Sexual violence – South Sudan’s neglected survivors and crimes

by Alexandra Hallqvist and Zoë Meijer*

Historically, sexual violence has been a part of war. However, while it used to be seen as “just” a byproduct of war, we have finally come to the realization that sexual violence is often used as a strategic tool during conflict. Especially after the rape of hundreds of thousands of women during the wars in Bosnia and Rwanda, increased action has been taken to raise global awareness on the issues of sexual violence in conflict. Despite such actions and raised awareness, wartime sexual violence persists. In South Sudan, over hundred women are reported to have been raped in its capital Juba since the renewed outbreak of the conflict in June 2016. In addition, a UN statement says that there are thousands more cases across the country (OHCHR, 2016). Both national and international actors have thus so far largely failed to put a halt to this, leaving many South Sudanese living in fear. There is clearly an urgent need to increase our efforts to end sexual violence in South Sudan – and elsewhere.  Continue reading

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From regime change to authoritarian stability? The Trump presidency and the Syrian Civil War

By Aron Woonink*

Many jars of ink have been spilt on Donald Trump’s election last month. Every spectator, whether they’re journalists, policymakers or ordinary citizens, wonders what this remarkable figure’s victory will mean for the US and the rest of the world. Will Muslims be banned from entering the US? Will he start a trade war with China? Will he build the wall? And will the Mexicans pay for it? Given the fact that most of Trump’s ideas and plans are born out of downright ignorance or even pure insanity, one would expect that his views on the situation in the already unstable and war-torn Middle East are disastrous. But are they? This article will make an attempt to discover the central themes in Trump’s policy towards the situation in Syria, how this is received in the region itself, and based on this, what options there are left for the future.

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Brexit, Trump and right-wing movements in Europe – Explaining identity politics

by Suna J. Voss and Shawn Davies*

Identity politics is in the news. While identity might be a construct, as the constructivist argument goes, attempts to transcend one identity generally lead into the construction of another. What does this mean for politics and society? The ethnicities of Gujarati and Marathi are united as Indians. This came at the price of the revival of a Hindu-Muslim conflict. The Europeans are in the midst of a transnational identity construction, the formation of a common European identity, meant to bridge the previously so devastating Franco-German conflict. While some are embracing their new European identity, others struggle for the revival of the nation-state project, as evident from Brexit. Movements mobilised around ethnic, racial or religious identity labels, as the basis for political claims, are growing: examples abound, from revived nationalist movements in Europe, to the success of Donald Trump in mobilising white Americans against international influence and other identity groups. 

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Why the Assad regime barrel-bombs its own civilians

by Rik Rutten*

Bombing civilians without distinguishing supporters and opponents from bystanders is said to be ineffective, or even counterproductive. Then why have air raids become such a hallmark feature of the military strategy of the Assad government in the Syrian civil war? A look at the geography of violence shows: even when regimes target entire towns instead of individuals, their targets are chosen rather than random. Bombings do not only demolish the supposed enemy’s strongholds, they also send a message to the civilians living under their control.

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Non Violent Communication in Mediation of Conflicts

by Lani M. Anaya Jiménez*

For  a long time conflict resolution processes tended to be observed and mediated on a state basis where high level actors where the most important ones (Lederach, 1997). However, conflicts based on non-state actors have increased considerably during last ten years (UCDP, 2016). As a result, there is the need of new frameworks to work with local level actors in order to build peace. Non Violent Communication (NVC) has demonstrated to be a good alternative in conflict resolution, especially at grassroots levels. In this article we aim to explain NVC theoretical framework, some cases where the methodology has been applied and one Latin American organization who has successfully worked with NVC at local and international level.

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What causes rebel recruitment? Into the mind of a former jihadist

by Barbara Magalhães Teixeira*

The TED Talk of Manwar Ali, filmed in April 2016, touches upon a central subject in Peace and Conflict Research: rebel recruitment. He is a former jihadist that shares his experience of joining a rebel group and risking his life for a cause. Through his testimony, we get access to what goes on inside the mind of an individual that makes him join a rebel group. The field of Peace and Conflict Research has battled with this phenomenon trying to understand what causes individuals to voluntarily risk their lives in war. More specifically, we are interested in explaining the voluntary part that drives individuals to join armed conflicts, and for this, we will use the Collective Commitment Theory to try and explain it through the experience of Ali and the case of Al-Qaeda. This remains one of the most asked questions in our field, and this is an attempt to shed more light in the path towards the answer.

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Changing colors: a glance at identity group voting in Texas, Utah, and Iowa

by Alessandro Fava, Joel Martinsson and Sofia Jarvis*

The 2012 Election was with American measurements a devastating loss for the Republican Party and its nominee Mitt Romney. In the wake of Romney’s failed presidential bid the Republican party presented an evaluation of what went wrong, labelling it “The Growth and Opportunity Project”. The report described the shrinking support for the Republican party from all minority groups across the country: George Bush for example managed to get 44 % of the votes from “Asian and other” group, whereas Mitt Romney only got 26 % (Barbour et al, 2013). The report further showed that minorities viewed the party as unfriendly towards them. The importance of changing this unfortunate view of the Republican Party was even recognized in the right wing sections of the party, seeing how for example the ultra conservative TEA-party leader Dick Armey claimed that: “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home” (Barbour et al, 2013).

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