Publications


The African National Congress: Going South?

The African National Congress is synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle. Since the end of apartheid, its appeal to both the rural and urban poor in South Africa has made it a force which is almost uniquely dominant in a democratic society.

Yet, the current day ANC finds itself in a precarious position. 2016 heralded a year of disastrous local election results for the ANC which lost its hold over five of South Africa’s biggest cities. Voters took the opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction and anger over the years of systemic corruption and the economic failings and struck a painful blow against the ANC.

Global Food Insecurity and Climate Change: The New Threats to International Stability

Global food insecurity is not a topic which initially comes to mind when thinking of challenges to international stability.  Food insecurity is often regarded by many as a humanitarian issue and is thus dealt with as part of the humanitarian project. This was the case in 2000, when world leaders met and decided to create the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), in order to deal with extreme poverty and eradicate world hunger by 2015. Despite this goal not being achieved, the commitment displayed from institutions highlights the humanitarian approach taken when tackling food insecurity.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) states that food insecurity arises as a result of a situation when people are unable to always have physical, social and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food. With the world’s population growing at a high rate, the international community is now having to grapple with global food insecurity on an unprecedented scale.

Climate change is a significant contributor to global food insecurity. Remaining crops are at high risk of succumbing to extreme variation in weather. Communities dependent on staples such as maize and corn are unable to earn an income and meet their nutritional needs. Along with the corporatisation of agriculture and Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal, global food insecurity is undoubtedly set to become a more pressing issue, which will eventually be at the forefront of international relations.

Violence against NGOs: The motives

In 2013, 461 aid workers were attacked, setting the recorded as the most violent year against humanitarian staff.  The 1949 Geneva Conventions and related 1977 Protocols I and II provide a legal safeguard to prevent violence against NGOs. Yet as the number of international aid workers has tripled since 2000, the number of attacks against NGO aid workers has also increased.

The question is why, in particular contexts, does violence against NGOs occur? This piece will seek to explain the motives for which non-governmental organisations are targeted in order to better understand the reasons why NGOs, in cases such as the Central African Republic and Syria, have not been able to function to their full potential in response to humanitarian crises.

Risk Management in Conflict-Affected Contexts: The Case of Mali

Since 2012 Mali has been immersed in a violent conflict between armed jihadist groups and the Malian government that first involved exclusively the North of the country but has since spread to the areas of Mopti and Ségou. Despite massive international mobilization and intervention, the conflict is still classified as escalating by ACLED. One of the key issues at stake is the balance between military intervention in support of the Malian government and the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need. The case of Mali gives us an insight into why risk management in conflict-affected contexts is needed.

Myanmar’s Treatment of the Rohingya: A Road Block to Reintegration or Just a Bump in the Road?

The historic election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – the National League for Democracy – in 2015 was met with sighs of relief in the international community. The replacement of a repressive military junta by a Nobel Peace Prize recipient appeared to signal the beginning of Myanmar’s rehabilitation with much of the international community. However, since then there has been an increasing focus on Myanmar’s Treatment of the Rohingya – a minority Muslim group whose plight has gone unnoticed. The world’s reaction, and in particular the reaction of Myanmar’s regional neighbours, when faced with plausible accounts of violence directed against the Rohingya has been curiously muted. This is perhaps partly due to the halo effect of Aung San Suu Kyi’s election. Nevertheless, the fallout from the persecution of the Rohingya cannot be confined within Myanmar’s borders alone. The treatment of the Rohingya is likely to have significant consequences for the medium-term development of Myanmar’s relations with its neighbours.

Kenya Decides: Kenyatta or Odinga?

In the past two years, the world has experienced multiple elections with unexpected results. Political divisions, public disenchantment, economic weakness, lack of leadership, acute international instability and –of course- terrorist attacks are combining to drive international politics to a populist stance. Following the elections in USA, France, UK and the Netherlands, now it is time to see what Kenya decides.

However, as far as the Kenya elections are concerned, the populist movement is maybe the least of its problems. The election of the 8th of August is the sixth presidential election since the country of more than 45 million people embraced a multiparty democratic system in 1992. Whilst the families of the leading presidential candidates, Kenyatta and Odinga, have been competing powers since the independence of Kenya from Britain in 1963. The existing situation is turbulent. In the second weekend of July nine people were beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants, the Internal Security Minister suddenly died, Odinga was hospitalised with food poisoning, and President Kenyatta appeared to accuse the judiciary of trying to delay general elections. The decisions made on 8th August will have a considerable ripple effect throughout Kenyan society for years to come.

The Forgotten Crisis in the Central African Republic and the Impact on NGOs

The Central African Republic (CAR) descended into violence in March 2013, when Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize’s weak authoritarian regime. After seizing power, the Seleka engaged in large-scale abuses, leading to the deaths of thousands of civilians. Initially, the Seleka started as a political movement against President Bozize but since then it has shifted its character to that of a sectarian confrontation drawn along religious lines.

The anti-Balaka (comprising of Christians) was created in response to the Seleka (rebels comprising of Muslims), with the aim of protecting the Christian community at all costs. Both sides are responsible for large scale killings, which have thrust the country into a downward spiral of pain and repression.

The History of the Venezuelan Crisis: How Did We Get Here?

Less than fifty years ago, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America. Hard to believe when dramatic inflation numbers and deadly protests have recurrently made the headlines over the past four months. During the Venezuelan crisis, more than 100 people have been killed in protests that started in April 2017, with thousands wounded and hundreds arrested. Tensions between the local population and President Nicolás Maduro’s autocratic government have increased. Venezuela faces a deadlock. But, how did we get here?

Venezuela’s current crisis started over two decades ago. For years, the country has become trapped in a downward spiral of corruption, poor leadership, and mismanagement of its most important resource: oil. Venezuela owns the largest reservoir of extra heavy oil in the world and is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter. A rewind of Venezuela’s economic and political history offers the best chance of understanding the crisis it faces today.

Lenin Moreno and the Future of Ecuador

Ecuador’s new President, Lenin Moreno, is an unusual politician for more reasons than just his idiosyncratic first name. Moreno is a paraplegic who was shot during a robbery-gone-wrong in 1998. In the course of his convalescence, Moreno turned to laughter therapy, later setting up a foundation to encourage humour and joy. He is likely to need all his reserves of good humour in his new position as he takes responsibility for his country’s governance.

Moreno’s victory celebrations are likely to be short-lived as the challenges of government land on his desk. His dilemma will be how to satisfy the demands of his left-wing supporters for continued high spending on Ecuador’s public services, while simultaneously managing a shrinking economy, whose reliance on stagnant oil revenues and addiction to debt, limit his room for manoeuvre. If he fails to solve this puzzle there is a risk that his government will be tempted to deal with public protests through heavy-handed state intervention. This has been seen in Ecuador before when in 2015 police used tear gas and clubs to disperse protesters.

Obstructing Humanitarian Assistance in Syria: A Weapon of Warfare

The Syrian conflict continues to shake the world. The massive influx of refugees into neighbouring countries, the untold suffering of the Syrian people, and the razing of whole cities are some of the destructive characteristics of this war. The participation of other countries, such as the U.S., Turkey, Iran and Russia, has triggered a debate around whether this armed conflict is of an international or of an internal character. This controversy has complicated the issue regarding the application of the rules of armed conflict as far as obstructing humanitarian assistance is concerned.

The following analysis will be around two major issues: first, whether these unspeakable conditions constitute a weapon of warfare for the Parties or are they just a consequence of the conflict; secondly, whether the UN has the power to intervene and protect the civilians. This discussion will be based on the legal framework regarding the obstruction of humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts and the UN’s position.