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  • 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