The Many Faces of Extremism

Extremism has always existed although it is since the 9/11 attacks that many people around the world began to fear it. As extremism is a complex phenomenon, scholars and policy makers have significant differences as to what extremism is and is not. Desmond Tutu defined extremism this way: “when you do not allow for a different point of view; when you hold your own views as being quite exclusive, when you don’t allow for the possibility of difference” [1]. Continue reading The Many Faces of Extremism

Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government

It is truly an absurd situation. After two and half years of a bloody civil war in South Sudan, we have the same political situation as it started. A unity government will force the two main rivals to work together and bring the “youngest state” of the international government back on track.Doubts remain how peace can be uphold due to the destruction of the country’s weak infrastructure and the poor revenue of the state due to low oil prices. The key question though is how to bring about reconciliation, justice and peace in a divided country. Continue reading Getting back to the start: South Sudan establishes a unity government

Twelve critical reflections on teaching in Colombia

Since 1.5 years, I am teaching international relations in Bogotá, Colombia. In general, I really like my job, the responsibilities that I have and my students. However, I do see also quite some challenges that I want to share. Continue reading Twelve critical reflections on teaching in Colombia

History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims

The word “historic” is used quite a bit these days. And yet, the agreement reached between the Colombian government and the FARC is such an historic event, although we will have to wait most likely until 23 March 2016, until a final peace agreement is going to be signed. What happened? The government and the leftist guerrilla group reached an agreement inside the fourth point on the negotiation agenda, the victims chapter and decided to sign a final peace agreement in the next six months. Continue reading History in the making in Colombia: Agreement about justice and reparations for victims

20 years later, the ghosts of Srebrenica are still alive

The mass killings of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys around Srebrenica carried out by Bosnian Serb troops in July 1995 is widely referred to as the single worst massacre in Europe after World War II. The cruel events happened in the very last months of the civil war in Bosnia (1992-1995) and involved the failure of Dutch UN peacekeeping troops and the international community at large to protect innocent civilians. On 11 July 2015, the 20 years commemoration of the genocide takes place, bringing many world leaders to the memorial in Potocari. In Serbia as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, however, the population is still split about what happened and how “Srebrenica” should be remembered. The ugly business of memory politics is still in the making. Continue reading 20 years later, the ghosts of Srebrenica are still alive

Gloomy times ahead, but hope dies last: Greece’s way forward after the referendum

More than 60% of Greeks rejected an outdated and expired rescue package offered to Greece by its European partners. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ strategy for an “all in” at the negotiation table worked, at least for now. His government can now claim that Greeks are tired of austerity and need growth. While all reasonable observes would agree that it is growth that Greece needs, the country is at the brink. However, also the Eurozone is facing its worst crisis since it started to exist in 1999. Continue reading Gloomy times ahead, but hope dies last: Greece’s way forward after the referendum

Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

Colombia will create a truth commission. The Colombian government and the left-wing guerrilla FARC decided on 4 June 2015 to set up a body that should clarify major human rights violations committed by all sides. It should reveal past atrocities, recognize the victims and make sure that these kinds of crimes will not be repeated in the future. While a big step forward, many challenges remain ahead. Continue reading Clarifying the past: Colombia’s big step forward at peace negotiations

The evil is called TTIP: Emotional debates in Europe about free-trade agreement with the U.S.

In general, trade is considered to be boring. Besides economists and businessmen, hardly anyone follows the news on trade and business – it is too complex and burdensome to understand and debate it. However, when it comes to free trade agreements, people can get mobilized. So it happened on Saturday, when tens of thousands of Europeans were on the street to protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU. Continue reading The evil is called TTIP: Emotional debates in Europe about free-trade agreement with the U.S.

Eurozone: Agreement with Greece first step to overcome austerity

Greece has experienced painful years. The crisis has basically turned around Greek society during the past seven years. With the early Greek elections on 25 January 2015, the “radical” left-wing party Syriza triumphed with 36.3% while the established parties had to face huge losses. Greeks have enough of austerity policies; they want to regain some hope – and particularly change. Continue reading Eurozone: Agreement with Greece first step to overcome austerity

Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!

The discussion after the barbaric attack of Charlie Hebdo is one that has been seen before: the freedom of free speech and expression versus religious sensitivities. Cartoons about current political and social matters in a satiric way are seen as a key part of a free and democratic society and one of the big achievements during the enlightenment period by many in Europe, and even more so in France. Continue reading Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!

European integration, conflict resolution & peace

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