June 14, 2007 Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior
As NATO has moved from being a primarily military alliance to seeking more political roles, it has become pertinent to consider its impact on democratisation. At first glance, it might seem incongruent even to deliberate on the democracy promotion relevance of an essentially military organisation. But, NATO's successive enlargements have often hinged on the
fulfilment of democratic preconditions in aspirant members, while technical assistance provided under the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and other programmes has increasingly focused on the reform of civil-military relations. Assessment is consequently warranted of whether NATO has come to play any positive role in
encouraging democratisation across different regions, or whether its impact on political liberalisation has been either marginal or even negative. This paper argues that support for democracy has increasingly infused NATO policies, but that the organisation's role in democracy promotion is circumscribed by strategic considerations; most often an indirect side effect of
other aims; and most relevant to the niche area of defence reform....
February 5, 2007 German Institute for International and Security Affairs
By raising the gas price for Belarus, buying a major stake in the Belarussian gas pipeline network, imposing export duty on Russian oil deliveries to Belarus, and restricting duty-free import of Belarussian goods to Russia, the Russians have ended an era in relations between the two states. The heart of the "United State of Russia and Belarus" - the customs union - has been made obsolete at a stroke. Russia's economic policy toward its western neighbor is part and parcel of a new foreign policy that - as the Putin era comes to a close - is focusing increasingly on the national interest. The Lukashenko system, whose economic and political stability were based on the cheap oil supplies from Russia, has been plunged into a serious existential crisis. For the EU and Germany this renewed disruption to energy relations reveals the fragility of the "strategic partnership" with Russia and the lack of an effective energy dialogue with the transit state of Belarus....
On March 19th 2006 the people of Belarus - a small but strategically important country -
voted in a presidential election. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed to have won 82.6 per
cent of the vote, though neither the EU nor the US recognised the result. In the week after the
election the government arrested a few hundred opposition activists, including one of the
presidential candidates. The EU's current policy of xe2x80x98conditional engagement' has failed to improve the situation in
Belarus. The EU has withheld favours and cut off contacts, but the regime has become steadily
more authoritarian. The EU needs a new policy. It should offer big incentives to encourage the regime to reform, but
also make clear that any further repression would provoke a tough response. It should step up its
efforts to support civil society and overhaul its methods for aiding NGOs. European leaders should tell Russia that the EU has a legitimate interest in how Belarus is
governed. But the EU should also stress that it does not see Belarus as a pawn in a geopolitical
game. Both the EU and Russia would benefit from a stable, prosperous and democratic Belarus....
The United States's increased interest in Eurasia over the past year has added confusion to an already muddled debate over nation- and state-building in the region. In particular, U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan drew global attention to what and who a post-Taliban regime would look like. But the Bush Administration's blanket caution over "nation-building" in Afghanistan blurred the crucial difference between state-building and nation-building: the former concerns developing institutions of governance; the latter concerns developing a shared identity. ...
Five actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and two improved in December 2010, according to the latest issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch released today.
Côte d’Ivoire was gripped by political crisis as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing to rival Alassane Outtara in the late-November presidential runoff polls. Post-election violence claimed thTensions remained high on the Korean peninsula just one month after North Korea shelled Yŏnp’yŏng Island in South Korea. Pyongyang threatened “brutal consequences beyond imagination” against the South as Seoul held live-fire artillery drills on the island. Russia and China called for a calming of tensions on the peninsula, but South Korea refused to cancel the drills amid domestic pressure to stand firm against the North.
Nigeria was hit by several deadly bomb attacks and ongoing Islamist militant violence over the month. At least 80 people were killed in coordinated explosions in the central city of Jos on 24 December. e lives of at least 170 people and more than 15,000 fled to neighbouring countries.
In Pakistan, the Taliban launched a wave of suicide attacks during the month that left scores dead. Many of those killed were locals supporting efforts against the militants. The situation in Guinea improved as former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo conceded defeat in the November presidential runoff and Alpha Condé was sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president. Following a tense election period and concerted international efforts to avert renewed conflict, world leaders commended Guinea for a “historic achievement”.
Iraq ’s parliament unanimously approved a new 42-member government under incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on 21 December. The move ends nine months of political deadlock and protracted negotiations over government formation following parliamentary elections in March.
CrisisWatch also notes a marked deterioration in Mexico’s drug-related violence over the course of the past year, despite the killing of several high-profile cartel leaders...
Freedom House welcomes the vote by the United Nations General Assembly to elect Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the two open seats for Eastern European States in yesterday's election to the UN Human Rights Council. Belarus, the third candidate for the East Europe vacancies, was defeated in a tight race following a vigorous campaign by numerous human rights organizations and countries opposed to the candidacy of a country with one of the world's most abysmal human rights records.
The United States of America finds that neither the classic instruments of criminal law and procedure, nor the framework of the laws of war (including respect for the Geneva Conventions) has been apt to address the terrorist threat. As a result it has introduced new legal concepts, such as "enemy combatant" and "rendition", which were previously unheard of in international law and stand contrary to the basic legal principles that prevail on our continent. Thus, across the world, the United States has progressively woven a clandestine "spider's web" of disappearances, secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers, often encompassing countries notorious for their use of torture. Hundreds of persons have become entrapped in this web, in some cases merely suspected of sympathising with a presumed terrorist organisation....
November 30, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
Concentrated predominantly along the Polish border region, Poles in Belarus stand out as a group with a distinct ethnic and linguistic identity. Poles in Belarus have no risks of rebellion; the likelihood of the group's protest, however, seems to be on the rise as a result of new cultural and political restrictions levied against the group over the past few years.
November 30, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
Geographically dispersed throughout the country, Russians of Belarus represent the advantaged minority. Although there are linguistic and cultural differences between Russians and Belorussians, during the Soviet rule, these differences became increasingly blurred. As a result, most Belorussians identify themselves closely with the Russian Federation. Russians of Belarus have no risks of rebellion and only minimal likelihood of protest. In fact, the group continues to be the advantaged minority. It is not discriminated against in any obvious way. The closeness of Russian and Belarusian culture and languages, along with the strong affinity and even identification which Belarusians hold for Russia and the former Soviet Union seem to diminish the likelihood of ethnic strife even further. Also weighing in against potential threats to Russians is the dependence of Belarus on the Russian Federation for energy and trade. The recent moves towards economic and monetary union with Russia will only increase this dependence.
However, the potential exists for Belarusian nationalism to become heightened and for the position of Russians in Belarus to be threatened. Belarusian nationalism seems to have inspired movements pushing for use of the Belarusian language in addition to Russian. Except for some of its vocal advocates, however, this nationalism has not been aggressive in any way and few believe it will become aggressive due to what seems to be an indifference by many Belarusians about their own culture and language....
Ten years have passed since President Alexander Lukashenko swept to power in the former Soviet republic of Belarus. Voted in with a sizeable majority, he has spent the intervening decade consolidating his hold on the country.
In three human rights resolutions adopted at the end of this week's plenary session, the European Parliament condemned the assassination attempt on the president and prime minister of Timor-Leste (East Timor), drew attention once more to the lack of democracy and human rights in Belarus and highlighted the appalling violence in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) was launched on 08 May 2002 in Belgrade. SEESAC is a component of the Regional Implementation Plan on Combating the Proliferations of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) formulated and adopted by the Stability Pact in November 2001(Revised in 2006), with the aims of stopping the flow and availability of SALW in the region, consolidating achievements so far and supporting the socio-economic conditions for peace and development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe. The uncontrolled proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons (SALW) is a serious problem in South Eastern and Eastern Europe. SALW proliferation has fuelled crime and insecurity, exacerbating conflict in the region and undermining post conflict peace-building. Problems related to SALW are likely to pose a serious constraint to economic and social development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe. Established in co-operation with the UNDP and housed in their offices in Belgrade, SEESAC worked to support the Stability Pact Regional Implementation Plan for an initial period of three years; the impact of the project has led to a further four-year extension until December 2008. Political and strategic guidance and indigenous support for SEESAC is provided by a Regional Steering Group (RSG), which is composed of representatives of the governments of the states concerned, the Stability Pact, UNDP and observers from institutions such as the European Union (EU), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and civil society. The RSG meets twice yearly and has approved the 2006 SEESAC Strategy and a revision of the SEESAC mandate. SEESAC capability is now available to all stakeholders within the CIS and Caucasus region. SEESAC is now also available to provide technical advice and project development assistance for the disposal of heavy weapons (within available resources). SEESAC operates under the guidance of The Regional Steering Group for Small Arms and Light Weapons and the UN Resident Co-ordinator in Belgrade. SEESAC liaises directly with governments and civil society, providing technical input, information exchange, co-ordination and overview of current and future efforts and fund-raising assistance for specific SALW projects. SEESAC's small team is in constant communication with all the governments involved and with the relevant international organisations, non-governmental organisations and bi-lateral donors. SEESAC's regional activities include sensitising governments and civil society on small arms issues, formulating national strategies for SALW control and incorporating small arms issues into UNDP development planning....
Youth movements played a critical role in the recent wave of revolutions in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine and -- to a lesser extent -- in Kyrgyzstan. New youth groups are appearing in Russia and Central Asia, much to the dismay of leaders there. "The Power of Youth" is an ongoing RFE/RL project that will look at how youth movements are born, mature, and make the transition to the postrevolutionary setting or endure under repression..
August 2, 2011 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
People become refugees for many
reasons, not least because of violent
civil conflicts in which ordinary citizens
are the greatest victims. This has
led to large numbers of women,
men and children being forced to
seek sanctuary in their neighbouring
countries and further afield. These
people can remain displaced for years,
or even decades. Some may fear that
the prolonged presence of refugees
will have a negative impact on their
community or country.
In reality, if given the opportunity to
integrate and belong, former refugees
are able to be self-reliant and to
contribute socially and economically,
in many cases becoming an asset to
their host States.
Local integration is one of the
three ‘durable solutions’ for refugees
developed by the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), in partnership
with host and origin countries. The
other durable solutions are voluntary
repatriation to the refugees’ country
of origin, and resettlement in a third
country. Local integration is particularly relevant
when people cannot return to their
country of origin in a foreseeable
future, or have developed strong
ties with their host communities
through business or marriage. It
is based on the assumption that
refugees will remain in their country
of asylum permanently and find
a solution to their plight in that
State, possibly but not necessarily
though acquiring citizenship.
Local integration is all about
partnerships and collaboration
between agencies and countries in
the pursuit of collective solutions.
Ultimately, however, both the vision
and leadership of host governments
and the support of the international
community are critical to the
ongoing success of local integration
The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression.
In reporting news from the world’s most troubled nations, journalists have made a seismic shift this year in their reliance on the Internet and other digital tools. Blogging, video sharing, text messaging, and live-streaming from cellphones brought images of popular unrest from the central square of Cairo and the main boulevard of Tunis to the rest of the world. Yet the technology used to report the news has been matched in many ways by the tools used to suppress information. Many of the oppressors’ tactics show an increasing sophistication, from the state-supported email in China designed to take over journalists’ personal computers, to the carefully timed cyber-attacks on news websites in Belarus. Still other tools in the oppressor’s kit are as old as the press itself, including imprisonment of online writers in Syria, and the use of violence against bloggers in Russia.
To mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the Committee to Protect Journalists is examining the 10 prevailing tactics of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. What is most surprising about these Online Oppressors is not who they are—they are all nations with long records of repression—but how swiftly they adapted old strategies to the online world.
In two nations we cite, Egypt and Tunisia, the regimes have changed, but their successors have not categorically broken with past repressive practices. The tactics of other nations—such as Iran, which employs sophisticated tools to destroy anti-censorship technology, and Ethiopia, which exerts monopolistic control over the Internet—are being watched, and emulated, by repressive regimes worldwide.
Here are the 10 prevalent tools for online oppression....
March 14, 2011 Institute for Security and Development Policy
The events in Libya have once again put focus on Belarus as an arms exporter. Belarus has admitted that it sold or delivered weapons worth an estimated US$1.1 billion in 1999-2006 according to the Congressional Research Service. A significant number of these sales went to state-sponsored terrorism, extremist groups or states involved in conflict. Belarus is also one of the top arms exporters to rogue states.
The 31-page report documents the human rights violations that have occurred since the election – including persecution of opposition candidates and activists, abuse of detainees, trials behind closed doors, and raids on human rights organizations. The report also details allegations of extremely poor conditions in detention, denial of access to defense counsel, and government pressure on lawyers representing those facing criminal charges related to the post-election protest. These and other abuses contribute to a serious deterioration of the already poor state of human rights in Belarus, Human Rights Watch said. The report is based on interviews conducted in February 2011 in Minsk....
January 14, 2011 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
In an election last month marred by widespread allegations of fraud, opposition protests, and a violent government crackdown, Aleksandr Lukashenka once again claimed a landslide victory in his bid to retain the presidency of Belarus. Following victories in 1994, 2001, and 2006—the last enabled by a constitutional change to remove term limits—this election’s outcome continues Lukashenka’s dominance of the country’s politics, despite a pre-election reform trend that enabled greater opposition activity. The onus is now squarely back on Moscow, Washington, and Brussels to respond to the election’s most immediate and troubling consequences—the imprisonment of hundreds of demonstrators and opposition activists—while setting a course for future relations with this mid-sized state occupying a key strategic location among Russia, NATO, and the EU.
Thus far, Russia’s president and other former Soviet leaders have quietly congratulated Lukashenka for his victory, while Western leaders have strongly condemned the violence, and a few states, notably Poland, have expanded their ties with the Belarusian opposition. But the looming question for Western leaders is whether to revive tough sanctions and close the door on engagement with the Lukashenka regime, or to seek a solution that will undo the direst post-election abuses while leaving open the possibility of future re-engagement. Belarus, too, is at an inflection point—it can choose to salvage what remains of its pre-election reform agenda, or it may empower those at home, in Russia, and in the West who oppose the country’s closer ties with Europe....