Anti-deportation protest in Göttingen, May 2018
Anti-deportation protest Göttingen, May 2018 | Photo: linksuntengoe | CC BY-SA 2.0

Protesting Deportations: On the Importance of Civil Disobedience

Deportations have always been a contested practice. Conservative and right-wing actors have insisted that carrying out deportations is essential for state sovereignty and application of authority. Simultaneously, by taking to the streets civil society, citizens and asylum seekers alike have practiced resistance against deportations in the form of demonstrations, petitions, blockages or hunger strikes. Their anti-deportation protests either claim the right to stay in general or focus exclusively on an acquainted person – like a neighbor or school mate – who is about to be deported. Protests against deportations are sometimes successful by stopping specific deportations; overall, they are also shaping the discourse.

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Narratives are tough to counter online
Narratives are tough to counter online | Photo: pxhere.com, CC0

The Challenges and Limitations of Online Counter-Narratives

Since 9/11, policymakers and practitioners in the West traditionally employ a mix of hard- and soft-power approaches to counterterrorism. While kinetic measures such as targeted killings and arrests comprise part of the government’s response to terrorism, officials use a range of mechanisms to engage and empower populations as a means to prevent mobilization to terrorist violence. Often under the banner of “Countering Violent Extremism,”(CVE) softer measures, like intervention programming and counter-messaging initiatives, are critical mechanisms for governments and civil society alike. The execution of influential counter-narrative campaigns represents a challenging but necessary tool for stakeholders tasked with preventing and confronting the adoption of extreme ideas and actions.

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Radweg in Schwarz-Rot-Gold bei Wasserstetten
Bicycle path with German national flag near Wasserstetten | Photo: Franzfoto | CC BY-SA 3.0

Germany’s Pluralistic Society and its Contested Religious Heritage

A new homeland ministry, further debates on Islam and Germany, new places for crucifixes in public buildings – all these political acts show that exclusive identity constructions are perceived as a way to be electorally successful. But they also blur the boundary between politics and almost satirical symbolism-oriented acts. The current politics are part of a political communication that seems to add fuel to the ongoing sociopolitical debate on religious and cultural diversity. However, in a pluralistic country like Germany, a calm and thoughtful political communication is required to increase societal cohesion and not let a presumed heritage determine the shared values of our society.

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Gabon ivory
Illegal ivory is burned in Gabon | Photo: animalrescueblog | CC BY-NC 2.0

Elephant in the Room: the Illegal Ivory Trade, Wildlife and War

The African Elephant is a keystone species, strongly affecting the ecosystems in which they live. The recent drop in elephant populations across the African continent are therefore cause for major concern in the realm of wildlife conservation. However, this downturn is not only cause for ecological concern. The illegal trade in ivory is an important source of revenue for armed groups across the African continent, and highlights questions of governance, corruption, and organized crime. What are the key drivers of illegal elephant killing? What consequences does the trade have, ranging from the local to the international level? How can the trade be halted as a means of warfare financing and ongoing corruption?

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Macerata demonstration
Manifestazione autoconvocata dopo gli episodi di razzismo a Macerata - 4 febbraio 2018 | Photo: (c) csasisma | Permission granted

Why are some Italians shooting migrants? Far-right terrorism, anti-migrant discourse and the Italian election

On Saturday February 3rd, a 28 year old far-right activist Luca Traini went on a shooting rampage in the small town of Macerata in central Italy. Over the course of a few hours, he randomly shot and wounded 5 men and one woman of African origin. He was eventually apprehended by police wrapped in an Italian flag, in front of a monument to Italy’s war dead, performing the Roman salute and screaming “Viva l’Italia”. Traini claimed that he had heard a radio news report detailing the arrest of a Nigerian drug dealer as a suspect related to the local death of a teenage girl Pamela Mastropietro, when he decided to get his legally held gun and “kill them all”, referring to the local African community. Notwithstanding the attack’s evident racial motivations, the aftermath of the shootings has been framed in terms of migrants as a source of tension rather than focusing on the far-right milieu as a generator of political violence.

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Nuclear weapon test Bravo (yield 15 Mt) on Bikini Atoll | Foto: United States Department of Energy | Public Domain

How contestation can strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime

How robust is the Non-Proliferation Treaty which has recently come under severe attack? In a new article, Carmen Wunderlich and Harald Müller examine contestation within the nuclear nonproliferation regime. They argue that debate over international norms does not necessarily result in erosion, but may also strengthen international norms.

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The City of Afrin, in 2009 | Photo: Bertramz | CC BY 3.0

Turkey’s Invasion of Afrin must be Halted

Turkey’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ is a marked escalation of its campaign against the Kurdish autonomous regions in Syria. The battle for Afrin, a mountainous, well defended region protected by a battle hardened Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces will likely be protracted and lead to significant civilian casualties, due to Afrin’s large community of internally displaced Syrians. It will further compound the ongoing conflict against Kurds in Turkey and lead to, as of yet, unclear regional ramifications.

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A man carrying a flag on his way to a pro government protest in Cairo on 25 January 2014 | Photo: Sebastian Horndasch | CC BY 2.0

We Need to Understand Why States Object to the Presence of Foreign-funded NGOs

More and more countries restrict how NGOs operate, often by limiting their funding. The response is frequently to argue that these restrictions flout international law or amount to crackdowns on the opposition. Annika Elena Poppe and Jonas Wolff argue that the objections to NGO activity need to be taken seriously. In Egypt, for example, they are rooted in concerns about sovereignty and foreign interference.

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Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017
Meral Akşener at IYI Party's first congress in October 2017 | Photo: Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu (VOA) | Public Domain

What’s in a Name? IYI Party – Good for Turkey?

A new political party was founded in Turkey on 25 October 2017. Named the “IYI Party”, meaning “good party”, it claims to bring betterment for Turkey’s financial, judicial and also human rights situation. The inaugural speech of the party’s founder, Meral Akşener, leaves an impression of the “modern” face of Turkish conservative politics. The IYI Party presents itself as an alternative to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in times of a growing dissatisfaction with Turkish politics and reorientations in opposition parties’ political stance. Although the idea that the AKP era might come to an end is intriguing, the Akşener’s party seems to follow the well-known narrative of Turkish nationalism. For a truly pluralist democracy in Turkey, this is not enough.

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Premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands
Premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands | Photo: United Nations Photo

The International Criminal Court in Difficult Times: Challenges for the 16th Assembly of States Parties

On 26 October 2017, Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute – the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – took effect. This withdrawal is just the tip of the iceberg of a long-lasting confrontation between the ICC and some African states. When the Assembly of States (ASP) Parties to the Rome Statute convenes today for its 16th annual session in New York, the stakes are high as the ICC faces major challenges. The ASP should take on the dwindling support and criticism from the African Union (AU) as well as African states and bolster the ICC: States Parties should defend the integrity of the Statute, back the ICC’s budget, further outreach activities as well as the regional scope of investigations and strengthen the cooperation with the Court.

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