Tag: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Peace Picks June 27-30

  1. Restoring NATO’s Power And Purpose| Monday, June 27th | 1:30  | Atlantic Council | 1030 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA| Register HERE | After Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, the NATO Alliance has become more important than ever as a platform for European cooperation and security. What the Alliance achieves at its upcoming Warsaw Summit will be integral in defining NATO’s role in the new Euro-Atlantic security environment and strengthening international peace and stability in a turbulent world. Framing a critical conversation about the Alliance’s strategic priorities, this event will present the final conclusions of an Atlantic Council-chartered study on the future of NATO co-chaired by Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns and General James L. Jones. The study is premised on the belief that the Alliance is facing its greatest set of internal and external challenges since the Cold War. The report calls for renewed leadership by the United States and key European allies to restore NATO’s power and purpose in the face of an entirely different security landscape.  Featuring a panel discussion with Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Former US Ambassador to NATO; and General James L. Jones, Chairman and Board Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council; the event will convene key transatlantic officials and leaders to discuss what the US, UK, and crucial European Allies must do to bolster NATO’s strength and solidarity in a post-Brexit Europe.
  2.  Challenges And Opportunities For The U.S. Government To Improve The Protection Of Civilians In Armed Conflict| Monday, June 27th | 3:30-5:00  | Stimson Center | 8th floor, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 | Register HERE | To mark the Washington, D.C. launch of Protection of Civilians, a comprehensive volume published by Oxford University Press, the Stimson Center will host a discussion examining how the U.S. government can advance the protection of civilians agenda. Panelists from inside and outside the U.S. government will explore how the government has engaged through bilateral diplomatic channels and multilateral institutions to prevent and respond to violence against civilians in conflict zones. The panel discussion will be followed by a reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. This event will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Speakers include: Victoria K. Holt, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State; Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Deputy Executive Director at Human Rights Watch, Lise Grande, Deputy Representative of the Secretary-General to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Tamara Guttman, Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START).
  3. Is China’s Door Closing? | Tuesday, June 28th | 2:30-4:00  | Woodrow Wilson Center | 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004 | Register HERE | Ever since Deng Xiaoping launched his reforms in 1978, “openness” (对外开放) has been a central tenet of Chinese policy. While the actual degree of China’s openness has varied from time to time and sector to sector over the past 38 years, the trend toward greater liberalization of society, institutions, and the economy has been clear. Until recently. The passage of China’s foreign NGO law raises doubts about Xi Jinping’s commitment to further opening and reform. The law, which places foreign NGO’s under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Security, is the latest in a series of regulations meant to control “hostile foreign forces.” Surveys indicate that foreign companies are concerned about tightening business regulations in China and wonder whether they are as welcome as they were in recent decades. International journalists and publishers, too, are finding it difficult to obtain visas and to reach Chinese audiences. Is China’s door closing to foreigners? Why are conditions changing for international actors in China? How should the United States respond? Please join us for a discussion of the future of American NGO’s, corporations, and media in Xi’s China. Speakers: Erin Ennis, Senior Vice President, US-China Business Council Isaac Stone Fish, Asia Editor, Foreign Policy Shawn Shieh, Deputy Director, China Labour Bulletin.
  4. Changing Tides: The Road To Reconciliation And The Future Of Turkish – Israeli Relations | Tuesday, June 28th | 4:00-6:00  | Turkish Heritage Organization | Carnegie Endowment Conference Center | 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW | In light of these recent developments and the possibility that a deal between Turkey and Israel is imminent, the Turkish Heritage Organization is hosting a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, June 28th from 4-6pm at the Carnegie Endowment Conference Center to explore and discuss the prospects for reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, the final stages of a deal and what the future might look like for both countries. Spakers include: Dr. Brenda Shaffer, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council; Dan Arbell,  Nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC; and Moran Stern,  Georgetown University, Center for Jewish Civilization. The moderator will be Dr. Mark Meirowitz, Assistant Professor at SUNY Maritime College.
  5. Media Activism Amid Civil War: The Role of Syrian Women Journalists | Wednesday, June 29th | 12:30-1:45  | Middle East Institute | 1761 N Street NW Washington, DC 20036 | Register HERE | Syrian citizen-journalists, bloggers, and media activists have played a critical role covering one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts. They do so in the face of significant challenges – from fear for their safety, to overcoming international indifference to the story of an unending conflict. Women journalists face even greater challenges and yet many continue to work in the field. Non-profit initiatives like the Syrian Female Journalists’ Network are providing training and support while promoting a better understanding of the important role of women in the Syrian uprising. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host the founders of the Syrian Female Journalists Network, Rula Asad and Milia Eidmouni, and radio journalist Caroline Ayoub for a discussion of their work in promoting the roles of Syrian women in journalism and civil society. Kate Seelye will moderate the discussion with the activists, who are visiting Washington as part of an Asfari Foundation-backed program to highlight the ongoing role of Syrian civil society.
  6. Kurdistan Rising? Considerations For Kurds, Their Neighbors, And The Region | Wednesday, June 29th | 3:00-4:30  | American Enterprise Institute |1150 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036| Register HERE | Two decades ago, many US officials would have been hard-pressed to place Kurdistan on a map, let alone consider the Kurds as allies. Today, Kurds loom large on the Middle Eastern stage, highlighting their renewed push for independence amid the chaos in Iraq. In his new monograph, “Kurdistan Rising? Considerations for Kurds, Their Neighbors, and the Region,” AEI’s Michael Rubin examines the effects of Kurdish independence and unresolved questions that would follow an independent Kurdistan, including citizenship, political structures, defense, economic systems, and renegotiation of treaties to include the Kurds. Lukman Faily, Iraqi ambassador to the United States; James F. Jeffrey, former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey; and Michael Rubin, resident scholar at AEI, will speak.
  7. Congo Crisis: Getting to Good Elections in a Bad Neighborhood | Wednesday, June 29th | 4:00pm | Institute of World Politics | 1521 16th Street NW Washington, DC | Register  HERE |  Charles Snyder, Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Professor of African Affairs, IWP, will speak about prospects for Congo.


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When displacement isn’t temporary

Kammi Scheeler, a master’s student in my post-war reconstruction and transition course at SAIS, writes:

The World Bank hosted a panel Wednesday on the need for alternatives to refugee camps, as part of its three-day forum on Fragility, Conflict and Violence. Three themes emerged from the speakers’ presentations:

  1. Displacement should be treated as a development issue, not a humanitarian one. National development planning should take into account all populations in the area, including displaced persons.
  2. Displaced persons must be recognized as active participants in development with the capacity to contribute to host communities.
  3. Government capacities to process and support refugees in alternative ways need to be strengthened.

The first presenter on the panel was Steven Corliss, Director of the UNHCR Division of Programme Support and Management. He discussed UNHCR’s policy to seek alternatives to camps in as many circumstances as possible. Where not possible, the UNHCR still works to protect the rights of refugees and create living conditions that foster individual empowerment and dignity.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said “anyone who thinks refugee camps are a good idea has never lived in one.” Camps will not disappear, as they remain needed to meet immediate needs in emergency situations. The problem, Corliss believes, is when camps are used as an automatic response to displacement, or when host governments do not have the tools to provide alternatives.

One of the primary pitfalls of camps is the loss of human capital. Typical refugee camps operate as temporary, emergency relief, providing little opportunity for inhabitants to utilize or develop skills. In protracted situations, their inhabitants lose the ability to manage their own livelihoods.

There is a persistent concern among hosts that allowing refugees to integrate will deter them from returning home. Camps will remain as host governments insist upon them. But when refugees are better integrated into local communities and labor markets, they are able to contribute economically and maintain independent livelihoods, encouraging earlier repatriation and better reintegration upon return.

The second speaker, David Apollo Kazungu, is the Commissioner of Refugees for the Ugandan Government. Uganda’s shared borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan have led to a persistent influx of refugees escaping conflict since the 1950s. Uganda is now host to 415,000 refugees, with more expected from South Sudan in coming months. Refugees in Uganda are predominantly settlement-based, living alongside and sharing resources and services with Ugandan nationals. Although refugee status is meant to be a temporary solution, the persistent conflicts and instability of Uganda’s neighbors has led to more protracted situations.

This has necessitated a shift from humanitarian support to development support. Uganda’s Settlement Transformation Agenda is a uniquely comprehensive and progressive approach to refugee integration. Its key tenets include security enhancement, access to justice, settlement survey and planning, infrastructure development, refugee and host community empowerment, and peace building and conflict resolution initiatives.

Commissioner Kazungu stressed the importance of these last two programs saying, “refugeehood should be a chance to reconcile and learn to live side by side.”Since most of Uganda’s refugees fled their homes due to conflict, the government of Uganda is making a stronger effort to facilitate conflict resolution among diverse refugee populations so that they may create more stable communities upon return to their home countries. Although Uganda has shown a great deal of openness and commitment to receiving and integrating refugees, they face challenges such as encroachment, land inelasticity, and dwindling resources with no signs of decline in refugee inflows.

The remaining panelists included Niels Harild, the lead social development specialist for the World Bank’s Global Program on Forced Displacement, who reiterated the importance of viewing displacement as a development issue rather than merely a humanitarian one. The second half of the event provided examples of alternatives in action, with World Bank project leaders sharing data from programs in Turkey and Azerbaijan. In Turkey, the Bank is assessing the impact of Syrian refugees on host communities and recommending policies for integrating refugees outside camps. Azerbaijan has approximately 600,000 internally displaced persons supported by a Social Fund for the Development of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). This project provides settlements and services to raise the standard of living for IDPs and also creates income-generation opportunities. Both cases highlight the range of possible ways to incorporate displaced persons into longer-term national development planning.

PS: In response to a comment on this piece, here is Killian Kleinschmidt at TedX Hamburg:

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