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  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The accelerating deterioration of Venezuela’s political crisis is cause for growing concern. The collapse in 2014 of an incipient dialogue between government and opposition ushered in growing political instability. With legislative elections due in December, there are fears of renewed violence. But there is a less widely appreciated side of the drama. A sharp fall in real incomes, major shortages of essential foods, medicines and other basic goods and breakdown of the health service are elements of a looming social crisis. If not tackled decisively and soon, it will become a humanitarian disaster with a seismic impact on domestic politics and society, and on Venezuela’s neighbours. This situation results from poor policy choices, incompetence and corruption; however, its gravest consequences can still be avoided. This will not happen unless the political deadlock is overcome and a fresh consensus forged, which in turn requires strong engagement of foreign governments and multilateral bodies.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Health, Food, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Violence in the Niger Delta may soon increase unless the Nigerian government acts quickly and decisively to address long-simmering grievances. With the costly Presidential Amnesty Program for ex-insurgents due to end in a few months, there are increasingly bitter complaints in the region that chronic poverty and catastrophic oil pollution, which fuelled the earlier rebellion, remain largely unaddressed. Since Goodluck Jonathan, the first president from the Delta, lost re-election in March, some activists have resumed agitation for greater resource control and self-determination, and a number of ex-militant leaders are threatening to resume fighting (“return to the creeks”). While the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East is the paramount security challenge, President Muhammadu Buhari rightly identifies the Delta as a priority. He needs to act firmly but carefully to wind down the amnesty program gradually, revamp development and environmental programs, facilitate passage of the long-stalled Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and improve security and rule of law across the region.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Development, Environment, Oil, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Boko Haram's four-year-old insurgency has pitted neighbour against neighbour, cost more than 4,000 lives, displaced close to half a million, destroyed hundreds of schools and government buildings and devastated an already ravaged economy in the North East, one of Nigeria's poorest regions. It overstretches federal security services, with no end in sight, spills over to other parts of the north and risks reaching Niger and Cameroon, weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region. Boko Haram is both a serious challenge and manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria's security. Unless the federal and state governments, and the region, develop and implement comprehensive plans to tackle not only insecurity but also the injustices that drive much of the troubles, Boko Haram, or groups like it, will continue to destabilise large parts of the country. Yet, the government's response is largely military, and political will to do more than that appears entirely lacking.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the presidential election approaches in 2014, with the security transition at the year's end, Afghan women, including parliamentarians and rights activists, are concerned that the hard-won political, economic and social gains achieved since the U.S.-led intervention in 2001 may be rolled back or conceded in negotiations with the insurgents. Afghanistan's stabilisation ultimately rests on the state's accountability to all its citizens, and respect for constitutional, legal and international commitments, including to human rights and gender equality. There will be no sustainable peace unless there is justice, and justice demands that the state respect and protect the rights of women, half its population.
  • Topic: NATO, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Peace Studies, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The situation in Sudan’s forgotten East – without deadly conflict since the 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) – stands in contrast to the fighting besetting the country’s other peripheries. But this peace is increasingly fragile. Seven years after the ESPA’s signing, the conflict’s root causes remain and in some respects are more acute, due to the failure to implement many of the agreement’s core provisions. Mirroring elsewhere in the country, with no sign of genuine efforts by Khartoum to address the situation, conflict could erupt in the East again and lead to further national fragmentation. All ESPA stakeholders urgently need to reconvene and address the deteriorating situation; the leading sign atories need publicly to concede that the promises of the original agreement have not met expectations and reach a consensus on remedial measures.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite the establishment of anti-corruption agencies, Burundi is facing a deepening corruption crisis that threatens to jeopardise a peace that is based on development and economic growth bolstered by the state and driven by foreign investment. The “neopatrimonialist” practices of the party in office since 2005 has relegated Burundi to the lowest governance rankings, reduced its appeal to foreign investors, damaged relations with donors; and contributed to social discontent. More worrying still, neopatrimonialism is undermining the credibility of post-conflict institutions, relations between former Tutsi and new Hutu elites and cohesion within the ruling party, whose leaders are regularly involved in corruption scandals. In order to improve public governance, the Burundian authorities should “walk the talk” and take bold steps to curtail corruption. Civil society should actively pursue its watchdog role and organise mass mobilisation against corruption and donors should prioritise good governance.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Jacob Hughes, Walter Gwenigale
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In post-conflict Liberia, the National Health Plan set out a process for transitioning from emergency to sustainability under government leadership. The Liberia Health Sector Pool Fund, which consists of DfID, Irish Aid, UNICEF, and UNHCR, was established to fund this plan and mitigate this transition by increasing institutional capacity, reducing the transaction costs associated with managing multiple donor projects, and fostering the leadership of the Liberian Health Ministry by allocating funds to national priorities. In this paper, we discuss the design of the health pool fund mechanism, assess its functioning, compare the pooled fund to other aid mechanisms used in Liberia, and look into the enabling conditions, opportunities, and challenges of the pool fund.
  • Topic: Development, Health, United Nations, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A simmering conflict over territories and resources in north-ern Iraq is slowly coming to a boil. In early April 2012, the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) suspended its supply of oil for export through the national Iraqi pipeline, claiming Baghdad had not fully repaid operating costs to producing companies. The federal government responded by threatening to deduct what the oil would have generated in sales from the KRG's annual budget allocation, poten-tially halving it. This latest flare-up in perennially tense Erbil-Baghdad relations has highlighted the troubling fact that not only have the two sides failed to resolve their dif-ferences but also that, by striking out on unilateral courses, they have deepened them to the point that a solution appears more remote than ever. It is late already, but the best way forward is a deal between Baghdad and Erbil, centred on a federal hydrocarbons law and a compromise on dis-puted territories. International actors – the UN with its tech-nical expertise, the U.S. given its unique responsibility as well as strategic interest in keeping things on an even keel – should launch a new initiative to bring the two back to the table.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since it assumed power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been, at times, head-scratching. Extolled in the wake of the uprising as the revolution's protector, many have come to view it as an agent of the counter-revolution. It often has been obstinate, before abruptly yielding to pressure. It values its long ties with Washington, from which it receives much assistance, but seemed willing to jeopardise them by targeting U.S.-funded NGOs. Suspected by Islamists of seeking to deprive them of opportunity to govern and by non-Islamists of entering a secret pact with the Muslim Brotherhood, it finds itself in the worst of both worlds: an angry tug-of-war with liberal protesters and a high-wire contest with Islamists. It displays little interest in governing, wishing instead to protect privileges, but erratic behaviour threatens even that. On the eve of presidential elections that have become a high-stakes free-for-all, the SCAF should take a step back and, with the full range of political actors, agree on principles for a genuine and safe political transition.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Dans un contexte arabe marqué par des transitions bâclées ou sanglantes, la Tunisie fait encore figure d'exception. Depuis le 14 janvier 2011, ce n'est pas seulement la tête de l'ancien régime, symbolisé par l'ancien président Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, qui est tombée. C'est tout un système qui se trouve bouleversé, principalement dans le cadre d'un consensus relativement large. Mais les défis qui pourraient menacer ces progrès existent. Parmi ceux-ci, deux en particulier sont étroitement liés : restaurer la sécurité et mener une véritable lutte contre l'impunité. Pour le nouveau gouvernement d'union, dénommé Troïka et emmené par le mouvement islamiste An-Nahda, la clé demeure dans un dialogue large, permettant de réformer les forces de sécurité sans trop les provoquer, rendre justice aux victimes de la dictature sans céder à la chasse aux sorcières, et garantir une justice efficace tout en tenant compte des limites du système judiciaire en place.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Government, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although it should provide development opportunities, renewed oil interest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) represents a real threat to stability in a still vulnerable post-conflict country. Exploration has begun, but oil prospecting is nurturing old resentments among local communities and contributing to border tensions with neighbouring countries. If oil reserves are confirmed in the east, this would exacerbate deep-rooted conflict dynamics in the Kivus. An upsurge in fighting since the start of 2012, including the emergence of a new rebellion in North Kivu and the resumption of armed groups' territorial expansion, has further complicated stability in the east, which is the new focus for oil exploration. New oil reserves could also create new centres of power and question Katanga's (DRC's traditional economic hub) political influence. Preventive action is needed to turn a real threat to stability into a genuine development opportunity.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After May's parliamentary elections, Armenia is preparing for a pivotal presidential vote in 2013 that will determine whether it has shed a nearly two-decade history of fraud-tainted elections and put in place a government with the legitimacy needed to implement comprehensive reform and resolve its problems with Azerbaijan. President Serzh Sargsyan has a brief opportunity to demonstrate statesmanship before he again faces the voters in what is likely to be a competitive contest. Sargsyan has demonstrated some courage to promote change, but like his predecessors, he has thus far failed to deal effectively with serious economic and governance problems, including the debilitating, albeit low-intensity, Nagorno-Karabakh war. Another election perceived as seriously flawed would serve as a further distraction from peace talks and severe economic problems. The likely consequences would then be ever more citizens opting out of democratic politics, including by emigration.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Development, Economics, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A spate of violence in Papua in May and June 2012 exposed the lack of a coherent government strategy to address this multidimensional conflict. Shootings of non-Papuans in the provincial capital Jayapura in June, likely involving pro-independence militants, were followed by the death of one of those militants at police hands, highlighting the political dimension of the problem. In Wamena, a rampage by soldiers after the death of a comrade shows the depth of distrust between local communities and the army, and the absence of mechanisms to deal with crises. The shooting of five Papuans by newly arrived members of a paramilitary police unit (Brigade Mobile, Brimob) in a remote gold-mining area of Paniai highlights the violence linked to Papua's vast resource wealth and rent-seeking by the security apparatus with little oversight from Jakarta. While these events are still under investigation, they signal that unless the Yudhoyono government can address these very different aspects of the conflict, things may get worse. An overhaul of security policy would help.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Papua
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Local institutions in Indonesia, empowered by decentralisation, are defying the country's highest courts with impunity, undermining judicial authority and allowing local conflicts to fester. District councils, mayors and regional election commissions have learned that there is little cost to ignoring court rulings on electoral or religious disputes, pandering instead to local constituencies and pressure groups. Decisive leadership from the president could make a difference; instead, slow and ineffective responses from Jakarta brew more insubordination. If the regions become overconfident in their new powers and the central state continues to respond weakly, this lack of commitment to rule of law could encourage more conflict as the national political temperature rises ahead of the 2014 presidential election.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Malaysia's thirteenth general election, which Prime Minister Najib Razak will have to call by April 2013, could be a watershed in communal relations. More than ever before, there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that opposition parties running on issues of transparency, economic equity and social justice could defeat the world's longest continually-elected political coalition, the National Front (Barisan Nasional), that has based its support on a social compact among the country's Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. That compact, granting Malays preferential status in exchange for security and economic growth, has grown increasingly stale as the growing middle class demands more of its leaders. Both ruling party and opposition are using images of the Arab Spring – the former to warn of chaos if it is not returned to power, the latter to warn of popular unrest unless political change comes faster.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With three years of devastating floods putting the lives and livelihoods of at least four million citizens at risk, and military operations against militants displacing thousands more in the conflict zones of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Pakistan's humanitarian crises need urgent do-mestic and international attention. Since the democratic transition began in 2008, some progress has been made, but much more is needed to build the federal and provin-cial governments' disaster and early recovery response. Efforts to enhance civilian ownership and control have also had mixed results, particularly in the conflict zones, where the military remains the dominant actor. To effectively confront the challenges, the most urgent tasks remain to strengthen the civilian government's capacity to plan for and cope with humanitarian crises and to prioritise social sector and public infrastructure development. It is equally important that all assistance and support be non-discrimi-natory and accompanied by credible mechanisms for citi-zens to hold public officials accountable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As Turkey's biggest Kurdish- majority city and province, Diyarbakır is critical to any examination of the country's Kurdish problem and of the insurgent PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). The armed conflict has deteriorated in the past year and a half to its worst level in over a decade, with increased political friction and violence leading to the deaths of at least 870 people since June 2011. While as many Kurds live in western Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, as in the south east, grievances that underlie support within Kurdish communities for the PKK's armed struggle are more clearly on display in predominantly Kurdish areas like Diyarbakır: perceived and real discrimination in the local government and economy, alienation from central authorities, anger at mass arrests of political rep- resentatives and frustration at the bans on the use of Kurdish in education and public life. Yet Diyarbakır still offers hope for those who want to live together, if Ankara acts firmly to address these grievances and ensure equality and justice for all.
  • Topic: Civil War, Communism, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En l'espace d'une décennie, le golfe de Guinée est devenu l'une des zones mar itimes les plus dangereuses du monde. L'insécurité maritime est un véritable problème régional qui menace, à court terme, le commerce et, à long terme, la stabilité des pays riverains en compromettant le déve- loppement de cette zone éc onomique stratégique. Initia- lement pris au dépourvu, les Etats de la région ont pris conscience du problème et un sommet international sur ce sujet doit être prochainement organisé. Afin d'éviter que, comme sur les côtes est-africaines, cette criminalité trans- nationale ne prenne une ampleur déstabilisatrice, les gou- vernements concernés doivent mettre fin au vide sécuritaire et apporter une réponse collective à ce danger. Grâce à une coopération dynamique en tre la Communauté écono- mique des Etats d'Afrique centrale (CEEAC) et la Commu- nauté économique des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Ce- deao), les pays du golfe de Guinée doivent devenir les premiers acteurs de leur sécurité et mettre en œuvre une nouvelle approche fondée sur l'amélioration de leur sécuri- té maritime mais aussi de leur gouvernance économique.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Crime, Development, International Trade and Finance, Maritime Commerce, Fragile/Failed State, Piracy
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Liberia's October 2011 general and presidential elections, the second since civil war ended in 2003, are an opportunity to consolidate its fragile peace and nascent democracy. Peaceful, free and fair elections depend on how well the National Elections Commission (NEC) handles the challenges of the 23 August referendum on constitutional amendments and opposition perceptions of bias toward the president's Unity Party (UP). The NEC, the government, political parties, presidential candidates, civil society, media and international partners each have roles to play to strengthen trust in the electoral process. They should fight the temptation to treat the elections as not crucial for sustaining the progress made since the civil war. But even after good elections five factors will be critical to lasting peace: a more convincing fight against corruption; deeper commitment to transforming Liberia with a new breed of reform-minded political players; sustained international engagement in supporting this more ambitious transformation; economic development; and regional stability, particularly in Côte d'Ivoire.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Political Economy, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Unity state confronts a set of challenges unparalleled in South Sudan. Some exemplify concerns that register across the emerging republic; others are unique to the state. Situated abreast multiple frontiers, its political, social, economic and security dilemmas make for a perfect storm. Some have festered for years, while more recent developments—prompted by the partition of the "old" Sudan—have exacerbated instability and intensified resource pressure. Recent rebel militia activity has drawn considerable attention to the state, highlighting internal fractures and latent grievances. But the fault lines in Unity run deeper than the rebellions. A governance crisis—with a national subtext—has polarised state politics and sown seeds of discontent. Territorial disputes, cross-border tensions, economic isolation, development deficits and a still tenuous North-South relationship also fuel instability, each one compounding the next amid a rapidly evolving post-independence environment. Juba, and its international partners, must marshal attention and resources toward the fundamental sources of instability in places like Unity if the emerging Republic is to realise its full potential.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan