Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Preventing Violence in the 2015 Nigerian Election

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2018 at 8:48 am

Laurie Nathan

In 2015, Nigeria held elections that were widely expected to lead to large-scale violence. The risk derived in part from the country’s severe regional tensions, which included the religious and political cleavage between the North and the South, as well as the long-standing turbulence in the Niger Delta region, where militants warned they would take up arms if President Goodluck Jonathan did not win. More dangerous still was the insurgency of Boko Haram, which threatened to disrupt the “pagan practice” of elections.

The risk of violence also derived from the nature of governance and electoral politics in Nigeria. Elections in that country suffer from a “do-or-die” pathology, with too much political power, economic opportunity, and ethnic patronage accruing to the winners. In 2015, as in the previous election, a worst-case scenario was that the losing party would refuse to concede defeat and some of the losing constituencies would erupt into violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Preventing Small Fires from Becoming Big Fires: Successful Preventive Diplomacy by the UN

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2018 at 8:47 am
un multimedia lebanon

Photo: UN Multimedia

Laurie Nathan, Adam Day, João Honwana and Rebecca Brubaker

From its inception, the United Nations (UN) has engaged in preventive diplomacy in situations of conflict in order to prevent the outbreak of large-scale violence. Preventive diplomacy has recently been given fresh impetus by the Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations and by the appointment of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who has called for a renewed emphasis on “diplomacy for peace.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preventing Military Escalation between Israel and Lebanon

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2018 at 8:47 am

Adam Day

In 2006 the Hezbollah movement based in Lebanon abducted two Israeli soldiers. The incident sparked a brutal war between Lebanon and Israel, destroying much of southern Lebanon and resulting in over 1,200 fatalities. In the wake of the war, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 mandated the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to monitor and support the cessation of hostilities. UNIFIL also monitors the Blue Line demarcating the border between the two countries, established after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in1978. The tripartite forum convened regularly by UNIFIL is the only place where Israeli and Lebanese army officers can communicate directly each other. The UN Secretary-General has also appointed a UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).

Since 2006, Lebanon and Israel have remained formally in a state of war, with a persistent risk of escalation and violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Atrocity Crimes and the UN Prevention Agenda

In Mass Atrocities on May 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

Adam Lupel

Mass atrocity crimes are presently occurring in seven countries, according to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and populations are at imminent risk of falling victim in at least two other countries.

We continue to develop new tools to respond to atrocities—for example Barack Obama’s Atrocity Prevention Review Board or Ban Ki Moon’s Human Rights Up Front initiative. And yet we keep failing to prevent or stop these crimes. Why? Are we using the wrong tools? Do we have some fundamental misunderstanding about the role of international action and its capacity to stop mass atrocities?

At a time when the entire United Nations system is talking about “prevention”—from the Sustainable Development Goals to the proposed reform of the peace and security architecture, to the Secretary-General’s report on sustaining peace and the UN/World Bank report on Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict—it is important to get concrete about what we mean when we talk about preventing or stopping atrocity crimes. Read the rest of this entry »

Understanding Mass Atrocities

In Genocide, Mass Atrocities on May 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

A Muslim grieving over his son’s grave in Vitez. (UN Photo/John Isaac)

Ernesto Verdeja

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by a world traumatized by the horrors of World War II. And yet, in spite of a long though uneven decline in armed conflict and political violence since then, governments and insurgents continue to terrorize and kill civilians, with massacres, forced deportations, torture and other atrocities committed across the globe. A continuing challenge for policymakers and human rights practitioners is to prevent, and where necessary, respond to mass atrocities. Aided by advances in scholarship, we now have a much better understanding of the primary causes and triggers of mass atrocities. Read the rest of this entry »

UN Sanctions as a Tool for Preventing Atrocities

In Mass Atrocities, Sanctions and Security on May 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

George A. Lopez

United Nations Security Council sanctions continue to be used frequently to address a range of peace and conflict issues, from nuclear nonproliferation to the prevention and settlement of armed conflict. UN sanctions have also been utilized for atrocity prevention purposes, as illustrated in the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. In this essay I describe the sanctions policy instruments available for atrocity prevention and discuss the requirements for making sanctions work more effectively.

Sanctions have different applicability whether the target is a repressive national government, with officials who work for or support that government as individuals (and are thus judged responsible for atrocities), or the target concerns nonstate actors in violent extremist groups, death squads and militias. Below are some of the specific policy measures that can be applied as part of a political strategy to prevent mass atrocity crimes. Read the rest of this entry »