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  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated as president of Afghanistan on 29 September, under difficult circumstances. He inherited a government that is running out of money and losing ground to a rising insurgency. His ability to confront those problems and other challenges as foreign troops withdraw will be shaped by the aftermath of the political contest that brought him to power. Forming a national unity government with his election rival Abdullah Abdullah presents opportunities to stabilise the transition, preventing further erosion of state cohesiveness. Yet, it also poses risks, particularly of factionalism within Kabul, which could undermine urgently needed reforms. Given the international role in developing the agreements that have created this new partnership, and the absence of mechanisms to resolve internal differences, the international community should serve as a guarantor of Kabul's new political order and, if necessary, mediate any serious disputes that arise.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • 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: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A surge in violence has dashed plans for a negotiated end to the 27-year-old Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) insurgency. Since Turkey's elections in mid-June, clashes have killed more than 110 people, country-wide ethnic friction has hardened opinion, and the government has started bombing PKK bases and talking about an imminent ground offensive in northern Iraq. The PKK must immediately end its new wave of terrorist and insurgent attacks, and the Turkish authorities must control the escalation with the aim to halt all violence. A hot war and militaristic tactics did not solve the Kurdish problem in the 1990s and will not now. A solution can only lie in advancing the constitutional, language and legal reforms of the past decade that have gone part way to giving Turkish Kurds equal rights. Given the recent violence, returning to a positive dynamic requires a substantial strategic leap of imagination from both sides. Neither should allow itself to be swept away by armed conflict that has already killed more than 30,000 since 1984.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Central Asia, Turkey, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In politics and policies, Serbia increasingly resembles the Milosevic-era without Milosevic. Its reaction to the catastrophic mid-March 2004 near collapse of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the strong showing by ultra-nationalists in the 28 December 2003 parliamentary elections and the subsequent two-months of squabbling before democratic parties could form a minority government that depends for survival on the support of Milosevic's old party all are signs that more trouble lies ahead. In 2004 Serbia can anticipate continued political instability, increasingly strained relations with the West and further economic decline. The spasm of ethnic cleansing of Serbs by Albanians in Kosovo has raised the prospect of Kosovo partition, strengthened the nationalist right wing and increased anti-Western sentiment. Instability and economic weakness could hasten moves by Montenegro towards independence, while Kosovo tensions could spill over into the Presevo valley, Sandzak and even Vojvodina.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 17 March 2004, the unstable foundations of four and a half years of gradual progress in Kosovo buckled and gave way. Within hours the province was immersed in anti-Serb and anti-UN rioting and had regressed to levels of violence not seen since 1999. By 18 March the violence mutated into the ethnic cleansing of entire minority villages and neighbourhoods. The mobs of Albanian youths, extremists and criminals exposed the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) as very weak. Kosovo's provisional institutions of self-government (PISG), media and civil society afforded the rioters licence for mayhem. The international community urgently needs new policies -- on final status and socio-economic development alike -- or Kosovo instability may infect the entire region.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kosovo, United Nations, Albania
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Representatives of the Afghan government, the UN and the major donor countries and institutions will assemble in Berlin on 31 March and 1 April for the first high-level diplomatic meeting on Afghanistan in more than two years. The principal objective is to secure substantial long-term aid commitments -- the Afghan government seeks U.S.$27.6 billion over seven years. In addition to meeting this global figure, it will be important for donors to make multi-year pledges that provide a basis for predictability and to increase cash on hand for immediate projects over the coming year. All this is needed if Afghanistan's governance and security institutions are to be reconstructed, development goals met, and poverty alleviated.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pan-Albanianism is seen by many observers as a serious threat to Balkan stability. A century of shifting borders has left ethnic Albanians scattered across Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the National Liberation Army (NLA) in Macedonia, and other groups have all waged campaigns of violence in support of enhanced rights for ethnic Albanians. Where is the ceiling to their ambitions?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Greece, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The terrorist acts in the United States on 11 September 2001 have prompted an ongoing discussion of how international engagement, in all its aspects, can undermine Islamist radicalism and promote religious tolerance. New attention to Central Asia after 9/11, including a Western military presence, has also focused minds on whether the region is at serious threat from Islamist radicalism and what can be done about it. This report examines the attitudes of Central Asian Muslims to the West, based on public opinion surveys and interviews in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and offers a range of policy options for closer engagement with Islam and approaches that might reduce support for radical alternatives to present regimes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When delegates to Afghanistan's Constitutional Loya Jirga assemble in Kabul on 13 December 2003, they will begin debating and ultimately deciding upon a draft document that is intended to establish a strong presidency while accommodating the other dominant figures at the country's centre. It is a constitution, however, that for the most part would fail to provide meaningful democratic governance, including power-sharing, a system of checks and balances, or mechanisms for increasing the representation of ethnic, regional and other minority groups. The manner in which the draft has been prepared and publicised, as well as its content, raise serious questions about whether it can become the first constitution in Afghanistan's history to command genuinely deep popular support and, therefore, contribute to national stability.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kabul
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Albanian-majority Presevo Valley in southern Serbia is one of the few conflict resolution success stories in the former Yugoslavia. Yet tensions linger, and a series of violent incidents in August and September 2003 demonstrated that the peace can still unravel. Serbia's stalled reform process is preventing the political and economic changes that are needed to move forward on many critical issues in the area, and there is a general sense among local Albanians that peace has not delivered what it promised: an end to tensions with Serb security forces and prosperity.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Yugoslavia, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Prospects for an enduring peace in Afghanistan are still fragile despite progress since the ouster of the Taliban in December 2001. A key obstacle is the perception of many ethnic Pashtuns that they lack meaningful representation in the central government, particularly in its security institutions. Other factors contributing to growing alienation from the Bonn political process include continued violence against Pashtuns in parts of the north and west, heavy-handed search operations and collaboration with abusive commanders by the U.S.-led Coalition, and impediments to trade in the southern and eastern provinces. Unless measures are taken to address these grievances and ensure that a more representative government emerges from the forthcoming election, there will be a greater likelihood of the political process ending in failure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is stumbling on its way to a new constitution. The document that must express the values and aspirations of a people may lack widespread legitimacy because it has been drafted in a secretive and unaccountable manner. International efforts to promote public education and consultation have been inadequate. The Transitional Administration (TA) and the UN are now heading down a well-trodden path in Afghan history whereby a constitution is proclaimed but no one, let alone those in control of state power, has any incentive to respect it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commencing on 3 May 2003 is an opportunity to assess frankly and honestly the records of the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. If the chance is grasped to push for reform in a more coordinated and concerted way, the controversial decision to hold this meeting in Tashkent will prove well justified. If it is not, and any impression is left that the location of the meeting is a mark of approval for Uzbekistan's current policies, there is a major risk of further deterioration in both the economic and security climate in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan
  • Publication Date: 01-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's legal system has collapsed. Never strong to begin with, it has been nearly destroyed by 23 years of conflict and misrule. There are few trained lawyers, little physical infrastructure and no complete record of the country's laws. Under successive regimes, laws have been administered for mostly political ends with few protections of the rights of individuals to a fair trial. Although the country has signed up to most international agreements on human rights, abuses have been widespread, and military commanders have enjoyed impunity.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: ICG's first report on Kyrgyzstan, published in August 2001, highlighted the potential for crisis facing the country. International attention was then rarely focused on Central Asia but since September 2001 the region has suddenly registered on policy-makers' agendas. Nearly 2,000 U.S. and Coalition troops are now located at Manas Airport near Bishkek, as part of the forces active in Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan is playing a key strategic role in the region. Stability in this country is now of fundamental concern to the international community but, since early 2002, it has declined sharply.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Emergency Loya Jirga, or grand national assembly, held from 10 to 21 June 2002 in Kabul was a small but critical step in Afghanistan's political development. It was an opportunity to accord national legitimacy to the peace process begun at Bonn in November 2001 but it produced mixed results. From a narrow perspective, it was a success: representatives from across Afghanistan came together to elect, or rather anoint, a head of state, and the major armed factions kept their hats in the political ring rather than resort to violence. Given the last three decades of war and turmoil, this is significant.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The immensity of the task of rebuilding Afghanistan into something resembling a coherent state cannot be over-estimated. Nearly three decades of political instability – including many years of savage warfare, the wholesale destruction of political and physical infrastructure and the inflammation of ethnic divisions – are layered on top of a nation that was among the poorest and weakest governed even in its "golden age" before King Zahir Shah was deposed in 1973. Afghanistan's transition back to a minimum level of political and economic stability will require many small but crucial steps to keep it on course.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia