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:
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1975) – followed by many other editions, paperback, e-book etc.
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
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
Posted in Conflict & peace, Northeast Asia, Trump,
Tagged denuclearisation, disruption, DPRK, G7, Kim Jong-un, military exercises, Pompeo, Sentosa, South Korea, trade, Trump,
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.
Posted in Conflict & peace, Power, The State of the World, Trump,
Tagged disruption, DPRK, G7, JCPOA, Kim Jong-un, Macron, Merkel, multilateralism, NATO, North Korea, Paris Climate Agreement, Summit, trade war, Trudeau, Trump,
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
Posted in Conflict & peace, Uncategorized
Tagged Assad, chemical weapons, CW, CW Treaty, Douma, Macron, Mattis, OPCW, Russia, Syria, Theresa May, Trump,, UN Security Council
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
Posted in Conflict & peace, Uncategorized
Tagged Boris Johnson, Cold War, Lavrov, MCIS, Moscow Conference on International Security, Novichok, OPCW, Porton Down, Skripal, soft power, Syria, Theresa May
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
Posted in Conflict & peace, Northeast Asia, The Middle East
Tagged black sites, CIA, Iran, John Bolton, McMaster, North Korea, Pompeo, Tillerson, Trump,
The 2018 edition of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a top level meeting on peace and security issues, was held on 16-18 February. Among the participants were “more than 30 heads of state and government and over 100 cabinet ministers from across the globe”. There was not much sense of actual security to be found. Continue reading
On 25 January, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced the current time on its long lasting Doomsday Clock: two minutes before midnight, the Editorial Board decided, with midnight, of course, equalling apocalypse. The following day, The Economist, a magazine, carried a cover story on ‘The Next War: the growing threat of a great power conflict’. Are things really that bad? And if so, what can be done about them? Continue reading
Posted in Conflict & peace, Northeast Asia, nuclear weapons, Uncategorized
Tagged Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Confidence Building Measures, Doomsday Clock, North Korea, PyeongChang Olympics 2018, South Korea, Trump,
2017: it’s been some year, eh? It was the first year of the Trump presidency. All UN members bar one were signed up to the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was open for signature and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize. North Korea carried out more missile tests and one nuclear test and moved closer to having a nuclear ICBM capable of hitting targets in the continental US. The Iran nuclear deal came under severe pressure despite Iran implementing it fully. The people of Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya continued to suffer the ravages of violent conflict. Elsewhere in the region and outside it, people faced the threat of random terrorist attacks. Arms spending and arms trading continued to rise. In SIPRI’s Peace Points series of short films, I set out some views on these events and trends as they unfolded.
Best wishes for a peaceful 2018!