Category Archives: Conflict & peace

The Nobel Peace Prize and Sexual Violence in War

On Friday 5 October, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced the laureates for 2018: Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege. These are two extraordinary people, brave, articulate and committed. Both Ms Murad and Dr Mukwege know atrocity close up. Both work to help the victims of wartime sexual crimes and, by denouncing the crime, helping to end it.

Here are my first thoughts on this, in a 3-minute film from SIPRI, part of our Peace Points series; I stress the development of awareness of the crime of sexual violence in war, growing from Susan Brownmiller’s 1975 book Against Our Will,* through UN Security Council Resolution 1820 in 2008, via the campaigning work of Angelina Jolie and former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, to today:

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Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1975) – followed by many other editions, paperback, e-book etc.

The heat and its implications

Around the world, a series of new “hottest ever” local records have been set. Africa has experienced what is probably its hottest ever daily temperature. The world’s highest “daily minimum” temperature (i.e., the lowest temperature in that 24-hour period) has been recorded – over 42°C in Oman, for those of you trying to handle a modest mid-30s of an afternoon by the Med. Northern Arctic sea ice is breaking up for the first time on record. What are the trends and what are the implications for peace and security? Continue reading

Kim and Trump in Singapore: extraordinarily ordinary? – not quite

That was a surprise. The Sentosa Island summit on 12 June between President Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un produced an undramatic yet hopeful agreement. Quite a turn-up for the books, coming from two leaders famed for unpredictability. But components of the summit outside of the signed agreement showed Trump continuing to be a disruptor in world politics. Continue reading

Trump and the summits: disruptor or destructor?

As we wait for the summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to unfold on Sentosa Island in Singapore, everyone is in waiting mode and there are few takers for the challenge of forecasting the outcome. There is a widespread sense of a precarious balance between the epoch-shaping risks and opportunities available, uncertainty about what two unpredictable leaders would achieve together or, indeed, wreck. The uncertainty was only deepened by the US President’s rejection of the agreed communiqué at the G7 summit in a Quebec village three days earlier.

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Syria: the mission and the alternatives

On Saturday 7 April came reports that chemical weapons (CW) were used in Douma, Syria. In the very early hours of Saturday 14 April the US, France and the UK launched 105 cruise and air-to-surface missiles against a CW research centre and two CW storage facilities. US President Donald J Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished!” But what was the mission? Continue reading

Impressions from Moscow – MCIS 2018

The seventh Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) was on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 April. Listening to the speeches and chatting with various people during and after it, my first thoughts concern three related issues: the growing confidence of Russian policy; soft power; and shared concern about the increasing risks in global politics, together with deep differences about where those risks come from.  Continue reading

Sackings, summits and somersaults in US foreign policy

It’s not quite “All change!” at the top of US foreign policy but not very far from it. Three key positions have changed in the last two weeks: Rex Tillerson out at the State Department, with Mike Pompeo coming from the CIA, where his Deputy Gina Haspel replaces him, and HR McMaster is out as National Security Advisor, replaced by John Bolton. So, er, what’s going on?  Continue reading