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The Sudden COVID Death of Burundi’s Strongman Ruler, Pierre Nkurunziza — and What Comes Next

2. Juli 2020 - 18:25

Burundi’s longtime ruler Pierre Nkurunziza died suddenly on June 8th, quite possibly from COVID-19. This would make him the first serving world leader to succumb to the virus. His death came just days after an election was held, which his handpicked successor easily won. 

Nkurunziza has been president of Burundi since 2005, and in recent years his rule became firmly authoritarian. Political opposition has been suppressed and civil society organizations shut down. This spring, Nkurunziza even booted the World Health Organization from Burundi amidst the country’s worsening outbreak.  

On the line with me today is Yolande Bouka, a professor of political studies at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. We discuss the legacy of Pierre Nkurunziza and what this chaotic moment means for Burundi and the surrounding region. 

We kick off discussing the circumstances surrounding Nkurunziza’s death. We then discuss his fraught time in power This includes a key moment in 2015 when he engineered for himself a constitutionally dubious third term in office and survived a coup attempt. The conflict surrounding that episode lead to the displacement of 400,000 people — the impact of which is being felt across the region today. We also discuss the background of the new president of Burundi, Évariste Ndayishimiye and what his rule may bring for the country.   

 

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The post The Sudden COVID Death of Burundi’s Strongman Ruler, Pierre Nkurunziza — and What Comes Next appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Global Health and the Future We Want — A UN 75 Consultation

29. Juni 2020 - 16:01
Part 3: A Consultation about Global Health

The United Nations turns 75 year this year. Rather than celebrate with a diamond jubilee, the United Nations is instead embarking on a listening tour. The UN is seeking feedback from as many people in as many communities as possible, all around three big questions:

What Kind of World do We Want to Create?

Are We on Track? What is Needed to Bridge the Gap?

Here in the United States, the United Nations Association is hosting “global consultations” around these questions. They are gathering groups to solicit input that will be relayed to leadership at the United Nations ahead of a major meeting in September to mark the UN’s anniversary.

Today’s episode is part three of a three part series that gives listeners an inside look into how the UN is commemorating its anniversary. In part one of this series, I moderated a global consultation that discussed those big questions, but using the lens of gender equality. In part two, we used discussed those questions in the context of climate and the environment. 

In today’s episode, I moderate a consultation about global health. This episode kicks off with my 15 minutes interview with Kate Dodson, Vice President for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation. We discuss the COVID-19 pandemic  — specifically how the World Health Organization and other United Nations entities are responding. We also discuss what reforms might make the WHO more effective at responding to future global health emergencies.

After that interview concludes, the consultation begins. For the podcast, I edited this down to include some of the questions and answers discussed.

 

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Take the UN75 survey

The post Global Health and the Future We Want — A UN 75 Consultation appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Brief History of the UN Charter

26. Juni 2020 - 7:07

On June 26, 1945, after months of negotiations in the city of San Francisco, representatives from 50 countries signed the Charter of the United Nations. In October that year, after the requisite number of countries ratified the charter, the United Nations was born. 

The UN Charter is the founding treaty of the United Nations.  The document itself spells out the rules and procedures of today’s UN. But it stands for much more. The charter brought to life a longstanding idea that collective security and international cooperation can be sought through an international organization that represented all humanity.   

To mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of treaty that created the United Nations — UN Charter Day —  I am re-leasing a conversation I had with author Stephen Schlesinger who wrote the definitive book about the 1945 San Francisco Conference, Act of Creation

Stephen Schlesinger and I recorded this conversation exactly five years ago, when the UN turned 70. We discuss the unique history of the UN Charter, some of the key players that drove diplomacy in San Francisco in 1945 and the post-war diplomatic intrigue that lead to its signing. 

 

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Here is the preamble to the Charter, which reflects the determination of the international community, in the wake of World War Two, to build a better world and design the future they wanted.

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to regain faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

AND FOR THESE ENDS…to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS…Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

75 years on, the United Nations is still trying to achieve the ideals reflected in this pre-amble.  To that end, the UN has launched a massive survey available in nearly every language, asking “we the peoples” to help determine the future of the UN. You can find that here.

The post A Brief History of the UN Charter appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Dramatic Turn of Events in the Libya Conflict

25. Juni 2020 - 17:26

The civil war in Libya is to a large extent a proxy war pitting some major global rivals against each other. On one side of the conflict is the UN-backed government in Tripoli, known as the Government of National Accord.  On the other side is a renegade general named Khalifa Haftar who leads a group called the Libyan National Army, or LNA.

In April 2019, Haftar’s forces, which controlled much territory in the east of Libya, mounted an attack on the UN-backed government in Tripoli. At the time Haftar had military backing from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. France offered a degree of political support and the United States also appeared to give a green light to the assault.

But Haftar’s attack on Tripoli did not go as planned. His forces ended up in a long stalemate, unable to capture key parts of the city and unable to gain broader international support. In December, the tables seemed to turn when Russia began investing more heavily in the fight, sending in mercenaries and other military advisors. But in response, Turkey promised to more heavily support the Government of National Accord.

By the end of 2019, a proxy war was poised to escalate between Russia and Turkey, a NATO member.

That was the tense scene in Libya when I last spoke to Mary Fitzgerald, a longtime researcher. Libya was poised to be a major crisis as we entered 2020. And it had been a calamity — even as the world has been more focused on COVID-19 and global economic calamity.

In June the tide turned very sharply against Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army. Turkey’s intervention in the conflict proved to be decisive. Haftar’s forces lost a series battles around Tripoli and effectively ended their assault. These forces are now on the retreat and Haftar’s foreign support may be drying up.

This is a decisive moment for the crisis in Libya.

Mary Fitzgerald back on the Global Dispatches podcast to explain the current state of play of the conflict and offer insights into what next may unfold in this internationalized civil war.

 

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The post A Dramatic Turn of Events in the Libya Conflict appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The 10 Most Neglected Refugee and Displacement Crises in the World

22. Juni 2020 - 17:34

Millions of people are forced to flee their homes every year as a result of conflict and persecution. But not all these emergencies receive the same amount of attention. In 2019, nine out of the top 10 most neglected displacement crises were in Africa, according to a recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and at the top of the list was Cameroon for the second year in a row.

“The deep crises represented by millions of displaced Africans are yet again the most underfunded, ignored and deprioritized in the world,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC, in a press release. “They are plagued by diplomatic and political paralysis, weak aid operations and little media attention. Despite facing a tornado of emergencies, their SOS calls for help fall on deaf ears.”

Last year, Jan Egeland appeared on the Global Dispatches podcast to explain why Cameroon is experiencing such a profound displacement crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes.

 

The NRC looked at crises in 41 countries – each with more than 200,000 displaced people – and ranked the top 10 based on three criteria: lack of political will, lack of media attention and lack of international aid. According to the report, the most neglected displacement crises in 2019 were:

Cameroon

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Venezuela

Mali

South Sudan

Nigeria

Central African Republic (CAR)

Niger

 

China and North Korea were not included in the NRC’s analyses “due to lack of information and reliable figures.”

In Cameroon, three different crises caused mass displacement across the country in 2019. First, clashes worsened last year between the government and militant group Boko Haram, which carried out more than 100 attacks in the Far North region. Nearly half a million people were forced to flee by the end of the year. Second, violent political conflicts in the northwest and southwest of the country have given rise to a quickly deteriorating humanitarian crisis over the last three years. In November, UNICEF reported that nearly 2 million people were in need – 80 percent more than the year before. Almost 700,000 people were internally displaced, according to the NRC, while another 52,000 fled the country altogether. Third, food insecurity and violence from neighboring CAR caused 230,00 refugees to flee to eastern Cameroon by the end of the year. An agreement between the two countries and the UN Refugee Agency only managed to help about 3,000 refugees return home to CAR.

Despite facing three intensifying crises, Cameroon received scant international media attention last year – partly due to limited access for journalists – which contributed to being one of the lowest-funded humanitarian appeals in the world. By the end of the year, only 43 percent of the appeal was funded The report says the year was also “devoid of successful mediation and saw little pressure on conflict parties to stop attacking civilians.”

The situation wasn’t much better in the other nine countries that made the NRC’s list. For example, conflict has displaced 6.4 million people within the DRC, second only to Syria (13 million). Last year, it also faced the second largest hunger crisis in the world after Yemen and major disease outbreaks, including Ebola and measles. Yet, only 37 percent of the UN’s aid appeal for the country was funded by the end of the year. This was Burkina Faso and Niger’s first time on the list.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world entered 2020 with nearly 80 million people displaced from their homes. Now, as the virus makes its way across Latin America and Africa, wreaking health and economic devastation, the NRC report says these countries need more support than ever.

“COVID-19 is spreading across Africa, and many of the most neglected communities are already devastated by the economic shocks of the pandemic,” said Egeland. “We need solidarity with these conflict-stricken communities now more than ever, so the virus does not add more unbearable disaster to the myriad of crises they already face.”

The report provides recommendations to policymakers, donors, journalists, humanitarian organizations and the public on ways to raise awareness of the world’s most neglected crises, especially as these countries face more uncertainty and instability in 2020.

The post The 10 Most Neglected Refugee and Displacement Crises in the World appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How Big Data and New Technologies Can Advance Climate Security

22. Juni 2020 - 17:17

How can data and novel technologies can be put to better use in the service of peace building, resilience, and other aspects of climate security? In part two of the Climate Security Series, produced in partnership with CGIAR, we examine how big data can advance progress on climate security.

Four panelists from diverse fields grapple with how data and technology can support climate security.

Panelists: 

Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Program in the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment at Clark University. She is also a Senior Associate Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo PRIO and Visiting Scientist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development COMOD  

Andy Jarvis, Associate Director General, Research Strategy and Innovation, The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

Enrica Pocari, Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Technology at the UN World Food Programme

Maarten van Aalst, Director of the International Federation of the Red Cross Climate Center

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The post How Big Data and New Technologies Can Advance Climate Security appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Global

18. Juni 2020 - 17:14

The Black Lives Matter movement has spread quickly around the world. Over the last several weeks, there have been BLM demonstrations in nearly every major city in Europe. Tens of thousands of people showed up for protests in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and London, just to name a few. There were also many protests across Latin America, Australia–even Asian cities like Seoul and Tokyo saw Black Lives Matter protests.

So how did the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota spark an anti-racism and civil rights movement that extends far beyond the United States?

My guest today, Dominique Day, is in a unique position to analyze that question.  She is an American who serves as vice-chair of the “Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent,”  a UN human rights entity that monitors anti-black racism around the world.  The Working Group regularly releases reports based on fact finding missions to countries around the world. These reports provide rich illustrations of the ways in which people of African descent are discriminated against in different places around the world, while also offering concrete policy recommendations to combat racism.

We kick off with a discussion of how the Working Group operates and how anti-black racism manifests itself differently around the world.  We then have a broader conversation about what is motivating the Black Lives Matter movement outside the United States.

We recorded our conversation one day before a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council devoted to anti-Black racism and police brutality. That meeting was called at the behest of African countries and is yet another example of the transnational impact of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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The post How the Black Lives Matter Movement Went Global appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Climate Change and the Future We Want — A UN 75 Consultation

15. Juni 2020 - 17:51
Part 2: A Consultation about Climate Change

The United Nations turns 75 year this year. Rather than celebrate with a diamond jubilee, the United Nations is instead embarking on a listening tour. The UN is seeking feedback from as many people in as many communities as possible, all around three big questions: What Kind of World do We Want to Create? Are We on Track? And What is Needed to Bridge the Gap?

Here in the United States, the United Nations Association is hosting what are called global consultations around these questions. They are gathering groups to solicit input that will be relayed to leadership at the United Nations ahead of a major meeting in September to mark the UN’s anniversary.

Today’s episode is part two of a three part series that gives listeners an inside look into how the UN is commemorating its anniversary. In part one of this series, I moderated a global consultation that discussed those big questions, but using the lens of gender equality. In today’s episode, I moderate a consultation about climate change and the environment.

This episode kicks off with my 15 minutes interview of Julie Cerqueira who is the Executive Director of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is a coalition of US states committed to climate action. Our conversation focuses on the Paris Agreement and what sub-national groups, like individual states, are doing to advance the climate change agenda in the face of inaction at the federal level.

After that interview concludes, the consultation begins. And for the podcast, I edited this down to include some of the questions and answers discussed.

 

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The post Climate Change and the Future We Want — A UN 75 Consultation appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A Crisis is Brewing at the Remote Border Between India and China

11. Juni 2020 - 16:12

In late May a confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers in a remote border region of the Himalayas descended into what appears to be a massive fistfight. Most accounts describe a giant brawl between as many as 100 soldiers with no shots fired and no deaths. But soon after the fight, India and China mobilized heavy guns and artillery to the region threatening a major escalation of hostilities between two regional heavyweights.

Since then, tensions seemed to have eased between the two countries. Still, this incident underscores the very tense relationship between India and China and the very tenuous situation concerning India and China’s border.

On the line to explain this mini-crisis between India and China is Michael Kugelman. He is the senior associate for South Asia and Asia program deputy director at the Woodrow Wilson Center. We kick off discussing what exactly happened in Ladakh, the border region where the fight occurred. We then have a conversation about what this incident says about India, China, and the relationship between the two.  

 

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Michael Kugelman is the Asia Program Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he is responsible for research, programming, and publications on the region. His main specialty is Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and U.S. relations with each of them. Mr. Kugelman writes monthly columns for Foreign Policy’s South Asia Channel and monthly commentaries for War on the Rocks. He also contributes regular pieces to the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank blog. He has published op-eds and commentaries in the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesPolitico, CNN.com, Bloomberg View, The Diplomat, Al Jazeera, and The National Interest, among others. He has been interviewed by numerous major media outlets including the New York TimesWashington PostFinancial TimesGuardianChristian Science MonitorNational Geographic, BBC, CNN, NPR, and Voice of America. He has also produced a number of longer publications on South Asia, including the edited volumes Pakistan’s Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out? (Wilson Center, 2015), Pakistan’s Runaway Urbanization: What Can Be Done? (Wilson Center, 2014), and India’s Contemporary Security Challenges (Wilson Center, 2013). He has published policy briefs, journal articles, and book chapters on issues ranging from Pakistani youth and social media to India’s energy security strategy and transboundary water management in South Asia. Mr. Kugelman received his M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He received his B.A. from American University’s School of International Service. Follow him on Twitter @michaelkugelman

The post A Crisis is Brewing at the Remote Border Between India and China appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 is Massively Underfunded

9. Juni 2020 - 15:42

Ed note. This is a guest op-ed from Ann Hollingsworth,  Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Adviser for Refugees International 

As the COVID-19 global pandemic spreads across the globe, vulnerable populations including the world’s more than 70 million displaced people will be among the hardest hit. Economies and job markets are bearing enormous strain, with millions out of work amid shelter in place orders. Governments around the world are attempting to provide the necessary testing, tracing, and care to those suffering from the virus without sufficient resources or health care systems. Border restrictions and struggling supply chains mean it is harder to deliver aid to those who need it.

As countries struggle to keep up, underlying vulnerabilities among populations in need are exacerbating the effects of the crisis. This year, the world is facing skyrocketing food insecurity, increased intensity of natural disasters, and a devastating locust infestation and flooding in the Horn of Africa, among other concerns. The Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley has warned that the number of acutely food insecure people globally could jump from 135 million to 265 million.

An updated funding appeal for the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) for COVID-19 puts the scale of need in stark terms — and, so far, only $1.18 billion of the $6.7 billion request has been recorded.

Available funding is in no way sufficient. Without an end in sight, the ultimate scale and scope of the COVID-19 crisis is still unknown. But one thing is certain: if donors including the United States do not step up now, the worst is yet to come. The consequences of large funding gaps will not surprise anyone: without needed resources, there will be exacerbated food insecurity and a delay in the delivery of lifesaving aid.

Programming support in the GHRP request is needed more than ever to address humanitarian and development challenges. The revised plan includes support for public health, livelihoods, host communities, disabled individuals, women and girls, and education, among other topics. Updated language also includes elevated concerns about gender-based violence amid the pandemic and the importance of support for frontline local and national NGOs.

The GHRP also rightly highlights the critical need to support low- to middle-income countries, which play host to the majority of the world’s displaced populations, including nearly all of the world’s internally displaced people and over 80 percent of refugees. The updated GHRP also includes additional countries of concern and three strategic priorities, one of which is to “protect, assist and advocate for refugees, internally displaced people, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.” As Refugees International and others have reported, the world’s forcibly displaced people cannot be left behind in the response to a virus which knows no borders. This is essential to protecting not only displaced people and their host communities, but societies at large.

There are concrete steps to take to help address this crisis.

First, donors must increase their contributions to the GHRP and continue to raise the visibility on escalating needs, which will require additional diplomatic and financial focus. When the current GHRP is reviewed again this summer, additional funding will likely be necessary.

Second, while the United States has contributed to the overall international COVID-19 response, including support for multilateral initiatives, much more is needed. The U.S. Congress appropriated funds for the international COVID-19 response in multiple supplementals passed in March 2020, and while that limited support will help, future emergency funding bills must more robustly prioritize the international response. We are asking for at least an additional $12 billion in the next supplemental. Humanitarian and development organizations must not be put in a position to sacrifice existing programming as COVID-19-related considerations and needs increase.

There is a case to be made for why large-scale investment in international response funding is in the interest of the United States and donor countries. If significant assistance is not provided and the pandemic is not contained, vulnerable populations will suffer further, and countries, particularly those with few resources or little capacity to respond, will be hit harder by economic hardships. The results will impact both global economic and humanitarian environments and weaken already fragile states.

But there is a more important reason to act: there is a moral imperative in this time of need. Donors have traditionally understood the importance of such investments in an international response. The work that funding supports, from food assistance to medical care to livelihood programming to strengthening responses for women and girls, is essential and saves lives.

We don’t know how far this crisis will escalate the vulnerabilities for populations worldwide. But we do know significant and urgent investment in international assistance is the right—and necessary—thing to do.

 Ann Hollingsworth is Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Adviser for Refugees International

The post The Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 is Massively Underfunded appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

What is the Link Between Food Security, Conflict and Climate?

8. Juni 2020 - 16:06
The relationship between food security, climate, climate change and conflict is not particularly well understood. Most experts believe there is some link between them, but the exact contours of the relationship is not precisely known. In a special episode of the Global Dispatches podcast today, we unpack some of the linkages between food systems, climate and conflict.  Some of the key questions we explore include: how do we integrate food security and food systems science into research and policy conversations about climate and conflict? What kind of research is needed? And what can policy makers to do better address the linkages between climate, food systems, conflict, conflict prevention and peace building?

To discuss these questions and more, I speak with Dr. Sonja Vermeulen, Director of Programs, CGIAR System Organization and Dan Smith, Director of  Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 

This episode was taped in front of a live virtual audience and produced in partnership with CGIAR, the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network. This episode is the first in a six episode series of live recordings on the topic of climate security. Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public  

The post What is the Link Between Food Security, Conflict and Climate? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Why the Conventional Wisdom About the Arab Spring is Wrong | Noah Feldman

4. Juni 2020 - 17:47

When we think about the long term impact of the Arab Spring what comes to mind first is failure and disaster. With the notable exception of Tunisia, every Arab Spring uprising ended in bloodshed or renewed authoritarianism —  or both.

But that is not the full story.

In his new book The Arab Winter: A Tragedy, Noah Feldman maps some of the enduring political consequences of the Arab Spring.  He argues that the Arab Spring abruptly ended some long term trends that had shaped the history of the region in the decades prior.

For one, the Arab Spring signaled the end of experiments in various Arab nationalisms in the region. For example, “Libyan” is no longer a particularly relevant political identity today.  Noah Feldman also argues that the Arab Spring ended what is known as “political islam” or “Islamism” as a driving force in the region. This is the idea that Islam should be the key organizing principle for political decision making and be integrated directly into regular politics. That idea, argues Noah Feldman, died with the end of the Arab Spring and the coming of the Arab Winter.

We discuss all these trends and more in this conversation.

Noah Feldman is an author and constitutional scholar who is the Felix Frankfurter professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He also hosts the Deep Background Podcast.

 

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The post Why the Conventional Wisdom About the Arab Spring is Wrong | Noah Feldman appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

How COVID-19 Will Affect UN Peacekeeping

3. Juni 2020 - 16:38

Charles T. Hunt, RMIT University and Adam Day, United Nations University

Peacekeeping may be entering a period of major change. Over the past four years, there has been a steady decline in the number of peacekeepers deployed worldwide. And two of the largest peacekeeping missions in history are beginning to draw down.

These two developments hint at the fact that UN peacekeeping may appear poised to shrink further. There are a number of factors driving this. They include budgetary pressures and a contested track record. Added to this have been the more recent financial and practical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet, COVID-19 has also created conditions that suggest the demand for peace operations may be even greater in the medium-term. This is because the economic, security and social effects of COVID-19 are likely to cause greater instability in conflict-prone countries. This could lead to new internal conflicts at a time when UN member states are consumed with their own internal affairs.

This greater need for peacekeeping efforts offers an opportunity for the UN to explore a real spectrum of peace operations beyond the large multidimensional model. Future missions could be more orientated towards deeper socio-economic drivers of today’s conflicts.

The end of an era?

At its height in 2015, UN peacekeeping deployed nearly 100,000 troops and operated with a budget of over $8 billion. Among the deployments were the “big five” missions in Mali, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Darfur, and South Sudan.

The big five may be headed towards the “not-so-big three.”

The peacekeeping mission in Darfur has drawn down from 20,000 to 4,000 and is set to be replaced by a more politically-focused follow-on presence. After 20 years in the DRC, the UN’s biggest and most expensive mission is also moving towards the off ramp, already drawing down its 16,000 troops and over 1,000 police.

No major new missions have been authorised since 2014. It may, therefore, appear that this era of peacekeeping is in decline.

What we stand to lose

Peacekeepers patrol the premises of a UN civilian protection site in Juba
Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP via Getty Images

There will be very real costs to the closure of large peacekeeping operations. Unlike recent closures in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire – where missions ended following successful peace processes – those in Darfur and Congo will be leaving with far greater risks of relapse into large-scale violence.

In Darfur, the nascent government will struggle with a peace process that is far from complete. Three million people remain displaced and vulnerable.

In DRC, an extremely fragile government faces armed group activity still threatening large swathes of the east of the country. There are also more than three million internally displaced people.

Both countries could quickly fall back into large-scale fighting.

The UN may not have succeeded in fully addressing these risks, but there is evidence that the presence of peacekeepers has helped to protect civilians with the broad effect of reducing violence.

Moreover, peacekeepers are the eyes and ears of the international community, reporting on human rights violations, helping to constrain some belligerents, and providing a factual basis for the world’s response. When these missions disappear, there is a possibility that greater violence could grow unchecked.

It is our belief that the demand for peacekeeping may be set to return. One reason is that COVID-19 is hurting fragile economies and threatens to lead to suffering on a grand scale. This could quickly trigger large-scale discontent and broader conflict.

In places like Burkina Faso, Cameroon and northern Nigeria, widespread violence was already causing significant instability before COVID-19. A sharp economic shock could easily trigger a much more serious decline, potentially spilling into the region.

Consumed with their own domestic woes, major powers may well outsource new conflict management to the UN, particularly in areas without strong geostrategic interest.

Transforming peacekeeping

The UN should treat the current COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to transform its approach to peace operations. It should use the economic impact of the pandemic to focus on the social and economic drivers of conflict while setting more realistic expectations when it comes to the use of force.

Today’s conflicts have a number of drivers that are different to those of even a decade ago. They often involve a range of non-state actors, there are inevitably transnational flows of people and goods, climate change is playing a role, and there are a range of social and economic drivers. In addition, the role of new technologies in modern conflict is creating a largely hidden world of conflict actors.

Large multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations aren’t well-suited to managing this complex array of challenges.

Despite cases where the UN has succeeded in protecting civilians in high-risk settings, it has struggled to deliver on ambitious protection of civilians mandates.

Given these trends, the UN should consider peace operations along a spectrum, where a large military footprint is only one option among many. Small missions could accomplish a great deal through partnerships with the private sector, civilian-led protection, human rights monitoring (including via social media), developing better intelligence capacities, and helping to build consensus around political processes.

Models without a military component exist, including the peacebuilding mission in Guinea-Bissau, the new political mission in Haiti, the regional prevention work of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, and a range of successful conflict prevention initiatives by the UN in non-mission settings.

Other models could include missions where unarmed police perform key policing functions, or where armed formed police units play the central role (such as Haiti’s earlier mission).

In some cases, the setting will require the kind of security guarantee that a large military component might bring. But we should learn from Darfur about the limitations of militarised peacekeeping, when the protagonists are not willing to put down arms.

The exigencies of the time demand that the UN is more flexible and responsive to rapidly changing dynamics. As the UN reflects on 72 years of peacekeeping, it should not be consumed with how to draw down its big operations or how to survive with its current models. It should be transforming peace operations into a tool that meets tomorrow’s conflicts.

Charles T. Hunt, Senior Lecturer in Global Studies / ARC DECRA Fellow, RMIT University and Adam Day, Head of Programmes, Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR), United Nations University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Impacting the Caribbean

1. Juni 2020 - 16:07

COVID-19 is impacting the entire world, but each region is experiencing this crisis in a different way.

In the Caribbean, where many country’s depend on tourism to sustain their economy, COVID-19 is exacting a particularly heavy toll. Millions of people are out of work, and governments that were already deeply in debt are now in even deeper economic and budgetary distress.

My guest today Geneive Brown Metzger is the former Consul General of Jamaica in New York. She is  President of the Caribbean American Maritime Association and  host of the new Caribbean affairs podcast Diplomatically Speaking. 

In our conversation she explains how COVID-19 is impacting the Caribbean, this includes not only the domestic affairs of the various countries in the region, but also foreign policy. In particular, Geneive Brown Metzger explains how China is using this moment to advance its interests in the Caribbean — at a time when the United States under the Trump administration has been generally neglectful of the region. The Caribbean has quietly become yet another venue for China’s global development and infrastructure building projects, under what is known as the Belt and Road Initiative

If you have twenty minutes and want a good explanation of how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the people and governments of the Caribbean, have a listen

 

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COVID-19’s Staggering Toll on Education Around the World

29. Mai 2020 - 15:54

After decades of hard work to get kids into primary schools, the COVID-19 pandemic has now pushed education back to “global levels not seen since the 1980s,” the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a new report last week. One the solution, the agency says, could be more equitable internet access.

Well over a billion students around the world are facing indefinite school and university closures that have been implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank. But some of these students are still getting an education thanks to new technologies, like the internet. To get a more accurate assessment, the UNDP report, COVID-19 and Human Development, accounted for households without access to internet, under the assumption that every child with internet access can continue to learn. The result is what they call an “effective out-of-school rate” of 60 percent of primary school-age children who are not getting an education right now because of the pandemic.

Assuming that schools only stay closed for a quarter of the academic year, the annualized rate would still be 20 percent over the course of the year. This is a dramatic jump from the 9 percent that UNESCO has reported over the last decade (not reflecting households without internet) and reverses the progress we’ve made back to the out-of-school rates in 1985.

Yet, this is “an optimistic estimate of the social ability to keep children in school,” the report says, as well as “an optimistic estimate of inequalities between country groups.” According to the UNDP, the effective out-of-school rate for primary education has increased substantially everywhere, but it is highest in low human-development countries, where the rate on average 86 percent (an increase of 59 percentage points). Human development is measured as a combination of education, health and income.

In medium human-development countries, the effective out-of-school rate is 74 percent (an increase of 67 percentage points) and in high human-development countries, it’s 47 percent (an increase of 41 percentage points). Unsurprisingly, very high human-development countries are seeing the least impact, with the majority of 6- to 11-year-olds still able to participate in some form of structured learning. In these countries, the effective out-of-school rate increased from 1 percent to 20 percent.

This is the largest reversal of school enrollment in history, the report says, and it will likely have long-term impacts on overall development, which could decline this year for the first time since human development was introduced as a concept in 1990.

The impact COVID-19 has had on education around the world.
Image: Statista

“The world has seen many crises over the past 30 years, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09. Each has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said in a press release. “COVID-19 – with its triple hit to health, education, and income – may change this trend.”

However, the report says that internet access can make a big difference. If all countries in a human development group (low, medium, high or very high), have the same internet access rate as the best performers in their group, the effective out-of-school rate this year would drop from 20 percent to 12 percent. In contrast, a scenario in which no one has  internet access for two to three months would bump the effective out-of-school rate up to 29 percent – a 50-year reversal of progress toward universal primary education.

The report notes that not only would internet access provide students the capability to engage in structured learning (assuming, of course, that internet access equals access to a device and to online learning), but it would also enable more people to access tele-health services and to work from home. And, closing the gap in internet access for low- and middle-income countries would only cost 1 percent of the amount of money the world has committed so far to respond to COVID-19.

Of course, providing more equal access to the internet isn’t a cure-all for all of the human development consequences of the pandemic. For example, in many countries, even in parts of the U.S., schools are not only critical for learning, but also for providing children their most nutritious meal of the day. Internet access can’t stand in for school feeding programs, but the report makes the case that it can empower children and families with the ability to adopt measures that will help them deal with the educational, health and financial repercussions of this crisis and others.

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Are the US and China “Destined for War?”

28. Mai 2020 - 16:08

One of the original insights that drives our understanding of international relations was made about 2,500 years ago by the historian Thucydides. In examining the causes of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides wrote that “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.”

In other words, when a rising power threatens to displace an established power, the most likely outcome is war.

Modern scholars call this dynamic Thucydides’s Trap.

We are living in a moment when this theory will be tested.

Tensions between the United States and China are escalating by the day. This includes, most recently, a dispute over the status of Hong Kong. But there are also other numerous points of contention, many of which stem from the fact that the United States is the status quo power while China is on the ascent.

My guest today, Graham Allison, is a legendary scholar of international relations. The last time we spoke was just after the release of his 2017 book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? The book examined over a dozen historic cases in which global power shifts resulted in wars, and a few cases in which it did not.  The book makes a compelling case, that war between the US as established power and China as the rising power –while not inevitable –  is far more likely than we might think. 

I wanted to re-connect with Graham Allison to see if he thinks world events are confirming or refuting his thesis.  This includes the role of this pandemic in shaping trends that might lead to war.  

If you have 25 minutes and want to learn what history and international relations theory can teach us about the likelihood of conflict between the United States and China in the near future, have a listen.

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COVID-19 is Interrupting Routine Childhood Vaccinations on a Global Scale

26. Mai 2020 - 15:39

In normal circumstances, the United Nations and global humanitarian organizations help to deliver life-saving vaccines to children in developing countries. The provision of routine childhood vaccinations to fight diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio and others, has lead to a revolution in child survival. This is particularly the case in poorer countries of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. More children than ever before are reaching the age of five years old, and then surviving on to adulthood. This is largely the result of access to these vaccines.

But in the time of COVID-19, access to routine childhood vaccines is being interrupted. There are supply chain problems and some countries are facing stock-outs. Furthermore, conducting vaccine campaigns requires immense logistical coordination, particularly for rural and hard to reach communities. These campaigns are far more difficult to plan and execute in a time of social distancing and social disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Barbara Saitta is a nurse with Doctors without Borders / Medicines Sans Frontiers who specializes in vaccination campaigns, primarily in poorer countries. She tells me that because of supply chain interruptions, a number of countries are running out of routine childhood vaccines. This includes vaccines for measles, polio, and the all-important pentavalent vaccine that protects against five common diseases.

What is so alarming about the interruption of routine childhood vaccinations is that there is a direct correlation between mass immunization and avoiding mass death. According to a recent modeling study, the uninterrupted provision of routine immunizations over a six month period in Africa results in 715,000 children reaching the age of five. Needless to say, any interruption to vaccinations would lower that number and result in significant numbers of children dying. There is, therefore, an urgent need to ensure sustained vaccine coverage–despite the complications caused by COVID-19.

We kick off with a discussion of how vaccine campaigns generally operate in a developing country with poor infrastructure, before having a broader conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on routine childhood immunizations.

 

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How Female Entrepreneurs Can Light Up Rural Rwanda

21. Mai 2020 - 15:48

Just over 52% of households in Rwanda have access to some form of electricity. This access is not evenly distributed across Rwanda. In rural communities, where most Rwandans live, energy access rates are far lower. Furthermore, the country’s geography severely limits the reach of Rwanda’s electric grids.

This means Rwandans are increasingly turning to off-grid energy solutions, namely solar power.

My guest today, Rebecca Klege, is a Ghanian economist whose research focuses on the intersection of clean energy access and female entrepreneurship. She is a researcher at Environmental Research Policy Unit who is completing her PHD studies at the School of Economics, University of Cape Town in South Africa.

What makes Rebecca Klege’s work so unique is that she flips a common study question on its head. Rather than asking how energy access empowers women, she examines how empowered women can promote energy access, and whether or not they do a better job of it than men.

At the center of her research is a for-profit social enterprise called Nuru Energy. This company provides re-chargeable solar lighting to village level entrepreneurs, who then sell the lighting to others in their community. Using sales data from Nuru Energy, Rebecca Klege was able to compare the effectiveness of female salespeople versus their male counterparts. She finds that female entrepreneurs of this solar energy product are significantly more successful than male entrepreneurs.

There are broad implications of this finding, which touches on questions around sustainable development, clean energy access, and women’s empowerment. These questions and more are being put to the test in an on-going randomized control which Rebecca Klege also discusses in this episode.

And on a very similar note, I want to draw listeners attention to a recently concluded Virtual Workshop on Gender & Energy Access, hosted by Duke University and featuring 200 practitioner-scholars from over 30 countries. You can find a link to that workshop and white paper on globaldispatchespodcast.com.

Today’s episode is the third installment in a series of episodes that will be published over the next few months that showcase the research and work of the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative. SETI is an interdisciplinary global collaborative that aims to foster research on energy access and energy transitions in low and middle-income countries. Currently, SETI is housed at Duke University, where it is led by Professors Subhrendu Pattanayak and Marc Jeuland. To learn more about SETI, follow them on Twitter @SETIenergy.

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Liberia Confronts the Coronavirus

19. Mai 2020 - 15:36

COVID-19 is in Liberia. There have been over 220 confirmed cases, but the actual case count is likely far higher. Community transmission has been established, and the country is under social distancing and lockdown orders.

Liberia is one of the poorer countries in West Africa. It has a weak health system that even in normal times struggles to provide health care to ordinary Liberians. But one important thing is distinguishing Liberia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic: the legacy of Ebola.

Liberia was the country hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak in 2013. Over 4,800 thousand people died and the health system was quickly overwhelmed.  So, when news of a new coronavirus reached Libera, the government responded swiftly. Systems set up to contain infectious diseases like ebola were harnessed to confront the coronavirus. This includes rapid response teams of contact tracers, border controls, and other measures that helped Liberia overcome Ebola. Communities also took matters into their own hands, encouraging social distancing and setting up hand-washing stations.

One of the leaders of Liberia’s response to COVID-19 is Dr. Mosoka P Fallah. He is an infectious disease and public health expert and is the Director General National Public Health Institute of Liberia.

Dr. Fallah was a key player in Liberia’s successful suppression of Ebola in 2014, for which he was named as one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year. Dr. Fallah explains how his experience with Ebola is very much informing how both government and society approach COVID-19. As he explains, his key focus is on ramping up testing. Liberia would have the capacity to administer rapid response tests all over the country, but because of supply chain problems, it lacks one key component of a rapid diagnostic system. Meanwhile, the measures that communities have taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 need broader support in order to be sustainable.

Even though Liberia (and Liberians) took relatively swift action to contain COVID019, the situation is extremely tenuous at the moment. As in other African countries, an outbreak of the kind that happened in Europe and the United States, could quickly overwhelm the health system and be exceedingly devastating.

If you have 20 minutes and want to understand how Liberia is confronting the coronavirus, have a listen.

 

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What is the Controversy Over Taiwan at the World Health Organization?

15. Mai 2020 - 15:54

Representatives from most of the 194 member countries of the World Health Organization gather in Geneva each May for the World Health Assembly. This is a flagship event for the World Health Organization, and for global health more broadly.  The WHA is the governing body of the World Health Organization. It is at the WHA that representatives of these governments set the agenda for the World Health Organization and make other decisions about the WHO’s budget and overall operations.

The World Health Organization is an inter-governmental organization, and the WHA is the annual platform in which governments meet to determine their priorities for the WHO.

This year, the WHA will be held virtually on May 18 and 19. And, as one would expect the virtual gathering will be exclusively focused on COVID-19. However, lurking in the background of this meeting is the question of Taiwan’s status at the WHO.  Several powerful members of the World Health Assembly including the United States and many European countries are advocating for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA while others, namely China, are stridently opposed.

This is setting up a potential diplomatic showdown at the WHA at precisely the same time the World Health Organization — namely its Director-General Dr. Tedros — is calling for global solidarity.

Taiwan and the World Health Organization

The question of the Taiwan’s status at the WHO has long vexed diplomats and public health officials. On the one hand, Taiwan is a robust democracy with much it can contribute to the WHO. On the other hand, Beijing has stridently opposed any action that could suggest broader international recognition of Taiwan as an independent state.  In 2009, however, there was a breakthrough. A general warming of relations across the Taiwan Strait led to a bi-lateral agreement in which China acceded to Taiwan’s “observer status” at the World Health Organization, so long as it did so under the name “Chinese Taipei.”  Taiwan was able therefore to participate in the WHA. It was not a full voting member, but it could contribute and participate in other meaningful ways.

That agreement held until 2016, when there was a change of power in Taiwan following elections.

Those elections sparked a deterioration in cross-strait relations, with Beijing and the new administration in Taipei becoming increasingly adversarial. By the time of the World Health Assembly in May 2016, the previous agreement on Taiwan’s status at the WHO was fraying. Diplomats from the United States and Europe were involved in negotiations with China to help strike another deal enabling Taiwan’s continued observer status at the WHO. Ultimately, the conditions sought by China were untenable for Taipei. This included, among other things, specific references to the One China policy and a 1971 United Nations General Assembly resolution which gave China’s seat at the UN to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (and evicted representatives of Taiwan).

Since 2017, Taiwan has not participated in a World Health Assembly as an observer country. It does, however, still have points of contact at the WHO and receives communication from the WHO.

The decision to admit Taiwan to the WHO is up to governments of the world, not the WHO Director General

Taiwan’s diplomatic saga with the WHO over the last several years is a direct consequence of international politics and diplomacy. That is because Taiwan’s status at the WHO is ultimately decided by the membership of the WHO — in other words, the governments of the world that form the World Health Assembly. In practice, the Director General of the WHO would not approve or deny Taiwan’s status as an observer — or any other entity’s status.  It is a political decision that needs to be made by the membership of the World Health Assembly. So long as there is no diplomatic agreement among the governments of the world, namely between China and Taiwan’s supporters in the West, Taiwan cannot participate in the WHA.

A bi-partisan group of United States Senators, ranging from the most progressive to the most conservative, have called on the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to secure Taiwan’s re-enty into the World Health Assembly. If the Secretary of State is sincerely interested in achieving that goal, it would necessarily mean the US supporting meaningful diplomacy between Taiwan and China —  as was the case between 2009 and 2016. On the other hand, if the Secretary of State or others simply use Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA as a cudgel against the WHO, it is unlikely that this diplomatic dispute will be resolved in a way favorable to Taiwan and US interests.

 

 

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