May 19, 2013 by Gibson Bateman
Not surprisingly, late last month, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) failed to deal with Sri Lanka. As a result, it looks like the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on the island nation will continue as planned this November. United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced that he will attend CHOGM. A spokesperson also mentioned that Mr. Cameron would be delivering a “tough message” to Mahinda Rajapaksa this November. (Some may be left wondering if it wouldn’t be more effective for Mr. Cameron to deliver his “tough message” from London while one of his subordinates attends CHOGM and does the same).
By virtually every standard – including media freedom, disappearances, the rule of law and land rights – governance in Sri Lanka has become an unmitigated, incontrovertible disaster. In addition to recent reports by Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, recent articles by other groups show that the situation in Sri Lanka just keeps getting worse.
May 2, 2013 by John Price
The world’s most famous prehistoric art is in caverns in Europe, but the most recently discovered ancient cave paintings are in a country no other nation recognizes in a region of Africa associated mostly with terrorism, pirates and famine. The Laas Geel cave paintings in Somaliland in the Horn of Africa are not as old or famous as the art in France’s Lascaux or Spain’s Altamira caves, but the quality is just as good, archaeologists say.
Unlike the European caves, however, Laas Geel has no chance of international protection as a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of the region’s complicated diplomatic situation. Somaliland declared its independence more than 20 years ago and has been building a democracy ever since. But the world still recognizes the region as part of Somalia, which has spent the past two decades in chaos without a functioning government.
April 26, 2013 by David H. Shinn
The International Peace Institute (IPI) published a paper in April 2013 titled “Peace Operations, the African Union and the United Nations: Toward More Effective Partnerships.” The authors are Arthur Boutellis, research fellow at IPI, and Paul D. Williams, associate professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
The paper analyzes the evolution of collaboration between the UN and AU on peace operations and asks how they can cooperate more effectively. It looks at the AU mission in Somalia as a case study that exemplifies some of the positive and negative aspects of the UN-AU relationship. The paper then summarizes some of the challenges that will need to be overcome if the two organizations are to optimize their collaboration and deploy legitimate and effective peace operations. It concludes by offering some practical recommendations for enhancing UN-AU relations.
April 23, 2013 by Scott Firsing
Editor’s Note: In partnership with YPIA, we are especially delighted to cross-post this 2013 list. The 2012 Top 5 winners can be found here.
YPIA is once again happy to announce its top five young megastars under 40 years old who take time out of their busy schedules to help the African continent. This is an annual award and serves as a precursor to the May release of YPIA’s top 35 under 35.
And the winners are:
March 13, 2013 by Mohamud Uluso
Resolution 2093 adopted by the UN Security Council on March 6, 2013 endorses a long overdue partnership mission between the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community in the pursuit of peace and state-building. It is somewhat more significant than previous resolutions for a number of reasons. For one, it ends more than two decades of avoidance on the part of the international community in addressing the problem of statelessness of Somalia in comparison to other African failed states.
It reaffirms the commitment of the US government towards stability and peace in Somalia. It merges the conflicting strategies pursued by the individual or group members of the international community for their self-interests while moving supervision of Somalia’s peace-building agenda from the regional level to the global through the United Nations. When one looks closely at the Resolution, it addresses five key issues: the African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM), the human rights and protection of civilians, the lifting of an arms embargo imposed on Somalia from 1992, the role of the United Nations in Somalia, and the violations of the ban on the charcoal export.
While the Resolution is ambitious in scope and provides concrete endorsement on the part of the international community in stabilizing the country, some of the principal challenges may actually come from the international community itself. The Federal Government must also a take a more active role and hold itself accountable if Somalia is to become successful in state-building.
February 28, 2013 by Thomas Hauschildt
Known for topping the list of failed states, Somalia seems to be rising from the ashes of war and all its connotations. Its capital Mogadishu, infamously known for Black Hawk Down and often described as one of the most dangerous cities on earth, has seen a revival since August 2011 when AMISOM ousted Al-Shabaab fighters from the city after four years of intense battle. Just a few days ago, AMISOM reported to have secured further cities in Middle and Lower Shabelle in the surrounding region of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab announced a temporal tactical withdrawal – they have not yet returned.
A parliament has been elected, a constitution has been written, and refugees and UN workers return to Mogadishu. Turkey among some other states opened an embassy and Turkish Airlines, as the first European Airline in twenty years to do so, added the city to the list of its destinations. Further, and to the delight of the international community, piracy decreases. Construction material is being shipped into Mogadishu’s port on an increasing level and property prices rise. Art and sport has returned and restaurants can be found on the beach-side. A multitude of good news not heard for a long time form this corner of the planet.
February 28, 2013 by Gibson Bateman
Soon another US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka will be tabled at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC). It’s very unlikely that the recent high-level US delegation that came to Sri Lanka would have announced that a procedural resolution would be backed if Washington wasn’t absolutely positive that it had the votes to get another resolution through the council. The votes for another resolution on Sri Lanka are there; that’s for sure.
India has already come out and announced that it too will support the resolution – taking a bit of drama out of the whole affair. But it’s also quite revealing because it shows how much the administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has overplayed its hand. Let us not forget that less than a year ago, Delhi was reminding people that it wouldn’t support any country-specific resolution at the HRC. Now it looks like Delhi will have supported two in a twelve-month span.
Along with the major international organizations like International Crisis Group (ICG) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), there are probably a few Western countries – though not necessarily the US – that are pushing for something stronger than the draft resolution in its current form. In spite the circumstances, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is still sticking with its (untrue) story – saying that they are doing all they can to implement the LLRC recommendations and comply with the previous HRC resolution. Unfortunately, the problems with the GoSL’s most recent progress report on the LLRC recommendations start on the first page of the first sentence.
February 21, 2013 by John Price
The French liberation of northern Mali from embedded Islamists has finally put Mali on everyone’s radar screen. In the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, testified about the crisis in the West African nation and what the U.S. and other countries should do. Mr. Carson noted that the “crisis is one of the most difficult, complex and urgent problems West Africa has faced in decades.” He further noted: “The March 2012 coup and subsequent loss of northern Mali to Islamic extremists demonstrates all too clearly how quickly terrorists prey upon fragile states,” referring to the presence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The U.S. could have subdued the AQIM in 2003 when its fighters fled Algeria to Mali’s northern frontier region, which has become a safe haven for al Qaeda-linked Islamists from Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Somalia and as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The U.S. knew that northern Mali was becoming a breeding ground for these terrorists; the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative training program was launched in Mali in 2005. Two years later, special operations forces carried out additional training, and U.S. Africa Command considered setting up a base there. An ongoing program would have reduced the presence of the Islamists.
February 11, 2013 by Abukar Sanei
Due to the civil war and chaotic conditions in Somalia over the last two decades, the UN imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in order to mitigate the conflict. Somalis need to appreciate the reasons for the embargo and while progress has been made in security wide swaths of the country more needs to be done.
The warlords who are vying for power have been the main source of the conflict. And as a result, the embargo, though it was intentionally violated by some frontier countries in the past, was intact in Somalia. Now is the time to consider removing the two decades old UN arms embargo on Somalia for a variety of reasons.
Free from Warlords
If the main reason for the arms embargo in Somalia was to minimize the misuse of weapons and civilian casualties by the hands of warlords, Somalia is now free from warlords. Warlords cannot claim popularity in the new political dynamics of Somalia as their power was severely diminished in 2006 by what was then known as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
February 6, 2013 by Liban Ahmad
Former Somali prime minister, Omar Arteh Qalib, had a habit of saying “Somalis will sort out their differences under a tree”, in reference to the traditional shir (meeting) to which disputes are referred for adjudication by elders of two clans.
When he made the now-famous “under the tree” speech Somalia had not fully slipped into anarchy. What is striking about Omar Arteh Qalib’s prescription for conflict resolution is that he viewed the war to have been not between government loyalists and armed opposition groups but among clans. He instructed remnants of Somalia army to surrender to armed opposition groups— in the north to the Somali National Movement; in the south to United Somali Congress, Somali Salvation Democratic Front and Somali Patriotic Movement.
Omar Arteh was a member of The Reconciliation Committee (Guddiga Suluxa) appointed by the military dictatorship before it has been overthrown by the opposition, and foresaw the impending power struggle between United Somali Congress’s Rome and Ethiopia wings as well as possible armed opposition response to United Somali Congress’s unilateral decision to form a government in Mogadishu without consultation with other armed opposition groups.
February 1, 2013 by Timothy W. Coleman
The South Korean media reported yesterday that a secret domestic security order was recently issued by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The secret order essentially implements martial law. Reports indicate that senior North Korean security and military officials met on January 26 to discuss increasing the nation’s readiness level.
Following UN sanctions that were passed earlier this month North Korean officials stated that their nuclear weapons development effort would not be deterred. Reports that additional domestic security measures are being implemented and that the North Korean military is upgrading its readiness status reinforces analysis that the country may be preparing for a new provocative action, possibly a nuclear test.
To read more, please visit LIGNET.com
January 28, 2013 by Thomas Hauschildt
One of Somalia’s most prominent pirates, Mohamed Abdi Hassan alias Big Mouth, has announced his retirement. After eight years of capturing ships and their crews and demanding millions of dollars in ransom he also encouraged other pirates to give up this “dirty business”. “We decided to give it up. We have been in it for a long time. We firstly need the world to stop looting us, as we gave up piracy. Secondly, we need the world to stop hunting us.”
Moreover, it has been announced that the pirates’ leadership will support the Somali Government in warning the youth about the risks of living a life as pirate. This step is indeed commendable, but does this announcement mean an end to piracy in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean or is it too precipitous to speak about the end of Somali piracy?
In recent months it was repeatedly reported that the number of attempted captures decreased significantly. The presence of EU, NATO and other naval forces did not completely solve the problem of piracy, but reduced the risk for ships significantly. As of now 4 ships and 108 hostages are still under the control of the pirates.
January 26, 2013 by Kerry Sun
On January 14, 2012, 58 UN Member States coordinated by Switzerland petitioned the UN Security Council to refer the current crisis in Syria to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution. Over 60,000 Syrians have died since the uprising begun in March 2011 and 600,000 have become refugees. War crimes and crimes against humanity have clearly been committed by both sides; a referral to the ICC is long overdue. Why does the ICC need the UN Security Council’s referral? Syria is not a party to the ICC and thus, the court has no jurisdiction to indict its citizens, including Bashar al-Assad and other members of his regime, without referral by the UN Security Council.
With Russian, Chinese and even American vetoes standing in the way, would an ICC referral even happen? The short answer is not likely. However, there might be light at the end of that tunnel. China has reversed its objection to ICC referrals twice in the past, allowing the referral of Sudan over Darfur in 2005 and allowing the referral of Libya in 2011.
January 21, 2013 by Mohamud Uluso
Consistent with his goal of speaking in the best interests of Somalia, Professor Michael Weinstein of Perdue University, Indiana, has tried one more time to reason with the Somali elite and the international community about the problems hobbling the Provisional Federal Government (PFG). Weinstein eloquently explains the structural weaknesses, responsible for the PFG’s slow performance.
By adding the adjective “provisional” to the Federal Government’s name, Weinstein reminds the Somalis that despite all the rhetoric, in the eyes of the international community, the present government isn’t any different from the previous transitional governments in legal, diplomatic and political terms. In short, without defending the competence and integrity of PFG leaders, he underscores that the donor-powers’ decision to starve the PFG, unless PFG leaders accept a kind of Trusteeship Administration for the next 20 years, is more ominous for the revival of Somalia.
The truth is that Somalia is trapped in an abusive relationship with the international community. The role of Somalia’s government is to rubber stamp international decisions on Somalia. The international photo-ops and red carpets granted to Somali leaders and the frequent three-hour visits of foreign dignitaries in Mogadishu mask the unequal power and foreign driven policies imposed on Somalia. It’s hard to miss the contradictions between the public statement and the official policy actions of donor and neighboring countries in dealing with the new government.
January 17, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
“It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts.”
– Charlie Marlow from Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’
The vision that Conrad’s character Marlow describes is of a French frigate firing broadsides into a vast African jungle, in essence, bombarding a continent. That image came to mind this week when French Mirages and helicopter gunships went into action against a motley army of Islamic insurgents in Mali.