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Abstract: After years of intense, cartel-related bloodshed that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and shaken Mexico, new President Enrique Peña Nieto is promising to reduce the murder rate. The security plan he introduced with the backing of the three biggest parties gives Mexico a window of opportunity to build institutions that can produce long-term peace and cut impunity rates. But he faces many challenges. The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.
The development of cartels into murder squads fighting to control territory with military-grade weapons challenges the Mexican state’s monopoly on the use of force in some regions. The brutality of their crimes undermines civilian trust in the government’s capacity to protect them, and the corruption of drug money damages belief in key institutions. Cartels challenge the fundamental nature of the state, therefore, not by threatening to capture it, but by damaging and weakening it. The military fight-back has at times only further eroded the trust in government by inflicting serious human rights abuses. Some frustrated communities have formed armed “self-defence” groups against the cartels. Whatever the intent, these also degrade the rule of law.
Abstract: Colombia has one of the longest-running armed conflicts in the world, as well as the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Oxfam research in the department of Nariño and in the Montes de María area of the department of Bolivar found that the Colombian government’s stabilization program (the National Consolidation Plan, or NCP) has not promoted peace, good governance, or sustainable development, as intended. The United States is one of the leading donors to NCP, along with Spain and the Netherlands. In the areas where we carried out our research, our interviewees clearly indicated that the NCP and other stabilization efforts had failed to make communities more secure, often leaving them less safe. We found severe limitations in attempts to promote conflict-sensitive development. This briefing paper explores these issues and offers recommendations to improve both security and development in Nariño and Montes de María.
Abstract: Ciudad Juarez is the second largest Mexican border city and one of most violent cities worldwide. Over the past five years, it has suffered from a dramatic wave of homicidal violence related to organized crime. Residents have reacted in different ways to such violence: some have migrated whereas others have decided to stay and organize against it. This is an empirical study of community organization for crime prevention. This study found some of the factors that facilitate and impede community organization against crime. The results constitute a first step in the empirical study of community organization for crime prevention in Mexico.
Abstract: - While right-wing extremism and populist extremist parties have been the subject
of growing attention in Europe and North America, the emergence of ‘counter-
Jihad’ groups has been relatively neglected. Campaigning amid fiscal austerity and
ongoing public concerns over immigration, these groups are more confrontational,
chaotic and unpredictable than established populist extremist political parties, yet
not enough is known about who supports them – and why.
- Widely held assumptions about their supporters – which often stress economic
austerity, political protest and Islamophobia as the key drivers – are challenged
by new survey data on public attitudes towards the ideas of one leading counter-
Jihad group, the English Defence League.
- The data indicate that supporters of such groups are not necessarily young,
uneducated, economically insecure or politically apathetic. They are not simply
anti-Muslim or overtly racist, but xenophobic and profoundly hostile towards
immigration. They are more likely than others in society to expect inter-communal
conflict and to believe that violence is justifiable. And their beliefs about the
threatening nature of Islam have wider public support.
- Few mainstream voices in Europe are actively challenging counter-Jihad narratives,
or the surrounding reservoir of anti-Muslim prejudice among the general public,
but this is an essential part of any successful counter-strategy.
Abstract: This paper focuses on the implications that the ‘Arab spring’ has for the security of states and individuals in Europe and North America as core parts of the ‘West’. It first discusses potential challenges which emanate from the foreign policies of Arab governments that in different ways respond to recent protests and the processes of political change that they have initiated. Reflecting concerns of their main constituencies, the new governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya may increasingly, though probably moderately, question aspects of the current international order, in particular global inequalities and Western policies towards Israel and Iran. Conversely, many governments that so far managed to resist change (with Syria as a notable exception) are likely to focus on Iran and its allies as a major perceived threat and may complicate the dispassionate search for common ground. More generally, Western policy makers will have to take into account that security perceptions among Arab states will increasingly diverge. The paper then discusses challenges that directly emanate from the continued or increasing weakness of the Arab states that manifests itself in terms of state capacities including the monopoly of the means of coercion, policy delivery and related discontent, and even state disintegration. It argues that diverging interests and concerns between the ‘West’ and the new Arab governments are manageable if analysed independently of received wisdoms. This also applies to Islamists currently in government but not necessarily to all Islamists. Threats associated with weak and collapsing states ranging from dangers to the environment to areas dominated by organized crime and terrorists need to be addressed by patient, long term attempts at state building and reconciliation; these should be based on power sharing arrangements strengthened by capacity building and inclusive social and economic development.
Abstract: The US is changing its policy towards the Middle East and North Africa in response to shifting geopolitical realities in the region. Confronted with new political actors and intractable political issues, President Obama has adopted a more realist approach. This is not the US turning its back on the Middle East or Europe, but rather a redistribution of resources as a consequence of an adjustment of US tactics towards the region.
Abstract: While the Arab Spring has brought significant opportunities for reform
and the emergence of more stable democratic states in the Middle
East and North Africa (MENA), recent events have seriously undermined
security and stability in the region and reshaped the security
environment there. This has put NATO’s stated ambition of strengthening
and deepening its regional partnerships in order to address
common security challenges to the shared goals of peace, security and
stability into question. This report looks into how NATO is likely to
address the ‘new’ MENA region by investigating how factors internal
and external to the Alliance shape its possibilities and limits for
strengthening and developing partnerships in order to enhance security
and stability in the region. In addition, this report outlines some implications
this may have for Norwegian security and defence policy.
Abstract: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been the most successful military alliance of the
modern era. Set up in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union, NATO won the Cold War some four
decades later without firing a shot.
Perhaps it might have been better if NATO had wound itself up at the end of the Cold War. The
alliance instead sought a new role and found it out of area. It conducted operations in Former
Yugoslavia, war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and later still an air campaign
that brought down Gaddafi in Libya.
None of these operations were notable successes.
In 2011, then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that NATO faced “the real possibility
[of] a dim, if not dismal future....The military capabilities simply aren’t there." The transatlantic
alliance, Gates said, must confront fundamental strategic questions about its future.
All this makes a hard look at NATO essential. The European nations can readily handle the
defence of their territory, and it is time to ask if NATO is the best way for us to contribute to
Western defence, to ask which nations can and will act to protect democratic values? The
"Anglosphere" states all fought in Afghanistan. So too did France and Denmark. And in Asia,
there are other friendly states. There is no talk of a military alliance yet but there is the
possibility of coalitions of the willing.
Instead of pledging fealty to NATO's hollow shell, it is time for Canadians to produce a strategy
for the next twenty years. Any such review will give primacy to Canada’s alliance with the United
States. But one question must be asked and answered: does NATO any longer serve our political
and military needs?
Abstract: Human Security Research is a monthly compilation of significant new human security-related research published by academics, university research institutes, think-tanks, international agencies, and NGOs.
In this issue:
NATURAL DISASTERS AND CONFLICT: When Disasters and Conflicts Collide: Improving Links Between Disaster Resilience and Conflict Prevention
SYRIA: Preliminary Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in the Syrian Arab Republic
KENYA: Kenya’s 2013 Elections
COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE: It’s Who You Know: Social Networks, Interpersonal Connections, and Participation in Collective Violence
MEXICO: Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012
TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME: Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa: A Threat Assessment
FAITH COMMUNITIES AND RESILIENCY: Local Faith Communities and the Promotion of Resilience in Humanitarian Situations: A Scoping Study
YEMEN: A Lasting Peace? Yemen's Long Journey to National Reconciliation
DISPLACEMENT: Displacement, Disharmony and Disillusion. Understanding Host-Refugee Tensions in Maban County, South Sudan
MENTAL HEALTH AND CONFLICT: Madness or Sadness? Local Concepts of Mental Illness in Four Conflict-affected African Communities
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka’s Authoritarian Turn: The Need for International Action
JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION: Peace, Justice, and Reconciliation in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges in the Fight Against Impunity
Abstract: The time to normalize US diplomatic relations with the two Sudans is now. After more than a decade of US special envoys (Danforth, Zoellick, Natsios, Williamson, Gration, and Lyman)* and the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, it is time for the United States to reevaluate what it is trying to achieve in its relations with the two Sudans and how best it can do that. In other words, does the United States still need a special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and, if so, why? This paper argues that to achieve peace and stability within and between Sudan and South Sudan, the United States must now refocus its diplomatic engagement on the internal governance challenges in both states by moving to more normal diplomatic relations with each.
Abstract: Over the past decade, the use of unmanned aerial systems—commonly
referred to as drones—by the U.S. government has expanded exponentially
in scope, location, and frequency.1 From September 2001 to
April 2012, the U.S. military increased its drone inventory from fifty
to seventy-five hundred—of which approximately 5 percent can be
armed.2 Yet despite the unprecedented escalation of its fleet and missions,
the U.S. government has not provided a clear explanation of how
drone strikes in nonbattlefield settings are coordinated with broader
foreign policy objectives, the scope of legitimate targets, and the legal
framework. Drones are critical counterterrorism tools that advance
U.S. interests around the globe, but this lack of transparency threatens
to limit U.S. freedom of action and risks proliferation of armed drone
technology without the requisite normative framework.
Existing practices carry two major risks for U.S. interests that are
likely to grow over time. The first comes from operational restrictions
on drones due to domestic and international pressure. In the United
States, the public and policymakers are increasingly uneasy with limited
transparency for targeted killings.3 If the present trajectory continues,
drones may share the fate of Bush-era enhanced interrogation
techniques and warrantless wiretapping—the unpopularity and illegality
of which eventually caused the policy’s demise. Internationally,
objections from host states and other counterterrorism partners could
also severely circumscribe drones’ effectiveness. Host states have
grown frustrated with U.S. drone policy, while opposition by nonhost
partners could impose additional restrictions on the use of drones.
Reforming U.S. drone strike policies can do much to allay concerns
internationally by ensuring that targeted killings are defensible under
international legal regimes that the United States itself helped establish,
and by allowing U.S. officials to openly address concerns and
Abstract: Congress has maintained significant interest in Mexico and played an important role in shaping
bilateral relations. Recently, the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that governed
Mexico from 1929 to 2000 retook the presidency after 12 years of rule by the conservative
National Action Party (PAN) in the July 1, 2012 elections. The party also captured a plurality (but
not a majority) in Mexico’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies. PRI President Enrique Peña Nieto,
a former governor of the state of Mexico, took office on December 1, 2012, pledging to enact
bold structural reforms and broaden relations with the United States beyond security issues. U.S.
policymakers are closely following what the return of a PRI government portends for Mexico’s
domestic policies and relations with the United States.
This report, which will be updated, provides an overview of the leadership, priorities, and
prospects for Mexico’s new administration. It then briefly analyzes how those priorities may
affect key bilateral issues of interest to the 113th Congress and suggests possible questions for
oversight related to each issue area. The report concludes with an outlook section containing key
questions that may be used to assess the Peña Nieto Administration and its impact on U.S.-
Abstract: When Enrique Peña Nieto took office on December 1, 2012, he inherited a country reeling
from an epidemic of drug violence that had taken the lives of more than 60,000 Mexicans
in six years. The “war on drugs” launched by his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, had
produced disastrous results. Not only had it failed to rein in the country’s powerful criminal
groups, but it had led to a dramatic increase in grave human rights violations committed
by the security forces sent to confront them. Rather than strengthening public security,
these abuses had exacerbated a climate of violence, lawlessness, and fear.
Throughout most of his presidency, Calderón denied security forces had committed any
abuses, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Only in his final year did he
acknowledge that human rights violations had occurred, and take a handful of positive—
though very limited—steps to curb some abusive practices. However, he failed to fulfill his
fundamental obligation to ensure that the egregious violations committed by members of
the military and police were investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
That responsibility now falls to President Peña Nieto. And nowhere is it more urgent than in
cases where people have been taken against their will and their fate is still unknown. What
sets these crimes apart is that, for as long as the fate of the victim remains unknown, they
are ongoing. Each day that passes is another that authorities have failed to find victims,
and another day that families continue to suffer the anguish of not knowing what
happened to a loved one.
Human Rights Watch has documented nearly 250 such “disappearances” that have
occurred since 2007. In more than 140 of these cases, evidence suggests that these were
enforced disappearances—meaning that state agents participated directly in the crime, or
indirectly through support or acquiescence. These crimes were committed by members of
every security force involved in public security operations, sometimes acting in conjunction
with organized crime. In the remaining cases, we were not able to determine based on
available evidence whether state actors participated in the crime, though they may have.
Abstract: At the beginning of 2011, security defined the U.S.-Mexico relationship, and it was the issue that most observers thought would shape Mexico’s 2012 presidential, state, and local elections. Only two of Mexico’s three main parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), had well-known positions on security and on themes such as economic liberalization, rule of law, and reform of the energy sector. It was thought that another PAN government might try to achieve additional, though limited, progress on those issues, while the PRD would try to roll back achievements of the past 12 years of PAN government. What the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) might do if it returned to Mexico’s presidential palace, Los Pinos, presented a quandary.
Surprisingly, the candidate who became the early frontrunner—Enrique Pena Nieto—spoke in generalities about his positions until he was elected. Yet his promises of change tapped into other public concerns. These included the slow economic growth, inefficiency and corruption in the energy sector, and the poor quality of Mexico’s public schools. While the electorate did not want the prolonged bloodshed associated with the PAN’s approach to battling criminal organizations, it also rejected the leftist populism advocated by the PRD and other leftist parties. During the run-up to the July 1 vote, cartel violence began to subside, and the economy improved slowly, which allowed space for discussions of sectoral reforms.
Abstract: Accurate assessments of the threat posed by al-Qaeda to Western interests and government have
been hampered by imprecise language and an absence of historical memory. Arguably the
organization is over thirty years old. Unquestionably the franchises and self-described affiliates
of al-Qaeda bear little resemblance to the elite terrorist organization that attacked the United
States on 11 September, 2001. This paper describes the evolution of al-Qaeda from being a
source of assistance to mujahedeen fighting the Red Army in Afghanistan to the armed
insurgents operating today in Africa and the Greater Middle East, on the one hand, and the
homegrown, often self-recruited and largely incompetent “jihadists” who are more a nuisance to
western police forces than they are a serious military threat. This change in the effectiveness and
operational capability of al-Qaeda does not mean that it will disappear, not least of all because
the members of that organization think of themselves as fighting an endless war. It does mean
that we ought to have a realistic understanding of the reduced nature of the threat that al-Qaeda
can make to our interests.
Abstract: In this submission, Amnesty International evaluates the implementation of recommendations that Colombia supported during its previous review in 2008. The two sides in the conflict in Colombia continue to be responsible for grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including forced displacement, unlawful killings, forcible disappearances and abductions, and sexual violence. The failure by the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for such international crimes sends a powerful message to the perpetrators that they can continue to kill without fear of being held to account.
Abstract: The year 2012 marked the end of the six-year term of President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), who was both lauded for his administration’s unprecedented assault on organized crime groups and criticized for the loss of human life that accompanied this fight. From the beginning of his presidency, President Calderón made security a primary focus of his administration by doubling national security budgets and deploying tens of thousands of federal forces to the states most impacted by violence among drug trafficking organizations.
However, under President Calderón, the number of overall homicides annually increased more than two and a half times from 10,452 in 2006 to 27,213 in 2011, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI). During the first five full years of Calderón’s term—from 2007 through 2011—INEGI reported 95,646 people killed, an average of 19,129 per year, or more than 50 people per day. By these measures, there was a 24% average annual increase in overall homicides during the Calderón administration. Calculating that overall homicides appear to have dropped by roughly 5-10% in 2012, our estimate is that the total number of homicides during the Calderón administration was likely around 120,000 to 125,000 people killed, depending on whether INEGI or the National System of Public Security (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SNSP) data are used.
In July 2012, Mexico elected a new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on December 1, restoring to power the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), which governed Mexico without interruption for over seven decades until it lost the presidency in 2000. For better security coordination among government agencies, President Peña Nieto has instructed the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) to oversee the creation of a new network, the System of Coordination and Cooperation (Sistema de Coordinación y Cooperación). (See below for more information on Peña Nieto’s new plan).
In January 2012, Peña Nieto gave a clear message regarding the direction that his presidency will follow on security policy when he unveiled the “Pact for Mexico” (Pacto por México), an agreement signed along with representatives from Mexico’s major political parties. The Pact—a 34-page itemized list of policies and reforms—set forth proposals in several areas related to security and justice issues, particularly focusing on reducing homicides, kidnapping, and extortion. The Pact outlined steps to establish a 10,000-person National Gendarmerie and a unified police command system at the state-level. Above all, from the outset of his term, Peña Nieto declared that his security strategy would abandon the Calderón administration’s heavy dependence on military deployments and its focus on dismantling organized crime groups.
This information is part of “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis through 2012,” the fourth of a series of reports that the Trans-Border Institute’s Justice in Mexico Project has put together each year since 2010 to compile the latest available data and analysis to evaluate these challenges.
Abstract: On 4 October 2012, Guatemalan soldiers allegedly opened fire on Maya protestors from the highland province of Totonicapán, killing six and injuring more than 30. It was a tragedy that appeared to show not only the dangers of using the army to maintain public order but also the rising tensions within impoverished indigenous communities. Although President Otto Pérez Molina initially denied military responsibility for the shooting, he did the right thing by allowing prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation. Now the government must step up efforts to reform and strengthen the national police, establishing clear benchmarks for the military’s withdrawal from law enforcement. To minimise the risk of new confrontations, it must also address the legitimate demands of indigenous communities for access to electricity, education and land, as well as their right to be consulted about decisions that affect their culture and livelihoods.
The militarisation of law enforcement is especially perilous in a country with yawning economic inequalities between the descendants of European colonisers and the original, largely Maya, inhabitants. Protests over mining and hydroelectric projects, educational reform and access to land and public utilities, especially by the desperately poor indigenous population, are on the rise. The trigger of the October protests was high electricity prices. But the marchers also incorporated demands for affordable education and the recognition and promotion of indigenous rights.
Abstract: For the past three decades, economic liberalisation backed by paramilitarism in Colombia has been driving demand for land, and with it land speculation, resulting in the most dramatic cycle of land grabbing in the country’s history. Between 1980 and 2010, an estimated 6.8 million hectares changed hands according to the government agency Acción Social, with agroindustry, mining and oil companies steadily taking over areas where small farmers once grew food crops.
Against this backdrop, the recently passed “Victims and Land Restitution Law” was declared by the Santos Government to be the means by which victims of the armed conflict and forced displacement could finally receive reparation and restitution for crimes committed against them. Not only has the initiative been widely hailed in the international community, including by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, it has also been applauded by palm oil, sugarcane and cattle industry elites inside Colombia – the very groups that have benefitted from previous land grabbing.
This report looks into the new land restitution law, which Santos portrays as integral to Colombia’s ‘veritable revolution’, against the backdrop of agrarian policy in Colombia historically. This analysis exposes the economic agenda behind the land law. The authors argue that the new law is a cynical attempt to exploit popular support for agrarian reform and for the victims of displacement, in order to: secure property rights for business interests; establish the permanence of industries that have benefitted from displacement; alter the nature of Colombia’s rural economy in the interest of agro-industrial projects; and facilitate future investment in Colombian land and resources.
Abstract: What is strategic stability and why is it important? This edited collection offers the most current authoritative survey of this topic, which is central to U.S. strategy in the field of nuclear weapons and great power relations. A variety of authors and leading experts in the field of strategic issues and regional studies offer both theoretical and practical insights into the basic concepts associated with strategic stability, what implications these have for the United States, as well as key regions such as the Middle East, and perspectives on strategic stability in Russia and China. Readers will develop a deeper and more developed understanding of this concent from this engaging and informative work.
Abstract: The repeated appearance of coca producing zones is related to the unequal distribution of wealth in Colombia, and to the dynamic of land concentration which continues expelling peasants who migrate to new settlement areas.
Colombia must re-examine and fix the existing relationship between policies of force and alternative development programmes, and should decide whether eradication is still a valid prior condition for alternative development.
Institutional mechanisms of participation should be created for communities and integrated with local and regional development processes.
Colombia needs to establish limits to its agricultural frontier.
The cost-benefits of alternative development investment in remote areas are poor, because infrastructure is bad and services are basic. Consequently, it would be advisable to discourage settlement in those areas, which usually have fragile ecosystems suitable for preservation.
The Land Restitution Law makes restitution claims difficult for poor displaced families. A genuine and fair restitution policy would constitute one important step in consolidating a future peace.
Abstract: Human Security Research is a monthly compilation of significant new human security-related research published by academics, university research institutes, think-tanks, international agencies, and NGOs.
HUMANITARIAN AID: Aid Worker Security Report 2012: Host States and Their Impact on Security for Humanitarian Operations
MEXICO: The Impact of President Felipe Calderón’s War on Drugs on the Armed Forces: The Prospects for Mexico’s “Militarization” and Bilateral Relations
POLITICAL MISSIONS: Political Missions 2012
RADICALIZATION: Countering Radicalization in Europe
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND CONFLICT: In the Face of War: Examining Sexual Vulnerabilities of Acholi Adolescent Girls Living in Displacement Camps in Conflict-affected Northern Uganda
GENDER: From Clause to Effect: Including Women's Rights and Gender in Peace Agreements
KYRGYZSTAN: Averting Violence in Kyrgyzstan: Understanding and Responding to Nationalism
LRA: Getting Back on Track: Implementing the UN Regional Strategy on the Lord's Resistance Army
TERRORISM: Global Terrorism Index 2012: Capturing the Impact of Terrorism from 2002-2011
WEAPONRY: Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots
MEDIA: Working in Concert: Coordination and Collaboration in International Media Development
PAKISTAN: Pakistan on the Edge
Abstract: Much has been written about Haiti since the massive earthquake devastated the country three years ago this week. Hundreds of evaluations and thousands of reports have been written by the humanitarian community and many more by other actors.
Abstract: Internal displacement has been a frequent and significant part of Haiti’s history since its foundation in 1804. The current mix of inter-related causes includes frequent natural hazard-induced disasters, human rights violations, and large-scale development projects. These are dominated by the impacts of the major earthquake disaster of 12 January 2010, which displaced up to 2.3 million people, mostly from or within the metropolitan area of Port au Prince. Over the last three years, more than 61,000 of these internally displaced people (IDPs) have been displaced again as a result of forced evictions and other threats. As of December 2012, 357,000 IDPs remain in camps or camp-like situations (also referred to as “camps”), while a lack of information makes the number of IDPs living outside these situations difficult to assess. This includes IDPs staying with host families, those who previously lived in the camps and those whose situation continues to put them at high risk of further displacement. During 2012, storm and flood disasters including Tropical Storm Sandy at the end of October have caused the new or repeated internal displacement of at least 58,000 people. Recurrent displacement has cumulative impacts on the vulnerability of people unable to fully recover between shocks felt not only by IDPs, but also by families or communities that host them. Storms and floods, further added to by drought, has left around 20 per cent of Haiti's population or 2.1 million people suffering severe food insecurity.
Established patterns of population movement between rural and urban areas, together with family and community networks and livelihood coping strategies centred on the capital, Port-au-Prince, play a significant role in determining IDPs' movements and intentions. Within a context of widespread structural impoverishment, extreme environmental degradation, rapid urbanisation and weak government capacity, IDPs' continue to face both immediate and new obstacles to their recovery related to their displacement. Durable solutions can only be achieved through the pursuit of long-term development goals led by central and local government and which place disaster risk reduction and human rights protection at their core. The current period of transition from international to government-led response is, therefore, critical.
Abstract: In the absence of honest, professional civilian law-enforcement agencies, President Felipe Calderón assigned the military the lead role in his nation’s version of the “War on Drugs” that he launched in 2006. While the armed forces have spearheaded the capture and/or death of several dozen cartel capos, the conflict has taken its toll on the organizations in terms of deaths, corruption, desertions, and charges by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) of hundreds of human rights violations. The nation’s Supreme Court has taken the first step in requiring that officers and enlistees accused of crimes against civilians stand trial in civil courts rather than hermetic military tribunals. As if combating vicious narco-syndicates were not a sufficiently formidable challenge, the government has assigned such additional roles to the Army and Navy as overseeing customs agents, serving as state and municipal security chiefs, taking charge of prisons, protecting airports, safeguarding migrants, functioning as firefighters, preventing drug trafficking around schools, establishing recreational programs for children, and standing guard 24-hours a day over boxes of ballots cast in recent elections. Meanwhile, because of their discipline, training, and skill with firearms, security firms are snapping up men and women who have retired from active duty. The sharp expansion of the armed forces’ duties has sparked the accusation that Mexico is being “militarized.” Contributing to this assertion is the Defense Ministry’s robust, expensive public relations campaign both to offset criticism of civilians killed in what the Pentagon would label “collateral damage” and to increase contacts between average citizens and military personnel, who often constituted a separate caste. Dr. George W. Grayson examines the ever wider involvement of the armed forces in Mexican life in addressing the question: “Is Mexican society being ‘militarized’?” If the answer is “yes,” what will be the probable impact on relations between the United States and its southern neighbor?