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  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A year after the near-fatal shooting of President José Ramos-Horta, security in Timor-Leste is strikingly improved. Armed rebels are no longer at large. The atmosphere on the streets of Dili is far less tense. The government does not seem to be facing any serious political threat to its survival. It has, at least temporarily, been able to address several of the most pressing security threats, in large part by buying off those it sees as potential troublemakers. Nevertheless, the current period of calm is not cause for complacency. Security sector reform is lagging, the justice system is weak, the government shows signs of intolerance towards dissenting voices, and it has not got a grip on corruption. These problems, which have been at the root of the instability facing Timor-Leste since independence, must be tackled if the country is to escape the cycle of conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Vienna
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The military junta that took control of the country just hours after President Conté's death on 23 December 2008 has tightened its grip on power. The self-proclaimed president, Moussa Dadis Camara, and his group of midranking officers calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), have shown few signs of moving towards elections by the end of 2009 as promised. As Guinea's dire economic prospects erode popular support, the junta, unpracticed in governing, is also in danger of resorting to authoritarian measures. With the risk of a counter-coup from dissatisfied army elements still present, a democratic transition at best faces a long and difficult road. Concerted national and international pressure is urgently needed to produce a return to civilian rule, even before elections if the junta begins to stall on preparations for a vote.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A series of crises in 2008 have increased the potential for serious trouble in Haiti this year. The politically motivated, violent April riots against high living costs caused widespread disruption and suffering, toppled the government of Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard Alexis and forced postponement of a donor conference. In August and September, four tropical storms and hurricanes killed 800, affected nearly one million, exacerbated food shortages and pushed yet more Haitians into poverty. Extensive damage was caused to infrastructure and agriculture. The global financial crisis is making it difficult for donors to meet commitments and reducing diaspora remittances. President René Préval and Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, who took office in September 2008, need to secure the support of donors and parliament quickly for a wide-ranging stabilisation strategy or risk political instability and violence. These are major challenges in a year in which parliamentary elections will be held and constitutional reform is on the agenda.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Disaster Relief, Economics, Politics, Post Colonialism, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Haiti
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Seven years after the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan the country is still at war against extremists and has developed few resilient institutions. A policy review by the Obama administration has reopened debate about how to defeat the forces of violent global jihadism – al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors – in Afghanistan and in neighbouring Pakistan. In most cases, the ideas on offer – from declaring victory and pulling out, to negotiating with the insurgents, to organising regional conferences, to prioritising relationships with favoured individuals and allies over the development of strong democratic institutions – have been tried at least once in the past two decades, with no success: we know now what not to do.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tensions in Aceh are high as elections approach, although they have receded somewhat from a peak in mid-February. The murders of three former combatants of the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), other shootings and numerous grenade attacks over the last two months – all with unidentified perpetrators – have set the province on edge, and there remains a risk of sporadic, low-level violence before and after general elections on 9 April. Disputes over the results, with 44 parties competing for seats in district, provincial and national legislatures using a new and complicated system of voting, are also likely. There is little danger in the short term of violence escalating out of control, let alone a return to armed conflict, but the underlying causes of the tensions are not just election-related and need to be addressed if peace is to be preserved in the long term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Australia/Pacific, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: North Korea says it is preparing to launch an experimental communications satellite using a rocket that is part of its ballistic missile program. This would be in the face of an international outcry, and of what is a strong though not definitive argument that it violates two UN Security Council resolutions. Japan has been most vocally opposed, saying it will shoot down the rocket if it threatens to fall on its territory. But even if the test is successful, it would only slightly increase security risks, while an overblown response would likely jeopardise the Six-Party Talks to end North Korea's nuclear program. What is needed is a calm, coordinated response from the key actors to raise pressure on Pyongyang to return to the talks rather than a divided reaction that only fulfils the North's desire to widen splits among its neighbours.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After nearly a year of seemingly endless talks brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Zimbabwe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed a coalition government in February. Opposition entry into government is a landmark development, and broad segments of the population are optimistic for the first time in years that a decade of repression and decline can be reversed. There is considerable international scepticism whether the flawed arrangement can succeed; many are tempted, with some reason, to second-guess the decision of mainstream MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the deal under SADC and ZANU-PF pressure. But he had no good alternative, given a collapsed economy and humanitarian catastrophe from which his constituency was suffering. Donors should re-engage and apply a “humanitarian plus” aid strategy. South Africa, in collaboration with SADC, should negotiate retirement of hardline senior security leaders in the lifespan of the inclusive government.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Reversing a decades-long trend of environmental destruction is essential to Haiti's development, social and economic stability and, ultimately, security. Instability and violent conflict are not attributable solely to environmental degradation. But they are made more likely by the latter's interaction with such factors as weak institutions and governance, political fragility, pervasive and extreme poverty, vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid population growth, urban overcrowding and social and economic inequality. Concerted national effort and international support is required to stop deforestation and land erosion; reduce energy shortages and charcoal dependence; address rural and urban pollution, including the absence of a solid waste collection and recycling system; and strengthen an inadequate capacity to cope with natural disasters.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Post Colonialism
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The report of the government-constituted Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, submitted to Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua on 1 December 2008, offers an opportunity to reduce violent conflict significantly and begin longer-term regional development in the oil-rich region. The government needs to respond urgently and positively, in particular by accepting a third-party mediator to facilitate discussions of amnesty and demobilisation of militants, in order to dispel growing misgivings in the Delta, save the region from further violence and organised criminality, and ensure Nigeria's continued reliability as a leading source of energy for the world.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Oil, War
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia has earned well-deserved praise for its handling of home-grown extremism, but the problem has not gone away. In April 2009, ten men involved in a jihadi group in Palembang, South Sumatra, were sent to prison on terrorism charges for killing a Christian teacher and planning more ambitious attacks. Their history provides an unusually detailed case study of radicalisation - the process by which law-abiding individuals become willing to use violence to achieve their goals. The sobering revelation from Palembang is how easy that transformation can be if the right ingredients are present: a core group of individuals, a charismatic leader, motivation and opportunity. Another ingredient, access to weapons, is important but not essential: the Palembang group carried out its first attack with a hammer and only later moved to making bombs.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Over seven years, the government of President Álvaro Uribe has produced important security gains, but these have been accompanied by serious human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). Colombia is still not close to the end of its armed conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), paramilitary successors and new illegal armed groups (NIAGs) – all responsible for multiple atrocities against civilians – can survive with drug financing and, to a degree, due to the state's inability to extend its legitimate presence into many rural areas. To move toward lasting peace, the Uribe administration must not only maintain its security achievements but also urgently improve its security policy by addressing serious human rights issues and expanding the rule of law and national reach of the state's civilian institutions. Holding to account senior military involved in extrajudicial killings is a first step but insufficient to curb abuses. International cooperation should focus on supporting the fight to end impunity and protect basic rights.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The motivations for North Korea's second nuclear test are, as with many of its actions, mostly impenetrable. It may be the latest step in an unrelenting drive to become a permanent nuclear state or it could be advertising nuclear wares to potential buyers. It may be driving up the price others will pay for the North to give up its weapons or it might be about ensuring that the military will accept whatever decision Kim Jong-il has made on his successor. Most likely, North Korea's nuclear weapons program serves multiple purposes for the leadership. Whatever the rationale, there are no good options in response. Finding a way to resume talks on ending the nuclear program may appear to reward Pyongyang's bad behaviour, but diplomacy is still the least bad option. At the same time, the UN Security Council's strong and united condemnation of the test in Resolution 1874 must be enforced, while containment of proliferation and deterrence of North Korean provocations need to be boosted.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the wake of a conceptually flawed peace agreement, the Taliban takeover of large parts of Malakand division, subsequent military action in the area, almost three million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled to camps, homes, schools and other places of shelter across Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). The challenge for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government and international actors is to make relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts responsive to needs and empower local communities in Malakand Division. Failure to do so will reverse any gains on the battlefield and boost radical Islamist groups.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Central Asia, Asia, Taliban
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ten months after the “August war” between Georgia and Russia, violent incidents and the lack of an effective security regime in and around the conflict zones of South Ossetia and Abkhazia create a dangerous atmosphere in which extensive fighting could again erupt. Russia has not complied with key aspects of the cease-fire agreements that President Medvedev reached in August/September 2008 with French President Sarkozy in his then EU presidency role. Its 15 June Security Council veto of an extension of the sixteen-year-old UN observer mission mandate in Georgia and Abkhazia and its apparent intention to require the removal of the mission of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) by the end of the month are blows to regional security that will further fuel tensions. Most of the on-the-ground conflict resolution machinery is thus being dismantled. Moscow should review its counterproductive position and work for a reasonable compromise allowing the UN and OSCE monitors to continue their important work.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Moscow, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The assassinations of the chief of defence staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, on 1 March 2009 and Presi- dent Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira early the next day have plunged Guinea-Bissau into deep uncertainty. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was quickly sworn in as interim president pending the election the constitution requires. That the killings occurred only months after the acclaimed November parliamentary elections, however, indicates that, in current circumstances, the democratic process cannot cope with the rule of the gun, as well as the extent to which the military's use of force has overwhelmed state institutions. Without outside help to end military involvement in politics and impunity, it may be impossible to halt a slide into further violence. Elites need to stand up to the military, but they require support. The international community should work for an international or hybrid commission of inquiry into the killings. Security system reform needs to be improve d by better international coordination and creation of a national commission with enhanced autonomy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea-Bissau
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For perhaps the first time since Iran and the U.S. broke ties in 1980, there are real prospects for fundamental change. The new U.S. president, Barack Obama, stated willingness to talk unconditionally. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, implicitly blessed dialogue, and presidential candidates are vying to prove they would be the most effective interlocutor. Yet, while U.S. objectives and tactics are relatively familiar, little is known of Iran's thinking, even as much is assumed. Western interaction with its opaque political system and decision-making has both shrivelled and been narrowly focused on the nuclear file. Under-standing Iran's perspective is critical if engagement is to succeed. This briefing, based on meetings with officials and analysts, seeks to shed light on what Tehran thinks about dialogue, its goals and visions of a future relationship. It concludes that while full normalisation might be out of reach for now, there is a chance to achieve a more realistic objective: the start of a long-term dialogue that minimises risks of confrontation and advances areas of mutual interest.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Tehran
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 4 mars 2007, les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise ivoirienne signaient l'accord politique de Ouagadougou (APO). Ce compromis a, dans un pre-mier temps, apporté un environnement de paix en Côte d'Ivoire. La ligne de démarcation entre les deux pro-tagonistes a été démantelée. Un nouveau gouvernement a été formé et les bases ont été jetées pour apporter une réponse aux deux questions-clés du conflit : l'identité et la citoyenneté ivoiriennes et la légitimité du pouvoir. Mais, plus de deux ans après son adoption, l'APO va mal. Une sortie de crise sera possible uniquement si les engagements pris dans la capitale burkinabé sont enfin suivis d'effets. Sortir la Côte d'Ivoire de sa décen-nie de crise ne nécessitera pas seulement l'organisation d'élections crédibles mais impliquera également des progrès significatifs dans le processus de désarmement ainsi qu'une véritable réunification de l'administration. Ceci demandera la remobilisation de la facilitation burkinabé et une pression accrue des partenaires inter-nationaux sur les acteurs du conflit.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Peace Studies, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 17 July 2009, suicide bombers attacked two hotels in the heart of a Jakarta business district, killing nine and injuring more than 50, the first successful terrorist attack in Indonesia in almost four years. While no one has claimed responsibility, police are virtually certain it was the work of Noordin Mohammed Top, who leads a breakaway group from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the regional jihadi organisation responsible for the first Bali bombing in 2002. One of the hotels, the Marriott, was bombed by Noordin's group in 2003; this time, a meeting of mostly foreign businessmen appears to have been the target. The restaurant of the nearby Ritz-Carlton was also bombed.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The administration of Mostar is collapsing, a warning sign for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). There has been no mayor, budget or functioning city council since an October 2008 election; tension threatens to poison relations between the leading Bosniak and Croat parties, which are coalition partners throughout BiH. The crisis is rooted in ethnic demographics, recent conflict history and a city statute that replicates many of the power-sharing rules that govern the state. Mostar's Croat majority, much like the state's Bosniak majority, chafes against these rules, considering them illegitimate and foreign-imposed, and seeks to force the Office of the High Representative (OHR – the international community's peace implementation body) to impose a solution on its behalf. Yet, a fair solution is within the council's competence and, like the city's chronic grievances, can best be handled without the High Representative using his extraordinary (Bonn) powers. The international community should deliver the message that fourteen years after the end of their war, it is time for the Bosnians to take responsibility for their own futures.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The semi-autonomous north-eastern Somali region of Puntland, once touted as a success of the “building blocks” approach to reestablishing national stability and widely viewed as one of the most prosperous parts of Somalia, is experiencing a three-year rise in insecurity and political tension. At its roots are poor governance and a collapse of the intra-clan cohesion and pan-Darood solidarity that led to its creation in 1998. Intra-Darood friction has eroded the consensual style of politics that once underpinned a relative stability. The piracy problem is a dramatic symptom of deeper problems that, left untreated, could lead to Puntland's disintegration or overthrow by an underground militant Islamist movement. A solution to the security threat requires the Puntland government to institute reforms that would make it more transparent and inclusive of all clans living within the region.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia, Puntland
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis 2003, l'exploitation du pétrole a contribué lourdement à la détérioration de la gouvernance interne au Tchad, menant à une succession de crises politiques et de rébellions. Les retombées financières du pétrole – 53 millions de barils rapportant 1,2 milliards de dollars à l'Etat en 2007 – ont attisé les appétits au sein du régime qui ont, à leur tour, nourri des dissensions et débouché sur des rébellions rapidement soutenues par le voisin soudanais. Les revenus du pétrole ont par ailleurs donné au président Idriss Déby les moyens de rejeter tout dialogue politique véritable, et de répondre aux menaces de renversement venues du Soudan par le surarmement. L'enthousiasme suscité par l'exploitation du pétrole a fait place à un désenchantement généralisé. Pour sortir de ce cercle vicieux et susciter les conditions d'une stabilisation durable du pays, le gouvernement tchadien doit redéfinir un consensus national autour de la gestion des revenus pétroliers, et ses partenaires principaux, la France, les Etats-Unis et la Chine, doivent conditionner leur soutien au régime à cette politique, tout en oeuvrant à la stabilisation complémentaire de ses relations avec le Soudan.
  • Topic: Corruption, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than a month after the 17 July 2009 hotel bombings in Jakarta, Noordin Mohammed Top remains at large, but his network is proving to be larger and more sophisticated than previously thought. Not only was it responsible for coordinated bombings at two luxury hotels in the heart of Jakarta's business district, but it also was apparently contemplating a car bomb attack on President Yudhoyono's residence. As more information comes to light, it looks increasingly likely that Noordin sought and received Middle Eastern funding. While the extent of foreign involvement this time around remains unclear, recruitment in Indonesia has proved disturbingly easy. The salafi jihadi ideology that legitimises attacks on the U.S. and its allies, and Muslims who associate with them, remains confined to a tiny fringe, but that fringe includes disaffected factions of many different radical groups and impressionable youths with no history of violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Indonesia, Asia, Jakarta
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A preliminary breakthrough in the two-decades-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – a framework agreement on basic principles – may be within reach. Armenia and Azerbaijan are in substantial accord on principles first outlined by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in 2005. A basic principles agreement, while only a foundation to build on, is crucial to maintain momentum for a peace deal. Important differences remain on specifics of a subsequent final deal. Movement toward Armenia-Turkey rapprochement after a century of hostility has brought opportunity also for ending the Nagorno-Karabakh stalemate. Sustainable regional peace requires compromises on all the quarrels, but there is backlash danger, especially in Armenia, where public discontent could derail the Nagorno-Karabakh framework agreement. Presidents Sarkisian (Armenia) and Aliyev (Azerbaijan) need to do more to prepare their publics. The U.S., Russia and France, Minsk Group co-chairs, have stepped up collective efforts, but more is needed to emphasise dangers in clinging to an untenable status quo.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea's stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars. The military junta, the National Council for Democracy and Development (Conseil national pour la démocratie et le développement, CNDD), is denying its evident responsibility and playing for time by offering what it calls a “national union government” to opposition parties. But with the mood on the streets hardening against the junta, worse trouble is likely unless combined domestic and international pressure is applied to force the soldiers from power.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Štrpce, one of Kosovo's largest Serb enclaves and one of the few with good Serb-Albanian relations and economic prospects, risks falling victim to the status dispute between Belgrade and Pristina. But it also has a chance to demonstrate to Serbs that they can protect their interests within Kosovo's constitutional order. Since May 2008, the municipality has been governed by competing authorities, both Serb-led: an official government appointed by the UN in the face of local opposition and a parallel regime elected in defiance of Kosovo law. Neither has the capacity to perform its duties. The impasse has deprived this peaceful enclave of effective government and devastated its economy, notably by preventing regulation of its lucrative property market and blocking privatisation of the Brezovica ski resort. Local elections on 15 November 2009 can end the un- easy status quo, give Štrpce a legitimate government and unlock its economic potential. Belgrade, Pristina and the international community should encourage voting and thereafter equip the municipal government with the expanded powers and resources it needs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Serbia, Balkans, Albania
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) post-war status quo has ended but the international community risks muddling the transition by delaying decisions on a new kind of engagement. Republika Srpska (RS), one of the state's two entities, has defied the High Representative, Bosnia's international governor, and the international community has not backed him up. Instead, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) launched in October 2009 on the Butmir military base outside Sarajevo a high-level effort to persuade the country's leaders to adopt far-reaching constitutional reforms and allow the mandate of the High Representative and his office (OHR) to end. Disagreements over the scope and content of reform make agreement uncertain. But Bosnia's leaders should adopt as much of the EU-U.S. proposal as possible, and the international community should end its protectorate in favour of a new, EU- and NATO-led approach including strong security guarantees.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Hamid Karzai's re-election on 2 November 2009, following widespread fraud in the 20 August presidential and provincial polls, has delivered a critical blow to his government's legitimacy. The deeply flawed polls have eroded public confidence in the electoral process and in the international community's commitment to the country's nascent democratic institutions. Concentration of power in the executive to the exclusion of the legislature and judiciary has also resulted in a fundamental breakdown in governance while strengthening the hand of the insurgency. To restore stability, vigorous constitutional reform under the aegis of a loya jirga must be undertaken; an impartial commission of inquiry into the flawed elections should be formed; the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) should be restructured to restore credibility; and prompt steps must be taken to strengthen institutions.
  • Topic: Democratization, War, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The stalled electoral process has plunged Somaliland into a serious political crisis that presents yet another risk of destabilisation for the region. If its hard-won political stability collapses under the strain of brinkmanship and intransigence, clan leaders might remobilise militias, in effect ending its dream of independence. The political class must finally accept to uphold the region's constitution, abide by the electoral laws and adhere to interparty agreements such as the electoral code of conduct and memorandum of understanding signed on 25 September 2009, so as to contain the crisis and permit implementation of extensive electoral reforms. International partners and donors should keep a close watch on developments and sustain pressure for genuinely free and fair general elections in 2010.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Hugo Chávez's victory in the 15 February 2009 referendum, permitting indefinite re-election of all elected officials, marked an acceleration of his “Bolivarian revolution” and “socialism of the 21st century”. Chávez has since moved further away from the 1999 constitution, and his government has progressively abandoned core liberal democracy principles guaranteed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The executive has increased its power and provoked unrest internally by further politicising the armed forces and the oil sector, as well as exercising mounting influence over the electoral authorities, the legislative organs, the judiciary and other state entities. At the same time, Chávez's attempts to play a political role in other states in the region are producing discomfort abroad. The September 2010 legislative elections promise to further polarise an already seriously divided country, while unresolved social and mounting economic problems generate tensions that exacerbate the risk of political violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The number of Islamists in Kyrgyz and Kazakh prisons is small but growing, in both size and political significance. Well-organised Islamist proselytisers, mostly imprisoned on charges of religious extremism, are consolidating their position within the informal structures of power behind prison walls. Incarcerating determined activists is providing them with the opportunity to extend their influence among convicts, at first inside prison and then on their release. Problems within jails in Central Asia have been known to seep outside the prison walls; the expansion of radical Islamist thought within prisons is likely to have serious consequences. The paradox of the situation is that, in private at least, political leaders in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are intensely aware that the best way to defeat extremism is to address woeful social and economic conditions, fight the systemic top-to-bottom corruption that besets all the region's regimes, and in the words of one regional leader, “give people a future”.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries – the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement – all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP). Less than thirteen months remain to ensure that national elections and the South Sudan self-determination referendum lead to democratic transformation and resolution of all the country's conflicts. Unless the international community, notably the U.S., the UN, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the Horn of Africa Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD), cooperate to support both CPA implementation and vital additional negotiations, return to North-South war and escalation of conflict in Darfur are likely.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, South Sudan
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Armenia's flawed presidential election, the subsequent lethal crackdown against a peaceful protest rally, the introduction of a state of emergency and extensive arrests of opposition supporters have brought the country to its deepest crisis since the war against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh ended in 1994. The situation deprives Serzh Sarkisian, scheduled to be inaugurated as president on 9 April 2008, of badly needed legitimacy and handicaps prospects for much needed democratic reform and resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict alike. Unless the U.S., EU and others with significant diplomatic leverage over the regime in Yerevan exert pressure, Armenia is unlikely to make progress on either. The Sarkisian administration must urgently seek credible dialogue with the opposition, release prisoners detained on political grounds, stop arrests and harassment of the opposition and lift all measures limiting freedom of assembly and expression. Unless steps are taken to address the political crisis, the U.S. and EU should suspend foreign aid and put on hold negotiations on further and closer cooperation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Political Violence, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Evo Morales's efforts to consolidate sweeping reforms on the basis of a controversial new constitution have steered Bolivia into a cul-de-sac. On 8 December 2007, his supporters in the Constituent Assembly (CA) provisionally passed the text by running roughshod over procedures and virtually excluding opposition delegates. Weak attempts to bridge the deepening divide have failed, increasing potential for a violent confrontation both sides still seem to wish to avoid. Openly defying Morales in May 2008, however, Santa Cruz massively approved the department's autonomy statutes by referendum. Two other eastern lowland departments followed suit, with the fourth expected to do so on 22 June. Morales is pushing for final adoption of the constitution by referendum and a popular vote of confidence. The Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and several European countries, and the Group of Friends (Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) should provide good offices to help the government and opposition reach urgent agreement on a revised constitution that can keep the country together.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 11 October 2007, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) announced it was suspending participation in the Government of National Unity because the National Congress Party (NCP) was not implementing key aspects of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the generation-long, primarily North-South conflict. After months of highlevel meetings, military posturing and increasingly aggressive rhetoric, the parties agreed on a series of measures and drew back from the brink. The SPLM rejoined the government, which includes a reorganised cabinet, on 27 December. The immediate crisis has been defused, but underlying difficulties remain, and the risk of significant new fighting is growing in the Abyei area. Both parties must re-commit to full CPA implementation if peace is to hold, and the international community must re-engage robustly in support of the still shaky peace deal and recognise that CPA implementation would create the best environment for peace in Darfur and beyond.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Darfur
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A month has passed since Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008. Much has gone well, but there is a real risk, as made most evident with the violence on 17 March around the courthouse in north Mitrovica, that partition will harden at the Ibar River in the north, and Kosovo will become another frozen conflict. To seek to prevent this, more countries must recognise and embrace the new state, the international missions (European Union and NATO) must be more proactive and coordinate their operations and, most importantly, it must be demonstrated to Serbia, supported by Russia, that it will not be permitted to break up the new state.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Kosovo, Balkans, Mitrovica
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The situation in and around Georgia's conflict areas remains unstable. Violent incidents are continuing. Shots were fired near a convoy carrying the Georgian and Polish presidents on 23 November. European Union (EU) monitors are being denied access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Unambitious multi-party negotiations focusing on security and internally displaced person (IDP) return have gotten off to a slow start in Geneva. For the moment, however, domestic politics are the capital's main preoccupation. President Mikheil Saakash¬vili's position is at least temporarily secure, but his administration is likely to be severely tested politically and economically in the winter and spring months ahead. The August 2008 war with Russia and the global financial crisis have seriously undermined Georgia's economy and the foreign investment climate. Social discontent could rise as economic conditions worsen unless the government pushes forward with economic and political change.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Georgia
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Police reform in Afghanistan is receiving more attention and resources than ever before, but such increased efforts are still yet to be matched by significant improvements in police effectiveness and public confidence. Too much emphasis has continued to be placed on using the police to fight the insurgency rather than crime. Corruption and political appointments are derailing attempts to professionalise the force. The government and the international community need to reinforce the International Policing Coordination Board (IPCB) as the central forum for prioritising efforts and drive forward with much greater unity of effort. Tangible steps such as appointing a career police commissioner and establishing community liaison boards will build professionalism and wider outreach. A national police force able to uphold the rule of law is crucial to state-building and would help tackle the root causes of alienation that drive the insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The current reconciliation process between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) is a continuation of their struggle through other means. The goals pursued by the two movements are domestic and regional legitimacy, together with consolidation of territorial control – not national unity. This is understandable. At this stage, both parties see greater cost than reward in a compromise that would entail loss of Gaza for one and an uncomfortable partnership coupled with an Islamist foothold in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the other. Regionally, Syria – still under pressure from Washington and others in the Arab world – has little incentive today to press Hamas to compromise, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are tilting more pointedly toward Fatah. It will take significant shifts in domestic, regional and international attitudes for this to change. Palestine's political-territorial division, now over a year old, is set to endure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The process that will be launched shortly at Annapolis may not quite be do-or-die for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but at the very least it is do-or-barely-survive. Positively, a U.S. administration that neglected Middle East peacemaking since taking office appears committed to an intensive effort: it has persuaded both sides to agree to negotiate final status issues – no mean feat after years of diplomatic paralysis and violent conflict. But pitfalls are equally impressive. The meeting, like the process it aims to spawn, occurs in a highly politicised context, with sharp divisions in the Palestinian and Israeli camps. These will make it hard to reach agreement and to sell it to both constituencies and, for the foreseeable future, virtually impossible to implement. Moreover, failure of the negotiations could discredit both leaderships, while further undermining faith in diplomacy and the twostate solution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Armenia and Azerbaijan have failed to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, even though the framework for a fair settlement has been on the table since 2005. A comprehensive peace agreement before presidential elections in both countries in 2008 is now unlikely but the two sides still can and should agree before the polls to a document on basic principles, which if necessary clearly indicates the points that are still in dispute. Without at least such an agreement and while they engage in a dangerous arms race and belligerent rhetoric, there is a risk of increasing ceasefire violations in the next few years. By about 2012, after which its oil revenue is expected to begin to decline, Azerbaijan may be tempted to seek a military solution. The international community needs to lose its complacency and do more to encourage the leaderships to prepare their societies for compromise and peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law in Pakistan on 3 November 2007. He suspended the constitution, sacked the chief justice of the Supreme Court and removed other judges of that court who declared his act illegal. Police immediately began arresting lawyers, politicians and human rights activists. Independent television channels were taken off the air and reporting restrictions imposed. Thousands have since been jailed, journalists threatened and protests by lawyers and others suppressed. Replacing dissenting judges with hand-picked appointees, and ruling by decree, Musharraf's objective is to retain personal power by gaining judicial approval for martial law, followed by the creation of a democratic façade through rigged elections. The international community should demand the immediate restoration of constitutional order, the rule of law and the legitimate judiciary, the release of political prisoners and the appointment of an impartial caretaker government to oversee free and fair elections.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Dix mois après le déclenchement d'un mouvement de révolte populaire contre le régime du président Lansana Conté, au pouvoir depuis 23 ans, et sept mois après la formation d'un nouveau gouvernement, la Guinée est toujours dans une incertitude totale quant à son avenir immédiat. L'état de grâce dont a bénéficié le Premier ministre Lansana Kouyaté, celui qui devait conduire le « changement » exigé par le peuple, fut de courte durée. Les fissures au sein du mouvement collectif qui a ébranlé le régime au début de l'année risquent de favoriser une reconquête du pouvoir par le clan présidentiel. Pour éviter tout retour de la violence, le Premier ministre doit impérativement convaincre les citoyens guinéens de sa détermination à oeuvrer en faveur d'une véritable transition démocratique et a besoin de recevoir à cet effet un soutien actif de la Communauté économique des États d'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO) et des partenaires extérieurs, de même que de la France et des États-Unis qui ont des liens de coopération avec l'armée.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sinhala nationalism, long an obstacle to the resolution of Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict, is again driving political developments on the island. Nationalist parties, opposed to any significant devolution of power to Tamil areas of the north and east and to negotiations with the Tamil Tigers, help set President Mahinda Rajapaksa's agenda. The government takes a hardline stance, responding in part to opposition to the flawed 2002-2006 ceasefire and peace process. Would-be peacemakers need to better understand Sinhala nationalism, which is too often dismissed as merely irrational and racist. With little likelihood of a new formal peace process soon, the longterm challenges it poses to the conflict's resolution need to be addressed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The risk that Ethiopia and Eritrea will resume their war in the next several weeks is very real. A military buildup along the common border over the past few months has reached alarming proportions. There will be no easy military solution if hostilities restart; more likely is a protracted conflict on Eritrean soil, progressive destabilisation of Ethiopia and a dramatic humanitarian crisis. To prevent this, the international community – in particular, the UN Security Council and the U.S., which is the single most influential outsider – must act immediately to give both sides the clearest possible message that no destabilising unilateral action will be tolerated. Once the immediate danger is past, efforts should be reinvigorated to ensure that the parties comply with their international law obligations, disengage on the ground and restore the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) – in a longer time frame – to develop political and economic initiatives for resolving the fundamental problems between the old foes.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Ethiopia, Eritrea
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Peace talks between the Ugandan government and the insurgent Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are moving in the right direction, but the core issues – justice, security and livelihoods – are still to be resolved and require difficult decisions, including on the fate of LRA leaders whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted. The 2 May 2007 agreement on comprehensive solutions to the conflict and the 29 June agreement on reconciliation and accountability revived momentum for the year-old talks in the southern Sudan town of Juba. Rebel elements in southern Sudan moved to the LRA's jungle hideout near Garamba National Park in Congo in May and June, thus expanding the peace process' major achievement: more security for millions of civilians in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Yet both recent agreements are incomplete and devoid of specifics. Both parties' commitment to a deal remains questionable. The international community needs to help the mediators by creating more leverage to push the peace process forward, including by presenting the LRA with a credible back-up military threat.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Uganda, South Sudan, Juba
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Most outside observers see only one dimension of conflict in Papua – the Indonesian government vs. the independence movement – but it is much more complex. Tensions among tribal groups and between indigenous Papuans and non-Papuan settlers, as well as competition over political power and access to spoils at the district and sub-district levels, are also important. The issues vary substantially from one region to another. National and international attention has tended to focus on the northern coast and the central highlands, with relatively little on the districts in the south, which have long felt excluded from politics in the Papuan capital, Jayapura.
  • Topic: Environment, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Papua, Jayapura
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Violent and organised crime threatens to overwhelm Haiti. The justice system is weak and dysfunctional, no match for the rising wave of kidnappings, drug and human trafficking, assaults and rapes. If the efforts of the last three years to establish the rule of law and a stable democracy are to bear fruit urgent action is needed. Above all the Haitian government must demonstrate genuine political will to master the problem. But the international community also has a major support role. The immediate need is to establish, staff and equip two special courts, one a domestic criminal chamber to handle major crimes, the other a hybrid Haitian/international tribunal to deal with cases of transnational, organised crime that the country cannot tackle on its own.
  • Topic: International Relations, Crime, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Haiti
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While the growing insurgency is attracting increasing attention, long-term efforts to build the solid governmental institutions a stable Afghanistan requires are faltering. Following conclusion of the Bonn process, which created the country's elected bodies, the Afghan government and the international community committed at the London Conference (31 January-1 February 2006) to the Afghanistan Compact, which identified “three critical and interdependent areas or pillars of activity” over five years: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and social and economic development. The government signed on to realizing a “shared vision of the future” for a “stable and prosperous Afghanistan”, while over 60 nations and international institutions promised to provide the necessary resources and support. A year on, even those most closely associated with the process admit that the Compact has yet to have much impact. Afghans and internationals alike still need to demonstrate the political will to undertake deep-rooted institutional changes if the goals of this shared vision are to be met.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, London
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia's Islamic Courts fell even more dramatically than they rose. In little more than a week in December 2006, Ethiopian and Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces killed hundreds of Islamist fighters and scattered the rest in a lightning offensive. On 27 December, the Council of Somali Islamic Courts in effect dissolved itself, surrendering political leadership to clan leaders. This was a major success for Ethiopia and the U.S. who feared emergence of a Taliban-style haven for al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists, but it is too early to declare an end to Somalia's woes. There is now a political vacuum across much of southern Somalia, which the ineffectual TFG is unable to fill. Elements of the Courts, including Shabaab militants and their al- Qaeda associates, are largely intact and threaten guerrilla war. Peace requires the TFG to be reconstituted as a genuine government of national unity but the signs of its willingness are discouraging. Sustained international pressure is needed.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Taliban, Ethiopia, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 6 December 2006, Joseph Kabila was sworn in as the first democratically elected president since Congolese independence, concluding a landmark electoral process largely devoid of major violence or gross irregularities. Democratic governance is now expected to support peacebuilding and reconstruction. The new government has weak and barely functioning institutions, however, and the international community, which has given decisive support to the peace process, must continue to help it overcome serious security and political challenges. Immediate agenda items include to set up promptly a new structure to coordinate aid efforts, renew the United Nations Mission (MONUC) with a strong mandate and increase efforts to improve security throughout the country.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, will complete a year in office on 22 January amid rising civil unrest. His government and its opponents are locked in confrontation over institutional reforms that would rewrite the constitution, end an inequitable land tenure system and return economic power to the state. Extremists are coming to the fore in both camps in a crisis that differs from previous ones because the stakes involve a proposal for a very different national model that the traditional elites see as a fundamental threat to their survival. Unless menacing rhetoric ends and dialogue, mediation and compromise begin immediately, widespread violence may result in 2007.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When the third round of the normalisation talks concludes in July 2006, India and Pakistan will be no closer than when they began the process in February 2004 to resolving differences, including over Kashmir. What they call their "composite dialogue" has helped reduce tensions and prevent a return to the climate of 2001-2002, when they were on the verge of all-out war, but progress has been limited to peripheral issues. India's prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, have reiterated commitments to sustain the dialogue. It is unrealistic, however, to expect radical change. International, particularly U.S. support for the process will likely dissuade either side from pulling out but asymmetry of interests and goals militates against a major breakthrough. The need is to concentrate on maintaining a cold peace until a long process can produce an atmosphere in which the support of elected governments in both states might realistically bring a Kashmir solution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, India, Kashmir
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Lebanon has badly lost its balance and is at risk of new collapse, moving ever closer to explosive Sunni-Shiite polarisation with a divided, debilitated Christian community in between. The fragile political and sectarian equilibrium established since the end of its bloody civil war in 1990 was never a panacea and came at heavy cost. It depended on Western and Israeli acquiescence in Syria's tutelage and a domestic system that hindered urgently needed internal reforms, and change was long overdue. But the upsetting of the old equilibrium, due in no small part to a tug-of-war by outsiders over its future, has been chaotic and deeply divisive, pitting one half of the country against the other. Both Lebanon's own politicians and outside players need to recognise the enormous risks of a zero-sum struggle and seek compromises before it is too late.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There is growing concern that the short postponement UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari announced in November 2006 for presentation of his Kosovo final status proposals to take account of Serbia's 21 January elections may not be the last delay in a process that now could extend into the second half of 2007. Nervous Kosovo Albanian leaders worry they may not be able to contain public pressures beyond March. With Russia's position hardening and Serbia as obstinate as ever, EU unity is vital – but far from assured – to keep the status process on track, first in the small Contact Group that has managed Kosovo affairs since 1999, then in the Security Council where ultimate decisions should be made.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The delivery of humanitarian assistance in Burma/Myanmar is facing new threats. After a period in which humanitarian space expanded, aid agencies have come under renewed pressure, most seriously from the military government but also from prodemocracy activists overseas who seek to curtail or control assistance programs. Restrictions imposed by the military regime have worsened in parallel with its continued refusal to permit meaningful opposition political activity and its crackdown on the Karen. The decision of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to withdraw from the country in 2005 was a serious setback, which put thousands of lives in jeopardy, although it has been partly reversed by the new Three Diseases Fund (3D Fund). There is a need to get beyond debates over the country's highly repressive political system; failure to halt the slide towards a humanitarian crisis could shatter social stability and put solutions beyond the reach of whatever government is in power.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 11 December 2006 local elections will take place in Aceh, the once war-torn region of Indonesia where exguerrillas are now running for office. The logistical challenges have been huge, particularly in registering so many people displaced by the December 2004 tsunami. But the political challenge has been even greater: how to ensure that the elections facilitate the transition of the former insurgency, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) from an armed struggle to a political movement, thereby reinforcing its 15 August 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian government. A rift that has emerged within the GAM leadership has complicated that transition.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Street battles between thousands of pro and antigovernment protestors broken up by police billy clubs and tear gas in the central square of the capital this week illustrate dramatically that Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of political breakdown and possible civil war. The government and opposition have begun talks to pull the country back from the brink, and the president signed a new constitution on 9 November that the parliament had passed the previous day. But tensions are still high. The talks will need to be widened if they are to resolve the underlying dispute, which is centred on the division of power between the president and the parliament, and related issues. The international community should become much more active in preventive diplomacy because if a solution is not found quickly, Kyrgyzstan's instability could easily affect other states in the fragile Central Asian region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The North Korean nuclear standoff entered an even more troubling phase with Pyongyang's test of a nuclear device on 9 October 2006. Condemnation was nearly universal, and the UN Security Council moved quickly to pass Resolution 1718 unanimously less than a week later. The test stirred China to take an unusually strong line against its ally, joining UN sanctions and dispatching a senior envoy to Pyongyang. On 31 October, after talks in Beijing with the U.S. and China, Pyongyang agreed to return to the six-party talks. The resumption of a diplomatic process is welcome but will likely face the same pitfalls as earlier rounds in which progress was undermined by a lack of clear understandings between North Korea and the U.S. While the six-party talks are a useful forum, resolving the nuclear issue will also require committed bilateral negotiations that address in detail North Korea's security concerns and U.S. demands for complete disarmament and intrusive verification. China's strong response may prove to be a major new factor pressing North Korea to offer more concessions in the talks, but only if the U.S. is prepared to set the table with a far more specific and appetizing menu than it has thus far.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Premier Vojislav Kostunica won a high stakes gamble with passage of Serbia's draft constitution in the 28-29 October referendum. However, numerous credible reports indicate the process was deeply flawed and the result falsified. The referendum cannot be characterised as either free or fair. The new constitution could prove a step away from European values. It opens the door to increased centralisation of the state, curtailment of human and minority rights, destruction of judicial independence and potentially even a parliamentary dictatorship. The process used to pass the constitution illustrates how Kostunica continues to transform Serbia into something closer to illiberal authoritarianism than liberal democracy; yet, the referendum was welcomed by the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After the indiscriminate killing of civilians by Uzbek security forces in the city of Andijon in 2005, the European Union imposed targeted sanctions on the government of President Islam Karimov. EU leaders called for Uzbekistan to allow an international investigation into the massacre, stop show trials and improve its human rights record. Now a number of EU member states, principally Germany, are pressing to lift or weaken the sanctions, as early as this month. The Karimov government has done nothing to justify such an approach. Normalisation of relations should come on EU terms, not those of Karimov. Moreover, his dictatorship is looking increasingly fragile, and serious thought should be given to facing the consequences of its ultimate collapse, including the impact on other fragile states in Central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Germany
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The risk of an explosion that could cost thousands of lives in the country and shatter the stability of Southern Africa is growing in Zimbabwe. Political reform is blocked, and virtually every economic indicator continues to trend downward. Inflation, poverty and malnutrition are growing more acute. Party and civil society opponents of President Mugabe's government are yet to tap effectively into the living-standards-based dissatisfaction but it could finally become the spark that sets Zimbabwe toward change. The course is risky but Zimbabwe's splintered opposition needs to come together to formulate a campaign of non-violent resistance that channels this anger and frustration into pressure on Mugabe to keep his word to retire by 2008 and on his ruling ZANU-PF party to negotiate seriously on a transition. The international community, long frustrated at its inability to influence the crisis, should assist, especially by tightening targeted sanctions (U.S./EU) and offering mediation services (South Africa).
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With Romania's expected entry into the European Union in 2007, the EU will share a border with Moldova, a weak state divided by conflict and plagued by corruption and organised crime. Moldova's leadership has declared its desire to join the EU, but its commitment to European values is suspect, and efforts to resolve its dispute with the breakaway region of Transdniestria have failed to end a damaging stalemate that has persisted for fifteen years. Young people have little confidence in the country's future and are leaving at an alarming rate. If Moldova is to become a stable part of the EU's neighbourhood, there will need to be much greater international engagement, not only in conflict resolution but in spurring domestic reforms to help make the country more attractive to its citizens.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While Kyrgyzstan still struggles to find political stability in the wake of its 2005 revolution, deteriorating conditions in its prison system, known by its Russian acronym GUIN, pose a threat to the fragile state's security and public health. Badly underfunded and forgotten, GUIN has all but lost control over the nearly 16,000 inmates for which it is responsible. Power has passed into the hands of criminal leaders for whom prison populations are armies in reserve. A lack of buffers between prisons and the government has meant that trouble in jails has already led to serious conflicts outside their crumbling walls. The risks of strife in prisons leading to wider political instability is likely to worsen unless the government and donors launch an urgent process of penal reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia has been drifting toward a new war since the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed in late 2004 but the trend has recently accelerated dramatically. The stand-off between the TFG and its Ethiopian ally on the one hand, and the Islamic Courts, which now control Mogadishu, on the other, threatens to escalate into a wider conflict that would consume much of the south, destabilise peaceful territories like Somaliland and Puntland and possibly involve terrorist attacks in neighbouring countries unless urgent efforts are made by both sides and the international community to put together a government of national unity.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A potent cocktail of poverty, crime and corruption is fuelling a militant threat to Nigeria's reliability as a major oil producer. Since January 2006, fighters from a new group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have fought with government forces, sabotaged oil installations, taken foreign oil workers hostage and carried out two lethal car bombings. MEND demands the government withdraw troops, release imprisoned ethnic leaders and grant oil revenue concessions to Delta groups. The Nigerian government needs to forge far-reaching reforms to administration and its approach to revenue sharing, the oil companies to involve credible, community-based organisations in their development efforts and Western governments to pay immediate attention to improving their own development aid.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Aceh is the only part of Indonesia that has the legal right to apply Islamic law (Shari'a) in full. Since 1999, it has begun slowly to put in place an institutional framework for Shari'a enforcement. In the process, it is addressing hard questions: What aspects should be enforced first? Should existing police, prosecutors and courts be used or new entities created? How should violations be punished? Its efforts to find the answers are being watched closely by other local governments, some of which have enacted regulations inspired by or derived from Shari'a. These moves in turn are sparking a raging debate in Indonesia about what role government at any level should play in encouraging adherence to Islamic law and how far the Islamisation drive will or should be allowed to spread.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and perhaps also its most poorly understood. It has endured six successful and numerous failed military coups, a civil war that cost well over a million lives, three inconclusive transitions to democracy and recurrent factional violence. Despite more than $400 billion in oil revenue since the early 1970s, the economy under performs, and the great majority of citizens have benefited little. More effective institution building is imperative.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Middle East is immersed in its worst crisis in years following the capture of three Israeli soldiers by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Lebanese Party of God (Hizbollah) in late June 2006 and early July, Israel's comprehensive offensive throughout the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and the daily firing of rockets deep into Israel. And horrific as it is, the current toll of death and destruction could reach entirely different proportions should a new threshold be crossed – a Hizbollah rocket that strikes a chemical plant or a heavily populated area in Tel Aviv or Haifa, an Israeli bombing raid resulting in massive casualties, a major ground offensive, or the expansion of the war to Syria or Iran. A political solution to the twin crises of Lebanon and Palestine must be the international community's urgent priority. Waiting and hoping for military action to achieve its purported goals will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences: it will make it much harder to pick up the political pieces when the guns fall silent.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Democratic Republic of Congo's strides toward peace could prove short-lived if the government and donors do not increase efforts to create a transparent and accountable government. State institutions such as parliament, courts, the army and the civil service remain weak and corrupt. The national elections scheduled for 30 July 2006 risk creating a large class of disenfranchised politicians and former warlords tempted to take advantage of state weakness and launch new insurgencies. Donors must initiate new programs in support of good governance that include more funding to strengthen state institutions (in particular parliament and the various auditing bodies), as well as apply more political pressure to make sure reforms are implemented.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As all eyes are turned toward efforts to stabilise Iraq, the conflict that has been percolating in Kirkuk remains dangerous and dangerously neglected. That struggle is equal parts street brawl over oil riches, ethnic competition over identity between Kurdish, Turkoman, Arab and Assyrian-Chaldean communities, and titanic clash between two nations, Arab and Kurd. Given the high stakes, the international community cannot afford to stand by, allowing the situation to slip into chaos by default. It needs to step in and propose a solution that addresses all sides' core concerns without crossing their existential red lines. The most viable negotiated outcome, which a special UN envoy should mediate between leaders of Kirkuk's communities as well as representatives of the federal government and the Kurdish federal region, would rest on the following provisions: Postponing the constitutionally-mandated referendum on Kirkuk's status which, in today's environment, would only exacerbate tensions; Designating Kirkuk governorate as a stand-alone federal region falling neither under the Kurdish federal region nor directly under the federal government for an interim period; Equitable power-sharing arrangements between Kirkuk's four principal communities; and continued reversal of past abuses, including managed return of those who were forcibly displaced by previous regimes; facilities and compensation for those brought by previous regimes (including their offspring) who agree to leave voluntarily; resolution of property disputes via the established mechanism; and a process by which former Kirkuk districts can either be restored to Kirkuk governorate or remain where they are.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan, Kirkuk
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With stepped-up U.S.-led raids against Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, Jaysh al-Mahdi, and media allegations of the militia's responsibility for widespread and particularly horrendous sectarian killings in Baghdad on 9 July, the Shiite leader and his movement have become more central than ever. The war in Iraq radically reshuffled the country's political deck, bringing to the fore new actors and social forces, none more surprising and enigmatic, and few as critical to Iraq's stability, as Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist movement he embodies. Largely unknown prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and bereft of resources Shiites typically must possess to assert their authority, Muqtada al-Sadr at first was dismissed as a marginal rabble-rouser, excluded from the political process and, after he flexed his muscles, decreed wanted “dead or alive” by the U.S.-led coalition. Learning the hard way, the U.S. and its allies have had to recognise the reality of the Sadrists' strength.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The first-round victory of Evo Morales in the December 2005 presidential election profoundly altered Bolivia's politics and the way South America's poorest nation is seen abroad. His left-wing Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party rolled over the traditional parties in a landslide that reflected the expectations and desires of a majority of Bolivians for far-reaching socio-economic change, institutional reform and full inclusion of the mostly rural and indigenous poor. If Morales is to succeed, however – and he must if Bolivia is to avoid serious instability and violence – the international community will need to show understanding and offer support as he grapples with explosive issues of nationalisation, constitutional reform, autonomy, drugs and development policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America, Bolivia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Peacebuilding cannot succeed if half the population is excluded from the process. Crisis Group's research in Sudan, Congo (DRC) and Uganda suggests that peace agreements, post-conflict reconstruction, and governance do better when women are involved. Women make a difference, in part because they adopt a more inclusive approach toward security and address key social and economic issues that would otherwise be ignored. But in all three countries, as different as each is, they remain marginalised in formal processes and under-represented in the security sector as a whole. Governments and the international community must do much more to support women peace activists.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Debt, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is a still incomplete Balkan success story. Since international and Serbian government diplomacy resolved an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, donors and Belgrade have invested significant resources to undo a legacy of human rights violations and improve the economy. Tensions are much decreased, major human rights violations have ended, the army and police are more sensitive to Albanian concerns and there is progress, though hesitant, in other areas, such as a multi-ethnic police force, gradual integration of the judiciary, and Albanian language textbooks. Ethnic Albanians appear increasingly intent on developing their own political identity inside Serbia and finding a way to cohabit with Serbs, something that should be encouraged and supported. Nevertheless, the Kosovo status process threatens to disrupt the Presevo Valley's calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans, Albania, Southern Serbia
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 between Sudan's government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Arkou Minawi (SLA/MM) is a first step toward ending the violence but strong, coordinated action is needed if it is to take hold. The document has serious flaws, and two of the three rebel delegations did not accept it. Fighting between rebel and government forces is down somewhat but violence is worse in some areas due to clashes between SLA factions, banditry, and inter-tribal feuds, while the Chad border remains volatile. If the DPA is not to leave Darfur more fragmented and conflict-prone than before, the international community must rapidly take practical measures to shore up its security provisions, improve prospects for the displaced to return home, bring in the holdouts and rapidly deploy a robust UN peacekeeping force with Chapter VII authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Darfur
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency, encourage ethnic and sectarian violence, and hasten the country's violent break-up.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal is in turmoil and the monarchy is in question. King Gyanendra had calculated that his authoritarian moves since October 2002 would return order to a land wracked by Maoist insurgency and political instability but he has failed. The seven months since the royal coup have seen security degenerate under a royal government with no plans for peace and democracy. The Maoists seized the initiative by announcing a unilateral three month ceasefire on 3 September 2005. The international community needs to recognise that its calls for palace/political party reconciliation as the sole path toward stability are unrealistic. New lines need to be explored, beginning with support for the ceasefire and the tentative dialogue underway between the parties and the Maoists.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal