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  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After four years of relative peace, Sri Lanka has again plunged into military conflict between the government and the separatist Tamil group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). A 2002 ceasefire, negotiated with Norway's help, remains intact on paper but is flouted on the ground with increasing regularity and frequent brutality. More than 2,500 people, many of them civilians, have been killed since January. Human rights abuses and political killings are carried out with impunity by both sides. The humanitarian crisis in the north east is critical, with more than 200,000 fleeing their homes during the year. Until attitudes change on both sides, the immediate prospect is for worsening violence.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Norway, Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Fierce battles rage in southern Afghanistan, insurgent attacks in the east creep towards the provinces surrounding Kabul and a new campaign of terrorist violence targets urban centres. The country's democratic government is not immediately threatened but action is needed now. This includes putting more international forces into the battle zones but insurgencies are never beaten by military means alone, and there are no quick fixes. Diplomatic pressure on Pakistan is needed, and the government of President Karzai must show political will to respond to internal discontent with serious efforts to attack corruption, work with the elected National Assembly and extend the rule of law by ending the culture of impunity. Afghanistan needs a renewed, long-term effort to build an effective, fair government that provides real security to its people.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Asia, Kabul
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Scores of thousands of North Koreans have been risking their lives to escape their country's hardships in search of a better life, contributing to a humanitarian challenge that is playing out almost invisibly as the world focuses on North Korea's nuclear program. Only a little over 9,000 have made it to safety, mostly in South Korea but also in Japan, Europe and the U.S. Many more live in hiding from crackdowns and forcible repatriations by China and neighbouring countries, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. If repatriated to the North, they face harsh punishment, possibly execution. China and South Korea have held back, even during the Security Council debate over post-test sanctions, from applying as much pressure as they might to persuade Pyongyang to reverse its dangerous nuclear policy, in part because they fear that the steady stream of North Koreans flowing into China and beyond would become a torrent if the North's economy were to collapse under the weight of tough measures. While there is marginally more hope Beijing will change its ways than Pyongyang, concerned governments can and must do far more to improve the situation of the border crossers.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bangladesh faces twin threats to its democracy and stability: the risk that its political system will founder in a deadlock over elections and the growing challenge of militant Islamism, which has brought a spate of violence. The issues are linked; Islamic militancy has flourished in a time of dysfunctional politics, popular discontent and violence. The questions of whether Bangladesh's traditional moderation and resilience will see it through or whether escalating violence and political confrontation could derail its democracy are vital ones. Serious instability in the world's third most populous Muslim country could not fail to have wider implications. The situation does not justify great anxiety about the outbreak of major conflict domestically or the nurturing of significant extremism and terrorism internationally but there are elements of fragility in the system which need close watching and engagement. The international community can help to address the graver risks but only if it takes Bangladesh seriously as a strategic partner and moves towards more mature political engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Pervez Musharraf and the military are responsible for the worsening of the conflict in Balochistan. Tensions between the government and its Baloch opposition have grown because of Islamabad's heavy-handed armed response to Baloch militancy and its refusal to negotiate demands for political and economic autonomy. The killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006 sparked riots and will likely lead to more confrontation. The conflict could escalate if the government insists on seeking a military solution to what is a political problem and the international community, especially the U.S., fails to recognise the price that is involved for security in neighbouring Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The new National Assembly has the potential to play a vital role in stabilising Afghanistan, entrenching pluralism, institutionalising political competition and giving voice to the country's diverse population. By being accountable to the Afghan people it can demand accountability of the presidential government. However, the success of this fledgling institution remains delicately poised, particularly because of the absence of a formal role for political parties, essential for mediating internal tensions. The lack of such organised blocs has seen power-brokers of past eras try to dominate proceedings. New moderate forces need to move quickly now to establish formal groups within the houses to ensure their voices are heard.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: King Gyanendra's capitulation on 24 April 2006 in the face of a mass movement marked a victory for democracy in Nepal and, with a ceasefire between the new government and the Maoists now in place, the start of a serious peace process. Forced to acknowledge the “spirit of the people's movement”, Gyanendra accepted popular sovereignty, reinstated parliament and invited the mainstream seven-party alliance to implement its roadmap – including election of a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution in line with the parties' five-month-old agreement with the Maoists. The international community lost credibility by attempting to pressure the parties into an unworkable compromise with the king and must now work hard to support a difficult transition and peace process while avoiding similar mistakes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pro-democracy demonstrations and a general strike across Nepal in recent weeks mark a decisive shift in the country's political equations and probably signal the approaching end of King Gyanendra's direct rule. A successful popular movement could advance the search for peace but will depend on strong political party leadership in dealing with the Maoists; a messy transition would bring its own risks. Although domestic events will determine the speed and direction of political change, international players should us e their influence to establish practical plans to help stabilise the situation and build a more lasting foundation for peace. This briefing argues for the early formation of a Contact Group (consisting of India, the U.S. and UK, working with the UN) and a complementary Peace Support Group (other key donors and international financial institutions) to form a common front on strategy and tactics to maximise international influence in assisting Nepal's escape from its worsening conflict.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, India, Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The European Union is not living up to its potential as a geopolitical actor in Central Asia. The level of EU interest has been low, and Brussels is doing little to shape developments in a region that has mostly seen marked declines in its economic fortunes, political freedoms and social development in recent years but remains of considerable strategic significance. If this is to change, Europe must move away from largely unsuccessful policies, particularly the promotion of region-wide projects, and take on a more focused and active role geared to the distinct characteristics of each of the region's five states. It needs also to raise the level of its representation, spend more money and stick to its political ideals if it is to have a positive impact.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Just past the half-year mark of the agreement to end the conflict in Aceh, several long-anticipated problems are surfacing. None by itself is grave enough to derail the 15 August 2005 accord between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM); the peace process remain s very much on track. But their convergence means that more than ever, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla will have to exert leadership, and international donors will have to constantly assess the political impact of their assistance to prevent any backsliding.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia