The Soviet experience in Afghanistan: lessons to be learned?

This article examines the experience of the Soviet army’s occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. It draws heavily on the report of the Russian General Staff, which gives a unique insight into the Soviet–Afghan war by senior Russian officers, many of whom served in Afghanistan. The author then places this analysis in the broader geopolitical context of Soviet expansionism from the early 1970s to the mid 1980s. And the author proceeds to ask: Did Afghanistan account for the demise of the USSR? Finally, the issue of whether there are parallels with the failure of the Soviet Union’s invasion and the current problems facing the USA in Afghanistan is examined.

Multilateralism, Intervention and Norm Contestation: China’s Stance on Darfur in the UN Security Council

This article argues that an explanation of China’s stance on a possible international intervention in Darfur cannot eschew considering the wider context of the ongoing dialectics of normative change and contestation surrounding the progressive redefinition of norms of intervention since the early 1990s. It suggests that by emphasizing the need to respect Sudan’s sovereignty and the requirement that Sudan consent to an international intervention, China has sought to promote a return to more traditional forms of peacekeeping, as a way to oppose emerging interpretations of the norm of intervention, which it sees as a threat to its own security. Such an interpretation challenges the accusations of foot-dragging of which China has been the object. The hypothesis is tested by analysing China’s voting and declaratory record in the Security Council, and assessed against the country’s historical record on peacekeeping discussions in the Council. Embracing Finnemore’s argument that multilateral intervention represents the pillar of the post-Cold War international order, the article concludes by relating China’s norm-brokering effort to its asserted interest in reshaping the international system.

Building a Standing National Capacity for Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Kenya

Most conflicts today arise from intra-state rather than interstate tensions. Many developing countries are unable to manage intra-state conflicts effectively, mainly because of capacity constraints in their governance and oversight institutions, political manipulation and executive interference. The result is that public confidence in the institutions remains weak and there is greater resort to private and group justice. National development is thus deeply affected. In restoring public confidence in the state’s ability to manage inter-group and inter-community conflicts, many governments are establishing and institutionalising standing national capacities for conflict prevention and resolution as extensions of their national governance framework. This article is a critical review of the efforts to establish such capacities in Kenya.

Iraq: Back to the Future

The world breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement of a new Iraqi government on 21 December 2010. After nine months of wrangling following the 7 March elections, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki finally engineered a deal that kept him in place at the head of a 42-person cabinet. Maliki was unable to name a full coterie of ministers; ten of the portfolios, including the main security ministries, are being managed on a temporary basis by other ministers until permanent nominations are made. Nevertheless, approval of the cabinet brought to an end a crisis that left the political system in limbo and saw a deterioration of the security situation.

But now the deed is done, a much bigger question looms: will the government be able to manage Iraq, stabilise the country further and heal the internal divisions that threaten its long-term security?

The Road to Peace in Ireland

This case-study is one of a series produced by participants in an ongoing Berghof research
project on transitions from violence to peace (‘Resistance/Liberation Movements and Transition to Politics’). The project’s overall aim is to learn from the experience of those in resistance or liberation movements who have used violence in their struggle but have also engaged politically during the conflict and in any peace process. Recent experience around the world has demonstrated that reaching political settlement in protracted social conflict always eventually needs the involvement of such movements. Our aim here is to discover how, from a non-state perspective, such political development is handled, what is the relationship between political and military strategies and tactics, and to learn more about how such movements (often sweepingly and simplistically bundled under the label of nonstate armed groups) contribute to the transformation of conflict and to peacemaking. We can then use that experiential knowledge (1) to offer support to other movements who might be considering such a shift of strategy, and (2) to help other actors (states and international) to understand more clearly how to engage meaningfully with such movements to bring about political progress and peaceful settlement.

Strategic Environmental Policy Assessment FYR of Macedonia: A Review of Environmental Priorities for International Cooperation

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia stands on the threshold of a new and decisive phase in its history as it looks to emerge from the turmoil of armed conflicts and to begin reconstruction and development. It is at this moment that the opportunity must be seized to base plans for economic growth on the principles of sustainable development. This means integrating environmental considerations into all policy areas at all levels to ensure that everyone living in the FYR of Macedonia can breathe clean air and drink clean water. It means provision of universal and affordable access to sanitation, and solid waste disposal, and it means the conservation of the country’s outstanding natural heritage. Above all, it means creating and maintaining the environmental conditions in which investment, employment, health and peace can flourish.
While this vision can only be achieved by the people and Government of FYR of Macedonia, the international community has a vital role to play. Not only in the provision of funding, capacity building and technical support, but also in pressing for environmental issues to be at the top of the development agenda. The United Nations occupies a special role within the donor community. While having access to a broad range of environmental knowledge and resources, the UN, at the same time, has the flexibility to adapt and pursue a policy agenda that closely reflects the immediate needs of the FYR of Macedonia. As a contribution towards the realisation of sustainable development in the FYR of Macedonia this report has been prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office in the FYR of Macedonia. It presents the results of a Strategic Environmental Policy Assessment (SEPA) carried out in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during September 2001. The SEPA was conducted by UNEP, in response to UNDP’s formal request for a comprehensive review of environmental policy in the country.

Post-Conflict Administrations as Democracy-Building Instruments

The period that stretches from the end of the Cold War until today has weathered the emergence of a large number of new states. With each addition, the international community has striven to regulate statehood and rein in its most erratic and unpredictable manifestations. In particular, the international community has tried to affect what kind of political regimes are set up in these new states. To reach that goal, multi-dimensional administrations have been set up by States or International Organizations to (re)build governmental institutions in territories where the governments have floundered completely. This strategy, while costly, has not been unsuccessful. Through international administrations of territories, several states have been rebuilt or restored, all of them endowed with democratic institutions. It is the aim of this Article to analyze the use of international administrations of territories to create or to reconstruct democratic states. After briefly recalling the status of democracy in international law (Section I), the Article explains how modern administrations of territories have proven to be democracy-building machines (Section II). Finally, it offers a critical appraisal of the contemporary resolve of the international community to create democratic states (Section III).

From Conflict to Sustainable Development: Assessment and Clean-up in Serbia and Montenegro

As the smoke and dust settled and peace was re-established in what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the summer of 1999, it was evident that not only had people been through untold pain and suffering but that the environment had suffered as well. However, the extent and nature of the conflict-related damage to the environment and the threats these might pose were unknown.
In response to widely voiced concerns, the United Nations Environment Programme established a task force (the Balkans Task Force) with a mandate to assess objectively and scientifically immediate threats to human health and the environment arising from the conflict.
This was the first time that environmental issues had been recognized and integrated as a central part of the immediate United Nations post-conflict humanitarian effort. In October 1999 UNEP presented its findings in the report entitled The Kosovo Conflict – Consequences for the Environment and Human Settlements. This drew a number of important conclusions on the post-conflict situation in the region and – in particular – singled out four heavily polluted environmental ‘hot spots’ (Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad and Bor), for immediate humanitarian assistance. This report documents in detail how, during a period of four-and-a-half years (mid-1999 to December 2003) UNEP went about assessing the environmental consequences of the war and implementing a pioneering clean-up project to address serious conflict-related environmental damage.

Afghanistan’s 2007 Environment Law

In January 2007, the final version of the Environment Law came into force. The Law, which has been approved by the National Assembly, is based on international standards which recognize the current state of Afghanistan’s environment while laying a framework for the progressive improvement of governance, leading ultimately to effective environmental management. It is now binding on both the government and the people of Afghanistan.

The purpose of this brochure is to give the Afghan people, and other interested persons, a basic overview as to why and how the Law was developed, and the implications of the Law for the ordinary person and the government. This brochure should therefore be read in conjunction with the Law itself (see Official Gazette No. 912, dated 25 January 2007).