Showing posts tagged as "united nations"

Showing posts tagged united nations

18 Sep

Crisis Group’s Central Africa analyst Thibaud Lesueur speaks to Al Jazeera about the UN taking over peacekeeping from African Union in Central African Republic.

FULL Report (Al Jazeera)

17 Sep

With A Deadline Looming, Iran’s Nuclear Talks Reopen In New York | PETER KENYON

Negotiations on limiting Iran’s nuclear program resume this week in New York, but a summer of multiplying crises has world capitals distracted as the talks hit a crucial stage.

The high-profile setting for this round of talks between Iran and six world powers has raised expectations, and the talks come at a time when world leaders are also gathering for the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

The last round of talks, aimed at giving Iran sanctions relief if it accepts strict limits intended to keep it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, ended in Vienna in July with only an agreement to keep trying for a few more months.

Now, as a crisis-heavy summer turns into fall, the Ukraine conflict, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the extremist violence in Iraq and Syria are all threatening to overshadow the Iran issue.

READ FULL TRANSCRIPT (NPR)

78 plays
16 Sep
Violence and Kidnappings Lead UN to Relocate Golan Heights Peacekeepers | Samuel Oakford
After weeks of violent confrontations and the kidnapping of 45 peacekeepers by Syrian rebel groups, the UN said Monday that members of their observation force in the Golan Heights will be evacuated to Israeli-controlled territory.
"Armed groups have made advances in the area of UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] positions, posing a direct threat to the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers along the "bravo" line and in Camp Faouar," where the mission is headquartered, UN spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. "All the UN personnel in these positions have thus been relocated to the "alpha" side."
FULL ARTICLE (VICE NEWS)
Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten/Flickr

Violence and Kidnappings Lead UN to Relocate Golan Heights Peacekeepers | Samuel Oakford

After weeks of violent confrontations and the kidnapping of 45 peacekeepers by Syrian rebel groups, the UN said Monday that members of their observation force in the Golan Heights will be evacuated to Israeli-controlled territory.

"Armed groups have made advances in the area of UNDOF [United Nations Disengagement Observer Force] positions, posing a direct threat to the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers along the "bravo" line and in Camp Faouar," where the mission is headquartered, UN spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. "All the UN personnel in these positions have thus been relocated to the "alpha" side."

FULL ARTICLE (VICE NEWS)

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten/Flickr

12 Sep

Crisis Group President Jean-Marie Guéhenno discusses Syria and the UN on the BBC.

5 Sep
Gulf of Guinea: A Regional Solution to Piracy? | Thierry Vircoulon & Violette Tournier
Acts of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea represent more than a quarter of worldwide reported attacks. Steadily increasing since 2007, maritime insecurity in this region affects the trade of 455 million people. It affects the shipment of five million barrels of oil per day (Africa’s total is nine million), accounting for forty per cent of European and twenty-nine per cent of American imports. In its December 2012 report The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone, Crisis Group analysed the emergence of this problem and recommended a two-pronged, long-term response: building a regional maritime security architecture and improving the economic and security governance of the states in the region. While the region is working to develop the security architecture, it also needs to tackle the illicit economic dimensions of the overall situation. In addition, lessons learned from the securing of the Straits of Malacca (which inspired a similar effort in the Gulf of Aden) should be shared with African countries.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group Blog)
Photo: The Maritime Regional Architecture in the Gulf of Guinea/CRISIS GROUP

Gulf of Guinea: A Regional Solution to Piracy? | Thierry Vircoulon & Violette Tournier

Acts of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea represent more than a quarter of worldwide reported attacks. Steadily increasing since 2007, maritime insecurity in this region affects the trade of 455 million people. It affects the shipment of five million barrels of oil per day (Africa’s total is nine million), accounting for forty per cent of European and twenty-nine per cent of American imports. In its December 2012 report The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone, Crisis Group analysed the emergence of this problem and recommended a two-pronged, long-term response: building a regional maritime security architecture and improving the economic and security governance of the states in the region. While the region is working to develop the security architecture, it also needs to tackle the illicit economic dimensions of the overall situation. In addition, lessons learned from the securing of the Straits of Malacca (which inspired a similar effort in the Gulf of Aden) should be shared with African countries.

FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group Blog)

Photo: The Maritime Regional Architecture in the Gulf of Guinea/CRISIS GROUP

20 Jun

Thierry Vircoulon, Crisis Group’s Project Director for Central Africa, breaks down the crisis in the Central African Republic in these four short video interviews.

Click here to watch the playlist.

Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box
The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.
Within days, the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conquered parts of north-western Iraq and revealed the fragility of a country ruined by sectarianism, hollowed-out institutions and high-level, pervasive corruption. Accumulated grievances of Sunnis in the area meant that ISIL pushed against a house of cards. But its possibilities are limited and a kneejerk international military intervention risks stoking the conflict instead of containing it. The International Crisis Group’s latest briefing, Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box , outlines necessary actions by Iraq, Iran, the U.S. and the wider international community to end the harmful course of events and reverse its underlying drivers.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
ISIL’s advance has highlighted all that has been wrong with the Iraqi government’s Sunni strategy, which sacrificed political reforms in the interest of fighting “terrorism” - a term used for all forms of Sunni violence but not for Shiite equivalents. This strategy enhanced polarisation and prepared the ground for the successful jihadi push in the north. International actors collectively failed to exert the necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to change its policy.
Despite their recent conquests, jihadis are not on the verge of storming Baghdad, nor is an all-out civil war inevitable. It could, however, be triggered by a disproportionate Iraqi Shiite and Iranian response that would cause Sunni ranks to close around the jihadis.
Iran and the U.S. should avoid a precipitate military response. Deployment of Iranian troops, who would be seen as a Shiite-Persian occupation force in Sunni-Arab territory, would bolster the jihadis’ standing further. The U.S., instead of rushing to send advisers, special troops or air power, should lay out plainly what it is willing to do to help Iraq address the ISIL challenge militarily but base its help on the premise that the government immediately implements overdue political reforms.
Iraq should form a genuine government of national unity, with meaningful Sunni inclusion and based on the recent election results, as the basis for national reconciliation.
ISIL’s rise is largely due to the growing integration of the Iraqi and Syrian arenas. Any lasting solution must be based on an integrated approach to those two arenas, possibly on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution if the Council’s disunity on Syria can be reduced.
“Under Prime Minister Maliki, the security apparatus has been undermined, parliament made toothless and other institutions gutted” says Maria Fantappie, Iraq Analyst. “All could see it, but it took swathes of the country falling to jihadis to put the extent of state deterioration in perspective”.
“A U.S. military response alone will achieve very little and could even worsen the situation”, says Peter Harling, Senior Middle East and North Africa Adviser. “Counter-insurgency cannot be successful without an effective Iraqi army to ‘clear’, an accepted Iraqi police to ‘hold’, and a legitimate Iraqi political leadership to build”.
FULL REPORT

Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box

The jihadi surge is the tragic, violent outcome of steadily deteriorating political dynamics. Instead of a rash military intervention and unconditional support for the Iraqi government, pressure is needed to reverse sectarian polarisation and a disastrous record of governance.

Within days, the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conquered parts of north-western Iraq and revealed the fragility of a country ruined by sectarianism, hollowed-out institutions and high-level, pervasive corruption. Accumulated grievances of Sunnis in the area meant that ISIL pushed against a house of cards. But its possibilities are limited and a kneejerk international military intervention risks stoking the conflict instead of containing it. The International Crisis Group’s latest briefing, Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box , outlines necessary actions by Iraq, Iran, the U.S. and the wider international community to end the harmful course of events and reverse its underlying drivers.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • ISIL’s advance has highlighted all that has been wrong with the Iraqi government’s Sunni strategy, which sacrificed political reforms in the interest of fighting “terrorism” - a term used for all forms of Sunni violence but not for Shiite equivalents. This strategy enhanced polarisation and prepared the ground for the successful jihadi push in the north. International actors collectively failed to exert the necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to change its policy.
  • Despite their recent conquests, jihadis are not on the verge of storming Baghdad, nor is an all-out civil war inevitable. It could, however, be triggered by a disproportionate Iraqi Shiite and Iranian response that would cause Sunni ranks to close around the jihadis.
  • Iran and the U.S. should avoid a precipitate military response. Deployment of Iranian troops, who would be seen as a Shiite-Persian occupation force in Sunni-Arab territory, would bolster the jihadis’ standing further. The U.S., instead of rushing to send advisers, special troops or air power, should lay out plainly what it is willing to do to help Iraq address the ISIL challenge militarily but base its help on the premise that the government immediately implements overdue political reforms.
  • Iraq should form a genuine government of national unity, with meaningful Sunni inclusion and based on the recent election results, as the basis for national reconciliation.
  • ISIL’s rise is largely due to the growing integration of the Iraqi and Syrian arenas. Any lasting solution must be based on an integrated approach to those two arenas, possibly on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution if the Council’s disunity on Syria can be reduced.

“Under Prime Minister Maliki, the security apparatus has been undermined, parliament made toothless and other institutions gutted” says Maria Fantappie, Iraq Analyst. “All could see it, but it took swathes of the country falling to jihadis to put the extent of state deterioration in perspective”.

“A U.S. military response alone will achieve very little and could even worsen the situation”, says Peter Harling, Senior Middle East and North Africa Adviser. “Counter-insurgency cannot be successful without an effective Iraqi army to ‘clear’, an accepted Iraqi police to ‘hold’, and a legitimate Iraqi political leadership to build”.

FULL REPORT

22 May
U.N. Will Weigh Asking Court to Investigate War Crimes in Syria | Somini Sengupta
The Security Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution that would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria.
Russia is certain to veto the resolution. Its Western rivals are equally certain to seize on that veto in an attempt to isolate the Kremlin diplomatically. Supporters of the resolution, which was drafted by France, have spent days drumming up support from more than 50 countries.
Syria has undertaken its own countercampaign, distributing a letter castigating France for promoting what the Syrian ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, called a “biased draft resolution in order to sabotage any chance of peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis led by the Syrians themselves.”
France said the resolution was necessary to send a message to Russia, the Syrian government’s most important backer, even in the face of a veto.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)
Photo: Freedom House/flickr

U.N. Will Weigh Asking Court to Investigate War Crimes in Syria | Somini Sengupta

The Security Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution that would ask the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria.

Russia is certain to veto the resolution. Its Western rivals are equally certain to seize on that veto in an attempt to isolate the Kremlin diplomatically. Supporters of the resolution, which was drafted by France, have spent days drumming up support from more than 50 countries.

Syria has undertaken its own countercampaign, distributing a letter castigating France for promoting what the Syrian ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, called a “biased draft resolution in order to sabotage any chance of peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis led by the Syrians themselves.”

France said the resolution was necessary to send a message to Russia, the Syrian government’s most important backer, even in the face of a veto.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)

Photo: Freedom House/flickr

10 Apr
"In at least five locations, South Sudanese seeking protection have been targeted and killed by armed actors in or around [UN] bases."

—from today’s report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

4 Apr
Fresh Thinking Needed on Cyprus | Hugh Pope and Scott Malcomson
A new round of talks has begun in Cyprus and the key parties seem eager to reach a settlement. However, the official goal — a bizonal, bicommunal federation — has stymied negotiators for decades. It is possible that the time has come to consider a mutually agreed separation, within the European Union, of the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.
The closest the two sides have come to an agreement on federal reunification was a decade ago under the Annan Plan, named after United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. It built on decades of work and won the support of the UN, EU, United States, Turkey, and even Greece. Indeed, any federal deal will have to look pretty much like the one hammered out in those years of intense negotiations.
Yet the reality of public sentiment bit back. 76 percent of Greek Cypriots said no to this plan at referendum. As Annan wrote to the Security Council afterwards, “what was rejected was the [federal] solution itself rather than a mere blueprint.”
Today the two sides — whose infrastructure and administrative systems are almost completely separate — are, if anything, further apart. The numbers of people crossing the border have fallen, while polls show weakening support for a federal outcome. In 2004, the Turkish Cypriot side supported the Annan Plan with 65 percent of the vote. But in 2010, they firmly voted back to power a leader whose whole career has been dedicated to a two-state settlement. 
Miracles may happen — and there are many on the island who remain desperate for a settlement — but my judgment is that any federal deal will have an even tougher time succeeding now.
Fresh thinking is needed.The two sides should broaden the agenda alongside the well-worn process of UN-hosted talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators.
One idea that should be fully explored is what the terms might be if Greek Cypriots — the majority of the island’s population — were to offer Turkish Cypriots citizens full independence and fully support them to become members of the European Union. 
Such a deal would have to be agreed to by Greek Cypriots, voluntarily and through a referendum. This will be hard. Greek Cypriot public opinion still, in theory, absolutely rejects any partition. But even senior Greek Cypriot officials agree in private — especially around the dinner tables of business leaders seeking a way out of Cyprus’s crushing banking crisis of 2013 — that there is an increasingly urgent need for a new way forward for the economy and for society.
There is also a growing drumbeat of expert opinion urging Greek Cypriots to consider outcomes beyond the traditional federal goal, which has become so discredited that few on Cyprus are paying much attention to the new talks. International Crisis Group has just published Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality, while the U .S. Congressional Research Service concluded last year that “a ‘two-state’ solution seems to have become a more prominent part of the Turkish Cypriot/Turkey rhetoric and unless a dramatic breakthrough occurs early in the negotiations… that reality may gain more momentum.”
Polls show that key parts of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots really want can look surprisingly similar. The Greek Cypriots have long wanted a solution securely embedded in European values and structures. That is what Turkish Cypriots say they want too: to become part of the European Union, not part of Turkey, even if they do wish that, in extremis, Turkey would protect their small community. The European part is crucial.
This can only happen with voluntary Greek Cypriot agreement, something that will have to be persuasively won by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. They will need to offer convincing terms: withdraw all or almost all of Turkey’s 30,000 troops on the island; end the demand to continue the 1960s “guarantorship” so hated by Greek Cypriots; guarantee compensation of Greek Cypriots for the two-thirds of private property in the north that is owned by them; return the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners; and pull back to hold 29 percent or less of the island. 
After what will necessarily be a multi-year transition, this will also produce the European solution that Greek Cypriots so often say they want. The two sides will share the same basic legal norms and regulations, the same currency, and the same visa regime. Secure and confident in their new sovereign rights, the Turkish Cypriot side will likely waive the un-European demand for “derogations,” or limits on property purchases by Greek Cypriots in the new entity. 
Nobody is completely right on Cyprus: all parties share responsibility for the frozen conflict on the island. At the end of the day, an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU is not rewarding one side or another. Europe will doubtless flinch at accepting a small new Turkish, Muslim state in its midst. 
But Europe helped create this situation, since Brussels breaking its own rules contributed to the clumsy 2004 accession of the disunited island to the EU. 
Moreover, at least 100,000 of the 170,000 Turkish Cypriots are already EU citizens through their Republic of Cyprus passports.
Europe will also be among those who gain from resolving a dispute that has for four decades burdened so many local and regional processes, not least the long-hamstrung relationship between the EU and NATO, and the new question of how the countries of the East Mediterranean can most quickly, profitably and safely exploit new offshore natural gas reserves. This is not partition: it is reunifying Cyprus within the EU.
crisisgroup.org
Photo: UN Geneva/Flickr

Fresh Thinking Needed on Cyprus | Hugh Pope and Scott Malcomson

A new round of talks has begun in Cyprus and the key parties seem eager to reach a settlement. However, the official goal — a bizonal, bicommunal federation — has stymied negotiators for decades. It is possible that the time has come to consider a mutually agreed separation, within the European Union, of the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.

The closest the two sides have come to an agreement on federal reunification was a decade ago under the Annan Plan, named after United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. It built on decades of work and won the support of the UN, EU, United States, Turkey, and even Greece. Indeed, any federal deal will have to look pretty much like the one hammered out in those years of intense negotiations.

Yet the reality of public sentiment bit back. 76 percent of Greek Cypriots said no to this plan at referendum. As Annan wrote to the Security Council afterwards, “what was rejected was the [federal] solution itself rather than a mere blueprint.”

Today the two sides — whose infrastructure and administrative systems are almost completely separate — are, if anything, further apart. The numbers of people crossing the border have fallen, while polls show weakening support for a federal outcome. In 2004, the Turkish Cypriot side supported the Annan Plan with 65 percent of the vote. But in 2010, they firmly voted back to power a leader whose whole career has been dedicated to a two-state settlement. 

Miracles may happen — and there are many on the island who remain desperate for a settlement — but my judgment is that any federal deal will have an even tougher time succeeding now.

Fresh thinking is needed.The two sides should broaden the agenda alongside the well-worn process of UN-hosted talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators.

One idea that should be fully explored is what the terms might be if Greek Cypriots — the majority of the island’s population — were to offer Turkish Cypriots citizens full independence and fully support them to become members of the European Union. 

Such a deal would have to be agreed to by Greek Cypriots, voluntarily and through a referendum. This will be hard. Greek Cypriot public opinion still, in theory, absolutely rejects any partition. But even senior Greek Cypriot officials agree in private — especially around the dinner tables of business leaders seeking a way out of Cyprus’s crushing banking crisis of 2013 — that there is an increasingly urgent need for a new way forward for the economy and for society.

There is also a growing drumbeat of expert opinion urging Greek Cypriots to consider outcomes beyond the traditional federal goal, which has become so discredited that few on Cyprus are paying much attention to the new talks. International Crisis Group has just published Divided Cyprus: Coming to Terms on an Imperfect Reality, while the U .S. Congressional Research Service concluded last year that “a ‘two-state’ solution seems to have become a more prominent part of the Turkish Cypriot/Turkey rhetoric and unless a dramatic breakthrough occurs early in the negotiations… that reality may gain more momentum.”

Polls show that key parts of what Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots really want can look surprisingly similar. The Greek Cypriots have long wanted a solution securely embedded in European values and structures. That is what Turkish Cypriots say they want too: to become part of the European Union, not part of Turkey, even if they do wish that, in extremis, Turkey would protect their small community. The European part is crucial.

This can only happen with voluntary Greek Cypriot agreement, something that will have to be persuasively won by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. They will need to offer convincing terms: withdraw all or almost all of Turkey’s 30,000 troops on the island; end the demand to continue the 1960s “guarantorship” so hated by Greek Cypriots; guarantee compensation of Greek Cypriots for the two-thirds of private property in the north that is owned by them; return the ghost resort of Varosha to its original owners; and pull back to hold 29 percent or less of the island. 

After what will necessarily be a multi-year transition, this will also produce the European solution that Greek Cypriots so often say they want. The two sides will share the same basic legal norms and regulations, the same currency, and the same visa regime. Secure and confident in their new sovereign rights, the Turkish Cypriot side will likely waive the un-European demand for “derogations,” or limits on property purchases by Greek Cypriots in the new entity. 

Nobody is completely right on Cyprus: all parties share responsibility for the frozen conflict on the island. At the end of the day, an independent Turkish Cypriot state within the EU is not rewarding one side or another. Europe will doubtless flinch at accepting a small new Turkish, Muslim state in its midst. 

But Europe helped create this situation, since Brussels breaking its own rules contributed to the clumsy 2004 accession of the disunited island to the EU. 

Moreover, at least 100,000 of the 170,000 Turkish Cypriots are already EU citizens through their Republic of Cyprus passports.

Europe will also be among those who gain from resolving a dispute that has for four decades burdened so many local and regional processes, not least the long-hamstrung relationship between the EU and NATO, and the new question of how the countries of the East Mediterranean can most quickly, profitably and safely exploit new offshore natural gas reserves. This is not partition: it is reunifying Cyprus within the EU.

crisisgroup.org

Photo: UN Geneva/Flickr