- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict and peace
- Peace and development
The international community, and Western powers in particular, appear to have pulled back from the brink of a military intervention in Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. However, the threat of a direct intervention in the conflict in Syria, which has already claimed over 100 000 lives, remains real. Now, more than ever, we need to understand the real costs of war and the benefits of peace.
In November 2013 the United Nations Secretary-General is expected to release his next report on the protection of civilians (POC) in armed conflict. With the ongoing debates in anticipation of the report, and as the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide approaches, now is the time to reflect on what the concept of POC has achieved so far, and how its implementation needs to be adjusted.
As an economist looking at issues of conflict and security, I am constantly surprised to recall that my discipline only started to study the role of violence in the repertoire of human behaviour and interaction after the end of the cold war.
With cybersecurity become increasingly importand for state security, can it be controlled by traditional security mechanisms?
Making nuclear weapons requires access to materials—highly enriched uranium or plutonium—that do not exist in nature in a weapons-usable form. To constitute a threat, natural uranium needs to go through a challenging and time-consuming process of transformation as it moves through the nuclear fuel cycle.
North Korea’s recent nuclear test has led to demands for a new round of United Nations sanctions against the country, but the title of a recent Foreign Policy blog post, ‘Is there anything in North Korea left to sanction?’ neatly summarizes the problem facing UN diplomats—and in the process points out one of the key weaknesses in the current sanctions regime.
The Brazilian-proposed concept of ‘responsibility while protecting’ (RWP) has polarized opinion on how the international community should respond when civilian populations are targeted. RWP’s supporters claim it would make civilian protection interventions, especially military ones, more accountable and proportionate and rein in perceived misuse of the internationally accepted ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P). Some of RWP’s opponents see it as a deliberate ploy by states aligned with China and Russia to impede intervention. In reality, this debate is a distraction from less comfortable truths about R2P.
Toothpaste is a harmless consumer product, but it contains fluoride compounds—industrial chemicals that are needed to manufacture the deadly nerve agent sarin—making it a so-called dual-use item.
The internatioal community's plan for a military intervention in Mali is arguably only needed because too much priority has been given to security, at the expense of development efforts to the political, economical and social complexity of the situation in northern Mali.