Author: Aly Verjee

Four Elections, Four Months

The failure to secure Afghanistan’s elections (again) only adds to questions about the approach to furthering progress in the country. For the electoral processes in Somaliland, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire to defy concerns of insecurity and arrest expectations of violence and disorder, no matter their other shortcomings, proves the value of legitimizing elections through voter confidence and a secure environment.

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Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Drugs: Not a Domestic Policy Tool

SSR, drugs and organized crime are rightly seen as linked. However, some donor governments take the linkage a step further, approaching SSR as a foreign arm of their domestic drug enforcement policy. This approach is bad policy for three principal reasons: it distorts the design of SSR programs; may only affect supply in the short term; and is extremely expensive and inefficient as a tool for reducing domestic demand.

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Race Against Time: Countdown to the Referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei

The report, Race Against Time, documents the many unresolved problems of the referenda and the technical challenges presented by the compressed timetable for registration and voting. It draws lessons from Sudan’s flawed national elections earlier this year and provides timelines, a guide to electoral bodies in Sudan, comparisons with other referenda and a comprehensive bibliography of legislative and other current documents.

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Southeast Asia Arms Race. Not.

The spectacular growth in ASEAN defence spending during the period 2005-2009, noted in the Time report and elsewhere, was a recovery following the sharp drop after the 1997 economic crisis. ASEAN as a whole is roughly back to where it stood a dozen years ago, although a few individual countries have come out ahead.

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Japanese Corporate Culture and the US force buildup on Guam

Despite its relatively tiny size, Okinawa hosts the vast bulk of US Forces Japan. This is partly due to its geographic location, partly because the island remained under US administration until 1972. Japan has still to finalise arrangements in Okinawa, most controversially involving relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, but the first cheques should nevertheless soon be in the mail.

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Mexicans “Tweeting” for their Lives in Violent Cities

Despite its potential as a tool to rapidly communicate messages, photos, and videos that could keep citizens away from dangerous situations, the reach of twitter remains limited in Mexico where home internet service costs twice as much as comparable packages available in the United States. Only the wealthy can afford data (internet) service on their cell phones, which is necessary to receive Tweets on a cell phone.

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Children Forgotten Actor in SSR Processes

The “Children and Security Sector Reform in Post-Conflict Peace-Building” report reviews the principles of SSR and transitional justice, while focus is on how to integrate children and youth in these processes. If SSR and transitional justice are structured in ways that reflect the unique needs and rights of children, the report argues that young people can help create and sustain a durable peace.

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Report: Pakistan’s Police Between Centralization and Devolution

This report highlights potential problems with Western-implemented police reform. Simply increasing capacity is unlikely to have the desired effect, and will only reinforce the status quo. However, reforms enacted without an understanding of the police force’s institutional history and complex power relationships are likely to follow the same circuit already traversed by the failed 2002 reforms.

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Seminar Report: Family Law Reform and Women’s Rights in Muslim Countries

The seminar and its report provide a clear view of not only the challenges facing women’s Rights in Afghanistan but also, and perhaps more importantly, the efforts and initiatives presently underway to address said challenges. By focusing their initiatives to promote and enhance dialogue on sensitive issues, the efforts of Rights & Democracy and its partners are prime examples of a new path for Afghanistan.

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Abbey Province: The Crossroads of Future Border Conflict in Sudan?

Not ensuring the Abyei referendum process moves forward raises the chances Abyei’s own vote never happens. Further escalation in violence in the region is very possible. And holding the vote without working to build acceptance and trust with the Misseriya will prevent sustained peace. Should there be any future conflict between North and South, whether to dispute boundaries or wealth, Abyei will again be at the crossroads.

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Reconciling the Formal and the Informal: New Report Provides Framework for Informal Justice Reform

The Danish International Development Agency’s new how-to report, “Informal Justice Systems” provides a framework for designing and implementing informal justice reform. While informal justice provides an established, locally-owned base for broad justice reform, detailed analysis must be conducted in order to avoid empowering inhumane systems. However, care must be taken to avoid being seen as imposing new norms on informal justice.

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Gender and SSR Workshop: Going Beyond “Politically Correct”

The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes hosted a workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, where participants were shown how men, women, and children have different security needs and how taking those different needs into account in the SSR process will produce inclusive security institutions that are capable of providing security and justice to an entire population.

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Building Integrity Through SSR: The Role of Media and Civil Society

Chapter 21 of DCAF and NATO’s, “Building Integrity and Reducing Corruption in Defence: A Compendium of Best Practices” written by Ian Davis explores the role of civil society organizations and the media in the implementation of SSR initiatives and suggests that both NATO and NGOs must set the right example for SSR and build integrity by becoming more transparent.

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