A summary of contemporary issues in Peace and Security for this and previous years is available below:
2019 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
Policy Forum Podcast: Addressing Human Rights in Southeast Asia
This episode of the Policy Forum website’s podcast features five experts looking at the state of human rights in Southeast Asia, why the UN failed to address the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and what role ASEAN could play in realising human rights in the region. See here.
ASPI Report: The Marawi Crisis and Urban Conflict
This ASPI report focuses on the seizure of Marawi in the southern Philippines by IS-linked militants. The authors suggest that the Philippine authorities’ response provides to this seizure useful insights to Australian policymakers and the ADF, with relevance to force structure and urban operations especially.
‘How to Defend Australia’ by Professor Hugh White
Published on 2 July 2019, Professor Hugh White AO’s new book makes the case for a radically different Australian defence policy, which would include abandoning Australia’s current plans for new submarines and doubling its purchase of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Publisher details here. See also this episode of the National Security Podcast in which Professor White discusses his new book in conversation.
‘Between Japan and Southeast Asia: Australia and US-China Economic Rivalry’
This new ASPI report analyses Australia’s position relative to the US and China, in the face of intensifying rivalry between the two leading powers. It concludes that Australia is likely to remain between Japan and Southeast Asia within this US-China economic rivalry, and argues that this is the “correct position” to have and maintain in coming years.
‘Leveraging Multilateralism to Prevent Conflict’: A Conversation with the Elders
‘The Elders’ are an independent group of global leaders, founded by Nelson Mandela to help address challenges of peace-building, inequality, exclusion and injustice. Mary Robinson, Ban Ki-moon and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently discussed the vital role of a well-functioning, multilateral system and how it can provide the tools and institutions needed to manage and prevent conflicts before they turn violent. Video of their discussion is available here.
The Cost of Defence: ASPI Defence Budget Brief 2019-2020
This ASPI report by Dr Marcus Hellyer analyses the Defence budget for 2019-2020 (which continues to increase year on year) and highlights some key issues going forwards. Importantly, Dr Hellyer suggests that it is time for a new Defence White Paper, “so that the government can assure itself that the strategic triumvirate of ends, ways and means are properly aligned to preserve Australia’s security”. There is also a helpful summary video of the report’s findings here.
ICRC Report: The Potential Human Cost of Cyber Operations
This new ICRC report provides an account of discussions taking place during a meeting of scientific and cyber security experts convened by the ICRC in late 2018, which examined the potential human cost of cyber operations. The report aims to provide an account of the various risk that cyber warfare can entail for civilian populations. Key takeaways are also summarised in this blog post.
‘Virtuous Accomplices in ICL’
This new article has been written by Miles Jackson at Oxford University’s Law Faculty: “Humanitarian actors sometimes have to decide whether to render assistance in situations that put them at risk of liability for aiding and abetting under international criminal law. This is the problem of the virtuous accomplice – the idea that knowingly contributing to the wrongdoing of others might, exceptionally, be the right thing to do. This article explains why the problem arises and clarifies its scope, before turning to criminal law in England and Wales and Germany to assess potential solutions. It argues that the best approach is to accept a defence of necessity – of justified complicity – and shows that such an argument works in international criminal law.”
Law and Morality at War by Adil Ahmad Haque
This book was published in 2017, but has only recently come to my attention due to a review in the most recent (forthcoming) issue of EJIL. It addresses legal/moral dilemmas raised by contemporary conflicts (including counterinsurgency and targeted killing) and contributes a philosophical perspective to the law of armed conflict, offering specific proposals for the interpretation and development of this area of international law. The author writes for Just Security, and focuses on the law and ethics of armed conflict, ICL and and criminal law theory.
‘Harmonizing War Crimes under the Rome Statute‘
This research brief examines whether and to what extent customary and conventional IHL provide a legal basis for harmonising the Rome Statute’s IAC-only war crimes, by amending Article 8(2)(e). It has been authored by Patrick S. Nagler, an independent contractor at the OHCHR.
‘Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power’
This recently-published book (April 2019) analyses the potential for a Japanese rethink on their commitment to – and reliance on – US security. The author, Sheila A Smith, notes that Japan’s traditional approach to military power is now being tested, and tracks the beginnings of a mooted Japanese shift back towards greater military capabilities.
Three New ASPI Reports on US/China Relations and the Pacific
The following may be of interest to APCML readers:
- ‘The End of Chimerica’: looks at the passing of global economic consensus and the rise of US/China technological competition;
- ‘Chinese Influence in the Pacific Islands’: tries to explain China’s soft/hard power rationales for its presence in the region;
- ‘Australia’s Pacific Pivot’: Examines the origins and aspirations of Australia’s ‘Pacific Pivot’ policy, which is shared jointly between the two major political parties in Australia.
‘Developing Innovative Operational Concepts for a New Era’
This new research report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments is designed to spur action to develop new concepts and capabilities which the US is (said to) require in order to prevail in a “more dangerous” world. It highlights key operational challenges which should drive American defence investment, and outlines a program of experimentation to meet them. The full report is available here.
Chatham House Korean Peninsula Peace Forum Keynote Speech
This recorded speech by Moon Chung-in, the special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, discusses the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. See here.
“Paying for War: How to Afford a Future of Strategic Competition”
A January 2019 report from the ANU’s Strategic & Defence Studies Centre provides policy recommendations for the future funding of wars. The author, Sarah Kreps, suggests that the Australian government should pre-emptively seek to explain how it will seek to fund future military expenses, and suggests that direct war taxes should be preferred over deferred debt.
2018 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
“From Dependency to Armed Neutrality”
A new research report by Dr Albert Palazzo explores future options for Australian national security, and emphasises the significance of managing “traditional” security challenges within a framework that also includes the natural world.
Landmine Monitor Annual Report
A UN-backed CSO annual report indicates that landmine casualties were high for a third consecutive year, despite record funding. States with the most recorded casualties included Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Myanmar and Yemen.
‘Administration of Justice by Armed Non-State Actors’
An August 2018 report from Geneva Call reviews the 2017 Garance talks, which brought together armed non-state actors (NSAs) and experts to discuss issues of NSA compliance with humanitarian norms and the administration of justice in situations of conflict.
‘Grey Zone Operations and the Maritime Domain’
A new ASPI report on ‘grey zone’ operations at sea seeks to understand the way in which the grey zone has been employed in maritime operations, and how intended subjects of such coercion have responded. It tries to understand the trends of such conflicts, and the implications for maritime states, particularly Australia. The report concludes with recommendations for policies to manage the challenge of grey zone aggression. The study is available here.
ASPI Report on Chinese Military Collaboration with Foreign Universities
A new report from the ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre examines China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) expansion of its research collaboration with researchers outside China, and suggests that such activities risk harming the West’s strategic advantages and national interests. See here, and see related ASPI analysis here.
New book: The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities
Available 13 November 2018, this book represents a major new theoretical statement by distinguished political scholar John J Mearsheimer. The book argues that the policy of liberal hegemony is doomed to fail, and suggests that the foreign policy pursued by America since the end of the Cold War is now outdated. Instead, Mearsheimer suggests that Washington should adopt a more restrained foreign policy, based on an understanding of how nationalism and realism constrain great powers abroad. Mearsheimer also analyses how the US eventually came to be a highly militarised state fighting wars on many fronts abroad today.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Report to the United States Congress
Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, January 1, 2018 – March 31, 2018.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel Report to Congress is issued according to five Strategic Oversight Areas: Security; Governance and Civil Society; Humanitarian Development; Stabilization; Support. The central issues raised in the Executive Summary can be found here.
Neil Thompson, The Diplomat
As Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order intensifies its crackdown on political opposition in the lead up to the repeatedly delayed 2019 elections, frustration is growing within the population. Since 2014, the military junta has undertaken radical constitutional amendment in a bid to suppress political discontent. Their legitimacy is now waning as they fail to fulfil many of their promises to improve the economy, protect democratic rights and achieve national reconciliation. The opposition Pheu Thai Party recently expressed these sentiments in a national press conference, generating a backlash from the military government. An emboldened NCPO has created a political system that reflects the military-backed civilian administration in neighbouring Myanmar, which will be difficult for opposition to overcome.
Quentin Peel, AIIA.
The international order is perceived to be under unprecedented strain. Australia’s interests lie in preserving a system that can guarantee its interests will not be ignored by rival superpowers. The first issue facing the Rules-based International Order is the interconnected issues of legitimacy, equity and complacency. The order must not be undermined by “might-is-right” policies, nor be perceived to work only for the minority and cannot be expected to reign as if natural order. As geopolitical power shifts occur, the emergence of ‘narrow, bilateral and transactional’ approaches to diplomacy further risks substituting a “deal-based order” for the existing “rules-based order”.
24 May 2018,Peace and Security – UN News
‘The United Nations chief announced a bold new vision for global disarmament on Thursday, to help eliminate nuclear arsenals and other deadly weapons from a world that is just “one mechanical, electronic and human error away” from destruction.’ Disarmament is viewed as a tool for prolonged peace with an outlook to minimizing global insecurity. The new “Agenda” focuses on WMD, conventional weapons and new battlefield technologies and expresses an intent to continue moving disarmament forward for ‘if you do not go forward, you do go backward’.
Alterman, Conley, Malka & Ruy, Center for Strategic International Studies
An extensive CSIS Report on the current geopolitical balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean. The report explores a delicate history of diplomacy that continues to be vital to regional stability. It assesses the powerful forces: Russia, Iran, Turkey and Chinese investment; and discusses regional transformation, national fragmentation, economic crises, energy and migrant surges. The report reflects on the importance of bolstering existing relationships whilst managing policy divergence with Turkey.
Miles Kupa, AIIA– 18 May
The unexpected outcome of Malaysia’s 9 May Elections has enacted rapid and profound political change. The author cites the unpredictability of the near future but notes the importance of trying to assess the implications of recent moves. The new ruling coalition is so diverse that it may bring forth clashing objectives. Each of the experienced party leaders will strive for consolidation of their position, amidst a push to restore government integrity. It is known that the previous government maintained rule in undemocratic ways; can that system be upheaved or will it be tempting to slowly phase it out? The ramifications of the change of government will be felt in neighbouring ASEAN partners. Singapore and Thailand will each be conscious of the consequences to their own regimes, whilst regional autocrats will reflect and likely tighten their grip on control.
Book Review, International Law Reporter
‘Park seeks to clearly articulate the right to life obligations of states during both international and non-international armed conflict in respect of those individuals affected by the actions of states’ armed forces and members of the armed forces themselves.’ In order to determine the obligations of states in conflict, Park assesses the sources of law, case law developments and the practical applications in the context of recent conflicts and state action.
Counterterrorism Spending: Protecting America while Promiting Efficiencies and Accountability
From the Executive Summary: A lack of accurate accounting on US spending on counterterrorism measures prevents informed policy decision-making. The Stimson Centre convened a nonpartisan study group to explore government wide post-9/11 CT expenses. The initial estimation – including wars, international programs and home security measures – came in at $2.8 trillion. This amounts to 16% of total discretionary spending in that period, 2002-2017. A broad set of parameters were identified to make the significance of CT spending transparent, including: funding reports, anticipation of future budgetary pressure, require Congress approval to separately approve emergency or wartime spending.
Global Health Security: Why Malaria Elimination is a Priority
Associate Professor Helen Evans AO, AIIA – 9 May 2018
Populations in the Asia-Pacific region are facing increasingly complex health threats, with 30 new infectious agents have been found over three decades. Given the catastrophic threat to economic and human development posed by epidemics, the Australian Foreign Affairs White Paper made a new commitment to preventing and responding to infectious diseases, targeting four key areas of investment. Amidst this concern, Evans posits four reasons that malaria should be a key focus: It is easily preventable; it is capable of rebounding with increased resistance after a temporary downfall in numbers (such resistant strains found in Asia-Pacific would be disastrous if they reached Africa – where the pressure remains high); it disproportionately impacts women and children; and it is a burden on macroeconomic development and therefore peace and security.
The United States and Pakistan: Frenemies On the Brink
Peter R Mansoor, Hoover Institution – April 26 2018
Pakistan has habitually mismanaged strategic relationships with power-patrons, regional competitors and non-state clients. Only Pakistan’s geopolitical position as a land bridge between Central Asia and the Indian Ocean keeps the alliance with America alive. History reflects the fragility of this relationship. Despite rampant Islamization after the 1977 coup, American support of the new regime was expedient amidst the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution. After the 9/11 attacks, President Musharraf sided with the American quest for Taliban terror suspects and was repaid in part by the 2005 humanitarian support following a deadly earthquake. This has done little to prevent mutual distrust: the ISI have played a duplicitous game and the US chose not to communicate Operation Neptune Spear to Islamabad. The political fallout lingers; on one side – outrage at the breach of Pakistani sovereignty, on the other, accusations of harbouring terrorist organisations. The gravity of American allegiance and the importance of Pakistan granting access to logistical lines make this acrimonious relationship too valuable to sever.
In collaboration, the Centre for Civilians in Conflict and Stimson Centre examine the responsibility of America to modify its international arms sales to reduce civilian harm. Global armed conflict was responsible for an estimated 102,000 deaths and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure in 2016. Given the significant American share of the global export market (29%) – the US has an opportunity to shape the arms trade so as to reduce civilian harm. Recommendations include: conflict-related “tripwires” requiring re-assessment of sales; supplementing sales with customised technical assistance and legality training; planned civilian harm mitigation measures. The full report is available
Journalists’ deaths can only thicken the fog of war over Afghanistan
Emma Graham-Harrison, The Guardian– 6 May 2018
Coordinated bombing attacks in Kabul have recently killed ten journalists, among many others – in one of the deadliest days since the fall of the Taliban. ‘The risk from this attack…is that the fog of war gets denser when journalists join the list of targets and casualties.’ The Afghani press is celebrated as a resilient institution directed towards holding the powerful to account and chronicling the war – a responsibility further burdened by the recent targeted attacks.
How Wars End
Professor Damien Kingsbury and Richard Iron CMG OBE,Australian Institute of International Affairs
The authors explore five principles to help identify the opportunities to invest in successful peace-making.
- The conditions have to be right for a war to end – these conditions can be cultivated, by improving the benefits of peace or increasing the costs of ongoing conflict to a belligerent. Examples cited: Dayton Agreement & Good Friday Agreement (1995)
- Independent and trusted mediation – impartial mediators with sufficient authority to command respect or compel obedience. Example: 2005 Helsinki Aceh Peace Agreement
- Meaningful negotiation between the rightpeople – Meaningful requires consideration of the causes and drivers of the conflict; the right people are those that have control over belligerent forces. Examples: 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement – RUF negotiating party lost control of military; Cf. Adams and McGuiness who retained power over the whole IRA for the Good Friday Agreement.
- Transitions to peace must be mapped and agreed; successful peace is built, not imposed – this requires disarmament, demobilization, reintegration as well as income and self-respect for ex-combatants.
- The international community can play an important, or a complicating, role – by persuading or coercing combatants through systems of reward / punishment, or guarantees such as peace-keepers and monitors.
Post Reformasi Indonesia: The Age of Uncertainty
Professor Tim Lindsey, Australian Institute of International Affairs
‘Twenty years ago, the Soeharto era ended with reformation. Today’s post-Reformasi Indonesia is full of domestic uncertainty.’ A shaky liberal democracy risks conceding political privilege to Islam and institutionalising intolerance. In the lead up to 2019 elections, political corruption, pressure on civil society from traditional elites, technological disruption and turbulent relations with neighbouring countries all complicate the contemplation of a clear national future and the path to stability. Unimpressive economic management and growing signs of fierce protectionism, as well as cracks in the national consensus of religious pluralism may require Australia to recalibrate its expectations of a relationship with it’s increasingly wealthy neighbor.
Homi Kharas and Bruce Jones, Brookings Institute
The relationship between security and development is critical to restoring global peace and stability. A recent World Bank event ‘The Security-Development Nexus’ engaged various leaders in a discussion of: the importance of synthesising development and security early in conflict zones; campaign planning in collaboration with humanitarian and development actors; inclusion – the battle for civilian hearts and minds; the role of regional institutions and; the virtuous cycle of infrastructure, security and investment.
28 April 2018
‘The United Nations Mission in Somalia has condemned the suicide bombing that reportedly killed government security officers and civilians in the city of Gaalkacyo.’ The Mission head attributed the attack to the insecurity that extremists are feeling as a result of regional reconciliation efforts. Particularly an agreement stipulating: ‘a withdrawal of forces from the disputed city, the removal of all roadblocks to allow free movement of people and goods, and the introduction of joint police training and patrols.’
Crisis Group, 27 April 2018
‘Symbolism and substance combined to make the 27 April meeting between the North and South Korean presidents a momentous occasion.’The two sides issued the Panmunjom Declaration for Korean Peninsula Peace, Prosperity and Unification. Amidst the positive language and symbolism, the Declaration established a concrete timeline and put forward potentially transformative steps, including a dedicated line of secure communication between leaders and multi-party talks for institution of a Korean peace system. In order to overcome historically founded skepticism and appeal to US economic assistance, North Korea will have to take a more substantive approach to denuclearization.
Cash Co-ordiantion in Humanitarian Contexts
Julia Steets & Lotte Ruppert – Global Public Policy Institute
In crisis contexts, cash transfer programs grant cash or vouchers for goods or services directly to individuals, households or communities. The case for their efficiency is rising. [The following is extracted from the executive summary(link)] This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of seven institutional models for cash transfer programs in humanitarian contexts. The authors address various stakeholder concerns to arrive at five principles of effective cash coordination: technical and strategic functions; predictable funding and resources; inter-sectoral involvement; embedded in coordination architecture; “host governments” should lead the coordination.
Fergus Hanson & Tom Uren, Australia Strategic Policy Institute
Following the 2016 public announcement of Australia’s offensive cyber warfare capacity – there has been much excitement and misinformation. This policy brief seeks to clarify some of the misunderstandings arising from sensationalist reporting. Offensive cyber operations are defined as activities in cyberspace that manipulate, deny, disrupt, degrade or destroy targeted computers, information systems, or networks. Most developed States now employ such tactics to varied degrees, though Australia has been the first to adopt a transparent approach to cyber warfare, international law compliance and integration of cyber capabilities within the ADF.
The UNHCR has again appealed to the authorities in Cameroon to “refrain from further forced returns and to ensure protection” of Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers who fled Boko Haram violence. The UN agency has registered some 87,600 Nigerian refugees in the country. Since the beginning of 2018, 385 refugees have been forcibly removed; 160 on 10 April and another 118 during the following week.
Joshua Carroll, The Guardian
The UN’s annual report to the security council on acts of violence carried out by armed forces has for the first time listed the Myanmar military. The report cited “widespread threat and use of sexual violence was integral to their strategy, humiliating, terrorising and collectively punishing the Rohingya community”. Despite long-standing patterns of violence, the untouchable status of the army is being undermined by lawyers determined to secure convictions against soldiers who violate human rights.
Elisabeth Braw, Foreign Policy 18 April 2018
‘The EU’s defense forces are struggling to recruit, and immigrants are often eager to serve.’ The French Foreign Legion is the subject of much military legend, and has recently been expanded to make up 11% of the French Army’s total force. German, Sweden and Poland (among others) are increasing their number of troops but the main challenge facing them is the demographic of potential recruits. Purported solutions include amending entrance requirements and various forms of conscription. With great numbers of foreign migrants beginning to settle in new European homes, military service could be an answer to issues of employment, military resources and national integration.
Center for Civilians in Conflict
From the report’s “executive summary”: All military operations, even those undertaken by peacekeeping forces, carry with them the potential to harm civilians. This report examines what measures and processes theUnited Nations Organisation Stabilization Missionin the Democratic Republic of Congo has in place to mitigate the negative effects of its operations on the civilian population of the DRC. The report claims that more can be done to incorporate civilian perspectives of the Mission into tactical planning and targeting decisions. The challenges in the context of the DRC are heightened – where non-state combatants are often embedded within the civilian population.
International Crisis Group, 12 April 2018
Four years after the abductions in Chibok, the Boko Haram insurgency is far from over and more than 100 schoolgirls remain missing. The Nigerian government and its international partners need to redouble efforts to protect communities in areas affected or at risk, through the deployment of additional security forces and continued counter-insurgency operations but also, if feasible, through dialogue.
Ulrich Kühn, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Icy relations between NATO and Moscow are at greatest risk of escalation in the Baltics. Kühn explores the challenge that Russian ‘new-generation warfare’ poses to the alliance, and the possibility of miscalculation and ultimately, conflict escalation. Various pathways to escalation are discussed: NATO’s Trip wire approach, mutually ambiguous nuclear policies, military and non-kinetic Russian antagonism. The recommended strategy consists of deterrence and assurance, resilience, and risk-reduction measures.
Michael Schmitt and Lt. Col Chris, Just Security
The authors comment on the jus ad bellum framework in the context of recent US strikes. The various potential legal bases for the strikes are assessed. In lieu of Security Council authorization and a basis for self defense, they explore whether there was a breach of erga omnesand whether it can be enforced, and the potential for humanitarian intervention (and various limitations). Given widespread condemnation of the attacks and support for the strikes, the article postulates that we may be witnessing the birth of a nascent right in customary law allowing States to forcefully end the use of repugnant weaponry against civilian populations.
How do we prevent ISIS 2.0? Withdrawing from Syria is not the answer
Pavel K Baev, Ryan Crocker & Michael E O’Hanlon, Brookings [original source: USA Today]
Withdrawing U.S. forces, security assistance, economic aid, and diplomatic engagement from Syria risks allowing the civil war there to continue—or worse, to expand. It is imperative that the US continue to campaign against ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates, to enforce the UN sponsored aims to produce a new government, to diminish Iran’s control, to aid refugees and displaced, to clear the country of WMDs and to stabilize parts of the country not under Assad’s regime. To absolve responsibility for the multi-faceted crisis would risk allowing the ongoing anger and resentment to give rise to ISIS 2.0.
The principle of non-refoulement in the migration context: 5 key points
Tilman Rodenhäuser, ICRC– Humanitarian Law & Policy
The principle of non-refoulement is well established at international law. Its recognition in the international community is essential in order to address the humanitarian assistance and protection needs of refugees and vulnerable migrants. This article discusses five key points regarding the sources, substance and operation of the principle of non-refoulement for the protection of migrants at international law.
Cordesman discusses the need for improvement in civil-military operations of the US Army. ‘Revolutions in military affairs are not a substitute for revolutions in civil-military affairs. Being the best war fighter in the world is not enough. Neither is treating stability operations and civil-military affairs as a sideshow.’ He argues that contemporary civil-military conflict must be updated to match the grand strategic goal of war fighting; not just to produce a favourable military outcome or defeat the enemy, but to win as lasting a victory as possible in political, economic and security terms.
The meeting of NATO leaders should focus on four key areas to overcome ongoing strain and Russian efforts to undermine the security order. Posture: reinforcement strategy in a complicated A2/AD environment. Capabilities: capitalize on the pledges of solidarity and financial commitment. Structures: An update maritime strategy that brings conceptual order and a higher level of ambition for the North Atlantic Command. Partners: security collaboration and increased engagement on civilian end of the civil-military spectrum.
Report: The Sociopolitical undercurrent of Lebanon’s Salafi Militancy
Raphaël Lefèvre, march 26 2018 Carnegie Middle East Center
Lebanon’s exponential rise in Salafi militancy is, at its core, a sociopolitical revolt originating in marginalized Sunni neighborhoods (often with large numbers of Syrian refugees). The groups are claiming divine backing in local struggles for urban power and resources. The fear of Syrian refugees as potential Salafi militants is based on anecdotal evidence which confuses patterns of marginalization, trauma and resentment for pure ideological indoctrination. Acts of violence and radical rhetoric are being met with strict government backlash – which misses the need for a holistic solution to the urban segregation (employment, education and infrastructure) and penal system that perpetrate radicalization.
News: Mali mass grave victims had been in military custody, claims Amnesty
Ruth Maclean, The Guardian 4 April 2018.
A mass grave has been found in central Mali, amid a deteriorating security situation marked by bombings, gang abductions and military perpetrated killings. Residents of Dogo told Amnesty International that the six people found in the grave were arrested days earlier by the military. The state has no control over many regions of central and northern Mali – an ongoing struggle since the fall of Gaddafi’s Libyan regime saw seasoned fighters and seized arms return to Mali with extreme violence and imposition of sharia law.
An ICRC and HHI joint discussion paper on engaging with civilians affected by armed crises and urban violence in the digital era. ‘Institutional resistance to change, operational constraints, the complex integration of localization processes, the fear of devlolving power and decision making – in affected areas…continue to prevent effective and meaningful engagement and accountability between affected civilians and humanitarians…this needs to change.’
The Philippines: After the Fighting in Marawi
Samuel J. Cox for Australian Institute of International Affairs
The expulsion of Islamic State-affiliated insurgents from Marawi has been successful, but the issue for the Philippine Armed Forces is now one of reconstruction recovery and rehabilitation (R3). The 5-month urban war caused a substantial humanitarian fallout with mass human displacement and pressing security concerns. The post conflict narrative has failed to appropriately communicate and educate, leading many to shift their blame from insurgents to the government. The institutional recovery in Marawi is further challenged by a lack of previously effective economic drivers or law enforcement. The post conflict challenges extend beyond common goods and infrastructure to social and community healing.
Democracy in the new geopolitics
Torrey Taussig & Bruce Jones, Brookings Institute – 22 March 18
Brookings analysts discuss the multitude of potent internal and external challenges to democracy in a new geopolitical order; in which competition is flaring ‘over internal political systems.’ Regional recession in liberalism, economic and disparity and social unrest signpost a slowing of “third wave” democratic impetus from the mid 1970s. With the established global stalwarts shying from their position as vanguards of democracy it is no surprise to see emergent powers throughout Asia, Africa and South America subsequently reticent toward advancing liberal democratic institutions. Further, the relationship between GDP and democatisation has shifted, allowing many nations to reap the benefits of the global market without being decidedly democratic (read: China, Vietnam & Ethiopia). The authors note that the risk of slow degradation of democracy is not a new phenomenon and call for increased response from domestic civil society and international institutions. The article goes on to discuss a number of risks: resurgence of populism, corruption, illiberalism and authoritarian power – that require attention, for fear of the precedent set in the 20th century of the recession of powerful liberal states.
Analysis: The Future of ASEAN
AIIA; By Dr Marty Natalegawa (former Indonesian Foreign Minister) 16/03
Dr Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesian Foreign Minister between 2009-14, calls for ASEAN to become a driver for change amidst changing regional dynamics and geopolitical forces. He cites the need to reverse a trust deficit in decaying instruments established by ASEAN and the importance of partnership over transactional relations to the region. He calls for promotion of non-use of force in the region and an increased crisis management capacity.
Human Rights Watch, Mexico: UN report points to torture, cover-ups in probe into disappearance of 43 students
UN NEWS – 15 March 2018, https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1005022
The United Nations human rights wing says that it has strong grounds to believe that the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from a rural Mexican college in 2014 was marred by torture and cover-ups. Ayotzinapa is a test case of the Mexican authorities’ willingness and ability to tackle serious human rights violations.
Commentary: End the Weaponisation of Water in Central Asia
Alina Dalbaeva, International Crisis Group 15 March 2018, https://www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/central-asia/kazakhstan/end-weaponisation-water-central-asia
Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their respective presidents met in Astana over the weekend, with an opportunity to address the tension for the first time in a decade. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are short on water, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan short on electricity. Cotton field irrigation, hydropower and dam proposals have caused great tension, whilst at various times, shared resources have been used as a manipulative political tool. Whilst deep rooted mistrust has hindered cooperation, Presidential leadership may lead to renewed commitment to equitable access and improved irrigation infrastructure.
Today’s security challenges – transnational terror, commission of mass atrocities and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – are not compatible with regulation through general standards. “Informal regulation” offers a promising alternative. It allows states to balance, on a case-by-case basis, their competing demands for dispatch, flexibility, and collective legitimization. Of course, such regulation can be effective only if states themselves decide to use it, but their past practice suggests that they might. They would almost certainly strengthen the jus ad bellum if they do.
Analysis: The Timor Sea Disputes: Resolved or Ongoing?
Dr Rebecca Strating, Australian Institute for International Affairs
An historic maritime treaty has been signed between Australia and Timor-Leste under UN Compulsory Conciliation (UNCC) initiated by Timor. A central point of contention is the (unresolved) dispute over the lucrative Greater Sunrise gas field. Strating argues that the contest is multifaceted, with three major issues: the creation of permanent maritime boundaries, an appropriate split of upstream revenue from the contested Greater Sunrise field and the question of how the field should be developed. The last drove Timor’s abandonment of previous arrangements in the Timor Sea. Australia is avoiding responsibility for the major issue of a Timorese gas pipeline, amidst denouncement from industry leaders of its unviability.
The denied oppression of Myanmar’s Rohingya people
IRIN News <https://www.irinnews.org/maps-and-graphics/2018/03/12/myanmar-levels-former-rohingya-villages-build-camp-returnees>
An analysis of satellite images done for IRIN by a United Nations programme that produces humanitarian mapping, shows extensive land clearance of Rohingya villages to make way for a massive repatriation camp. Authorities in Myanmar have framed reconstruction as part of a broader scheme to develop the impoverished northern Rakhine region. The UNHCR has been barred from accessing the Rakhine region since the nation’s military crackdown began.
REPORT: ‘Attacks and killings’: human rights activists at growing risk
Annie Kelly, The Guardian – Global Development 10/3/18
A survey by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center recorded a 34% global rise in attacks against human rights activists last year. In 42% of cases, judicial intimidation was used in an attempt to suppress protests against business activities. This included arbitrary detention, criminalization and aggressive lawsuits. The new data quantifies the likelihood of corporations using legal means to prevent the protest and deter communities speaking out against corporate abuse or irresponsibility. This is prevalent in nations where corporations are given impunity from the State and are required to be increasingly competitive for access to natural resources.
Statement on International Humanitarian Law
The laws of war are our shield against barbarity: President’s address to the Human Rights Council, International Committee for the Red Cross.
- The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross urges member states of the Human Rights Council to fulfil their obligations to protect the life and dignity of civilians in conflict. He argues that the mitigation of suffering is foremost reliant on the respect of international humanitarian law; the rules of common humanity. Not only does the law work, but it has far-reaching, positive ramifications for the lives of those who remain once the guns have fallen silent.
Update on Humanitarian Aid
Aid convoy for Eastern Ghouta should arrive on Monday, UN and partners announce, UN News, 4 March 2018.
- An announcement from the humanitarian wing of the UN, that much-needed aid relief should arrive on 8 March in the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta. The UN and its partners will provide health and nutrition supplies along with food for 27,500 people. Despite a UNSC call for ceasefire, hostilities rage on and 13.1 million Syrian nationals are in need of ongoing help.
Flashpoint: India, Vietnam Tout International Law, Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea, Ankit Panda, The Diplomat – 5 March 2018.
- India and Vietnam are converging in their support for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Sharing a number of mutual interests, the two nations made a joint statement to address concerns of Chinese behaviour in the Indo-Pacific. They expressed support for international law in the Indo-Pacific region, including respect of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and a free, fair and open trade system.
- Türk, Chair of a Global Water and Peace panel told a 2018 forum that at a time of increased water scarcity – international water cooperation had become an essential instrument of peace. The world has to find ways to produce 50% more food and double energy production in the next 25 years as water levels diminish. Water may become a catalyst for geo-political dynamics and unlike oil, has no alternative. The West African water policy was cited as a rational approach to distribution for the entire region.
- Landau argues that theft of private individual’s data is no longer a mere annoyance, but a threat to the public security. Citing the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign, it is argued that the consequences of identity theft may be further reaching that a matter of privacy. U.S. legal protections are said to be piecemeal, lacking genuine tools for regulation and prosecution. Landau asserts that Congress must re-evaluate its approach to citizens’ privacy – for the sake of national security.
- At a high-level United Nations regional consultation in Bangkok, senior government representatives from Asia and the Pacific committed to empower rural women and girls, to lift their standard of living and combat structural barriers impacting their human rights. Living standards, economic empowerment, land rights, food security, health and education are among the main targets of the rights based approach enshrined in the 2030 Agenda.
A short history of Congolese sovereignty reveals violent kleptocracies, assassinations and social disintegration. Current President Kabila has now exceeded his constitutional term and quells renewed social unrest through violent suppression. The brutality of security forces and rebel groups has led to internal displacement of 4.3m (UN). Conflict with Islamist guerillas in many of Congo’s provinces is driving many more refugees out of the country; precedent hints at the capacity for increased bloodshed.
The horrific Congolese War (1998-2003) is categorized into four driving factors. The external shock of refugees from the Rwandan Genocide brought violence and required swift regional intervention from neighbouring countries. The three other factors: mineral wealth, rotten state institutions and a complex tangle of ethnic and tribal animosity stirred up by warlords – all exist today. An illegitimate president (with no viable competition) and growing unrest increases the possibility of relapse into civil war. Nonetheless the potential exists for Congo to become the beating heart of the African continent. Mineral wealth, geographic position and the great river are great opportunities for the nation. Conversely, they drive greed, ethnic tribalism, misrule and Western intervention.
2017 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
2016 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
‘Non-State Armed Groups, Detention Authority in Non-International Armed Conflict, and the Coherence of International Law: Searching for a Way Forward’ by Daragh Murray (2017) 30 Leiden Journal of International Law 2 (Forthcoming)
‘Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions: UN Security Council Sanctions and Principled Humanitarian Action’ Working Group Briefing Memorandum, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict
The Policy Proposals on Strengthening the Rule of Law through the UN Security Council were launched in March and aim to enhance the Security Council’s capacity to strengthen the rule of law, particularly when it deploys peace operations, applies sanctions and authorises the use of force. They can be accessed here.
The launch of the Policy Proposals on Strengthening the Rule of Law through the UN Security Council was held in March at the UN headquarters in New York. Presentations from the event are available here.
‘The Emerging Law of 21st Century War: Third Annual Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law’ delivered by Harold Hongju Koh. Hosted by The Brookings Institute and The Hague Institute for Global Justice.
‘Studying Under Fire: Attacks on Schools, Military Use of Schools During the Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine’, Human Rights Watch For more information on the protection of schools and universities during armed conflict please see ‘Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict’ by Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack
2015 CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
‘Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2248 on Burundi’ – Ambassador Samantha Power, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations (12 November 2015)
[‘Australia and Indonesia: Hard Times Ahead – Australian Institute of International Law (http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian_outlook/australia-indonesia-hard-times-ahead/)
‘Beyond Crisis in the DRC: The Dilemmas of International Engagement and Sustainable Change’ by Ben Sheperhd (December 2014) Chatham House Institute of International Affairs
[‘The Middle East in Crisis – The View from Israel’ – Carnegie Council](http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20141009/index.htm