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Showing posts tagged as "conflict resolution"
Showing posts tagged conflict resolution
"I believe that we have achieved very high levels of universal norms enunciation, in legal instruments, in our literature. I think the normative environment is very impressive. The disconnect is between the norms and their enforcement."
—Louise Arbour, Crisis Group’s President and CEO, in an interview with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
We have to take a step back, first of all, and not purport to impose our own system of values and so on. If we are true democrats, I think our first obligation is to defer to the people who have their own set of aspirations and values.
Louise Arbour, Crisis Group’s President and CEO, in an interview with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
We still live in a world that is much more deferential to states than to the people that these states are supposed to represent. I think we have yet to build communities that genuinely reflect their own population.
Louise Arbour, Crisis Group’s President and CEO, in an interview with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
This is Not a Revolution | The New York Review of Books
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
Darkness descends upon the Arab world. Waste, death, and destruction attend a fight for a better life. Outsiders compete for influence and settle accounts. The peaceful demonstrations with which this began, the lofty values that inspired them, become distant memories. Elections are festive occasions where political visions are an afterthought. The only consistent program is religious and is stirred by the past. A scramble for power is unleashed, without clear rules, values, or endpoint. It will not stop with regime change or survival. History does not move forward. It slips sideways.
Games occur within games: battles against autocratic regimes, a Sunni–Shiite confessional clash, a regional power struggle, a newly minted cold war. Nations divide, minorities awaken, sensing a chance to step out of the state’s confining restrictions. The picture is blurred. These are but fleeting fragments of a landscape still coming into its own, with only scrappy hints of an ultimate destination. The changes that are now believed to be essential are liable to be disregarded as mere anecdotes on an extended journey.
Photo: Jonathan Rashad/Flickr
Turkey’s Kurdish conflict is becoming more violent, with more than 700 dead in fourteen months, the highest casualties in thirteen years.
—Turkey: The PKK and a Kurdish Settlement, Tuesday’s report from the International Crisis Group
Photo: James Gordon/Wikimedia Commons
International Pressure on Syria Grows After Killings | The New York Times
By Neil MacFarquhar
International efforts to pressure Syria intensified on Monday, as the United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan began negotiations in the capital, Damascus, and the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that continued atrocities could make military intervention more likely.
Mr. Annan traveled to Syria seeking to salvage his peace plan, which appeared more precarious than ever after the massacre of at least 108 villagers in the Houla area of central Syria. He urged the government to hold to its commitment in March to honor the six-point plan, which included not only a cease-fire, but also political dialogue with the opposition and freedom for Syrians to demonstrate.
“I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process,” Mr. Annan said. Creating the right climate for progress was the responsibility of not only the government but “everyone with a gun,” he added.
Questions about the viability of the plan were thrown into sharp relief by the massacre in the villages that constitute Houla, near Homs, on Friday, whose victims included 49 children and 34 women by United Nations count. The Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned the massacre and, while not assigning blame, censured the Syrian government for using heavy artillery against civilians.
Photo: Shaam News Network/ Reuters
U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid | The New York Times
By Helene Cooper and Mark Landler
In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.
The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged by Yemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.
The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.
Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/NY Times
The New York Times | Bosnia Still Needs Fixing
IN the Bosnian city of Mostar, a beautiful Ottoman-era limestone bridge called the Stari Most arched over the Neretva River for 427 years, surviving earthquakes and two world wars. After a barrage of shelling in 1993, during the Bosnian civil war, the bridge collapsed. Citizens were stranded on opposite sides of the riverbank. Ethnic strain wasn’t the cause. It was the effect. Across the country, the war itself was dividing citizens into three ethno-nationalist clusters: Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks). Twenty years after the war began, and 17 years after the Dayton accords brought the fighting to an end, the bridge stands again, and a shallow peace prevails.
But now, the compromises we made to end the killing increasingly look inadequate, and it’s time to begin fixing them.
Mostar is still split: the west bank is primarily Croat, the east Bosniak. It is one city, but it has separate universities, postal services, health care systems and phone networks — and it can’t agree on how to elect a city council. Political institutions that were supposed to reconcile a divided society are ineffective; ethnic quotas at all levels of government breed nepotism; children study in classes divided according to their parentage; economic development has stagnated. And the populace feels angry and hopeless about the future.
Meanwhile, the international community has mostly turned its back on its own handiwork.
The 1995 Dayton agreement ended the worst bloodletting in Europe since World War II. The warring factions were brought together only with enormous pressures and incentives from the outside, including military strikes and the promise that other countries would continue to enforce the peace and extend economic assistance. The agreement provided for early elections and set up an unusual political structure, but it was imperfect. We knew that then.
Still, it was the best we could achieve, and, as the late Richard C. Holbrooke said at the time, the most important thing was to stop the killing.
In retrospect, we can see how some of Bosnia’s difficulties are our own fault. Early on, we had too simply labeled the violence as a clash of ethnic groups, roughly equal in their responsibilities to reconcile, when in fact they had been manipulated toward war primarily by Serbian nationalist leaders. We had ignored Bosnia’s experience before 1992, when its citizens from different ethnic groups were very often friends, colleagues, neighbors and spouses — and even during the war, when there were immeasurable acts of generosity across the ethnic divides. Had we outsiders realized that the violence was not inevitable, and had we been willing to name Serbs as the primary aggressors early in the war, NATOforces could have intervened much earlier and saved tens of thousands of lives.
But we came in late, and by the time we did, hatred and fighting had shaped the political and military balances we had to work with. That produced an agreement that institutionalized ethnicity as the deciding factor in political and social identity. It divided power and representation according to whether citizens were Bosniaks, Serbs or Croats, leaving little room to organize along other lines — for example, gender and level of urbanization.
Today, as set out at Dayton, Bosnia’s presidency is a triumvirate; each of the three members must be identified with one of the so-called constituent peoples. This slows down decision making and excludes minorities, as well as the large number of Bosnians who don’t identify with one of the major groups. In fact, two would-be presidential contenders, a Roma and a Jew, won a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 that required constitutional revisions that would give neglected minorities equal opportunities to serve in government. Three years later, that reform is still being debated by Bosnian political leaders, who owe their positions to the status quo.
Dayton also divided the country itself into two separate statelets — a Bosniak-Croat federation and a Serb republic — governed by the same legislature and presidency. At the time, many Bosnian women’s groups, religious leaders, civil society activists and students warned that the arrangement wouldn’t work because the country historically had been integrated. But they weren’t at the negotiating table; only those with the power to fight or to lay down their weapons were invited.
In retrospect, perhaps we could have done better to engage politically unrepresented groups who craved stability, so that they could sit alongside those who knew how to fight.
The compromises at Dayton stopped the killing, but also helped perpetuate the ethnic chauvinism, fear and greed that had set it off. And now, the international community bears some responsibility to keep Bosnia from ever relapsing into violence. We also must help Bosnians fashion a better political system, one that promotes national unity, effective decision making and democratic participation.
Three moves would make a huge difference.
First, the American and European governments must help Bosnia change the Constitution we helped create.
Second, after the Constitution has been revised, the European Union should reward Bosnia by granting it membership. Serbia, after all, was given candidate status — a critical step toward full membership — in March, and Croatia is scheduled to become a full member next year. Europe should also extend more financial and technical assistance to implement the reforms needed to re-establish a pluralistic society and secure candidate status for Bosnia (which the European Union treats as a “potential candidate” for membership).
Third, NATO needs to offer the country a clear path for joining the alliance; it will have an opportunity to do so later this month when NATO holds a summit meeting in Chicago. Many Bosnians of all ethnicities look at membership in NATO as a guarantee of security, prosperity and stability. In addition, the military is the one Bosnian institution in which ethnic differences have mattered least; recently, when Serbian veterans’ benefits were cut, Bosniak veterans raised money to give to the people who once fought against them.
We also need to encourage and support the kind of moderate high-level and grass-roots leaders we overlooked during the negotiations 20 years ago. They are the real heroes of the war — and of the peace.
One such person is Kada Hotic, a leader of Bosnian Muslim survivors of the war. Only last June, she was finally able to bury three small bones — the only remains that could be identified of her son, who died in the infamous massacre of Muslims by Serbian fighters in 1995.
Yet Ms. Hotic offers: “Maybe one day we can close the story of war and move toward genuine reconciliation. Everyone has suffered. When those men killed my son, they killed themselves. I forgive them, and so I live.”
Co-written by Wesley K. Clark, a retired Army general and former supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe, a board member at the International Crisis Group.
Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev/ Wikimedia Commons
Pakistan’s Relations with India: Beyond Kashmir?
Islamabad/Brussels | 3 May 2012
Their recent dialogue process provides the best chance yet for bilateral peace and regional stability, but Pakistan and India must still overcome serious mistrust among hardliners in their security elites.
Pakistan’s Relations with India: Beyond Kashmir? , the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, analyses how the deeper economic ties they are building could help repair the breach between the two nuclear-armed powers who have fought multiple wars with each other.
For over six decades, bilateral relations have been overshadowed by the Kashmir dispute. With political will on both sides to normalise relations, however, the dialogue process has resulted in some promising achievements. Broader economic ties would provide a more conducive environment to address longstanding disputes like Kashmir.
“Pakistan and India need to build on what they have achieved to reach sustainable peace”, says Samina Ahmed, Crisis Group’s South Asia Project Director. “Deeper economic ties have been formed. But an effective integration of the two economies requires measures that enable greater movement across the border”.
Numerous challenges still threaten the chance for peace and stability. Pakistan’s fragile democratic transition, pivotal to the success of the dialogue, is endangered by a powerful military that is deeply hostile toward India and supports anti-India-oriented extremist groups. Another Mumbai-style attack by Pakistan-based jihadists would make the dialogue untenable and could even spark a new war.
Liberalised trade, stronger commercial links and deeper bilateral economic investment would strengthen moderate forces in Pakistan’s government, political parties, business community and civil society. But New Delhi’s heavy-handed suppression of dissent and large military footprint in the portion of Kashmir it controls alienate Kashmiris, undermine Pakistani constituencies for peace and embolden jihadi groups and hardliners in the military and civil bureaucracies.
There are other impediments. With India constructing several dams in the Indus River Basin, the Pakistani military and jihadi groups now identify water disputes as a core issue, along with Kashmir, that must be resolved if relations are to be normalised. Averse to talks that do not prioritise the terror threat, Indian hardliners could also impede normalisation.
India’s concerns about jihadi groups are legitimate but should not define and encumber dialogue with Pakistan. Given its neighbour’s fragile democratic transition, New Delhi should be more flexible and patient. Such an approach, if sustained, would enable the Pakistani civilian political leadership to take the initiative on security-related and territorial disputes, including Kashmir.
“Pakistan’s ability to broaden engagement with India depends on a sustained democratic transition, with elected leaders gaining control over foreign and security policy from the military”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “This would result in new prospects to move beyond a rigid, Kashmir-centric approach to India”.