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In this week’s PSR: Gacaca Courts; New Ivory Coast govt.; Ethiopia/Kenya security cooperation; IDPs from Abyei; Brazil environmental activists; Mexico drug violence; Lake Titicaca mining protests; Burma’s relationship with China; Mongolian protests; South China Sea tensions; Armenia amnesty; Belarus to seek IMF aid; European E. coli outbreak; Russian justice; Egyptian virginity tests; Iran’s bellicose language; ICC for Assad; Yemeni oil exports corruption; Bangladeshi political troubles; German/Indian security deal; Pakistani journalist murdered; Sri Lankan war crimes video.  

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PEACE & SECURITY REPORT
IPSI's Peace & Security Report (PSR) is a concise weekly e-publication intended to keep busy students, academics, advocates, and practitioners in the conflict management community briefed 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

Human Rights Watch
   

Gacaca Courts

Rwanda is about to complete one of the most ambitious transitional justice experiments in history, blending local conflict-resolution traditions with a modern punitive legal system to deliver justice for the country's 1994 genocide. Rwandan President Paul Kagame described the initiative as an "African solution to African problems." Since 2005, just over 12,000 community-based gacaca courts-deriving their name from the Kinyarwanda word meaning "grass" (the place where communities gather to resolve disputes)-have tried approximately 1.2 million cases. They will leave behind a mixed legacy.

Some Rwandans have welcomed the courts' swift work and the extensive involvement of local communities, stressing that gacaca has helped them better understand what happened in the darkest period of the country's history and has eased tensions between the country's two main ethnic groups (the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi). Others are more skeptical: some genocide survivors complain that not all perpetrators were arrested or punished adequately for their crimes. Some of those convicted and sentenced to decades in prison maintain that trials were seriously flawed, that private individuals and government authorities manipulated the course of justice, that gacaca became politicized over the years, and that ethnic tensions remain high. On both sides, there are doubts, as well as tentative hopes, about gacaca's contribution to long-term reconciliation. 
 Read Full Report >>

 


Africa
COTE D'IVOIRE: Ouattara announces exclusionary government
On Wednesday, Ivorian President Ouattara announced a 36-member government consisting of members from the pro-Ouattara Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and civil society; however, the new government lacks representation from the Popular Front Party (FPI) of former president Gbagbo.  This announcement comes despite Ouattara's pledge to form a government of national unity by mid-June in order to "ensure the country is back on track." Comment: On Thursday, Human Rights Watch released a report alleging the murder of at least 149 real or perceived supporters of Gbagbo by pro-Ouattara forces since Ouattara took power in mid-April; most killings "were point-blank executions of youth from ethnic groups generally aligned with Gbagbo."  Gbagbo's refusal to accept defeat in a November 28 election triggered a four-month conflict in which at least 3,000 civilians were killed. (Xinhua, AllAfrica, Reuters

ETHIOPIA/KENYA: Pledges of cooperation on cross-border pastoralist violence
At this week's joint-ministerial commission for talks on political, economic and security cooperation held in Addis Ababa, Kenya and Ethiopia agreed to strengthen security along their common border following the deaths of dozens of pastoralists in cross-border raids last month.  Ethiopian Foreign Minister Desalegn said "We have to address the root cause of tension and not just peace-building," in part, by focusing on more development projects.  Comment: Border security has remained tight until efforts could be initiated by both governments to defuse tensions. Tribal clashes along the Ethiopian-Kenyan border are common; however, the latest fighting has been of a larger scale than previous conflicts. (Reuters, Sudan Tribune, ISRIA

SUDAN: 100 civilians dead, 45,000 displaced in Abyei
On Wednesday, the World Food Program (WFP) announced they had registered 45,000 internally displaced persons following North Sudan's occupation of Abyei on May 21; unofficial estimates indicate there are another 36,000 people on the road still seeking safety.  An Abyei official said on Thursday that roughly 100 civilians had been killed in the occupation, although the claim could not be independently verified.  Comment: Southern Sudan is scheduled to secede from the North on July 9, although the status of the fertile, oil-producing Abyei area remains extremely contentious.  Earlier this week, Southern Sudanese officials rejected a proposal by the North to install a rotating administration in Abyei until a self-determination referendum can be held, saying any form of administration that the north establishes in Abyei without consulting Southern counterparts contravenes provisions within the Abyei protocol of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  (IRIN, AllAfrica, Reuters

Researched/Written by  Cameron M. Chisholm



Americas
BRAZIL: Government promises increased protection of activists
The Brazilian government called an emergency meeting over the weekend to discuss violence in the Amazon following the killing of three land activists within the last week.  Last Tuesday, a husband and wife were found murdered on the nature reserve where they worked, and on Friday, the leader of the Amazon Peasant Association was shot en route to the market with his family.  The Minister of Rural Development released a statement promising to "intensify monitoring and investigation and strengthen actions leading to sustainable development in the region," though no details were given to explain this increased policing. Comment: Police are now investigating a fourth murder nearby where the couple worked in Para. Local news reports the victim may have been a witness to the couple's killing, although police have yet to confirm this claim.  According to the watchdog group, Catholic Land Pastoral, over 1,150 rural activists have been killed in the past 20 years. (BBC, Miami Herald, Latin American News Dispatch)

MEXICO: Many civilians flee homes amid drug violence
Increased firefights and clashes between drug cartels and police in the western state of Michoacán, prompted 2,000 frightened villagers to flee outlying villages and seek refuge in town centers last week. After three days of intense fighting that began last Monday, which left an unknown number dead and included the shooting of a federal police helicopter, villagers took refuge in schools, churches, and even a water park. Residents told local authorities that gun battles between rival drug cartels have made it too dangerous for them to stay in rural, outlying communities. Comment: Drug-related government corruption is rampant in Michoacán.  Mexico's three main political parties are now exploring the idea of choosing a single, unitary candidate for the gubernatorial race in November in an attempt to regain control of the state. (Wall Street Journal, AP, AFP, BBC)

PERU: Protests over fear of Lake Titicaca contamination
Over 10,000 protesters took to the streets in the northern border town of Puno over the past few weeks in an attempt to convince the Peruvian government to revoke the mining license of the Vancouver-based company, Bear Creek Mining Corporation. Activists claim the mining will contaminate Lake Titicaca threatening their livelihood of hunting, fishing, and farming. After three weeks of peaceful demonstrations, some protesters turned violent causing damage to public and private property.  Protesters blocked all traffic in and out of the city, paralyzing commerce at a nearby Bolivian border crossing. The activists, including over 1,000 Aymara Indians, who previously threatened to disrupt voting, agreed on Tuesday to halt their protests until after the June 5 presidential runoff election. Comment: Three protesters fearing water contamination from a separate mining project, died in police clashes in the neighboring province of Arequipa last month. One economist stated the government "has continued to grant mining concessions automatically without any consideration for the opinion of local authorities or communities." (Al-Jazeera, AFP, BBC, El Comercio, AP)

 

Researched/Written by  Leah Cullins


East Asia
BURMA: President's visit in China overlaps with North Korean Delegation
U Thein Sein, the recently elected first civilian president in 50 years, completed a three day trip to China over the weekend. Thein Sein met with Chinese President Hu Jintao to sign an "economic and technological cooperation agreement" according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman. China and Myanmar have pursued stronger economic ties due to China's interest in Myanmar's natural resources and Myanmar's interest in obtaining international investment and weapons. Comment: Thein Sein met with Hu Jintao only one day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, stirring concerns of an illicit sub context to the simultaneous presence of both leaders in China. North Korea and Myanmar have long been suspected of willingness to exchange nuclear and weapons technologies; these suspicions grew after reports that North Korean Ambassador Kim Sok-Chol met with Myanmar's Minister of Border Affairs and Industrial Development Maj. Gen. Thien Htay on Tuesday. (Xinhua, AFP, Irrawaday, Times of India)

CHINA: Protests erupt after death of herdsman 
Over the weekend, ethnic Mongolians residing within the Chinese-controlled Mongolian Autonomous Region took to the streets of regional cities including Xilinhot and Hohhot, chanting slogans of solidarity in response to the May 10th slaying of a herdsman identified as Mergen. Mergen was run over by a mining truck while protesting damages to pastoral lands; his death stirs Mongolian fears that their rights and way of life would disappear due to the influx of Han Chinese who have moved into the region in recent years. Chinese authorities dispute the existence of protests in regional cities and the reports that 'martial law' has been implemented to deter the continued public gathering of ethnic Mongolians. Comment: The Deputy Secretary for Inner Mongolia, Ren Yaping, appeared on television meeting with Mergen's family expressing his condolences, promising justice and presenting them with a large sum of money. The Chinese government is increasingly aware of ethnic issues in its outer regions, mainly Tibet, Xinjian and Inner Mongolia, for both security purposes and for interests in securing natural resources; conflict would deter and/or impede future investment and economic development goals for these regions. (Bloomberg, NYTimes, CNN, AFP)

VIETNAM: Relations with China strained after incident in South China Sea 
On May 29, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry protested a Chinese surveillance ship's severing of a deep sea cable while in use by a Vietnamese National Oil and Gas Group ship last Thursday. The incident is reported to have taken place 120 nautical miles from Vietnam's coast. China's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman remarked about the incident saying "The action was regular surveillance activity," while the Vietnamese shipping company, PetroVietnam, said the act was "extremely malevolent." Comment: The desire to establish control over the South China Sea continues to be the genesis of aggressive actions between the involved parties. Vietnam has begun emphasizing its relationship with the United States as a means of balancing the aggressive expansion of Chinese interests in the region. (Ashai, Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg)
  

Researched/Written by  Matthew McGrath 


Europe & Central Asia
ARMENIA: Hundreds released under amnesty, Opposition readies for talks
At the request of President Serzh Sarkisian, the Armenian parliament last Friday approved a general amnesty that will ultimately release some 400 jailed political opponents of the government. Since Friday, over 300 people have already been released, including the country's two most prominent opposition figures, Sasun Mikaelian and Nikol Pashinian. Leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), Levon Ter-Petrossian, applauded the move as his most significant victory against the government, and strongly advocated the start of a formal dialogue with President Sarkisian and his three-party governing coalition. The dialogue would include negotiations on early parliamentary and presidential elections. Comment: The release of all opposition prisoners is one of three main preconditions set by the HAK for starting potentially far-reaching talks with the government. The move is seen by the opposition as an attempt by the government to avoid the type of revolution occurring in the Middle East and North Africa. Since February, Ter-Petrossian has held five rallies, including one on March 1 that involved tens of thousands of people. The rally marked the third anniversary of the violent crackdown on Ter-Petrossian's supporters who protested his defeat in the 2008 presidential election. Ten people were killed during the crackdown. (RFE/RL, RFE/RL, EurasiaNet, PanArmenian, ArmeniaNow)

BELARUS: Government seeks up to $8 billion from IMF amid deepening economic crisis
On Wednesday, Belarusian authorities announced they were applying for a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help tackle a spiraling financial crisis. The IMF previously issued Belarus $3.5 billion in loans from 2009 to 2010, but now the government is requesting an additional $3.5 to $8 billion over the next three to five years. An IMF team arrived in Minsk on Monday within the framework of the Fund's post-program monitoring process to draft a report on the country's economic situation and performance. Comment: Belarus announced the application one day after temporarily freezing prices on a number of basic food staples and only days after devaluing its currency by 36 percent. The current financial crisis was sparked by a rise in Russian energy prices for Belarus in addition to a large public spending campaign by President Lukashenko ahead of last December's election. (BelaPAN, RFE/RL, BBC, RIA Novosti)

GERMANY/EUROPE: New strain of E. coli spreads across Europe, kills 18
Officials from the World Health Organization say a previously unseen strain of E. coli bacteria is behind the outbreak that has killed 18 people and sickened thousands across Europe. The outbreak is centered in Germany, where there have been 1,064 cases, 470 being potentially fatal. Earlier this week Germany attributed the outbreak to cucumber imports from Spain, but later indicated that the true source of the contamination is still unclear. Comment: Russia reacted to the crisis by banning all vegetable imports from the European Union, a move that is being harshly criticized by the European Commission. Spain has threatened to sue Germany over its false accusations over the outbreaks, which have cost the country's fruit and vegetable exporters millions thus far. (Deutsche Welle, BBC, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The National)

RUSSIA: ECHR rules out political motivation in Khodorkovsky case
On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky's claim that his 2003 arrest was politically motivated. The ruling stated the arrest "might raise some suspicion as to what the real intent of the Russian authorities might have been for prosecuting him," but added, "claims of political motivation behind prosecution required incontestable proof, which had not been presented." The Strasbourg court ruled, however, that there had been several violations and procedural flaws during Khodorkovsky's detention between October 25, 2003 and August 8, 2005, such as holding him in "inhuman and degrading conditions," and granted him $35,000 in damages. Khodorkovsky and Lebedev filed a request for parole last week, but observers say the bid is unlikely to succeed. Comment: Khodorkovsky claims the charges against him are revenge for his funding of opposition parties during the presidency of Vladimir Putin, which Putin denies. Russia hopes now to see criticism of the trial end, but Khodorkovsky's supporters have disagreed with the ruling and expressed their disappointment with the court. (ECHR, Moscow Times, RIA Novosti, NYTimes)

Researched/Written by  Mark Simeone


Middle East & North Africa
EGYPT: Top military official confesses to female "virginity tests"
On Tuesday, an Egyptian general admitted that the Army administered "virginity checks" on 17 female protesters last March, claiming the military needed to verify whether the young women were virgins or not in case they accused the soldiers of rape.  The general's accounts match those of Amnesty International, which demanded that Egyptian authorities bring justice to the victims who they believe were tortured and raped. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, another unknown ranking official denied claims made against the Egyptian military in an interview with Ahram newspaper, calling on journalists "to practice precision" before publishing such accusations. Comment: While the Egyptian authorities have been under fire from foreign media, the Egyptian press has generally been reluctant to join in further criticism of the Egyptian military. The military council issued warnings to various media institutions urging them to reconsider news attacking the military. Secretary Clinton expressed her concern over freedom of the press in Egypt on Wednesday. (Alquds, Elaph, SFgate, Alarabiya, CNN, LAtimes)

IRAN: Defense Minister warns of retaliation to U.S. military force
On Wednesday, General Ahmad Vahidi announced that Tehran is fully prepared to counter any "unwise and hostile" actions from the U.S. towards Iran.  He added that the U.S. should "learn lessons" from their military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Vahidi spoke to reporters in Bolivia in reaction to the recent sanctions imposed on Venezuela, and called the U.S. orders "illogical, unjustifiable, and reflective of weakness."   The sanctions placed on seven foreign companies that pursued business with Tehran were ordered by the U.S. in an attempt to tighten sanctions against Iran and its nuclear program.  Comment: Iran has demonstrated the ability to progress its nuclear program, and even offered to export the technology to Egypt. There is a growing fear shared between neighboring countries of Iran obtaining nuclear power.  In response, Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon called for a global "preemptive strike" against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is planning on spending $100 billion to build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030. (Aljazeera, Farsnews, Presstv, Farsnews, Tehrantimes)  

SYRIA: Australia calls for the referral of Assad to the ICC
The Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd recommended on Wednesday that the UN Security Council refer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for crimes committed during the civilian uprising in Syria.  This declaration was motivated by the recent crackdown on protesters by military forces, which resulted in approximately 1,000 deaths, including at least 25 children. This week, the death of a 13-year-old boy named Hamza received global media attention when a video of his body, showing signs of mutilation and torture, was broadcast on a number of news channels. Comment: Many in Syria consider Hamza's martyrdom a new symbol to their revolution similar to that of Bouazizi whose death created throngs of irate protestors in Tunisia.  In an attempt to appease the angry public, Assad ordered the release of hundreds of political prisoners after granting general amnesty for crimes committed before May 31 2011.  While France and the U.S. have expressed little satisfaction, calling the amnesty of prisoners "not enough," the Syrian official news agency reported wide public satisfaction on human and social levels. (Sana, Jpost, RTTnews, Aljazeera, ABC)

YEMEN: Oil corporation and opposition leader in trouble for rigging Yemen exports    
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the oil trading company, Arcadia Petroleum is being sued in Manhattan by regulators for manipulating U.S. oil prices. Hamid al-Ahmar, an opposition leader and wealthy businessman, allegedly helped Arcadia use "hardball tactics" to buy oil exports below the market price from Yemen. Comment: For the past few days, tribesmen from Hashed, led by the al-Ahmar family, have been combating government security forces in Sana'a, leading to an estimated 41 deaths and dozens of injuries. This week, government security forces loyal to President Saleh asserted they have been able to reclaim a number of ministries and government institutions captured by al-Ahmar's fighters.  Tensions between Saleh and the al-Ahmar family worsened after Saleh ordered the arrest of al-Ahmar's nine brothers last Thursday for waging an armed rebellion against the state. (Reuters, BBC, Xinhuanet, Washingtonpost)

Researched/Written by Ibrahim Al-Hajjri


South Asia
BANGLADESH: Call for strikes in wake of "illegal verdict" regarding government
On Wednesday, Bangladesh's two largest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami, called for hartal (strikes) to protest the termination of Bangladesh's caretaker government. According to Bangladesh's 13th Amendment, a caretaker government steps in after the current Parliament is expired in order to oversee free elections. However, on May 10th, the current interim government was found to be unconstitutional when the Supreme Court repealed the 13th Amendment. Members of the opposition parties are calling for hartal to take place all day on Sunday June 5th. Comment: With the caretaker government unable to continue and discontent increasing among opposition parties surrounding the verdict, political tensions are rising rapidly in Bangladesh. Current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her political party, the Awami League, have come under scrutiny for numerous allegations of corruption and unfair elections. (The Daily Star, BD News 24, IBN Live)  

INDIA: German Chancellor, PM Singh discuss security, sign agreements
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited India this week in an effort to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Singh discussed policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the fight against terrorism, and nuclear energy. Singh and Merkel signed four agreements calling for greater cooperation in the areas of education, medical research, science and technology, and nuclear physics. Comment: This week's visit from Chancellor Merkel highlights India's increased reach in the international arena. The meeting follows last week's second annual Africa-India forum, in which PM Singh signed numerous trade and loan agreements across the continent. India's renewed presence in the international arena is more aggressive than in previous years and may signify a shift towards greater international cooperation for the country. (CNN, Hindustan Times, India Today, Outlook Afghanistan)  

PAKISTAN: Journalist murdered, ISI suspected
The body of Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad, was identified on Tuesday, two days after he had been reported missing. The Asian Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief was known for his investigative journalism regarding Pakistan, Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda. He had recently published a book, "Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban," giving a firsthand account of the organizations and how they developed their "comeback." News of Shahzad's death sparked outcry from Pakistani journalists and human rights organizations worldwide, who claim Shahzad was killed by Pakistan's ISI. On Sunday, Human Rights Watch reported Shahzad missing after his wife notified the organization. Comment: ISI officials have dismissed the allegations and deny any involvement in the death of Shahzad. Pakistani and foreign journalists staged a walkout on Thursday at the Pakistani Foreign Office's weekly briefing. (The Guardian, Hindustan Times, Dawn

SRI LANKA: Video release sparks UN investigation into war crimes
On Tuesday, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, called on Sri Lanka to investigate video footage allegedly portraying the execution of Tamil men by the Sri Lankan army. The footage portrays the killings amidst a background of dead male and female bodies. Heyns indicated the video footage is legitimate and now must determine the context under which the executions occurred. Heyns called the video "trophy footage," adding that it showed "definitive war crimes." Comment: Investigation into the video footage initially surfaced in 2010, by then UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, who arrived at similar conclusions. The UN recently released a report highlighting war crimes committed by both the government and the rebels during Sri Lanka's long war; the addition of these new claims will further pressure Sri Lanka to investigate and take accountability for possible war crimes. (UN News Centre, Reuters India, BBC, Reuters)   

Researched/Written by  Kamila A. Badat


June 3, 2011
Go to IPSI's Homepage
In This Issue
Featured Article
Africa
Americas
East Asia
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & N. Africa
South Asia



IPSI Symposiums 
William Zartman 

  Meet IPSI's Faculty:

  Dr. William Zartman, Professor Emeritus at SAIS and IPSI Chairman of the Board, will act as Academic Co-Coordinator at the 2011 Bologna Symposium >> 

  

See the full list of invited faculty >> 

 

___________________


IPSI News 
Dr. Gareth Evans 

  Gareth Evans, IPSI Board of Advisors and speaker at the 2011 Bologna Symposium, reminds the world of the threat of nuclear weapons in the following op-ed: Remember nuclear disarmament?

 

___________________


IPSI Leadership 

 

Cameron M. Chisholm

Dr. I. William Zartman 
Dr. P. Terrence Hopmann 
Alexander Little 
Nadim Salti
Pamela Aall 
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah
Betty Bigombe 
Jan Eliasson
Gareth Evans 
Dr. Ted Robert Gurr
Amb. Jacques Paul Klein
Peter Kyle 
Dr. Jean Paul Lederach
Jeffrey Mapendere
John Marks 
Susan Collin Marks 
Dr. Joyce Neu

Dr. Valerie Rosoux 
William Stuebner 
Dr. Ruth Wedgwood

Dr. Craig Zelizer

 

About Us >>

 

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