) are also increasing their mediation capacity. It is also increasingly recognised that those who lead high-level mediation processes need to be more representative of diverse stakeholders who bring different perspectives and experiences. Increasing the diversity of mediators is important, because the experience of the mediator will determine how they assess the relative priority of issues in the peace process, and how they are able to connect across tracks to lead inclusive processes. The barriers to inclusion of people with diverse backgrounds are highlighted by the lack of representation of women: this specific field is recognised as one of the most ‘stark and difficult to address gaps’ in achieving gender parity.ii As stated by Mossarat Qadeem, the exclusion of women is not about culture, it is about power.iii A gendered lens helps us to identify the processes, biases and barriers which contribute to the marginalisation and exclusion not just of women, but of all stakeholders who should be at the peace table.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Leadership, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Gaurav Sharma
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Despite worldwide support of 130 states, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has failed to attract membership from countries in Asia, one of the largest arms importing regions. One set of explanations for this reluctance to join an international regime of conventional arms trade regulation is related to the fear of restrictions on the imports of weapons seen as necessary in a context of protracted conflicts and rising tensions among key states in Asia. Another argument is the interpretation of the ATT as not directly prohibiting arms transfers to non-state actors, such as terrorist groups. Another reason is the efforts of some Asian states to develop their own arms industry and exports to reduce dependency on external suppliers and project influence in the region. One of the main criticisms from the Asian states about the ATT relates to the criteria of export risk assessment (Article 7), which, in their view, gives undue advantages to exporting countries. It would be desirable to promote some dialogue between State Parties and Asian non-parties and signatories to assess the benefits from and the difficulties in implementing the Treaty and address the objections of nonparties. Amending the Treaty will be easier if Asian countries accede to it.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons , Arms Trade
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, Indonesia, India, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Tobias Vestner
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Arms Trade Treaty and the Wassenaar Arrangement both seek to address the challenge posed by unconstrained transfer of conventional arms but differ in structure and approach. There are opportunities for synergies furthering the regimes’ common purpose. States members to both regimes can accentuate and interweave the strengths of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Transferring cutting-edge standards on export controls from the Wassenaar Arrangement to the Arms Trade Treaty would bolster the Arms Trade Treaty and foster global harmonization between exporting and importing countries. Political momentum on certain issues within the Arms Trade Treaty process may benefit the Wassenaar Arrangement’s further development. A derivative of the Wassenaar Arrangement’s regular ‘General Information Exchange’ on regions, transfers, and risky actors could be institutionalized within an Arms Trade Treaty working group. Sharing within the Wassenaar Arrangement information, concerns and practical challenges of states parties to the Arms Trade Treaty could make the Wassenaar Arrangement’s work more effective. Coordinating both regimes’ outreach activities, mentioning each other’s work and using each other’s documents for capacity building could mainstream arms transfer controls, prevent perceptions of conflicting standards as well as enable efficiencies regarding national efforts for compliance with international standards.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements, Arms Trade, Exports
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gervais Rufyikiri
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since the 1960s, the period of independence of Burundi, the situation of human rights has remained worrying. The UN Human Rights Office in Burundi, established in 1995, at the height of the 1993 bloody civil war, has assisted the Government in order to protect and promote the human rights, until it shut down on February 28, 2019. The assistance provided by the Office was impactful mainly through the harmonization of national legislation with international human rights standards and the creation of institutions focused on the protection and defence of human rights. The closure of the Office is one manifestation of the embarrassment in which Burundian top leaders find themselves after neutral UN experts have reported serious human rights violations committed by state institutions that may constitute crimes against humanity. The short-term solution could result from a combination of increased pressure and diplomatic actions to negotiate with the government of Burundi the reinstatement of the UN Human Rights Office. Such actions could also help to mitigate the symptoms of poor governance, particularly with regard to human rights. For the long-term, a robust mechanism addressing the root cause of ineffective or bad governance is the right way towards a lasting solution. In this regard, we suggest a smart training program specifically addressing issues of leadership ethics within all levels and categories of the leaders, sustained by coaching and mentoring activities.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Governance, Ethics, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations, Burundi
  • Author: Jeremy Lin
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) fulfills a critical role in international financial governance as the global standards-setter for antimoney laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). Money laundering and terrorist-financing challenges are evolving, particularly as AML/CFT regimes in developed countries become more robust and illicit financial flows move deeper into primarily cash-based informal economies. Recent political maneuvering by FATF member states to influence the organization’s decisions and global AML/CFT standards-setting has demonstrated that the FATF and AML/CFT policymaking are vulnerable to individual state interests and that the organization’s political independence needs to be strengthened. To more effectively address the above challenges, the FATF should establish an independent oversight function, provide clearer guidance and technical support to countries with deficient AML/CFT regimes, and expand the diversity of its membership.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Monetary Policy, Governance, Financial Crimes
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Chartoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Throughout the late 90s, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda allegedly made numerous attempts to acquire nuclear material from illicit actors. Starting in 2004, Hezbollah has been deploying Iranian-made, military-grade drones for surveillance and engagement. Terrorist groups, illicit organisations, and other non-state actors have a long fascination with advanced weapons technologies. In the early 90s, the Japanese death cult Aum Shinrikyo pursued multiple avenues to develop chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, eventually succeeding in the creation and deployment of Sarin gas. Throughout the late 90s, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda allegedly made numerous attempts to acquire nuclear material from illicit actors. Starting in 2004, Hezbollah has been deploying Iranian-made, military-grade drones for surveillance and engagement. Despite the relative success of less sophisticated weapons, and the substantial expense and difficulty of acquisition for more advanced systems, non-state actors continue to pursue advanced weapons for two significant reasons. For less funded, less powerful non-state actors, advanced weapons substantially increase the scale of the force they can wield against enemies—they promise to “level the playing field”. Advanced weapon systems also offer a significant reputational and symbolic benefit to non-state actors, as the ownership of such weapons confer a status limited to only a handful of powerful nations. States have long recognized these risks, and established numerous arms and export controls to restrict and regulate the transfer of massively destructive weapons. However, international efforts to restrict proliferation of such weapons are currently lagging behind the emergence of new, possibly as-destructive, technologies. In particular, the last few years have marked the rapid development of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Considering their potential to escalate conflicts and inflict massive collateral damage, the international community has long been debating necessary restrictions on the implementation of autonomy in weapons systems, even considering a ban on fully-autonomous systems. However, such conversations have largely been limited to state use. The international community has been painfully slow to address the possible acquisition and use of LAWS by non-state actors.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Weapons , Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Gaurav Sharma
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since 1998, both nation states have pursued their nuclear ambitions via the use of new ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. Events in the last five years have put emphasis on nuclear weapons technology, research and development, as well as production and testing. This evolution has taken place in a context of deteriorating bilateral and regional relations: the tense situation across the line of control (LoC); China’s support for Pakistan’s missile programme; the one-month stand-off between Indian and Chinese military forces; India’s test of the Agni-V ICBM; Pakistan’s testing of the nuclear capable Ababeel missile with a multiple warhead (MIRV) payload; and India’s surgical strike response to attacks attributed to Pakistani terrorists. These developments underscore the growing nuclear complexity in South Asia, the increasing investments in nuclear capabilities, and a dangerous nuclear arms race in the region. Key Points: The current evolution of military doctrines and technological choices by India, Pakistan and China in favour of the full triad of nuclear capacities contribute to lowering the threshold of an all-out nuclear war. This is all the more worrying in a context characterised by protracted conflict, bilateral and regional tensions, as well as lack of communication, transparency and long-term strategic vision. Due to the global and regional consequences of such a dangerous trend, this paper recommends urgent measures to prevent escalation or mitigate this threat. These measures include more transparency in nuclear doctrines, more focus on non-use of nuclear weapons, greater mutual communication, and a long-term outlook.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India
  • Author: Misha Nagelmackers-Voinov
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Long considered a natural partner for peace through economic diplomacy and bilateral trade agreements, business has increasingly become ignored or demonised. The private sector comprises a wide diversity of organisations and is the part of the economy that is not run by a state, but by individuals and companies for profit. Small businesses/micro-companies serve as a good starting point for a conflict resolution process because they often constitute the only form of economic activity in a conflict zone. MNCs have a range of options to respond to conflict, but cannot openly take part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, and rarely become involved officially. Track Two diplomacy is their more likely area of involvement. The United Nations has frequently supported the view that the private sector can be a powerful agent of change. However, the UN still engages only two players in conflict resolution and peacebuilding: civil society/NGOs and armed actors. UN peace operations have never been expressly mandated to consult with business or use its influence to build peace. Combining the resources, expertise and leverage of all possible actors would produce a more formidable force for peace. World affairs would benefit from integrating the private sector into a new UN system of governance; new routes are possible for a truly inclusive approach, recognising the business sector’s positive contribution to sustainable peace through informal mediation and collaborative engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economy, Business , Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus