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”


Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers

Third parties dealing with violent conflict through non-violent means has produced two types of people out there: human rights activists and conflict resolvers. From the outside it appears to be obvious that human rights advocates and conflict resolution practitioners would closely cooperate, or in fact are the same type of people because they work in very similar environments. However, they are not the same people and they can speak very different languages. Continue reading “Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers”

Why peace is ideological in Colombia

Peace is not aspired by everyone in Colombia, despite the fact that the country is living in historic times to bring its civil war to an end, which has caused more than 220,000 deaths and 6,864,934 victims (mostly displaced people). In fact, the debate about peace is an ideological battle between the left and the right. Many armed actors are involved in violence, intimidation and in drug trafficking. However, the ideological view usually allows just a limited perspective one has on the conflict.
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Ten reasons why armed drones should be banned

Drones look harmless but have a devastating effect. (c) Wikipedia

Armed drones also kill civilians, including children. (c) Flickr - Debra Sweet
Armed drones also kill civilians, including children. (c) Flickr - Debra Sweet

In his 2014 state of the union address, Barack Obama said he has put “prudent limits” on the use of drones. However, not much will change, because people who are classified as “terrorists” by the U.S. government will continuously be attacked by drones. Moreover, the big cloud of secrecy over drones will not be made more transparent. To me, the use of armed drones are against international law and morally wrong. I want to prove with 10 points in this blog post that armed drones should not be used. Continue reading "Ten reasons why armed drones should be banned"

Constructing a Security Architecture in East Africa

A meeting of EAC leaders in 2009.

The chaos in South Sudan after an alleged coup attempt on 14 December 2013 led to a diplomatic as well as military intervention by its neighbors. It was Uganda that went ahead and openly backed up South Sudanese president Salva Kiir a week later in his struggle to regain control in the youngest country in the world. A few days later, Uganda’s forces were included in an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mission that was set up. This raises the larger questions of how the East African security architecture looks like and where it is heading to in a fragile region as the famous commentator Charles Onyango-Obbo has done in the The East African Times. While a regional security architecture has been started to be in place since the 1990s, the region’s security institutions are still guided by the national self-interest of its members and not for the good of the broader region. Continue reading “Constructing a Security Architecture in East Africa”

A phantom state in chaos cries for stability

The crisis in the CAR makes clear: education instead of fighting is the way forward. (c) DFID
The crisis in the CAR makes clear: education instead of fighting is the way forward. (c) DFID

The Central African Republic (CAR) is, finally, in the center of attention – although for the wrong reasons. “The forgotten country” is in upheaval, many go as far to speak about “genocide” and a “Rwandan-like” situation. France, the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) dispatched some 4,000 troops to CAR in early December 2013. As François Bozizé, the country’s president and cruel military leader for ten years was ousted in March 2013, after his sponsors in Chad and Sudan left him alone. One month after the arrival of the troops more than 1,000 people have been killed and The New York Times reports that almost one million are displaced up from 400,000 in the beginning of December. The humanitarian situation is disastrous and it is hard for humanitarians to deliver aid in this “phantom state.” Continue reading “A phantom state in chaos cries for stability”

Somalia deserves positive headlines

Beach in Mogadishu - an untypical image for many people in the West © Flickr / EvolvingPrimate
Beach in Mogadishu – an untypical image for many people in the West © Flickr / EvolvingPrimate

Somalia was in the news last week. Yet another time it was negative news. A suicide bombing at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) building in the Somali capital Mogadishu killed 18 people on 19 June 2013. Of course, the radical Islamist group called al-Shabab (Arabic for “the boys”) carried out the blast as they announced responsibility on their Twitter account. Despite this setback, Somalia has, on relative terms, a surprisingly positive development over the past months. Although attacks continue to happen, the amount of such incidents is decreasing and the overall development of the country is a positive one. Somalia is taking “baby steps” forward and there is a tendency towards more stability. Thus, Somalia deserves to be also positively mentioned in the international media!

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The rising divide between Christians and Muslims in Tanzania

In early May, “an act of terrorism” disrupted the consecration of a church in Arusha. A bomb blast outside this Roman-Catholic church killed two and injured 30 people. Until today, it is not yet clear who carried out the attacks, although six people have been taken into custody, among them two Christians from Tanzania and four individuals from Saudi Arabia. During the past years, Tanzania has been passing through increased religious bigotry, although the country experienced for decades a high degree of toleration between the two main faith communities in this East African country.

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M23 clashes in Eastern Congo

Today, fighting has resumed in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the most troubled regions in the world. The BBC reported that the M23 rebel movement attacked government troops outside of Goma. These are the first clashes ever since M23 withdrew its forces from Goma in November last year. The incident happens just days before United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned to visit the city.

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