Today, Sunday 24 February, the heads of state of eleven countries have signed a peace and security agreement addressing the conflicts in and around eastern Congo. It’s a potentially important step – but it’s the start of a long process, not the end of it.
Most of the trends that The State of the World Atlas looks at are ones that are visible across the last two decades since the Cold War ended. During that period, peace is one of the big, under-reported (though not unqualified) good news stories. Continue reading
Today is publication day for the new edition of The State of the World Atlas. It presents information about the world – economics, politics, conflict, health, environment and demography – in a variety of forms, primarily in maps and other visuals, also in text. If you will excuse me, I want to introduce it to you. Continue reading
Posted in The State of the World
Tagged carbon emissions, China, Climate change, EU, global ineqaulity, health, India, International development, peace agreements, peacebuilding, UN, US
Students in the Master of Fine Arts course at Slade, University College London, have put together a collection of their work. They chose the theme of conflict and all the pieces reflect on it in one way or another. The collection ranges from internal conflict to open war, from the personal to the political and back again. They asked me to write a foreword and as a result I had (the opportunity) to think about some things from the bottom up. Here is what I wrote: Continue reading
A few years back, the universally acknowledged truth in peacebuilding was that, for a country to move from a peace agreement on paper into a real and sustainable peace process, the fighters had to disarm, demobilise and re-integrate – DDR. It was high priority on the ground, backed by a deal of international activity to learn lessons and sort out best practice. Lately, the energy seems to have drained out of DDR. It is time to renew it. Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, International development
Tagged Chechnya, Croatia, DDR, Disarmament, EU, human security, Liberia, peace agreements, peacebuilding, UN, World Bank
DFID’s impressive White Paper came out in July; it marks a major step forward in thinking and policy-making on international development (see my post on 21 August). But there are at least a couple of points that deserve a second, sceptical look. Without detracting from the achievement registered with the White Paper, but just to have it on record in a quiet way, DFID takes an unguardedly if necessarily optimistic view about recovery from the recession and over-states the success of peace agreements quite dramatically. Continue reading
President Obama’s speech in Cairo on 4 June offers further evidence of his unrivalled communication skills and of his will and capacity to address thorny issues by reframing and reshaping them in a way that offers new openings for change and improvement. As an opening to the Muslim world, is it possible to imagine an American president doing better given the realities in which he works? For many of the issues he raised, the question is if interlocutors and counterparts will step forward able to use the opportunities he is creating. And over Israel and Palestine, that is a familiar and awkward question. Continue reading
British politics is in one hell of a hole because of stupid abuse of a stupid set-up for covering the living expenses of Members of Parliament. The system was meant to augment MPs’ income because successive governments since the 1980s have been too gutless to agree to raise MPs’ pay in line with, for example, doctors. So the arrangement was always a piece of classic British hypocrisy and now it’s backfired into the fan. As the scandal and ridicule unfolds, though not all MPs are embroiled in it, the body as a whole is naturally obsessed by it and their real business suffers. Here are ten key problems Parliament should be talking about instead of staring up itself.
Posted in Climate change, Conflict & peace, Power, The economic crunch
Tagged banking reform, Copenhagen, finance sector, green economy, MPs' expenses, On the fiddle, Parliament, peace agreements, poverty, public service
Few people have a good word to say for the British government these days, few British voters anyway. But I like not to follow the crowd. And on international development, they have got something worthwhile going on. There are signs of a real rethink that has a chance of paving the way to making overseas aid more effective. Continue reading
“In 2008 global peacekeeping was pushed to the brink,” says a new briefing paper from the Center on International Cooperation in New York announcing the Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2009. The authors chart out the basic peacekeeping figures – who contributes what peacekeeping forces where – but their main focus is on the serious degree of overstretch and the risk of operations breaking down. Continue reading