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  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Republika Srpska's flirtation in June 2011 with a referendum is a reminder that Bosnia's smaller entity still threatens the stability of the country and the Western Balkans. It is highly unlikely that the RS will secede or that the Bosniaks will attempt to eliminate it, but if its Serb leaders continue driving every conflict with Sarajevo to the brink, as they have done repeatedly to date, they risk disaster. The agility of leaders and the population's patience need only fail once to ignite serious violence. Over the longer term, RS's determination to limit Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to little more than a coordinator between powerful entities may so shrivel the state that it sinks, taking RS with it. RS also suffers from its own internal problems, notably a culture of impunity for political and economic elites and a lingering odour of wartime atrocities. Its leadership, especially its president, Milorad Dodik, needs to compromise with Sarajevo on state building and implement urgent entity-level reforms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Haiti's justice system remains dysfunctional and continues to pose significant obstacles to its democratic process, security, reconstruction and development. While some steps have begun with regard to the police, institutional reform in the sector has lagged, allowing further impunity and persistent criminal threats to citizen safety. Despite five years of pledges, the majority of Haitians still have limited access to justice, and mistrust of the formal judicial system is widespread. President Michel Martelly and parliament must work in a non-partisan manner to at last produce reform, including by modernising the 174 year- old criminal code and procedures and setting standards for judges, giving the judiciary adequate resources and creating efficient mechanisms that guarantee proper access to justice.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Politics, Poverty, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Caribbean
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A year after North Korea shelled an island in the South, killing four people, relations on the peninsula remain tense. South Korea has stepped up its warnings of tough retaliation in the case of further attacks and has frozen most political and economic ties. While Pyongyang has made some efforts to restart talks, it has refused to apologise for the attack and has kept up a torrent of abuse against President Lee Myung-bak, who in turn has maintained his tough line. But the political atmosphere in the South is changing as it enters an election season, with the mood shifting towards a more conciliatory position, including renewed interest in a peace zone in the Yellow Sea.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Israel, South Korea, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis may or may not have entered its final phase, but it undoubtedly has entered its most dangerous one to date. The current stage is defined by an explosive mix of heightened strategic stakes tying into a regional and wider international competition on the one hand and emotionally charged attitudes, communal polarisation and political wishful thinking on the other. As dynamics in both Syria and the broader international arena turn squarely against the regime, reactions are ranging from hysterical defiance on the part of its supporters, optimism among protesters that a bloody stalemate finally might end and fears of sectarian retribution or even civil war shared by many, through to triumphalism among those who view the crisis as an historic opportunity to decisively tilt the regional balance of power.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than ten years after the formation of Timor-Leste's army and the demobilisation of the guerrilla force that fought for independence, the struggle continues about how to pay tribute to the veterans. The increasingly wealthy state has bought off the threat once posed by most dissidents with an expensive cash benefits scheme and succeeded in engaging most veterans' voices in mainstream politics. This approach has created a heavy financial burden and a complicated process of determining who is eligible that will create new tensions even as it resolves others. A greater challenge lies in containing pressures to give them disproportionate political influence and a formal security role. A careful balance will need to be struck between paying homage to heroes while allowing a younger generation of leaders to grow up to replace them. Failure could block the generational transfer of power necessary for the state's long-term stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Economics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is time to close international supervision of Bosnia's Brčko District. Once seen as a model of post-war reconciliation and good government, it is drowning in corruption and mismanagement that flourished despite its supervisors' best efforts. The territory is vital to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)'s stability: it links the two halves of both Republika Srpska (RS) and the BiH Federation (FBiH), and belongs technically to both entities but is independently governed and multi-ethnic. Many of its former leaders are under suspicion in a corruption probe that may have only scratched the surface; several high profile development projects are collapsing in bankruptcy and litigation. RS has a strong influence on the district but is not threatening to undermine its status. Nevertheless, the international community should ensure that Serb leaders of that entity are left in no doubt that any move to take Brčko over would meet a strong reaction. Stability is now dependent on whether local politicians, law enforcement and the judiciary can take responsibility. International supervision is no longer helping, and a new strategy is needed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En dépit d\'une nette amélioration, la situation de la Côte d\'Ivoire reste fragile. Le transfèrement à La Haye de l\'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo inculpé par la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), douze jours seulement avant les élections législatives du 11 décembre 2011, a alourdi l\'atmosphère politique. Au lendemain de ces élections marquées par une très forte abstention, le pays est toujours exposé à de sérieuses menaces. La faiblesse et le déséquilibre de l\'appareil de sécurité et l\'exercice d\'une justice à deux vitesses confortent les extrémistes dans leurs convictions et constituent les deux principaux défis que le pouvoir doit relever dans les prochains mois. Si le vote s\'est déroulé dans le calme, la campagne qui l\'a précédé a été marquée par des incidents qui ont rappelé que la violence politique est toujours d\'actualité. L\'installation d\'une nouvelle Assemblée marque une nouvelle étape dans la normalisation, mais le pays n\'est pas pour autant sorti de l\'ornière.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's peace process has moved into a phase of definitive progress. More than five years after the ceasefire, the parties have reached a deal on the Maoist fighters, who will leave the cantonments and enter the army or civilian life. An unofficial deal sets out power-sharing arrangements until the next election. The parties are focusing on the critical task of writing a new constitution, which promises a deep restructuring of the state to become more representative and decentralised. Challenges remain, including from continuously evolving coalition dynamics and divisions within parties. There will also have to be further discussions on the combatants. As the parties discuss federalism, which of all peace process issues goes most to the heart of ordinary Nepalis' expectations and anxieties, groups within and outside the Constituent Assembly will see their options narrow, which could strain the process. Yet, this is still the best chance the parties have had to reach formal closure on the war and to institute some of the fundamental changes they promised, provided they have the courage to make far-sighted compromises.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Politics, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite a marked improvement, the situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains fragile. The transfer to The Hague of former President Laurent Gbagbo – indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – only twelve days before the parliamentary elections of 11 December 2011, has stoked political tensions. After a vote characterised by low turnout, the country remains deeply divided and still faces grave threats. The weakness and imbalance of the security apparatus and the two-tiered justice system, both of which reinforce the convictions of extremists, are the two main challenges the government must overcome in the months ahead. Although voting itself was peaceful, an electoral campaign marred by incidents serves as a reminder that political violence is still an everyday reality. The installation of a new Assembly marks a further step towards normalisation, but the country has yet to escape trouble.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The failure of President François Bozizé and his close circle to follow through with many of the concessions agreed on during the Inclusive Political Dialogue risks exacerbating the many conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) and stalling national reconciliation. Those December 2008 talks made a valuable contribution to both reducing levels of violence and shaping the long-term reform agenda. The promised integration of rebel leaders into civilian political life, the precedent of decision-making by consensus and a concrete set of agreements that included rebel disarmament and security sector reform were welcome steps towards greater stability. To ensure these gains are not undone by another political crisis, however, the president must abandon the uncompromising attitude he displayed through much of 2009 and the government must quickly resolve new conflicts in the north east and prepare credible elections. Otherwise, donors should suspend financial support to a regime that is largely dependent on foreign aid.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the decisive military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka has made little progress in reconstructing its battered democratic institutions or establishing conditions for a stable peace. Eight months later, the post-war policies of President Mahinda Rajapaksa have deepened rather than resolved the grievances that generated and sustained LTTE militancy. While the LTTE's defeat and the end of its control over Tamil political life are historic and welcome changes, the victory over Tamil militancy will remain fragile unless Sinhalese-dominated political parties make strong moves towards a more inclusive and democratic state. The emergence of retired General Sarath Fonseka to challenge Rajapaksa in the 26 January presidential election has opened new space to challenge repressive government policies. But neither has offered credible proposals for political reforms that would address the marginalisation of Tamils and other minorities. Whoever wins, donor governments and international institutions should use their development assistance to support reforms designed to protect the democratic rights of all of Sri Lanka's citizens and ethnic communities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Peace Studies, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The revelation in 2009 of nuclear facilities near Qom intensified international criticism of Iran's opaque nuclear development. As Western countries prepare to pursue tougher sanctions at the UN, China's acquiescence as a permanent Security Council member is vital but will be difficult to obtain. Beijing is reluctant to pursue further sanctions, insisting that a solution to the nuclear impasse must be sought first and foremost through diplomacy. It emphasises that as long as Iran honours its Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments not to use nuclear technology for military purposes, it should not be obliged to forgo its rights, including enrichment, under that accord.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Beijing
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As Zimbabwe enters its second year under a unity government, the challenges to democratic transformation have come into sharp focus. Despite reasonable progress in restoring political and social stability, ending widespread repression and stabilising the economy since February 2009, major threats could still derail the reform process. In particular, resistance of intransigent and still powerful security sector leaders and fractious in-fighting between and within the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) must be addressed now. South Africa and other countries in southern Africa – who monitor the accord that guides the transition – must press the parties, and particularly President Robert Mugabe, to see the transition through to a successful conclusion. Donors should back their efforts.
  • Topic: Security, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Outwardly, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) appears stable. However, the country has been shaken by constricting international sanctions, extremely poor policy choices, and several internal challenges that have the potential to trigger instability. International sanctions have reduced foreign exchange earnings, while humanitarian assistance, which feeds millions of North Koreans, has declined due to political factors and donor fatigue. In addition to sanctions, Pyongyang has been dealing with the internal pressures of a disastrous currency reform as well as a chronic and deteriorating food security problem. The aggregate pressure is already taking a toll on North Korea's human security and could have a number of unanticipated consequences for regional and international security.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis l'arrivée au pouvoir de Mouammar Kadhafi en 1969, la Libye est devenue le voisin le plus important du Tchad. Pendant la présidence d'Hissène Habré, la relation devint hostile et fut marquée par différentes interventions militaires. Depuis l'entrée en fonction d'Idriss Déby, la Libye a abandonné toute revendication territoriale sur le pays et s'est transformée en parrain régional, jouant un rôle actif dans les négociations de paix entre le régime et ses rebellions. Elle a en effet les moyens financiers et l'autorité pour amener les protagonistes à négocier, mais son suivi de la mise en oeuvre des accords passés laisse souvent à désirer. Sa diplomatie a connu de brefs succès en facilitant la cooptation des rebelles par N'Djamena mais a suscité peu de progrès à long-terme pour une stabilisation du Tchad. Le contraste entre les pressions exercées pour obtenir des signatures sur les accords de paix qu'elle chaperonne et son manque d'intérêt pour leur application suggère que les médiations de Kadhafi sont moins fondées sur un désir de stabiliser le Tchad, que sur une volonté de préserver son influence régionale.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The principal preoccupation of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is to win the elections now scheduled for 11-13 April 2010. It has manipulated the census results and voter registration, drafted the election laws in its favour, gerrymandered electoral districts, co-opted traditional leaders and bought tribal loyalties. It has done this all over Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where it has had freedom and means to carry out its strategy, since that is the only region still under emergency rule. Because of the fundamentally flawed process, the international community, working closely with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP), should acknowledge that whoever wins will likely lack legitimacy; press for Darfur peace talks to resume immediately after the elections; insist that any Darfur peace deal provides for a new census, voter registration and national elections; and lay the groundwork for a peaceful referendum on southern self-determination and post referendum North-South relations.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: La consolidation de la démocratie en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) est entravée dans presque toutes ses dimensions et le régime congolais reste fragile. Lorsque Joseph Kabila est devenu le premier président élu démocratiquement en 2006, la communauté internationale a considéré cette élection comme une avancée majeure du processus de paix. Aujourd'hui, l'équilibre des pouvoirs est quasiment inexistant. Le cabinet présidentiel a pris l'ascendant sur le gouvernement, le parlement et le pouvoir judiciaire. Les libertés fondamentales sont fréquemment menacées et des réformes institutionnelles essentielles – la décentralisation et la réforme du secteur de la sécurité – n'ont pas significativement progressé.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A swift, violent rebellion swept into the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in early April 2010, sparked by anger at painful utility price increases and the corruption that was the defining characteristic of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's rule. In less than two days the president had fled. Some 85 people were killed and the centre of the capital was looted. The thirteen-member provisional government now faces a daunting series of challenges. Bakiyev leaves be- hind a bankrupt state hollowed out by corruption and crime. Economic failure and collapsing infrastructure have generated deep public resentment. If the provisional government moves fast to assert its power, the risks of major long-term violence are containable: there are no signs of extensive support for Bakiyev or of a North-South split. The speed with which the Bakiyev administration collapsed is a salutary reminder of the risks of over emphasising Western security concerns in framing policy towards the region.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar will shortly hold its first elections in twenty years. Given the restrictive provisions of the 2010 Political Parties Registration Law that bar anyone serving a prison term from membership in a political party, many imprisoned dissidents will be excluded from the process, unless they are released in the near future. Aung San Suu Kyi – whose suspended sentence and house arrest possibly exclude her also – has condemned the legislation, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) has decided not to participate and has, therefore, lost its status as a legally-registered party. There has rightly been much international criticism of the new constitution and of the fact that the elections will not be inclusive, but the political and generational shift that they will bring about may represent the best opportunity in a generation to influence the future direction of the country.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the Philippine election on 10 May 2010 draws nearer, voters in central Mindanao are focused on the political fallout from the “Maguindanao massacre”; clan politics; the new automated election system; and whether any agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is possible before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves office on 30 June.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia