Researchers working on extremism and terrorism can be exposed to external, internal, and professional harms. | Foto: | Lizenzinformation

How can research on topics surrounding radicalization, extremism, and terrorism be safe and socially sustainable?

Research on extremism and related phenomena such as radicalization or terrorism is emotionally demanding and can even become dangerous, in part because it frequently means engaging with intense, and at times violent, societal conflict. The most recent escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict is a poignant example of this, in which researchers specialized in antisemitism, Islamophobia, or Islamist and right-wing extremism are expected to keep up with fast-paced developments while simultaneously navigating the emotional impact of unfolding violence. This blog post highlights the difficulties researchers face in this field and proposes suggestions for addressing these challenges at the institutional and structural levels. 


Unequal gender dynamics can contribute to peacekeepers abusing their power. | Foto: dimitrisvetsikas1969 via Pixabay | Content License

Beyond Zero Tolerance: The Persisting Challenge of Sexual Abuse by UN Peacekeepers

The United Nations (UN) deploys peacekeepers worldwide to help build peace and security. Meanwhile, a serious problem persists: sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) perpetrated by peacekeepers. Despite extensive efforts, including codes of conduct, sanctions, and training, reports of sexual abuse by peacekeepers continue within mission contexts. By drawing on UN documents aiming at ending SEA by regulating peacekeepers’ behaviour, this blog article examines the gender dimensions of the rules. I argue that a military masculinity culture is reflected in the UN rules that perpetuate instead of fight the risk of SEA.


Men in military uniforms on stage, raising their hands in the air.
August 6, 2023: General Abdourahmane Tchiani, Commander of the Presidential Guard Regiment, who headed the transitional government, attends the demonstration of coup supporters at a stadium in the capital city of Niger, Niamey. Photo: © picture alliance / AA | Balima Boureima.

Back in Business or Never Out? Military Coups and Political Militarization in Sub-Sahara Africa

This Spotlight discusses the resurgence of military coups in Sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that an analytical and political focus on coup events misses out on the bigger picture of military influence in politics. Introducing the new Multidimensional Measures of Militarization (M3) dataset, we demonstrate that African countries that were part of the recent wave of coups, previously showed signs of political militarization such as military veto powers and impunity. We conclude that these subtle forms of military influence can serve as early warning indicators for military coups.


Building with writing "Thilawa Special Economic Zone" that has closed gates and barriers in the driveway
Hitting a roadblock: development projects like the Japan-sponsored Thilawa Special Economic Zone have struggled following the 2021 coup in Myanmar. Source: Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Myanmar.

Do regime differences shape developmental engagement? How China and Japan compete in post-coup Myanmar

The 2021 military coup in Myanmar has left the country significantly isolated on the world stage. Politically, foreign governments have avoided recognizing the junta rulers, although quasi-official engagement is still underway. Economically, foreign investments into Myanmar have dropped by 42% from 2021 to 2022, off levels that had already massively decreased since the 2017 Rohingya expulsion. However, despite the international outcry over the new regime’s open warfare against civilians and the escalating violence in Myanmar’s multi-front civil war, both China and Japan have remained engaged in development cooperation, pursuing ambitious projects for economic corridors and special economic zones (SEZs) that were contracted under the deposed civilian government; in the case of China, even some new projects have been launched. 


Building at river by sunset
View of the German Reichstag in Berlin at sunset | Photo: Michabka via wikimedia commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Israel–Gaza: A German War Discourse

The way the escalation of violence in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and adjacent areas in the region is discussed in Germany is, in many respects, not surprising. It follows the structural dynamics of war discourses: the polarization into a friend–enemy schema; the negation of moral ambivalence; patterns of legitimation which suggest that the actions of one side are more than justified by the previous actions of the other side; the compulsion of the threat situation, discrediting reflection and distancing as inappropriate; the construction of unparalleled amorality; the circumvention of humane standards through dehumanization of the enemy; the simplification of an inherently complex situation.


Vier Personen, Jury und Preisträger des Ernst-Otto Czempiel-Preises 2023
Czempiel Award Ceremony 2023 with Roger Mac Ginty (second from left) on October 12, 2023. Photo: Lion Tsarfin/PRIF.

Ernst-Otto Czempiel Award 2023 for Roger Mac Ginty. Laudatio by Eva Senghaas-Knobloch

PRIF awarded this year’s Ernst-Otto Czempiel Award to political scientist Roger Mac Ginty. In doing so, the jury recognizes his 2021 monograph “Everyday Peace: How So-Called Ordinary People Can Disrupt Violent Conflict”, in which Mac Ginty explores how people in conflict zones can resist and disrupt totalizing war logics in everyday actions – even in combat. As the jury stated the author focuses a central peace policy problem and takes an extraordinarily innovative and transdisciplinary approach to it. The prize was handed over at PRIF’s Annual Conference on October 12, 2023. Professor Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, member of the jury together with Dr. Jörn Grävingholt and Professor Jonas Wolff, held the laudatio that is published here.


Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, for whom France has issued an arrest warrant. | Foto: Wikimedia Commons | Lizenzinformation

The French Arrest Warrant for Assad – Breaking New Ground in the Prosecution of Chemical Weapons Use?

On November 14, 2023, a French Magistrate Judge issued an arrest warrant for Syria´s President, Bashar al-Assad. The Court found sufficient evidence to initiate proceedings against Assad for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, specifically the use of chemical weapons. Yet, as this blog post will point out, Heads of State enjoy certain immunities under international law, which the French arrest Warrant thereby violates. This warrant could, however provide a necessary impetus to re-evaluate how states view immunities.  


"Israel Stands With Ukraine" rally at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, 2022, while a projection shows Volodymyr Zelenskyy's online address to the Knesset. | Foto: Wikimedia Commons | Lizenzinformation

How War in Israel Affects Russia’s War Against Ukraine 

Since February 24th, 2022, the world has witnessed Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which has become a serious challenge to many countries but particularly to those in the Euro-Atlantic community. A year and a half of brutal aggression has compelled Western governments to elaborate and implement a range of complex decisions at unprecedented scales and on a very short timelines. Further, Russia’s invasion has tested West’s ability to predict and assess security threats and to generate and sustain adequate political attention to the crisis. The shocking massacre of Israelis by Hamas on October 7th, 2023, has forced Western policy makers to react quickly to another crisis in another part of the world. Understandably, the Ukrainian government’s anxiety has increased with the uncertainty as to how it might be possible for the West would cope with two crisis situations simultaneously, and what—if anything— Kyiv should do about the situation in Israel. 


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas puts his state’s case to MEPs. | Foto: © European Union 2016 - European Parliament via Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The EU and the Israel-Palestine Test

Although the US has often prided itself of the status of sole interlocutor in the Middle East “conflict”, it has equally gained the reputation of an interested and biased mediator. In parallel, the European Community or EC – now European Union, EU – claimed to have a ‚more balanced’ approach on the Middle East file, which in turn garnered Palestinians’ trust. But during the current escalation, the EU has been woefully disunited. This blog argues that a more unified European voice can only come about by “walking the talk” of an Israel-Palestine policy/peace agreement based on purported basic European values.


View over Gaza
Approximately 1.1 million people live in the north of Gaza. | Photo: © Mazur/ via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mass Evacuations in Israel’s War Against Hamas: Taking Precautions in Attack or Forced Displacement?

The attacks of Hamas against Israel were deeply shocking. Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas and at the same time it is obliged to protect the civilian population of Gaza as far as possible from harm and injury. But Israel is currently facing a true dilemma. While Israeli Defense Forces try to evacuate as many residents as possible, Hamas uses civilians as human shields, including hostages. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire and mass evacuations further exacerbate the problem.