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In This Issue: August 2011

The Trials and Tests Faced by R2P

In a snapshot of the current debate surrounding the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and global efforts to prevent large-scale violence against civilians, Libya and Syria would dominate a frame of amorphous figures with blurred edges, each shifting haphazardly in unknown directions.

In the midst of such a muddle, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. We seek to isolate individual crises, actors, positions, and decisions, and wonder how they will impact the future of political principles like the Responsibility to Protect—which asserts that all states have the responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.

As NATO’s mandate in Libya enters its sixth month and the Syrian government clings to power with increasing violence, some claim R2P has failed to deliver its promise to ensure protection for civilians whose governments have turned against them. While it would be foolish to claim that unfolding events and global action (or inaction) will have no influence on the long-term development of the Responsibility to Protect principle, pointing to today’s snapshot as evidence of failure ignores its broader context. When taken at a wider angle, the current picture reveals many positive trends as Stanley Foundation program officer Rachel Gerber points out.

International Cooperation on Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

Unlike many other global problems that have been recognized as needing a global solution, like climate change and biological and chemical weapons, preventing nuclear terrorism does not have an overarching convention addressing the need for countries to take unified action. However, there are a host of international conventions and agreements along with multilateral ad hoc and cooperative activities that comprise the “architecture” of nuclear material security today.

Time is of essence in combating nuclear terrorism. While implementing and fulfilling all of the existing multilateral conventions and agreements would improve the global state of nuclear material security, it still might not be enough to ensure that long-term, sustainable security is in place. There are gaps in the policy that need to be addressed.

Read more from Stanley Foundation program officer Jennifer Smyser in this article examining current international cooperation as well as what additional cooperative action is needed in the global effort to secure weapons-usable nuclear material.


Beyond The Headlines

South Sudanís Independence: Celebrations and Challenges

The July 9th independence of South Sudan is an important event for the people of South Sudan, the African continent, and the world. The Sudanese people faced decades of civil war, brought to an official close in 2005 by a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that paved the way for a referendum on independence for South Sudan in January. The overwhelming majority of South Sudanese who voted in favor of the split, 98.83%, gives a clear indication of their hopes to move into a new era of order and peace following the conflicts of the past.

With Sudan’s history of conflict in mind, the emergence of South Sudan as an independent state must be seen not only as a victory for self-determination but also as a source of new and ongoing challenges. These challenges are felt both in South Sudan, an impoverished, fledgling state aiming to gain its footing amid continued conflict, and in Sudan, a country still at war in Darfur and under other internal strains.

One of the greatest challenges to be highlighted by Sudan’s division is that of South Kordofan, a Sudanese state on the border of South Sudan. Because of its strategic significance, as well as Sudanese fears of local sympathies for South Sudan, the Sudan Armed Forces have renewed violence in the region against those believed to have supported Southern Sudanese forces in the civil war. With UN officials already accusing Sudan of possible war crimes in South Kordofan, the situation is growing increasingly urgent. As a result of the effects of the violence on agricultural production in this region, some experts say large numbers of people in Sudan could face high levels of food insecurity over the next few months.

While South Sudan’s independence has served as an important victory for its people, this new nation and the one it broke away from both remain highly vulnerable. If the atrocities in South Kordofan are not halted and order and infrastructure not developed, the future of both states will likely remain bleak. Ultimately, the resolution of South Kordofan’s mass atrocities relies on Sudan, South Sudan, and UN member states upholding their responsibility to protect.


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Stay Active

Tools for Action: Recommended Twitter Feeds

Whether used as a news aggregator, a forum to voice one’s own opinions, or a direct communication tool between individuals, Twitter has emerged as a valuable resource in the foreign policy landscape, informing and engaging millions 140 characters at a time. Foreign Policy magazine has released “A Guide to the Foreign-Policy Twitterati,” along with a list of 100 Twitter users culled from the ranks of diplomats, journalists, academics, and policy-wonks. Broaden your connections to the global community in cyberspace and if you are on Twitter, don’t forget to also follow @StanleyFound!

New Resource: Failed States Index

The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have issued their annual Failed States Index. The list rates 177 countries on 12 indicators to measure their vulnerabilities. The Arab Spring revolutions and Haiti’s continued struggle following the January 2010 earthquake added to some movement on the list, but the number one spot was claimed by Somalia for the fourth year in a row. Africa will hold the center of attention during 2011 with 27 African countries set to hold either presidential, legislative, or local elections, which can be spurs of both positive change and at times crippling violence. Explore the Index here.

Watch & Learn: Srebrenica Massacre

On July 5, a decision by an appeals court in the Hague found the Dutch government responsible for the executions of three men during the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. Learn more about this important case by watching an interview with survivors of Srebrenica and a video commemorating the massacre. These media sources are provided by VII Photo Agency.


TSF Library

The TSF Virtual Bookshelf

Summer 2011

We’ve updated our virtual bookshelf with our latest recommended reads. New additions include books examining the impact of Paris on the United States through prominent Americans; the history, practices, and future of the US Foreign Service; and the story of an interpreter for journalists and officials documenting the genocide in Darfur. So, if you’re looking for a good book to read during the lazy days of summer, check out our virtual bookshelf.

 

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