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  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The November 2010 elections in Myanmar were not free and fair and the country has not escaped authoritarian rule. Predictably, in such a tightly controlled poll, the regime's own Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won a landslide victory leaving the military elite still in control. Together with the quarter of legislative seats reserved for soldiers, this means there will be little political space for opposition members in parliament. The new government that has been formed, and which will assume power in the coming weeks, also reflects the continued dominance of the old order with the president and one of the two vice presidents drawn from its ranks and a number of cabinet ministers recycled.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The unresolved status of thousands of former refugees who fled across the border following a 1999 vote for independence remains a challenge to Timor-Leste's long-term stability. Many were never well integrated into host communities and are being drawn back across the border in small but increasing numbers by relative economic and political stability in the new state. These returns should be encouraged by both countries as a good opportunity to promote reconciliation between the two communities divided by the border. Doing so will expose the costs of impunity for the violence that surrounded the 1999 referendum and highlight the failure to implement practical recommendations from its two truth commissions, the CAVR and the Commission on Truth and Friendship. Timor-Leste's leadership may yet decide that some form of amnesty is the best way forward, but the country cannot afford to further delay broad discussion on solutions.
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia
  • 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: 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: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The monsoon floods in Pakistan have caused massive de- struction and turned a displacement crisis in the insecure western borderlands into a national disaster of mammoth proportions. When the floods hit, almost all those displaced from Malakand had returned hom e and were struggling to rebuild lives in a region where much of the infrastructure had been destroyed in fighting; 1.4 million more displaced from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. The disaster would have proved challenging under any circum- stance. The fragile civilian government, already tackling an insurgency, and its institutions, neglected during nine years of military rule, lack the capacity and the means to provide sufficient food, shelter, health and sanitation without international assistance. The Pakistan govern- ment and international actors should ensure those in the flood-devastated conflict zones are urgently granted the assistance they need to surv ive and to rebuild lives and livelihoods. If military objectives dictate rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, a population exhausted by con- flict could become a soft target for militants, making sta- bility in the northwest even more elusive.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Natural Disasters, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • 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: 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