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  • Author: Leah Zamore, Hanny Megally, Tayseer Alkarim
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: After five years of devastating conflict, Yemen now faces an escalating COVID-19 crisis. The effects of the war have drastically diminished the country’s ability to cope with a pandemic, and the economic impact of the crisis is rapidly becoming devastating as well. If allowed to take hold, COVID-19 threatens the lives of nearly 30 million people who are already suffering through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Nor is the risk posed by COVID-19’s spread in Yemen limited to Yemenis. A pandemic that recognizes no borders or fault-lines cannot fester anywhere without threatening health security everywhere. Yet the international response so far has been both muted and slow. A new approach is urgently needed—one that aims not only to address the immediate threat that COVID-19 poses, but to tackle the underlying conditions that have left Yemen so uniquely vulnerable to the virus in the first place. This report explains how Yemen became so vulnerable to COVID-19, traces the impact of the pandemic so far, including the risk to vulnerable groups, and offers a critical perspective on the international action necessary to prevent further catastrophe in a country already suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis—from renewed pressure for a ceasefire to a dramatically scaled-up humanitarian response.
  • Topic: Conflict, Crisis Management, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Paige Arthur, Céline Monnier, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the newly released secretary-general’s report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace contains, as usual, a wealth of examples of the steps that the United Nations (UN) system is taking to implement the sustaining peace resolutions. It also suggests a welcome and surprising finding: the conflict prevention agenda—once thought to be on life-support at the UN—has found new vigor. This briefing examines the new report, finding that it moves the prevention agenda forward in several key respects, from deepening political buy-in among member states and partners, to a greater embrace of conflict-sensitive approaches in the field. The briefing also identifies key opportunities for prevention to take root in the UN’s practice—including continued strengthening of expertise on prevention; deepening partnerships with the IFIs; leveraging links with violence reduction initiatives, especially relating to SDG16; focusing on area-based approaches to address multiple risks; and more action on humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus approaches.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, United Nations, Peace, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Knut Gerlach, Ben Oppenheim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Describing the coronavirus pandemic as a “global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations” the UN has in recent days called for the launch of a large-scale, coordinated, and comprehensive multilateral response to combat the virus and its attendant economic and social consequences. It has published a set of action plans that aim to avert the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus, especially on the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance, Reform, Multilateralism, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Said Sabir Ibrahimi
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Afghanistan faces many hurdles in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic: a prolonged armed conflict, a lack of social protection systems, limited healthcare capacity, and insufficient preparedness and coordination mechanisms. The Afghan government has developed a response plan and secured aid from international donors, but effective implementation remains challenging. This briefing by Said Sabir Ibrahimi and Dr. Naqibullah Safi provides an overview of the current state of the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan against the background of the ongoing conflict. It also details the additional challenges that hamper Afghanistan’s ability to deal with the crisis and provides recommendations for mitigating them.
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, Conflict, Crisis Management, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel, Sarah Cliffe, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, policymakers must navigate public perceptions of coronavirus risk and government responses. This task is all the more challenging given press coverage focusing on outliers and extreme views, polarization and disinformation on social media platforms, and the relative dearth of reliable public opinion polling. These constraints notwithstanding, understanding people’s perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 and their priorities emerging from this crisis will be crucial for building back better. This two-part briefing pulls together data from several global, regional, and national polls conducted over the past month and a half to provide a descriptive summary of trends in public opinion towards COVID-19. The first part of the briefing, by Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel, and Elizabeth Angell, focuses on global polls tracking levels of public trust in government and other institutions, and public perceptions of the trade-offs involved in calibrating lockdown measures. Overall, the results suggest that most people around the world are highly concerned about the pandemic, supportive of a strong government response, and willing to suffer economic losses in order to save lives—although not without limit. The second part, by Leah Zamore and Sarah Cliffe, focuses on polling from low-income countries, especially in Africa, which find similar trends. However, the greater vulnerability of low-income households in those countries and the practical barriers to some social distancing and lockdown measures mean that public support will decline as people experience greater hardships. The briefing suggests that adequate and equitable government support is a vital prerequisite to sustaining trust—and thus the global public health response.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Opinion, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: A new report from CIC’s Congo Research Group and Phuzumoya Consulting, I Need You, I Don’t Need You: South Africa and Inga III, places South Africa’s backing of Inga III in the context of its foreign policy. The report argues that South Africa’s current Inga policy is contradictory, oscillating between the desire to project an image of being a pan-Africanist power promoting the continent’s economic development, and the reality that committing to the project makes little financial or energy policy sense. A power purchasing agreement from South Africa is critical for the dam’s construction—but buying electricity from Inga III will be risky for South Africa, especially since it may end up being expensive than other sources. The resulting uncertainty about whether South Africa will ever really be an anchor client for Inga III thus puts into question the bankability—and indeed the feasibility—of the whole project.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Congo
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Karina Gerlach, Ben Oppenheim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Describing the coronavirus pandemic as a “global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations” the UN has in recent days called for the launch of a large-scale, coordinated, and comprehensive multilateral response to combat the virus and its attendant economic and social consequences. It has published a set of action plans that aim to avert the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus, especially on the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance, Multilateralism, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hanny Megally, Elena Naughton
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Tens of thousands of people have been unlawfully detained by the Syrian government and other parties to the conflict in Syria. In most cases, their fate—and if they are alive, their whereabouts—remains unknown. Many families have been waiting for word of their spouses, children, and other relatives since mass protests first began in 2011. This situation is adversely affecting not only Syrians inside the country—including over 6.5 million who are internally displaced—but also many of the 5.6 million refugees who are likewise desperately seeking answers about family members from abroad. This joint report from the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) recommends a set of urgent steps that should be taken to assist families in obtaining information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, gaining access to them, and achieving their prompt release. Authored by CIC's Hanny Megally and ICTJ's Elena Naughton, the report details the scope of the detention crisis and argues that answers and coordinated action are needed now. Time is of the essence, as the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be accelerating in Syria, putting those detained in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons at further risk. Any meaningful progress toward a political agreement in Syria will be dependent on more than a negotiated ceasefire or reduction in violence and urgent access to humanitarian assistance. There will be little or no possibility of lasting peace without addressing critical issues, like the question of the missing, detained, abducted, and forcibly disappeared.
  • Topic: Prisons/Penal Systems, Syrian War, Crimes Against Humanity, Humanitarian Crisis, State Abuse
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Céline Monnier
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: COVID-19 is creating a series of crises that increase the risk of conflict worldwide. Beyond the health impact, issues like worsening inequality, food insecurity, human rights abuses, and political tensions can deepen pre-existing social fractures in any country, creating additional layers of grievance. Addressing these risks early on and building resilience to them is key to preventing the potential for violence. But the pandemic also brings new opportunities for peacebuilding. A system-wide implementation of the sustaining peace approach is critical to ensure that United Nations response contributes to decreasing risks for violent conflict in the longer term—including efforts to “build back better.” This report draws on interviews with 25+ individuals across the UN system and member states to highlight some of the key challenges for peacebuilding in the immediate COVID-19 period as well as in the longer term. The report documents how entities across the UN have made positive steps toward implementing a sustaining peace approach, and provides recommendations for deepening these gains across the system.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Inequality, Peace, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Burak Akçapar
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Since the launch of the Mediation for Peace initiative by Turkey and Finland in 2010, there has been an upsurge of activity at the United Nations (UN) and several regional organizations to promote mediation as a conflict resolution method. The UN General Assembly, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have set out to develop mediation norms, procedures, and capacities. The assets and motivations of international actors, including foremost nation states, to provide mediation services as part of their foreign policy have been widely studied. However, the actual role played by specific leading nations in the promotion of mediation at international forums lacks a framework of analysis. This essay aims to fill this gap by employing the concept of “policy entrepreneurship” to explain the role of individual actors in transforming the politics, norms, and capacities that pertain to mediation. In this regard, the article discusses Turkey’s activities in the field of mediation and their transformative outcomes in a bid to test the proposed framework. It concludes that as the only country that co-chairs the friends of mediation groups simultaneously in the UN, the OSCE and the OIC, the distinguishing contribution of Turkey as a policy entrepreneur lies in its efforts to feed and shape the normative basis and capacities of international peace mediation efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey