The intensive conflict of recent months in the Kivus region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has given way to stalemate.
Amid a continuing dire humanitarian situation, alliances between various state and militia forces are shifting.
In a complex and unpredictable arena, one thing appears certain: the model of integrating militia groups into the Congolese army (FARDC) as a strategy for building peace in the region is discredited, given that its failure generated the current 'M23' rebellion.
The United States on July 21 cut a small element of 2012 military financing support to Rwanda while boosting help to other regional armies. Washington cited its concerns over evidence of Rwandan support to Congolese Tutsi armed groups, especially the 'M23' group. M23 mutinied in April against the FARDC, the national army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), into which it had been loosely integrated since 2009. Relations between Kinshasa and Kigali have improved significantly since mid-July, but the situation in eastern DRC remains highly fluid and unstable.
Neglected diseases, a group of tropical illnesses especially endemic in low-income countries, constitute a major market failure. As such, they need to be controlled by means of appropriate public policies and governmental intervention. These diseases impact almost exclusively populations with very low purchasing power, and therefore private pharmaceutical researchers, developers and manufacturers have little incentive to invest in research and development (R&D), remedies and infrastructure that offer prevention or treatment against them.
Pressure has increased for an international peace support intervention in Mali. On July 5 and July 7 respectively, the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) called for 'roadmaps' toward the restoration of constitutional order and territorial integrity. The calls came amid a continuing power vacuum in Bamako and following the armed Islamist takeover during June of much of Mali's secessionist northern regions.
UN peace envoy Kofi Annan is attempting to secure international agreement on a transition plan for Syria ahead of talks in Geneva tomorrow. The conflict has escalated sharply in recent months, causing a significant increase in the number of Syrians who are internally displaced or have fled the country. With a political settlement currently unlikely, the country is heading towards an extended civil conflict. The number of Syrians leaving their homes is set to grow as rebel fighters establish operations in Damascus and other major urban centres.
Somalia's main transitional leaders are meeting in Ethiopia this week for talks on implementing the 'Roadmap'. Somalia's biggest Western donors, and the leaders of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Puntland, are focusing on the adoption of a new constitution and an end to the current Transitional Federal Charter before its mandate expires in August. The Roadmap emerged in September 2011 out of the Kampala Accord a few weeks earlier, which had functioned mainly to contain infighting between TFG factions.
Islamist militants claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack on a gas pipeline in eastern Yemen, which they said was in revenge for the killing of an al-Qaida leader. Al-Qaida flourished in southern Yemen during last year's power struggle between the political elite as military and security units relocated north in support of rival leaders.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir yesterday threatened to give South Sudan's government "a final lesson by force". His comments mark the latest escalation in violent rhetoric between Khartoum and Juba, which has increased sharply since South Sudan occupied the Heglig oil field near the border earlier this month. Bashir's government is engaged in armed conflict with rebels in Sudan's southern and western states (Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur), and conflict with South Sudan on its border.
Last year was a watershed for the 'responsibility to protect' (R2P) principle, marking both the tenth anniversary of the influential Commission report which argued for its adoption by the international community and, in Libya, the first time the UN Security Council authorised the use of military force against a state for the purposes of protecting civilians without the consent of that state.
President Mahamadou Issoufou will continue to call for international support in dealing with the fallout from the Libya crisis. In the near term, the increased profile should help his administration to retain donor support and attention. However, northern areas are set for a period of instability; Issoufou's government will struggle to contain the fallout.
With several interim meetings concluded without major progress, international climate policy negotiators are preparing for this November's annual UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa. The Kyoto Protocol's commitment period expires in 2012. This meeting will be a final opportunity for the international community to decide how or whether to renew it, or approach the problem of climate change differently.
In recent months, issues relating to alleged violations of human rights and war crimes during the final stages of the civil war (ie early 2009) have acquired prominence in international forums and the media. On June 14, for example, UK's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary, 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields', which included alleged video evidence of war crimes. This furore has raised questions about the effect of these allegations on post-war development and reconciliation.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to extend the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) until end-June 2012. MONUSCO's mandate is largely unchanged, despite pressure from the Congolese government for the mission to be wound down by the end of 2011. Instead, the Security Council tasked MONUSCO with supporting preparations for November elections, in addition to its responsibilities protecting civilians. Security remains a challenge, particularly in the east, where several of the largest armed groups are regrouping.
Violence has triggered an increase in the number of people forced to leave their homes and migrate to other places within Mexico. The phenomenon is an example of unexpected effects that probably were not factored in as a consequence of the war against organised crime. It could also open broader debate about whether the state should take responsibility for victims of internal forced displacement.
If forced internal displacement continues, the focus will move from the magnitude of the problem to policy responses.
UN-authorised protection of civilians (POC) actions in Libya and Ivory Coast have been unprecedented in their show of military might and willingness to use force against the main parties to the conflict. In both, application is deeply intertwined with politics -- with upholding election results (Ivory Coast) or providing moral and legal cover for actions leading possibly to regime change (Libya) -- and raise salient questions about UN impartiality.
April 6, 2011
SUBJECT: Aid and corruption in post-conflict states.
SIGNIFICANCE: Aid disbursements are a key element of post-conflict interventions, since promoting economic growth is considered integral to the consolidation of peace. However, aid can also increase corruption and imperil the goal of peace-building: strengthening state capacity to manage conflict peacefully. Aid that is delivered through the state may strengthen the state, but increase corruption; aid that is delivered around the state may protect against corruption, but weaken the state.
December 9, 2010
EVENT: The Polisario movement on December 7 called on the UN to investigate Morocco's clearing of a Sahrawi protest camp outside Laayoune last month.
SIGNIFICANCE: Riots and violence at the time of the clearing saw at least eleven people killed and constituted the most significant unrest since Morocco took control of the territory. The events and their aftermath could prove to be a game-changer.
ANALYSIS: The Western Sahara conflict is often described as the oldest decolonisation conflict in the world, as well as a relic of the Cold War.
November 8, 2010
SUBJECT: Criticism of humanitarian operations.
SIGNIFICANCE: Despite rapid humanitarian aid mobilisation following the January earthquake, recent evaluations of the response have highlighted constraints that significantly impeded operations, ranging from the unique context to coordination and funding.
ANALYSIS: The January 12 earthquake triggered one of the largest international humanitarian response operations in history. However, the international community has been criticised for being inefficient and uncoordinated throughout the humanitarian response …
November 5, 2010
SUBJECT: Conflict early warning systems.
SIGNIFICANCE: The importance of conflict early warning systems has increased significantly in recent decades, primarily owing to the international community's failure to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the mass atrocities in the Balkans in the mid-1990s and more lately the violence in Darfur.
ANALYSIS: Conflict early warning systems (CEWS) are employed mainly to predict, prevent and respond quickly to violent conflicts, and as a means of protecting and preserving life.
October 20, 2010
EVENT: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government troops may recently have committed rape and murder in North Kivu province, according to a UN envoy on October 14.
SIGNIFICANCE: More than 300 people were raped by three different militia groups just kilometres from a UN peace-keeping base in the same area during four days at the end of July and beginning of August. Women continue to suffer disproportionately in contemporary conflict.