Tag Archives: international politics

War, peace, truth, images and the news

As Syria stays in our news, every day we can have access to new imagery – visual or verbal – of what is happening there. And from these images come discussions and positions that fuel our views in the controversy about what to do and what not to do, about how to help and what kind of assistance (and to whom) might be effective for the common good in Syria and the region.

Against that backdrop, International Alert organised a discussion – one of our series of PeaceTalks - in partnership with the University of Sussex, hosted and recorded at the Frontline Club in London on Wednesday 18 September. Our panel was almost uniquely qualified to discuss the issues. It comprised Martin Bell, renowned former reporter on war and peace; Timothy Large, Editor-in-Chief at Thomson Reuters Foundation, responsible among other things for the AlertNet news service; and international relations Professor Cynthia Weber of Sussex University, who is also a documentary film-maker. I was chairing.

In our wide ranging discussion we covered how stories are selected and shaped, why some imagery works and some doesn’t, the use of social media, what we want from journalism and whether news organisations are providing it, whether there is such a thing as peace journalism or really there’s just good or bad journalism, what we mean by truth and whose truth we mean. Take a look.

The Review of the External Action Service

When the European External Action Service was formally set up in July 2010, it was agreed that the High Representative Catherine Ashton should present a review of it this summer. As Brussels descended into summer slumber, that is what she did. Continue reading

Peacebuilding IN Europe?

In 2001 – a different time and a different world – the EU Gothenburg summit agreed to make the prevention of violent conflict a priority for the EU. Measured by money, it’s now the world’s biggest player in peacebuilding. But look around Europe now and we can ask, should peacebuilding also start to be a priority inside the EU? Continue reading

Time to rescue the EU’s External Action Service from the European Commission

The air in Brussels is thick with a storm over the European External Action Service, basically caused by the European Commission trying to break its word. Continue reading

So what’s wrong with the MDGs?

This week’s UN summit will call for a big renewed effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. But there are reasons for starting to think a bit further ahead. A new report from International Alert asks us to get ‘beyond the MDGs”. Continue reading

EU’s External Action Service: options remain open

This past week the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton presented “her” proposal for the new European External Action Service (quotation marks on “her” because, of course, it is not hers alone – even in draft it is already a compromise). So far she has not won all her battles but nor has she lost them. In fact, those battles are not over. All options are open still and those of us who want a genuine Action service need to keep our sleeves rolled up and engage in the arguments ahead. Continue reading

Quiet start from EU High Rep Ashton? Good! Go for the long game

Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative, is facing a mountain of a job and a rockfall of criticism across Europe after her first 100 days. But most of the negativity is a matter of Brussels gossip, bruised little egos and out-dated thinking about international politics. Ashton has got things more right than her critics. Rightly, she is focused on the long game rather than short-term headlines (which some journalists find impossible to forgive and others equally impossible to understand).    Continue reading

Obama, 1 year in: flaws aren’t failure – but there are new risks in policy towards Iran

President Barack Obama has handed himself his sharpest challenge yet: a year of showing his unclenched fist to Iran has produced nothing and now he is toughening up his stance with a missile shield for the US naval forces in the Gulf. What will this do to his presidency? There was so much hope and much of that energy remains, even if it is not being so effectively tapped, but in confronting Iran, might Obama seriously lose his way?

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Copenhagen: Recovering from the hangover

Copenhagen is a city where people like to party. Coming into December, the city was all dressed up for a climate party with posters of green exhortation everywhere and different official and unofficial events laid on. But in the end as everybody knows, the climate conference was no party. Yet there is this terrible sense of hangover around. Political leaders, delegates, activists and journalists have reeled away from the site and the recriminations have started about who just behaved badly and who actually threw up.

Around the city there were also some particularly crude advertisements using sex to sell booze with the slogan, “Party now, Apologize later.” But that’s another way the conference was not like a party. No-one has apologised. Even though the city encouraged them. One set of posters that went up well before the conference showed world leaders in 2020 apologizing for having failed in Copenhagen in 2009: ageing Obamas, Merkels, Browns et al look down and acknowledge their fault. But there have been no apologies. Instead they have passed the blame.

Let’s try something different. Instead of blame and apology let’s take some time to discuss results, reasons and response. It’s a lengthy discussion that must start now because it’s already time to shake off that hangover. Continue reading

Copenhagen: time to re-think? Or just keep thinking!

As thousands of negotiators, activists, diplomats, scientists, politicians and journalists start pouring into Copenhagen for the climate summit – formally said, the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – the question has been raised whether we should want them to succeed or fail. Which, of course, begs the next question: what is success at Copenhagen?

So is Copenhagen not the time to seal a new climate deal after all? Is it time for a re-think? My own view is that it’s best never to stop thinking, then you don’t have to make the effort to start up again. Continue reading