|International Peace & Security Institute
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.
Note: There will be no Peace & Security Report next week
The 2012 United States Peace Index (USPI) has found that the U.S. is more peaceful now than at any other time over the last twenty years.
The second annual edition of the index, produced by Institute for Economics and Peace, provides a comprehensive analysis of peacefulness at the state and city levels, as well as an analysis of the costs associated with violence and the socio-economic measures associated with peace.
The USPI measures peacefulness according to five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees and the availability of small arms.
It is the only statistical analysis of crime, and the cost of crime, in all 50 states and, for the first time this year, the 61 most populous metropolitan areas.
- Maine is the most peaceful state for the 11th consecutive year, Louisiana least peaceful state.
- Wyoming has improved the most while Arizona records the biggest fall.
- Cambridge metro area is the most peaceful, Detroit the least peaceful.
- The U.S. is more peaceful than at any time in the last 20 years.
- Further improvements in peacefulness would generate hundreds of billions of extra economic activity.
GUINEA-BISSAU: Parliament speaker rejects presidency
On Saturday, former parliament speaker Manuel Sherif Nhamadjo refused the ruling military junta's offer of leading a two-year transition government. Nhamadjo said he had not been consulted about the decision and described the military's plan as an "illegal appointment." The junta has come under fire from the United Nations and the Economic Community of Western African (ECOWAS) for failing to restore civilian rule after the April 12 military-led coup. Comment: The UN Security Council said it might impose "targeted sanctions" if the country's military rulers do not step down and return the government to civilian control. ECOWAS plans on sending more than 600 troops to Guinea-Bissau to protect institutions and political figures there. (Al Jazeera, All Africa, France 24, Reuters)
LIBERIA: ICC verdict expected in Taylor trial
On Thursday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague delivered a guilty verdict against former Liberian President Charles Taylor. The decision was the first ever judgment against a former head of state by an international court. Taylor was on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was accused of backing and giving orders to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in the 11-year civil war, from 1991 to 2002, in neighboring Sierra Leone that killed some 50,000 people. Comment: Taylor will likely serve his time in a British maximum-security prison. An appeal from the defense is expected, likely prolonging the trial for another six months. (AFP, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle)
MALI: New government is formed
On Wednesday, Mali's interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra formed a 24-member government, including three military representatives. The three representatives will hold the defense, interior, and civil protection portfolios. The military relinquished control under a deal brokered by the ECOWAS regional bloc. The interim government's priorities would be to resolve the crisis in the north of the country, which has been seized by Tuareg and Islamist rebels. Comment: The new transition government will help organize elections at a date not yet known. (France 24, AFP, BBC)
WESTERN SAHARA: UN renews mission mandate
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council reached a deal on a resolution to renew the mandate of the peacekeeping force in disputed territory, extending the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until April 2013. The annual resolution renewing the mandate of the force stressed the need for Morocco to improve rights in Western Sahara, which it annexed in 1975 following a Spanish withdrawal. In 1991, the UN brokered a ceasefire between the Polisario Front and Morocco, with the understanding that a referendum would be held on the fate of the area. Comment: The referendum on the Western Sahara's status has not taken place, and attempts to reach a lasting deal have been unsuccessful. (Reuters, AFP, All Africa)
CHILE: Thousands of students take to the streets, protest educational system
An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 students protested throughout Santiago on Wednesday, as well as the cities of Valparaiso and Concepcion, demanding reforms to Chile's highly privatized educational system and calling for free public education and increases in state funding. Police forces responded to protestors with water cannons after rocks were thrown and some property was vandalized. Prior to the protests, President Piñera held a televised public announcement stating his proposal of a tax bill to Congress that would accrue an estimated USD 700 million in educational funding. Comment: Chile's Education Minister Harald Bayer called the march "not justified," as the government is working to lower interest rates on student loans from 6 to 2 percent in addition to overseeing loans instead of private banks. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), approximately 40 percent of educational spending is derived from tuition costs from private households, as opposed to government funding. Confech, a student confederation, organized the street protests that ensued in 2011 for eight months. (BBC, Al Jazeera, Latin American Herald Tribune)
HAITI: "Rogue" veterans continue occupation of former military bases
On Wednesday, efforts by the Haitian government to disband a "rogue" group of military veterans was unsuccessful, as the group continued to occupy former military barracks in attempts to have the Haitian military reinstated. President Martelly ordered the bases to be emptied immediately; however, the group has maintained its presence throughout Port-au-Prince, often seen patrolling the capital with loaded weapons and full military attire. The UN Peacekeeping Mission to Haiti called for the group to disband. Comment: During his campaign, President Martelly expressed plans to reinstate the military, yet no such actions occurred. The Haitian military was eliminated in 1995 due to rampant reports of abuse and maltreatment. Nearly 8,000 former soldiers are demanding back pay following their dismissal from the military. An estimated 3,500 ex-soldiers and supporters comprise the group. The Interior Ministry said veterans with proof of military service will receive between USD 1,625 to USD 1,750 in back pay, totaling an estimated USD 2.65 million in total allocations. (Associated Press, Associated Press)
UNITED STATES: Supreme Court holds hearings on controversial law
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court listened to a one-hour session of arguments regarding Arizona's controversial law SB1070. The law is being challenged by the federal government on key provisions including those which require legal documentation to reside in Arizona, prohibit undocumented individuals from employment, and enable police to arrest any individual "believed to have committed a crime that could lead to deportation." Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. argued SB1070 to be "inconsistent with federal immigration," as it appropriates federal jurisdiction over immigration and deportation issues to the state government and enables the police to take pre-emptive action by checking immigration status immediately upon arrest. Paul Clement, defending Arizona, emphasized Arizona's "disproportionate share of the costs of illegal immigration," and that the law "mirrors federal immigration law." Comment: Chief Justice Roberts stated central to the case is the issue of state and federal powers, not the civil rights concerns that have ensued since the bill's passage in the Arizona state legislature in 2010. Opponents to the law state it incites racial profiling and vilifies the Latino community. The justices appeared to be "sympathetic" to provisions of the law, noting its provisions do not appear to overstretch state authority. Copycat laws passed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah. (NY Times, BBC, Associated Press)
MYANMAR: Suu Kyi party refuses Parliament seat over oath
On April 22, Myanmar's democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, National League for Democracy (NLD), refused to take their seats in parliament due to issues they had with the oath. The NLD cited that the wording of the oath requires them to protect a constitution that was drawn up by the country's former junta. The National League for Democracy (NLD) wants to swear to "respect," rather than "safeguard" the constitution, which they say is undemocratic. The government, which is dominated by former military officials, has so far rejected the party's request to change the oath's wording. The NLD has petitioned Myanmar's constitutional court and Suu Kyi has written to Thein Sein, Myanmar's President, asking that it be altered. NLD spokesman Nyan Win said that he believed the dispute would be solved within 10 days, and other party officials have said there is support within Thein Sein's government to change the oath. Comment: Ms. Suu Kyi and 42 NLD members were elected to parliament in the April 1 by-elections. The election of Suu Skyi and her fellow NLD members are part of wider democratic reforms taking place in Myanmar. (BBC, AP, LAT, Telegraph)
PHILIPPINES: Communist rebels kill 10 soldiers
On April 25, at least 10 Filipino soldiers and two civilians were killed in an ambush by communist rebels in the north. The New People's Army (NPA) ambushed an army convoy in a remote village in Ifugao province, north of Luzon Island, according to security forces. Wednesday's attack came several days after six guerrillas died in a clash with government troops in the same mountainous region. This recent attack resulted in the biggest losses for the military in a single clash with rebels in recent years. Comment: The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its NPA armed wing have been batting the government since 1969. Peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels have taken place sporadically over the years, but they have been suspended since 2011. (BBC, SFC, ABC)
VIETNAM: Security forces seize land
On April 24 in the second high-profile clash over property this year, thousands of riot police overwhelmed villagers who tried to block them from taking control of disputed land east of Hanoi. Villagers in the district of Van Giang swore to protect their land after local authorities announced that they would forcibly expropriate 70 hectares (173 acres) of land for use in a satellite city development called Ecopark. Villagers threw rocks at police in protest, leading to the arrest of seven to 10 people. The first high-profile clash took place in January, where farmers outside the city of Haiphong attacked security forces with homemade landmines and guns in a bid to stop local officials from expropriating land. Comment: Land disputes with local authorities are an increasingly contentious issue in the communist country, where all land is owned by the state and usage rights are not always clear or protected. The government says it provides adequate compensation for those being relocated, but corruption among local officials alleged to have siphoned off the allocated funds for personal use has led to increased unrest. (Reuters, FT, Gulf Times).
|Europe & Central Asia
FRANCE: Hollande defeats Sarkozy in first-round vote
Socialist candidate François Hollande won the first round of voting in the French presidential election on Sunday, earning 28.63 percent of the vote. Incumbent Sarkozy came in a close second with 27.08 percent. Despite Hollande's success, much of the attention following the vote has been focused on third-place finisher Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right party National Front. Le Pen won 18.1 percent of the vote with her nationalist, anti-immigration platform, the greatest percentage of votes for the National Front ever. The top two candidates will square off in the final vote, scheduled for May 6. Comment: Sarkozy is expected to court Le Pen's voters in the second round of voting; however, Le Pen advisers urge her supporters to abstain from voting in the second round. Hollande remains the favorite to clinch the presidency. (BBC, Euronews, France 24)
NETHERLANDS: Prime Minister, cabinet resign
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte submitted his resignation to Queen Beatrix on Monday, along with that of his cabinet members. The government had been unable to pass austerity cuts to the budget; the situation was exacerbated when the Freedom Party, headed by Geert Wilders, refused to continue talks on Saturday. The Freedom Party had previously supported Rutte's coalition government. The queen urged the cabinet to consider staying on in the interest of the nation until elections are organized. Elections will most likely be scheduled by the end of June. Comment: The Netherlands is likely to lose its AAA credit rating due to the budget woes. Without maintaining a three percent or less deficit, the rating is in jeopardy. (New York Times, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Washington Post)
UKRAINE: Tymoshenko allegedly goes on hunger strike
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was imprisoned last year for abuse of office, began a hunger strike on April 20, according to her lawyer. While Ukrainian officials deny the strike, Tymoshenko is supposedly refusing food after prison guards beat her and took her to the hospital against her will last Friday. Tymoshenko refuses to be treated by Ukrainian doctors; a team of German doctors has been invited to examine her. Comment: Tymoshenko was one of the leaders of 2004's Orange Revolution, in which the corrupt pro-Russian government led by Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and Tymoshenko became Prime Minister. Yanukovych regained the prime minister post in 2010; Tymoshenko was convicted in October 2011 of criminally abusing her powers in a gas deal with Russia during her time as prime minister and has been imprisoned since that time. (BBC, Telegraph, RFE/RL)
Researched/Written by Kate Elci
|Middle East & North Africa
EGYPT: Presidential candidate appeals new law, U.S. based NGOs banned
The body overseeing Egypt's presidential election on Wednesday accepted an appeal by former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq against his disqualification as a candidate, allowing him back into the race. Egypt's ruling military initially passed a law on Tuesday that bans top Hosni Mubarak-era officials from running for the presidency. On Monday the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry rejected the applications of eight U.S. NGOs because it believed the groups' activities violated state sovereignty. Comment: Mubarak appointed Shafiq as prime minister in his last days in power to try to defuse popular anger in the streets. Hosni Mubarak's former vice-president and spy chief, Omar Suleiman, has already been disqualified for different reasons, along with two Islamist candidates earlier this month. The crackdown on NGOs follows a trend of hostility towards foreign NGOs that began with raids in December and trials of NGO members in February. (BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters)
ISRAEL: Legal status granted to three outposts in Palestinian territories
Israel said on Tuesday it had granted legal status to Bruchin, Rechalim, and Sansana, three settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank. Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group, said the change of the three outposts' status marked the first time since 1990 that the Israeli government had established a new settlement, adding that the four-man committee did not have the authority to approve the change. None of the outposts had been granted final Israeli legal status as formal communities. Comment: Palestinians are awaiting a formal response from Netanyahu to a letter they sent last week in which Palestinian President Abbas repeated his call for an end to all settlement activity. Peace talks have been frozen since 2010 over the issue. Bruchin has nearly 400 residents and is located in the northern West Bank, along with Rechalim, which is home to about 200 people. Sansana, home to around 250 people, is in the southern West Bank, near Hebron. (Reuters, BBC, Al Jazeera)
LIBYA: Security forces train in Jordan, Transition Government ban political parties with religious affiliation
An estimated 160 former Libyan rebels arrived on Wednesday in Jordan for training to integrate into their country's interior ministry, with an estimated 2,126 arriving later this week. The former rebels will take part in a three-month course in public order, security, and investigative work at an international academy outside Jordan's capital Amman. Libyan authorities on Tuesday passed legislation governing the formation of political parties that bans religious, regional, and tribal platforms and foreign funding. Comment: Since the fall of Gaddafi, concerns over the proliferation of weapons coupled with periodic deadly clashes between militias have put pressure on the government to re-integrate more than 200,000 former rebels into society; in the government claims it has already absorbed about 70,000. The former rebels receive salaries and are expected to aid the country's fight against crime, as well as protect strategic sites, embassies, and diplomatic missions. The political party ban has angered both Salafist political hopefuls and tribal and civic leaders in the eastern city of Benghazi who want a federal system of governance. (AFP, Tripoli Post, Oman Tribune)
PAKISTAN: Prime Minister Gilani found guilty of contempt
Supreme Court Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk charged Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani as guilty of "disobedience" on Thursday morning for refusing to ask Swiss officials to reopen a corruption case against current Pakistani President Zardari. Gilani risks a forced removal from office but was saved from a typical six-month prison sentence as the judge incarcerated the Prime Minister only for the duration of the hearing. Aitzaz Ahsan, Gilani's lawyer, said in a statement that he would appeal any motions to remove the Prime Minister from his position in the coming months. Comment: President Zardari was found guilty of corruption in absentia in a 2003 Swiss court hearing, but Swiss authorities dropped the case in 2008. (NYTimes, Dawn, The Guardian)
REGIONAL: South Asian trade inches toward normalization
India and Pakistan opened a trade post in the border city of Wagah amidst talks of the Pakistani government granting a "Most Favored Nation" trade status to India, which India granted to Pakistan in 1996. The post will act as a transfer point for mainly tea, dried fruits, and nuts. Pakistan, facing an energy deficit, could benefit from lifting sanctions on India in order to import cheap electricity and petroleum from its neighbor. In turn, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai promised to lift a ban on Pakistani investments this month by granting visas to Pakistani businessmen. Delegates from both countries hope that an increase in economic interdependence will act as a catalyst in restarting peace talks over the disputed Kashmir territory. Comment: The World Bank will allocate USD 1.8 billion to Pakistan this year, the most it has ever distributed to the country, to fund energy development projects such as the Dasu Dam in Kohistan province. (Tribune, AP, Dawn)
REGIONAL: Pipeline could ease energy deficits in India and Pakistan
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India have reached an agreement on gas transit fees for the proposed Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline (TAP). Importing gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan would cost both India and Pakistan 11 USD per million British thermal units (mmbtu), as opposed to 13 USD per mmbtu from Iran. The pipeline, originating from Turkmenistan's Caspian coast, will provide 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to participating countries. Pakistan and Afghanistan are scheduled to officially sign a deal with Turkmenistan next month, but India has already signed the purchasing agreement. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding the project, and officials estimate its completion for 2016. Comment: Pakistani Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Asim Hussain expressed that TAP is not an alternative for a proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline, despite Western opposition. (Tribune, Daily Times, Pakistani Observer, The Nation)
REGIONAL: South Asian naval ships display strength in Maldivian waters
India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives held joint naval "war games" April 23-27, dubbed "DOSTI-XI." Three Indian warships, three Maldivian Coast Guard ships, and one Sri Lankan offshore patrol vessel participated in the naval exercises which "pay [sic] the way for launching coordinated efforts in times of crisis," according to a Sri Lankan Naval statement. The Sri Lankan Navy also said the exercises were intended to improve Maritime Search and Rescue, Pollution, and Boarding operations. DOSTI-XI took place off the coast of the Maldivian capital of Male. Comment: Intrusions by Somali pirates into Maldivian waters have occurred in recent months, giving further reason to ameliorate naval cooperation amongst South Asian powers. (Minivan News, Haveeru, Times of India, India Express)
Researched/Written by Tarek J. Nasser
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