Night-time view of the Palais de Nations in Geneva
The conference outcome shows that some form of multilateral disarmament is possible even under dire circumstances. Photo: Una Jakob

The 9th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention

From November 28 to December 16, 2022, the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) met in Geneva for the 9th Review Conference. Their task was to review the operation of the BWC and to negotiate a new programme of work for the next five years. Even though the conference took place in a tense geopolitical climate, States Parties agreed some useful measures, such as a new intersessional working group that will address a range of topics including compliance with and verification of the BWC. Despite some shortcomings, the conference outcome represents an achievement considering the current international security and arms control realities.

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Meadow with painted stones on which is written "Every child matters".
Painted stones to commemorate victims of the IRS in Kamloops, BC. Photo: Sabine Mannitz, 2022.

A Step Towards Justice: Canada Agrees to Compensate First Nations for Loss of Culture and Language

Ten years after the Gottfriedson case class action lawsuit was filed to claim for compensation over the destruction of language and culture caused by the Canadian Indian Residential School system (IRSS), an agreement was made public in January 2023: Canada’s federal government is prepared to pay a settlement sum of $2.8 billion into a new trust fund which shall enable 325 First Nations to invest into cultural and language revitalization. The agreement is just one step on the journey to building trustful relationships between Canadian Aboriginals and the settler-colonial state, but it is an important one, overdue and urgently needed.

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Frauen, die ein Banner aufhängen mit einer albanischen Aufschrift und der englischen Übersetzung „Resolution 1325 guarantees us participation in Negotiation.“
On 8 March 2006, women’s rights activists hang a banner outside the Assembly and government building in Prishtina, recalling their right to participate in negotiations, as per UNSCR 1325. | Photo: © KWN (personal editing)

22 Years of Resolution 1325: Kosovo Women’s Voices Remain Absent from the Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia

On October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), recognizing the different needs and roles of women and girls during conflicts. By that time, Kosovo was one of the post-war contexts where the resolution would apply immediately. This blog article highlights the advocacy efforts of Kosovo feminist activists to include women and their needs in negotiations and dialogue, framing the discussing through the lens of Resolution 1325 and the resistance faced by actors from the international community involved in the process.

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UN Secretary General Guterres gives a speech at the COP15 opening ceremony.
Guterres’ language of “humanity as a weapon of mass destruction” has to be critically engaged with. | Photo: UN Biodiversity via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Stopping the Biodiversity Apocalypse: Existential Threats and Ecological Justice at COP15 in Montreal

Global biodiversity is in a deep crisis. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke of a “biodiversity apocalypse” and of “humanity as a weapon of mass destruction”. The COP15 gathering in Montreal from 7-19 December is tasked with finding a new global framework for effectively protecting global biodiversity. Despite of the scale and speed of biodiversity deterioration, the language of security obscures the key aspect of ecological injustice: not all of humanity is causing environmental destruction but specific modes of economic development and the inequitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens between Global North and South, as well as non-human nature.     

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London, UK: Human rights campaigners protest against arms sales to Saudi Arabia. | Photo: Campaign Against Arms Trade via flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Why the Future German Arms Export Control Act Goes in the Right Direction—But Not Far Enough

On 13 October 2022, the German Ministry for Economics and Climate published draft key points for a future German Arms Export Control Act (referred to hereafter as ‘the draft’). Establishing such a law is one goal that the government defined in the coalition agreement. The draft contains several good points that can help make German arms export policy more restrictive and more closely aligned with peace, human rights and security policy goals. At the same time, the draft reveals some serious gaps that must be remedied to fully live up to this claim.

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Santa Cruz is not only the department with the highest population growth, but also the main pole of opposition to the central government in the highland city of La Paz. | Photo: Mark Taylor via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Bolivia: A New Battle over the Census. The 36-day Strike of the Santa Cruz Civic Movement against the Arce Government

In November, President Luis Arce in Bolivia faced one of the most turbulent moments of his government. In response to the postponement of the Population and Housing Census (initially scheduled for 2022) to 2024, mass protests in the country’s lowland region and the economic powerhouse of Santa Cruz effectively shut down Bolivia’s largest city. The strike was promoted by Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, who in 2019 led the movement that overthrew Evo Morales. The demand was to carry out the census in 2023 and request the redistribution of economic resources and parliamentary seats before the 2025 elections.

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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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