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  • Author: Marta Abrantes Mendes
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Based on interviews with key Yemeni civil society organizations, the report finds that much more is needed to support a Yemeni-led vision of justice and accountability. After registering a diversity of views amongst Yemeni civil society—from a need to address the economic and social costs of the conflict to the role of civil society in any future transitional justice processes—this report also highlights the obstacles facing Yemeni civil society. Additionally, the report proposes more tactics and strategies for supporting Yemeni civil society and victims’ groups, and to ensure they have an influence over the contours of an eventual peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Peacekeeping, Transitional Justice, Accountability, Justice
  • Political Geography: Yemen
  • Author: Christine Hübner, Jan Eichhorn, Luuk Molthof, Srđan Cvijić
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: France is one of the European countries with the highest rates of popular disapproval of countries in the Western Balkans joining the European Union. What is this disapproval based on, and how important is the issue of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans for people in France? Using a combination of 2020 survey data representative of the adult French population and in-depth focus groups with French voters, this report offers a comprehensive insight into the views of the French on whether or not the countries of the Western Balkans should join the European Union.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: As part of its proposal for an EU Migration and Asylum Pact, the European Commission has pledged to present proposals on legal migration in 2021 to better match labour demand and supply, enable better, faster access to visas and work permits, and increase the intra-EU mobility of foreign workers. This report analyses the actions taken by three EU member states: Germany, Italy, and Spain. These countries have created or expanded labour migration pathways, regularised part of the undocumented population, and increased protections for some categories of migrants. The report examines how effective these different approaches have been and if there are lessons to be learned at the EU level.
  • Topic: Migration, Labor Issues, Work Culture, Migrant Workers
  • Political Geography: Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Jan Eichhorn, Luuk Molthof, Sascha Nicke
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: This report charts attitudes on the existence, causes, and impact of climate change in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It also examines public attitudes to a series of policies that the EU and national governments could harness to reduce the damage inflicted by human-made emissions. Although a clear majority of European and United States respondents are aware that the climate is warming, and that it is likely to have negative impacts for humankind, this report finds there is confusion about the scientific consensus on climate change. This, the report argues, has created a gap between public awareness and climate science, leaving the public underestimating the urgency of the crisis, and failing to appreciate the scale of the action required.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Science and Technology, Fossil Fuels, Carbon Emissions, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: In recent years, several studies have reported on the exploitation endured by migrant workers in Southern European Union member states—especially in sectors such as agriculture and food production. However, there has been much less focus on the North. New research now shows that agri-food workers in Northern Europe also face poor and even abusive conditions. In this light, Are Agri-Food Workers Only Exploited in Southern Europe? focuses on production in Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden. These three EU member states have stronger social protections than Italy, Spain or Greece—yet the dynamics driving wage compression and the violation of workers’ rights are like those in Southern Europe. This publication provides recommendations on how the EU and national governments can act to make Europe’s agri-food system more sustainable, benefiting farmers, consumers, workers, and the environment.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment, Human Rights, Labor Issues, Sustainability, Farming, Exploitation, Consumerism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe
  • Author: Giorgia Ceccarelli, Daniele Fattibene
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Eradicating the exploitation of agri-food workers, promoting fairer food supply chains, and offering consumers effective tools to make truly informed food choices remain huge challenges in Europe. This report highlights the limitations of relying solely on food labelling schemes to meet these goals, and finds that voluntary certification schemes do not adequately enforce regulations or protect human rights. The report also argues, however, that the EU can use a number of tools to foster more just food supply chains, with ethical labels playing a role in that process as part of a “smart mix” of measures. The case studies in this report show that it is possible to have increased transparency in food labelling and supply chains, as well as better protections of workers in Europe and throughout the world. Additionally, the report explains how the EU can play an important role in providing food businesses with clear regulatory frameworks to ensure their operations do not harm workers or the environment.
  • Topic: Environment, Health, Human Rights, Labor Issues, Food, Regulation, Business
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: In January 2019, Macedonia’s parliament approved, by a two-thirds majority, a constitutional amendment to change the country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia. While this represented a major step toward North Macedonia’s ultimate goal of establishing a durable, stable democracy, the name change must still be endorsed by Greece’s parliament before it can go into full effect. But as a new report from the Open Society European Policy Institute shows, a newly-named North Macedonia would still face significant challenges—and opportunities. North Macedonia: What’s Next? examines the 2018 Prespa Agreement between neighboring Greece and North Macedonia, which laid out agreed upon conditions for resolving the longstanding dispute over Macedonia’s name, and what it means for the larger project of integrating the countries in the Western Balkans more fully into the political and economic systems of Europe, the British Isles, and the United States. The report further explores how key players—such as the European Union, NATO, Russia, other Western Balkans states—approach the Prespa Agreement, explains the significance of the name change in larger geopolitical terms, and offers insight into possible scenarios for the final resolution of this fraught and lengthy conflict.
  • Topic: NATO, Democratization, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Democracy, Constitution, Nation-State
  • Political Geography: Balkans, Macedonia, North Macedonia
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Despite deep concerns about the future of democracy, people in Central and Eastern Europe retain a strong attachment to civil society and faith in the freedoms achieved with the collapse of Communism, according to States of Change: Attitudes in Central and Eastern Europe 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, a report from the Open Society Foundations. Based on polling by YouGov conducted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, States of Change provides a snapshot of current opinion on democracy, freedom of speech, the market economy, and the media in the former Eastern Bloc and Germany.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Markets, Democracy, Media, Berlin Wall, Free Speech
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Central Europe
  • Author: Srđan Cvijić, Lisa Klingenberg, Delina Goxho, Ella Knight
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The use of armed drones in the European Union has become a topic rife with controversy and misinformation. This report gives a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the approach to, and use of, armed drones in five European countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. Further, the report is intended to start a wider debate about armed drones in Europe and to serve as a guide on this topic for the European Parliament.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Drones
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands
  • Author: Srđan Cvijić, Marie Jelenka Kirchner, Iskra Kirova, Zoran Nechev
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The need for the European Union’s involvement in the Western Balkans, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has never been more acute. The European Commission’s structures are not up to the job. A new approach is needed to respond to the realities on the ground and in member states. The European Union needs to boost the tools of the European Commission to move the process on from enlargement and move decisively towards the unification of Europe. This means creating a directorate general that would have the resources to drive forward the accession process with the Western Balkans countries and the ambitious trade and reform agenda in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. A new directorate general Europe could play this role.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Europe Union, Trade, Economic Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Moldova, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The decision to be a whistleblower is not easy. Mental trauma, the risk of retaliation, the potential loss of employment or ostracization by work colleagues—not to mention the impact on one’s personal life—all weigh heavily on the individual who decides to speak out for the common good. But when potential whistleblowers feel too vulnerable to act, it's society itself which suffers. In this report, whistleblowers from eight European countries describe what they experienced after they took a stand. Additionally, civil society experts weigh in on how the EU can craft policies to better protect whistleblowers. The question of how to define whistleblowing—does it apply to sexual harassment, can NGOs be considered whistleblowers, and so on—is also explored. The report ultimately recommends an EU-wide directive on whistleblowing, which it argues would give whistleblowers the protection they need to step forward. The report also argues that a multi-level, multi-stakeholder approach would emphasize the value of whistleblowers and the crucial role they play in a healthy open society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Intelligence, NGOs, Transparency, Whistle Blowing, Secrecy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: An End to Manels II is the second in a two-part series from the Open Society Foundations on closing the gender gap at Europe’s high-level policy events. The first brief, An End to Manels, examined the composition of panels, highlighting the dramatic underrepresentation of women. Manels II, scrutinizes this data further, taking a closer look at 23 European conferences, over the course of five years and analyzing discussion topics, their frequency, and speakers’ gender in an effort improve the quality of debate in Europe. The report reveals the dramatic underrepresentation of women engaged in speaking roles for six topics at Europe’s top conferences: foreign policy; the European Union; crime, terrorism and security; economic situation; environment, climate, and energy issues; and technology. Likewise, men are underrepresented as speakers on gender. Having quantified the gender gap at 23 conferences in Europe, the report offers a range of pragmatic solutions that conference organizers should consider to close this gap. These range from a broadening the range of topics discussed to speaker recruitment and better monitoring.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, European Union, Women, Representation, Sexuality, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The number of women who speak at key policy-shaping conferences across Europe is far below that of their male peers. Looking at five years of high-level conferences in Europe, this report finds that a woman has only one opportunity to speak for every three times a man speaks. The situation is not improving, but it can. Two conferences of the 23 conferences included in the report have shown that, with a concerted effort, they can drastically increase the number of female speakers and move toward gender parity. The onus is now on governments, businesses, and conference organizers to ensure they are sending and receiving representative delegations at these events. Conference organizers are the gatekeepers to the stage. This is a big responsibility. They make decisions about who will have the opportunity to share their views with heads of state, policymakers, and business leaders. Journalists report the statements of these speakers to audiences around the world. Prioritizing gender balance over seniority can stop help counter inequality in our societies by allowing women a fair say on policy and allowing female role models to come to the fore.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gender Issues, Women, Men, Domestic Policy, Equality
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rose Jackson
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has spent more than $250 billion building up military and police forces around the world. From attempts to build whole armies in Iraq and Afghanistan to efforts to help Yemen or Nigeria fight terrorism, the impact of these efforts has been mixed and in some cases counterproductive, exacerbating local corruption, human rights abuses, and even terrorism. A knot of U.S. offices and agencies have evolved to provide this aid, mostly pulling in different directions. Untangling the Web: A Blueprint for Reforming American Security Sector Assistance describes the main failures in the system and sets out immediate steps the next administration can take to improve how the U.S. government plans, coordinates, and executes its security-related assistance. This would significantly increase transparency and accountability and link the aid more closely to the human rights, development, and governance outcomes that are essential to U.S. foreign policy interests and national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, National Security, Terrorism, War, International Security, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Srđan Cvijić, Stevo Muk
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Politically, Montenegro finds itself in a paradoxical situation. At one level it is the champion of European integration in the Western Balkans when it comes to progress in the EU accession negotiations, but it is also the only country in the region that has not experienced a change of government since the introduction of the multiparty system in 1990. The same individuals, families, and political and business elites have been controlling the country’s politics and economy for more than 25 years. This situation is likely to continue after the recently held October 16 parliamentary elections where the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists managed once again to secure the most seats in parliament but fell short of securing an absolute majority. Key conclusions in this report include: the October elections were marked by numerous irregularities and were held in problematic conditions; the Montenegrin government and European Commission need to focus more on reforms in the area of the rule of law; the EU accession process remains unclear and lacks transparency. The authors present recommendations to the European Commission, European Parliament, and the EU member states for moving forward.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Elections, European Union, Democracy, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Author: Chris Kolenda, Chris Rogers
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: During the early years of the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan, the U.S. military was killing too many civilians and depriving too many others of basic rights and liberties. By 2008, nearly 40 percent of civilian deaths in Afghanistan resulted from U.S. military operations. The level of “civilian harm”—the military’s term for killing innocent civilians and causing major political, social, and economic disruption—was adversely impacting the United States’ efforts to defeat the Taliban and weakening the legitimacy of the U.S. and Afghan governments. The report, The Strategic Costs of Civilian Harm: Applying Lessons from Afghanistan to Current and Future Conflicts, examines how the U.S. military learned from its early mistakes in Afghanistan and applied lessons to mitigate civilian harm. In fact, starting in 2009, the U.S. military recognized its mistakes and started to understand the high strategic cost of civilian harm. The military’s changes led to a significant reduction in civilian deaths during the next few years. The report argues that the United States should develop a Uniform Policy on Civilian Protection. The new standards would apply to all U.S. military operations in current and future conflicts and, hopefully, better protect civilians caught in conflict.
  • Topic: Human Rights, War, Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Conflict, War on Terror, Civilians, Casualties
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Patrick Gallahue
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: There are currently thousands of people on death row for drug-related offenses in Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The international drug control system must share the blame, as treaties promoting strict and severe punishments for drug offenses have opened the door to such responses. UN human rights and drug control bodies now recognize that the death penalty for drugs violates international law, but a number of states that are parties to drug control treaties argue that capital drug laws are a permissible sanction. While many countries around the world are abolishing the death penalty for all crimes at an unprecedented rate, other countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are increasingly prescribing the death penalty for drug-related crimes despite evidence showing that it has not been effective in curbing the flow of drugs across territories. While there no fixed model for the kinds of people who have suffered the death penalty for drugs, all too often those who become smugglers borders represent people in desperate circumstances who have been coerced or tricked into breaking the law. Sometimes they are mere teenagers. Executing those who are referred to as “little fish” is disproportionate to the crime. And as both international human rights and drug control bodies have made clear, it is a violation of human rights law. Drugs and The Death Penalty explores how the laws that subject drug offenders to capital punishment are inextricably linked to the international war on drugs and provides recommendations for governments to review current policies and explore alternate, less draconian sanctions.
  • Topic: Crime, International Law, War on Drugs, Criminal Justice, Drugs, Public Health, Death Penalty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: With the Arab region in a state of flux, the League of Arab States seems poised to play a much-needed role on issues such as peace, security, and human rights in Arab countries. Until now, this role has been far from consistent or guided by a genuine human rights agenda. However, a closer look at the Arab League during the recent crises in the region reveals a slow shift in its positioning, highlighting the importance for civil society to engage with the Arab League and influence policies and reform in the region. Interest in the work of the Arab League is not new to civil society in the region. Civil society organizations have, for example, engaged very closely with the process of revising the Arab Charter on Human Rights. They have also worked with the League on the Darfur and Syria crises. However, this engagement has been fragmented, and at times not driven by a clear strategy. Therefore, this engagement and its impact can be strengthened through effective strategies and mechanisms. It is, therefore, paramount that the Arab League reform its relationship with civil society, and at the same time for civil society to improve its own relationship with the Arab League. The ultimate goal is better protection of human rights in Arab countries. This manual has been produced with these challenges and opportunities in mind. It aims at providing information to activists in the civil society movement, especially those working in the human rights field, on the structures, standards, and mechanisms of the Arab League relating to human rights. Better understanding of these issues can only contribute to better engagement with the Arab League, and therefore the ability to influence and reform the organization.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Human Rights, Authoritarianism, Reform, Arab Spring, State Violence, Revolution, Arab League
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) affirms the rights of all people to live in their communities. Yet between 2007 and 2013, EU member states invested millions of euros of EU structural funds into institutions that confine and segregate people living with disabilities. Now, although the 2014–2020 round of structural funds requires member states to introduce domestic deinstitutionalization measues, the danger remains that EU investments in institutions will continue. The European Commission has a responsibility to ensure the rights of Europeans with disabilities and the proper direction of EU investments. Community, Not Confinement examines EU law and policy governing the use of structural funds, and EU and state responsibilities to human rights obligations under international and EU law. This report also recommends several steps the commission should take, including providing clear guidance to member states that projects selected for the use of structural funds must comply with the CRPD; verifying that such programming aligns with the CRPD and supports independent living; and funding civil society to monitor member states’ investments and inform the commission of findings.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, Law, Disability, Community, Political Rights, Legal Sector
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are estimated to have killed well over 2,000 individuals, including an unknown number of civilians. A new report from the Open Society Foundations urges the U.S. and Pakistani governments to properly investigate and provide redress, including compensation, to civilian victims of drone strikes. Based on investigations of 27 separate U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, and interviews with current and former U.S. and Pakistani officials, the report documents civilian casualties and analyzes the broader threats of militancy and military operations in areas affected by drones. Despite Pakistan’s strong public opposition to U.S. drone strikes, and the United States’ promises on transparency, neither government has addressed the losses suffered by civilians. The report concludes that the U.S. and Pakistani governments should create mechanisms to investigate civilian harm from drone strikes and provide compensation to victims.
  • Topic: War, Military Affairs, Weapons , Drones, Civilians, Casualties
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States