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PEACE & SECURITY REPORT
IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to brief busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community on pertinent global news, events, and trends.  Meticulously researched and written by IPSI, the PSR empowers us all to take a step back from our immediate deadlines each Friday and gain a greater understanding of the week's global events.

Featured Article   

Talking About Talks: Toward a Political Settlement in Afghanistan 

International Crisis Group 
IPSI Featured Article
A negotiated political settlement is a desirable outcome to the conflict in Afghanistan, but current talks with the Taliban are unlikely to result in a sustainable peace. There is a risk that negotiations under present conditions could further destabilise the country and region. Debilitated by internal political divisions and external pressures, the Karzai government is poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Afghanistan's security forces are ill-prepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops. As political competition heats up within the country in the run-up to NATO's withdrawal of combat forces at the end of 2014, the differing priorities and preferences of the parties to the conflict - from the Afghan government to the Taliban leadership to key regional and wider international actors - will further undermine the prospects of peace. To avoid another civil war, a major course correction is needed that results in the appointment of a UN-mandated mediation team and the adoption of a more realistic approach to resolution of the conflict.


Africa
AFRICAN UNION: AU launches Kony taskforce
On March 24, a joint taskforce comprising of Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central Africa Republic (CAR) was launched in Juba to apprehend Joseph Kony and militarily end the Lord Resistance Army's atrocities in the Central African region. The 5,000-strong military force will be based in the South Sudan city of Yambio, close to the border with the DRC. Comment: The force will be led by Uganda, although the LRA has not been active in the nation for over six years. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and forcibly enlisting children. Since rebelling against the Ugandan government in 1987, the LRA has been active in Uganda, the DRC, South Sudan, and the CAR. (Al Jazeera, Daily Maverick, All Africa)

MALI: Junta unveils constitution
On Tuesday, the Malian junta announced a new constitution and pledged to hold elections, but have not set a date. It added that civilians would be offered 15 out of 41 posts in a new transitional authority intended to prepare for elections. The new constitution guarantees the right to demonstrate or go on strike. It also granted immunity to the leaders of the coup, which left three people dead. Comment: Since the coup on March 22, Mali has become isolated; on Tuesday, it was suspended by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which followed similar action by the African Union. Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure, whose whereabouts have been unknown since he was overthrown, on Wednesday told AFP he was safe in Bamako and not being held by the junta. (Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, BBC, BBC)

SENEGAL: Opposition leader elected president
On Sunday, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Macky Sall won Senegal's presidential run-off with 65.8 percent of the vote to the 34.2 percent gained by incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade. Sall's political party is the Republican Alliance, but he was elected as part of a broad coalition called Benno Bokk Yakkar (United with the same Hope). The elections followed protests last month after Wade's bid for a third term in office was approved by the Constitutional Court, despite a previous constitutional provision barring him from doing so. Comment: The European Union's observer mission said the campaign and election had been relatively trouble-free. Sall is slated to assume office after his inauguration on April 3. (France 24, BBC, All Africa)
 
Researched/Written by James Asuquo-Brown III

Americas
CANADA: Ontario court legalizes prostitution
On Monday, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled against existing anti-prostitution legislation, finding the laws inherently unconstitutional. The five-judge panel ruled that the ban of brothels and other indoor operations "puts prostitutes at risk" and leaves those in the industry vulnerable to dangerous work conditions on the streets. The ruling enables prostitutes to operate under pimps, except in "circumstances of exploitation" and permits the hiring of body guards and other personnel for protection. The Court upheld a 2010 decision made by a lower court judge who found that the three existing national sex worker laws violated the constitution's provision of "the right to life, liberty, and security." Comment: According to Canadian law, while prostitution is not illegal, brothel operation, communication for purposes of selling sex, and pimping are criminalized. The administration of Prime Minister Harper can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court within 60 days. (BBC, NY Times, Huffington Post) 
 
CUBA: Pope pressures for reform during visit 
Pope Benedict XVI ended an official papal visit to Cuba on Wednesday after traveling throughout the island. The Pontiff resonated calls for economic reform, the release of political dissidents, and the cessation of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. Nearly 300,000 appeared for an open air mass in Havana's Revolution Square, during which the Pope discussed the importance of religious freedoms for all Cubans. Prior to the papal visit, international monitors estimate more than 200 people were arrested or detained for political activities targeting the government. Pope Benedict XVI also met with President Castro and brother Fidel prior to his departure. Comment: The Pope's visit comes at a time in which the role of the Catholic Church is diminishing in the country. During the 49 years of Fidel Castro's presidency, the Church has been unable to operate schools, hospitals, or gain access to media outlets. Recently, relations with the Vatican improved under the tenure of Raul; the Church often plays intermediary on issues related to political prisoners. (Reuters, CNN, Miami Herald) 
 
UNITED STATES: Supreme Court ends hearings on healthcare law 
Three days of hearings ended on Wednesday regarding the constitutionality of President Obama's 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the most significant healthcare law to have been passed in nearly half a century. Most controversial is a provision requiring an individual mandate that healthcare insurance be purchased by all Americans by 2014; failure to acquire insurance could result in a tax penalty. Twenty-six states oppose the law, asserting its "unconstitutionality" and infringement on personal liberties. If the individual mandate provision is found to be unconstitutional, states are demanding the entirety of the law be found null and void, while proponents of the law maintain other provisions should not be done away with. Comment: The hearings are the longest to occur in 44 years in the Supreme Court for a single issue. The law aims at providing medical coverage for the more than 30 million uninsured Americans, and is expected to save the federal government billions in expenditures. The Supreme Court Justices will conduct a private meeting and take a secret preliminary vote today, although a ruling is not expected until late June. (Al Jazeera, Washington Post, BBC)
 
Researched/Written by  Melissa Mahfouz

East Asia
JAPAN: Nuclear reactor still showing high radiation levels
On March 27, an internal examination revealed that one of Japan's defective nuclear reactors has fatally high radiation and low water levels, reawakening fears about the plant's stability. The damage from the disaster is reportedly so poisonous that special equipment and technology will need to be created to decommission the plant; steps that could take decades. Comment: Fukushima's accident has roused public distrust and concerns about nuclear safety, making it difficult for the government to restart reactors even after regular safety checks. All but one of Japan's 54 reactors are now offline, with the last one scheduled to stop in early May. (HP, CBS, USA TODAY)

NORTH KOREA: U.S. suspends food aid
On March 29, the U.S. announced that it was suspending food aid to North Korea, following Pyongyang's announcement of a scheduled rocket launch next month; the U.S. says the launch violates the terms of a February agreement trading food aid for North Korea's suspension of its nuclear program. The Pentagon stated the U.S. has "no confidence" that it is possible "to ensure that the food assistance will go to the starving people and not the regime's elite." Comment: North Korea has experienced recurring food shortages since a famine in the 1990s and depends on foreign aid to feed its people. The prospective 240,000 tons of food aid from the U.S. was to go to children and pregnant women. (BBC, AFP, Al Jazeera)

REGIONAL: Thailand and Australia human trafficking arrests
On Tuesday, police in Thailand and Australia arrested six people as part of a year-long, international operation against human trafficking networks using phony passports. Thai police said they arrested an Iraqi man and a Thai woman in Bangkok on passport forgery charges. Australian police arrested four men in Sydney and Melbourne, who are believed to be the main facilitators in the smuggling syndicate, which traffics people from South Asia to Australia. Thai police said they found 16 forged passports for the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Iran, and machines for producing fake passports after a raid on a house owned by the arrested woman. It is believed that the fake passports, which Thai police said cost USD 400 each, are primarily sold to people from the Middle East. The buyers then use Iranian or Iraqi passports to travel to Thailand followed by UAE passports to travel to Australia by plane or boat. Comment: Australia has as struggled consistently with refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants entering the country illegally. (BBC, ABC, WP)
 

Researched/Written by Jared Bell

Europe & Central Asia
BELARUS: Three opposition activists barred from traveling to Brussels
Three Belarussian activists involved in opposition political parties were removed from a train leaving Belarus for Moscow on Wednesday. The trio was planning to continue on from Moscow to meet with EU officials in Brussels when they were detained and charged in Belarus with "petty hooliganism." Comment: The action appears to be retaliation for the recent EU travel sanctions against Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko and other members of his government. Lukashenko responded to the EU sanctions with a blacklist of opponents not allowed to leave Belarus. (RFE/RL, Irish Times, Washington Post)

FRANCE: Formal investigation for Strauss-Kahn
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was formally charged on Monday for involvement in prostitution rings in Washington, Paris, Lille and elsewhere. Strauss-Kahn admitted to attending sex parties, but claimed he did not know that the women at the party were prostitutes. These accusations come on the heels of a civil case against Strauss-Kahn brought by a hotel maid in New York City who is accusing him of attempted rape. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers are arguing for diplomatic immunity in the case. Comment: Strauss-Kahn had been considered a major candidate for the French presidency until criminal charges were brought against him for the sexual assault last May. The criminal charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. (BBC, Washington Post, France 24, Telegraph)

REGIONAL: EU places sanctions on Asma al-Assad
On Friday, EU foreign ministers placed further sanctions on high-ranking Syrians, including Bashar al-Assad's British-born wife Asma al-Assad and the president's mother, sister and sister-in-law. The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes. These sanctions are meant as a signal to Syria that the EU is committed to seeing a resolution to the months of violent repression of opposition groups in Syria. Comment: The Syrian first lady has been compared to Princess Diana because of her good looks, youth, and supposed compassion; however, in recent months emails leaked to the press have shown her as unfalteringly loyal to her husband and his regime and unlikely to take a stand against the regime's violence. (BBC, AFP, Deutsche Welle)

Researched/Written by Kate Elci

Middle East & North Africa
EGYPT: Constitutional process stalled amid parliamentary boycotts, protests
A panel tasked with drawing up Egypt's new constitution held its first meeting Wednesday, despite a boycott by liberal members who accuse the Islamists that dominate the committee of trying to hijack the charter-writing process. The Constitutional assembly of 100 members is made up of 65 Muslim Brotherhood or Nour Party members and sympathizers, reflecting the parliamentary dominance following the 2011 elections. Protests on Tuesday and Wednesday, rallying under the umbrella of "Constitution for All Egyptians Front," claim that important segments of society, including women, Copts, and youth, are being left out of the constitution drafting process. Comment: Gaber Nassar, one of the lawyers filing the lawsuit, stated that Article 60 of the Constitutional Declaration, effective after the March 2011 referendum, stipulates that parliamentary members cannot elect themselves but are to instead elect participants who are non-parliamentary members. Liberals who quit the 100-member assembly in protest signed a pledge to write an alternative constitution. Military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi is expected to meet with council members on Thursday to mediate a resolution that will allow the process to move forward. (Ahram Online, AP, Al Jazeera)

ISRAEL: Government cuts relations with UN Human Rights Council over settlement investigation
The Israeli Foreign Ministry cut working relations with the UN Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a UN team from entering Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish settlements. The resolution authorizing the probe was adopted by the 47-member council by 36 votes in favor and 10 abstentions, with only the U.S. voting against it. Israel has called in Ambassadors from multiple European countries that voted for the probe, including Austria, Belgium, Norway, and Switzerland. Comment: Much of the international community sees settlement expansion on occupied lands as a major impediment to the peace process and has pressured Israel to freeze all new construction. Israel and the U.S. halted all funding to UNESCO last fall after the UN cultural agency recognized Palestine as a member. (Al Jazeera, Washington Post, CNN)

LIBYA: 70 killed in clashes between militias in southern town of Sabha
Three days of clashes between rival militias in southern Libya spread to the center of the country's fourth largest city Sabha on Tuesday, killing and estimated 70 people and injuring 150 more. Former rebels and ethnic Toubou gunmen began clashing after the murder of a militiaman on Sunday, reportedly in a dispute over a vehicle. Although a ceasefire was agreed to on Wednesday, there are still reports of continued fighting. Hundreds of government troops were sent to the region and mediation efforts are underway. Comment: The ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is struggling to assert its authority across Libya where rival militias and tribal groups are jostling for power and resources. Some African tribes in southern Libya, such as the Toubou, feel they are not treated as equals by Arabs from the coastal cities of the north that tend to dominate the country's government and security forces. Allegations that the Toubou operate human trafficking corridors in southern Libya have complicated the situation and the reasoning behind the clashes. (BBC, Reuters, Emirates24/7)
 

Researched/Written by Colleen Michelle Rossmiller

South Asia
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. pleads for more international aid
This month, President Obama appealed personally to 64 nations for increased monetary aid for Afghanistan before the December 31, 2014 NATO pullout date. The appeal was delivered to capitals around the world via letter at the same time that U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan Marc Grossman finished a tour of Europe last week. The U.S. estimates that Afghanistan will need an additional 4.3 billion dollars in aid at the time of the scheduled withdrawal; the aid will go to maintaining Afghan military and police forces. Most nations have responded to the appeal with questions, as support for the war in Afghanistan has rapidly decreased within the last two months. Loss of support is widely assumed to be a result of an increase in attacks against NATO personnel by Afghan military and police, which have claimed 16 lives over the past three weeks. Comment: On Monday, an Afghan soldier shot and killed three NATO troops, two of which were British. Polls conducted this month in both Britain and the U.S. concluded that 73 percent and 69 percent of the polled, respectively, consider the war in Afghanistan to be going "very badly" or at least "somewhat bad." (Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Washington Post)

MALDIVES: Somali piracy reaches the Maldives
An Iran-bound cargo ship carrying over 63,000 tons of goods, mainly Brazilian sugar, was hijacked Monday by Somali pirates in Maldivian waters. The ship, named MV Eglantine, was close to the north-western Maldivian island of Hoarafush, and it is the first such incident to have happened within Maldivian maritime borders. Coast guard operations were abandoned on Tuesday after the pirates steered the ship outside of Maldivian jurisdiction. The ship left dock from Brazil in February. Comment: Piracy has increased in areas close to the Maldives, which is 3,000 km away from Somalia. Last November, the Maldivian government announced it would join India and Sri Lanka in developing anti-piracy strategies in the Indian Ocean. (Reuters, Hindustan Times, BBC)

PAKISTAN: Prime Minister Gilani asks for nuclear energy technology
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met with other world leaders Monday in Seoul, South Korea, for the annual Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) to request Pakistan's admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The NSG, which provides states with technology for peaceful nuclear energy programs, has already admitted India with support from the United States. PM Gilani referenced the 2011 IAEA approval of two new nuclear power plants in Pakistan, funded by China, as evidence of "the international community's continued confidence in the safety and security standards maintained by Pakistan." Most states involved in the Summit, however, list Pakistan as a "high-risk country" because of its alleged affiliations with extremist factions in its tribal areas. The program highlighted issues between Pakistan and India, but Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar said Tuesday that she "looks forward to results-oriented dialogue" with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in July. Comment: India's nuclear security concerns with its neighbor Pakistan were of noted importance at the Summit after a leaked letter from Indian Army Chief V.K. Singh concluded India's air force to be "97 percent obsolete." (Dawn, Tribune, The Hindu)

Researched/Written by Tarek J. Nasser

March 30, 2012
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In This Issue

Featured Article

Africa

Americas

East Asia

Europe & Central Asia

Middle East & N. Africa

South Asia

IPSI News 
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IPSI Gareth Evans
IPSI Advisor Gareth Evans, author of Responsibility to Protect, on tricky R2P implications in Syria: "Saving the Syrians"  

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IPSI Alumni News 
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IPSI Alumna Jasmine-Kim Westendorf thoughtfully responds to Kony 2012 in OpenDemocracy: "After the storm, we need to keep talking about Kony."    

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Tags: conflict, nonviolence, peace, reconciliation, resolution, security, war

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