Image shows barricades using traditional Sarongs as a means of Protest in Myanmar
Traditional sarongs and other “feminine” items have become effective tools in protest. | Photo: Maung Sun via wikimedia commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Here, There, and Everywhere: Feminist Resistance beyond the “Women, Peace and Security” Agenda in Post-Coup Myanmar

As a landmark in the movement to increase global attention to women’s critical role in participation, protection, prevention, relief and recovery in conflict settings, the UN Security Council’s resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) lend reference power to gender mainstreaming in all issues related to conflict resolution and peace governance – however, they fall short of effectively supporting women’s resistance in Myanmar.

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Flaggen verschiedener Länder in einem Camp in Niger und zwei Soldaten, die gerade weitere Flaggen heraufziehen.
Policy coherence for peace should be strengthened at the national level, but also internationally. | Photo: US Africa Command via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Coherent Peace Policy: It’s the Content that Counts

That inter-ministerial competition doesn’t make for more successful foreign policy is a commonplace observation. However, it isn’t enough that all parts of government pull together, they must move together in the right direction.

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People sitting on a public square, in the foreground there is a sign saying "Police Stop".
Trust is not rebuilt over night and structures cannot be changed either in three or five years. | Photo: Mark Knobil via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Security Sector Reform in The Gambia – The Historic Roots of Current Challenges

After a democratic change of power in The Gambia in 2017, the country embarked on a transitional journey. The Gambian government identified Security Sector Reform (SSR) as one of the key priorities in its National Development Plan. Five years in, Gambian citizens express doubts about the government’s seriousness to move the process forward and the progress of SSR remains limited. In this blog post, we take a historical lens to examine current challenges and suggest a long-term perspective in both looking back and moving forward. 

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Kenya's new president William Ruto shakes hands with outgoing President Kenyatta, as he is sworn into office. In the other hand, Ruto holds a box. Fireworks can be seen.
Kenya’s new president Ruto shakes hands with his predecessor Kenyatta, as he is sworn into office. | Photo: © picture alliance/AP | Brian Inganga

Have the Tables Turned? What to Expect from Kenya’s New “Hustler” President William Ruto

Kenya had awaited the presidential elections held on August 9, 2022 with bated breath. The elections were won by William Ruto, who defeated opponent Raila Odinga by just a few percentage points. Ruto succeeds Uhuru Kenyatta, who leaves office having served his two permitted terms. This Spotlight analyzes the reasons for Ruto’s success, and, reflecting on his political career, discusses what can be expected from his presidency. We argue that both his success and his career have been strongly influenced by Kenya’s political history and the power structures of political alliances—especially in the context of previous elections.

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Ornamental image of eyes and figures with hands in front of their faces
Women's rights act as a connector to unite different groups and social classes fighting for democracy and rule of law. | Image: © Parastou Forouhar

“For this Forced Heaven”: Women’s Rights as the Path to Democracy in Iran

Iran’s streets have been the scene of inspiring portraits created by women and young girls chanting “women, life, freedom” over the past six weeks. Starting as a reaction to the death of 22-year-old Zhina (Mahsa) Amini, who was killed by the so-called “morality police” for wearing her hijab improperly, the protests have now turned into a cross-class, women-led movement for democracy and rule of law. This post looks at the situation of women from a historical perspective after the Islamic revolution and argues that women’s rights are acting as a connector to unite different groups and social classes fighting for democracy and rule of law in the current protests.

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Image shows a meeting between Biden, Putin, Blinken and Lawrow as well as two translators. They are sitting in front of a wall of bookshelves and the US and Russian flags.
Es geht nicht nur um Verhandlungen, sondern zuallererst um Gespräche zwischen den Großmächten. | Photo: The White House via flickr | Public Domain

Die Quadratur des Kreises: Friedensverhandlungen unter Feinden

Acht Monate dauert der Krieg bereits an, den Russland gegen die Ukraine führt, und immer noch sind wir weit von Friedensverhandlungen entfernt. Unmöglich und unerwünscht seien Verhandlungen, hört man in der öffentlichen Debatte. Nicht alle Argumente gegen Verhandlungen sind aber gleichermaßen stichhaltig und zu oft wird übersehen, dass es nicht nur um Verhandlungen geht und nicht nur zwischen den Kontrahenten, sondern zuallererst um Gespräche und zwar zwischen den Großmächten, die indirekt und direkt an diesem Konflikt beteiligt sind.

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Shadow of a person walking seen on a mural painted with the Brazilian flag
Even if Lula emerges victorious, the legacy of Bolsonaro will cast a pall over a Lula administration. | Photo: Gustavo Minas via flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

Brazil’s Presidential Election: How Far does the Populist Glow Reach?

The first round of Brazil’s presidential elections took place on 2 October 2022. The result was 43.2% for incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and 48.4% for ex-president (2003–2010) Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva. Given that none of the candidates achieved more than 50%, a final run-off is scheduled for 30 October. Pre-election polls predicted Lula would reach the critical 50% threshold. These polls also projected Bolsonaro would win around 36%. But in the end, his vote share was more than 43%. This result left the world searching for an explanation.

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Russia EU summit in Yekaterinenburg, photo taken from above of conference hall
Russia-EU summit in Yekaterinenburg, 2013. | Photo: kremlin.ru via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

The Perils of Ruxit: Russia’s Tension-Ridden Dissociation from the European Security Order

Are dissociation from shared international institutions and the escalation of inter-state conflicts between involved states causally interrelated? Processes of dissociation – defined as the intentional distancing from the core rules and norms of international institutions – occur rather often and might even become a dominant feature of world politics as de-globalisation proceeds. In particular, it remains unclear whether the management of such developments can eventually lead to partial reconciliation or if tensions between the involved states are destined to increase. To answer this question, the following blog entry, summarising the results of one of the case studies of Drifting apart project, analyses the process of Ruxit i.e., the development of relations between Russia and the West after the end of the Cold War.

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Signs at a protest in solidarity with the protestors in Iran showing the hashtags #FreeIran and #MahsaAmini
The outcome of the protests is not only relevant for the Iranians but also has regional implications which should be closely watched. | Photo: Taymaz Valley via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Will the Protests in Iran Change Regional Power Dynamics in the Middle East?

Images of Iranian women burning their hijab in the last four weeks demonstrates the unraveling of the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic. This discontent, however, extends beyond Iran’s borders, and has strained the relationship with its regional clients. We argue that the ongoing demonstrations in Iran may exacerbate Iran’s already-shifting regional position, as the ongoing protests both question the legitimacy of the regime within and outside the country, and further weaken Iran’s capacity to support its clients in the Middle East.

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Treppen im Europäischen Parlament und zwei Personen, die sich in unterschiedliche Richtungen bewegen
The EU might pave the way for measures that do more harm than good to democracy. | Photo: European Parliament via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Responding to Foreign Interference in the EU: Beware of Unintended Consequences

The EU’s emerging response to foreign interference, as it is currently debated in the EU Parliament, contains striking similarities to arguments put forth by some governments around the world seeking to justify harsh restrictions on foreign funding and “foreign agents.” This risks producing serious ramifications for civic spaces and international civil society support—both within and beyond the EU.

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