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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Afghan War has entered a critical period in which the U.S. is actively seeking a peace settlement with the Taliban, and doing so in spite of the fact that it is negotiating without the full participation of the Afghan government. Its options now consist of finding some form of peace, leaving the country without any form of victory or security, or fighting indefinitely in a country whose central government has no near or mid-term capability to either defeat its opponents or survive without massive military and civil aid. Peace is a highly uncertain option. There are no official descriptions of the terms of the peace that the Administration is now seeking to negotiate, but media reports indicate that it may be considering a full withdrawal of its military support within one to two years of a ceasefire, and other reports indicate that it is considering a 50% cut in U.S. military personnel even if a peace is not negotiated. As of late-August 2019, the Taliban continued to reject any formal peace negotiations with the Afghan government, and its military activity and acts of violence while it negotiated with the United States. Terrorist groups like ISIS-K add to the threat, as do the many splits within the Afghani government and political structure. The Taliban has not encouraged further ceasefires, or shown any clear willingness to accept a lasting peace on any terms but its own. It may well see peace negotiations as a means of negotiating a withdrawal of U.S. and other allied forces and a prelude to a peace that it could exploit to win control of Afghanistan. At the same time, the other options are no better. They either mean leaving without a peace and the near certain collapse of the Afghan government, or continuing the war indefinitely with no clear timeframe for victory or the emergence of an Afghan government that can fight on its own or act as an effective civil government. Much of the analysis of these three options has focused on the possible terms of the peace, the immediate progress in the fighting, and/or the coming Afghan election and Afghanistan’s immediate political problems. These are all important issues, but they do not address the basic problems in Afghan security forces that will limit its military capabilities indefinitely into the future, or the scale of the civil problems in Afghanistan that have given it failed governance and made it the equivalent of a failed state, and that will shape its future in actually implementing any peace or in attempting to continue the war.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Katrin Hansing, Bert Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Few political transformations have attacked social inequalities more thoroughly than the 1959 Cuban Revolution. However, as the survey data in this paper shows, 60 years on, structural inequalities which echo the pre-revolutionary socio-ethnic hierarchies are returning. While official Cuban statistics are mute about social differences along racial lines, the authors were able to conduct a unique, nationwide survey which shows the contrary. If the revolutionary, state-run economy and radical social policies were the main social elevators for the formerly underprivileged classes in socialist Cuba, the economic crisis and depressed wages of the past decades have seriously undercut these achievements. Moreover, previously racialised migration patterns have produced highly unequal levels of access to family remittances, and the gradual opening of the private business sector in Cuba has largely disfavoured Afro-Cubans, due to their lack of access to pre-revolutionary property and remittances in the form of start-up capital. While social and racial inequalities have not yet reached the levels of other Latin American countries, behind the face of socialist continuity a profound restructuring of Cuban society is taking place.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Race, Social Stratification, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Cuba, Caribbean, North America
  • Author: George Fust
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Department of Social Sciences at West Point, United States Military Academy
  • Abstract: A Pew Research Center report published on July 10 suggests that most veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan believe these wars are “not worth fighting.” What are the implications of these findings? What can they reveal about the health of U.S. civil-military relations? Is it dangerous for the guardians to be opposed to the mission they are directed to accomplish?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Health Care Policy, Veterans, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Chios Carmody
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This is a guide to the legal framework for emissions trading under the cap-and-trade system created and adhered to under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). This guide is intended to serve three aims. First, the guide is an overview of the WCI cap-and-trade system for emissions trading by current users of the system; potential industry participants; state, provincial and municipal governments; academic institutions; and members of civil society. Second, the guide’s aim is to foster learning among domestic and international actors interested in North America’s collective response to climate change and highlights one attempt to combat climate change through a subnational cap-and-trade system on the continent. Third, during the course of research for this guide in 2018, the province of Ontario linked its WCI-inspired cap-and-trade system with that of California and Quebec and six months later delinked its system, eventually terminating it altogether and announcing its intention to withdraw from the WCI. A third purpose of this guide is therefore to serve as an account of Ontario’s short-lived cap-and-trade system and its brief experience with linkage.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Environment, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Gareth Fowler, Arthur Larok, Pawel Marczewski, Vijayan Mj, Ghia Nodia, Natalia Shapoavlova, Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Marisa Von Bülow, Özge Zihnioğlu
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the domain of civil society burgeoned in the 1990s and early 2000s—a crucial component of the global spread of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds—many transnational and domestic actors involved in building and supporting this expanding civil society assumed that the sector was naturally animated by organizations mobilizing for progressive causes. Some organizations focused on the needs of underrepresented groups, such as women’s empowerment, inclusion of minorities, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights; others addressed broader societal issues such as economic justice, social welfare, and antipoverty concerns. In many countries, the term “civil society” came to be associated with a relatively bounded set of organizations associated with a common agenda, one separate from or even actively opposed by conservative political forces. However, in the past ten years, this assumption and outlook are proving increasingly incorrect. In many countries in the developing and postcommunist worlds, as well as in long-established Western democracies, conservative forms of civic activism have been multiplying and gaining traction. In some cases, new conservative civic movements and groups are closely associated with illiberal political actors and appear to be an integral part of the well-chronicled global pushback against Western liberal democratic norms. In other cases, the political alliances and implications of conservative civil society are less clear. In almost all cases—other than perhaps that of the United States, where the rise of conservative activism has been the subject of considerable study—this rising world of conservative civil society has been little studied and often overlooked. This report seeks to correct this oversight and to probe more deeply into the rise of conservative civil society around the world. It does so under the rubric of Carnegie’s Civic Research Network project, an initiative that aims to explore new types of civic activism and examine the extent to which these activists and associations are redrawing the contours of global civil society. The emerging role and prominence of conservative activism is one such change to civil society that merits comparative examination. Taken as a whole, the report asks what conservative civic activism portends for global civil society. Its aim is not primarily to pass judgment on whether conservative civil society is a good or bad thing—although the contributing authors obviously have criticisms to make. Rather, it seeks mainly to understand more fully what this trend entails. Much has been written and said about anticapitalist, human rights, and global justice civil society campaigns and protests. Similar analytical depth is required in the study of conservative civil society. The report redresses the lack of analytical attention paid to the current rise of conservative civil society by offering examples of such movements and the issues that drive them. The authors examine the common traits that conservative groups share and the issues that divide them. They look at the kind of members that these groups attract and the tactics and tools they employ. And they ask how effective the emerging conservative civil society has been in reshaping the political agenda.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Political Activism, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Ukraine, Caucasus, Middle East, India, Poland, Brazil, South America, Georgia, North America, Thailand, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah Baumunk, Linnea Sandin
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the occasional setback or spark of progress, civic space in Mexico has remained mostly stable since the country elected its first opposition president in 2000. While Mexico’s laws theoretically protect its citizens’ rights, their faulty implementation has failed to yield results at best and has increased the vulnerability of human rights defenders at worst. Some laws have imposed significant administrative restrictions in the form of complex reporting requirements, which can be a burden for civil society organizations (CSOs), especially for smaller grassroots human rights organizations. Controversial laws that restrict civic space, coupled with the country’s high levels of corruption, astronomical impunity rate, and lack of transparency, have caused many citizens to lose faith in the government’s ability and willingness to protect and fight for rights. Newly-elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”) seems to have a genuine interest in human rights, which is promising for the future of civic space in Mexico. However, the fact that he has already softened some of his policy stances on these topics, paired with the government’s history of involvement in human rights violations, should prompt caution. This report provides examples of how Mexican civil society has taken action to advocate for and protect themselves, through mechanisms such as community police and broad coalitions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, Social Movement, Social Order
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Author: Sean Foley
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: MAAS alum Sean Foley (‘00) discusses his forthcoming book, Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture, and Society in the Kingdom.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Gender Issues, Arts, Natural Resources, Culture, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Eli Stiefel, Maria J. Stephan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Dr. Maria J. Stephan is a senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, where she focuses on civil resistance, nonviolent movements and their relevance to conflict transformation and democratic development. At the Atlantic Council, she co-leads the Future of Authoritarianism project. Previously, Stephan was lead foreign affairs officer in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), where she worked on both policy and operations for Afghanistan and Syria engagements. Earlier, Stephan directed policy and research at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), a private foundation dedicated to developing and disseminating knowledge about nonviolent struggle. She simultaneously taught courses on human rights and civil resistance at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and American University’s School of International Service.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Diplomacy, Social Movement, Women, Protests
  • Political Geography: Syria, North America, United States of America