In February 2009, ten thousand protestors gathered in Antananarivo, Madagascar | Photo: © dpa

Whose Charter? How civil society makes (no) use of the African Democracy Charter

In 2007, African Heads of State and Government adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. This regional instrument was supposed to “promote the universal values and principles of democracy.” Yet has it had such an effect? With this PRIF Spotlight I shed light on two country cases – Madagascar and Burkina Faso – in which the Charter was (not) used by civil society organizations in their struggle for better democratic governance. If the Charter is to become an effective instrument in the hands of civil society in the future, the African Union will have to invest more in its popularization and active promotion.


Nils Schmid and Vera Rogova at the Schlangenbad Talks 2018 | Photo: Olga Gladushevskaya
Nils Schmid and Vera Rogova at the Schlangenbad Talks 2019 | Photo: Olga Gladushevskaya

“It is not enough to diagnose a crisis – we also have to actively deal with it.” An interview with Nils Schmid

A crisis or even the end of the liberal, multilateral world order is a frequently-heard diagnosis these days. In her interview with Nils Schmid, Member of Parliament for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Vera Rogova asks about possible coping strategies, Chinese and Russian influence and Germany’s current and future role in international politics.


Preperations for the 1945 San Franisco Conference, a milestone for the current world order
Preperations for the 1945 San Franisco Conference, a milestone for the current world order | Photo: UN Photo | CC BY NC ND 2.0

“Recalibrating European security”?: A reply

Hans-Joachim Spanger rightly points to the main challenges to European security emphasizing that new challenges could only be adequately addressed against the backdrop of the global political changes of the last ten to twenty years. He makes a worrying diagnosis of the current state of European security, and provides some practical recommendations for improving the situation. However, we should not give up upon the existing order with its liberal norms and principles so quickly as this would strengthen those actors that seek to undermine it.


The UN Security Council takes a vote
The UN Security Council takes a vote | Photo: UN Photo | CC BY NC ND 2.0

Ways out of the crisis: recalibrating European security

European security is in crisis. Like every crisis, this one not only has a prior history, it has also been in the offing for quite some time. 2008 marked a first peak, after the Bush administration offered the NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine: Russia demonstrated in the war with Georgia who sets the tone in the former Soviet Union. A similar pattern emerged in 2014 in the Ukrainian crisis, this time with the EU in charge and Russia reacting even more forcefully. Since then, the crisis has escalated with almost unrestrained momentum. Its most recent expression is the termination of the INF Treaty, which carries with it the acute danger of a new (medium-range) missile crisis on the continent.


On March 15th 2019, indigenous protesters blocked the important Panamericana at several locations
On March 15th 2019, indigenous protesters blocked the important Panamericana at several locations | Photo: picture alliance/ZUMA Press

On the brink of escalation: indigenous groups mobilize against the government in Colombia

Since March 2019, indigenous people in the South-Western part of Colombia mobilize. Systematic neglect by the government and security fears have contributed to widespread grievances among marginalized groups in the country, explaining the radicalization of the Minga in the last weeks: It quickly became a broad movement with road blocks at the crucial Panamericana road with more than 20.000 people involved and violent confrontations with security forces. Given the specific setting with social mobilization in the midst of an ongoing conflict with armed groups, the Minga is on the brink of violent escalation. But it also offers a window of opportunity to pressure the government to further reforms.


Demonstration der Mapuche
Protests for justice, territory and self-determination of Mapuche communities. | Photo: Astorga Pablo | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

How the Chilean government deals with the Mapuche conflict

The 14th of November 2018, the Chilean police shot the 24-year-old Mapuche activist Camilo Catrillanca in the municipality of Ercilla in the south of Chile. This incident received international media attention, but it is only one chapter in a long-lasting dispute over territory and autonomy between the indigenous Mapuche community and the Chilean state. Mapuche communities in Chile are demanding the restitution of territories, which were taken from their ancestors by the state. In order to defend and recover their land, some Mapuche organizations use arson attacks and land occupations. The Chilean government is responding with special operations units to ’control’ the conflict.


Rescue vessels of the German NGO Sea-Eye
Rescue vessels of the German NGO Sea-Eye | Photo: Sea-Eye

Turning a blind eye? The rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean

In recent years, the waters of the Mediterranean have become an unmarked grave for a myriad of migrants who drowned during their desperate attempt to reach Europe by boat. Urgent steps are needed to stop this humanitarian crisis. Addressing the root causes, including poverty and civil war, which force or prompt people to attempt the dangerous journey is crucial but time-intensive. In the short term, European governments need to reverse their current policies and either substantially increase their own Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts or facilitate the operations of NGOs engaged in saving people at sea.


Election day in Ankara
Election day in Ankara | Photo: Photo : Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe | CC BY ND 2.0

Local elections in Turkey: Can they steer the future of Turkish politics?

The Turkish local elections showed interesting results: the AKP’s alliance gained the majority of the votes (51,67%), while the opposition managed to take over – according to the unofficial results – the key cities such as the capital Ankara and the finance capital Istanbul from the AKP. Even though it can be perceived as an overall success for Erdoğan’s alliance, it might also suggest a decrease in electorates’ support for the AKP’s politics and desire for change in the current political system. Now new challenges –and new conflicts- can be expected for the opposition and the government, which might influence the future of Turkish politics.


Theresa May in the House of Commons
Theresa May in the House of Commons |CC BY-ND 2.0

The Brexit Fiasco: Lessons for Involving Parliament in Foreign Policy

The UK’s orderly exit from the EU is still in limbo. No matter how things will turn out, the inability of Theresa May’s government to get parliamentary approval for the Withdrawal Agreement has made the process a fiasco. Brexit is delayed, government in crisis, public opinion deeply divided and a “no deal” Brexit has become a realistic possibility. All of this happened, even though Theresa May applied a tried and tested strategy for pushing international agreements through parliament. Her failure holds important lessons for how (not) to involve parliament in international negotiations.